26 September 2014

A Hood!

Next up in my Quest To Finish All the Things is the completion of my crocheted Skjoldehamn Viking hood:

It is not period.  Design-wise, and color-wise, it pretty much is.  But it's crocheted (modern), and the yarn is acrylic (Lion Brand's "Nouveau").  

The ties you see at the front, which would have been affixed near the back of the hood in period, are actually one long drawstring around the neck area of the hood.  For no reason other than that's how I wanted it. Ditto the long tassel on the back of the hood: 

Pattern, yarn, hook, sizing, and other info posted on my Ravelry project board.  :) 

Dang, this thing is warm and soft and comfy. I think I'll likely end up wearing this in Mundania as well as in Ansteorra.  :) 


25 September 2014


I'm sure by now you've figured out what this red thing is that I've been posting pics of - it's another freaking cotehardie.  This year's process of refitting and replacing my garb wardrobe has left me with none, so I went ahead and whomped this up.

So far it's cut out and mostly put together. The linen was bright fire-engine red, and I toned it down by over-dyeing it with black Rit.  You've seen the gold hem tape (rayon) I've applied to the neckline, front opening and sleeve openings, and the cloth buttons I made for the sleeves:

And I showed you one of the finished sleeves earlier this week:

Today's job was the eyelets in the front:

Now I can finish putting the dress together, hem the skirt, and then do some pretty massive and epic machine-embroidery in the skirt.  More on that next week. :)


24 September 2014


Phone pic at work, sorry.  36 @$%&^$@# hand-sewn buttons AND buttonholes.

Buttonholes are HARD, y'all.  29 in, and I finally figured out why they looked wonky, so, like the last six are *great* and the others are ugly as homemade sin.  Thankfully, though, they're mostly hidden by the buttons, and I'll have loooooong tippets over the upper arms.

Finished product very soon, now that the #%^&$^$@%#$ buttonholes are done on both sleeves.


15 September 2014

Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky

I made a box for my friend, Simona!

It's not exactly heraldic, more...heraldy.  I've decided that's the new term. :)  Elements of her device worked into the box, without being the actual device itself. Heraldish.

It's made of pine plywood harvested from a large shipping crate that I picked up for free from the warehouse at the company where Simona's husband works.  I had a LOAD of fun knocking the crate apart with a big mallet...

for a while, anyway. 

I'm working on a smaller one for myself as well - should be done and up on the blog this time next week.


10 September 2014

Poky Storage + Sewing Kit

Perhaps you remember my little red velvet needle case, which I made in February of '13:

It's just a little tri-fold doodad, made from fabric scraps, padded and lined with the inside of a fake fur blanket.  I was very new to embroidery then, and so only the random leaves and wee pomegranates were hand-embroidered - all the swirly bits were done on my machine.

Don't get me wrong, I've always loved it's functionality;  but recently I pulled it out to work on some hand-sewing, and I thought, "Wow, this is crap, I can do WAY better than this!"  So I grabbed some more fabric scraps and sat down in front of Game of Thrones season 2...all of it.  (I had a migraine, but couldn't sleep).  This is what I made to replace the red one:

This one is also a trifold wallet-like design; and these are two of the panels.  The third panel is left blank, since it's going to be tucked inside anyway.

The white backing is cross-stitch fabric.  The inner lining is the fuzzy blanket lining from the old needle case, for padding.  The blue lining, which is wrapped around the outside as a decorative edge, is turquoise linen/rayon blend.

The full pomegranate is the back of the case.  This is the front, when it's closed.

Yes, it's all rumply.  I intend to iron the whole thing out, and then put a button or tie or something on it to keep it closed, like the red velvet needle case had.

The inside, which contains a smattering of sewing and embroidery needles in various sizes, several sizes of glass-head pins, a small curved darning needle, and a large upholstery/leather needle.

I keep it in here, a box I made in 2011, along with more pins, some bobbins of thread in common colors for on-the-go repairs, a small pair of steel snips, and random things people always need, like safety pins, extra bobby pins, random buttons, and a couple of extra dress lacings:


09 September 2014

Italian: Now Available In Black Silk

In July I shared my first-ever period corset, which I made to go under, among other things, my brown Italian dress.

Just before I completed it, I ordered a large quantity of black, raw, silk suiting, from FabricMartFabrics.com...on sale for four dollars a yard.  (Check them out, if you haven't - their sales are fantastic).   I hadn't figured out quite what to do with it until about mid-August, when I decided that I needed another Italian gown.

First I drew up a new pattern, making some minor adjustments to the bodice length and the shape of the front closure.  (I also cut down the front of the blue corset, since, as you can see in that post, sticks up above my neckline.  Nope).

Skipping ahead, since there's really nothing special to share about the rest of the process, I give you:

My new, black, silk, Italian gown.

I made it from the same pattern that I used for the brown one, except that I made the waistline a bit longer, and the front panels a bit wider in the center so that the lacings would meet instead of leaving a gap.

On seeing this all put together, over the corset (which now doesn't show, yay!), I think I was wrong to drop the waistline. The cartridge pleating on the skirt now hits the bottom of my corset and tries to tuck under it, which throws the line of the skirt WAY off, especially in the back.  Also, it's too long for a late-1400s Florentine waistline.  I'll be removing the skirt and fixing this issue soon.

The shoulders stay in place much better than the brown dress, due to a small change in the pattern shape (you can see it in the above picture: I drew the shoulder strap as usual, then cut it off and angled it up toward the face, so that when attached to the back piece, and on the body, it would stretch a bit, making it tighter and flatter across the body.  This is a trick a friend of mine showed me for my cotehardie patterns that I thought I'd try on this).

Now, if I'd only remembered that the dresses like this I've seen in paintings actually ARE off-shoulder...

The trim, applied with a ladder-style couching stitch on my machine, is an antique, silk twill tape, given to me by a friend who was de-stashing some of her inherited old family sewing things.

It's a wee bit wonky on the right corner, which you can see in the pic.  The ribbon twisted while I was sewing it down; I'll have to fix that, too.

The yellow ribbon lacing the dress was just for fitting purposes;  I'll be lacing it with more of that silk tape, in whatever color I end up feeling like. :)

I'll also be making a couple of pairs of sleeves to go with this.  I don't have any more black silk, but I have a pair of light blue fitted sleeves which tie onto the bodice, as well as at the elbow and the back of the arm.  I'm also going to make a couple of pairs of big, boofy bag sleeves, like this:

Madelena Doni, Rafael, 1506

In the meantime, I've also finished a snood that I started a year ago and then LOST!  I found it when I recently re-arranged and cleaned up my sewing room, LOL.  Yay!


04 September 2014

A New Mission Statement

This is the part where I don't have a completed project to show you today, so I'm going to babble at you for a little while instead.

I have some very bad habits, as far as sewing/making things in the SCA.  I do the same things in my mundane crafts, too.  I under-estimate the time I need for a project.  I forget how many things I have in the works at a time and get bogged down.  I have a hard time saying "no."  I feel overwhelmed when I take on too many things at once, react to that feeling by procrastinating, and then cram a project into the last few days before a deadline and completely stress myself out.  I put a lot of time and effort into making quality things for other people, then rush through things I make for myself, often resulting in sub-par clothing and accessories (or things that look fine on the outside, but, for example, don't have finished seams on the inside, or are devoid of fine details I'd put onto a garment for someone else).

I'm sure everyone reading this is nodding in agreement and empathy.  We all do it. I don't know an SCA crafter who doesn't do the same things.

In an effort to learn to set boundaries and to pace myself, so that I can turn out better-quality products all around, I've worked this whole year on creating new habits.  It started with finishing up all of the projects for others I had on the line at the beginning of the year, and then not taking on any new ones for several months. And then I set some rules for myself.  I've adhered to them all successfully, and it HAS made my life better.  It's also made it much easier to say to people, simply, "I have a lot on my plate right now, and can't accept, but ask me again in [time frame] and I might be available then."  My fear of turning people away aside, I've found that people really do understand that.

My Rules

  • Absolutely no more than two sewing projects for others at a time.  Limit three projects total (only two of which can be sewing).  
  • Establish expected delivery date before accepting project. 
  • Ditto project parameters. 
  • No procrastination:  (1) work on each project for at least two hours per week.  More if I want to, but minimum two hours. 
  • No procrastination: (2) as I have a habit as looking at commissions as "work" and things for myself as "play" - thereby making commissions feel like they're looming over me, I now allow myself to alternate working on a commission with working on something for myself, or around my home (the "fun" often as a reward for putting in a couple of hours on a commission when I didn't really want to). 
  • When I finish a project, I (a) clean up the entire craft room (or workshop), so that when I start the next project I'll have a clean space in which to work, and (b) often will lay out the materials for the next project as soon as the space is cleaned, so that when I walk in the next time, I see potential, instead of an empty room and a need to begin something. 

There's another rule, that I've recently come up with, and have been thinking a lot about lately.  I've been sewing since I was 9 years old, I've been costuming since I was 17, and have sewn for home decor since I was about 26.  As I mentioned before, I tend to put a lot of work and attention to detail into commissions, but not on projects for myself, which are often cheap, plain, and sometimes not completely finished.  You'd think, with all that experience, that every thing I make is just awesome, but it hardly ever is, by my standards.  You'd think I'd actually work up to my own standards, at least!  So then, my number one rule going forward, and my new sewing motto: 

Let every project surpass the previous. 

Which means: 
  • I will put the same attention to detail and quality into everything I make, not just things for which people are paying me. 
  • I will fine-tune my finishing skills on every project, and get better at it with every project. 
  • I would like to try to learn a new technique, or at least hone seldom-used ones with every project. 
  • My work now is pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.  A year from now, I want the things I'm sewing now to look like a beginner effort next to my progress to come.  

There is always something to learn.  You can always do better than you're already doing.   There is always opportunity to focus more, take more time, exercise more patience, and excel your own work at every step. 

And this goes for every craft, not just sewing; although my main thinking lately has been mostly concerned with sewing.  In the coming weeks I'll have a few new outfits to show you, some campsite decor type stuff, and even some nifty woodworking and artwork.  Hopefully each thing will be better than the last one I made. :)