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!