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.