Sunday, December 28, 2014

Slowly Working on the Blue Silk French Gown

I've taken to calling this gown the Ice Queen outfit, as it's very icy blue and very fancy already. I had been working on several projects for friends that I hadn't been working on stuff for me in many weeks. So this weekend I decided to bust this dress out and keep at it.

Where we left off, I had a bodice with eyelets and boning done. First thing, I sewed down the shoulder straps at the neckline. I have to make mine nice and tight as I can't stand that "falling off the shoulder" look, and then also it doesn't support things correctly for me until the straps are super sung.
Here's a picture after I did that. Notice you can see the boning? Even with 5 damn layers of fabric, the boning is still obvious. Not yet sure how much trim I'm going to put on the bodice to cover that up.

 Next up was trimming. I put it around the shoulder straps and across the front. I may add some vertical lines of trim on the center front, but I'm waiting to apply them because I'm not 100% sure what I'll do yet. This silk, once it gets a hole poked in it, shows the holes permanently, so I don't want to make a decision quite yet!


Then I started on the sleeves. I made a whole new pattern for these sleeves, which I'll be able to use for future projects, as I really like the look of the poufs at the front. Sleeve is all one piece, with a 4 inch wide piece of extra fine linen sewn up the seam where it opens. I started to pin where the jewels will go in this picture. 

First sleeve complete! It has 5 poufs with 6 little jewels sewn on to keep the sleeve together. They are the same jewels that I put on my rust silk damask French gown. I love how sparkly they are! The ruffle at the wrist is my smock. I always make my smocks very fitted so I cannot just do the normal thing of pulling my smock though the poufs, which is why it's faked with that strip of linen. However, if I make this style of sleeve again, I may just not do the linen strip and just have the smock gently show between the jewels.


I have the next sleeve to do which should go a lot faster, now that I know what I want to do. Debating sewing on more of the trim to the wrist of the sleeve. Then on to the skirt!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Historical Shoes

And now for something a bit different! I love historical shoes, so I wanted to do a post about them!

When I joined the SCA back in 2008, I planned to just buy all my costumes and other medieval gear as I never thought I'd be interested in doing any of it myself- I really like to shop for this kind of stuff. That means that I spent a fair bit of money looking for shoes that were "historical-esque", and would be close enough to pass muster, but not bother with the real deal.

We hear it all the time in the SCA- "it's too expensive for period shoes" or "these mary janes or black Merrells are close enough".  I now tell everyone who asks me about shoes- it's worth the investment for the real thing. I easily spent over $100 buying several pairs of shoes over the course of maybe a year and a half when I first started. Now, I spend about $60-80 per pair on my period shoes. They will last you much longer, be more durable and easy to repair or clean up, and of course most importantly, make your whole outfit look more historical.

What about comfort, you might ask? Well, the insoles of historical shoes to tend to be harder than modern shoes. I add cheap little insoles right on top of the original ones to soften my steps, plus I often stuff a bit of pillow fluffing into the toes of my shoes to cushion my toes (and keep them warmer!)- it also helps keep the ends of the shoes nicely shaped, as the main three pairs I wear have slightly longer front ends than our modern shoes.

How about some pictures? They're in order of most recent purchases to what I started with.


I got these adorable little ankle boots back in August. All leather with brass buckles. I plan to wear them with my more early period garb, like cotehardies and norse apron dresses. They are stuffed with pillow wadding right now to soften up their shape in the closet as they were boxed up a bit long and turned a bit stiff.  I just rubbed them with some leather wipes (which I swear by) and that also softened them. Cost: $65.

Oh, these fun little red shoes. They have a squared-toe, which has some pillow stuffing in them. I love the slashes and the bright color. All leather, with a bit of a German flair, which is evident in the slashes and the square toe. I wear them with gowns and kirtles, generally at indoor events, cause I don't want the pretty leather to get ruined! I bought them in early 2011 and they still look fantastic and are in great condition. Cost: $75.

 These were my first pair of real historical shoes, bought in 2010. They are simple Elizabethan latchet shoes, all leather, with some nails in the sole. I tend to wear them now with my less-fancy Elizabethan clothes (like kirtles), or when the weather at an event is bad or I know I'll be outside a lot. They get pretty muddy at events and I just rinse them under a faucet and wipe them down with a towel. Other than being a bit dirty, there's no damage to the leather. Cost: $70.

Confession time: I bought these two pairs of (faux) leather mary janes rather recently. The shape is right, the material is right, and they're perfect for indoor court events when I want my feet to look all pretty! I plan to add some silk ribbon ties and maybe even some embellishments. I have been dying for a white pair of Elizabethan-style shoes but didn't want to spend a lot on something that will get dirty. I bought both of these pairs for less than $50.


I am mostly sure I never even bothered to wear these shoes to an event. I thought they looked kinda German with the slashes and they were maybe $11. Cute but not quite right.

Here is what I started with. I bought a couple pairs of black mary janes, that were slightly better quality than the super-cheap ones we often see, with those awful orange soles. My pairs were silk and velvet. Once they got wet and had some dirt on them, they were toast. The soles broke in half after a couple days. They got hard and cracked when they got muddy. 


And something random: I bought these shoes for I think $4 at a thrift store. They have such a great 18th century shape! Once I have an 18th century gown and an event to wear it to, I'll bust these out, probably with a cockade or shoe ribbons.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Purple English Kirtle - Revamped

I have noticed that I've been fixing up some of my garb that I've either had a few years and got some wear and tear, or that I made poorly the first go around and needs some tidying up. This project is another one of those. I made this kirtle in early 2011. It's purple linen, with black linen guards and (originally) cuffs and neckline detail. It's lightly boned with spring steel, and interlined with cotton duck cloth. It still fits very well and is my most comfortable kirtle.

I wore this quite a bit when I first made it, then made the bright pink and teal kirtle, so this one saw less use for about 2 years. Back in September, I decided to pull it out of the closet and see what kind of shape it was in, as I had a demo to attend that needed something moderately warm and pretty but not showy or likely to get dirty. Thus began some changes! Pics below are the first iteration.


1. I removed the black linen neckline trim detail. I never got around to putting the black all the way around the neckline anyways, so I thought it looked kinda stupid as it was. Much cleaner without it!
2. I tightened up the shoulder straps. Maybe they were too loose to start, or maybe they loosened up with wear- I just needed them raised to about an inch tighter.
3. I lowered the neckline about an inch after raising the straps because it was gapping after the straps moved.
4. I ironed the crap out of this dress. After a monsoon rain at Pennsic, the fabric was looking drab and wrinkled.
5. The bottom guard was a bit frayed underneath the hemline from wear and tear- tidied that up.
6. Removed the cuffs. They were attached poorly because I didn't really know what I was doing when I first made them, and have since improved my skills. I prefer the kirtle without them now.
7. Moved around the lacing rings at the shoulder straps and sleeves to line up more neatly and show less.
8. Did some extra stitches on the back few cartridge pleats as they had loosened up.

Here it is now, shown with a (purchased) blackworked partlet and a black silk girdle belt with buckle. I am really glad that I took the time to fix this dress up. It fits great, is comfortable to wear all day, and I still get compliments on it! The linen has become really soft and flowy after a couple years with minimal wear showing (mostly at the back where it has taken some strain). I have already worn it twice since I fixed it up! And I definitely will get more use out of it, for a couple more years I think.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A late-15th century gown for a friend

 For the last week or so I have been working on a gown for a friend of mine in my local SCA group, Her Ladyship Tamsyn Sutherland. She has been playing for several years and makes her own garb, but she is a fantastic scribal artist who is always doing work for others, and hasn't had time to make herself something fancy. I offered to make her a gown and donate the fabric for the Solstice Court event in a few weeks, as she is making an epic scroll for a Baron who is being elevated the the Order of the Pelican, and I thought she would like to look dressed up for the occasion!


 The gown is a late-15th to early 16th century gown (during the reign of Henry VII), and I mainly used "The Queen's Servants" book by the Tudor Tailor authors for inspiration, research, and pattern layouts. I drafted the bodice by hand onto wax paper using my friend's measurements, then cut it out in black linen and black duck cloth. I had her drop by for a quick fitting and overall it was close, just too long in the the shoulders. Next I cut it out in antique gold silk damask, added some lacing rings to get a better idea of the fit, and tried it on last time, where it fit great!



The bodice has heavy zip tie boning on just the side seams, center front, and back where it laces up. It is three layers thick (see above). The bodice is a bit wrinkled, but as we will be making a supportive under kirtle in the near future, that should sort out the wrinkles. She is also not wearing any period underthings as I made the gown before the smock just in case we ran out of time.The sleeves were drafted by me, just a round sleeve head that tapers to the snug wrist where it flares out, enabling a turn-back cuff. The sleeves are fully lined in a matching gold silk.



In this picture the hem isn't done and she has borrowed a belt for pictures. We were just so excited that it fit that I had to snag a pic!


And here it is finished! I am waiting on some gold velvet to add a guard to the hem of the gown, but she can still wear it as-is before the velvet arrives. I also made a green silk belt to mark her as an apprentice, which was her request. The belt has green tassels at the end. I also quickly whipped up a natural pearl, gold components, and red glass bead necklace in case she didn't have any bling already.


I will be making her a square necked smock out of a medium weight linen, and a linen partlet that has a v-neck shape, which is commonly seen with gowns this style. I figured she could get more use out of a smock with a neckline that doesn't show, and she can wear partlets depending on the style of gown. We may be looking into making a period hood as well, like the black ones pictured below, but for this event she will just do up her hair.









Here are some inspirational images I used when planning her gown.




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ice Blue Silk Elizabethan Gown - A Stash Project

This last week I started working on my next project, an Elizabethan gown with some French styling. It's an ice-blue silk taffeta, with some beaded trim for the bodice. The sleeves will be paned with little gold and pearl jewels holding the poufs in place. The hem will have a light gold braid trim that exactly matches the unusual light gold border on the beaded trim.

This is primarily a stash project, as I've had the blue silk for 4 years, the beaded trim for maybe even longer, I didn't need to buy any interlining fabrics (linen, cotton duck cloth, felt), I had zip ties for boning, had the silk to line the skirt, have the sleeve jewels and linen or organza for sleeve poufs, etc. The only thing I bought for this project is 3.5 yards of gold braid to trim the skirt hem.

 Some things I'm doing differently than usual on this new dress:
1. Zip ties for boning. I have always used spring steel for boning my kirtles and gowns. I have decided to try zip ties for this dress to see what I think. Right away the problem of their thickness arose. This bodice has 5 layers of fabric and still shows the boning! Once I can put it on and see if it bothers me, I'll make the decision to change it or not.
2. Tiny eyelets! On the pink linen kirtle underneath the blue silk bodice, you can see the size of the eyelets I normally make. I'm trying tiny eyelets this time, just for something different. They do get sewn a little faster. I'll have to lace it up with ribbon through a tapestry needle to fit through the little holes.

3. More fabric in the skirt. I don't think I have a single dress with more than 3 yards of fabric in it, give or take a couple inches. This gown will have a full 3.5 yards of fabric in the skirt (didn't quite have enough for 4 yards), hopefully giving it more body and fullness, mainly because the blue silk is so light.

4. Lining the skirt. I don't have any gowns that have a lined skirt; I usually just wear a petticoat and not worry about it. However, this silk fabric is very lightweight and a little bit see-thru and that's not gonna work! I am fully lining the skirt in a silver silk dupioni to give the gown some weight, movement, and prevent the petticoat showing through the fabric. This means I won't be adding my usual strip of fabric padding on the pleats, just using the two layers of silk.

Here's some inspiration art. I'm mainly going for the look of the first dress, especially the sleeves, which will be almost exactly like these. Girl needs a partlet and a girdle belt, stat! Second image is for the sleeve poufs and lacing up the back. Third is for the partlet, trim style, and sleeves.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pictures of Finally Completely Finished French Gown in Rust Silk Damask

Well, I finally got the neckline jewels sewn onto the bodice of the French gown. They really make an impact! I purchased some dark gold metallic lace to sit underneath the jewels, similar to the inspiration portrait. I put on some of my award jewelry (brooch, pearl necklace with medallion) and it was waaaay too much bling. I didn't want to look like a queen at a Renaissance Faire so I went minimal with the jewelry this time around.

Please excuse my silly face, I think the sun was in my eyes a little!


Here is a fun picture of me, my friend Celeste who is new to the SCA this year, who has chosen a 16th century Venetian persona, and also my husband looking spiffy in his new wool suit. Our friend Sarah and myself helped her make her first gown. Everyone contributed a third of the work! I gave her some yellow silk damask to start off her SCA career on a fancy foot, and loaned her some jewelry until I teach her how to make wired jewelry! She did great on her first gown and I'm looking forward to all the fabulous creations in the future.
 In this picture I'm receiving my Order of the Key Cross, an arts and sciences award in the SCA, from Their Majesties Timmur and Sorcha. It was also my 29th birthday that day! Only disaster to happen was I lost one contact so had to wear my glasses all day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

French Gown Inspired by Elisabeth of Austria Portrait

This gown was finished a few months ago, and when I say finished, I mean completely wearable and nice as it is now, but will get a bit more applied decoration in future. It's made of 100% silk damask in a rust color, lined in gold silk.


I love the portrait of Elisabeth of Austria by Clouet, and this gown is obviously not a copy of that, but draws ideas from it (especially once I sew on the neckline jewels/ouches). I skipped the crazy partlet as I don't have ruff-making skills yet, but I do have some other silk organza partlets with lace that will do for now. Notice my shoulder rolls aren't really rolls... tried it, didn't work out well, so did poufs instead. I did manage to put together some little jewels and sew them on! They are a cute touch. I have components ready to be assembled and then sewn onto the gown to go around the neckline, just haven't had time to do it. Also I purchased some gold metallic lace that will get put onto the sleeve cuffs.







Here's a photo of me in the dress on it's debut/test trial run. It was a hospital benefit dinner with a "medieval" theme, and I figured I'd test out the fit and comfort level. It's smashing! Fits perfect without being uncomfortably tight, and is delightfully full and swishy in the skirt. Shown here with my simple organza partlet, as I didn't want my large ruffled one that night (see pics of that with my Elizabethan Jacket posts a bit back). I also am wearing my old smock with black edging- I have since made an epic new smock with ruffled lace-edged cuffs, which is extra fancy! More to come on that. That's my mom in her Italian Renaissance dress she had made a few years ago for a costume event.



 Dress without flash and with flash. Shiny fabric! Notice that the neckline has an arched shape- I made sure to do this to make it more obviously French. It ended up a little higher than I normally my necklines, but I think I was worried that it wouldn't be arched enough if I dropped it. Next time I will do a more pronounced arch and lower where it meets the shoulder straps. Also a detail shot of the little sleeve jewels.
Here's my new girdle belt, necklace, and earrings I made for this outfit. They are gold tone components with Swarovski crystals in their "Siam" color. I got the portrait miniature pendant from Raymond's Quiet Press, just haven't found/made a portrait to put in it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Elizabethan Loose Gown

I've just about finished a new loose gown for myself. I've been wanting something to wear over my kirtles and gowns- not really for warmth but for an extra layer.

It's made of a poly damask I got in the LA garment district- it's a silvery off-white color. Fully lined in off-white silk. I used the pattern from the Tudor Tailor but added a little collar and wings, and made it less full in the shoulders. And because I'm big on symmetry, everything is perfectly pattern matched! I am working on sewing on some frog closures- right now I have two sets on and four more to sew on, but it's wearable!



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Elizabethan Jacket - Finished

I finished my Elizabethan Jacket a long time ago, but am finally getting around to posting the pictures of the completed outfit. Here it is!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Man's Elizabethan Shirt

I recently finished up a new shirt for my fiance. He currently only had one shirt, with some machine-blackwork detail on the cuffs and collar, and since he plans to continue playing in the SCA with me, naturally we need to expand his wardrobe!

This shirt is very simple. I actually quite like how plain and white it is. I took a little more time on this shirt to make the details cleaner, which is surprising considering his other shirt is more detailed and fancy!

I ordered linen from Dharma Trading- this is their heaviest weight linen, which is perfect for a man's shirt. It's not heavy enough for an outer garment but not too delicate either. I ordered a medium weight linen for myself for a new smock, which hopefully I'll make soon.

I still need some cording to tie the collar shut. The cuffs close with tiny hooks and eyes. I tried cording for the cuffs on his last shirt- after he twice broke the cording while wearing them, I gave up and added hooks and eyes, which works much better.

Apparently, after coming across someone's research, in period they did not box-pleat the collars and cuffs on shirts. It was all tiny gathers, cartridge pleats, or knife pleats. I learned this after finishing this shirt. Oh well, now I know for next time!

Monday, January 20, 2014

I've been a bad blogger...

Well hello costume blog world! I can't believe I haven't posted anything in nearly a year... *hangs head in shame* Maybe it's because I haven't been able to do much sewing in that time. I have moved, bought and sold houses, got engaged, started planning the wedding, am working more hours, blah blah excuses. I have made a few things in that time, but I haven't been going to as many events as I used to.

My fiance is awesome and is getting into the SCA with me. So, he needs a wardrobe of course! Again, he's awesome so he wants his persona to match mine (16th century English noble), therefore it's doublets galore for this guy. For his first couple events, I had made him a simple linen tunic, norse leg wraps, and hose. I was just making sure he wanted to join for real before I made him anything significantly time consuming. He's gone to I think 4-5 events so far and likes it, so now he needs his own wardrobe!

I made him a grey wool doublet (not pictured), purple wool venetian breeches, and a white linen shirt with black machine embroidery to start. We ordered him shoes from westlandcrafts.com (I highly recommend them). He's gotten into period music, which is great- I want him to have his own SCA things to do!

Projects currently in production are a new full suit for him (black wool trimmed in grey), the Elizabeth of Austria gown for me (have bodice and skirt done, the sleeves are killing me), and adding more options to his outfits. We are planning on a few multi-day event this year, and he'll need more to wear.

Hopefully I'll post more soon!