Thursday, 24 October 2013

Classes and Cakes

With Kingdom University only two weeks away, I'm up to my eyes at the moment, trying to get my class notes written. This will only be the second class I've given (the first was only taken up by my householders, so the panic level was considerably less), so I'm a bit nervous. A lot nervous. Hold me.

This means of course that I'm not getting much else done. My in-progress black linen kirtle keeps making neglected noises in my direction, gently reminding me it needs to be finished for only two weeks after Kingdom Uni. That and the rest of my costume.

No, I don't like this concept of "free time", why do you ask?

But I have been baking.

These are a simple chocolate maderia cake recipe, with some grated chocolate I had left over thrown in, along with some fresh raspberries, divided into bun cases and baked for about 20 minutes.

They're lovely and moist and kind of falling apart with the juice from the raspberries. They'll likely firm up a bit more overnight, but the tartness
of the raspberries just goes beautifully with the chocolate cake.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with a photo editing programme and a good deal of crumbs.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Barnyard Kitties finished!

I have a very strict rule when it comes to cross-stitch; I can only work at one at a time. Any other craft I'll have multiple projects on the go, but not cross-stitch. I just won't get them done otherwise.

My latest finished project took forever to do, partially because working on black cloth was not even half as much fun as I imagined, not was the all brown colour palate. I got the cross stitch finished some time ago, but kept putting off the back stitch and couching work. But now it's complete! And it looks fabulous. And I've already started something with more colour and on a lighter fabric. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Tudor Shirt progress

There has been sewing! Alas, a tudor shirt at this stage of construction doesn't look like much, especially considering I forgot to turn it right way round before taking any pictures *ahem*

So to make sense of it all, so far the sleeves have been attached to the body of the shirt, complete with underarm gussets. I've been hand sewing this, backstitch for the seams and then flat felled using this nifty tutorial. I admit, the tutorial confused me a little the first time I tried it, but on the second sleeve I sailed through.

The other thing I discovered while making this shirt is that cotton thread is... rather annoying to work with. It knots at the slightest opportunity, and when working with something as delicate as cotton voile, you can't afford to be too rough. So I came up with the idea of tensioning the fabric while I sewed. This started out as stretching the section I was sewing over my first finger fingernail, but this was giving me quite a small area to work on, so I obtained a piece of leathr from a friend, and supporting this over that same finger, I had myself a much larger sewing area.

It worked *beautifully*. I had been concerned that it would be unwieldy, would be to unbalanced or just plain wouldn't work at all, but it worked so well I had all of the straight seams done in very short order! This little offcut is shortly going to become a staple of my sewing box. 

And so I finish off my post with a picture of the extremely rare, Well Behaved Sewing Supplies Support Suzie.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Blackwork embroidery research

I've been looking into blackwork lately, specifically the later period, freeform style, with a view to completing some as a sampler. I'll admit, when I first starting looking, freeform blackwork looked to me like a confusion of random shapes, but closer inspection, particularly of this cushion cover made from a woman's dress in the late 16th century, reveals a repeating pattern[1] of well known flowers that the those of the Tudor era would have been fond of. 

Row 1 top: Pansy
Row 1 bottom: Lily
Row 2 top: Daffodil
Row 2 bottom: Pomegranate
Row 3 top: Tudor Rose
Row 3 bottom: Carnation
These are my best guesses at what the flowers represent. Some of these, such as the rose and pomegranate are so often used they're easier to discern. 

Órlaith is dying some silk embroidery thread for me, in some of my favourite colours (namely purple, yes), and some day I'll have to pin her down to teach me how to dye things myself. I aquired some nice white linen recently, and though I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but I'm going to have to do a sampler. I need to see how well I can actually do blackwork, given that it's a new skill, but I want to test the colourfastness of the dye for some other projects I have in mind.

[1] Just stop and think about that for a moment. A repeating pattern. Long before sewing machines were invented, embroidery of this nature was fully done by hand, with just a few vaiations in the filling stitches. Craftsperson of ages past, I tip my hat to you.

Monday, 7 October 2013

18th Century Stays Pattern

I've finally made a start on my planned 18th century wardrobe, and I've made that start by cheating, but only a little. As I want to make both a court gown and a polonaise, I've deicded to make just one set of stays for both dresses, and as much as I can, just one set of underthings for both outfits. The pattern I've choosen is the set of 1880's stays in Corsets and Crinolines. I've previously sized up and used the 1870's pattern, so I'm use the same technique to create this pattern.

The very first thing you'll need if your reference measurement, that is, a measurement on your body that relates to a place on the pattern that is going to be the basis for the rest of your calculations. Yes, there's maths involved in this, I apologise. For my refence measurement, I measured from the top of my lap to the line on my bust where the stays woul sit; for me this was 30cm, and this corresponded to the book printed centre front measurement of 7.8cm.

Though I took the measurement from my front, my own back being harder to measure by myself, I used the centre back patter piece to demonstate the principle of this form of pattern enlargement.
Having copied the pattern from the book onto parchment, I chose the bottom left hand corner of the pattern piece as my focus point.

I measured the centre back line as 9.8cm, and now simple cross multiplication with my starting reference measurements tells me that this needs to become 37.6cm. The rest of the sizing follows suit - pick a point on the pattern and draw a line through it and the focus point. Use cross multiplication to find out how large it needs to become, mark it off, and continue to the next point.

Thankfully, the back is rather simple, so I needed relatively few points to obtain the shape. The front pattern became a tangle of refernence lines very quickly, which was the reason I didn't use it for demonstration purposes.

If you use a pattern piece that, inconsiderately, doesn't have a nice simple line to the bottom, line this side piece here, just select the next best thing, for me, this was the lower most point on the pattern, as this still allows reference lines to be drawn neatly through all of the points on the pattern.

And is this the finished pattern? Well no, there's still work to be done. Yes, I've adjusted it so top to bottom, this pattern will fit me. But over the centuries, on average, women have been getting taller and broader, and given I am more voluptious again that the average, I'll have to broaden these pieces significantly to obtain the ideal shaping I'll need for the start of my 18th century silhouette.