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!