Friday, December 31, 2010


In 2011, I resolve to:
  • Update The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist more regularly. More specifically, to post at least once a week (probably Sundays).
  • Post more of the research and analysis of period clothing and accessories I've typically done "behind the scenes".
  • Include more information on the steps I take to complete my projects, creating less of an "after the fact" gallery and more of a garb diary.
  • Provide more regular "features" on a monthly basis. These include Image Analysis, Movie Review, Link Lists and more.
  • In general, post more images. With 3 young children, busy adults and lots going on at events, it can be difficult to get photos taken, but I feel that images of garb "in action" are much more inspiring than staged photos (be they posing at the event or staged at home). That's not to say there isn't a place for portrait-style photos, but I think I'm right in believing that most of you read this blog because of what I'm creating. It's important, therefore, to provide you with more images of the process, details, etc. than just a quick "oh, yeah, and here's me."
  • Include brief versions of my classes as I teach them. My class notes will still be housed on my website, but class "abstracts" will find a home here for quick reference.
  • Open commenting on certain entries (like this one). When I need feedback or when I'm looking for information, I'll enable commenting.

I'm excited for the next year in the Society. My new garb quest- to make a complete outfit for the 2012 Regional A & S Faire- is a challenge I have so far enjoyed taking on. Much of what I post in 2011 will be about the items I am creating for the quest, but it's an extensive list, with many varieties of items- garments, accessories, leatherwork, metalwork...the whole shebang. (I'll be posting more about that on Sunday, so stay tuned!)

I hope that my "blog-olutions" will not fail, and that that you will stick with me as I continue my endevour to become The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Memorium - Teal Wool Dress

Things started out so well. I laid my new pattern pieces out on the panels of my teal wool dress, and tried to align everything so that I didn't have to cut a new neck or arm holes. I cut everything out and sewed it all up. Then, just to check that everything was alright, I put it on.

Nope. Something somewhere got screwed up. It was so tight, I could barely get into it.

So my initial worry was that the pattern was wrong. Maybe I'd gained some weight back and the pattern wasn't valid anymore? I had to come to the ultimate and hard decision that I'd ruined the dress completely. Even if I added more back into the dress using the leftovers my mom still had from when we initial made the dress, my seams were off and it would end up being more trouble and ultimately more of a headache than it was worth.

I was worried, obviously, about the pattern being wrong, but I didn't have the new piece of muslin yet, so I pulled out a piece of bright orange Hawaiian print cotton I've had kicking around for years and transferred the pattern to that. Robin Netherton suggests in her lectures, that cotton isn't the best choice for the fitted pattern because it's "stiffer" than linen or wool. This particular piece of cotton, however, moves, stretches and bends similar to linen, just with a tighter weave than most of the linen's I've used lately. The cotton pattern doesn't fit that same, though, but not because it's too small- it isn't correct in the bust.

It took me a moment to realize what had gone wrong with the teal dress, which ended up tighter. My error was that I tried to use the existing neck and arm holes. When I pull the dress up about 6 inches, the stomach and hips fit better, but when I wear it where the shoulders want it to be, the bust fits better (but not perfectly). In trying to recycle the old cuts, I'd inadvertently stretched the pattern.

I'm going to try to use the teal wool for 3 new things. First, I'm going to make two tunics, one for each of the twins. Then, I'm going to make Owen a new cote. Finally, if there's enough left, I'd like to make a pair of 3-fingered gloves like these, lined with linen, or maybe with some fur. That would be nice. I'm still terribly bummed about the loss of the dress, but I'm also excited about these new little projects, so it works out.

At this particular point, I'm just waiting for the opportunity to get the linen for the lining on my new supportive gown. I'll use the cotton pattern on it (which is the cleaned-up version I was going to do in muslin), but cut it roomy. Then we'll do the fitting again directly with the lining. Before I sew the whole things together, though, I'll transfer the body block we end up with on the linen to something else (probably some of that blank pattern paper they sell now), and that will be my new pattern.

My new supportive dress will be rust linen on the outside, and probably white, gray or natural as the lining. I'll also do long sleeves with fabric buttons. I am woefully low on long-sleeve options in my garb. I'm not really intending this orange dress to be the fitted dress to go with my garb quest, but it might be. I still haven't settled on what gown to do, but I know I want to aim for as period as possible. I'd prefer that everything is naturally hand-dyed, which the orange linen isn't, but I also don't have a lot of money to put toward this project. Got to make do with what I've got!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Turban-Style Open Hood

I didn't point this out yesterday, but I feel that it's worth a mention, so it get's its own post. Let's take a look at the young woman from the Seven Sacraments Altarpiece again, this time focusing on her head.
Upon a quick glance, you might say that she's wearing a turban. While it's true that turbans were well known to Western Europeans because of the Crusades, and turban-like headdress can be found on religious figures in paintings of the era, it was not a particularly favored style. There are a handful of portraits featuring treatments that look like some sort of messy turban- Van Eyck's "Man Wearing a Turban" obviously comes to mind- but these are men. There is speculation that these examples aren't turbans at all, but instead are chaperons that have been twisted up on the head. Are these real examples of fashionable male headdress? Probably not. Art history 101 teaches us that artists tend to contrive things to show off their skills. A headdress with lots of folds and complex twists would certainly do that.

There is, however, something to be said for the practical aspect of converting a chaperon, or hood, into a turban, and this is where the young woman from the altarpiece comes in. I wasn't able to locate a file large enough to really zoom in on her head, but hopefully this is detailed enough that you can see where I'm headed with this. The black "turban" has all sorts of flaps- not what you think of when you conjure turban images in your head, right? That's because this is not a turban- it is an open hood.

If you've been reading my blog for some time now, you may already know about the prevalence of the feminine open hood in the 15th century. (If not, you can use my "open hoods" tag to see what I'm talking about.) The open hood is remarkable as being probably the only fashion item of the 15th century to start with the lower class and work its way up. The open hood found its greatest supporters among the peasant population because of its practicality in many different work-related scenarios. By the mid-15th century, however, we begin to see open hoods on wealthier women- starting with the peasant middle class such as what is seen in certain copies of Boccaccio's Decameron, many examples of which can be found in the "Women's Hoods" section at

Try to see the tree through the forest (to reverse a cliche). In the image at left, I've highlighted the portion of this headdress that is the "dead-giveaway" that it's an open hood. It bears the short neck and folded-back wing-like brim that is the primary characteristic of the 15th century open hood. This detail is easily lost in the look of the headdress as a whole, in part due to the dark coloration, but also because our eyes aren't expecting to see an open hood with that overall shape.

Let's go back to yesterday. Remember that in my analysis, I concluded that this woman was no doubt on the fashionable side based on the transitional nature of her gown? It makes sense to me then that she would be wearing an open hood- after all, it was the trend. Yet she's wearing it in a different manner that what fashion dictated. Rather than wearing the liripipe down along her back, she's wrapped it around her head. This serves a practical purpose in that it prevents her from sitting on it. If we are to assume that she's stationed herself at the bedside of her relative until his death, the accidental sitting on her liripipe (which might dislodge it from its proper position on her head) might be a terrible inconvenience. But let's also assume for a moment that she's seen peasant women wearing the hood in this manner. There are a handfull of examples out there that show peasant women doing this, including this one. I have a parallel to draw here that I've presented in a few of my headdress classes and it goes something like this:
Blue collar workers have been wearing sleeveless "wife beater" under shirts for decades, and they have been stereotyped to always be wearing one, often with nothing over it. This stereotype is not a pleasant thing- it groups those laborers with "white trash". Yet a few years ago, a young woman named Brittany Spears showed up outside her house in a wife beater. Granted, not everyone thought it was a good idea, but that didn't stop 16 year old girls the world over from filling their dressers with wife beaters. A celebrity- the fashion elite of our time- made that style trendy and removed (or at least made us forget) the stereotype
I suspect that this is exactly the scenario that caused the low-class open hood to become a high-class fashion. (I am basing all this on a survey of images I've collected showing the open hood through the 15th century. When laid out in chronological order it is easy to see that the open hood climbed the ladder of fashion.) If this young woman is part of the fashionable elite, then she would have had no problem with "stealing" this look, and as other portions of her attire demonstrate an understanding of where fashion was headed, she could be confident that this turbaned hood would come across as fashionable, not a faux pas.

My black open hood is cut somewhat different than hers, so I can't recreate it exactly, but in the photo above I'm wearing it in the turban style. All it takes is twisting the liripipe around the head. Hers may be so bulky on top (compared to mine) because her liripipe is longer and/or thicker. And to take this one step further down the practicality road- I'm not using any pins. The turbaning process secures the hood on its own, and without the chance of accidentally sitting on the liripipe, there's little that would move the hood once in place.

So there you have it- the Turban-Style Open Hood. Both fashionable and practical.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Garb Quest - More Houppelande Inspiration

Though the Seven Sacraments Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden was painted about 10 years after the year I'm aiming for (it was painted between 1445 and 1450), I've found some inspiration within it. There is, of course, nothing wrong with shifting my goal to be a costume of the 1440's at this point, but I've yet to decide what finished look I'd prefer to have in my wardrobe. [On a side note, I'm doing some research into the 15th century to present to our local A&S group that has brought to light several changes I must make to my persona story. Since my persona is currently in flux because of this, my garb quest may in fact steer me to a different year range altogether.] So here's what I've found:

The altarpiece is an interesting piece of art in that it not only contains a large number of well-dressed figures, but those figures represent a fairly wide range. There are members of the royalty, nobility, wealthy classes, peasant classes, and of course Christian figures involved in the crucifixion scene at the center of the composition. We are lucky that (for the most part) Weyden stuck with contemporary costuming for this scene, as was the trend in the Northern Gothic period. Therefore, we are given a pretty nice view of fashion across the range of classes represented. Two women in particular stand out to me in my search for houppelande inspiration.

The young woman on the left above appears in the right hand panel of the altarpiece in the "extreme unction" (or "last rights") nave of the cathedral- perhaps a daughter or other relative of the dying man, reading her bible for comfort in her grief. Her houppelande is the type I often refer to as a "transitional" gown between the closed necked early houppelande and the later, open v-neck houppelande. In fact, the wider collar, typical of the v-neck, is clear evidence that the style was on its way in at the time this was painted. There is also no pleating on this gown- a mandatory feature on houppelande's before this point- though there is some gathering caused by the cinching of her wide belt. I've always liked this figure, for many reasons beyond her gown, primarily because she looks very comfortable. She's not encumbered by her clothes, and she wears them with ease. Given that she's clearly a member of the fashion-forward, given the transitional nature of her gown, she still appears approachable. I'd always imagined that a chat with this woman might consist of topics on music, fine foods and harmless gossip about what so-and-so said the other night.

The woman on the right above is one of the holy women in the central scene. She's not wearing a transitional houppelande, but instead wears one typical of the fashion leading up to this time. There is not really a collar here- it's just the fur lining peeking out. The pleating on the torso is clear, stretching from the cinched waist up to the shoulder seam. I would have to say that in comparison to the other woman, this one represents a lower social class- a non-indentured peasant woman with enough means to keep up with fashion. There is one thing about this houppelande that I find very interesting- the fur lining.

From left to right above, a detail from the wealthier woman, the holy woman, and just for comparison's sake, the Magdalen from The Magdalen Reading (which I posted yesterday, and which is from the same time- 1445). The fur lining on the left has been pieced together- you can see the seams and the changes in nape. It is a light fur, and the color is consistent and even. The fur on the left is the same way. These furs are short hair, whether naturally or trimmed is hard to say. The central fur, however, shows that several pelts of the same animal (with the same coloring) were squarely cut and pieced together in a grid, turning the natural coloring on the animal into a pattern. Is this fur treatment indicative of a cheaper method? I'm not sure, but I can see the logic behind saying yes. In order to create a fur lining with even color throughout, the craftsman would have had to inspect each pelt and cut out any portion that didn't match. This left him with a series of odd shapes that then had to be pieced together like a puzzle. The grid method uses straight seams with no regard for imperfections in the color- if it occurred within the squared piece, it as included. And lets face it, sewing straight lines is always easier.

Another thing to note is that the under dresses worn with the left and right gowns are patterned. The Magdalen's is a clearer pattern, and on close observation you can see a tone-on-tone damask-style pattern on the wealthy woman's dress as well. The holy woman? Her under dress is solid colored. Yet another indication of the different social classes in play here.

So what does this mean to me? Well, my goal is to produce a gown for a middle class woman- not a leader of the fashionable trends- so I must put aside my love of the wealthier woman's gown style for something more akin to the holy woman's. There are many examples of this style houppelande- the Magdalen's being one of them- but it's the nature with which is was crafted that provides valuable insight into its proper recreation. A grid-style fur lining that doesn't cater to even coloration, a solid colored under dress, and a gown neckline that is typical of those seen in the previous years, not a trendy alternative, are characteristics to match.

There is, however, one question I still need to answer- wool or silk? I've developed a theory that silk might be appropriate for my persona as a wedding gown, in which case the craftsmanship described above may or may not apply. I pulled out the chapter on silk fabrics in the Museum of London's Textiles & Clothing, to try to get more information on the use of silk, and will hopefully start finding the answers I need in order to move forward.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Problem with Houppelandes

So, to start getting my mind around the whole mid-15th century houppelande idea, I decided to type "houppelande" into Google image search to see what was out there. Obviously I take anything I find through Google with a major dose of skepticism, but I've always found it helpful to get a visual reference on an idea and to see what others have done (correctly or not). I did locate a few beautiful gowns that, to my knowledge, are fairly accurate at least in concept.

Morwenna's green houppelande is a good take on the Rogier van der Weyden houppelande. Then there is this green damask houppelande that has a lovely shape. Also, sevenstarwheel's houppelande and Catrjin's simplified houppelande are both wonderful examples.

I think I'm in good company here, but I also think that the houppelande (of the mid-century variety I'm aiming for) poses two major challenges that these examples, as well as countless others out there, show. First, houppelande recreations tend to be very bulky. I'm not just talking about heavy materials. I'm talking about an amount of fabric (when the fabrics are period ones) that does not seem to show ease of wearing. I get the impression that, besides being weighty gowns, the houppelande makes it difficult to move around, or even comfortably put your arms down to your sides without the feeling that they're still 5 inches away from your body. This is doubly true of fur lined examples.

Yet period images of houppelandes lack that feeling of bulk. Sure, Mrs. Arnolfi is wearing yards and yards of fur lined fabric in that gorgeous green houppelande of hers, but there's still a light-weight feeling about it. It doesn't look thick. Or how about the Magdelan's beautiful houppelande that looks casual and comfortable, as if the dress was just a summer sweater thrown on for the sake of wearing a sweater? I certainly will give the artists props for adding their own stylizing to these garments, but I've seen this time after time with different artists.

The second issue with recreation houppelandes, especially the earlier variety, is that it makes the chest look larger. I don't need any help in that department, thankyouverymuch. But the feminine ideal of the time was a small chest- high, small round breasts. So why would a dress that created the exact opposite effect as what the ideal called for have been so popular? Unless, in period, it didn't have that effect. Look at the artwork again- the two ladies above have small chests. Could they have been painted with the ideal body shape, even if the model looked different? That's certainly a possibility, but perhaps there's also something to be said for the cut of the dress. Which is more likely- no woman in the 15th century had breasts larger than an A cup, or garments were constructed in a different manner than what we've been using for our recreations? I'm inclined to lean towards the latter.

So what does this mean? Primarily, it entails going back to formula and building the silhouette from scratch. The fit of the houppelande and the supportive dress underneath can not be successful recreations if they don't provide the same qualities we see in the period examples (artistic license aside). The dress needs to be constructed so that it is light in appearance and minimizes the size of my chest. Could this, perhaps, open the door to the case for using silk? I look forward to finding the answer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Garb Quest

Every year, my mom (the head of my household), gives each of her dependents an A&S quest (challenge) that helps us get closer to our personal goals in the Society- at least as far as A&S is concerned. My quest needed some revision, as the original quest wasn't panning out the way it was intended, so mom and I discussed some options, and the bottom line is this: I need more experience with garment construction.

So my new quest is this: create and enter into the 2012 regional A&S Faire a complete outfit. (The judging criteria for this can be found here.) I've been giving this a bit of thought, and I think I've decided to do a complete outfit from Flanders circa 1430. Middle class, of course. I need to do much more research into many of these items, but here's a basic list of what I know at this point is involved:
  • houppelande
  • supportive dress
  • smock
  • hose & garters
  • headdress
  • shoes
  • belt
I'm drawing on this concept from August:

I had originally thought that I wanted to do silk in either blue (A) or raisin (b), lined in white linen, with a gold fitted dress (C), but I didn't (and still don't) know if silk would be accurate. So I'm going to need to delve deeper into this concept and see what this outfit entails so I can get to work on it.

This means that I definitely need to clear my project pile pretty quickly to be able to complete all this stuff. Time to get the whip out again....

Monday, December 6, 2010


Every so often an event comes along that feels like a complete bust. I just had one of those.

I knew it was probably not going to be the ideal day when I experienced a major garb crisis Friday night. I'm in the middle of redoing my teal wool dress. I had planned on sewing it back together Thursday night, but as soon as I put the first part on the sewing machine and started to sew, the needle broke. I had no idea where my replacement needle was. The only other dress I have that fits is my black linen dress, but it's got some issues. I only have 2 long sleeve dresses and neither of them are correct for my period. I ended up wearing one of them, a brown wool 12th century dress (which I'm not at all sure on the accuracy of). It was comfortable and warm enough but here's the issue- I was going to teach a class on the fitted dress. And there I was, not wearing a fitted dress.

It took 3 hours to get to the event, and the weather was kind of bad, but it was an indoor event. In doors meaning EXTREMELY crowded. We were literally wedged in. With three kids. And it was very hard to hear since the building didn't have any noise buffering properties and the heavy weapons pretty much took all the sound space!

So, we were barely settled in when I had to find out where the classes were being taught, since my class was at 11. By the time I found it, it was already 11:10. And no one showed up for my class. Bust.

Oh well. After that, I was pretty much done. Lunch was good, and I got to work on some embroidery, but I was ready to go home. Luckily, no one else I was with seemed to be having the same day, so I wasn't in a bad mood about. We did head out early, though.

It's kind of a bummer, especially since coming up with site fee isn't the easiest thing for us right now, but you figure that there's probably some kind of mathematical equation that tells you how many event busts you're going to experience in a given year. My number was apparently up.

I was able to wear my new veil. It's not technically a frilled veil, and it's not officially done, but it was nice to wear it. The linen and the layers in the front are perfectly weighted. I only had it pinned in at the top of my head- just one pin- and it stayed on. I'm planning on doing a honeycomb style stitch (or "fretwork"). That's Kara on my lap. The garb mom made for them right after they were born is still working out. We've got to do something a bit different on the back- the ribbons on there now aren't staying tied. And here's Lee on mom's lap:

So, I'm thinking I'm going to finish up my teal wool dress and complete the veil, then move on to Dearg's garb for a bit.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Natural Dyes

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, our local A&S group did some experimenting with natural dyes. On Friday, we applied the mordant to our materials, then on Saturday, we did the actual dying. The largest batch we did was of black walnut, then there were smaller batches of 2 types of madder, mums and osage orange. Here's a chronicle:

1. Mordants and a scale. All mordants and materials needed to first be measured out to ensure that the ratios were correct to achieve good results. We decided to mordant the entire batch in alum with cream of tarter. 2. Several of the dyes had already been created, including both mum heads and mum stems (two dye batches) and sassafras. 3. A large number of whole walnuts soaked in water over several days. 4. To generate a useful dye bath, the bucket was poured through a strainer to remove the walnuts. The walnut dye had a unique and unpleasant odor.

1. The walnut dye was further refined by pouring it through some nylon hosiery. It was clear in this stage that the dye bath would offer a good amount of color. 2. Mom and I used 100% wool yarn. All 6 skeins were placed in the mordant bath, placed over heat and stirred occasionally. 3. After the wool simmered for about an hour, we removed it from the water and rung it out. 4. The walnut dye bath had meanwhile been heating up, so that the wool and dye were close to the same temperature. We placed 3 of the skeins in the walnut.

1. After another hour or so of simmering in the walnut (occasionally stirring), we removed it and 2. placed it in a bowl to cool off some. 3. Once it had cooled slightly, we put water in the bowl to rinse the wool and keep it wet for the next stage. 4. Interestingly, a gray wool roving that had been mordanted the same and also placed in the walnut bath came out significantly lighter.

1. The following morning, Dearg went out and harvested about 2.5 cups of osage orange (or hedge apple) bark. Mom and I had previously found the tree and mistakenly gathered the fruits. After doing some research online, we realized we needed the bark to make a dye. The bark was in small pieces that were placed in a pot of water. 2. I slowly brought the pot to a boil then let it simmer for roughly 2 hours. 3. After straining out the bark, I jarred the dye to take to the workshop. 4. Once there, 1 skein of the previously mordanted wool went in and it was heated in the same fashion as the walnut. A linen bag was also getting its mordant.

1. We'd decided early on that we wanted to try and achieve the darkest possible shade with the walnut, so iron was added to the bath and our first batch of wool (now brown) was placed back in. 2. The same process of slowly heating and simmering for an hour or so was employed for the walnut/iron bath. 3. The wool was rinsed in cool water until in ran clear. 4. The walnut/iron dye was successful in creating a very dark brown- barely visible in the bowl. The un-dyed wool in the bag shows the original color.

1. The osage orange bath simmered for 2 hours (maybe a bit more), then the wool was removed and rinsed. 2. The result was a very pretty pale orange (not peachy). A darker shade may be achievable with more bark than what we used soaked in water overnight before heating. 3. We also dyed a skein in the mum head dye bath, using the same method for about the same amount of time as the osage orange. 4. This color was a surprise as we thought it would generate a tan-yellow based on information we'd found online. Instead, it turned out to be a vibrant green-yellow (which the photos don't do justice).

1. The final skein was placed in a dye bath of old-world madder. Immediately after putting it in, the skein turned pink. 2. The linen bag that had mordanted earlier was placed in a bath of new-world madder. The difference was clear- the old-world was brighter while the new-world had a more earthy rust quality. 3. We kept the wool in for only an hour (or maybe it was a half an hour?). Straight out of the bath is was a pinkish red. 4. Interestingly, once the wool was rinsed, the color was a deep orange-red instead.

Once all the skeins were rinsed, I took them home and hung them up to air dry. There's still a small amount of color coming out of the walnut, but only with excessive handling (like untangling it from the knotted mess it had become). The madder skein had been tied together a bit too tightly so there were small sections that received no dye. Overall, however, all 4 colors were a success as far as they were pretty much a test. We learned a great deal about the process, and a few lessons on what to do next time.

Thank you to everyone that participated, especially to Shadow Harper for lending us your knowledge and guiding us in these experiments!

This batch of wool, by the way, is now slotted to become the fancy embroidery for Dearg's Irish jacket which will be a dark green linen. Also, I now have the knowledge to dye the silk yarn I've been holding on to for my wide 15th century belt. There's a slightly different process for silk which I still need to research, but I am now confident that a walnut/iron dye will get me the dark color I want. There is still plenty of the dye left for use, but I may wait until next autumn to gather walnuts from my brother-in-law's yard and make my own simply because the belt provides the opportunity to apply a variety of skills on one object, and it would be neat to be able to say I did the whole thing from scratch (except for spinning the silk, but I had to draw the line somewhere....)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cue Maniacal Laughter

I'm not sure how long it's been there, but last night, in a random session of Googling myself, I discovered that my "15-Minute St. Birgitta's Coif" blog post had been linked to on the SBC page on After the initial shock of seeing my name on a website that I've often referred to, I started laughing uncontrollably. Dearg described it as "maniacal". This is so cool, and I'm so proud to have my personal attempt to share this headdress to the masses included among the recreations of researchers and reenactors I greatly respect.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Ok, this is going to be a long one- hope you like ketchup. Ketchup. Catch up. Get it?

Alright. Moving on....

Last we left off, I was showing you the results of my black linen dress re-fit, but I stopped just short of showing you the complete outfit. So here's the dress in final form as I wore it at Royal Hunt:

Overall, after having worn it for a day, I'm happy with the way it turned out. I wish I hadn't rushed it, though, because in order to make the neckline not so weird, I had to pin it into my smock. The pin, of course, kept poking me. Luckily, my red hood did a good job of hiding the poor cut at the shoulder. The other issue I had was that, no matter how hard I tried, the lacing wouldn't tighten completely at my bust. Ultimately (sorry, no photo) I ended up loosening the lacing above this trouble spot to make it look more intentional. Not precisely period, but it was a solution none-the-less.

The event was very nice. It was small, but still fun. Friday night was freezing, and our air mattress sprung a leak, so we ended up sleeping almost directly on the slats of our bed. We had every blanket, cloak and even my teal wool dress on the bed to keep us warm. A few days before the event, I found one of my first items of garb- an 11th century brown wool dress. I wore that Friday night. I was glad to have a warm dress that didn't require lacing.

Since it was just Dearg and I, we tried to make every effort we could to limit how much mundane stuff we had out. This included our food. We had intended to make a fire to cook over, but there wasn't much communication about where to get the firewood. Luckily, we brought our camp stove just in case. It was very nice to have a hot bowl of bean and chicken stew Friday night, and a plate of warm salmon and eggs Saturday morning.

With my black dress re-fit complete, I could move on the the second tailoring project- creating a new fitted pattern. This time around, we used muslin instead of linen, which helped in that it didn't stretch as much, which was the major problem with the last fitting. Mom came over this past Saturday and we did the fitting using Mistress Mathilde's instructions as a guide. We did two rounds of fitting- once making it semi-tight, then a second time refining the fit and making it supportive. I'm just, personally, not comfortable without a bra, and I need to wear one anyway to keep my breast pads in place, so I wore my nursing bra to do the fitting. I wouldn't normally wear this bra outside of my house because it's not supportive. Achieving a supportive fit with this bra was the real challenge.

What we came to realize as we did the fitting was that, with the size of my bust in relation to the rest of my body, a straight front seam is probably always going to gap at my bust- the way that it does on my black linen dress- if it's going to be tight enough everywhere else to actually show off my shape. So we put in a curved front seam, but the curve is very shallow.

I've cut the pattern pieces out, but I need to transfer them to something else so I can make them better. I think I'll just opt for another bit of muslin, cut out the pieces and actually sew them together to be sure everything's right. My main concern is how I cut them out below the belly. I just need to make sure all my seams are straight down there. Once I'm satisfied that the pattern is good, I'll take it all apart and transfer it to paper.

With the pattern complete (even in it's rough form) I can now redo my wool dress. The first step is to take the whole thing apart. I'm going to discard the lining- it was the linen we used for my initial fitting, and it's so loosely woven, it frays just by looking at it. I've got a light-weight white linen to use for the new lining. With the dress apart, I'll lay the new pattern over each piece and re-cut them. Then I'll sew the whole thing back together.

I wasn't able to complete my frilled veil for Royal Hunt, and I actually still haven't completed it. Come to think of it, I haven't picked it up since the event. Hand sewn projects tend to be like that for me- if I can't get them done in a matter of days, I kind of put them aside for long periods of time. I really want the veil, though, so I may start working on it again this weekend.

I also taught a new class at the event, and I'll be teaching it again at Christmas Tourney. It's a class devoted specifically to the fitted dress. It truly amazes me that more women in the SCA haven't embraced the fitted kirtle, but it's probably just because they don't know about the superior qualities of a tailored dress over a princess-cut dress, or even a pattern-following Greenland gown. There's a time and a place for these types of dresses, but when it comes to creating a truer medieval silhouette- nothing beats the fitted dress.

Was that everything? I think so. Stay tuned- there's lots more on the way!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Black Linen Dress Re-fit Complete

It's not perfect, but the black linen dress re-fitting is now complete. In general it was not that difficult, but I think I rushed a bit too much and ended up creating a couple problems which I could only partially do anything about. Straightening the front, however, was very easy and worked just as I expected. I think I'll be doing straight front fitted dresses from now on.

So before I show you the result of the tailoring, let's start by looking at how the dress fit prior to any adjustments. (To see how it fit when I first made it, check out this post.)

Not very flattering, to say the least.

Just for fun, I went ahead and put my undergarments on as well to show you. On the left, I'm wearing my sleeveless linen smock, gray knit hose and new (made by Dearg) leather garters. On the right I've added my Saint Birgitta's Coif and a scarf.

Now for the finished dress! The lacing at the bust isn't as tight as it's supposed to be, so you can see the orange scarf through the lacing. The fitting also brought the dress back up to its original length (see the before image and note that the skirt touches the floor). On the right, you can see one of the problems I created when I took it in- wrinkles on the back. On the left, if you look at my left shoulder, you can see that I'm also having an issue with the neckline, which I opened up from the original. Something went weird when I cut it, and though I tried to correct it, the damage was done.

I need to make sure I position my bust properly to help the straight front do more of a lifting job, but overall the effect of minimizing my bust and belly was achieved. I had Dearg take some photos of the completed outfit, but I look very squat, so I'd rather not show them. I'll be sure to have someone take a few photos this weekend, however.

So, that's one dress re-fit project complete. I'll need to create my new fitted dress pattern before moving on to the other- my teal wool dress.

P.S. Truer words were never spoken.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Re-fitting the Black Linen Dress

So I pulled my black linen dress out of the closet to start working on tailoring it, but Dearg's gone to bed for a nap and I'm at a loss as to how I can do anything with it by myself, since I can't see my back and sides. It would be one thing if I just needed to take the seams in a bit here and there, but the entire dress, except perhaps the sleeves, needs to be taken in. Even the fullness of the skirt needs to be taken in! So, in my waffling about what I was going to do so that I didn't waste time, I tried to make some decisions about what I really wanted to accomplish with the re-fit.

There is enough extra in the whole trunk of the gown to completely remove the lacing holes in the front. This is a very good thing, because the curve of my bust has completely altered with the combination of the weight loss and the breastfeeding. Read: bigger boobs on a smaller frame. (Which is pretty funny, considering that I started this blog on the topic of my big boobs and how self-conscious I was about them.) With my altered bust, the original curved front doesn't fit correctly. Let's compare:

This first image was taken when I first made the dress (I'm about 4 months pregnant- right after I found out I was having twins). The curve of the front, along the lacing, is smooth all the way from the neck to below the bust. There is also no extra fabric along the front of the arm hole, so I had a nice, wrinkle-free chest that followed all the curves properly.

This second photo was taken at my first event after having the twins (obviously). As you can see, not only is there way too much fabric in front of the arm hole, the curviest part of my bust isn't curvy enough to fill out the curve in the dress, and there's a "flat" area. Now, I believe I was wearing my not-very-supportive nursing bra, which probably accounts for the ill-fit of the upper chest, but even with a better bra when I put it on here at home, the flat area is still there.

In order to correct this, the front seam of the dress needs to be re-cut (and the original lacing holes completely removed), so I wondered if I might be better off finding the grain and cutting straight on that to turn this curved front fitted dress into a straight front fitted dress. The very top of the front, at the neckline, ended up needing the least amount taken in, so I can use that as the cut point.

I wasn't willing to commit to that right then, however, so I decided I'd waffle a bit more and waste some time reading some blogs online. In the process of doing that, I went to the Stuff & Fustian blog and discovered that she is tackling a very similar issue with her current gown project. She had previously created a straight front fitted gown, but realized that it didn't provide the same curve of the bust as her inspiration, so she's opted for a curved front. When I look at her straight front, however, I feel that this is the direction I want to go. Yes, yes, I know. My black linen dress was originally inspired by a dress in the same manuscript, with the same silhouette. I've changed my mind about the dress now because I just spent 9 months being pregnant, and I definitely looked it. Now I'm not pregnant, loving my new shape, and I want to show it off. A curved front dress would accentuate the baby belly I haven't quite lost, and make my already large breasts look larger. A straight front would ultimately (I hope) show off my smaller waist and butt because it would diminish my breasts and belly. (Sounds like a good theory, right?)

So that's my game plan. Once I've straightened the front, Dearg can help me by pinning in the side and back seams to re-tailor it.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I haven't made much progress with anything in the past several days, not sure why. Probably because I'm working on little sleep, and I'd rather veg out when I get home after work than pick up a project to work on. I've got to get cracking, though.

I normally attend Red Dragon, but with the kids, Dearg's work schedule and lack of funds, I have to skip it this year. So I'll be home all weekend, and though my house needs major cleaning, I really need to reserve a good chunk of time to adjusting my black linen dres for Royal Hunt. I'm hoping I can do the dress on Saturday so I have the rest of the week to get my frilled veil completed for the event as well.

So stay tuned. If everything goes according to plan I'll have something to report before next Saturday!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Event Re-cap and Garb-Weeding Underway

Despite the lack of attendance and the un-planned-for cold rain, Mischief and Mayhem was a actually a fun event for me. It was almost just a practice event, really, and we had no real problems with having all 3 kids there. Only downside, though, is that there weren't a lot of people there to see Owen's awesome 13th century-esque outfit:

He got pretty wet, but I'd planned ahead for the cold by making the hood, and we were able to keep him warm by keeping the hood up when he was outside the shade. This outfit will still fit him when we go to Royal Hunt later this month. With the twins, it's harder to coordinate making new garb for Owen, so anything that can last a while is good. The twins, by the way, wore their gowns again, but I didn't get any photos of them this time since they spent most of the day bundled up under a blanket in the playpen.

Right before leaving, I'd wondered if I really needed my teal wool dress to stay warm. Ultimately I decided to wear it, and I'm really glad I did. I wore an old light blue linen/rayon dress underneath, and I was quite warm enough. For most of the day, I wore a wimple and oval veil (which you can see in the photo with me and Owen), but that had gotten pretty wet and wasn't comfortable anymore. I switched to my German kerchief and put my goller on (above), and still maintained a comfortable warmth level.

It's kind of hard to tell in this photo, but I tucked the ends of the kerchief up under the edge which was pinned tight around my head with a single pin at the nape of my neck. I've previously had a hard time getting this veil to work for me, but now I realize that it was because I was doing it wrong. Now that I've figured it out, I'll definitely wear this veil more often.

Today, I pulled all my dresses out and decided which ones to keep. This was just the dresses I had in my garb closet and didn't include garb I'd packed away (that's a project for a later day). All I've decided to keep are my black linen dress (which I'll take in), my blue linen v-neck gown (which I won't worry about adjusting- I'll just use it as a throw-on layer for camping events), and my teal wool (which I will completely take apart, remove the lining, re-cut according to my new pattern (yet to be created), re-line, and reassemble). I'm also going to keep the pink jacket I whipped together as a camping robe, but I'm going to sew up the front to make it a tunic instead. I've also got the new sleeveless smock I just made and my fitted underdress in the keep pile. The underdress will be replaced, however, when I get the linen for it, and decide it's time to create my new pattern (which will probably happen in November). This leaves me dismally low on garb, I realize, but what better excuse to buy more fabric and make more clothes?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Amazing Disappearing Woman

Believe it or not, I've come out on the other side of my twin pregnancy 55lbs. lighter than when I started. I've dropped 2 pant sizes (one for each twin, as I like to say), so I basically need a whole new wardrobe- which includes my garb, of course.

At the moment I've got a few items that fit well enough that they'll pass, but it's time for a closet clean-out. I'll need to first weed out the pieces I know either won't fit and can't be adjusted or that aren't worth adjusting. Then I'll try everything else on and get an idea of what's salvageable and what isn't. That'll leave me with a new project pile- all the stuff I want to keep that now needs to be taken in. I suppose I'll need to evaluate each of those pieces to decide if I'd rather just make a new one instead- I have a lot of pieces that have had their hey-day and probably need to be retired.

In the meantime, I've been plugging away at some smaller projects. I returned to work early, and didn't have as much of a maternity leave as I expected, so I've been working on accessories and the like more than larger projects. I've started my frilled veil (hand sewing all the frill edges is a pain in the you-know-what, but it's totally worth it!), and I finally broke down and started working on a German brick stitch pouch front. I'm using my heraldic colors and this pattern from A Stitch Out of Time. It will be a small pouch favor for Dearg, but I haven't decided what will go in it yet.

I'm still working on the under tunics for the twins, but I did whip out a hood for Owen last night. I've only been saying I was going to make him a hood for about a year now. I used black fleece and made it kind of tight so that it would stay on. It's a bit too tight at the neck for pulling over his head and it kind of scares him, but once it's on and he's used to it, he likes it. And it's just too darn cute.

I'll be going to Mischief & Mayhem this weekend with the kids, and since it's supposed to be on the chilly side, I've decided to wear my teal wool. It fits relatively well enough as long as I get the lacing as tight as I can, but since I've lost most of my gut and butt, the skirt is significantly longer. I don't plan on doing much walking, though. I'll need to experiment with headdress/goller combos to decide what looks good, will keep me warm, and what won't get in the way when I try to burp the twins. Ah, burping... always an important consideration.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Double Trouble

My new bundles of joy have finally arrived, and though it's been hectic and at times frustrating, I couldn't be happier. Lee (on the left above) and Kara are doing well and are healthy. Lee is about 2 pounds heavier than Kara. Owen is getting accustomed to them, though he's still not quite sure what to make of them. He's entered the "I'm not listening" phase, which has made things a little tough, but we're doing our best to remain patient.

We ventured out to Harvest Day this past weekend with all three kids. It wasn't the easiest thing, and I certainly exerted myself a bit more than I should have, but it's an experience we needed. Going to an event with a young child is hard enough, but adding two infants into the mix adds a whole new dimension of logistics that you don't really know exists until you test it out. We've got several adjustments to make to not only our set-up and take-down routine, but also with how we can schedule personal time into the day. Dearg desperately wanted to get to the archery range all day, but never made it. I got to the merchants once, right as it started to rain, but we had the twins with us, and it just made more sense for me to carry them back to our shade.

My mom made gowns for the twins, which are a bit large so they'll be able to wear them for a while. We used a christening gown pattern that worked out very well and looks very nice. We used a brown linen/rayon blend for Kara's and the same blue linen/rayon for Lee's that I made my v-neck gown out of. I have the pieces for their white linen tunics still sitting by the sewing machine- hopefully I can get those completed before the next event.

I was also able to mostly complete Dearg's new tunic. I haven't done all the contrast stitching nor the decorative stitching around the neckline, but it was finished enough for him to wear. It was nice to see him in a different tunic for a change!

As far as my other tasks, I've made the updates to my website (except for cleaning up the code on the main page), but that's about it. I decided not to create nursing garb, as we've found breastfeeding the twins too time consuming and difficult when not home. Instead, I pump right before or right after they eat, and we bottle feed the breastmilk. So I don't need nursing garb, but I do still need to be able to access my breasts to pump regularly at an event. For now, this just means that anything I wear needs to either lace or button up the front. I'm not sure that it requires any special type of garb beyond that.

I started working on my "Beyond the Burgundian" class notes by re-reading them and making some edits. I want the full notes to be highly extensive and informative, so for the moment I'm taking my time with them. I don't think I'll put them on my website when they are complete though, since I think I'd like to submit them to the Compleat Anachronist for publication.

Finally, you may notice that I swapped the nursing garb for a frilled veil in my project pile progress bars. I haven't decided which style of frilled veil I'd like to do, but I know that I'm going to raid Isis' extensive thesis for information on the topic and let her knowledge help me decide!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Looking Ahead

Well, I'm still here, and insanely pregnant. Today is 37 weeks and 5 days. Twins are considered full term at 38 weeks. Which is why I'm scheduled to be induced on Friday!

Over the past couple of days, since I'm usually up at night (it's so hard to sleep with a giant belly), I've been looking ahead and planning what to work on during my maternity leave, and what my projects will be for the rest of the year. There are a few things that are priorities, but for the most part, I don't have any true deadlines for anything. I've broken the projects down into three categories: Housekeeping, For Others and Post-Pregnancy.

One of my priority projects for September is to update my class notes over on my website. I have a few to add and I also have some updates for the How to Wear a Veil tutorial page.

I also have a bit of re-vamping to do to the website, mainly adjusting some code and updating my "alphabet soup" to include "CSO" for my recently earned Silver Oak.

Also something of a priority is to complete the notes for Session 3 of my "Beyond the Burgundian" class so that those who attended at Border Raids can have the complete notes and I can do a better job on that section when I decide to teach it again. I believe I also need to go back into Session 2 and add images and a paragraph or two on non-garb items that help to round out a middle class persona. I'm wildly enthusiastic about this class topic, and have decided to spend the next several months focusing my efforts on personally putting my research into action (more so than I've already done).

For Others
The majority of my projects for the remainder of the year are actually for other people. Since I need to give my body time to recover from the pregnancy, and decide what shape it wants to take in the process, it doesn't make much sense to spend time and effort on the many fit-related garb projects I've had queued up. So, I'll have plenty of project time to devote to everyone else.

First on the list is a new tunic for Dearg to give his yellow tunic a rest. I've got purple linen/rayon for this, and a small amount of the yellow for some bands around the arms. It'll be just a simple Viking tunic that I'll sew on the machine. Then to give it a bit more character, I'm going to hand sew contrast stitching to finish the seams and possibly add some simple embroidery at the neck.

I also need to get started on Dearg's Irish/Norse garb. He and I have already decided what each piece is and what it will look like. The only hold up here is acquiring the fabric. He's chosen 100% linen from the, which isn't tremendously expensive, but our money is so tight right now it's hard to justify spending it on fabric. I suspect, therefore, that his garb will be done one piece at a time, and probably won't be complete until next year. Also, because authenticity to his persona and period is a big deal, he and I agreed that I should hand sew the items. My hand sewing skills have greatly improved over the years, and though it's certainly not as fast as I'm used to working, the benefits outweigh the inconvenience. If you're interested to know where our research into this very specific garb came from, check out this page. We combined what we found here with the Norse garb research Dearg's already done.

I'm really only doing two main pieces, but there will be other simple garments involved as well. Here's a breakdown:
  • A léine: a long-sleeve tunic of knee length or longer with bright colors and/or embroidered decoration. Dearg's will be a yellow tunic with red sleeves and a narrow green "collar"- a band that will wrap around his shoulders, chest and back, following the neckline like a necklace (not directly against the neckline).
  • An inar: a fitted (in the Norse sense), 3/4-length sleeved jacket of thigh length that opens entirely down the front with no permanent fasteners. A belt is worn over the inar to keep it closed. Dearg's will be dark green with a bright green lining. The sleeve cuffs will be red-hued rabbit fur. The inar will also sport a wide, hand-embroidered collar (which I will also be making, once I figure out the embroidery pattern).
  • Other items: In addition to these formal pieces, Dearg will also need a natural-colored under tunic and a loose mantle cloak. He already has pants, but they need to be repaired. Eventually I'll hand sew a new pair, as this current pair was machine sewn.
I know that movies aren't the best source for garb, but after doing the research to find out what Dearg needed, we realized that certain aspects of this outfit could be seen in the 2005 Beowulf and Grendel movie staring Gerard Butler. Searching online for clearer images, I found a perfect example of what Dearg's outfit will eventually look like (just with brighter colors). So, please excuse the movie reference, but it's the best visual I've got.

Add Image

Also, obviously, the twins will need garb. Instead of doing what we did with Owen- making miniature versions of adult garb- we're going to make period baby garb. This is really only because we have to clothe two of them, and it will be easier than creating two new sets of garb for every event for the next 6 months. We made an outfit like this for Owen, which he wore at Christmas Tourney the year he was born. We used Mathilde's Infant Outfit documentation for that, and I intend to use that again for the twins. For now, I'm going to use some of the linen/rayon fabric I have for the gowns and 100% linen for the shirts, coifs and swaddle cloths. When the cooler weather rolls around I'll make wool gowns as well. I think I'll skip the swaddling bands, though. I'll also pick up some heavy flannel and make little baby booties.

The first item on my to-do list (before any of the stuff above) is a set of nursing garb. With twins, I can't really get away with just opening the front of my dress and shifting it to reveal the breast, since I intend to get the twins on a schedule where they both breast feed at the same time. Sooo, I'll need an outfit that allows the easiest possible access to both my breasts, that looks fairly decent at the same time. I've come up with a three-piece outfit that I think will work perfectly.
  • A loose, short tunic with fitted sleeves, made from white linen. It will only go down to about my waist, and flare at the bottom a bit so that it can easily be hiked up.
  • A skirt with a high waist that will attach to the inside of the tunic. It will not have any elastic or drawstring, so that my belly isn't constricted in any way. This will be a colored fabric- I've really got no preference for color or material here.
  • A short coat with short sleeves and a front opening. It will be hip length, but will be loose as it will pull double duty as a cover while the twins are feeding. It will fasten closed at the top and will be a different color than the skirt. After describing this to my mom, she suggested that I look at traditional Korean wedding garb. The idea is similar, but my take will obviously be less oriental and ornamental:
Not anywhere in the short term, I also need to redo my supportive underdress pattern. This needs to wait until my body goes back to non-pregnant mode, which may not be until the end of the year. The previous pattern was created using linen that stretched way too much. Then, when we made the actual dress out of it, the linen/cotton we used also stretched too easily. When we re-do the pattern, I think I'd prefer to use something that stretches less (muslin, probably). Down the road, I'd like to grid it out and create a digital file that I can adjust as needed for other dress types.

Also in the long term (very long term), I've started brainstorming a new gown: an early middle class 15th century houppelande. Not to be confused with an early 15th century houppelande, which would be an upper class garment. When the middle class started wearing houppelandes, sometime around 1425-30, they wore a very simple version that was pretty quickly altered to be more "relaxed" (such as the houppelandes we see in van der Weyden paintings). The two images below, from a version of The Decameron, show the basic details of the gown. There really isn't much to it.

For my version, I've decided to go with silk noil so that it's multi-seasonal. My first choice was a very pretty teal-blue (A) with white linen lining. I tend to lean towards blues a lot, though, so I'm also thinking of using a raisiny purple (B) instead. Either way, I'll do an underdress in a heavy linen with a mustard color (C). This will be a big ticket outfit- the silk alone will be around $100- so I may try to save up and do this as an A&S project. I'll need to do more research on the use of silk for a gown like this, however.

In addition to all this, I've got a couple embroidery projects in mind (I just put a fresh bit of linen on my embroidery frame yesterday) and a few headdresses I still need to make, but these will be more "filler" projects than anything else.

So that's what's on tap for me. Should we start taking bets on how well I'll follow through?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Border Raids Recap

Took me forever to get the photos off my camera- sorry about that!

Border Raids was incredibly hot, but it was nice to get to at least one camping event before being stuck at home to finish out my pregnancy. It was especially nice because I was called up in court and received a Silver Oak for my research into period headwear! Companionship into the Order of the Silver Oak is the Middle Kingdom first level award for sciences, which research is considered. I felt a little awkward in front of Their Majesties because I didn't want to embarrass myself by kneeling with my big baby belly, but they didn't seem to mind. Unfortunately, all I remember hearing is Her Majesty saying "your classes are great".

I ran out of time before that Friday and didn't get all my class notes typed up for my 3-part class, but everything still worked out alright. I'm going to finish them and have them available for the women that attended the class. My mom had suggested that I look into publishing the entire class in Tournaments Illuminated or The Compleat Anachronist. Then someone asked me at the event if I'd published anything- to which I relied that I wanted to submit it to CA. So after I get the initial class notes completed, I'm going to send the abstract to the CA editor.

Despite the heat, I wore my new v-neck gown all day on Saturday (including court). It's only one layer of linen/rayon, and with my single layer linen sleeveless smock, it wasn't too heavy to wear. I would have been just as hot, if not hotter, in anything else I could have worn. The main problem I was having was that my hood kept slipping backwards. I think it was because I ended up using my St. Birgitta's coif on Friday to setup, and it got stretched out just enough that the weight of the hood's liripipe pulled it back. Note for next time- wear a fresh coif on the second day.

There are some obvious adjustments I need to make on my next try. The angle of the "V" in the front is completely wrong- it's more of a "U". I also need to plan my length a bit better- it ended up shorter than I'd like. Also, when I wear a placket, I need to a) iron it and b) pin it better to avoid the puckering I got at the base of the opening (you can clearly see it in the photo above). Overall, however, for not really having any idea whether I was doing it right while I was making it, it turned out to be a very nice dress that I'm sure will get a lot of wear.

I also wanted to share a few photos of Dearg. We're slowly working on making his new early Irish Norse garb, which started with a new pair of pants. They are narrow (though not as narrow as they should be- he prefers them loose) and fairly long with a drawstring waist. They are a medium weight linen cotton blend in a greenish-brown.

He opted to wear just his undertunic for the day (because of the heat), but with the addition of his accessories (note that he's stolen my belt since I can't wear it right now), he looked quite nice. There's nothing like a handsome man in garb!

So, I'll be offline for a while. I've got 5 weeks to go in the pregnancy (less if the twins decide to arrive earlier than 38 weeks), and I'm pretty focused on nesting and trying not to over exert myself. I do not want to end up on bed rest, but I'm also an "I'll do it myself" type of person, so wearing myself out is pretty easy to do. Once I'm on maternity leave, though, I can chill out and get some of my back-log class notes completed and online, as well as make some changes to my website as suggested by some of the wonderful people out there who have come across it. Thanks to all of you for the feedback.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Still no pictures, but I wanted to share with you that my new v-neck gown (which I'm calling a middle class v-neck gown), which was inspired by Matilda la Zouche's "Early Burgundian Gown", is almost complete and looks fantastic so far! I was hesitant to make any new garb for myself while still pregnant, but I really needed a lightweight gown for this weekend, and I already had everything for this one. I'm using a linen/rayon "linen look" in a very deep blue (almost a violet in the right light) and 100% white linen for the collar and sleeve trim. I'll wear it with a yellow placket and sleeves (the same sleeves I wore to Unicorn) and a black belt. My new red open hood will finish it off.

I'm very excited to wear it, and I can't wait to show it off to you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Working Too Fast for Pictures

Occasionally, not often mind you, I get working on something at such a break-neck pace that I don't stop to take photos of my progress. Which is good for me- it means I have one more thing to cross of my project pile. But bad for you- I don't have the visual reference to how I accomplished it. Such is the case for my new red hood. I promise that I will have pictures of it after Border Raids. In the mean time, I will tell you that I created it from a single piece of a lightweight linen/cotton which was folded at the front to create a self lining. I also machine sewed the entire thing (which is probably why it took me no time at all to complete), including the gussets. Now that was a trick. I don't recommend sewing gussets with the machine if the piece needs to be perfect. This, lucky me, didn't need to be. I just really wanted a linen hood for the summer, but I still intend to make a hand-sewn 100% linen red hood in the future. This hood isn't really red- it's more of a russet or light brick-red. And I made the liripipe incredibly long. So long, in fact, that it touches the ground. I'll need to shorten it, but for now I'm just getting a kick out of having a liripipe that long.

I've only got one more "must" sewing project before Border Raids- my new linen smock- but then I have to compile the notes for my 3-part class series, paint an award scroll, draft the design for Dearg's Irish coat collar (so I have it to work on at the event), and if I still have time, try to quickly sew together a new unlined linen v-neck gown. I accidentally shrunk one of the dresses I intended to wear, and the other is my black dress- which is fine for court and evening, but may not be comfortable for the day.

And I'm 7 months pregnant with twins to boot. I love this hobby.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm still here- sort of

Wow. Nothing like falling off the face of the earth for a while, huh?

I decided to take May off from events to save some money and try to get the house in order for the twins. Not that either of those really happened, but I really needed to step away from the SCA for a moment anyway.

June, on the other hand, is off to a swinging start. We will be going to Border Raids at the end of the month, since it will probably be the last event I can get to before the babies arrive. I've signed up to teach a three-part class series that I'm really excited about. I'm calling it "Beyond the Burgundian" and through the three sessions I'll cover garb and accessories specifically for lower and middle class women in the 15th century. In my own research, I've found that these classes are overshadowed by the upper class style worn at the very end of the century, and as my persona is middle class, I've got a vested interest in this information. That will pretty much wear me out, as I'll be a full 7 months by then, but it's worth it to teach a subject that I love.

In addition to putting this class series together, I've also got a few other projects to do. I accepted a scroll assignment, which for me is just the illumination part as I don't do calligraphy. I think I'd also like to get a new tunic for Owen sewn, as well as a new red linen hood for me. (At some point I'll update my project pile list....)

I'm also going to take an embroidery project that I need to do a fair amount of prep work for. Dearg and I have hashed out a new set of garb for him that captures his Norse-Irish persona. Part of the outfit will be a shortcoat with an embroidered collar. The embroidery will be pretty intense and large, definitely the largest and most complex item I've ever attempted, but the results will be worth the time and effort. Before I can get started on it, though, I need to draft it and figure out the design I'm going to do. It needs to be Norse in overall feel, but Irish in nature, so typical celtic knots are not quite the ticket. This will be a long term project- my deadline is South Oaken A&S next year.

I'll try to keep you posted on what's going on as much as I can. I don't currently have an internet connection at home, which puts a damper on updates.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

German-ish Outfit Complete!

I had a mad dash Friday night to try to get everything ready for the event on Saturday, but my German-ish outfit was completed and looked awesome!

I did not have to adjust my rust colored linen dress, like I thought I would. All I did was wear my fitted underdress. That put everything in the right place, which is amazing when you realize that I didn't originally cut the rust dress to be worn over the fitted dress. You can see that it's a bit tight over the top of my baby belly, where I'm currently the largest, but it didn't feel tight while I wore it.

I ended up using my prototype wulsthaube and rectangular linen veil, mainly because I ran out of week to work on the real thing. I primarily used Herrin Emeludt Hänsler's method by using a triangular kerchief and pinning the end corner to the padded roll. I had also sewn a cap piece onto the roll, similar to Myra's, but it's too curved at the front. It basically helped me keep the roll in the donut shape, though. Really, it's the veil that kept everything in place. I had to take the whole thing off and readjust at some point in the middle of the day because gravity had started to work against me and the whole thing was slipping off the back of my head. Once I redid all the parts much tighter that I had originally done, everything stayed in place. You can see in the photos above that I just knotted the veil together at the base of my neck. I think the roll is too small- it doesn't stick up high enough when you look at me straight on. Overall, though, I think my prototype worked out well.

Of course I also wore my new goller. It was very comfortable. I did notice, however, that it doesn't quite fit right. I think the original pattern worked for the original goller because I did such a crappy job putting the frog clap on that the large gap at the opening compensated for the incorrect fit. Now that the gap is remedied, the poor incorrect fit is more apparent. I'm probably the only one to notice, though.

We kind of had a matching outfit thing going on as a family. Not exactly matching, but we all clearly belong to each other. The yellow is exactly the same on all three of us. Dearg and I are in the planning stages for some new garb for him, he's been wearing this particular outfit to every event since we went to Michigan last year. He's doing early 11th century Irish Norse, and his persona just converted to Christianity. The issue we have now is that we need to be looking less at Viking garb and more at Irish garb, of which there is little to find. He is not portraying a "Celt", as we often see them in the SCA, but rather a middle class norseman who happens to have an Irish mother. He's not a raider, which also makes pinpointing his garb needs a bit difficult.

Since I don't plan on making too much more garb for myself this summer, most of my projects will be for him. We need to stock up on more fabric, though.

I was also able to put together Owen's new cotehardie Friday night. It was actually pretty easy. There's no side seams (I just cut the arm holes along the folds). It fits him really well, and I (finally) got it long enough. This is the perfect style for him, since he's got that long torso. And the red tights really made the outfit. I think I made it large enough that it should still fit in May for Coronation, but I can add gores if I need to.

Mom also looked splendid. She didn't plan on it, but she had a Lutrell Psalter look going on. I gave her my smocked apron, since it's more appropriate for 14th century than 15th. She wore her 14th century open hood and St. Birgitta's coif, and the outfit was complete!

Up next? Relaxing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Update: Goller Finished!

The new goller is now complete. It needs a little breaking in (and I need to iron it), but it's a vast improvement over the old one. It looks and feels very luxurious, and when you consider that it's made of 100% wool, 100% linen and 100% silk thread, it has every right to be!

So here's how I did it:

1. I took the old goller apart and used it for the pattern. I originally came to the pattern I had by using a large piece of newspaper wrapped over my shoulders then cut to fit. Basically, it's the bottom of a hood.
2. I cut two of each fabric. I don't have an iron, an you can clearly see how badly the linen needed to be ironed before I did this, but after the fact will have to do.

3. I sewed the two halves of each fabric together down the back seam using a simple running stitch. Then I went the extra step to finish the seams so that I could get a nice finished look on the exterior when it was complete. It occurred to me after I finished this step that I didn't actually need to turn the seam allowance under, though.
4. Then I married the wool and linen together, right sides in. I used the running stitch here again, but didn't finish the seams.

5. After sewing the two fabrics together, I turned the whole thing right side out, then did a running stitch down the center seam to keep the two fabrics together at this point.
6. Then I closed the hole where I turned it right side out.

7. To keep the edges straight (not sagging or uneven), I did a running stitch around the entire perimeter.
8. I used the linen to create 4 buttons. they are only about 3/8" in diameter. These aren't very pretty (I don't make fabric buttons too often), but they work.

9. I marked with pins where I wanted the four buttons and loops to go. They are a thumb's width apart.
10. Then I sewed on the buttons.

11. On the other side, I attached a fingerloop braided cord (using the embroidery floss I picked up today). I haven't seen this method used before, but it's an elegant solution to a problem I always have with loops- they slide out of my stitching. This is stitched done along the entire length (except a the loops), mostly by going through the cord rather than around it.
12. The finished goller!

I'm going to leave you with that teaser. I'd rather wait to show how it looks on me until I'm wearing it for real with the whole outfit on Saturday.