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!