Saturday, October 22, 2011

15th Century Apron

For a while now, I've given some thought to doing a new apron.  I have already tried my hand at smocked aprons (first doing it the wrong way, then doing it right but with a colored thread), and though I don't think that I've really gotten the hang of that method, it isn't actually appropriate for the 15th century.  Looking around, including over at, at a narrow span of years between 1420 and 1440, I've seen very little variation in apron types for women.  There is one primary type- a plain, long, wide apron with a waist tie- as well as a rarer type that uses a triangular piece on top that secures at the center chest in some fashion.  This later version seems to be pretty task-specific, so in terms of an apron for any use, the simpler apron is the better option.

It's kind of a bummer, really, that an appropriate apron isn't anything fancy, but it does present an opportunity to really take a look at craftsmanship applied to simple construction.

Most of the samples indicate that a wider apron was preferred, wrapping at least to the very sides of the hips.  One example is from the Tacuinum Sanitatis Butter illumination (pictured).  The apron's tie doesn't really look like a separate band.  It looks more like the top corners of the apron that have been elongated (through cutting or stretching them that way) to tie around the waist.

This doesn't really give me much to work with in terms of technical difficulty, unfortunately.  I'm wondering if I can also work in a bit of drawn work, like this, to achieve something slightly more special.  I've never attempted drawn work, but this seems fairly beginner level.

Not sure I have the linen on hand at the moment, but aprons were almost always white linen, so that shouldn't be difficult to obtain.  Plus I've got some modern sewing projects I need to do before the end of next month (for the baby).  And my website redesign, which I had to put on hold until we get a bit more settled in. 

Duchie Award

I just popped over to Romantic History and saw that not only did she receive a very well-deserved blogger award, the Duchie Award, she passed it along to me as well.  Thanks so much Sarah Jane!

The rules for receiving the Duchie Award are to post on your blog, in any order:
  1. Five things you love about historical costuming
  2. At least three blogs to pass the Duchie Award onto
  3. A link back to the blogger who awarded you the Duchie
Since I already gave a shout-out to Romantic History above, I suppose I could keep going backwards and pass the award on to three others next.  My picks are:

Medieval Threads- Whenever I read a new post from Heidi, I'm convinced that she's my reenacting soul sister.  She's always got a nifty project going on, and has a very wide range of crafty interests.  I love her creative approach to costuming problem-solving, and I've enjoyed watching her projects as they unfold.

A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle- Sarah has such a sophisticated way of approaching her projects, and the word that always comes to mind when I read her blog is "graceful".  She's a fellow mom-to-be (due soon, as I understand from what she's shared) so I've really enjoyed seeing how she's handled her pregnancy with her garb and all the neat baby items she's made.

Neulakko- Since coming across Elina's blog some time ago, it has become one of my standard inspirational go-to's.  She is a master seamstress, has a wonderfully engaging sense of humor and surprises me often with timely posts that always seem to somehow relate to things I'm currently working on or feeling.

Alright, so that leaves the 5 things I love about historical costuming.  This was actually tricky for me.  If you've been reading for a while you may have realized that I have something of a love-hate relationship with my garb.  It took me a moment to realize, however, that this was probably due more to my technical skills in terms of dress construction than what I really feel about historical costuming.  So here are the 5 things I came up with:
  1. Historical Costuming is iconic fashion that's easy to understand.  Though this blog is primarily about my attempts at making garb, my true focus is researching medieval fashion.  When you understand the context of fashion trends, you begin to see their logic.  While this still holds true to modern fashion, it's harder to see.  Looking back 500+ years, it's easier to see the way people used clothing for both practical and function purposes.
  2. The level of construction skills required for historical fashion require an appreciation for craftsmanship.  While I definitely feel that I lack in this area, I still love the challenge it poses.  We don't take quality and craftsmanship in our clothing as seriously in the modern world as we used to.  We typically equate quality with expense now, which was not the case in the past- even a peasant had well-made clothing.
  3. Historical clothing is more comfortable.  I can say that, though, only because my time period of choice doesn't require a corset!  Seriously, though, there's something infinitely more comfortable about a custom-made dress than any pair of jeans off the rack.
  4. Making historical clothing provides the perfect opportunity to use and appreciate natural materials.  This is something I've come to realize only in the past year, but I get a real feeling of satisfaction and luxury wearing linen or wool which completely overrides the comfort of cotton.
  5. There are very few patterns to follow, making historical costuming a great learning experience.  It may sometimes seem tedious to figure out the pattern on what should be a simple dress, but doing so provides not only that wonderful moment of "look what I made, it also provides the perfect outlet for creative ingenuity that might otherwise be wasted.  It's one thing to use a modern pattern and follow directions, it's completely different, and much more rewarding, to wing it and still come up with an awesome, period-accurate outfit.
So, there you have it- my response to the Duchie Award!  Thanks again to Sarah Jane for awarding it to me!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Checking In

We've moved to our new house, but we've still got a long way to go before the new craft room will be together and I can get my hands on my projects.  In the meantime, however, some fabric swatches from Wm. Booth Draper arrived... and I'm in love!

My eye was recently caught by the pink worsted wool on their website, and I wondered if it might be a new solution to my Garb Quest underkirtle.  As soon as I pulled the swatch out of the envelope, I knew I'd found my wool.  The color is a perfect rosy pink- not too bright, not too red.  It's got a great weight, as well.  Some worsted wools can end up being really thin in order to achieve a lighter weight.  This pink, however, is a good weight, but is also a solid weave.

Problem?  It's not cheap.  I know from my blue test dress that going with less than 5 yards is asking for trouble, so to get the minimum amount, we're talking $100 plus shipping and tax.  That's less than I spent on the blue wool (which the pink goes perfectly with), but I don't have that much money to spend on fabric right now.  So for the moment, at least, this gorgeous pink worsted wool will have to wait.

I also got a swatch of their "light colour'd" flannel.  I was concerned that it might be too heavy for my tastes, but it turned out to have a great heavy-looking texture in a fairly reasonable weight.  It, too, is pricey, but it would make a great addition to my wardrobe as an overkirtle.  I've been looking for the right kind of dress for this pretty, but plain tan wool, but so far nothing has spoken up.  I think it needs to be slightly utilitarian, but still something that elevates the simple color to something appropriate to the middle class.  I'll just have to keep my eyes open for inspiration.

I am still ironing out the changes to my website, but I've been making some subtle changes to this blog to go along with that.  You may have noticed a new link to my "Garb Quest", located in the top of the right sidebar.  I realized that I really needed a place to put the overall garb quest concept, for my readers' sake as well as my own.  I've also created a secondary blog, The Compleatly Dressed Fabric Stash, which you may have been linked to if you clicked on any of the "blue wool" links in my most recent posts.

These changes are mostly for more continuity and to help you stay on top of what I'm talking about, so I hope they make sense and help!