30 November 2016

Belated Event Follow-Up

The good news is that I DID find my box of 14th-century stuff, so I did not go to Lions naked. The event was fabulously fun, exciting, and beautiful, though a bit on the chilly side at night.  My poor tent, which was brand new in January, caught in a tornado in March, and has been breaking down bit by bit ever since that event, finally gave up the ghost when I tried to set it up at the event, so I slept in my friend's car the first night we were there.  As much as we wanted to stick around for the post-court party the next night, we opted to drive the hour-and-a-half home and luxuriate in hot showers and warm beds instead of weathering another frigid night outdoors.

me and my shabby parasol

Since then, I've been hard at work whipping my new fixer-upper house into shape.  I'm pleased to report that I have - mostly - got the sewing room together, although it's not remotely decorated or even within earshot of "done".  But I can work in it, which is fortunate, because I have a commission coming up in the next week or so (more Caerleon company livery, nothing terribly out of the ordinary - which is good. I don't think I could handle anything majorly complicated right now, with all the other work I still have to do). Updates on both the room and the commission coming soon.

19 October 2016

Oh, Dear

In my head, the move went like this: 

The movers would show up, move all our stuff, and by that evening - or possibly the next day - we'd begin unpacking and setting up house.  My sewing shop would be up and running again in a matter of days, and I'd make a pretty, new, blue cotehardie to wear to the upcoming Tournament of Lions event - I mean, there'd be three weeks to work on it, right? No problem! I can whomp out a cotehardie with one eye tied behind my back!

What actually happened was that everything that could go wrong, did.  The short version is, we've only JUST begun setting up and unpacking this week.  Lions is in two days, and guess which box of garb I CANNOT find anywhere?  That's right: the one with all my 14th century stuff.  None of which even fit me when I packed it up two months ago - I have two days to locate it and alter it, or, I guess...

I'm kidding.  I can make due with piecing the rest of what I have together, if I need to.  If there's one thing this move has taught me, it's to resist panic and think up another solution when the first idea falls through. 

Pics, hopefully, after the event.  With any luck I won't be wearing blue jeans and sneakers in any of them.


10 October 2016

One Month Later...

The move is technically complete, but there've been some hiccups - and that's putting it mildly.

Suffice to say (rather than sit here at my keyboard and complain about things, which nobody wants to hear) I haven't gotten any work done. I wanted to have a new outfit made in time for the Tournament of Lions event on the 21st, but that hasn't/isn't going to happen. I should be able to find a moment in the next ten days to alter something old to fit; or at least to throw together something relatively early-14th-century that's baggy enough to just throw on, at the very least.

If I can locate my boxes of garb.  And, you know, shoes. Veils. Camping equipment...? I have no idea where any of my stuff is.

I'll be back when I have a solution to ...*gestures vaguely at everything*


08 September 2016


So this is a thing that is happening now:

I'm moving house! Disassembling my sewing room and packing it all up was one of the first "Holy cow, this is REAL" moments.  I feel like an arm's been cut off.  (I feel the same way about having packed up my guitars and music, actually. Thank goodness my bikes are still out and ride-able!)

So what's next? All the stress. All the worry. Tons of work, in my old house and the new place. And as soon as I get landed and set up, I have a dress to make in a BIG hurry for Bjornsborg's Tournament of Lions on October 21st.  (Back up plan: attend the event in jeans and/or naked?)

Hopefully this will all go smoothly, and I'll have new craft room pictures for you in a couple of weeks.

Wish me luck!


04 August 2016

In Which Our Heroine Sees Her Shadow After Gulf Wars and Goes Back To Sleep

Hi, my name is Madylyne, and it has been four months since my last post.  *shame*

If you follow me on Facebook or know me in real life, you know that the last few months have been really rough. I disappeared from the world for a little bit; but now I'm doing great, and I'm back in the saddle. Hooray! (And whew!)

What have I been working on?

I did a couple of Viking aprons for a Pennsic-bound buddy, and a  HOLY ONESIE OF ANTIOCH  full-length Teutonic hooded robe for a friend over the summer, but I neglected to take any pictures, as they were both time-sensitive jobs and we didn't get time for a photoshoot.

What's next? 

The last couple of weeks I've been cleaning the heck out of my craft room - moving furniture around, rethinking storage solutions, hanging shelves in closets.

The next stop is to try on every piece of garb I own to see if it still fits me. I revamped my cotehardie collection this past spring, and I've lost about 15lb since then, so I'm fairly certain that the entire contents of my garb closet is too big again.  There are a LOT of alterations in my immediate future.

And then? We'll see.

See you soon! 

01 April 2016

In Which Our Heroine Awakens From Her Post-War Nap

It's been a few weeks, but I finally feel rested.  It always helps me, after an event - especially one I've been working full-time preparing for - to center myself with non-SCA stuff when I get back.  So, I've been gardening, and riding my bike, and sewing some mundane clothing. 

I have a bunch of pics from war this year, and I'm working on getting them all into a Flickr album (or something) that I can share here.  Here are a very few, for now:

Sunday night, after a day of camp setup, I
helped serve feast! I'd never done that before;
and it was SO MUCH FUN.

ON ONE OF THE OVENS! I took really good care of it all
week, and ever since, and thankfully, it's already mostly
healed, and it looks like there won't even be much of a scar.

So here's a thing: 

I FINALLY got some pictures of the flag ropeline around our campsite, you guys!! You've seen the flags in a couple of posts before. They're made of heavy-weight cotton (originally Ikea RITVA curtain panels, purchased second-hand from my old dance studio when it went out of business a few years ago).  They're each 9x12", double-sided, serged closed on the edges, with a rod-pocket in the top to slip over the ropes.  The fence stakes started life as 8' long 1x2" sleepers from the hardware store - $1.50 each; each cut in half, cut to a point on one end, sanded smooth, and stained/sealed.  There's a 1/2" copper tube strap (5pk/$2 at the hardware store, in the plumbing section) attached to the top of each stake for the rope to go through.  So far the entire fenceline has cost me a whopping $30; and I've got plenty more materials on hand to expand as our camp gets bigger. 

The entrance to our camp.  We often use the ropeline as traffic
control; this year we used it for safety, too, by placing it in
front of a tent-rope trap that kept tripping pople before
we got the whole camp set up.

Looking down the outside of camp, with the silk banners we
all helped to paint in 2012. 

A painted cotton banner I made in 2011.

From the opening ceremonies on Tuesday mornings, all kingdoms lining up to begin negotiating the war treaty. 
This is the most SCA picture ever. 

Me carrying the banner in the procession
to the castle (with my dress falling off my
shoulders and the surcote too low in the
front, because by the time I got to war,
they were too big already! ARGH!)


Just Vikin' around. 
Sadly, I did not manage to get pics of me in that purple men's Viking outfit. I promise you some, though, because...well, because I promised you some, and the entire ensemble looks pretty damned spiffy, if I do say so myself.  (In fact, a friend of mine liked it so much he's commissioned one for himself!) I didn't get to wear most of my cotehardies, because they were all too big again by the time I got to war (ARGH!); nor any of my pretty, fancy court things, because all the fancy court-type stuff was called on account of ...


After that was overwith, Caerleon bugged out to a hotel for the night...because hot showers, and because WALLS, y'all.  I admit to being thoroughly unhinged for most of that evening. I've been through several tornadic events in my life - this was actually the least severe of them all, but it brought back some pretty terrible memories, and I was kind of having some epic disaster-flashback issues that evening.   We came back the next morning to clean up and break camp.  I stayed until Saturday to help out the folks I rode with who were working at the merchants' offices.  Friday and Saturday I spent walking around in jeans and a hoodie, because all of my clothes and things were soaked and had been hurriedly crammed into bags into a trailer during a downpour on Friday. I had to laugh - I've made a mask every year for three years now, intending to get to a masked ball at war or some other event, and I never end up making it.  This year I DID make it to the masque at the Known World Party Friday night (which was held inside Beade Hall with donated food and booze from many, many generous people who had such things survive Thursday) - and I showed up wearing jeans, a hoodie, and a generous helping of embarrassment and disappointment.  Oh, well.  Next year?

A flooded pond on site, taken as we GTFO'd on Saturday.
Goodbye, Mississippi.  Please be nicer to us next year.

So, all of that being said, 

I had a FANTASTIC WAR.  Before the tornado I got out and participated in the event in ways I'd never done before.  I met a ton of new people, made some new friends, stepped out of my comfort zone in a constructive way, and had a fabulous time exploring parts of the event I'd always wanted to explore but hadn't.  My health was REALLY nice to me this time around, too, and the freedom was an absolute joy.  I took a HILARIOUS class on ancient-Roman-style swearing that was really interesting and educational as well as lewd and fun - I lost the teacher's card, but if any of you were at the event and know who it was, send me a link to her page! 

Life was really scary and chaotic Thursday; but Friday and Saturday I saw 3,000+ of my fellow SCAdians banding together to help one another in the aftermath of the storms.  Some people lost everything they had, but every single one of us that I could see pitched in to spend the last two days of the event cleaning up, helping each other break down camp and get cars out of the mud in the parking area and on the saturated roads, and make sure that everyone had shelter and food and a way off site.  Everywhere I went those two days, people were full of care and concern for people they didn't even know - and many of us got to know each other through swapping stories of how we all fared during the worst of the storm (shout-out to some of Calontir's heralds, whose names escape me, but whose stories of holding their main pavilion that evening, and whose tale of "How John the Tall Saved the Children" at another event, really made my day on Friday!) 

This is the reason I love the SCA, even when the occasional drama and politics get me down - our love of this game makes us family, and when the chips are down, we are all there for each other, whether we know each other or not.  And whether you, Dear Reader, were at the event or not, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you for being family to me and to each other.  If you were there, or if you've had an event that went similarly (I hear Lilies War gets pretty interesting), thank you for caring and helping each other.  Thank you so much.

22 March 2016


As I'm sure you've heard by now, Gulf Wars was a little more natural-disaster-y than is usual.   From what we can gather, an EF-1 tornado touched down very near to site on the afternoon of Thursday, March 18th.  There have been rumors of a second one that afternoon in a different location (still near, but off site), but I don't know if that's been confirmed or not. What I can tell you for sure was that it was pretty damned scary.  This was my fifth tornado, although it's not exactly something you get used to, ever - and I've never been camping when it happened until last week. Microbursts, straightline winds, CTG lightning, falling trees, hail,  and flooding are even less fun when you're waiting out the storm in what amounts to a giant Ziploc baggie.

The back half of war was pretty much effectively canceled, and 3,000 people came together as one big family to help each other clean up, salvage, remove trash, feed each other, shelter each other, and just generally make sure everyone was okay.  There was a lot of chaos right after the storm - there was a bit of a meat-grinder of frightened, stampeding humans trying to GTFO for a while - but for the most part people took care of each other, and that was really wonderful to see.   Barring a few concussions and a couple of broken feet, I don't think we had any very serious injuries, and no one was lost or killed.  All of the animals - horses, hounds, falcons and birds, and all the pets and service animals - made it out just fine, thank goodness.

Up until then, war was SO much fun. I have pics of the ravine battle, the campsite, the feast, and a couple of other things that I'll share later as soon as I get organized and finish unpacking and doing laundry.  (By the way, my new tent held up like a champ!)  For now, though:

(Reportedly a photo of the actual storm that hit GWXXV from the local media,
though I have no idea if it really is. This is just what's going around Facebook).

07 March 2016

Gulf Wars!

Only four days left before Gulf Wars, you guys!  And guess what?  I finally got to quit my night job!!!  *DANCES AROUND IN CIRCLES**   I've had time to actually get all of my chores and prep for war done on time, and I'll be taking commissions again once we all get home.  YAY!  So excited.  (In case you couldn't tell).

Completed in the last two weeks:

1.  A man's Viking tunic, embroidered.  There are pants and cloth winingas to go with it;  I'll have pics of the finished outfit after war.

2.  A new Caerleon company surcote, which I made from a black linen cotehardie that I made back in 2012 (I don't have pics of it, sorry).  I closed up the front and cut out the sides, over-dyed the whole thing with a fresh coat of black to spruce up the color; then added the gold binding at the top (cut from some lightweight damask from my scrap pile), the white faux-fur on the sides, and three appliqué'd lions down the front of the skirt.


4.  Seven new flags for the Caerleon campsite ropeline (five pictured) and a new canvas banner/flag to hang outside of my tent (that's the big one on the left):

5.  More canvas bags, this time made from a blue, heavy cotton with a decorative weave and stitch, from which I removed a TON of orange thread in January:

L-R:  finished bag; fabric before thread removal; fabric after

6.  Fixed up this mask for the  Known World Party next Friday night - this year's theme is that of a Venetian-style masque:

L: finished, painted with teal/black nail polish, with dark flowers, star-shaped
spangles, and "raven" feathers (dyed turkey feathers from the craft store);
R:  The mask as purchased in NOLA before Gulf Wars (aside from a bit of nail
polish on the nose - I almost forgot to take a "before" picture), where a few of
us spent a day before heading to the war last year.

I've also done a million small alterations on my older cotehardies; the green Burgundian dress which I made last summer and then never wore; re-painted a small wooden chest I made last that had a horrible finish on it; and completed a Sekrit!Projekt! about which I'll post after I'm back from war.

I'll have pics of everything when I'm back. This week I've got to run a thousand errands, and finish packing - which just seems a Danaidean task, at this point, but I'll get there - and then I'm on the road Friday afternoon. Whee!

TO WAR!   

01 March 2016


(It would probably help if my
mannequin wasn't too tall)

Here's the second of a pair of new cotehardies, made from stash fabric (the first was the pink one):

(The white and purple ribbons aren't sticking around; they're just here for the photo. The whipcord that I'd been planning to use to lace this dress was too thick for the eyelets I made, so I'll need to weave a new one).  

Notice anything about the hemline in this photo?  I didn't see it myself, not until I tried the thing on - the left side of the hem was a full 5" shorter than the right side.  Whaaaat??  I have no idea HOW I did that.  But hey - screw-ups are period, right? 

( >_<)

Lots more stuff coming up, really soon!

15 February 2016

Canvas Bags For Camp

I'm spending this three-day weekend on war prep, which, among other things, includes replacing a couple of the modern bags that I use around camp.   Neither bag is period in style; but at least they're not, you know, plastic.  One day I'd love to have an encampment that is 100% period, but for now, I'm getting rid of modern items where I can, a piece or two at at time. 

Ikea's iconic, blue shopping bag is perfect for carrying all of my camp bedding, but it isn't deep enough to accommodate a pillow, and it's kind of screamingly Ikea. 

I copied the pattern, and added 4" of height to the side pieces.  

Box-bottom tote

This one's just a large tote bag, with a box-bottom and a long strap.  I plan on using this to store/carry all of the table dressing things I made for Caerleon, as well as the flags I made for the campsite fence line. 

Both bags are made of the cotton canvas from the cover I made for my old EZ-Up pavilion, back in 2013 - the frame broke long ago and couldn't be repaired, and the cover has just been sitting around all this time.    

14 February 2016

Another 16th Century Shirt

I had so much fun making that trio of shirts for my friend the other week that I made one for me! Yay!

It's ruffly.

I have absolutely nothing to wear with it;  I made it so I'd have something comfy and period to sleep in.  Although, now that it's made, it's clamoring for a red kirtle to wear over it.  I hit it over the head with a frying pan to shut it up, though.  I have waaaaay too much to do to get ready for war to think about new clothes that aren't already on my list!

NO, war prep isn't already making me crazy, why do you ask?


08 February 2016


Yep.  I just never remember to ask someone to take pictures of me.  Here are some selfies, though, of the finished pink dress and new ear cauls.

In my uber-Medieval living room, with
turban and brown linen/blue cotton hood.

At the actual event site, with blue velvet dress
and a bit more cleavage than I meant to show.



05 February 2016

Ear Cauls, Four Ways

Two years ago I made this set of red and gold ear cauls.  Last year at Gulf Wars, one got thoroughly crushed when I packed to head back home.  I decided to make a new set, and I had three goals in mind:
  1. not red and gold
  2. sturdier construction
  3. more secure way of keeping them on my head
Keeping those goals in mind, allow me to show you my new cauls:

1. Oops. 

They're totally red and gold. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just thought I'd do a new color this time. Turns out, this was the fabric that I liked the best. It's left over from the red, faux-silk sari that I used to create the trim on the red and white Habsburg gown that I made for Candlemas in 2015.   I'm rather proud of myself for using the fabric the way I did: there's far less applied decoration on these, since the fabric itself is jacqard and brocade, and there's a little decorative border between the two already.  I aligned that line vertically, so that I can flip the cauls around and wear either the red side or the gold side facing outward.  It's almost like having two sets of these!

2. Sturdier Construction

This time, rather than creating a papier-maché form, I made something more similar to plaster, with layers of buckram soaked in a mixture of white glue and water. They took about four hours to dry completely. They're a bit flexible, but extremely strong.  They're a little heavier than the papier-maché set, which will help keep them in place.  I changed the shape a bit by forming the cauls over a little glass bowl from Ikea, instead of over the wire spider that I used the last time.

Clockwise from top left: glass Ikea bowl; buckram caul
forms; scissors; sari fabric scraps; buckram trimmed from
edges of cauls

Between this stuff, the spray adhesive, and the
hot glue I used to attach the trim, I pretty much
glued myself to everything I own for three days
in a row. The other day I glued a box of baking
soda to my bathroom counter.  I have glue issues.

Last time, I attached the fabric to the forms with spray adhesive. It was quick, but that was both good and bad: it was so quick that I didn't have time to smooth out the fabric over the forms as much as I'd have liked. This time, I used a mixture of white glue and water on a paintbrush to attach the fabric...but because this glue was so much slower than the spray, and so wet that it kept softening the forms and making them mooshy, I actually had a really hard time getting the fabric to stay on the form:

A terrible idea in progress.

Just a tip: don't do what I did, with the bobby pins.  I've had good luck using them to secure delicate fabrics for sewing purposes - they hold well enough to get a piece through the sewing machine, without poking holes in the fabric.  In this case, though, they made the edges of the cauls extremely lumpy.  I had to soak this caul to soften it completely, remove the fabric, then re-form the caul over the bowl. I ended up using the spray adhesive to attach the fabric again after all.

The cauls, overall, are a bit lumpier than I'd intended, but far more smooth than the last set.  It's something to keep working on.  I think next time I do this, I'll cover the forms with something thick and soft, like felt, to smooth out any rough spots in the forms, before putting the decorative fabric onto them.

After both cauls were covered, I used hot-glue to affix a band of brown upholstery gimp to the edges, and a wee strip of gold metallic ribbon across the center line of the fabric and just inside the gimp around the edges.

3. More Secure

My last set were independently suspended from my circlet by little metal hooks, so that I could pop them on and off easily.  It was a neat idea, and they stayed in place really well as long as my hair was wrapped around them snugly, and my veil was wrapped around it all so tightly that the veil slipped around on my hair and all over my face.  It was kind of a pain in the butt.  Also, my hair isn't long enough anymore to help that whole situation out.

This time I attached each one to the ends of a linen band - which I made too short, and which slipped off my hair right away.  I replaced the band with a black, velvet ribbon, with the velvet nap facing inward so that it actually grips my hair or a snood and doesn't slide around.  My circlet sits on top of the ribbon and above the cauls, which helps to keep them in place, too.

The finished set is much more secure - and comfortable - and, I think, prettier than the last set:

Top: gold side out, and red side, with metal circlet; both with single veil
Bottom: red side with two veils; gold side; with embroidered ribbon band

My circlet got a bit of an update, too.  It was silver-colored brass with black antiquing in the detail. It was also scratched and tarnishing.  I cleaned it up (with toothpaste, because I couldn't find my actual jewelry cleaner), and then coated it with gold nail polish the same way I did the buttons on my pink cotehardie.  I really like the way it came out.  And maybe now it'll stop turning my forehead green.

Whew!  That took a few days longer than I thought it would.  I really bit off more than I could chew for Candlemas this year.  Which is ironic, really, considering that I opted out of both Candlemas A&S as well as Kingdom A&S the following weekend because I haven't had time to really do a job on something special.  So instead of taking on a new, big project, I pecked myself to death this past month with a bunch of little ones.  I need a brain transplant some days, you guys.  Oy.


The Pinkhardie

I'm starting a new wardrobe re-fit project, like the one I did with my Viking clothing last year, and my Florentine outfits the year before.  The first two were about making both sets of clothing more period-appropriate and replacing worn-out pieces.  This time around, I'm pretty much replacing my entire Gothic wardrobe.  Most of it is 4-6 years old, faded, worn out, and none of it fits me correctly anymore. 

I started with making over the blue velveteen cotehardie, which you can read about here. After having tried a few different versions of my cotehardie pattern in the past couple of years, I decided that I really loved the way the blue velveteen fits better than anything else I've tried, so I've gone back to that one. I drafted a new pattern from the blue velveteen and ran a couple of mock-ups to make sure it would work.

The next step was making two new cotehardies with that new-old pattern, both from stash fabric.  This pink one is plain linen, with bodice and sleeves lined in white linen, and buttoned in front and on the sleeves.

You can see where the bodice lining stops in this picture, because the fabric is so light!  I have a white underdress that I plan to wear with it, though, which cleans that up when it's actually on me, thank goodness.  That'll become an issue when it gets hot later this year, though, especially with the lining already in the top half of the dress.  I may go back and line the skirt; or I may just make a plain, white, linen underskirt that I can wear with more things than just this.



Finishing this dress involved some color changes. First, I tweaked the color of a dress a little bit by dyeing it in a bath of plain, black tea. The pink was a little bit too bright and Easter-egg-y for me; I really prefer a more ballet-slipper pink color like you'd get from a natural dye.  The tea toned down the pink to something more like you'd get with madder and less like Paas.

Photographing pink is hard.  The picture at left is NOT a good representation of the actual color of the fabric; but it does a pretty good job of illustrating the difference the tea staining made in the fabric. This fabric came from Fabric-Store.com; their photo of the fabric (here) is pretty close to its actual color. The real finished color is kind of on the line between pink and pale peach.

This is actually pretty close.
Stupid pink. Stupid camera.

It's weird for me, wearing pink. I think in my life I've only ever owned like three pieces of pink clothing. I really love this dress, though.

Top: single coat of polish (left); two coats (right)
Bottom: unpolished buttons (left) and after two coats (right)

The second adjustment was in the buttons.   I had some 5/8" silver buttons with a pretty compass rose design on them that were almost perfect with this dress, except that they were a really dark, cool, silver tone.  A couple of coats of gold nail polish ("I Married A Gold Digger", by Orchid Nail Laquer) took care of that: 

(This is the dress, by the way, on which I used the Washi tape to help me with the buttonholes, which I talked about briefly last week). 


What's Next?

Candlemas is tomorrow.  After that it's all Gulf Wars all the time until March 11th.  I'll be finishing a second new cotehardie, altering and updating a couple of older ones, sprucing up some accessories and making some new ones, and talking about a whole bunch of changes going on with my campsite arrangements for both myself and for Caerleon.  


04 February 2016

Hiatus Hiatus: Three 16th Century Shirts

I'm still not taking commissions - not while I'm working two jobs. Because effectively working three jobs was killing me, and I was blowing deadlines and making mistakes, and I just refuse to deliver that kind of product to my fellow SCAdians. 

That said, I did make one small exception this week, for a friend who desperately needed some quick 16th century shirts:

There are two knee-ish-length shirts for my client and her son, and a full-length version for her daughter. (The one in the picture will be much larger on my small client than it is on my me-sized mannequin).  They're are made of white, handkerchief-weight linen, based on a pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 4. Adaptations to the pattern include a small gusset at the collar/shoulder seam for flexibility in the neckline, and the omission of any ruffles or pleats at the collar and sleeves (my client intends to add these at a later date, but wanted the shirts made without them for now).

The collar on the adult shirt was made from a scrap of fabric that
my client had with black machine embroidery already on it.

Three shirts, finished and ready to deliver.

This is the first time I've made this pattern, and I really like it.  Each shirt took me about 3 hours from cutting to finishing.  Now I want one of my own.

Not that I have anything to wear with one.



03 February 2016

A New Kind of Crazy

So, what do you do when you have an ape-ton of projects to complete before an event? Sit in front of a tv and learn a new skill in your "spare time", of course! 

Yeah, I have no idea.  Actually, this only took me a couple of hours, on a night I was taking a break, and all my stuff is done (posts soon), so this was a fun little diversion. 

I've always thought drawn-thread embroidery was lovely, and had intended to learn to do it "someday".  Then a laurel I spoke to at LPT in September about my other embroidery brought up the subject, and the idea has been standing at the door of my mind making faces at me through the window ever since.  So a couple of weeks ago I grabbed a linen scrap out of the trash and decided to try it out. 

  1. I removed about 14 threads from this fabric.  MAN that was a pain in the butt.  I hadn't even realized it, but the variation in the thread widths in this fabric which give it the "nubbly" texture make it really difficult to remove them one at a time!  I'll have to remember that on future projects. 
  2. I used plain sewing thread for this project, first to gather groups of 4 fabric threads together on one side of the design...
  3. ...and then to gather the same 4 threads on the other side, so that they were grouped like ladder rungs. 
  4. Then I used a length of white embroidery floss to weave every two "rungs" together in an X 

I also experimented with using a colored thread to do the weaving; and also with weaving 4 "rungs" together instead of two - you can see that it didn't come out very well.  the groups of 4 are very bunchy. The completed panel is about about 1cm wide.

My second attempt was on a smoother, lighter-weight piece of linen.  It was easier to remove the threads from the fabric, since this fabric wasn't nubbly; but because threads are thinner, they broke often during the process.  Because they were smoother, though, it was much easier to get groups of 4 woven together, and the design came out a lot better on this one.  The completed panel here is about 1/2", which I believe was about 20 threads, if I remember correctly.

This piece ended up being made into a coif; but I don't have pictures for you because it ended up being too small for my head (oops), and a picture of it laying flat just looks like a wad of fabric.  I think I'll give it to a friend of mine this weekend.  

I REALLY ENJOY DOING THIS.  I think my exact words, to my roommate, on the first attempt were that this is "exactly the kind of crazy I want to be."  I have GOT to do more of this!  There are so many cool things you can do, so many different designs and uses for them!  YAY!  

27 January 2016

Cheating FTW

I have to share a nifty thing with you guys.

My shiny new sewing machine is down for repairs, so I've been using my old 1994 Singer 2517.  It's a hoss, but definitely leaves something to be desired in the buttonhole department.  It's almost completely a manual process - each of the four sides of a buttonhole are stitched individually, and the wheel has to be turned to the next setting for each side. Stitch, turn, stitch, turn, start, stop, start, stop, wash, rinse, repeat.  It's got a clear foot that allows you to see markings on the fabric to guide your buttonholes, but it's actually really hard to see any detail through, and doesn't let the fabric slip under it smoothly at all, so I end up using my regular steel one - and no matter which foot I use, the feed dogs walk the fabric ALL OVER THE PLACE when the buttonhole settings are in use, so it requires a LOT of pressure and fidgeting to get the things to come out relatively straight.

So on my latest project (which I'll show you in a few days once it's finished), I tried something new:

That's Washi tape.  Washi tape is a craft masking tape that is re-usable and doesn't leave a sticky residue on surfaces.  My roommate uses a lot of it in her paper crafts; she got this measuring tape Washi in a sampler pack she ordered (Etsy? I think?), and passed it along to me. It only goes to 16" and and then repeats; but the measurements are accurate, and so I've been finding lots of ways to use it in my sewing room - there's a yard-long strip on my table in front of my machine, and a 6" strip on the machine it self for a quick guide. 

On my most recent project, I also used it to help me make a nice set of buttonholes.  I wrapped one piece of tape around the edge of my garment, to line up all the buttonholes correctly near the edge of the fabric, measured my buttons, and then placed a second piece of tape on the outside - all I had to do was go from one piece of tape to the other, and I used the measurements on the tape to space the buttonholes out evenly.  I still had to put a lot of pressure on the fabric to keep the buttonholes straight, but that was the ONLY thing I had to worry about. And when I was finished, the tape lifted right off the fabric, didn't pull the fibers at all, and didn't leave anything behind. 

It worked GREAT!  I had 42 buttonholes to do on this proejct, and the tape was a HUGE time-saver. In the 22 years I've been using this machine, I've never had it go as smoothly as it did with the Washi tape!  I will definitely be doing this again! 

Until I get my new machine repaired, that is.  

18 January 2016

Blue Velvet Redux

new dress, for Candlemas 2016
In 2012, for my second Candlemas, I made a midnight blue velveteen gown that was more or less cotehardie-ish, with a shimmery leaf-green lining in the sleeves, embroidered with gold thread and tiny faux pearls. It had seen some wear, and was far too small for me, the last time I tried it on (six months ago), so I decided to adjust the sizing a bit, and to change the look of the whole dress.

In an awesome turn of events, when I tried the dress on a couple of weeks ago, before starting this project, it fit me perfectly!  Yay!  No re-sizing necessary!

Here's What Changed: 

1.      I removed all of the gold metallic embroidery and beading, steamed out the impressions left by the decoration and brushed up the fabric's nap with a soft brush to smooth it back out. 
2.      The original front lacing placket was removed and replaced with buttons. 
3.      I unstitched the neckline edges and flattened them out, then re-shaped the neckline at the bust. 
4.     The neckline was a wee bit deeper in the front than I wanted before, so I added a 1/2" edge binding in a linen the same color as the velveteen. 
5.      A twisted, blue, cotton, embroidery floss was couched in along the join between he body fabric and the edge binding. 
6.      I removed the green sleeve linings were removed and replaced with a blue washed-silk fabric from stash.
7.    Finally, I put smaller buttons onto the sleeves.  The size and design don't match the front buttons, but the metallic tones of both styles look great together, and I like having smaller buttons on the sleeves, anyway - less banging my arms on feast tables. 

The dress in 2012, made from a pair of
cotton velveteen curtains purchased at Ikea

Buttons and edge binding on new dress

One Last Thing

I tried out an embossing technique that I'd seen online - there are many tutorials on YouTube and on various blogs out there, this is one.  Basically, you wet the fabric with a spray bottle, place a rubber or foam stamp underneath it, and use a hot iron (without steam) to dry the fabric against the pattern of the stamp.  I thought it would be nifty to have a band across the lower hem, and one at the hips -  similar to the decorative bands in this image from Les Belle Heures du Duc du Berry.  At first, it looked fantastic: 


After a day or two, though, the embossed design simply disappeared from the fabric.  I tried it a few different ways (wetting the fabric on the inside, the outside, different iron settings, using starch, not using starch), but no matter what I did, the pressed pattern simply would not stay where i put it - after hanging for a couple of days, it just vanished. Oh, well.  It was a neat idea.  

Okay, Two Last Things

I thought I might "reupholster" my old red ear cauls for this outfit, as well, before I remembered that one had gotten badly crushed at war last year, and I'd thrown the pair out and resolved to make a new set when I needed one.  

Instead, since I felt like trying out something new, and didn't want to spend the time on making a new set of cauls, I decided to try my hand at making a bourrelet, or padded roll headpiece, instead - which, of course, ended up taking more time than a new set of cauls would have.  Whatever. :) 

Cotton/poly damask scraps from stash, over-embroidered along the fabric's design, with (plastic?) silver trim, plastic pearl beads, and a glass "ruby" and plastic pearl drop in the front.  There's a wire inside from an old Halloween witch's hat, and it's stuffed with the contents of an old bed pillow that had gone flat.  I love recycling old stuff!   

I may or may not end up doing some more embroidery on it.  The more I look at it, the less finished it actually looks.  Then again, 90% of it will be under a veil.  I'm not sure yet. 

I'll have pics of the finished outfit, with jewelry, veils, and other accessories, after Candlemas.