Saturday, December 31, 2016

Completed Projects and Events Attended in 2016

I always enjoy reading the posts from costume bloggers about everything they made over the past year, and as I saw a few pop up this week, I decided it might be fun to make one of my own for 2016! Nearly everything you see on this post has been blogged about over the last year; you can click the links in the "archive" on the right to see them.

January saw me and the husband attend a 12th Night event in Salt Lake City. I completed a set of late 15th century Burgundian gowns for us in black chenille velvet. We didn't take any pictures at that particular event, but we have pics in the same outfits from an event later in the year.

February we attended two events, the Feast of St. Valentine's with our local group, and Estrella War down in Arizona. I wore the purple and gold silk brocade 14th century gown again, but my husband's cotehardie was new: purple and black herringbone cotton flannel that mimics wool, with gold buttons, fully lined in linen, so it's nice and cozy for winter events. We drafted him a new body block pattern around this time, which helped me a lot throughout this year when I made him new clothes.

I made several new things for Estrella war, as I didn't want to bring anything from my 16th century wardrobe to such a warm event. I made a few linen kirtles, a new wool hood, and the St. Birgitta's cap. My husband got a new linen tunic and a warm surcote.

March had us attending Coronation in Idaho Falls, where my best friend stepped down from her term serving as Queen of Artemisia. I made a plaid cotehardie to wear with some items I had finished in February, a teal kirtle and a pink hood. I love this cotehardie and am looking forward to more chances to wear it. It's very comfortable, warm without making me overheat, and I think it looks great.

In April I attended Crown Tournament in Boise, and I finished a new outfit in time for that event. This outfit proved to be my post popular post of the year: a gold silk kirtle with a blue silk cotehardie over it. I'm really liking the unlined cotehardies look right now, and they assemble quickly and easily.

In May, we drove over to Billings for their Schola event, where I taught a hairstyles class with my friend Sarah. I had been wanting to make a fancy 14th century surcote, so I put together this outfit, all out of silk. Silk brocade lined in dupioni, with silk undersleeves. I've worn this surcote twice now, and I quite like it, even if the sleeves sometimes get in the way in the restroom! I have to be super careful when I wear it.

June had us making the big trip to SCA 50 Year Celebration in Indiana. I made a few new things for this event, but I didn't have to make much as I had just completed a lot of hot weather camping garb for Estrella only 4 months earlier. I did make a black linen kirtle and a white wool hood, just for more options. For hot weather, my new favorite choice is an unlined linen kirtle, in a medium to dark color so I can skip an underwear layer, as the linen kirtle itself is very washable.

I also finished a late 15th century Italian gamurra in time for 50 Year. I wore it for a couple hours at an indoor activity at 50 Year, and decided that I made it a bit too small in the bodice. I really like it, but I put it up for sale on Etsy because I don't think I can wear it again comfortably.

Late July had us attending Kingdom Champions in Billings. We didn't wear anything new for that event, but my husband placed 8th in the Archery competition, which made me very proud of him.
July and August had me hard at work for the Victorian Ball we attended in mid August. I made a gown for my mother and a gown and all the underpinnings for myself. This was a big project! I hope to have an event to wear the outfit to in the near future, as I'm really proud of how it turned out for my first Victorian.

Also in August I completed a new silk cotehardie for my husband. It's a cool orange figured silk, lined in cotton, with a ton of buttons. I think this outfit is a great look on him, especially with the tall boots!

I was the event steward for a Coronation event that was held by our local group in September, with our new King and Queen of Artemisia stepping up. After this event, it was time to buckle down and get started on my projects for entering the Kingdom A&S competition to be held in November.

September and October had me hard at work on new late 15th century outfits. I haven't blogged much about them because I did some original research with the papers I presented, and I haven't decided yet how I want to get the information out there. I will give some sneak peeks of the outfits though (there's more pics on my Facebook page, see link at the top right). I'm very proud of them, but I have waited to talk about them until I feel that my research can be presented in its best light. In October we attended our little Shire potluck and we wore our black Burgundians again, and we went down to Crown Tourney in SLC, where I wore my red silk surcote.

In November I attended Kingdom A&S, wearing a new 15th century silk damask kirtle during the day, and adding the green gown over it for court. I won populace choice for my display at the event, which was a nice feeling after all my hard work. I also performed a song on the keyboard as part of my entry in the competition, which I had been practicing since August. I continue to practice the keyboard so I can play at events in the future.

December weather prevented us from attending Solstice Court in SLC, which was a bummer, as it will be over 2 months between SCA events for me, once we attend 12th night in two weeks. I did get to attend a little Victorian tea at an historic mansion in my city. I thrifted a costume for the 1890s, which was great fun! I really want to do more Victorian and Edwardian events.

December also had me working on Regency clothes for my husband and I, for the ball we're attending in SLC in February. I've got my gown mostly done, and his shirt, waistcoat, and cravat are finished. I have also spent the last couple days researching Norse clothing, and have started a big Norse project to wear to Coronation in March.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gowns Up For Sale on Etsy

Hello blog readers! I have just put up two silk gowns for sale in my newly created Etsy shop. Both of them are for a modern size 6-8, hemmed for someone 5'8" tall. They best fit measurements: bust 35-36, waist 28-30.

View them here on my Etsy shop!

An Italian gamurra, for 1480s-1490s Italian renaissance:

An Elizabethan gown, for 1560s-1580s England or France.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Thrifting Victorian

My friend Sarah and I are starting a Historic Costume and Culture Society for our local area, the Gallatin Valley of Montana. We hope to host costumed events with themes like a Downton Abbey picnic, or a Roaring '20s party, a Turn of the Century Tea, a Regency ball, things like that. We had planned to have our first meeting at a local Victorian-decorated B&B, but it turned out that the non-profit organization that raises funds for the Story Mansion, a house built in 1910 in Bozeman, was having their annual Victorian Holiday Tea on the same date that we planned our own tea. We decided to head to their tea instead, as costumes were welcomed there.

Sarah and I gave ourselves the challenge that we couldn't sew anything for this event. Why would we do that? Well, my hope was that if I can show that a passable costume for the turn of the last century could be achieved by piecing together thrifted and vintage finds, then maybe people who will want to attend our events in future can put together a costume easily if they can't sew yet. Wearing a costume, when you haven't tried it outside Halloween, is intimidating enough. If we can show that you don't have to sew to be a member of our group, then hopefully more people will be less intimidated to start coming to our events.

The theme for the tea was "Victorian Holiday", and the mansion was built in 1910. Although Victorian encompasses 1837-1901 (the reign of Queen Victoria), I personally didn't see the point of wearing something from before 1890 or so, due to the time period that the mansion was built being a bit far off from true Victorian. I settled on the 1890s, so that it would still be technically Victorian, but not too many decades away from the Edwardian time period that the house was built. Sarah decided on the 1910s when she found an original Edwardian tea dress at an antique store in town.

The photo above is the look I was going for. Notice the woman on the right? She's wearing a plaid skirt, white blouse, and a medium-to-large sized hat. When I came across a tartan skirt, I realized I could replicate her outfit pretty well.

I bought all of my items online, from Etsy and Ebay. Shown below are the listing photos.

The skirt is silk taffeta in a blackwatch plaid, and right about my size so I didn't have to alter it. It's Talbots brand, probably not very old, but I got it on Ebay for about $40.

The blouse is vintage Scott McClintock, from Ebay, maybe late 80s or early 90s? The lace on the blouse is the show stopper. The fabric is a chiffon, and while a cotton blouse would be more historically accurate, I couldn't pass up the amazing lace. It buttons up the back and at the wrists, like many blouses from the 1890s. It was $30. I did wear a long-sleeved linen chemise under the blouse, as the sleeves were totally sheer without it.

The jacket is black rayon velvet, also vintage Scott McClintock. It buttons up the front with some nice jet-style buttons. Only $20 and it fits great! I thought the main style of it looked a bit like this extant 1890s jacket from the Met, with less dramatic sleeves and collar, of course! Hard to buy a jacket like that off the rack these days...

The hat is red wool, and it came decorated with the black tulle and plaid rosette. I thought it would look Christmas-y with the green skirt. I added some black ostrich feathers and a red and gold brooch from my stash to make it feel more old-fashioned. It was $30. I found some very fabulous Victorian hats online, with the great feathers and flowers decoration, but they were closer to $100 and I wanted to stay low-budget for this event.

 The shoes are probably from the 1990s, I picked them up a couple years ago at a local thrift store, thinking they could pass for Georgian in a pinch, but they are better suited for late Victorian. $4!

The belt is one I made last year, black velvet with a gold metal buckle. I wear it with my 15th century Burgundian outfits, but it worked perfectly for Victorian, too! A fabric sash would have done fine as well. Pearl necklace is my own, the pearl earrings were a gift from my best friend.

 Here is Sarah in her original 1910s tea dress. It's in pretty great condition despite being probably around 100 years old. It fit her very well, and with her hair and makeup done like they did back then, she looked very historical.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Late 15th Century Black Burgundians

Around this time last year I started planning two Burgundian outfits, one for myself and one for my husband. We knew we would be attending Twelfth Night in January 2016 at a venue in Salt Lake City that I remembered from the year before as being a rather chilly site- it's a steel building with concrete floors, and even with the heat on, that space doesn't get as warm as I might like. I think it's fortuitous though, to be able to have sites that aren't blazing hot indoors, so we can wear heavier clothing more like what they had in the Middle Ages.

These outfits were completed back in early January, but I didn't get any good pictures of them when they first got worn, and the in-progress pics of the outfits looked lousy. We had a local SCA dinner just recently, and we were able to wear the outfits again, as we chose "historical Halloween" as the theme- we were going for dark and gothic with the clothes.

The fabric for the outfits is a black-on-black velvety chenille, from the LA garment district. It's extremely heavy, soft, and flowy, and sheds like crazy when you cut it. I had to immediately serge the fabric after cutting it out, or it would fray severely.

My gown is lined with black linen on the body pieces, unlined in the sleeves, trimmed in black fox fur at the neckline and cuffs, with a black velvet guard on the hem. The belt is velvet with a buckram interlining to keep it sturdy, which works very well. The buckle is from Raymond's Quiet Press. The red fabric at the chest is silk damask, sewn into a trapezoidal panel and pinned at the neckline to stay in place. It is more likely that a full kirtle was worn underneath these types of gowns in the 15th century, but I opted for comfort with the simple panel. I could easily wear this gown with a kirtle though, as it is quite roomy and is held in at the waist with a belt.

The pattern for the gown is essentially the pattern in "The Medieval Tailor's Assistant" for a late 15th century flared gown, but I narrowed it at the waist and bust a bit so as not to have too much extra bulky fabric up top. If I make another gown in this style, I would cut the neck lower, and take in the top part even more around the upper torso- I prefer the look of it being tighter up top and then flaring from the natural waist, not the upper chest.

The hennin is a recent addition, finished only last week for a different 15th century project. I plan to write about the new hennin when I write about the gowns it goes with, but for now I'll describe it briefly. It's buckram with a wire wrapped around the bottom edge, with felt padding on the inside and outside of the buckram, black silk brocade covering the top and black silk taffeta as lining. It stays on easily: I put my hair in a bun at the top of my head, and use two 5 inch stick pins pushed through the sides of the hennin, and the pin goes into my bun. I was able to dance and the hennin didn't slip around (though in these pictures, I notice it leans a bit to the left! Must check that later). I pinned a 45" square silk chiffon veil over the top for a grander effect.

My husband's gown is also from a pattern in the "Medieval Tailor's Assistant", the later period flared gowns. Basically, it's fitted in the shoulders and neck, then flares out from the underarm to be the full width of the fabric once it reaches the hem. It's belted at the waist to contain the folds of the fabric. The sleeves are lined with silver silk, and it has Fleur-de-lys buttons at the neckline, where it opens just enough to slip over his head. It has a collar about 1.5" tall, and the sleeve flare out from the elbow- again, a pattern from the Medieval Tailor's Assistant.

He is wearing a wool 15th century hat from Revival Clothing, knee high boots from Boots by Bohemond, and a fancy leather belt from Lorifactor.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

We All Have to Start Somewhere

 I made my first attempt at a 14th century dress four years ago. I wanted a lightweight dress to wear to summer events, and none of my 16th century dresses were light enough. So I thought I would made a fitted white kirtle, unlined, to beat the heat. Little did I know what I would do three years after this picture was taken- dive head first into full 14th century costuming.

Here are some pictures of the first 14th century kirtle, on the first wearing, September 2012. I am posting them with text of the problems with it so that if they get repinned, the Pinterest world doesn't see them as a good look to emulate.

 Here's whats wrong with this outfit:
-The worst offense is my hair. I was trying to pull the ol' "I'm young and unmarried so I can wear my hair down, it's period!" Jane now would never ever try this, married or no. Notice the side part as well, and the layers. Absolutely lazy.
-The kirtle is too small in the bust. I patterned the kirtle to shut over my chest, but on that day, my friend said I should wear my modern bra with the kirtle, thinking that no bra wasn't a good look for me. Wearing a bra with this kirtle causes a huge gap at the bust, plus major wrinkling at the laced edge.
-The belt was borrowed from a friend; it's her husband's ring belt. Belts back then had buckles which is a common SCA misconception- move away from the D-ring or O-ring belts without the chape and holes in the belt, as they just don't work as well as a proper buckle.

-The skirt is too narrow: There is less than a 75 inch hem circumference on this kirtle, with only a rectangle in front, a rectangle in back, and two thin gores on the sides.

-The kirtle is straight laced, not spiral laced, with 32 eyelets down the front. I prefer straight lacing on 16th century clothing, but for 14th century kirtles, spiral lacing is the best choice because it prevents the edges wrinkling and gapping. Do spiral lacing, you'll love it.
-The white linen of the kirtle looks like underwear. The dress always looks like it's missing something to be a complete outfit. I would do a white silk or wool kirtle, but not linen again- the linen makes it look like underwear.

Here is where my improvements started. This is the same kirtle, dyed lavender with a dye for linen from Dharma Trading, in a big stock pot on my kitchen stove. It worked okay, but after wearing it a few more times (and sweating in it), the dye is starting to wear out.

This picture was taken only a year ago, early October 2015. This was when I started to get serious about 14th century when my husband changed his persona. I bought a narrow leather belt with pewter fittings, bought the little brocade pouch, and bought the wool hood (lined in silk) from the Hooded Hare, all at Pennsic two months prior to this picture. There is little documentation for women wearing dagged hoods in period (appears to be mostly a thing for men), but I loved the look of this one so I bought it anyway, and wear it now and again. This hood conveniently covers the gap in the front lacing over my bust.

For this event, I only put my hair in a simple braid down my back, but it's a vast improvement to just wearing my hair down. I had not yet learned any period hairstyles, as I had not yet realized I was about to get hardcore about 14th century.

This picture was taken at Pennsic 2015, and clearly shows the wrinkles on my back caused from not having a center back seam to take in the extra fabric that bunches up above my waist. You can also see how narrow the skirt is. Once again, had not yet learned to do a period 14th century hairstyle, so I'm just wearing a braid.

Here is the same kirtle worn at Estrella War in February 2016. I used the little black leather belt and my St. Birgitta's cap to make it look a bit more period. Notice that I learned how to do a typical 14th century hairstyle, and what an improvement it makes on the overall look.

This kirtle has served me well at camping events over the last few years, but I will likely be retiring it now. As I said, the dye is wearing out, and I have made so many other (more accurate) linen kirtles in the last year, that this one isn't really needed anymore.

Here's a picture from August 2016 in a kirtle I finished a few months earlier. Notice how it actually closes over the bust and has proper spiral lacing. The fabric is a teal linen, much softer than the heavy-weight linen of the lavender kirtle shown above. I'm wearing my trusty St. Birgitta's cap with my easy temple braids hairstyle, plus a wide straw hat for sun protection.

Here is where my 14th century attire is at now. Notice the hairstyle, the velvet fillet, veil pinned to the fillet, new belt that I assembled from purchased mounts, buckle, and a strip of leather, new 14th century jewels, and I sewed on most of my award tokens onto my pouch as a way to display them. The fit is significantly improved, especially in the bust, and there is a larger hem circumference due to two more gores.
This is the same blue silk cotehardie I had posted about earlier this year, but worn with black silk undersleeves instead of a gold silk kirtle. These pictures were taken at Artemisian Coronation on September 3, 2016. Doesn't my husband look spiffy in his new orange silk cotehardie? I think it's those boots that are the highlight of the outfit. I bought them from Boots by Bohemond at SCA 50 Year.

You might be thinking, what is the point of this blog post? It's nearly all stuff we've seen before on this blog! Well, sometimes I come across the old pictures of me in garb that I don't love, and I appreciate them for showing me how far a person can come with their costuming: if they love what they do, and put in the time to research, and make their stuff better.

We don't even have to start from scratch- you might have an outfit that works, but you are learning that it could be more accurate, so there's nothing wrong with making improvements on the garb you already have before you jump into starting something else entirely. It might be as simple as adding proper accessories or hairstyles, or involve changing the color or adding trim or embroidery, or altering the sleeves or the skirt. I have quite a few pieces of garb that I have evolved to make more accurate over the years, so I can still wear them now and not feel that they are too far below my current skill level.