Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Tokens and gifts

I've been wondering a while what I could give out as tokens. I wanted something handmade, something that reflected something of myself, but something that was still easy enough to turn out. Inspired by tokens I'd seen through the year, I settled on hand made soap and wash cloths.
The pattern for the wash cloths I found as a free pattern on Ravelry, and made up six from a single ball of DK cotton yarn.Then I was delighted to have an excuse to get my soap making supplies out, given that it's been so long since I've made any. My first batch didn't turn out so well. I tried making a chamomile soap, but I used the wrong oil in my calculations and ended up with a lye heavy batch. I managed to save this by rebatching, but rebatched soap never turns out as pretty, so I'm hesitant to give this away as gifts.


For my second (and third) attempts, I picked up some silicon molds so I could make up pretty hand sized soaps. I made up two 500g batches this time, a rose scented goats milk soap in rose shaped molds, and then an almond milk soap with almond scent and ground almonds for added scrubbiness, made up in star shaped molds.

So that's twenty-four soaps and several wash cloths still to be made up. With a few given away already, that'll keep me going until I get indecisve about my tokens again. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Get re-elected, go up a level

Recently my shire decided I was doing a good enough job as seneschal to re-elect me for a second term. And it’s only right that there be some kind of external representation of my levelling up – newly blinged-up garb!

This is the same black dress that I sewed up for Raglan, now with trim added. I had planned to add this for some time, but only recently got time to complete it. The trim is actually a ribbon yarn that was spotted in my stash by a friend, and it has worked out beautifully.

I based the trim placement on "Portrait of a Woman", a mid-sixteenth century Florantine portrait. The trim was pinned in place before being sewn down with whipstitch. I decided against putting trim on the bottom edge of the skirt for the moment, as I’m rather torn still about it. There are several portraits and woodcuts that clearly show Italian and even Venetian dresses with one or two lines of trim along the hem, these are in the minority of overall images, and I’ve seen more portraits (when you finally do manage to find a full length Italian portrait instead of one that finishes at the hips) where this trim is not evident. Even if it would give a nice bit of extra sparkle on this gown…

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Period Little Black Dress

Due to play related nerves, I didn't get a whole lot of crafting done at Raglan. What I wasn't expecting was the heat wave we got, so if I didn't get the newly re-cut linen dress sewn up, having only my linen linen wool gown to wear, something was going to give.

I'd had the fine black linen dress made up previously and had worn it for Medieval Dead last year, but I wasn't entirely happy with how it had turned out, so I put off the finishing of it. But then in June of this year I met the Honourable Lady Christine Bess Duvant, who introduced me to the pattern she had developed for making the magical gravity-defying shoulder style dress of the Italian reaissance. We completed the mock up at the Dun in Mara garb workshop weekend, and having gotten the new pattern cut just before the event, there was so much frantic sewing that some of my friends commented on the fact that they didn't really see any other pictures of me from Raglan.

But thanks to the generosity and permission of Lord Rashid al-Jallab, I have a few pictures which he took at the Friday evening court session that show off the dress well. So yes, the sleeves still need to be completed, and I need to add trim, which I'm hoping to get done before an upcoming demo (and most definitely has to be done before Coronet in November), but it's swiftly become my new favourite dress.

The original pattern, as Lady Christine focuses mainly on the late 15th and early 16th centuries, had quite a high waistline, so I dropped the waistline to my natural waist to reflect the style of the later half of the 16th century. The skirt is just a single layer of linen, gathered at the waist, with a strip of wool fabric in the hem to maintain the body. The bodice is interlined with wool and lined with purple linen. The bodice was side laced, and after this court I added a few more lacing holes in the side split of the skirt, as due to my hourglass figure, this was lying open more than I would have liked. But it looks sexy and it feels oh so comfortable (and sexy). I just don't enjoy the feel of mundane clothing half as much after wearing this dress. I can't really justify any more dresses in my wardrobe at the moment; most events just don't require that many costume changes, but damn I want more of these.

And one final picture in which I'm handed my Lindquistringes, because I just love it so.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Bottom's Transformation Completed

Ok, I said I'm back and I mean to post much earlier this week, but my schedule didn't like that apparently. So I'll do my best but updates are likely to still be sporadic for the next while.

One of the big things I had to make sure I got finished for the week long event at Raglan was my mask for Bottom's transformation into a donkey during A Midsummer Night's Dream. This actually proceeded well before the event, but I was thrown by events at the end of July which meant while I got things done, posting about them wasn't an option. But here it is now!

Picture taken by Lady Arianhwy Wen
This was a picture taken from our audience, which I was too nervous to interact with as much as I would have liked, though whenever I looked out, people were hamming back to me as much as I was trying to ham to them. Laughs happened in the right places, and unfortunately the light failed a little too much at the end for reading of my script, but I'm told no one noticed the lines I managed to butcher. I didn't quite get over my stage fright at all, but I'm very glad I did it. 

The only changes I made to the mask from the last post were to give it a couple of layers of shellac and add nose and eye outlines. The outliners, more to give a visual aid to the actors and audience, were unpainted straw glued directly onto the frame. The shellac I applied in two layers using a spray bottle to ensure an even application over the reed and the more gauzy sinamay. 

I decided against the mane, it just didn't look as well as I'd hoped while I was designing. That may have been my first and last appearance on the stage, but I certainly wouldn't mind doing more work at the props end of things.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

What a month that was...

Well, that was a much longer break than I'd planned. August was an exceptionally busy month, though July ended on a sad note.

To start the month, I headed over to my larp group Legion, where I got a *coff* long overdue *coff* field promotion and finally got my foot in the door with the casino. Not getting anywhere with the guilds was a major source of frustration for me in the game, and even though this isn't a training opportunity, it's nice to be involved. And it's an excuse to make up some new kit for casino shifts.

From there I was on to Raglan, the longest event in Insulae Draconis. I confess, most of my time there was taken up with nerves about the upcoming play, and though it went well, I'm convinced more than ever now that my place is in the props and costumes section of the theatre, not the stage. But more about the play later.

Also at the event, I saw a number of friends

surprised with very, very well deserved awards. It was just as well the tokens for the event were embroidered napkins, I needed it during the courts. And it came as a surprise when my own name was called out to receive the Order of the Lindquistringes, Drachenwald's service award. The illumination was by Lady Elisant Walters, and the calligraphy by Countess Aryanhwy merch Catmael. I've been wearing my token since the day after that court, and I think it'll be resting there for a good while yet.

From there is was on to a BBQ with my WoW guild, and a reason to forever tease the guildmistress if her internet connection falls over again.


There was the trip to the zoo for my birthday (with the obligatory multiple visits to the tygers)

And then there was Champtions of Lough Devnaree last weekend (which also deserves it's own post) and an upcoming Leather Working workshop next weekend (which will also see the start of a long awaited project), so I'm hoping to be good and busy in getting posts up here again soon.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Raglan Preparations

For my last free weekend before Raglan, I've been terribly productive.

I posted previously about looking into a piece of extant blackwork embroidery, with an aim to using elements of it for a future project. That project reached a milestone this weekend as I completed the embroidery on the cuffs for a tudor style ladies shirt.

The embroidery is completed on two layers of thin cotton lawn, with custom dyed purple and natural coloured silk thread. The vines between the lillies is a silver metallic thread couched into place with a single strand of natural silk. The lillies themselves were outlined with split stitch in the purple silk, with the petals filled in with laid work in purple, with the petal underside done in natural, before both were overlaid with purple thread. The base of each lily was filled in with detached buttonhole stitch, while the buds were done in more laid work. The embroidery pieces are now being sewn into cuffs with a little ruffle and work on the collar has begun, so the project is looking well for its Raglan deadline.

But the weekend is also time for getting out the sewing machine! So in the company of a friend yesterday, I made good use of my time and finished off two new Italian style chemises based on the tutorial on Festive Attyre.  I used this tutorial on my last chemise (now made over two years ago, eep!) but this time, I was successful in getting the neckline finish to lie square. Though now I've gotten that down, I'm already eyeing up the edges and planning all sorts of trim. A row of embroidered suns to go with my heraldry perhaps?

And a wee little project completed on the side, just something to help me wind down in the evenings, I'm now the owner of a sparkly new dice bag! The pattern is the Dragon Egg dice bag from ravelry. Let's see how long this one lasts before it hides on me.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Red Apron

I hadn't settled on what I was going to do for the Under $10 challenge for a while, but with the countdown to Raglan marching away, it made sense to combine my to-do list with the challenge. I had wanted a new apron for some time, because even though there's one or two extant short aprons out there, in every picture I've seen, Italian aprons are worn as full length, and I just couldn't get over the wrongness in my head, so a full length apron was called for.

Aprons were a common accessory for the Italian woman, with very fine linen aprons for ladies such as the narrow, finely embroidered apron worn in the 1534 Portrait of a Young Woman by Parmigianino, and well preserved extant examples still available in museums today, such as these two lace and embroidered examples, from the as seen on the Realm of Venus and the Met museum sites respectively.

That said, while I want some day to have an apron as fine as the example above, a piece so elaborate would never fit come in under $10.  Thankfully, while the plainer aprons may have been worked into rags leaving us with no extant pieces, there's plenty of examples of plainer garments in art and plenty of examples available by Vincenzo Campi, such as The Fruit Seller, 1580, and Kitchen Scene, 1580-1590. 

Now, when I started this, I had planned to use my heavier white linen, but it went hiding and my red linen came to hand instead. Fair enough, as above, there's still plenty of precendent for coloured aprons in Italy. I decided to make a fairly wide apron, like the ones at appear in the pictures above, so I could make a workhorse of it. But it was when I was studying a detail from the kitchen scene above that I noticed something interesting.

The lady with the blue apron, bending over; there's not just one tie for the apron as we see in most extant examples, there two, to ensure the apron is held in place around her hips. I thought it a brilliant idea to stop a stray wind from catching the apron on furniture and pulling it completely out of the way and allowing the dress to be soiled. For someone as routinely clumsy as I, this was a must have!

The pictures of the finished item were kindly taken by milady Sela, but you'll have the excuse the modern clothes under the apron. The apron sits above ankle height, so it'll finish above the hem of most of my kirtles.

You may notice I chose to make up my ties, fingerloop woven linen thread as it happens, in two different colours. As I mentioned the clumsiness, this is to make sure I always tie the pairs of ties together right, and don't end up with a tangled mess at the end of the night. Ok, less likely to end up with a tangled mess. Or I can just make some more. 

The Challenge: HSF #13: Under $10
Fabric: : Red linen
Pattern: None really, just a simple rectangle of fabric with a rolled hem, and the bottom hem cut on the selvage to reduce sewing. 
Year: Anywhere in the 16th century
Notions: Cotton thread for sewing and linen thread for the closures.
How historically accurate is it? 95%.
Hours to complete: I think it was about 2 hours sewing, with another 30-40 minutes for the cord making.
First worn: Just for the pictures, but it'll be getting a lot of wear at the upcoming week long event.
Total cost: The linen cost only €4.50, and I used less than a metre, so that combined with the cotton and linen threads brings in the total at about €6.25 (or $8.45 for the sake of the challenge).

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Bottom's Transformation

I've been falling into bad habits again. The habits in question this time being the brain gremlins telling me that I can't post unfinished work, I must post only completed projects, and my hasn't it been a while since I posted, better get something finished quick!, which of course leads to more stress and less progress.

So here's a piece of progress I'm quite pleased with. As I may have mentioned before, in all too soon a time *gulp*, I will be performing as Nick Bottom (the weaver) in a Raglan production of Midsummer Night's Dream. And performing as Bottom requires a donkey mask! So under the wonderfully supportive eye of my beautiful assistant Lynn, I got started.

I wanted to make my mask with at least a nod to period mask manufacture, but as it turns out though, there's very little information on period mask making out there. Apart from rare "Visard" masks, used as sun protection for ladies of fair skin or the more elaborate Commedia dell'Arte still made with the same leather working principles, so I had to make things up as I went, hoping I was nodding in the right direction.

I started out with some reed which I'd originally bought for an experiment with a pair of stays a few years back, and I bound this together with cotton thread - I would have used linen thread but of course it decided to go walkabout on me again.

The mannequin head was just used for pictures, I sized each piece of reed to my own head before I tied it off, which was just as well as my own head proved to be a wee bit bigger. The first band sits around my head, slightly above my ears and the centre front point rests on my forehead. I added a band going side to side to support the first band in place, then a second, over length band going back to front that would also form the muzzle. A couple of rings rounded out the muzzle, and the basic structure was done.

The basic frame complete, I started to reinforce the joins with twists of papier-mâché. I promise for my next project  of this ilk I'll use a more period glue, but on this occasion I was still using diluted PVA or white glue. Time constraints and such.

Ears attached I began to weave additional strips of reed through the basic frame to build up the shape of the muzzle and head, including some additional paper strips across the ears to give them a mostly covered up look.

It was at this point, unfortunately, that period went right out the window and I had to resort to the hot glue gun to complete the next stage.  I wanted to fill in the mask in a way that kept it lightweight and wouldn't inhibit my voice projection, so I decided to line the frame with some sinamay, a fabric similar to buckram used in millinery, that I had laying around. At this point, one of the ears took on a strange cant from somewhere, but I dunno, it kind of adds to the character of the mask.

 After leaving the mask to for a day and a half, I painted over the outer surfaces with a burnt sienna poster paint. To paint the sinamay, I wanted down the paint and blew across the surface after brushing to ensure the holes wouldn't clog up.

And here she is so far (yes, the character is male, but the mask insists on being referred to as she). The mask still needs a short mane, and the eyes need to be outlined so the other actors have a focal point to interact with; at the moment I can see out just fine. There's a mini rehearsal tomorrow where I'll get to put it through it's paces and make sure it's up to the task, then it has a couple of coats of shellac in its future to seal it up and help make it a little more robust.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Knitting for Bumps

The local weather here has not been kind to me of late. I don't generally do well in warm weather or local heatwaves (unless you count basking and dozing, but that's not going to get the sewing done). However, some of my crafting being time dependant, I've still gotten a few things finished recently.

First up is the Blue Jean Baby (blanket) from Ravelry. The pattern isn't currently available, but thankfully I had it saved from a previous version. The pattern calls for colour changes as you go through the rows, but I used an autumn coloured themed ball of King Cole Shine, and I'm delighted with the result.

The second blanket was Breezy Baby Blanket, also on Ravelry, made up with Tivoli and Hayfield DK yarns. I promise you, despite the riot of colour, there is actually a pattern of colour choices in there. Perhaps I should have planned the stripes out a little better, but I do like the randomness. Here's hoping the recipients like it too.

As you may also note, I think I may have discovered the trick to getting Suzie to pose for the camera. Finished knitwear seems to be irresistible to her...

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Partlets & Politics

This was supposed to have been my entry for the HSF #11: Politics of Fashion challenge, but I'm not entirely sure it qualifies. I haven't so much found a Here's my thoughts. 

Initially I thought about making myself a new partlet. It was something I needed for my court gown as well as being an extra accessory in the Peacock Challenge. So I got thinking about it, and well, it's an unusual garment. Unlike the Tudor style of partlet which is a heavier piece which fits over the dress and would warm the shoulders, the Italian partlet is a piece of sheer fabric that seems to draw attention more than it inspires modesty. The Anea Costumes website has a fantastic series of images (scroll down to the partlet entry) that show a simple evolution of the Italian partlet, from simple sheer shawl-like garment worn over the dress, before moving under the dress and being gradually more elaborately embroidered and decorated.In the evolution of this garment, off cited is a decree from Florence in 1464 the generous decolletage of the Italian style of dress be covered, and thanks to this website, I've finally been able to link that reference to Dan Brown's Virtue and Beauty: Renaissance Portraits of Women, 2001.

But here's my thinking on the issue. Italy of the 15th and 16th centuries was a collection of city states, all with a certain amount of independance from the other. Yes, the fashions of the various cities often followed each other closely, but why would a decree passed in Florence directly influence the city-state of Venice? And that got me thinking about sumptuary laws - laws introduced in various parts of the world to try and control the spending and fashion and hence the people. My initial research has found references to some laws, but mostly belonging to Florence or other northern Italian cities. And I just can't let this lie, I need to know more! Despite the fact that I don't speak the language (but I've already have offers of help with that), I've decided to try and follow this up. I may be in for a fools errand, and certainly it's going to take a while but I'm curious to see what I might find.
Oh yes, I did indeed make up the partlet, using some pre-embroidered old-gold coloured organza, with a golden-yellow ribbon whip stitched into place to fasten it. I based the pattern on my previous partlet, but modified so it would leave an open section to line up with the opening of my bodice. Unfortunately the first attempt wasn't quite right (and has also highlighted my need for period, supportive undergarments), but I have plans to make up more, a nice little collection of the pieces, just as soon as I have time...

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

New Bling

When the HSF Art challenge came up, there were plenty of things I wanted to make, but I wanted something I could make quickly. So I decided to treat myself to a new set of bling in the form of a couple of new necklaces. Now, much as I'd love to use real pearls and gemstones, without a real life patron, that's just not going to happen. Both necklaces are also slightly ahead of my period of study, but shush, we can fogive that of such pretty things.

My first neklace drew inspiration from Dürer's Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, 1505. So I picked up set of glass beads and pearls, and set to making. My first attempt at making the "pearl and amethyst" necklace involved a much more modern bead weaving technique. I was happy with it until I made the matching bracelet for a friend (before she actually steals my shinies) using a more simple stringing technique.... so yes, that one was swiftly restrung and I'm much happier with the result.

If you'll pardon my lack of ability to pose, I'm quite happy with the end result. Bicone beads would have given a better visual result, but that'll have to wait for the next incarnation of the necklace.

The second necklace was inspired by Portrait of a Woman by Bastiano Mainardi, from the second half of the 15th century. Learning from the last experience, I continued with simple stringing, and tried not to worry about the fact that without modern jewellery wire, the beads just plain were not going to stay exactly where I wanted them to. As I made this I was a little worried about the weight; so many glass beads really add up. I used spare glass pearls from the previous project as spacer beads, and to to help make the cross for what I imagined was the focal point of the original necklace.

I love this one so much! It sits so perfectly in place, and I've already been commissioned to make another one in blue.

For both necklaces, I made up a simple wire clasp with gold wire. I decided on this course originally because in all my trawling of museums and their extant 16th century neck pieces, none of them were thoughtful enough to show any pictures of the clasp, detailed or no. However, based on the speculation that if they had hook and eye clasps in 1st and 2nd century(ish) jewellery, and were still using them in the 19th century, I think I'm safe to assume they were at least still in use in 15th and 16th centuries, even if that's not what was used on the original necklaces.

Now, one of the really interesting things I discovered about this project was in the research. I knew that the pearls industry was tightly regulated - in 1502, the production of false pearls in Venice was punishable by the loss of the right hand and a ten year exile, such was the city's reputation for real pearl work. But what surprised me was that coloured stones to imitate gem stones were also in abundance, being produced with glass, foils, or slivers of real gemstones; imitation diamonds were being cut from rock crystal or glass. Perhaps my necklaces weren't so inaccurate after all!

The Challenge: HSF #10: Art
Fabric: : None - glass beads and glass pearls with silk thread and gold wire.
Pattern: None, I devised the string pattern myself from observing the portraits.
Year: Conceivable as 16th century jewellery
Notions: Made my own jewellery clasps
How historically accurate is it? About 75%. The beads are undoubtly not produced with period methods and almost certainly the wrong cut for the period.
Hours to complete: 2-3 hours per necklace.
First worn: Festival of Fools, and I love them so.
Total cost: I haven't used up all of my supplies, but I don't want to work out the cost down to the last bead, so I'm going to put the price of this project at €32.

Jewellery - From Antiquity to the Present, Clare Phillips
A History of Jewllery 1100 - 1870, Joan Evans

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Preparing Fabric for Use

I didn't want to leave it too long without putting up a post, but I've not quite recovered from the weekend yet, so I thought I'd copy across a post I did recently for an upcoming garb workshop. This one is regarding fabric preparation, but I'll post the others here too.

When it comes to preparing your fabric, any time can be soon enough to start. But the question you may be asking yourself is, does my fabric need to be prewashed? Well, that depends. Some hold to a straight "yes, fabric should always be washed", but what about that expensive silk brocade, or metallic trim that can't see water for the sake of protecting it from tarnishing? Here's the approach I take:

Fabric should be washed on the basis of what it's going be to used for. Linens or wools that are destined for day garb that's going to end up seeing work in the kitchens, treking though muddy event sites or all sorts of crafting are going to be the workhorses of your wardrobe. These are going to need washing and lots of it to remove stains, so these fabrics should alsolutely be pre-washed, on as high a heat as possible. These days, when I buy large amounts of linen, the first thing I do when I get them home is prewash them, and then the fabric sits ready until it's needed.

I don't prewash all of my linen though. The linen used to line my brocade skirt with wasn't prewashed as I don't anticipate needing to expose that skirt to water, and similarly, the linen used as a base for my linen carboard was used straight off the bolt, as it were. Those were special examples though. So this is something to consider on a case by case basis.

When it comes to finer fabrics, such as silks and brocades, pre-washing may not be a good idea at all. Some silks stain when exposed to washing, and while water-marked silk was a desired look for some in some areas in the 15th and 16th centuries, chances are your washing machine won't co-operate by giving you a nice even pattern to work with. So again, this is a case by case basis. Silk stays probably won't see water as stays are rarely washed, but if you wanted to use silk for a chemise or shirt or similar items that will definitely have soap in their future, then pre-wash a small sample first to make sure it's safe to wash the entire piece.

All this was nicely summed up by a couple of people who posted on the group to say, you're basically not looking to give the fabric any special treatment; rather you want to treat the fabric as it will be treated during it's lifetime. It may be tempting to hot wash a wool to shrink it as much as it's going to be shrunk, but if the fabric is going to be embroidered, it's not going to see that treatment when worn.

If in doubt, wash a sample. And if you're still in doubt, please feel free to drop me an message to ask.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Heraldic Cookies

At an event recently, the birthday of a viscountess of my acquaintance was celebrated. As is my custom, I decided to bake something for her as a gift. And I just couldn't resist the though of making cookies decorated with her heraldry.

To start with, I made up a batch of butter cookies using my favourite recipe; that is, the one from Cookie Magic by Kate Shirazi.

The next layer was one of shop bought fondant, rolled out and cut out with the same size of cutter I'd used for the cookies themselves. These were set in place by simply wetting the back of each piece and pressing gently, bur firmly onto the cookie. I do intend to try making my own fondant for future baking efforts, but time was short on this one, so I couldn't afford failed attempts.

While those were setting, I make up a batch of royal icing (also detailed in the book above) and coloured it purple to get that Argent and Purpure look I needed for the heraldry. Little tip here; if, like me, you don't have purple food colouring available, make sure to mix your colours before adding to the icing. This makes it much easier to achieve an even result. 
For the first application of icing, I added dots along the scalloped edge of the icing, and drew out a basic heraldic lily in the centre of the cookie. It's important to let the icing outline dry before filling in the shapes. Filling in the petals too soon would have resulted in a leaking of the icing from the shapes and a messed up cookie. I found that outlining about 10-12 cookies at a time meant by the time the twelfth outline was complete, the first cookie could be filled in. 

Also, be sure to give the icing plenty of drying time. I left them for almost 24 hours on the rack and even at that they were inclined to stick together when stacked in a box. 

Voila! The finished cookies. Pretty and as I understand, quite tasty, and they were very fun to make. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

My First Designed Scroll

At the recent Scriptorium and Fencing Camp, I attended with a specific goal in mind; I knew I could copy images well enough, and if I practised enough my painting and blending would be passable, but I had a hurdle to cross in the form of designing and layout.

Using a quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson for inspiration, and chose this image as the inspiration for the flower border. I meant to take a picture at every step in the process, to see it all coming together, but my painting hand was faster than my picture hand, so the process isn't quite seamless.

This was also my first time using pergamenata and I quite love it. It takes the gouache so much easier than the paper I had been using. I cut down a sheet into roughly A5 size pieces, so they'd make nice frameable pieces, possibly even as gifts if they were good enough.

I drew out the image lightly in pencil then outlined in black calligraphy ink. The gold was applied as gold paint, and is also the reason all of the pictures are taken at a funny angle; I had to get the gold to show up well.

The flowers and leaves are painted in with gouache, and I'm much more pleased with the colour blending on this than on my last example. I think here the parchment I was using and that I was blending while the colours were still properly wet contributed significantly. 

One of the best parts of this project was when I stopped for lunch and looked back across at my inked design, and had a moment of not even recognising it. The next moment, it looked perfect, simply perfect. I didn't pounce my perg before I wrote my quote, something I'll remember for next time, as well as the need to practise my letters, but overall I'm very pleased with it. And most importantly, design isn't as scary now!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Confering of the Order of the Ffraid

At Flaming Arrow 7 just gone, many deserving awards were given out, and among them was one for me. This weekend, just like the last award of it's kind I saw given out, I was fished out of the kitchen to be confered to the Order of the Ffraid.  

On this piece of magnificence, the calligraphy was done by Arianhwy Wen, and the illumination by Lady Agatha of Norwich. Now, while on the confering of my AoA I was very effusive about what it meant to me, on this one there are no words coming. This one represents something so deeply personal to me that there aren't words to do my feelings on the matter justice. To quote one line from the scroll "techer, artist, servaunt, merrie maicker" - thank you all. 

But so this post isn't all serious, I'm going to tell you the story of how I almost didn't received my award, also know as how the good gentles almost didn't get their feast. Court had started and myself and Lord Arpad were toiling away in foodie preparations. A number of cheers sounded up the stairs until I heard one that I was convinced had the ring of "Huzzah for the newbies!", and that also coninciding with the point where the kitchen wants to discourage random bystanders from the cooking stress points, I closed the door. I had barely wandered back to my preparations, wishing for the sake of the nest person to come up that they had the gossip of who received what, when a massive cheer sounded, even from through the closed door. I dashed over to pull open the door.... only to have the handle come off in my hand. Even while I took out my infernal device in the vain hope that someone had likewise left theirs on during court, part of my mind was wondering how long it'd take to rig up a pulley system to get the feast out the window and into service. Of course, no one was answered (but if you have a missed call from me on the Saturday night, now you know why), but not long after Lord Duncan came up to fetch me for court. A quick rescue operation later and feast was saved and I got to almost cry in front of the populace again.

Now, a quick note to finish off. Things are about to get a bit hectic; between the Drachenwald A&S exchange that I can't talk about, and the Festival of Fools preparations for the end of this month which I choose not to talk about lest I spoil the surprise, things might get a bit quiet around here. I have a few posts ready and in reserve, in no particular chronological order, to keep things going, and then I'll be back with newer, shinier posts, where I even plan on discussing my research and thought patterns in my plans! Scary stuff!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Silk Stockings

Well over a year ago I decided to make myself a pair of silk stockings. They were put away into a pretty little box for transporting to demos and events... and were swiftly forgotten about. I took them back out to work on for the UFO challenge and remembered why they were put away in the first place. I nearly ate them with frustration, but I persevered, knowing I'd feel worse if they were put away unfinished again.

And here they are! The fit is terrible! Mind, I'm not saying that as a comment on my own sewing, there's nowhere I could take in any of the extra room on these unless I planned to sit very still and not plan on walking at all while wearing them. And even then I might be looking at being sewn into them.

There are gussets sewn into both sides of each foot, and the foot fit at least is cosy. The very point of the gussets were impossible to sew completely, so I embroidered over them with embroidery floss so as not to leave any exposed seams. All internal seams are folded over in a enclosed seam; something close to a flat felled seam where possible, and something only pretending to be felled at other stages. When I was cutting these out, I was a *teeny* but short on one sock, so I just piece that up with offcut. That section fits under the fold down cuff at the top of the stocking, so it shouldn't be seen anyway.

I tried to take a full length image of the stocking to show the general shape, but at this point Suzie decided there weren't nearly enough cat hairs on the stockings and improved them beyond measure by lying on them.

 Much better.

The Challenge: Challenge #8 UFOs & PHDs

Fabric: Silk taffeta
Pattern: Drafted myself based on period methods
Year: Throughout the 16th century
Notions: Polyester sewing thread, cotton embroidery thread.
How historically accurate is it? Annoyingly when I started this project over a year ago, silk thread wasn't to be found for love nor money, so I carried on with the closest colour I could find. Now of course, there's two shops close to me that stock a large range of silk sewing thread, but I decided to carry on as I'd started. So 90% - fabric, pattern and construction are period.
Hours to complete: Quite a while, I think 10-12 hours on this. It was hand sewn fiddly work that did it's best to remind me why it had gone into the UFO pile in the first place.
First worn: I had thought I'd wear them the next time I had my court gown on, but a quick test fit for the pictures has shown these bad boys are not going to even think of staying up without the help of garters. And the garters are going to have to wait until challenge 17.
Total cost: Again, this came from stash (can you tell I used to work in a fabric shop), but if made from new, I estimate about €12.