Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Game Plan

I got the pattern for my dress from my mom yesterday, and I've got all the materials for it ready to go.  So here's the plan:

1. Layout black and lavender linen together (one on top of the other).
2. Place pattern pieces and cut out sections.
3. Sew sections together (all seam allowances on the inside instead of encased between the layers).
4. Try on and adjust as needed.  I know from the teal dress that changes around the bust and along the lower back are needed.
5. Keep track of all adjustments and alter pattern as needed.
6. Re-sew seams as needed.
7. Flat-fell seam allowance on the inside to end up with black stripes on the lavender.  Why, you ask? In the end, I believe that this method will be easier to deal with, and I won't get a shifting of the inner layer and outer layer the way I do on my teal dress.  I have also seen this done by some other costumers, and do not mind the result.
8. Make some marks around the neckline of the dress to follow for hand embroidery.  I have two shades of purple and a dark gray pearl cotton for this.  I want it to be subtle and simple.  I haven't found a pattern yet, so that needs to happen before I get to this step.
9. Punch lacing holes and stitch eyelets.  I'll use my black silk thread for this.
10. Create black fingerloop braid lace.
11. Wear new black linen dress to Candlemas in February!

I'll also probably try to fit in the creation of a new 15th century headdress, 'cuz you know I don't have enough of those....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wow. It's almost a New Year.

Sorry I've been gone so long! The mundane things I had on my plate have actually taken more time and energy than I expected. I don't want to talk too much about it (I try to keep my mundane life separate from my SCA life), but if you're interested in what I've been up to, you can click here.

We skipped the event last weekend, so I've got no event news to share. I've got a couple of ideas for classes brewing, and I've got a plan to get my class notes and documentation online over the course of the next few months. I have some great step-by-step photos taken by my friend Lillian of all my veil styles that I'm eager to get together and show off.

Next on my plate, however, is the black linen dress. I'll be starting that immediately after Christmas (and my birthday- I turn the big 3-0 on the 26th!).

So, for the moment, I'm still laying low, but great things are ahead!

P.S. I just jumped over to this post on Racaire's blog- What a great idea! What an inspiration!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Outfit information

Sorry it took me a while to get back to you all about the sources for my 15th century outfit from the last post. In fact, after this post, I'll be quiet for a bit. We're entering the slower event season for this area, so I'm going to be taking a break from the SCA for the rest of this month as well as next month. I've got some mundane things that have been piling up that I need to focus on for a while. But I still have some projects to work on before the next event, so when I get started on those I'll check back in.

So, I wanted to share with you some of the bits and pieces I used to come up with my finished 15th century working class outfit. Most of research started by looking at completed outfits by other folks, and getting an idea of what I thought I might like. These included:
Marie Chantel Cadieux's front laced kirtle and
Matilda La Zouche's short-sleeve kirtle

Then in October of last year, I attended a day of lectures by medieval fashion historian Robin Netherton. In her lecture on the Gothic Fitted Dress, she made mention of the fact that the open front variety is not seen on most women- only those in distress or on girls. Her information was both informative and inspirational. The best thing that I took away was the confirmation that the underdress made a huge difference. Under my lovely teal wool is a slightly less lovely underdress doing the job of keeping myself in place.

Robin had great information about the fitting method, but it was Tasha Kelly McGann's Le Cotte Simple site and Charlotte Johnson's Costly Thy Habit that I found really valuable.

I was also interested in Marie Chatel Cadieux's open hoods. Looking for further information, I discovered Lia de Thornegge's open hood, and decided to make one. Marie did such a great job pulling images together, so I won't worry about adding any here.

As far as period sources for the dress goes, the 1432 manuscript of Le Decameron is a great source, as well as the dresses listed under "Kirtles" on Hope Greenberg's 15th Century Dress page.

I used a million other sources along the way, including other recreations and random finds of period images, but these are the things that got me started.

I'll be making another fitted dress next, a black linen dress with a lavender lining. There are a few minor adjustments I need to make, but overall I now have a dress pattern that works much better than my previous dresses and make a huge difference in making me feel that I am doing more to be authentic.

So, enjoy the autumn, and I'll "see" you again in December!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hooray Garb!

I am proud to present to you my completed 15th century working-class outfit- I love it!

I'm standing a little odd in the middle picture, so I look kind of uneven, but the side and back views definitely make up for it. I love the side view!

I started the day without a bra, which is how the fitted dress is supposed to be, but by the time we got to the event, the "support" aspect of the dress had ultimately failed. I have very large and heavy breasts- I'm a DDD cup size (which is just a nicer way of saying "a size F"), and the fact is that very little in this world can keep them properly defying gravity and in place. Luckily, I had the foresight to throw my bra into my hatbox. So the photos above are of me with the bra on. I felt much better after I put it on (yesterday was the first time in a very long time that I went out into public without a bra, so I was really self-conscious about it.) Unlike my other dresses, my fitted dress and bra worked together to create a comfortable and flattering shape. I don't think of it as a compromise- I just needed to find what worked for me. The fitted dress will need a small amount of additional tailoring to account for how much the linen/cotton stretched as it warmed up, but I look at the whole thing as a pretty great success.

The teal dress is wonderful. It was well worth the cost of the fabric. Yesterday was a chilly day, and the dress was the perfect weight. I was wearing 6 layers (with one of those layers being both the third layer in the chest of the fitted dress and my bloomers covering my lower body from my waist to my knees.) I was also wearing my knit knee-high socks. My only problem was that the fitted dress and the wool dress are both short sleeved, and the pin-on linen sleeves (which I borrowed from mom) were only barely heavy enough, and there was a little gap at the back of my arms.

In addition to my dress, I was able to also make a mini-houppelande for Owen out of some burgundy corduroy. I think it ended up a little too short, or maybe a little too wide, but he looked really handsome. I made some pseudo-hose out of the gold knit cotton I ended up using to make a scarf for myself, but they were a little too small, so he wore a pair of blue pajama pants. Dearg made him a new belt, recycling the belt tip and buckle from the belt Dearg made for him when he was a newborn.

I even made a fake chaperone out of the scraps from my teal wool. He hates hats, so he didn't really wear it, but it was very cute when it was on his head! For the majority of the day, he looked like the photo on the right above- a perfect little gentleman.

My open hood is also perfect. It fits perfectly, looks perfect, was the perfect accessory, etc. I loved wearing it all day- all the hard work was worth it!

The only problem I had with it was that I didn't make the best choice for what to wear under it. I chose to wear my cut-off shirt sleeve, which I normally wear under my veils as my "head underwear". I think I need a new sleeve, though, because it stretched quicker than normal yesterday and it kept slipping back. I had adjusted the whole thing shortly before this photo was taken, and I put the sleeve too far down, but this photo was better to show it than the one we took right after it, after I readjusted it so the sleeve was in the right place. I think the back of the hood kept popping up, but I can use a small pin the keep that in place in the future.
I'll post more about the open hood in the next day or so, as well as more information about the inspiration and sources I used for the items of my outfit, but for now I'm glad all that hard work is over and I have great garb specific to my period and flattering to my frame.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Almost There!

My dresses are almost complete. They just need sleeves and to be hemmed (in addition to a few minor finishing touches). I'd like to try to fit in a new coat for Owen made from the left over wool. I'm liking the one on the younger boy here, but I don't think I'll have enough wool. I may need to pick something up, but I don't know if I'll have enough time to make it worth while right now.

In other news, mom wore the fillet and barbette at Coronation last weekend. Here's a photo:

Stay tuned after this weekend for photos of all my new garb!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One Down

I have completed the black open hood, and it turned out perfect! I'm not going to post photos of it just yet- I'm going to wait until the event next weekend to get pictures.

Now, on to the next- sewing the teal wool dress together.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

OK, maybe the whip isn't needed...yet

I got my events mixed up. I've actually got two weeks before the next event. But I still need to get going on these projects. I think I'll have the hood done by Wednesday. I've finished the most difficult part (handsewing across the front to secure the brim into place), and just need to sew the back seam. I'm debating doing that on the machine to save time. I probably won't because I did the rest of it by hand. My preliminary "fittings" have been good- it seems to actually be looking the way it is supposed to.

On the dress front, mom gave me the fabric I need to line the black linen I purchased a few weeks ago. It's a lavender linen that will add a nice feminine touch to the sedate dress I have planned. I'd like to do a simple purple and gray embroidered pattern around the neckline- nothing too fancy.

I asked mom to cut out the wool for the teal dress. She has waaaay more experience cutting out dresses than I do, and the fabric was such a huge investment for me, I didn't want to screw it up. The dress is sitting in its pieces in my sewing room right now (very exciting), but it will have to wait until I get the hood finished and complete the lacing holes on the fitted underdress. I'd like to hand sew the teal dress, but if it looks like I'm going to run out of time, I don't have a problem with using the machine.

I also now have the silk yarn I need for my silk belt. I've been trying to decide the best way to dye it. I want a very dark color. Initially, I thought I'd go for a dark brown- such as the brown I'd get from a walnut dye- but I've kind of changed my mind. I recently saw the results of dyeing with Lady's Bedstraw and iron. It produces a very dark gray (red from the bedstraw, darked by the iron), and I think that it's exactly the color I'm going for. I need to do some more looking, however, to see if there may be a different and easier way of achieving that color. I know for certain, though, that I'll need the iron to get as dark as I want.

While I'm working on figuring that out, I'm also trying to plan ahead for the next step- the card weaving. I don't have a loom, and my mom is usually using hers. I may need to ask around to see if I can borrow one.

Finally, I need to figure out what may have been worn under the hood. The hair needs to be pulled up at the crown of the head to achieve the desired shape (so that the liripipe doesn't just hang flat), so a coif or anything that leaves the hair low isn't going to do the trick. I'm thinking that in may be a bandana-like headwrap. I'll need to experiment once the hood is complete.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Holy Moses.  I have a week to get everything done before the next event!  

I had a somewhat major setback on the open hood when I realized that there was in fact a right and wrong side to the wool.  Not only did have it wrong side out, I had the gores right side out.  So I had to take the whole thing apart and start over.  Since I'm hand sewing the whole thing, it's taking a while to complete it.  If it's not ready by Red Dragon, then I'll just take it to work on.

The fitted dress is so close to being done as well, but I haven't been able to get the lacing holes completed on it.  We need to get those finished before we can put on the sleeves and hem it up.  

Time to get the old whip out....   Crack. Work, Edyth, Work!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Can't make up my mind

I apologize for all the changes to this blog's look lately. I just haven't found a scheme that I'm happy with. If you've followed me for a while, you may have noticed that I change things up here at least once a month. I'm not the sort of person that likes visual regularity-if it's something I can change easily, I tend to change it often. Sometimes I get something I like right off, other times it takes me a while. This seems to be one of those times.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scientific Progress Goes "Boink"?

The walnuts I was soaking were ready yesterday for making the dye and testing it. I removed the nuts and set the pot on the stove to boil for 2 hours. I tried to keep my eye on it, but in the last 20 minutes, it reduced all the way down- evaporating all the liquid. So I had to put water back into the pot to salvage it. So I ended up with a very diluted dye. It was also very late in the day by the time I got actually put the fabric in, so I didn't soak and heat it like I was supposed to.

I ended up with a piece of tan linen with a slightly rosy cast to it. There isn't much of it, maybe enough for a pouch or a favor. Overall, I don't think the dyeing was a failure- I did end up with a pretty color- but my process had some obvious issues.

First, I needed more walnuts to begin with. I only had 12 and 4 of them were no longer green. I should have started with about 24 green nuts. Second, I needed to add more water at the beginning to avoid the whole thing boiling down, and covering the pot would have prevented the evaporation. Finally, I needed to plan ahead and devote an afternoon on the weekend to doing the entire process to achieve better color results.

In other news, I've been making steady progress on the black open hood. I'm about to sew the front brim (which is two layers of wool with a layer of linen sandwiched between them) into place. I used these instructions to sew the gores into place, but it looks like I'll need to do some adjustments to the linen gores to get them to fit tight against the wool. I'm using silk thread for the first time, and so far I like it. I figured that I was using 100% wool and 100% linen, I should use 100% silk thread too and turn it into an A&S project. If you're looking for silk thread, I found Gutermann Pure Silk thread at JoAnn's Fabric store, but only the larger stores seem to carry it. The spool of 100m was $3.99.
Also, my fitted underdress in nearly complete! I need to create the lacing holes and we still need to attached the sleeves and hem it, but the hard part is done. It's quite comfortable and supportive, and since we used light-weight linen/cotton, I don't think I'll really notice the extra layer under heavier dresses. We had a little issue with the back seam going off-center, and you can see where the lining layer ends halfway down the skirt, but I don't intend this dress to ever be seen, so I'm not worried about these little details. As long as it does the job.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

13th - 14th C. Barbette

As promised, here's the how-to for the 13th-14th century barbette to go with the frilled fillet. Blogger won't enlarge this one, so hopefully you can see the pictures well enough to get the jist.

Step 1: You may want to make a pattern instead of cutting directly in to your linen. To create the pattern, cut one end with a width of roughly 5" when measured straight across, but with a slight arch. This will become the center, so the curve is to conform to the curve of your head.

Step 2: Measure your head thusly- starting at the top center of your head (back just in front of your crown) measure down around your chin, back up the other side, over the centerpoint to where the fillet will end up sitting. Add about 1" for seam allowance (.5" at top and .5" at bottom). Use this measurement to find your total length. The whole length of the front edge can be straight. For the back edge, cut a long, shallow curve in until the cut reaches a width of about 2" from the front edge.

Step 3: Take your linen and double it up. Lay your pattern out and cut our the barbette, adding a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around.

Step 4: Measure your head again thusly: starting at the top center (same as before), measure down around your chin (going the opposite direction you did before) and back up the other side to where the fillet will end up sitting. Use this measurement to shorten one end of the barbette. This will allow you to overlap the two ends without adding an having to cross them.

Step 5: Sew the top together, maintaining the curve and a 1/2" seam allowance.

Step 6: Fold over the seam allowance, and stitch down. I did this by hand to avoid puckering issues due to the curve of the seam.

Step 7: Hem both edges. I did this part with the machine to save time. If you hand sew it, you can do a better job of hiding the stitching. If you do it on machine, choose the smallest stitch length your machine will do.

Step 8: Fold in the ends and stitch down.

Step 9: Remove all pins and marvel at how incredibly easy that was.

As I mentioned before, this is actually for my mom, but I wanted to show you what the finished look is. This style works with any 13th or 14th century dress.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

13th-14th C. Fillet

Click on the image below to see it larger. It shows the steps outlined below for creating a 13th - 14th century frilled fillet.

The first two images show period examples of the frilled fillet. The one on the left is from the Maciejowski Bible. The other is from the Manesse Codex.

Step 1: Cut out two lengths of linen with a length equal to the size of your head (around your forehead) plus some for seam allowance, and a width of about 2.5". If your linen is lightweight (which mine is) cut a third piece of equal size. I used a piece of cotton as it will be completely hidden and I don't want to waste the linen.

Step 2: Pile the strips together, with the inner layer on top, and sew them together along one edge with about a 1/4" seam allowance. This is the bottom edge.

Step 3: Cut out one length of linen about 2.75" wide and equal to about 1.5 x the length of the first strips. The longer you make this strip, the more pleats will be in the frill. Fold in half lengthwise and sew together with about a 1/4" seam allowance. Do NOT turn inside out- you'll need that seam allowance to attach it to the band.

Step 4: Put the three-layer thick band and the frill down on a flat surface, and pin the ends of the frill to the ends of the band. You'll need to pin the frill between the layers and fold the top layer seam allowance in while you do. I put the front outer layer and the inner layer down at the back, so I was looking at what would be the back of the band. Only pin the frill to the back layer- leave the front two free.

Step 5: Find the center of the frill and pin down to the center of the band. Take the center of the frill to the left of the pin and pin to the center of the band between the end and pin. Apply that same thinking all the way across, creating even folds as much as possible until the entire frill is pinned to the band. Sew the frill to the back band layer (as close to the edge of the fold on the back layer as you can).

Step 6: Turn the band over and fold the front two layers of the band down along the top to (same as you did at the back) and pin down. You won't be able to machine sew the front to the frill because you don't want the stitching to show at the front, so get ready to hand sew.

Step 7: Hand stitch the top edge of the front hem fold to the frill in a tight stitch, making sure that the thread isn't overtly visible. This step will take the longest to complete, depending on how fast you hand stitch.

Step 8: Fold in half, putting the front in, and sew the ends together (double check your length to make sure you don't use too much overlap and make it too small). Turn right-side out.

Step 9: Determine how you would like to finish the ends. If you have enough seam allowance to turn under, do so by hand stitching (don't sew through to the front). I didn't end up having enough, so I added a panel to cover the open ends, and hand stitched it in place.

Step 10: Remove all pins and admire the fruits of your labor! This took me the better part of a day (about 5 hours all told), but by combining machine sewing and hand sewing, I saved time without sacrificing the finished look.

This fillet is for my mom, so it's a little larger than mine would be. To complete the style, you'll need a barbette. Stay tuned for that how to (which is a lot easier)! You'll also need a caul (or hairnet) to polish the look.

On a completely different note, I've decided not to enter the A&S50 Challenge. The fact is, I've already got a pretty full project pile, and I need to be working toward completing it without feeling that I have to add more to it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Black Tuesday

Stopped at the fabric store this weekend in the hope that there would be a Labor Day sale. Scored some linen at 50% off. I picked up 1 yard of white 100% linen to do two barbette/frilled fillet sets (one for me, one for mom); a 1/2 yard of black 100% linen to use for the lining on the black wool open hood I have scheduled to complete by the first weekend in October; and 5 yards of black 45% linen/55% rayon (my linen of choice for my budget) for the black linen dress I've been planning (something like this one from Medioevale Cibo Lotta). So I've got all this black material strewn about my craft space.

I'm going to be on the lookout for a dark grey or maybe even a purple to line the black dress with. Whichever color I end up with, I'll do a matching trim around the neckline. Probably a simple embroidered line or two. I'd also like to do fabric buttons for the arms.

If all goes well, you'll be seeing a handful of things from me through the month of September, including:
My Gothic Fitted Underdress (almost complete!)
The Infamous Teal Wool Dress (which is held up by the fitted dress)
A Black Open Hood
Some Walnut Dyeing Experiments

I picked up some walnuts at the last event and plan to do some simple dyeing to get an idea of how to do it. Not sure what I'm going to dye yet, though. Nothing too serious since I know from experience that I never get anything right on the first try.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A&S50 Challenge

I've been trying to decide if I want to join the A&S50 Challenge. I've already made plans to create several items that fit the "Persona" challenge, but I'm not entirely sure that I'll have the time or money to follow through with 50 different things. I know I've got several years, but I can't really plan that far ahead.

I think I might go ahead and create the list of 50 projects, starting with what I have in my project pile. Then make a decision by the end of September.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Veil - 15th Century German

I know that there is a name for everything in German, but I haven't been able to locate the name for this style veil. So to me, it's my 15th c. German veil. Descriptive enough?

I used a heavy cotton (it's supposed to be used for lining curtains) that I don't think I washed before making the veil (not a bad thing- you'll see why in a moment). I started with a 30" x 24" (roughly) rectangle and created four pleats at about .25" wide each along the shorter end. I used the machine to stitch each pleat down in two places.

I played with it for a while and realized that I needed to trim about 4" off the end, and taper it at the back so that I didn't end up with a lot of bulk. As I played with it, I was battling 2 issues- the fabric was stiff causing really ugly points as it tried to go over the curve of my head, and I put the pleats too far back from the front edge. So I threw it in the wash.

After pulling it out of the dryer and realizing that it wasn't as stiff, that's when I thought that I might not have washed it previously. But in washing it, the pleats developed a lovely perpendicular rippling from the stitching that I think adds a nice quality and helps them stand out more.

So, I folded back the extra on the front to bring the pleats closer to the edge. This seems to be fixing the point problem.
My hair isn't quite long enough to do the braid loops in a period fashion- I have to rely on some modern hardware- but this veil style doesn't look as good without them. I don't often show this much hair- I think that's why my husband thinks this look is sexy.

This was an insanely easy project (with the help of the sewing machine), and I'm glad I decided to go ahead and make it. Now I'll have something new to wear this weekend!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Medieval Do's & Don'ts

I've got several projects I should be working on, but there is absolutely no interest in my bones right now. So instead, I present The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist's Medieval Garb Do's & Don'ts (sorry, I've been reading Glamour magazine lately....).

Don't use fashion history books that rely on artist's renderings for your garb research, unless they back up their drawings with period images. Especially steer clear of Victorian-era fashion histories. 
Do take a look at period images to get inspiration for your next garb project.  There are many sources online, but I find that a Google image search usually gets me started in the right direction.

Don't worry if you can't afford 100% natural materials for your garb. Instead,
Do keep an eye out at your local fabric store for natural materials blended with a less costly fiber. When I'm on a budget, I go for the 45% linen/55% rayon "linen look" fabric. 

Don't base your garb on what you see other people wearing. Everyone puts their own personal spin on their garb, and some people really don't know what they're doing.
Do ask others for the sources they used for their garb, and be sure to tell them what you like about their outfit.  There's nothing like the jolt of confidence a compliment gives a person.

Don't bother washing your hair before an event...
Do make, barter for or purchase at least 1 good linen veil.  I can think of 6 ways to wear one off the top of my head, and all of them require nothing more than a few straight pins.

Speaking of headdress, Don't underestimate how far less than a yard of fabric can go.  Most hats can be made with very little material.
Do be sure, however, to measure twice, cut once.

On behalf of all those women actually doing it right, Don't use "Middle Eastern" as an excuse to wear barely-there garb.  
Do know that chances are good that the kind of men you're going to hang out with in a medieval group are more likely to be turned on by not being able to see your knees.

Don't use movies as sources.  Generally speaking, movie costumes are props- they are not constructed the same as a daily-wear outfit is.  They can be great inspiration, though, so
Do research period versions of movie costumes to separate fiction from reality.

Along that same line, Don't, and this is a huge don't, use crushed velvet, metallic fabrics, lycra/spandex, pleather or jersey (knit) for serious garb.  You won't be taken seriously.
Also, Do invest in appropriate underwear.  Whether you can do period or not, the proper undergarments make all the difference to the look of your outfit. 

Finally Don't be afraid to take pictures of your progress while making garb.  You'll be happy to have the visual references as you make your garb- they can clue you in to issues you may not see otherwise.
Do take a look at the hundreds of dress diaries and garb-related blogs on the web for ideas, inspiration and research assistance.  I hope The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist has done so for you, and thank you for reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new hat project

I've started to formulate a plan for my new class, and I think it will work pretty well. Instead of a demonstrative class like my veil class (where I actually put the veils on), I'm planning to do more of a slide-slow/description class. I'll print out 11" x 14" color images of the various 15th century headdress worn by upper class women and use them as the visuals while I discuss each one. I'll also have a black & white note version for the attendees. In addition to the "slides", I'll also display my hats to use as props when I talk about recreating the looks.

I have the henin and heart-shaped headdress that I created for my first class on 15th century headdress, and they're passable, but I've been wanting to do a better job on the heart-shaped hat. This new class is the perfect opportunity, and since I don't have any other major projects pressing, a new hat looks to be in order. I've also been promising myself that I'll create a bourelette (horn) headdress. So maybe 2 hats are in order. Because you know I'm always looking for an excuse to make another headdress....

I picked up a remnant of a pale greenish blue faux linen (polyester/rayon blend) that's the perfect width an length for a padded roll. I think I'll use some of that brown linen I've got to create the bourelette (maybe embroider it and add pearly beads). Then the roll can be added to it to fancy it up. There is evidence that these were two separate pieces- Marie-Chantal Cadieux found an example (#15 under "The Forked Hennin"). I'm hoping it will look something like the 3 boureletts in this:

There is a pattern in The Medieval Tailor's Assistant that I'm going to try out, but I find it difficult to translate the patterns (with no measurements) into 3-dimensional reality. I have a feeling there will be some trial and error involved, but how is that not true of everything I make?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Definitely back in the saddle

I pulled all my fabric out to take inventory and get it off the floor. I didn't realize I had as much as I did (not that I have as much as I could...), and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it. I'd spotted a neat idea of using a rod and hangers to organize fabric in the new IKEA catalog, and since I had several baby hangers that Owen doesn't need right now, I decided to use those. We have a semi-permanent clothes line in the living room, so that's where every thing's hanging for the moment. Most of them already have a purpose, or at least a idea.

From right to left:
1. purple linen for Dearg's tunic,
2. patterned cotton I've had kicking around for a few years- it hasn't "spoken" to me yet,
3. off-white striped linen for veil(s) of some type,
4. cheap green fabric I'm using for the fitted dress pattern,
5. cotton for Owen's new under-shirt and sleeveless outer tunic,
6. scraps and odds & ends of white/off-white,
7. leftover maroon flannel from 14th century open hood,
8. white something (it has an embossed pattern all over it) with no purpose,
9. dark blue linen for new heraldic burgundian dress,
10. odds and ends of various fabrics (there is an orange Hawaiian print in there),
11. pale green fabric for large carrysack (same as Owen's carrysack),
12. slightly fulled brown wool for buttoned hood,
13. gold linen for sleeves of heraldic burgundian,
14. black wool for 15th century open hood,
15. brown linen with no current purpose (may use for Owen's new pants),
16. heavy white cotton that I may use for wulsthaube,
17. pieces for Dearg's small half-circle banner,
18. brown linen for Dearg's pants, and
19. linen-cotton pieces for fitted underdress.

The only thing missing for the projects I've got in my primary pile is the teal wool, as my mom has that. She also has several other pieces of my fabric, but none of them have a purpose right now.

Once I could actually get to my sewing machine (and after spraining my pinky toe!) I immediately got to work. First, I whipped up a linen fillet and barbet that will be a gift for a friend. Then I sewed together Owen's new undershirt (above). The sleeves still need to be hemmed.

Then, this morning, I threw together a pin case (above & below). I really needed one, and I'm taking too long on the embroidered one. I used some of the pretty bird trim I bought at Border Raids last year (over a year ago!), and made a four-strand flat finger loop braid (from embroidery floss) to tie it closed. The exterior is some of the same blue wool I used for my first open hood, and the inside is white linen.

It's a good feeling to get stuff done.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back in the Saddle...Almost

Sorry I've been away for a bit. My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago and after returning from New York (where the funeral was) I've been in a pretty bad funk. We brought a lot of furniture back with us, so rearranging our living room to accommodate it all was a huge priority. Our old TV shelf unit ended up in our bedroom, separating our bed from my "craft room". Unfortunately, we haven't cleaned the bedroom, and there are clothes and boxes and you name it in the way. I haven't been able to even get over to my sewing machine, and my fabric is all over the place. On the plus side, our living room looks nice....

So, I haven't really worked on anything all month. If I can get my butt in gear, that will hopefully change today.

I've only got one project scheduled to complete for the next event (Harvest Day on Sept. 4th), and that is my fitted kirtle. Since I don't really have a fitted dress to wear over it, I'm not sure why I want to complete it by then. Probably because I just need it to be completed, and with all the other projects, Harvest Day seems to be the best due date.

With only one project on the table, I'll have some time to organize my "craft room", make some garb for Owen, and get the stuff together for my newest class.

In addition to my regular "What to do with a Veil" class, I'll also be teaching "The 'Height' of Fashion: 15th Century Women's Hats". It will be a discussion of the various hats worn through the 1400's by upper class women, ideas on how to recreate them and advice on how to incorporate them into your garb. I haven't quite formulated what the class will actually be, but there may be some hat-making in my future.

On an unrelated note, check out Cristina's finished smocked apron. Like me, she chose a not-white material (hers is real linen, mine's faux linen), which I think is a wise choice- stains are a little easier to hides. She did a great job, and it looks great on her.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Keeping Busy

I've done a pretty good job these past few weeks keeping myself busy. Not only did I complete a new smocked apron, I also sewed a new tunic for Dearg and was able to complete the first leg of creating my fitted dress pattern. I've also designed a new box for my headdress and decided what I need to do to create my wide Burgundian belt. But let's take everything one at a time....

First, the apron. After thinking that I may do a later-style apron, I started looking around online for any sources. I ended up finding better instructions on doing the honeycomb smocking, and realized that I really ought to try it again. I used dark blue pearl cotton instead of thread to add interest. (I'm not sure that doing so would have been period, though.) I started to complete the rest of the apron by hand, but ran out of time and finished it on the machine. I love how it turned out, and I got many compliments on it at the event this weekend. It was very enjoyable to wear, and I'm glad I decided to try again.

Dearg's tunic was a difficult project only in that I didn't plan ahead and had to almost applique on the contrasting details around the neck and arms, which was not fun. I'm happy with the way it turned out, however, and he likes it as well.

Mom and I completed the initial fitted pattern last week, but there's still some work to be done until it's ready to use. It turns out that my left breast is significantly larger than my right, and this seams to be the source for many of my fit issues. My previous dresses used my total torso measurement and divided it in two, assuming that I was symmetrical. What that meant, though, was that the dress become too loose on the right side of my chest, and too tight on the left. The extra fabric on the right shifts to compensate, and I end up with an odd bulk of fabric just above my left breast where the compensation ends up. I never had that bulk on the right. So, my asymmetrical boobs have been the culprit for my fit issues all this time, but now knowing that, we can account for that by not using symmetrical patterns.
I've got a large piece of cheap, green fabric that I'm going to transfer the rough pattern to and sew together to get the final fitting. The original rough pattern is a loosely woven linen and is rapidly unraveling. It also has a grid pattern on it that skews the look- your eye follows the lines of the grid instead of the lines of the body. So using a solid material will help to identify any areas that still need adjusting.

Once the green pattern is finalized, I'll transfer the pattern to paper and also draft the pattern for the next layer up. These two patterns will then be the basis for a fitted underdress, the teal wool dress, the blue V-neck gown, etc. until my body decides to change. I found the instructions on converting the fitted pattern to an over-layer pattern in The Medieval Tailor's Assistant. Basically, add 1 cm to each side, .5 cm to the front and back center and lower the underarm 1 cm. Leave everything else in place.
We travelled up to Michigan for Siege of Talonval over the holiday weekend, so there was plenty of time on the way home to talk about projects and ideas (7 hours in fact). After my class on Saturday morning, I realized that it was time for me to get a new box for my headdresses. Right now, I'm using a hodge-podge of boxes for all the various bits and pieces. When I teach my classes, I end up with headdresses all over the place and in order to get everything packed up to take it back to my encampment, I've got to fold everything. So far I've been lucky- there hasn't been a class immediately after mine rushing me out, but the day will come. So I need a box (a nice wooden box) that is not only tailor made for my headdresses, but it also has room for more, and can easily hold a pile of unfolded veils/etc. after a class for organizing later. I need to do some measurements, but I've got a basic idea of what I want. I'll post more about it over at The Anachronists' Encampment when I've got it figured out.

I also formulated my plan for the wide Burgundian belt. I always kind of knew that I wanted to do it as a tablet weaving, and that I wanted to do a checker pattern of the same color- so that the pattern relies on the direction of the strands- making it very subtle. Beyond that, and finding a buckle I liked, I hadn't really given it much more thought. A few days ago, I started thinking that using silk would be the best way to go. Silk doesn't have the stretch that wool and linen have, and since I need the belt to be quite sturdy, that is definitely a good feature. Then, when I saw that Cristina was going to do some hand-dyeing, I started to think that my belt project would be a great opportunity to try out dyeing for myself. As I talked the idea over with mom in the car on Sunday, I decided that I wanted it to be a very dark brown- almost but not quite black. She suggested walnut as the dyeing agent, but I'm thinking that might not be dark enough. I have also seen iron and tannin mentioned as dark brown dyes. Since the belt was turning into a "from scratch" project, mom suggested creating it to enter into an A&S Faire. To which I replied that I could also design my own buckle and belt tip and cast it myself. Ultimately, I decided to use narwhals in the design- adding my charge to the subtle nature of my 15th century heraldic outfit (which I spoke about in my previous post). I don't know yet what metal would be best- bronze or silver, though I'm leaning toward bronze. I'm going to need to do some research before I go too much further, however, to make sure I'm staying on track. Heck, this is turning out to be such a huge hand-made project, I might just go ahead and create my own wooden cards and loom for the weaving....

While at the event, mom bought me a gift- a pair of green and white striped socks. I've had a pair of medium-weight, knee-high, tan socks I purchased at Target two years ago, which have really been my only socks. I needed a pair for summer and these caught my eye. I'll need to get more pairs, though. Perhaps ones that aren't quite so bold.

There were also several well-dressed children at the event that I was able to get a few photos of. Owen's still a little guy, but there's nothing wrong with planning ahead!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Carrysack and Project Adjustments

Sat down after work yesterday and whipped out the carrysack. It's a bit smaller than I intended, but it was a lot of fun to make and it looks great. There are a few things I'll do differently the next time, but overall I like it.

Today, I picked up some fabric for a new banner, a steuchlein veil and a new dress.

That's my ferret, Ellie, by the way.

Blue fabric wasn't on the list for projects, but I really liked it. So, I've switched things up a bit. Instead of doing the Durer dress in a wine color, I'll do that in the green. Then, I'll do the V-neck gown with the blue and the gold. I'll post more on that soon- I'm still trying to formulate the whole plan.

My heraldic colors are azure, argent and or- hence the repeated color-scheme in the fabric. I've always wanted to do a heraldic dress, but I like the idea of doing it subtly in a 15th century style, instead of the more obvious 14th century style.

Finally, I'm rethinking doing a smocked apron. I'm going to investigate some other apron options- whatever is more appropriate for 15th century. Something like this one (via Myra).

I'm hoping to make it over to my mom's to get the fitted pattern complete. I'll need it to make any new dresses, so the sooner I have it, the better!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The New and Improved Project Pile

I'm sure you are all very much aware that it's easy to get carried away with your wish list. When you have the DIY tendency, this is especially dangerous! The phrase "I can do that" is too often uttered, and the next thing you know, you've got waaaay too many projects for your time and money to handle. Hence the necessary re-thinking of my project pile.

So, I've done some purging, some re-thinking, and some re-arranging, Instead of allowing my pile to grow in an amoeba-like manner, I've split it up into three categories. Items that will a) use materials I already have (primary), b) require materials that are inexpensive/easily obtainable (secondary), and c) require materials that more expensive/harder to obtain (tertiary). This doesn't convey an order to their completion, necessarily, though they are in order within their classification. Anything new is added to the bottom of the appropriate category. Precedence will be given to the primary and secondary categories, but the pile is flexible.

Primary Projects:
Teal Wool Fitted Dress:
I have the material, and if I continue to wait until I've lost weight, the dress will never be made. I will wait, however, until the end of summer- July and August are too hot in Southern Ohio to wear wool.
Bloomers: I have a linen/cotton blend that I can make into a pair of bloomers to wear under my dresses. I hit a stumbling block with how to construct them, but I think I've sorted that out. I just need some help to figure out how to make pants.
Embroidered Pin Case: I took this with me this past weekend to work on, but never touched it. It's not a difficult pattern, I just need to devote some time to it.
Bourelette (Horn) Headdress: I've been putting this off, mainly because I'm just not sure how to go about doing it, but I've got plenty of fabric laying around to at least experiment.
Carrysack: I'd like to modify this carrysack a little bit by making it smaller and giving it more of a shape (something that feels a bit more 15th century). I have a heavy light-mossy green fabric that should hold up well. I plan to use it for Owen's things. I may go ahead and make two- one for Owen and one for baby #2 when (s)he comes along. I could then embroider their initials or some other design onto them.
Smocked Apron: I'm daft for wanting to do a project that I know will suck out all my energy, but I really want to have a smocked apron. Plus, now that I've done the trial apron, I know how to do it better. I have an oatmeal-colored linen-look material that will look nice as an apron.

Secondary Projects:
Pleated German Veil:
A small veil with decorative pleating along the front edge (like this one via Jazwiec) would be a nice addition to my headdress collection. I need to buy a medium weight linen for it.
Buttoned Hood: I'm in love with Cristina Stoltes' hood. I've got a piece of brown wool that should be enough to make one. I need the white linen to line it.
New Open Hood: I also have some black wool that I'd like to make a new 15th Century open hood with. I need to do a better job with the fit, though, than I did with my blue one (which I never wear 'cause it just isn't right).

Tertiary Projects:
Silk Over Gown:
See this post. I'm re-thinking the colors a little. Whatever colors, though, I need the silk and the linen lining.
Silk Cardwoven Belt: A wide belt for V-neck gowns. I want to do it with a tone-on-tone checkerboard pattern in black (or maybe a dark brown). Would like to get this buckle. Need the silk too.
Wulsthaube: There are several ways to make the wulsthaube, but I'm thinking this one makes the most sense. I'm thinking of using wool felt and muslin, then getting a gauze linen with a subtle thick stripe in it for the steuchlein.
Black Gown: I'm still in debate about what kind of gown I want, but I've been wanting a black dress for some time. The main contender right now is a long-sleeve, fitted gown, like this one (via Medioevale Cibo Lotta). I'd like to get either a 100% linen or 100% light-weight wool for this one.
Durer Dress: I'm still wanting to do something like Myra's Durer Dress, but I'm not going to do it with the pink linen like I planned. I'd like to do a dark wine colored tropical weight wool, lined a blueish-purple linen.
V-Neck Gown: I've always liked Matilda la Zouche's simple Burgundian gown. I'd like to do one in green - Hex #636D39, for those who know what that means (medium sage green for those who don't!).

As you can see, all but one of the dresses are in the Tertiary pile. That's mainly because they require a lot of fabric, and I'd like to get natural, authentic materials (like linen and wool). It's part of my effort to be more authentic.

I've also established a percentage scale for the purposes of this blog (see the Project Pile sidebar). Once I know what I'm going to do, it hits 5%. Once I have the materials on hand, it's 25%. When I've got half the sewing of the project completed, it hits 50%. When the major construction is done, it will be 75%. After the finishing details and when it's ready to wear/use, it's 100% complete.

Finally, I updated the labels throughout this blog to steamline them, and to be able to find the most common items a bit better.

Alright? Time to get to it!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Events

Well, my dear readers, the summer event season is now upon us. There haven't been any local events for about a month now, so there hasn't really been much to do to share with you. Now that there are a few events coming up, however, I've got more on my plate.

First, I'll be teaching a new class next weekend at Push for Pennsic, called "What to do with a Veil". It will be a hands-on style class where I'll demonstrate and discuss some of the things you can do with a veil. It will include not just traditional veil styles, but headwraps as well.

Push is the first camping event of the season, and will be the first time we'll camp with Owen. I've got some work to do to get his garb ready. What I have for him doesn't quite fit anymore. I've also got to make a new shirt for Dearg. I think I'll use what I have left over from that to make a pair of pants for Owen. I've got to look at the fabric I've got and figure out what more I can do.

For myself, I'll be making a linen veil - partly for my class, but mainly because I don't already have one. That should be a pretty easy project. (Of course I probably just jinxed myself.) I'm working on a modern item at the moment- a hand bag- and if I can finish that and have it look the way I intended it to, that will give me a big boost of confidence in the sewing department.

I also need to fix the botched seam on my rust-colored dress. You may recall that I tried to take it in in a hurry before the last event and ended up getting a fold in the seam? Well, I haven't touched it since then. I'll need two outfits, one for Friday and one for Saturday, so, in addition to the rust dress, I'm thinking of doing some minor tailoring to my brown dress (old faithful). Despite having worn that one all last summer, it's still in good shape, it just needs a little help. And since the South Beach Diet didn't work for me :( I know it won't need to be taken in dramatically.

So, at the moment, here's what my project pile looks like:

Tunic for Dearg
Two new (or modified) outfits for Owen
Linen Veil
Fix rust dress
Take in brown dress

All before next weekend.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A lot on my mind

Well, Dearg and I have come to the painful but necessary decision to not go to Pennsic this year. We've been hit pretty hard with this bad economy and just can't come up with enough for all the supplies we need- mainly fabric for a full week's worth of garb (for both of us). Because of that decision, as well as also not being able to afford to go to Border Raids in July, our summer events are rather few and far between. This means it will probably be pretty quiet around here for the next few months, but I'll be sure to keep you posted on my projects and thoughts as they come around.

For now, however, I do have several things on my mind that I'd like to share with you.

My brother has been in town visiting this week. He's never been to an event, so we took him to Baron Wars yesterday. It's a shame the weather was so crummy- wind gusts of up to 20mph all day, overcast and chilly. We ended up sitting at our little setup just about all day trying to stay warm and trying to keep Owen bundled up and happy (which was extremely hard). It wasn't a very good first impression. Which got me thinking....

Most events are arranged with the idea that the vast majority of attendees are familiar with the SCA and would be happy enough to just sit around in garb. The great events mix that familiarity with a "demo" atmosphere. I love the events that have "artisan" rows. I wish they were a little more hands-on, but the fact that you can go and see someone doing something period and find out about it is a great idea. I remember going to the 18th century settler's village as a kid and LOVVING it. It's that "living history" concept that the SCA is usually lacking. Even if the weather was crummy, at least there would be more to experience, and new folks wouldn't wonder why they just shelled out $10 to sit around shivering. I've been in the SCA for 13 years, and I still feel that way sometimes!

I would say that half the events I go to, I feel that there's no place for me. I don't participate in light or heavy fighting, archery or thrown weapons, or even equestrian or coursing (which aren't offered often enough). I teach a class once and a while, but I haven't participated in an A&S faire in a few years. That leaves what? Shopping (when there are merchants that actually have something I want) and working on my own projects. Wow. Money well spent, huh?

Now, I don't want you to think that I'm not interested in going to events. I have been in the SCA long enough that I am one of those people content with sitting around in garb. But with money so tight these days, I think events need to be more organized and offer more that just the chance to show off some new garb for everyone that pays to be there.

Alright. I've gotten that off my chest. Moving on....

Remember a week or so back I mentioned that my new rust-colored dress still wasn't fitting right? I tried to adjust it before the event yesterday morning, but one of the new seams went a little catty-wonkus, which I didn't have enough time to fix. I needed to take about and inch off of the two front side and two back side seams around the torso. That may be the diet at work, but I think the dress was too big to begin with.

So, not able to wear the rust dress, I just grabbed my old brown dress. I wore the brown dress most of last summer while I was pregnant, so it's actually the least-well fitting dress that I have, but it is sooo comfortable. All three of my regular dresses are made of 45% linen/55% rayon "linen-look" material which only gets better with age. My brown dress is soft, has a slight sheen (probably because of the wear on the rayon), and hangs very well, which are all the great qualities of 100% linen. It just takes a few years of wearing it to get that way.

I did make a new shirt for Owen. It's not quite right around the neck and sleeves, but it's really cute:

Dearg made a tiny antler toggle which totally made the shirt cool. You'll notice that I used some of the rust linen, so he'd kind of match me, but it's an early period style shirt. This wasn't my best work, but that's really just because I cut it a little wrong. I'll know better next time.

I've got to sit down and re-think my project list. There are a bunch of things I could be doing that aren't currently on the list, so I keep forgetting about them. I've also got a couple ideas for more classes that I can teach, including "What to do with the that White Piece of Fabric"- a class about veils and headwraps; and "Headdress in Under a Yard"- a class about how to use very little fabric to make some really nice (and period) headdresses. I'll be rolling those out this summer at the fiber arts event (when it gets coordinated), or at one of the few events I'll be attending in the next couple of months.

So, there's lots to do. Even if it's not fancy stuff.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nice Day of Doing Nothing

Yesterday was the South Oaken A & S Faire. Dearg entered his first project and scored a 2. He made a leather wallet with copper wire woven into it to make designs. Very cool, and I'm proud of him for finally entering something!

It was a pretty laid back day, there were only a few people there, which made it pretty fun. I volunteered to judge, but they didn't need me, so I got to just hang out in garb all day. Owen was the center of attention various times in the day, and it's so nice to be among friends that can run off with my baby and I don't have to worry about it. Here's a photo of my little man and I:

Also (and I'm still wigging out about it) I got a personal invitation (!) to share my knowledge about headdress at an event later this summer that will focus on textile and fiber arts. I've already got four ideas for classes that would work.

I wore my rust dress (as you can see in the photo) with my regular bra, and something is a little off. I need to fit it A LOT more. I can take the whole thing off without undoing the lacing, and that... well... that shouldn't happen. I don't know if it's because the linen is loosening up, so after I wash it, I'll see how much more it needs to come in.

In other news, I'll be starting the South Beach Diet tomorrow with my mom and husband. If all goes well, I'll be loosing weight, so this has put the teal fitted dress on hold once again. That's alright though, as long as I've got it before Pennsic. No rush.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rust Dress & Some Thoughts

We used the great weather day we had yesterday to go to the Nature Center and take a hike with Owen. When we woke up this morning, it was raining. Consequently, I decided to just have Dearg take some photos of me in my new dress inside. After taking a couple really bad photos straight on of me just wearing the dress, we decided that I needed something- hence the makeshift apron. No, I did not break down and make a new one. Yet. It's just tucked into my belt. Then, to avoid the "deer in the headlights" look I tend to get, I pulled out my embroidery frame to have something for my hands to do. There was a lot of laughter, and a couple more really bad pictures, but we did manage to get these two. The second one is what happens when Dearg says "make love to the camera".

I was going to wear my 14th century open hood, but it seems to have walked off and gotten itself lost. So I just did the standard hair wrap that I've been doing. It's a modification of the Flemish kerchief (uses the same piece).

As nice as these photos are, however, I think it will be better to have Dearg take photos of me wearing the dress naturally at an event. I'm more animated and usually have better self-esteem when I'm in garb for a real reason.

I fixed the weird thing that was going on at the bust (though there is still a little bump just over my right breast that needs to be fixed), so I'm wearing my regular bra. Unfortuately, I'm not getting the correct lift. I don't think I'll worry about it on this dress, though. That's an issue to tackle with the teal fitted dress. Now that my mom is mostly caught up with her projects, we'll probably start working on that again soon.

This winter has been rough physically. Though I was lucky to loose all my baby-related weight pretty quickly after having Owen, I gained most of it back just by being inactive these past few months. Now that it's warming up, Dearg and I are more likely to go out and hike, especially if it allows us to expose Owen to the wonders of nature. I want to be ready for a full week of walking around in August.

On a completely different note, I was trolling around the internet last night and came across Reconstitutions, a Fench blog written by a lady named Hémiole. She looks to be focused on 13th century, and has some great takes on a couple headdress styles, including my old favorite, the working class headdress.

Regional A&S is next weekend. Dearg is working on a recreation of the Birka Wallet (here's a recreation from Mikkel at Haandkraft). I've been trying to decide if I want to teach a class. I would teach my "Cover Your Head" headdress class, but, since this is an A&S event, I want to teach something a little more specific and scholarly. I've also been thinking about entering something, but I've slacked off so much in deciding what to enter, that it might be too late. I'm not sure I could finish anything well enough to enter it- I've only got a week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Look Back

Today is the first nice day we've had in a while, so we may be able to get outside tonight and take a few photos of new garb.  In the meantime, let's take a look back:

July 2001  A not so wonderful picture of me returning to my seat after receiving my Award of Arms.  I'd changed from a dress I wore earlier in the day (a blue velveteen dress), probably because I wasn't comfortable in it.  I wore this striped skirt (a hand-me-down from mom) a lot, and obviously didn't care that my underwear (chemise) was showing.  Every time I look at this photo I wonder if I'm flashing the royalty.

August 2001  Sitting next to the battlefield at my second Pennsic (29).  You can see in this photo (as well as the one above) that I'm incredibly tan.  I'd worked the summer before War at an amusement park- spent three months straight outside.   I love this picture (though Dearg tells me it's one of his least favorites).  I'm wearing an over shirt that went only a little past my waist, then the bright blue skirt.  If memory serves me right, I'm wearing the sleeveless chemise that is now my only chemise.  I did the turban thing a lot that week.  I'd cut my hair just above my shoulders a few weeks earlier, so I needed something to keep it out of my face.  I didn't know anything yet about medieval headdress- I just liked the way the turban looked.

August 2003 This was taken outside the gate of our Baronial encampment at Pennsic 30.  Dearg and I had started dating the Autumn before, and I officially became "fat and happy".  I'd often commented that I felt like I was gaining the weight Dearg was losing- he's so skinny in this photo.  This periwinkle dress was the first one I'd made on my own (the rust-colored dress being the only other one).  I don't know what was going on with the skirt that caused the chromosome-like X's under my boobs.  I also don't have any idea what period we're supposed to be.  We called the dress and Dearg's shirt "cotehardies", but that's a stretch of the imagination.  This is the only matching outfit that Dearg and I ever had.  And I don't think I have that dress anymore.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

Just Checking In

We finally have batteries in the camera. It was too late to take photos of the rust dress today, but I did take a photo of my new embroidery project.

I used the zig-zag pattern from Medieval Arts & Crafts as a starting point to create a wavy pattern. There will be three rows of blue between two rows of white, then the whole thing will be surrounded by the gold. It won't be very large- just enough to roll straight pins for my headdresses in. So far, it's a lot of fun- very relaxing and addictive. I'm using DMC pearl cotton and 28 count linen.
I'm hoping that Dearg can take some nice photos tomorrow of me in my new dress and Owen in his completed tunic. I'll post them as soon as I can!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Being more authentic...

...doesn't include dead camera batteries!

But, alas, they were. I didn't check them before we left for Unicorn yesterday, and it wasn't until I went to take a picture in the morning and the camera shut off that I realized that the batteries were, in fact, dead. So I don't have a single photo from yesterday.

Which is a real shame. I wore my new rust-colored "fitted" dress, and it looked great. I, unfortunately wore the wrong bra, and had to deal with "quadra-boob" all day. I ended up wearing my grey hood (#11 here) to hide my chest, and it mostly worked. But the dress was wonderful. I do need to make a minor adjustment to the chest area (so that I don't have to wear that bra again), but other than that, everything fit- no pulling at the arms, the perfect drape and length on the skirt, etc. I did have my mother sew the sleeves and do the fitting adjustments for me, but that's just because I know my limits.

I also completed Owen's green shirt. Since I didn't have the time to put the buttons (and button holes on) for the last event, I'd just added a tie at the top. But this week, I (with Dearg's help) completed the shirt by adding 8 small buttons. I had originally done fabric buttons, but I made the holes too small, and I couldn't make fabric buttons small enough to fit. We also picked up black tights- they made a huge difference. If only I had a picture....

I taught my headdress class again. I was irritated that I had to find my own place to teach the class, as there wasn't a class pavilion set up. So I only had three people attend the class, and there were lots of distractions because the one table I could find was right next to the path everyone was taking to get to the merchants and cars. I also kind of rushed through it. It didn't go as smoothly as it had the first time, and I lost my place a handful of times. Also, the at the end of the class the ladies asked me about Italian, Middle Eastern and German headdress. None of which I've done all that much research on. So now, for the sake of being better prepared next time, I'm going to devote some time to researching those.

I brought my new embroidery frame as well. I'd found a zig-zag patterned needle case that I really like on Medieval Arts & Crafts, but I think I'm going to use mine to hold pins for my headdresses. I started using the unbleached muslin I had strung on the frame, but the weave is too tight for me to see what I'm doing. So I took that off this morning. I had also planned to do white and green zig-zags, because I wanted to match my small green scissor case, but now that I've decided to use the case for pins instead of sewing needles, I don't need to be matchy-matchy. I like the blue and white of the original. I might even try to modify the pattern a bit to be wavy instead, since my arms include a wavy fess on a blue field. Right now, the frame is apart, sitting out on the porch- I decided I wanted it stained.

Maybe I'll put new batteries in the camera and go have another photo shoot this week.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Inspiring Reseach

I'm completely in awe of the work Isis has done on frilled veils. I must admit that the frilled veil is not a style I've looked that much in to (though I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually), but her in depth look is very inspiring. This sort of research is what I'm attempting to do with my open hood research- catalog and examine as many examples as I can, then present them in a concise format. Become an expert, per se.

I need to give myself a deadline, though. Maybe Pennsic? I'm already planning to teach at Pennsic, so what's one more class? Plus, the Pennsic audience will probably be a better venue for the information than a local event, simply because of the larger number of people, and the larger percent of those people being serious medieval scholars.

I better get cracking then.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dearg's New Gorget

I'm having a proud wife moment. Yesterday, Dearg set out to make a hardened leather gorget for fencing. He'd found this website by Todde mac Donnell, and though the design is modern, it is effective and looks good. So, he pulled out some leather, heated up some beeswax and voila!

I'm so proud.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Can I add more to the pile yet?

I picked up a few yards of material today for my new long-legged breeches. It's 60% Linen/40% Cotton, white, and very soft. $5.40/yard (40% off). It's the best of both worlds- the authenticity of linen, with the softness and breathability of cotton. I just need to remind myself to use it for the breeches, not an apron.

I also picked up the pieces to make a 14"x10" embroidery frame. It needs a little help, but I'll post more on that tomorrow on the other blog.

I've almost got the rust dress completed. I went to put the sleeves on, though, and realized I'd reached the limits of my dress making skills. I'm going to ask my mom to put the sleeves on and take it in for me (I used an old pattern that isn't very fitted), then I'll hem it all up and have it to wear next weekend.

I was noticing today that I'm getting a pretty good amount of fabric piled up. I need to do something about that....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Smocked Apron?

So, I've been watching Cristina's progress on apron research, and felt jealous that her smocked apron turned out so lovely. Since I gave mine away (it was too small for me anyway), and I didn't get a picture of the finished product, I feel kind of like I don't have anything to show for my efforts. But, then I remember how much I felt like it sucked my life energy away. Plus I would need to get fabric.

Have I talked myself out of it? Probably not.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One way to wear a veil

Check this veil tutorial out. Though the text is in Finnish, the photos give a very clear idea of the process.

Thanks Elina for the lovely demonstration!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Anachronists' Encampment

I'd like to introduce my other blog to you. This weekend, my husband, Dearg, and I started a new blog: The Anachronists' Encampment. The blog will follow our mutual journey to create a more authentic environment in our encampment, be it a day, weekend, or weeklong event. We face many challenges, not the smallest of which is limited means, but we are determined to do our best with what we can.

There is not much more than our introduction there presently, but please keep it in your links to join us in our journey!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Looking the Part

I had a lot of fun this morning. I pulled out my late 15th century V-necked gown, hennin and jewelry and had my husband take some photos. I wanted it to look as much like a 15th century portrait as we could make it. You can be the judge- the final picture is featured on the right and a larger version is at the very end of this post.

The only thing that I know is widely inaccurate is the pearls, but I needed more substantial jewelry than just the gold and red necklace, and the pearls were all I had. Also, I probably should have put a few rings on. Dearg had me look in a couple of different directions to figure out which was the best, and though some pictures were composed a bit better, we settled on looking straight forward, over the book (which really is a small Bible). Just for fun, here are some of the other photos to show how much changing where I looked alters the picture:

We liked the overall look of the middle one, but in comparison with the one we chose, my gaze seemed odd. We staged it in our hallway. The end of the hallway opens up to accommodate a washer and dryer and access to our furnace. There's also a back door there. So Dearg put the curtains from our bedroom up over a painting we have back there, and brought back one of the stools from our kitchen table set. He tried one or two with just the flash, but then he turned off the flash and opened the door (which faces North). The lighting was much better, and it brought out the natural sheen of the dress, curtains and veil.

Since my pregnancy and because we just got out of winter, I've had some weight gain, so I'm very critical about pictures of myself. I'm not too thrilled with the way my hips appear, but it was because of the way I was sitting on the stool, and the dress wasn't hanging properly. I'm willing to over look that, though, as the top half of the photo is very flattering to my face.

I admit that I did doctor the final photo. In addition to enhancing the color a bit, I removed the hair at my temples to give it a more period look, and I also removed a few blemishes. After all, if I was paying for a portrait, I would expect the painter to flatter my looks by overlooking such imperfections. When I put the photo in the frame, I added some texture to make it look a little more like a painting than a photograph. I like the result.

In other news, you may have noticed in my Project Pile list that my new leather belt is complete. Since there isn't really anything more to see than the buckle, here's a closeup of the belt on me:

Since the buckle is rounded, it roughed up the edged of the leather as I pulled it through, but it's an oily enough leather that it isn't really a problem. And honestly, there isn't anybody other than my husband that should be this close to my belt. :)

I also worked on my new rust colored dress a bit yesterday. I've got to put in the reinforcements in the front for the lacing and sew the front bottom together, then put on the sleeves and hem it all up. I'm planing on having it completed to wear to Unicorn Grand Tournament in a couple of weeks. Then I'll be able to add two new things to my project pile!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Movie Review - The Other Boleyn Girl

A couple of days ago, I got a new library card. I did it mainly to take advantage of the inter-library loan system to get books for my research into the Open Hood. The side-effect of having a library card, however, is free movies. So I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl, the recent release movie based on the historical fiction by Phillipa Gregory.

First off, I have to admit that I have always been interested in the reign of the Tudors. My maternal grandmother's family is a branch of the Howard family line that connects to Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife (though remotely, I must add). Ever since learning this as a young teenager, I've always liked learning about the Tudors, and I have a fairly good understanding of the story of the six wives of Henry 8. The Other Boleyn Girl (book and movie)is not historically accurate- it is a fiction after all- but the story is real. Anne Boleyn's ambition to be Queen went a long way to change the religious face of England forever.

In the movie, Anne is portrayed by Natalie Portman, while her sister, Mary, is played by Scarlett Johansson. The interplay between the sisters is very dramatic, but Mary is definitely the protagonist of the story. Anne, meanwhile, is characterized as devious and self-serving, and more a director of her family's ambitions than the historical Anne probably was. Overall, the movie is good for loaning from the library on the story front. It's soft- no bloodshed, no graphic sex- and, in my opinion, it's a little too soft.

It's the costumes, however, that make this movie worth it. The gowns worn by the women in the movie (even the extras) are all excellently tailored and beautifully shot. The male costumes are slightly anachronistic- especially those of the King. The inspiration for his wardrobe was probably a portrait of Henry in a later part of his life, and the effect on Eric Bana is a bit unflattering. But the girl's gowns make up for it.

Now, if you've spent any amount of time reading this blog, you know I'm not doing any 16th century costuming at this point, but I did pick out a few of the outfits that I definitely would not mind having. The first is the dress Anne wears when she confronts her father and uncle about her marriage to Henry Percy (below).

The gold and beige brocade and the high collar of the grey velvet partlet are very lovely, and the color combination is feminine but subdued. She wears a gold hairnet which is a perfect compliment. If she had worn the gabled hoods worn throughout the rest of the movie, this outfit would not have worked.

The second is Mary's second to last dress from the movie (above). It is a black and dark red dress combined with a red and black embroidered collar and a similarly colored jacket with black fur collar. She wears a red and black hairnet, that, once again adds to the subdued look. This is a wonderful outfit for Mary at this point in the movie- graceful, strong-willed, mature- all the qualities she lacked at the start of the film.

The final gown that caught my eye was Anne's execution outfit (above). I LOVE the ermine goller in combination with the black, beaded dress. Even better was when she removed her hood to reveal the accurate use of a white coif underneath (something the movie fails to show at any other point in the movie). As she exited the Tower, standing tall, this somber moment was made by the mourning color of her gown combined with the clearest symbol of royalty ever known- ermine.

Costume's like this make movies like this worth it.

(Movie stills were acquired from The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes)