Saturday, May 28, 2016

14th Century Linen Kirtles and White Wool Hood

SCA 50 Year Celebration is coming up in a couple weeks, and I've been prepping for it over the last couple months. I'm the type to make a list of outfits that I plan to wear each day of a camping event, make sure I have enough underwear, kirtles, gowns, warm layers, etc. I generally wear two outfits per day when at a camping event- one light layer for daytime and one fancy and warmer layer for night-time. I wanted to be sure that I had plenty of kirtles for 50 year that I wouldn't need to re-wear any of them, so I needed 5. I already had a periwinkle linen front lacing kirtle (the first one I ever made, which is on its last leg, but could do another event or two), a gray linen pull-over completed in February for Estrella War, and the teal linen front lacing I made back in February, and wore to Estrella and Coronation (love that one!).  So I made two more this Spring in preparation for 50 year.

First up, a side lacing kirtle in purple and cream pinstriped linen. This one turned out rather pretty with the neat fabric. It has 12 eyelets that spiral lace up my right side. The pattern is my basic body block with four gores. I apologize for the mirror selfie, but I don't often take pics of my "casual" garb all trussed up- I'll get some shots at 50 year when the ensemble is being worn!

 Here's the detail of the back gore- all nice and lined up! Plus you can see the nifty fabric.

  Here's the gray linen kirtle I made back in February- I have no other pics of it because it's rather boring! It's my body block pattern with a big seam allowance and some shaping taken out of the waist, so I can pull it over my chest and not deal with closures. It's very comfortable and a dark enough color that I can forego the undergarment if I'm running low on clean smocks at a long war.
And now for the most recent one I've made, the black linen. I had bought 10 yards of black linen/cotton to line some black damask garments I made back in December for me and my husband. I had a bunch of the linen left over, so I made the kirtle from it, and I have enough that I could make a tunic for the husband later on.

Again, basic body block pattern, spiral laced eyelets up the front. Shown with a white lacing cord for these pictures so you can see how the spiral lacing looks. Sleeve pattern on all of these kirtles is side-back seamed. I typically don't do the side-back arm buttons on my linen kirtles, because these guys get washed a lot, and they aren't meant to be fancy- they're about as close to peasant garb as I will get, so no embellishing, just practicality. I save those buttons for the nicer kirtles and gowns.



I finished a white wool hood last month that I plan to wear at 50 year. At Estrella back in February, it was in the high 80s all week, and very sunny, in the desert. I wore hoods with my kirtles for a good bit of my day, and it really helped me avoid sunburn and stay cooler. I wanted to have one more neutral hood for 50 year to keep me sunburn-free (I have a history of skin cancer, and sunscreen just isn't enough to keep me from burning). Plus, who doesn't love more accessories?

This is made from a very light wool from our local wool store in Bozeman, and lined in cream white silk dupioni to make it a bit fancier than my pink wool hood that's lined in linen. I toyed with the idea of using metal buttons for the white hood, but ultimately decided to make self-fabric buttons to keep it extra-neutral (I can't stand mixing metals, and I have belts with gold or silver fittings and cotes with gold or silver buttons). The pattern started from the Medieval Tailor's Assistant, but I had to make significant changes to the one I made for the pink hood- my shoulders are apparently huge while my  neck is not! So, bigger neck gussets and a narrower neck opening.

 I love how it looks with the black kirtle!

 Here's a shot of the big gussets and the buttons.
 Hoods look cute worn open, too. I may add a liripipe to this hood later on, as the pointy back tip is just... too pointy.

14th Century Red Silk Brocade Surcote

Sometimes we are ears deep in projects, and then a fabric comes across your path, and it demands to be made into something right away. Sometimes it's a project you'd never think you would do, like a style that hasn't interested you before, or a color you don't typically wear. I knew that I would be making more 14th century gowns in the future, but I didn't think I'd be making one quite so soon- court eventing season is in the winter in Artemisia. But, I found some fabric online and wanted to use it right away!

I spend a good amount of time shopping online for fabrics every week, just to see what's out there- usually I just bookmark it to think about if a specific project needs certain fabric for it, but this time, I saw the fabric and had to snap it up right then. It's a red and black silk brocade from Ebay, in a small geometric floral pattern that I thought would best suit the 14th century. Once I decided on the project for it, I bought some red and black shot dupioni silk on Etsy to line the whole dress.


It wasn't until very, very recently that I realized that I liked the look of the 14th century surcotes with super long hanging sleeves. For ages I thought them impractical (that didn't change with this project, ha!), unusual, probably complicated to make, and unattractive. But when I was thinking about what style of 14th century overgown to make with the silk, I kept coming back to the floor-length sleeves and realizing, "that's what the gown needs".  The surcotes with wrist-length open hanging sleeves are definitely more common, but the floor-length sleeves are still easy to find. These surcotes were worn over kirtles. Here are some historical examples of this style of surcote:

 Queen's Book, fol. 128. Hippomenes and Atalante. Note her red kirtle showing at the forearms.
 This one is 15th century but the style clearly lasted into that century too. Enlèvement de Dinah, la fille de Léa et de Jacob, par Sichem le Hivvite (cf. Genèse 34).
Guillaume de Digulleville, Le Pèlerinage de la Vie humaine. A red kirtle is underneath the blue brocade surcote.

I started construction with my basic body block pattern, but left a little room in the torso for wearing with a kirtle underneath. It laces up my right side with 16 spiral-laced eyelets. It has two hip gores and one front and one back gore. The sleeves had me worried that they'd be difficult to pattern, but after thinking about it (a lot), I ended up using my plain sleeve pattern that has the seam under the arm, not down the back of the arm. I cut out a portion in the front that stops at my elbow, tried on the mockup, and fiddled with how big I wanted the cut out until it looked right to me. It took only a few minutes! I had to add extra to the sleeve length to make them hit the floor- I only bought 4 yards of the silk so the sleeves are pieced near the bottom. I will definitely be using flap sleeves for other gowns in the future.
This surcote is designed to be worn over a kirtle and smock. However, sometimes events are just too warm to wear another full layer underneath a gown that is completely lined, plus the long-sleeved underwear. So, this gown is being worn for these photos with false undersleeves. I made a set out of black silk taffeta, lined in black linen, with little gold (functional) buttons. They are whipstitched to the gown sleeve lining, and can be interchanged with other surcotes and cotehardies. This way, I save a layer to stay cool, and prevent sweating too much in the fancy silks. In period, a kirtle would be worn underneath, and I'm sure I will wear one in the future, but it's already warm here and 50 Year will be hot, so I cheated and did the false sleeves. They worked out awesome!








 As you can probably tell, I really like how the surcote looks with the black belt and fillet- they've become my go-to accessories. I can also wear a gold, metal set with the plaque belt and coronet, but the black looks better to me. I've taken to calling this my "historically-accurate Cersei Lannister gown", because it feels like something she would wear, being red and gold! So here's some pics of me doing my best Cersei: