14 December 2015

What's Purple and Pink and Yellow All Over?

A friend asked me if I'd make her a Landsknecht dress.  She sent me pictures she'd seen online, and, because I'm a crazy person, I thought it looked like SO MUCH FUN.

This was hard. And I'm never doing it again - but it WAS SO MUCH FUN.  And my friend loved it, so, yay!  :)

It's all linen (from fabric-store.com), and all machine-sewn, except for the stripes on the bodice, which were appliqué'd onto the bodice by hand.  The bodice and sleeves* are fully lined; the skirt is not. 

* I forgot to get a pic of the sleeves before I delivered the dress.  They're made to be detachable, and lace on at the shoulders of the dress.  They're also made in two parts, an upper and lower sleeve that lace together, so that the dress may be worn sleeveless, or with long or short sleeves. They're purple, with pink and yellow bands; no checks. 

My original thought process was this:
1. Man, this looks like quilting. I hate quilting!
2. Oh, but wait! Somebody once told me a trick for doing checks the easy way! This'll be great!

And then I realized that "the easy way" involved only two colors, and that my first-ever checkered panel did, in fact, have to be done The Hard Way:


It was, in fact, far easier than I'd thought it would be, and I'm really happy with the way it came out.  I made the skirt in four sections: the checkered panel, the striped panel above it, the striped panel below it, and the top panel which is solid purple.  Once the checkered panel and both striped panels were made and combined, the bottom half of the skirt looked like this:

Altogether, this is about eleven hours' work.

All the purple strips in this section are 2" wide, as finished (all pieces were cut with a 1/2" seam allowance - I wanted a lot of woodge room, just in case), except for the very bottom, which is 3" with a folded 2" blind hem. Both yellow stripes, and the two pink stripes that border the checkered panel, are 1" wide as finished. The top pink stripe is 3" finished.

All of the checks are 2" as finished, and also cut with a 1/2" seam allowance (cut as 3" squares).  I could not have done this dress at all without my trust cutting mat and rotary cutters, or I would have gone completely banana-balls and rampaged naked through the town.

I very nearly went banana-balls and rampaged naked through
the town just sewing them together, fyi. 
The construction on this was painstaking, tedious, eye-numbing, repetitive, time consuming, and exhausting; but at every step of the way I kept stopping to look at it and going, "Wow. I did that! I can't believe I did that [and didn't screw it up!] I've never done this before, this is great!"  and that is my very favorite thing about sewing.  I LOVE learning to do new things. I love doing things I've never done.

As always, Rory helped.

P.S. - this was my very last commission.  I know I've said that before, but this really is the last one.  I'm freeeeeee...or I was, for a minute.  Until I found out a dear friend will be elevated soon!!!  SQUEEE!!! 


28 October 2015

My Birthday Suit

Or Birthday Dress, rather.  Ever since I made the "Eura dress" in September I've been dying to make the leftover fabric into something non-SCA-related for myself.  My birthday's tomorrow; so last night I pulled out that gray-blue linen and made myself a dress:

There's no pattern for this...well, technically, there is now:  I have a brown knit dress that I bought years ago that I copied in order to make this one, adjusting the pattern here and there to compensate for the fact that the linen doesn't stretch the way jersey knit does (e.g. a bit of extra room in the sleeves and side seams so it wouldn't end up too tight around, a slight curve in the neckline/bustline to account for the fact that the linen wouldn't hug curves the same way the jersey knit does, etc.).

Including making the pattern, this dress took me about two hours in total.  After the detail and time involved in SCA clothing, mundane clothing is SO EASY.  I love it.

The dress opens up completely.  A long tie on one side passes through an opening in the side seam, wraps around the back of the body, and then meets a short tie attached to the other side - you can see the tie in the back of the dress in the next photo. 

The sleeves are made in two pieces, with a seam on the top of the sleeve.  I'd have preferred not to have that seam there; but I had a limited amount of fabric and had to make do with what I had. 

The color is "Blue Bayou" from fabric-store.com.  It's basically my favorite color in the entire world, and I really need a cotehardie out of it next.  :)

So what IS next, anyway?
BAM is coming up in four weeks.  Last weekend I made some alterations to some of my cotehardies to adjust for recent weight loss (yay!); I've got campsite preparations to make for myself and for Caerleon; I have a new landesknect commission I've just started (omg wait til you see it, it's going to be EPIC); and I have a pair of new cotehardies I'm hoping to have done before the event - I'm in the middle of re-drafting my basic cotehardie pattern (again!) at the moment.

Out in Mundania I'm still working two jobs; but everything's going according to my plan (*knocks on wood*), so I'm hoping I can quit the extra job by this time next month and live like a person again, with free time and ACTUAL SLEEP from time to time! :D  That's going to be wonderful.

See you guys soon, with updates.


23 October 2015

About A Bag

The Hedeby Bag that I made for the A&S table at the Quest for Valhalla event last weekend:

with documentation, whipcord spool, and sewing/embroidery samples

It went over pretty well.  And I REALLY love it, and can't wait to start using it. (We'll get to that in a minute).

The bag started with two ideas: (a) more embroidery practice, and (b) I wanted to try out a period seaming technique.  The embroidery is very simple, and uses only three stitches - chain, stem, and blanket (for the teeth on the green guy).

close up of the embroidery
The embroidery motif is an amalgam of time periods:  the stuff-inside-circles was inspired by an embroidered fragment from Oseberg (9th-10th century), but the faces inside my circles are from the Isle of Lewis Chessmen (12th century). Meanwhile, the bag itself, based on handles found at Hedeby and at Birka, is 11th century.  There's a little more leeway for "artistic license" and whimsy in some areas, and this was one of those; so this project is a bit all over the place, but the end result is still a Really Cool Thing. :)

The seam technique is one detailed by Mytte Fentz in her analysis of the shirt found at Viborg.  I really want to make a Viborg shirt for one of my clients (as soon as I can afford to buy the right fabric for it), but looking at the construction and piecing of the shirt, and at several recreations of it, I realize that although I could probably whomp out at least 60% of the shirt on the machine, it will be a much better piece if I sew it entirely by hand - and I've never made a garment entirely by hand.  There are three kinds of seams in the Viborg shirt.  Two of them are easy, but one I'd never seen before, and wanted to try out on something small, so I chose this bag.  I'm seriously impressed with the seam - it's really strong and flexible, which is exactly what you want in a garment that's going to see serious and regular wear.  (It's almost like the Vikings knew what they were doing, eh?)

Fentz's diagram of this particular type of seam.
Lining and outside, front and back, are all stitched
together at once, and the raw fabric edges are auto-
matically concealed between the lining and outside.

The seam edges are decorated by a "Viking whipcord" which I wove, and stitched on.  The documentability of whipcord is sketchy at best.  We have ample evidence of four-strand braids identical to what's produced by the SCA whipcording method, and several warp-weighted looms for weaving cloth, so we know they had the technology - but we've found no actual bobbins we can tie directly into the process of weaving whipcord.  So it's one of those "SCA-isms" that we accept because it's fun and also hey, maybe, right?  The strap of the bag is also a whipcord. 

Whipcording is meant to be a two-person activity; I usually
do it alone, with my cord suspended from a curtain rod in
a hallway doorway. 

The handles were pretty tricky, and nearly gave me a heart attack at one point.  I need glasses pretty badly, you guys - little details are starting to get away from me.  Little details like, oh, say, "Hey, this isn't solid wood, it's very thin plywood!"  which nearly cost me this entire project (mostly because I was so frustrated that at several points I nearly burned the entire thing and mailed the ashes to Sweden).

L-R:  tracing the design on my wood;  design cut out;  drilling holes for the slots where the bag would be attached

L-R:  shattered the wood while making the first slot, which is how I realized I had PLYWOOD. Argh.
Glueing the wood back together;  sanding it VERY VERY CAREFULLY.

Fortunately, it all worked out okay.  Once the handles were stained and then sewn to the bag, you couldn't even see where the break had occurred.


I love the way this thing works.

Unfortunately, Friday night at the event (the competition was Saturday), I snapped one of the handles in half, right in the center.  I made a note on my documentation, and entered the bag anyway.  I'd already resigned myself to replacing the handles with thicker ones made of, you know, actual wood; but several people came to me at the event very excited about this opportunity to do some period, Viking-style repairs on the wood - because you wouldn't have simply thrown something away and replaced it back then, you'd fix it!  I'm kind of excited about the ideas I got; but I'm also on the fence about it.  The fact is, the wood is too thin for this application, and it's very flimsy.  I think I'll probably just replace them. I'm hoping I can scare up some nice pieces to use next week after payday.

Anyway, I freaking LOVE this bag, you guys.  And I'm really proud of it, warts and all. :)

Seriously. How can you not adore these
little guys?  <3


20 October 2015

Event: Quest For Valhalla

The event in Bjornsborg this past weekend was *FANTASTIC*, as Bborg events usually are.  Really great (and sometimes hilarious) fighting scenarios, nifty arts & crafts activities, spectacular persona play within the theme of the event - and as always, good friends, great food, and wall-to-wall fun. Actually, make that AMAZING food.  That was seriously one of the best feasts I've ever had.

Even though we were supposed to get a good drop in temperature, it was still too warm to wear half the Viking stuff I've been making all year.  But I did manage to get a couple of pics of me in some of it:

Simona & me

I also finally managed to get a pic of Donnchad in the yellow Viking tunic I made for him last Fall, with the red embroidery on the front placket:

Tom Hiddleston made an appearance...well, sort of:

Since this is the near-Halloween event in Bjornsborg, they held another skull-bedazzling.  I won one of the judges' favorites spots again this year, with my Frida Khalo calavera:

For a little while, I was Odin:

Odin has a migraine. Leave Odin alone.

And finally, my A&S entry, a Hedeby-style bag, about which I'll say more later this week.  Suffice to say, for now, that I love it, everyone else loved it, I broke it Friday night before I had even entered it, but now it has a story and begins to take on a life of its own, so I'm cool with it.  For now, here's a shot of it on the A&S table:

(the pretty blue beads I'm wearing in the preceding
picture were given to me by the baroness as
largesse on my A&S entry Image result for tiny heart gif)

13 October 2015

S'mo Viking

I've finally finished ALL of the items in the Great Big Viking Project! 
These are the things I've finished since LPT last month:

Here's the coat I've been working in fits and snorts for several months.  I made the gray shell in 2012 for the Battle of Ethandune event; I've just recently added the blue trim, and the burnt-orange lining. 
It's reversible!

Another Skjoldehamn-style hood, this one in Caerleon company colors. The lion appliqué down the center front was embroidered by Simona, on her fancy-schmancy embroidery machine.

A red dress that started out as another plain under dress like my black one, but which scope-crept itself into a lace-fronted loose gown, with seam and edge embroidery and hand-stitched eyelets.

My original apron dress (also from 2012), which was dyed to refresh the faded color, and then embroidered along the seams and straps.

Next on the blog: last-minute event stress (aka Wednesday). 


12 October 2015


Wow, I hadn't even realized I hadn't been blogging. Oops!  Right after Laurel's Prize I started working a second job, so I haven't had a lot of of free time.  What little I've had has been filled with finishing the embroidery on all the Viking stuff, throwing together a few complementary accessories, and working on my A&S project for The Quest For Valhalla event in Bjornsborg, which is this coming weekend.  Squee!  I'm so excited that it's finally here!

I'll post about the rest of the clothing, and the a&s project for you later this week; for now, here are a couple of pieces of generic jewelry I banged out over the weekend in my spare time:

A pair of earrings, with green fluorite beads, tiny faceted pyrite beads, and copper-colored brass fittings. This is to replace a pair almost exactly like these that I made years ago and then lost.

Agate, glass, wood, and resin beads, on 20ga memory wire.  I can wear this as a necklace, or wrap it up like this and wear it as a bracelet. 

Image result for tiny heart gif  SKULL BEADS Image result for tiny heart gif


19 September 2015

The Great Big Viking Project

The new Viking wardrobe project is nearly complete.  I've hinted at it a bit over the past couple of months (click the "Viking" tag at the bottom of this post to see), but I'm finally ready to show you [most of] my new stuff.

The full story is this: in 2012 I made a single Viking outfit to wear to the Battle of Ethandune Viking-themed event in the barony of Bjornsborg.  The event itself was EPIC.  The outfit was...pretty half-assed.  I didn't do any research on it, and I barely put any effort into the outfit itself - I didn't care for Viking at the time, and I hadn't planned to wear it more than the once.  Oh, how wrong I was about all of that.  Over the last few years I've done a ton of Viking clothing for other people, and along the way I've had to stop and do a bit of research for each project, and the more I learned, the more I became fascinated by the culture and dress of the Vikings of the 10th-11th centuries.

So this year I set about immersing myself in all things Viking.  I've been doing a TON of reading and web-surfing, I've made progress re-fashioning the original set of clothes for myself, and also am creating an entirely new Viking wardrobe so that this October, when Bjornsborg is holding another Viking-themed event, I'll not only be able to keep in-theme the entire event, but I'll also look fully and correctly dressed.

The first half of the project was to make-over the original outfit (here's a pic of it on me, and the full outfit on a table).  I showed you what I did to the under dress in this post in July.  The blue apron dress that went with it has been altered to fit me better, and re-dyed to refresh the color, but I haven't done anything else to it as yet.  I also took the coat completely apart and am currently in the process of creating a new lining and some trim pieces for it.  I'll show you pics of that apron dress and the coat when they're both finished.

The second part of the project was to create a few new complete outfits for myself.  I decided to use the project to hone my meager embroidery skills. I'm no expert, but I've learned a lot, gotten a lot of practice, and I'm really happy with my results on the following pieces:  

Seam and edge embroidery on the linen Skjoldehamn hood (August 5th)

Blue linen under dress (after the dress found at Eura, Finland), with seam embroidery.

A plain, black, linen under dress with
layered chain stitching along the cuffs
and neckline (May 2015)

Linen apron dress with hand-sewn loops and loop straps, and embroidery on
the seams and top/bottom edges.

Black linen apron dress with seam embroidery, top/bottom edge embroidered
botanical design with rayon ribbon appliqué'd across the top and bottom edges
(the embroidery on the straps is as yet unfinished)

Blue, open-front apron dress with seam, edge, and strap
embroidery, with contrast fabric at front opening
and lower hem

Whew! This has all taken me months to get done in my spare time, and the Great Big Viking Project isn't nearly complete.  Right now I'm gearing up for LPT (and trying to ignore the nightmares about it I keep having where I suck so badly at what I do that I get fired from the SCA!), but as soon as I get home I'll have more pics of more new Viking stuff for you - a couple of things I'm showing at LPT and don't want to post here yet, and some things that are in-progress but on hold until after I get back from the event (like that original coat, some jewelry, and a few small accessory items).

Meanwhile, some random thoughts about this project:
  • I. Love. That. Eura dress!   While I'm comfy in my plain black under dress and my blue-and-green tunic, the Eura dress is SO COMFY, and VERY flattering on me, even with nothing worn on top.  I really want to make some more in that style. 
  • I think I've finally reached the point where I actually enjoy embroidering! I had a lot of fun working on these pieces, and I have some decorative coming up that I can't wait to get into!  Because, as my roommate keeps reminding me, I am a Crazy Person. 

See you soon!

16 September 2015

Laurel's Prize Tourney

....is over. Thank god.  Actually, I had a freaking BLAST, I'm just glad the stress is over.  I was so nervous about this event that I stressed myself into puking my guts out for three days before the event.  Fail.

But LPT was completely awesome.  I had so much fun I had a hugely busy day.  I met so many amazing artisans, and basically got to sit around and talk shop for eight hours straight.  It was mentally exhausting, but it was SO much fun!  I got really good feedback on my recent projects and my work in general, and I have some really nifty new ideas and lots of notes scribbled hastily on a sheet of paper that I still need to try to transcribe into something I can use (seriously, have you seen my handwriting? This is no small feat.  Even *I* can't read it half the time).

So.  Pics from the event, and I'll talk about stuff a bit more in depth in the next post (which I thought I posted already, actually, whoops):

First iteration of my table display, with jewelry...

...about which no one gave a shit, but EVERYONE wanted
to see my painted boxes, so I ended up changing things around

You know that thing where you go to pack a suitcase
before a trip and a cat appears in it? Rory apparently wanted
to go to LPT with me the day I was working out the display
on my cutting table at home last week.

A closer look at some of my embroidery, photo by a friend


Me in one of my new Viking outfits
 (Aside:  Idk wtf this pose was, someone snapped this as I was on my way to the food because OMG FOOD NOW and I almost just ate her, I was so hungry.  The other thing I'm doing in this photo:  wearing the outfit that was supposed to be on my mannequin.  I had several people remark on the fact that my display had little to no height element, and see how your neighbor has all these stands and height variation?  *facepalm*  I had an unanticipated wardrobe malfunction while I was setting everything up, and ended up not being able to wear the dress I showed up to the event wearing, and instead put on the outfit that I had been about to dress Violet in.  Violet herself spent the day on the floor behind me, stark naked, hehe.  Oh, well.  Things happen). 

Simona della Luna and I, giddy and nervous after set-up in the am

I really can't express enough how much fun I had at the event, what a positive experience the whole thing was, and how grateful I am for the friends I took with me and the new friends I made while I was there.  I had been so terrified of this new thing that I stressed myself into throwing up for three days before we left.  I'm so immensely relieved that everything not only turned out okay, but pretty much turned out to be one of my favorite events, ever.

Next up:  Bjornsborg's Quest For Valhalla, in October - and the post I thought I posted already, and the reason for all this Viking craziness.

Meanwhile, I give you:

...some more of this cat.


26 August 2015

A Very Wrinkly Bliaut

Another commission finished, yay! 

Another bliaut, for the same client as the blue and magenta one, and the viking coat.

click to embiggen

  • Gold linen with black linen trim, lining, and applied neckline and upper sleeve contrast bands.  
  • Same pattern as the blue and magenta one, with a different neckline. 
  • Caerleon livery, yay! 
  • Side-laced, with hand-sewn eyelets.
  • Lions (7) hand-embroidered (*fingers fall off*) 

Yes, I could have ironed this before I photographed it.  But...I didn't.  :P 

Closeup of the embroidered lions.  I'd originally planned to appliqué these,  but they're only about an inch and a half high - way too small to appliqué on the machine without it becoming a huge mess.  I decided to stitch them down by hand instead; but seeing that the white embroidery thread I was using to edge them was a completely different white than the linen I cut the lions out of, I decided to just embroider the entire thing(s) instead.

I finished the lions on the neckline facing before attaching it to the body of the dress, then ran the lining in last, so that all of the seams were enclosed within the lining and the back of the embroidery would be fully hidden/protected. 

I'm rather pleased with the way these little guys came out. 

The gold stripe along the edges of all the black pieces is a couched cord of embroidery floss.


I have one commission piece to do in September, but first I have to make it to/through LPT without spontaneously combusting from stress.  :D