Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The confering of my Award of Arms

At the weekend, there was an event called Flaming Arrow. While there wasn't much in the way of flames, there was a lot of archery. And debauchery for that matter - (anyone who's attended a Dun in Mara archery practice will know what I'm refering to). The archery I mostly sucked at, but it was good to get in the practice. However, the highlight of the weekend was the first court of the weekend of Prince Vitus and Princess Isabel, in which I was gifted my Award of Arms.

For those outside the SCA, the award of arms is usually the first award received. On the surface, it allows me to title myself "Lady Cassandra", and yes, I'm still getting a lot of giggles from that, and allows me to display my arms at events when I have them decided. Under the surface though, no award is given unless you have been nominated for it. Unless people have seen you, your contribution to the dream and have recommended you. Eventually, the recommendations are totaled and the powers-that-be decide you're worthy to receive the award and rewards that go with it.

To me, this means that people believe I am making a positive contribution to my own corner of the SCA. It's a vote of confidence and encouragement. It's a vote of support. It's incentive to keep working, to work even harder, to bring this joy to others.

So my thanks to Prince Vitus and Princess Isabel - it was an honour to recieve the award from your hands.
My thanks to the calligrapher Arianrhod o Gymru and the illuminator Pól Ó Briain for your beautiful work.
And my thanks to all of you who sent in your recommendations for me - I hope I do you all proud.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Armouring up

With the best part of a year to do the work in, I have waited, once again, until two weeks before the event to work on the remainder of my larp armour.

Firstly, I finally made my bracers. I had originally planned to make these in the same fashion as my torso/body armour, but when I went to put the pieces together, these pre-prepared and previously rejected bracer blanks caught my eye and with some burgundy leather straps, turned out to be just right for what I wanted.

They're plain at the moment, but I like the classic look. And it fits with my character currently being a cadet. When I get promoted, I can doll them up a little.

The helm is coming along, but a good deal more slowly. Bracers I've made before, but I'm fussing quite a bit about the helm, because I want it to look right. And given how short I am, I want to make sure if looks good from all angles.

So when you're making a clothing mock up, you use a cheap cotton or similar, something that will imitate the final fabric. When making a mock up for a leather project, you use cardboard.

I feel like a kid again, getting to play with coloured cardboard, cutting it up into pretty shapes.  The styrofoam head is essential for this mock up. I'm pinning cardboard pieces to it until the shape is right, then I should be able to transfer them directly to the leather. And if luck is with me, it'll be ready for next weekend!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Costume Competition - making a start

The Realm of Venus Italian Renaissance Costume Competition started last Sunday, and I having just finished my Victorian costume, I prepared for the competition by having a bath and generally relaxing. It was a good call.

A week later, I have a pair of drawers made and have made a start on the skirt.

The drawer are made of fine cotton, hand stitched with a pattern I draftedmyself based on extant drawers in the Met Museum. The embroidery is done in split stitch, using four threads of varigated embroidery floss. The pattern for the embroidery is a modified version of that which appears on a chemise in Patterns of Fashion 4. Suzie approves, so I'm quite happy too.

Another choice pleasing Suzie is my choice of brocade for the skirt. I didn't have enough for a full skirt, so I'll be making a false back for the skirt, which will hopefully remain hidden when it is worn under the veste. 

I'm lining this skirt with linen to give it body and support. Black linen because I didn't have the patience to wait two weeks for a lighter colour to come into stock. But I'm going to turn this to my advantage and made the skirt reversible, doubling my wardrobe options in one (hopefully) simple move!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Victorian Splendour

Yesterday my Victorian gown had it's first outing! And though there are many things that need to be adjusted on it, I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Of course, I forgot to take pictures as I was getting dressed, so instead you get a reverse showing of all the layers I was wearing. Otherwise known, I suppose, as a striptease ;)

Firstly, the finished costume in all its glory! To summarise once again, the skirt is made of taffeta and the bodice and skirt of cotton velvet. The bodice and apron are trimmed with a machine made black lace that I picked up for a bargain a few years ago. I used TV 462 to make the bodice, and TV 208 for the skirt and underskirt. The bustle is from the Lobster Tail bustle tutorial by American Duchess. The corset is the 1883 corset pattern from Corsets & Crinolines, the chemise from Simplicity and the drawers from Laughing Moon.

First thing to be fixed on the bodice is that gape at the front. I closed the bodice with hooks and eyes, but the lining is pulling away, producing the gap. I think I'll try to run a line of top stitching down the front edge, and cover it with more trim and some frog fastenings, and that should solve that issue.

Next, the skirt without the bodice. The tails on the back of the skirt were mostly hidden by the waterfall drapery of the bodice. Incidentally, the apron is actually part of the skirt pattern, but I ran out of fabric, so choose to make the apron to match the bodice, so I could mix and match the wardrobe pieces later on. Even the tails had to be lined with a contrasting fabric, I had that little taffeta. The underskirt was made to the same pattern, but trimmed to remove the train.

And finally, the undergarments. These, granted, I've shown off in a previous post, but here they are, properly mounted with the corset I made some time ago. Said corset just about fits me these days, but was very comfortable for the evening, and reminded me how much I missed being laced. The bustle was inclined to shift a little during the night, so I may need to look again at how it is closed and made it a little more secure. 

Overall, it was a huge success. Comfortable, even if so much velvet meant it was quite warm in a crowded room, though having a fan on hand helped immensely.  The whole ensemble received many compliments, and I very much look forward to being able to wear it out again. I just need to make myself a little top hat now, just for that final little something.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

"Blackwork" embroidery

The victorian bodice is... continuing. There's a lot more hand sewing than I had accounted for, mostly thanks to my own choice of lace adornment, and it may yet come down to the wire whether I'll have a finished gown to wear on saturday. It'll be wearbale yes. Finished, perhaps not. 
In the mean time, have some other pretties.

One thing my feast gear is lacking, given how much medieval food encourages me to eat with my hands, is a place mat and napkin. I want something pretty to mark out my place at the table and something equally pretty to wipe my fingers with.

I designed the blackwork pattern on the right some months ago. It started in the best way of these designs, with random scribbling on some graph paper. So using this pattern, it was the perfect excuse to buy some of the yummy black linen from Ikea that I've covetted since a friend bought some for her own dress.

And this is how far I've gotten so far! I'm using the same gold thread that was used to embroider the cutwork sleeves of my court gown, and am working in the corner of the entire 1 metre piece, as I haven't decided just how large I want my place setting to be yet. For the napkin, I think I might just embroider selected pieces in the corners, so they tie together but I don't have to do quite so much repeat embroidery.

I had originally planned to do this in holbein stitch, a form of blackwork embroidery that looks identical from both sides of the fabric. But given that this isn't an evenweave fabric and requires a lightbox (or my phone) for every stitch, holbein would have been a madness too far.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Victorian skirts

I didn't get quite as much sewing done as I was planning over the long easter weekend, but the skirt is still coming along nicely.

I'm using the Truly Victorian pattern TV208, for skirt option A, as the waterfall drapery of my planned top won't go well over a bustle draping of skirt option B.

I made an underskirt from red poly-cotton, actually curtain lining, and trimmed the hem so as to remove the train. It's draped over the bustle on the dressform, and I adore how it falls. It's so crisp and precise and perfect! I have some red and white striped cotton that I'm going to turn into pleats for the hem, but that can be added to the "can be done later" list. I'll concentrate on the visible details first. 

The skirt is made from an orange-gold taffeta, and I adore it already. The skirt is just seam sewn and hemmed at the moment, the pleats are pinned in place, because I don't want to have to iron the skirt again is I can help it. Unfortunately I didn't have quite enough fabric for all of the fixings for the skirt. I have the main skirt pieces, and enough for the tabs which fall down the back, but the apron pieces I had to cut out of the same red velvet I'll be making the top from. For this reason, I think I'll make apron detachable, so as to give the skirt more of a mix and match option for the future.