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)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm thinking about silk

Since I've begun looking into medieval fabrics as part of my Open Hood research, I've started to feel that I need a silk gown.

My persona in the SCA is an English woman and the wife of an English wool merchant living just outside Bruges, Flanders in 1453. My husband sells wool produced from his family’s flock in Canterbury. Though we enjoy the benefits of moderate wealth from the profit we get to pocket, my husband and I are by no means affluent, and are often forced to take on the daily drudgery of semi-rural living in the Low Country.

Silk was extremely expensive in the Middle Ages (and still is, according to my purse-strings), but it would not be incorrect to assume that, as the wife of a merchant, I would have been able to afford at least one silk gown. Perhaps my husband providing me with a silk gown was stipulated in the marriage contract between my husband and father. This article by Jennifer Thompson (found via Drea Leed's Elizabethan Costume Page) talks about the manufacture of lower-grade silk, mainly in Venice, which supports the use of modern dupioni and shantung silk as an option for lower-grade medieval silk garments.

From left to right: Detail from the April page of Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and Detail from the August page of Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, completed in 1489. Detail from Bible historiale created at the beginning of the 15th century.

I've always liked the dresses featured in Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, specifically the blue brocade dress from April and the black dress from August (above). I love the graceful look of the April dress, and the contrast of the blue against the gold kirtle, but the long open sleeves are impractical, both for my persona and for me wearing it at events. I love the simplicity of the August dress, but it's almost too plain. The black dress has long sleeves that have been pushed up to expose the red kirtle, and while that's a look I don't mind, it's a bit too informal for my one and only silk dress. So the compromise seems to be something halfway between- like the red dress from the Bible historiale (above). The red dress has the same simple lines of the black dress, but the formal open sleeves- almost like tippets- mimic the blue dresses' without being impractical.

I had planned to do a claret-colored gown to go over my teal wool (the color above is only a representation- the real thing isn't quite so deep a teal), so I think the silk gown will be it. I found a pretty copper-toned silk shantung that I can get for $10/yard. I think the grayish-green/white linen I found for $9.50/yard would be a nice lining that I'll extend to show on the edges (just like the red dress).

To go with it, the horn and veil style headdress is the way to go (like the one worn by the black-dress lady.) I don't already have one, but I do have a very fine, lightweight linen I can use to make it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

All things change...

Every so often I like a change. I guess that's my personal A.D.D.- I get bored with things relatively quickly. I call it the "Great Wheel of Edyth". I think of all my varied interests as horses on a merry-go-round. I like the horse I'm riding, but every so often I get distracted by a pretty horse on the other side. So, I abandon the horse I'm on and ride the other for a while. Then the whole process starts over again. Hence the constant changes to the look of this blog.

One neat addition- progress bars on my project pile! The code can be found here. Link via Emine's blog, A Fox in Istanbul.

In completely different news, I've started researching open hoods a bit more. I intend to compile a research paper that outlines a chronology for the different types of open hoods, evaluates any social, political and/or religious events that may have influenced the hood's change in appearance over the 14th and 15th centuries, then expounds upon their possible construction for the purpose of re-creating them. That was a mouthful! I've begun my research on two fronts. First, I'm collecting any and every image I come across that contains an open hood or any type of headdress that looks related to the open hood. Second, I'm researching the construction aspect by looking into fabric, dyeing, sewing techniques, etc.

I need to thank Isis at Medieval Silkwork for my sudden interest in open hoods. Her open kaproen, started all this by inspiring me to make my own. In the making of it, I started wanting to know more, and now I have a full blown research paper on my hands!

I've seen some interesting headdress in my research thus far, and looked at a lot of pictures. This one was particularly interesting, however. The woman on the far right (standing in the back) appears to be wearing a St. Birgitta's Cap, though several strands of her curly hair are loose. I suppose this one caught my eye mainly because it is an Italian fresco, and I had always thought of Italian style as being wholly unique among its more northern neighbors. The fact that this headdress appears here at the end of the 14th century is not only surprising to me, it's pretty exciting.

I also have a few updates on projects beyond headdress. Since June of last year, I've been on the lookout for a 1" wide buckle for a new leather belt. With the relative lack of buckles available in that size, I've had to change my mind about what I wanted to do with the belt, and I settled on being happy with just a buckle, and then looking for a belt tip when I went to Pennsic this year. While at Ceilidh last weekend, Dearg spotted a bronze buckle with a slightly decorative shape to it, and when the merchant told us it was a 1" buckle, I knew my search was over. I did not immediately want the bronze color for the buckle, but then I remembered the other leather project I've got going on - my leather pouch- will also have a gold-toned buckle. That project has been handed over to Dearg (who does leather work), and if I can get him to work on it, should be done by the next event. You may remember my initial post about the pouch here.

Speaking of Pennsic, I've got a lot of projects to complete before then, including bedding, bags, furniture, and a period, mostly non-perishable menu. Not to mention the fact that Dearg and I both need way more clothes if we're going to get through camping for the whole week. I've got my teal fitted dress on the way, plus the rust orange dress that uses the same pattern I've been wearing (because I really need a dress, and can't wait for a proper fitting). I'll need at least two more linen dresses, and probably one more wool one. I also have no smocks - I've been wearing the same tank-top style cotton slip for about 5 years now, and it's all I've got. I will also need to make a couple of pairs of breeches. I know, I know- breeches were not worn by women in medieval Europe, but I've already had the fortune of going through my very first Pennsic with my inner thighs chaffed and heat rashed, thankyouverymuch. The Medieval Tailor's Assistant has an easy pattern for men's breeches (also called "long-legged braies") which is what I plan to use. I'll probably get white cotton fabric to do them because I just can't afford to buy linen for what will essentially be underwear.

Dearg and I are still on an authenticity kick, but our pocket books have a hard time keeping up with our wishes. We've got no choice but to camp in our modern (albeit cool) tent, but we plan to make most of the other aspects of our daily life at War as close to period as we can afford. This will probably prove to be quite difficult, because we won't be camping alone. Our household brother, Tedric, and his wife and two teenage daughters will be camping with us. They are still getting settled in the Society, and do not think of authenticity as being a major component of their recreation right now. We don't knock them for that, but it will make things a bit harder for Dearg and I.

Alright. That's enough rambling. For now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I want to look like this!

I enjoy finding other blogs created by historical costumers.  I've discovered that as disparate as my interests seem to be, I'm not alone in liking a lot of different things- different styles, different crafts, etc.  I think of the people I find online detailing their experiences and projects as kindred spirits, and today I found another one that I'd really like to share.

Cristina's Thoughts is a blog authored by Cristina Stolte, an SCA'r in Sweden, showcasing her many interesting projects.  In reading this blog, I found this entry, and I fell in love with her outfit.  I want to look like this!  

Thanks Cristina for sharing your projects and thoughts!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Great Event

We had a wonderful event yesterday at Ceilidh. Very busy. My husband, Dearg, authorized in rapier fighting, my mother, Elspeth, was promoted to Kingdom Signet. I taught my class on women's medieval headdress. I had 5 people attend. It went very well, but I had to speak very loudly to be heard over the fighting, so my throat hurt at the end. I followed my outlined pretty well, only got tripped up once or twice, and I had a lot of fun. Everyone complimented me on how good the class was afterward.

On the garb front, I had planned on wearing a new dress that I was making. It's a rusty-orange linen fitted dress, but I sewed it wrong not once, not twice, but three times. That was enough for me to not touch it again for a while. I haven't sewn a dress for myself for several years, so this is still kind of a new thing for me. I did, however, make a 14th century open hood to wear yesterday.


I used this example of Isis's open hood (look for the "Open Kaproen" entry- it's in Dutch) as my starting point, but I had found the image below some time before- it just took me a while to correlate the two. This one is from the Lutrell Psalter, a 14th century manuscript. Isis shows other period images with her re-creation.

I used a soft maroon flannel for the outside and white medium weight linen for the lining. I then crocheted a chain using 100% grey wool yarn and stitched it around the edge.


We jokingly call it "The Gonzo Hood" because it looks kind of like Gonzo's nose. I think this one is my current favorite. I've been wearing the Flemish Kerchief (I've been experimenting with different ways wear it), but this one is really fun and very distinctive. I talked about it in my class and now my mom wants one. My evil plan is working....

Late Friday evening I made a little jacket for Owen out of green linen. It's not really done- it needs buttons instead of the tie I've got on there now. Despite him being in green, people still thought he was a girl. We're suspecting that it's the coif, so we're going to nix that for the next event, even though it's appropriate for his age. I may need to put him in blue.

The booties are suede with a knit lining that my mom picked up for him the other day- he got a lot of complements on them.

He was supposed to be wearing black leggings, but I forgot to look for some last time we were at the store. He really kind of needed them, though. After I get the buttons on and get the hose, I think this outfit will look a bit better. Not that he isn't adorable anyway.

I purchased The Medieval Tailor's Assistant yesterday. It has an extensive section on headdress at the end- that was my main reason for picking it up. It also has patterns for a large number of medievel clothes for both men and women (as well as a small section on children's garb). I've been meaning to get Dearg into a 15th century outfit, so this book will really help.

That's all I've got today.