Sunday, October 1, 2017

Project Complete: Apprenticeship

Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of support and love on my last post. I'm so grateful to be a part of such an amazing community!

So I figured I'd start this post where I left off on the last one. By that point, I had finished my new chemise, and finished refitting the gray wool dress.

I had washed and line-dried the blue herringbone wool for a new cote to wear during my vigil and into court. I used the two larger pattern pieces of my chemise to cut the wool as a symmetrical dress. I had intended on doing a front lacing, but when I got everything sewn together to try it on, I really liked the plain front look, and decided not to mess with a good thing. (Good thing too, I would not have had enough time to sew all the eyelets!)

Easy to get a bit cross-eyed sewing this herringbone.

The pieces are machine sewn together, but all the finishing is by hand. I used a combination of seam finishing types to get through it quickly. I joked on Facebook to my friends that the back gore was the most important, since everyone would be looking at my butt for a while.

I used some periwinkle linen (yes, that periwinkle) to do a facing on the sleeve opening and neckline. I took a little too much seam allowance on the sleeves, so I did not sew the buttons on or do buttonholes so that I could correct that later, when not under the time crunch.

I've had some shank buttons in my stash for 10 years or so. I'm not sure what they are made from, but they are metallic and dull silver in color. When I can sit down and do these openings correctly, there will be 6 buttons on each sleeve.

I'm really happy with the dress. It fits perfectly and feels really nice. The skirt is the perfect length- I don't have to lift it up to walk, but it doesn't at all feel short. I wish I had thought to get more pictures to share last weekend. (I think I'll do a full project log post with a regular set of photos of this and the other dress when they are actually done.)

Speaking of which, I created a wreath design on the computer, and using a lightbox on sheets of heat-n-bond, my mom traced out more than 70 wreaths. She then attached that to green wool (one of the darker greens from Dorr Mill), and spent the next two days cutting the wreaths out. Because she's a champ.

Once they were ready, I put the grey dress on and we figured out the placement and spacing. Looking at my period sources, it appeared that at least some of them were lined up to the center front, but after that, the motifs were painted on quite randomly. While there was some measuring involved, in the end, we did a lot of just eyeballing the placement.

There was an issue with the heat-n-bond just not holding. To prevent the wreaths from falling off, mom started stitching the wreaths down with floss in a slightly brighter green by using stem stitch to create the stem. (Go figure.) She got several done, but ran out of time. For the rest, she tacked them down so that, at the very least, they would not come off.

She completed the neckline and cuffs during court before the ceremony, continuing that age old tradition of sewing down to the wire. The hem is not finished.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you've already seen how everything came together, but I'll share these again here. If you go to either of those, you'll see the sources I used for everything, since I wanted to try to continue my Doppelganger Challenge throughout the day.

I have to say that I absolutely love the new chemise. It's tight in just the right way, and the linen/cotton blend does not ease out the same way as my pure linen chemises have. On the next chemise, I'll do linen only and see how it goes, but not having to worry about whether the chemise would relax too much and compromise my support was a huge weight off my shoulders. (No pun intended.)

During the day, for my vigil. I wore the blue dress with my green linen hood, a borrowed green belt (mine had been the one thing I forgot), and my apprenticeship livery badge.

Sorry about the lighting here- I was lucky I remembered that I needed a picture!
When the ceremony began, I had taken the hood off. My hair was put up (hastily and with issues) into a sort of chignon style that I sourced from the 1432 Le Decameron. During some shtick at the start, I cut my apprenticeship indenture, and my belt and badge were removed.

Photo by Warder Cecily O'Donell (Blair Burns).
The ceremony contained a few unique touches that made the whole thing feel more personal and intimate. There's a question and response section in the ceremony- essentially a pledge that forms the core of the ceremony. For that part, I held both Their Majesties hands. This is not normally done, but having that physical connection to the Crown (and to my friends and my Laurel) made the pledges more real to me.

Photo by Warder Cecily O'Donell (Blair Burns)
Instead of a hood or cloak, which are the traditional garments given to a new Laurel, I used the Laurel wreath gown. I had long liked the idea, as a clothier, of using an actual dress for this, so I was glad to see that through. As I got into the dress in front of everyone, I heard one of the nearby Laurels say that it was a appropriate choice, and that made me feel great about having that slightly awkward moment in the ceremony. It did mess my hair up a bit, but there was nothing to be done about that.

Photo by The Virtual Herald, THL Jerusha a'Laon (Johanna Garcia Stomel)
One of the best parts of the ceremony was the first bump His Majesty gave me. It was a long-standing joke that I was really working toward a knighthood, so my elevation should obviously include a buffet. It was a subtle and fun way to work one in.

Photo by The Virtual Herald, THL Jerusha a'Laon (Johanna Garcia Stomel)
By the end of the ceremony, I was dressed entirely differently. The wreath fillet was made by my mom. It was her first attempt at pickup style inkle weaving.Which was exactly what I'd envisioned. It was a little sloppier than I would have liked, but it was what it was, and that dress mostly stole the show.

Photo by Warder Cecily O'Donell (Blair Burns).
By the way, my friend Arthur created my patent scroll in the manner of a medieval charter. He has a full write-up about it over on his blog. It's amazing.

There's still lots of work to be done on the Laurel dress. The wreaths need to be fully appliqu├ęd down, and the dress needs to be properly finished. I'm not going to rush on this, though. It will make for a good winter project.

For the time being, I'm working on an embroidery project I started several months ago, and revising some classes to teach this fall. Which probably means everything's back to normal. Only now with more Laurel wreaths.


  1. Congratulations! Judging purely by what I've seen on your blog, you truly deserve the honor.

  2. This is fantastic news! I've been cutting back online, but congratulations! Well done.