Thursday, December 11, 2008

Working Headdress Again

I just stumbled across this blog entry (in German) that is yet another take on the working headdress I spoke about here. I like that hers is short in the front, unlike mine. I think I'll put mine back in the project pile and shorten the front.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You Look Marvelous!

Went to Christmas Tourney yesterday and had a great time. We were early enough that we missed the accident on 71 that held everyone else up, so we were able to get a fairly good spot in the large hallway outside the main room. Not sure that building was the best location for the event (too broken up and got crowded very quickly), but we had a nice nook right next to the bathrooms and drinking fountains. For the first time since Push for Pennsic, the household (Clan Bredi) was together, so we got a household picture:

My husband, Lord Dearg Ailfredsson, is standing, Lord Tedric of Stratford is kneeling,
my mom (the head of the household), THL Elspeth Clerk, is in the chair and I'm on the floor.

From a garb standpoint this was a "milemarker" event for me. Though the dress I was wearing was not new, we took it in earlier in the week to fit it a bit better. Mom ended up taking about 2.5" out of the two back seams (each) and another inch or so out of the front seams. So this is the first event post-pregnancy that I wore a dress that actually fit properly. Which made a huge difference!

Looking at the photo, I see that my belt looks to be digging into my belly, but that really is the way I'm shaped, so I can't complain too much. You know how photos always seem to add 10 pounds? I'm OK with the way I look in this picture, so if that means I'm 10 pounds lighter than this, that's great!

I'm wearing the Flemish kerchief head wrap I made last month. I think next time I'll make it a point to iron the fold out of the center so I don't have that point at the front. It worked great; I only adjusted it once, mainly because I didn't get it tight enough when I put it on the first time so my hair kept escaping.

I'm also wearing a goller (pronounced "goy-er", I'm told) I threw together the night before (bought the fabric, created a pattern, cut and sewed it together within 5 1/2 hours). I got the idea for it from Myra who did the Durer dress I'm trying to make from an old pink linen dress, found here. Mine is kind of crappy if you look at it close up, so I'll need to pull it apart and re-do the seams to be cleaner. I used a piece of camel colored wool felt that I got from the discounted scrap bin and a piece of gray faux short -hair fur. The frog is in the wrong place, so there's a larger gap at the front than I intended there to be, but it still looked good. It's stiff because of the felt, but I think if I'm a bit rough with it, eventually it will loosen up.

Myra is also wearing a wulsthaube headdress on that page. I spoke with a lady during the event who always wears one of these, and I think I'll add one to my project pile. It's very German- I must be leaning towards German 15th century these days.

Speaking of projects, I worked on the smocked apron during the day, and it's almost done! I just need to sew the waist band on and that project is complete. If I'd known the apron was going to take this long and literally drain my energy to make, I wouldn't have started it, but the hard part (all that smocking) is done, so I might-as-well finish it.

Finally, I need to share this photo of Owen looking absolutely adorable in his 15th century garb (and Dearg wearing a silly santa hat).

Unlike his Viking garb, which is just a miniature version of his father's garb, this outfit is period for a baby (and is appropriate for much of the medieval period, not just the 15th century). He's also completely outgrown the Viking garb at this point. I'm very glad I decided to get the fleece instead of wool, because he spent most of the day slobbering all over himself! He's wearing a muslin undershirt as well, so when he got a little hot, we could take the overshirt (more like a dress) off. The coif is a little big on him now, but he'll grow into it.

He'll be a lady killer, that's for sure.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I've been kind of out of it the past few days. I had gall bladder removal surgery last Friday and have been taking it easy since. I've heard from many people who have also had their gall bladders removed that I will loose weight, potentially at a rapid pace. This has prompted me to hold off on creating the teal fitted dress for now. Instead, mom and I are going to try to tailor my current dresses a bit more, using what we now know about proper fit. I am so anxious to have a new dress, the decision to hold off was a tough one to make, but I spent a pretty penny on that wool- I'd hate to not be able to wear it in a year.

In other news, I finished the smocking on the apron (finally). I've got to hem up one side and add the waist strap still. One of these days I'll get back to it....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Flemish Headdress

I've just completed my new Flemish kerchief headdress, using these instructions. I love it!
Take a look:

Fitted Dress Part One

Well, we started the fitted dress yesterday. It's just as I suspected- I have a much smaller mental image of myself and I'm not sure I like the way I look in the dress. Granted we've only just started the fitting; my breasts are supported but not shaped and we still need to determine the correct location of the flare in the front to be flattering to help contain my belly, which is still a bit flabby from having Owen. Right now it looks like I'm all breast on top- they're not lifted, just compressed. Imagine 44DDD breasts pressed up against a wall, and that's what's going on. We've fitted it pretty well in the back and lower sides, so it's around the arm that still needs attention. I'll try to remember the camera next time so I can post some photos.

I also picked up the fabric for Owen's new outfit. I ended up getting brown fleece because all the green and blue fleece they had was too bright or too fuzzy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Smocked Apron is Kicking My Butt

Alright, so when I set out to do the apron, I didn't really think about how tedious all that smocking would be. I can only get in about ten stitches before I lose interest. I keep telling myself that the final result will be worth it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Growing Project Pile

I didn't feel like working on the apron too much yesterday evening, so, instead, I gathered together all the bits and pieces of various projects I have and put them in neat little bundles with tags pinned to them. I didn't do any of the things I'd planned while I was on maternity leave, so all the sudden I'm realizing that my project pile is bigger than I thought.
Here's a breakdown of my current list:
  1. finish the smocked apron
  2. open hood - I found a big piece of the blue wool I made Owen's Viking cap out of, it should be just enough for an open hood. I wanted a red one, but the blue is also period and is fine for a first attempt.
  3. Flemish head wrap - I stumbled across this quite randomly and I love it! It's so easy and can go with just about every dress style. Easy to make, too.
  4. pouch with trim - I purchased a pretty blue and white bird trim at Border Raids this summer and had no idea what I could use it for. Since the black pouch I made a few months ago has gone missing (I need to clean the house), I thought I'd try to use some scraps of the blue wool I'll make the hood out of to make a new pouch. The trim goes perfectly with it.
  5. Pink Durer dress - see the previous post and below
  6. wide dark brown woven belt - I have no materials for this yet, but I'd like to make a wide belt to wear with future Burgundian gowns. It will be one color, but the weave will make it look like two shades of the color in a checker pattern. I'm thinking of buying this buckle for it.
  7. leather belt - I bought a thin, red-brown unfinished leather belt at Border Raids. I want to do something like this, but I'm having trouble finding ends that are the right width.

I got the pink dress out this evening and started that project. I had my hubby take some photos of the dress pre-modification, and wow is it unflattering! I have to remind myself that it was made not knowing how large I would get when pregnant, but man, am I glad I decided to try and turn it into a different dress.

I took the panel out of the front center and removed the pleats that had flanked it. I think this will work, but I'm going to need help. Since mom will be busy with the teal wool dress, I might try to rope my hubby into pinning me up....

Here's the breakdown of what needs to be addressed with this dress:

  • fit the dress, taking out the bulk around the bust and trunk
  • modify the sleeves, fitting them a bit more. They are not set in sleeves, which may cause a problem.
  • shorten the dress, it's about 2 inches too long
  • rework the removed front panel into pleats
  • fit the back more using pleats that match the front
  • add gores to the front and back to make the skirt more full

One note: I'm about the fit not one, but two dresses, and I have to tell myself not to be disappointed when I look in the mirror and I don't look like many of the images I've found online of other costumer's fitted dresses. Not that I feel I am unattractive, it's just that I'm larger than I mentally feel like I am.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Apron Update

I'm about halfway through joining the pleats for my smocked apron. I've got 62 pleats and 7 rows, so if you care to do the math....that's a heck of a lot of smocking.

On a different note, I've been surfing the web in search of new dress diaries and costuming blogs in an effort to get more points of view on where I'm headed with my garb. Though I'm not really doing German, I am interested in all things 15th century, so this dress was an exciting find. I'm probably not going to wear my Viking garb again- it's awkward to wear, and too heavy for most events- so I'm thinking I'd like to try to convert the pink linen underdress into a similar dress to hers. I'm lucky that mom constructed it the way she did to allow for breastfeeding, but since I'm not able to do that anymore, I can take advantage of the extra fabric in the dress. This is something I can probably do on my own, since the hard work of putting sleeves on it has already been done. I'll have to pull it out and see.

Also, in addition to having my new teal wool dress to wear at Christmas Tourney, Owen will also be sporting a new outfit. We're going to do this in a dark green or blue (to indicate that he is a boy). Did you see his cute Viking garb over there -----> ?! Adorable!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Smocked Apron

I've started a new project- a smocked apron. I didn't have any large pieces of white linen, but I did have a medium weight cotton (drapery lining- hangs wonderfully), so I'm using that instead. I'm following the proceedure here, but it's pretty straight forward. Smocked aprons are found in the Lutrell Psalter, as well as some additional sources. Read this for more info. I'm only now just starting the actual smocking- joing the pleats together. Here's where I'm at right now:

I have a lot of pleats here, so this may take a while....

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Fresh Start

Well, I am now a mother. Owen Alfred Hurst was born on Tuesday, August 19th at 7:07pm after about 31 hours of induced labor.

I lost my baby weight pretty rapidly. About 3 weeks postpartum, I weighed 5 pounds less that I did when I first got pregnant! My body shape has changed, though. My breasts are slightly smaller, and in general, I'm more "boxy" in the torso- which actually works to make my butt look smaller.

So now it's time for new garb. I've been dreaming about the teal wool I bought at Spring Crown- anxious to have it made into a dress. I was going to do a front laced kirtle like this one, but last weekend I attended a lecture series by Robin Netherton that changed my mind....about a lot of things.

In my research on 15th century clothing, I had already come to the conclusion that the underdress was meant to be supportive (as I've spoken about in previous posts). However, I did not realize that the wide front opening of a front-laced dress should not really be worn by married women, or women over a certain age. The Gothic Fitted Dress, as Robin Netherton calls it, is also not, in any way, related to the Greenland gowns. This is an important point because the few examples I have from websources (such as Matilda's, linked to above) rely on the Greenland examples as the basis of their extant documentation. This is, simply, because the Greenland gowns are the only thing remotely related to the fitted dress that we have extant examples of today. Just because we have them, however, doesn't mean they prove a thing about the cut and construction of the GFD. (This is Netherton's theory, btw- I can't claim this idea.)

After the lecture, though, I did have a much better grasp of 15th century clothing, and have started to compile my research on the typical wardrobe of a 15th century woman. This is an extensive work- everything from underwear to headdresses will be discussed. I'd like to teach it as a class at some point, so having actual examples is key.

So, my lovely teal wool is being made into a gothic fitted dress (with no wide front opening). I only have 4 yards, so we're hoping that we can get long sleeves out of it. My mom and I will be working on the fit next weekend so that I have it to wear at Christmas Tourney this winter. I can't wait!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

D-day is almost here

I'm finally at the end of my pregnancy, and it looks like Owen will be arriving soon. I'm due on Sunday, but yesterday (Friday), I started to get contractions. Though this first stage of labor is long and somewhat confusing (was that a real contraction?) the ball has definitely started rolling. I've been able to sleep, as the contractions are not yet intense or frequent, but I feel like I can't be in bed right now.

On the garb front, not much has happened since my last post. Since we haven't gone to any events (Pennsic will be ending tomorrow), there hasn't been a need to think about garb. I've got some projects I'd like to start, including a 15th century open hood, a leather ring pouch (like the black flannel one I made, only better), and a belt like this one. These will probably be done while I'm on maternity leave.

It's unfortunate, really, that at this final stage of pregnancy, I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. My belly has rounded out (though my belly button is still an inny), and I feel that I look good- like being pregnant suits my frame. I fear that it will take a LOT of time and effort to loose the pregnancy weight, which may thwart some of my more elaborate garb plans (such as making a 16th century Flemish working dress), but I'll take it all in stride. I'll be so focused on Owen, I'm sure, that I won't really mind if my new body doesn't feel quite as comfortable as I'd like.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Accessories make the outfit

Dearg and I are having a "project" weekend. Yesterday, he started making a pair of leather shoes (Viking style), and I made a 15th century ring pouch. I had no idea how to go about making it, except to look at two pouches, here and here, and visually "reverse engineer" them. I had to restart (which ended the photo documentation I was doing), but at the end of the day, I had a brand new pouch!

The ring is a length of copper wire that I tried to bend into as perfect a circle as I could. The fabric is black flannel (left over from my hennin- more on that below). The tie is a 5-strand finger loop braid using pale green and light orange embroidery floss. The button is a deer antler button (the first one Dearg made). As a first attempt I'm pretty pleased with it!

At the moment, I'm inspired by this image. I love how casual this feels. She's wearing a burgundian, but instead of finishing it with a wide belt, she's wearing the sort of thin belt worn with a kirtle. She's also wearing a pouch on a long tie and a turban-style headdress. I can easily see how this is the best way to wear a formal burgundian all day at an event! Then for court, swap your belt and headdress and voila! You're lookin' snazzy for that off chance you'll have to go up in front of Their Majesties!

Speaking of headdresses, I thought I'd share with you the two I created for my class. I'd include a photo of the turban, but it's pretty basic and not much work.

They are both very comfortable to wear. I don't yet have a houpelaunde to wear with the heart-shaped headdress, but I can wear the hennin with either of the burgundians I have. These two photos were taken late, and I'm obviously not in garb, but they still look good. I've got to be a bit more careful with my hair when I wear these for real.
So now all I have to do is figure out what my project for today is....

Monday, July 14, 2008

A new obsession

My class went very well at Push for Pennsic this past weekend. I had four people attend the majority of both classes, two who stayed the entire time for both. It was an enjoyable experience and I received some great compliments. I'm not sure I'll teach it again as the two hour version, though, at least not soon. I've already started working on a one hour class that focuses on the hennin, expanding what I've already done. I plan on teaching it at Harvest Day, which will be the next event for us (with Owen in tow).

Dearg and I are suddenly on an authenticity kick. We like the SCA and certainly enjoy our time away from the house, but we're having a harder time seeing it as time way from the "real world". It's difficult to think of an SCA event as a re-creation event when we sit under a modern pop-up shade and pull our lunch bread rolls out of a plastic bag. How is this really any different from our real lives? We've tried to focus on being more authentic with our garb, and I'm sure that after the baby is born this will be an easier task for me. Dearg, who works with leather, is trying to use fewer modern tools. When I get to doing illumination again, I plan on applying that same thinking as best I can to my skill (though I won't be losing the light table any time soon). My "headdresses are awesome" kick is helping me focus on accessorizing myself in a more period manner.

It takes a lot of money to be authentic, though, and with a baby on the way, money isn't something we have right now. We just like the idea of going to an event and being at that event to escape the modern world- to do everything at an event in as authentic a way as possible. We see alot of European re-creation societies doing this, and are somewhat frustrated that there are no groups like that in the Midwest.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Looking Ahead

Now that I am only 5 weeks away from delivery, I'm starting to really think about my post-baby wardrobe. I can't wait to have the front-laced kirtle I bought the wool for at Crown Tourney- I plan on wearing it at Harvest Day, which will also be my son's debut event.

My son's first set of garb is already in the works. He'll be attending Harvest Day in full-on Viking. My mother has already made some adorable crochet booties, and my husband has a mini pouch planned. I'll be making him a Viking cap, and mom will be making the shirt and pants after he's born (so we know how big to make them).

Depending on how the kirtle turns out, I may stick with those until I get my figure back. The fuller, more formal gowns of the 15th Century won't look as flattering if I don't loose the baby weight, so I don't plan on having any new ones of those at least until next year. Unless I get trim really fast, but that's never happened to me before....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Obsession due to lack of options

I've been obsessed with 15th century headdresses lately. I think it's because, as I get more and more pregnant, it's easier for me to do research on them, and sit and create them than it is to do my other SCA passion- illumination. In fact, I've had to pack my light table away while we prepare the house for the baby, as it had been set up in what is now the nursery. Headdresses don't require quite as much leaning over, which has become difficult.

I've been so obsessed, in fact, that I've scheduled myself to teach a class on 15th century women's headdess at Push for Pennsic this month. It will be a two part class (separated by lunch) that will cover four popular styles of the 15th century, complete with the physical examples I am personally creating.

I've been working on the most difficult of the four headdress- the heart-shaped headdress, which I was inspired to start creating after viewing this. I decided to try using a combination of fiberfill, wire and fabric, rather than try to find straw hats like hers. I got a good start, but our new dog decided that the styrofoam head looked like a good thing to chew on, and the structural instability of what I had done thus far made me rethink my process.

I decided to switch my thinking to producing a later 15th century hennin (truncated). I had some difficulty figuring out how to accomplish the lappet, or brim, but I found a random forum entry (4th entry down) that helped me figure it out. It may not be the period way of doing it, but it achieves the same look.

I'll also be creating a version of the horn & veil headdress and the lowerclass turban for the class. If you'll be at Push this year, look for my class on the schedule: "Creating and Wearing 15th Century Headdress for Women".

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Popular Working Headdress

I've been seeing this headdress around a lot lately. I had seen it originally last year when I read through the Compleat Anachronist #100, A Veiled Reference. They had used this period example as a basis, but I disagreed with their theory that the whole thing was just one long rectangle. I chose to create my version using two long limbs that overlap once in the back then looped up around the head and tucked securely in at the back. Then the front is folded back. I think I may have too much to fold back on mine, but it doesn't bother me enough to change it.

I spotted the same idea at Kingdom A&S, but there didn't appear to be any looping bands on that one- it was more of a coif with a folded back front. Somehow, she had the back fastened so that her hair was concealed- tucked up into it almost like a snood.

Matilda la Zouche created a version of it as well. Instead of limbs cut from the rectangle, she fastened two long bands to the base of a coif with a folded back front. The photos of her version are that the end of this page.

I like this headdress. It's extremely easy to put on and wear all day, and works with both short and long hair. The original (linked above) appears in The Romance of the Rose, a 14th century manuscript, so I wear it mostly with cotehardies. I would say that it's a working class headdress, which makes it perfect for those busy events. This is one that I hope I see a lot more of.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fit is my Friend

On a whim, I tried on an old bright orange dress that I always felt comfortable in to see how it fit with my belly. It's a cotton cotehardie, with lacing up the back, that my mom had made as a template for my wedding dress. It was made to fit over my wedding underwear- a push-up bra and belly-shaper, so I figured that, out of all my dresses, it would be the most fitted. The dress looked very good, hugging my bust in just the right way, and flowing perfectly over my belly with out a loss of length in the front. I wore a bra that I rarely wear that I've designated my "garb" bra. It made a big difference to the look.

I wore that same bra at Kingdom A&S today under my pale green pseudo-burgundian (the one I'm wearing in my blog photo on the right). I didn't get any pictures of me in it today, but I felt that I looked a bit more supported, which is definately what I'm going for. I also experimented with a semi 15th century headdress that I threw together last minute using some random pieces I had in my accessory box (or my "Box-of-Tricks", as I call it). I placed a long sheer veil over my head at about the halfway point (so that the front drapped down in front of my face to about mid-bust), then placed a fur-covered circlet-type thing over that, then folded the front of the veil back over it. I then pinned the front corners together to try to hide my hair. It was a bit odd, but overall it worked, and nobody looked at me funny- which is always a good thing!

On a completely different note, I have stumbled upon another idea for breast support in my continued research on 15th century garb- breast binding. I had always associated breast binding with women desiring to hide their gender (i.e. Joan of Arc), but after reading this article, and finding another mention of breast binding on Marie Chantal Cadieux's site, I decided that the practice might be practical for a woman as shapely as I. I will need to experiment to find out what thickness the band should be to be effective and comfortable. I would say that 3 inches wide is a good starting point. I'll purchase a cheap bead sheet and cut two strips from that, then sew one of the ends together to give me a good amount of length.

I purchased the prettiest pale teal wool today to use for my front-laced kirtle. It's 60 in wide, so I only brought 4 yards, but that should be plenty. My mother, Elspeth, and I have never really been all that interested in making garb with authentic materials in the past, but she and I have both gotten to a point in our SCA career that it seems appropriate to start. I did have a wool dress in my early SCA days, but I don't believe that was 100% wool. Since then, the closest I've gotten is a linen/rayon blend. I brought several different colors of it when it was on sale, so I've got a couple dresses of it. It looks like linen, but it doesn't quite hang like linen- it's a bit heavier.
So the 100% wool is a big step for me. I love the color- I think it will look good against my skin tone and bring out the green in my eyes. I was going to get the lightweight white linen for the smock/chemise, but that was too close to breaking the bank. I'll just keep my eyes open in the fall for white linen at the local fabric store instead. I think a maroon or plum color would look perfect with the teal, so I'll look for that to make the placket and sleeves.

Lastly, I've completed the re-sizing of my Elizabethan coif. I missed a long section of the band when I stitched the final side, so I have to go back and fix it, but it's essentially complete. I don't currently have any appropriate outfit to wear it with, and I just cut my hair, so it will have to go in my Box-of-Tricks for now. By the time my hair has grown out, I should have my Flemish working dress complete to wear it with. Gotta have the baby first, though.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bigger head than I thought

So I worked on my Elizabethan cap at Coronation yesterday and got midway through it when it occurred to me that I had not double checked my sizing. Thus I ended up with something way too small. I completed it anyway, just to get an idea of how it goes together. Except for the size, it turned out nearly perfect. I had intended it to be reversible, but didn't pay attention to where my whip stitching was on the other side. Since it was too small to wear, I turned it into a pouch for holding some of my sewing supplies and tied it to my basket. Here are some photos:

Sewing the band onto the cap.

The band is sewn all the way around on one side; checking to see how it looks. This is when I realized it was too small. You can tell how windy it was by looking at the loose threads!

The completed cap; this shows where the band is stitched together. My hand shows the scale- clearly the cap is too small.

The cap turned into a pouch. I just cut two small slits on the inside band and pulled some seam-binding I had through it. I used some embroidery floss to stitch around the holes so they won't tear or fray. It's a bit big for a pouch, but there's nothing else the cap is good for! Now I know to sew the band into a hoop at the right size before I sew the circle to it. I'll also need to be more careful when I stitch the other side of the band to keep the whole thing reversible.

Garb-wise, I had the chance to wear viking garb for the first time in my nearly 12-year SCA career. My husband, Dearg, is researching a viking persona, and as Lutr and Tessa are both viking as well, it seemed appropriate that we go in viking. My mother, Elspeth, made all three outfits. She had the beads and belt all worked out, but I didn't have time, so I look a bit plain. I wore a different bra than I normally do, so my bust was well supported. My underdress and smock are modified to accommodate my growing belly, but the apron dress is cut fairly close. I was warm inside, but it was the perfect weight for when we sat outside. Here's a photo of the three of us:

I love the coifs mom made. She embroidered a modification of my device around the front edge (she did the same to hers). I had it tied back most of the day, especially when we were sitting in the wind while we watched the fighting. The photo is so bright you can't really tell, but my underdress is pink. Dearg and I matched- he wore brown and gray plaid pants. You can see that beads would have made a big difference to my dress, but all-in-all, I felt that I looked pretty good. The important thing is that I was comfortable.

So I've got a few weeks before the next event, Crown Tournament. I'll probably wear my fancier Burgundian on Saturday. We'll be bringing in a new member to our household, Clan Bredi. Then I'll wear my lighter Burgundian on Sunday. Between now and then, I'll try that cap again.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Focusing on my Head

One of the things I wish we saw more of in the Society is headdress. There are only a handful of time periods/regions that did not embrace the need to cover the head in pre-17th century Europe, so why do we not see more headgear? Part of the reason, I'm sure, is that most people, especially women, think that wearing a headdress beyond the simple veil or coif is impractical. That's true to a certain extent. The largest and most cumbersome of medieval headdresses were worn by upper class women who had little to do in the day, while many the modern medieval woman is a flurry of activity during events. I feel, however, that this is a cop-out. The real reason probably has something to do with patience (or lack there of). Putting one's tresses into a headdress is not a quick task, and when all you want to do is get into the event and start forgetting about the modern world, the task doesn't seem all that important.

However, there are several good, quick, headdresses out there. The french hood, the henin and veil (the henin need not be a mile high), and cauls (whether they are exactly period or not) are all good headdresses that are easy to assemble onto the head and wear throughout the day. In the summer sun, straw hats worn with snoods, coifs or caps are appropriate and period. Even the simple veil can be enhanced with the addition of a fillet and barbette (which is how the veil should be worn to look right- see this article).

I can't speak too loudly here, for I must admit that I don't always wear a headdress. My excuse is that if I'm going to make and wear a headdress, I want to make and wear it right. This means that I need to have good materials- something I am consistently lacking.

But not today! In researching Flemish garb, I decided that my limited sewing skills and lack of sewing machine did not prevent me from attempting to construct an Elizabethan cap. While I am at Coronation this weekend, I intend on hand sewing the cap together. I may do some embroidery on the band first, if I can find my embroidery floss. I will post photos on Sunday if I accomplish this task. The funny thing is that I'll be wearing my new Viking garb this weekend. Talk about anachronistic.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The biggest boob(s) in the SCA

I am now 6 months pregnant, and though it has taken some time for my plus-size frame to look more like I'm carrying a child than a baker's dozen of doughnuts, I've found it quite difficult to feel good in the garb that I wear. Part of this issue is that my tailor, my lovely mother, Elspeth, has not had the fortune of fitting many pregnant women with clothing, and would much rather over-estimate how much my belly will grow than have to construct new garb every two months. This is not something I can blame her for, obviously, but the effect of the over-compensation is moderately flattering at best.

My biggest issue (no pun intended) is my quite ample chest. I sported a large bust even before I became pregnant, but now I push the limits of a DDD cup. On the whole, due to diet and exercise, medieval women never had the fortune of having a larger bust size than hip size, so it is nearly impossible to look at any period garment and say "Oh, I can really see myself in this." Most often, I feel good in the dresses I wear, but when I spot myself in a mirror, or I see a photo of myself, I instantly feel that my breasts overwhelm and the look is not at all period.

I have discovered lately, through my new interest in Flemish garb, that this issue can be solved with something I appear to be lacking- ample support. This, however, is a difficult solution given my current condition. I will not be wearing a corset any time soon (nor am I likely to go that route even after my son is born), but apparently my padded mundane bra is not going to do the trick on its own. My prevailing thought now is that if I can lift and support my breasts properly, it will be much easier for the casual observer to realize that I'm pregnant and not just putting on weight- something I have wished for throughout my pregnancy.

This need for better support, and my extensive searching for Flemish garb, has led me to one easy change I feel my wardrobe must make- more fitted garments. Previously, like most SCAdian women, my dress of choice has been the cotehardie. It took several attempts before my mother found the right pattern for my body shape, but we have discovered that even before pregnancy, my weight is constantly in shift. This has caused most of my cotehardies to be made with the same loose fit, to accommodate anything that my body decided to do. This became clearly obvious to me this past weekend when I was able to wear one of these cotehardies and experienced no tightness around my belly. In fact, even my bust had room. This demonstrated to me that my cotehardies are too big- in general, even for pregnancy. The premise of the cotehardie is to provide support, and every period example of this sort of dress shows it cut tight to the body- almost as though it's acting like a modern girdle. Though we wear them as outer garments in the SCA, cotehardies are, for all intents and purposes, underwear; doing the same job as a bra.

The 14th and 15th century equivalent to the cotehardie for the Flemish is the kirtle, which appears to be appropriate for both under and outer wear in the 14th century. I have found many examples of front laced kirtles that I find very attractive and useful (as I intend to breast feed). Two such examples I reference often are Marie Chantal Cadieux's kirtles found here, and Matilda la Zouche's kirtle found here. I have yet to determine if one of these dresses can look right with a baby belly, but this will no doubt be my first dress post-pregnancy. Until then, I will see if any of my current garb can be modified to provide the support I so desperately lack.