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.