Saturday, September 17, 2011

I need your feedback!

My new website is coming along fairly well.  I've had to stop working on it for long sittings so that we can get moved (admittedly I'm supposed to be packing right now, but I'm only able to do it in bursts).  I'm really excited about some of the organizational things I've come up with, and hopefully it makes adding new class notes easier in the future.  I've also been coming up with other ideas as I go to really use the web to my advantage.

Blogger recently updated and now I can track page views on the blog and see what is bringing people here.  I'm not surprised that Google searches are my number 1 traffic source, but what does surprise me is the search terms that are the top hitters.  Interestingly, 3 of the top 4 are topics that I have either posted little about or have to do with projects I haven't yet undertaken. 

I enjoy that this blog appears on Google (and there are some months when it feels like I'm all over Google- even under search terms I wouldn't think I'd show up under), but I do wonder if it's really to this blog's advantage.  I don't want to be exclusive, obviously, but I also don't want to inadvertently mislead anyone into believing that the information I share on this blog is anything more than my attempts at understanding medieval fashion for the purpose of recreation- not archeological research in the scholarly sense.  To that end, I find the links to this blog from other costumers' blogs (in blog rolls or links within posts) much more valuable in terms of my intended audience.

So, for those readers that come here often (and I'll let you decide what "often" means), please leave a comment to this post and let me know how you found The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist.  If it was a Google (or other engine) search, do you remember what your search term was, and did you use a website search or an image search?  If it was through another page, what page was it?  I appreciate any feedback you can give me- it will help me to understand the best course for future content and organization within this blog!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Event Recap & Dress Success

Summer event season is now over for me and the family- Harvest Day is typically the last hoorah before we pack up the camping gear.  We had not had an opportunity to take the twins to a camping event earlier in the year, so this was the first.  It did not go well.  It was pretty chilly Friday night and the twins aren't accustomed the having to sleep in their playpens. Somewhere around 2am, we brought them into the bed with us, but they did not like the air mattress any more than the playpens (though they clearly enjoyed how much warmer it was sleeping next to us).  The camp itself was not at all family friendly, and it was very difficult for us adults to actually fall asleep.  So, about 3am, we retreated to the van in the parking lot.  Dearg slept in the back with the twins and I stayed in the front so I could turn the heat on if it started getting chilly.  It wasn't ideal, and the twins still had issues, but we all got at least an hour of uninterrupted sleep sometime between 4 and 6am. During the day, it was hard for everyone to make it out of the camp, since we didn't have a day camp set up near the field, and it was a bit of a walk.  Owen was also being a stubborn 3 year old, which worked pretty quickly on everyone's nerves.

My class was during the first time slot, which is pretty tricky to have success with.  My first students were about 15 minutes late, and another group showed up about 10 minutes after that.  I rushed through everything to get it all in, but I don't think I missed any really important things.  Overall, I think it went very well (all things considered) and it is definitely a class I will teach again.  I'll be uploading the class notes when I re-do my website, so keep an eye out for that.  I think you'll like them- they're a coloring book!

What was really good about the event, however, was how successful my blue linen test dress ended up being.  I got it to a mostly-finished state Friday morning (finished enough to wear) but there's still work to be done on it.  I sewed the sleeves up, rather than doing the buttons, and there are no lacing eyelets (mom literally sewed me into the dress Saturday morning!)  There's also the finishing work on the sleeve and hem that still need to be done.  I do think, though, that I will open the sleeve seams back up and do the buttons.  And the eyelets. 

The fit was great!  It stretched, obviously, but even at the end of the day, it looked good.  And it was very comfortable.  There are a few adjustments to make: it ended up being a bit too long, so I need to turn the hem up a bit, and I think I may need to tighten the sleeves a little.  I'm pretty proud of myself, though, for finally achieving a dress that performed so well, looks good in photos, and was so easy to wear.  So, in terms of the end result (and not having anything to do with the test aspect of this dress) I count it as a success!

I didn't manage to get a good picture of my mom's outfit, but she and I inadvertently matched.  She wore her blue kirtle (a bit darker than mine) and her 14th century red hood.  It was kind of silly, but at the same time it was pretty neat that we were, as a pair, showing the same look in two different centuries.

I also scored an awesome deal on a very nice worsted wool- 5 yards for only $35!!  It's one of those great ambiguous colors that looks different depending on the setting- it's a greenish-brownish-gray.  Lightweight and smooth, too.  It will make a very nice kirtle... perhaps to go under an overkirtle made of this.

So, for the time being, I've got no projects other than my website update.  We're moving into a new house this month, so once I get my sewing stuff together and settled, I'll have a better idea of what to work on through the winter.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Garb Quest Extension

I've had to take several more step backward with my blue linen test dress than I expected, so I'm not entirely sure it will be ready for this weekend.  When I really stopped to look at the areas we identified that needed to be taken in after I'd worn it around for a bit, I realized that I had probably not gotten the sleeves positioned in the right place and that was the true culprit.  So I removed the sleeves and I also removed my finishing along the lacing edges, since that wasn't quite right either.  I decided to go ahead and wash it.  Here in a few minutes, I'll put it on, figure out how the armscye needs to be adjusted, and wear it for about an hour.

If it's going to be done for this weekend (and it really needs to be, because I don't really have any other long sleeve dresses) I'm not going to be able to do the handsewn finishing I'd intended.  I'm not actually worried about this, because the dress has already fulfilled its purpose- a test for my garb quest, to help be better understand the work involved in creating two dresses by hand.  The results?  I've failed the test. I'm not disappointed with myself- I didn't have any real expectations about my skill level prior to starting the blue dress- but I have realized what my garb quest has thus far taught me.

When I read back through some of by garb quest posts, I came across these two statements:
"...the bottom line is this: I need more experience with garment construction."
"The point is to create an outfit with as much authenticity and craftsmanship as possible based on the criteria." 

What I came to understand, through my blue linen test dress, is that failure is part of the process.  As I explained it to my mother- I don't want to enter the outfit next year and feel that it wasn't as good as it could be.  I need to go through the process of figuring out what's acceptable to the goals stated above and what isn't.  And so far, I don't have what it takes.

I've spent much of this past year focusing on research.  That's been fun, but that's not where I need improvement.  I already know (from the huvet) that I can do fine stitching by hand (just short of finishing details like buttonholes and eyelets.)  I also know from the blue dress that I can do flat finishing with running stitch on a long seam fairly well and quickly.  It's the actual construction and fitting of the dress that I fall short, and it's that overwhelming feeling of laziness that creeps in and tells me to be OK with less than perfect.  Turning to the work of others I find inspiring (some examples are here, here, here, and here), it's easy to hold my own attempts up to critical lens.  I don't want to fall into a self-pity spiral of "I'm not worthy", but I do want to be honest with myself.  Though I have my moments, all-in-all, my dress construction skills are mediocre. 

To that end, I am extending my garb quest deadline another year, so that I will enter it the spring of 2013, rather than next year.  Since I've only completed one item (the huvet), and it was only recently finished, I won't have any problems with everything being completed no more than 2 years prior to the entry.  There are some mundane reasons for this extension as well (pregnancy being only one), so for the time being, I'm putting the quest on hold to re-evaluate exactly how the quest will allow me to accomplish my original goals.

While I'm sorting that out, like I mentioned earlier this week, I've got some major plans for my website that I'll be putting together.  I also need to take a longer look at my fabric stash and make some decisions about how to use it and what more I might need.  Therefore, it may be pretty boring here after this weekend, but it won't be for a lack of progress.

BTW, I put the blue dress on about halfway through writing this, and it fit almost exactly as it had before.  I can already see where the arm holes are the problem (as well as one of the shoulder seams).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Handsome Little Man

I can't resist sharing this beautiful photo of Owen from this past weekend:

Thank you to Her Excellency Hypathia, Baroness of Fenix for the well-timed shot.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gearing Up for Some Changes

I'll post later this week about the progress on my blue linen test dress.  For now, I'd just like to mention that I'm getting ready to do a major overhaul of my website (and probably this blog as well).  I realized this morning that I hadn't been keeping up with putting new notes online, so I've kind of got a backlog.  I've also been meaning to do a better job designing the site, since the one up now was sort of an experiment for me to learn a bit more about website coding, and it's got some issues.  I've got some fun ideas kicking around for the new site, so I'm excited to focus on that for a while and get-er-done.

Oh, and I made Kara a kirtle and open hood for this past weekend:

Lee was decked out in a new cotehardie and hose:

And Owen was his usual self: