I did way more research than I probably needed to on the farthingale, but I'm compulsive like that. I looked at paintings and stared at skirt diameters, questioned whether or not I need one (I still haven't decided what year my finished gown will most closely reflect, but something between 1530-1540 most likely; right in the transition from no-farthingale to likely-farthingale), and to be honest I probably could have gone either way. To be really honest, I may still wear my gown without a farthingale, depending on what it all looks like together. However, I reeaaaally didn't want to be tripping over my skirts and getting layers of skirt wrapped around my leg, and my fabric is so pretty and patterned that I wanted some of that to be held out to show off the fabric, so farthingale it was!
From there, I stared at the Alcega pattern layout until it made sense, and then thought about it some more until it didn't make any sense anymore, and decided not to use it for the draft of the skirt. I have more copies of Simplicity's Tudor Underpinnings set (pattern number 2621) than you can shake a stick at, and this is going to be under my clothes, and honestly, I was really, really scared of making my farthingale, so I figured I'd just use the pattern this time around. But of course, being the way I am, I can't just follow the pattern. That's too easy. Also too boring? My brain doesn't like pattern instructions anyway; I mostly only ever use the pattern pieces, referring to the directions only for "advice".
I found www.sempstress.org indispensable. Melissa's way of explaining things makes sense to me, and she tends to write on the subjects I need help on. So, if you're reading this... THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH. She used all sorts of math-magic to figure out the angle that the sides of the Alcega farthingale are, and also to tell you what length your hoops should be if you want to maintain that angle, but on whatever scale your farthingale happens to be. The handy dandy chart is located here.
I originally planned on using one of those horrible polyester taffetas in a mauvey-flesh tone with dark brown grosgrain ribbon for the casings, but after I ironed it, I realized I couldn't condemn it to live underneath other skirts. The color looked gorgeous against my skin and hair, so I set it aside (and promptly ran back to JoAnn and bought the 1.75 yards left on the bolt- it was a flat-fold clearance fabric) and pulled out a DIFFERENT horrible polyester taffeta. This one was blue shot with pink that I'd intended to use as a skirt for an 18th century shepherdess costume based on a few Fragonard paintings. I remember it being very inexpensive, and it was much brighter than I remembered it being when I bought it; honestly I couldn't see myself using it for anything else. I ended up still using the kind of clashy brown ribbon (it's a yellow-brown; not a rich chocolate brown with a red undertone). You know, it doesn't look as bad as I thought it was going to! The brown looks pretty bold against the blue.
Unfortunately, it really does clash against my corset. This is a bright blue shot with bubblegum pink; the corset is a kind of light indigo shot with gold.
Oh well. It could be worse, and beggars can't be choosers. As long as both pieces end up being functional, I can't complain.
So, there you have it: the plan, outlined. Of course, like I said, I can never leave well enough alone; aside from changing the fabric last minute, I also messed with the pattern. That being said, I couldn't for the life of me find a good review/ tutorial of Simplicity's farthingale from the 2621 set, and so I decided to keep track of what my progress and write a little bit about it, which takes us to Part 2.