Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"To a well to get water, without putting on gold earrings, do not go".

The title is a 15th century proverb from Novgorod (a northern city of the Rus.)  I am incredibly amused by it.  Its also a great bit of color for my persona and how Praksedys is different from Hastings.  Hastings barely manages to get dressed in clothes that match and hasn't managed jewelry in good long time.  Lady Praksedys won't go anywhere for any reason without the right accessory.

Russian women wore long extravagant earrings.  At the end of the 15th Century Giles Fletcher describes women wearing earrings of "two inches or more."  The picture is of two sets of extant pairs of 17th century earrings.  (Treasures of the Czars p.58))  I had a bunch of chandelier findings that I figured would help me make sufficiently dangly jewelry.  I went digging through my "random bead box" of stuff left from other projects and things purchased because it was clearanced.  I found some moonstones, some carnelian donuts, some little unakite spheres, a couple of green crystals from a bag of junk jewelry bits, little metal leaves I've had for at least 10 years and, of course, pearls.  I like them, but I'm a little concerned that they're too matchy.  The peach/oranges and greens are the same ones in the povoinik and volosnik.  Coordinating isn't nearly gaudy enough.  I've got plenty more chandeliers and I know there are some garnets around here.  Might have to play around some more.  That way Praks will have plenty of earrings for wearing around camp.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Making a povoinik

I thought I'd share how I assembled my little coif/povoinik since I haven't been really able to find much information.  Lisa Kies/ Mistress Sofya la Rus (as always) is the go to source for Russian re-enactors in English.  Her website is FABULOUS.  She has 3 "patterns" for povoinik, but I thought it might be helpful to go step by step.  This is the 3rd pattern.  I'm using it because it seems a bit more accurate to me.  Not that that is necessarily true, because we have no extant pieces to compare it to, but it is much more like the povoinik that is worn with traditional costume.  It also has a lot in common with Elizabethan coifs.  In addition to Sofya's site, I'm using the instructions from a site on traditional dress.  It's in Russian and I'm working with directions via Google translate, so its a bit interesting, but I did like the cuts used.  I also like the lining and additional decorative back piece, even if I didn't do mine that way.

So, here we go.  I'm doing my povoinik in a soft peach silk.  In part that is so that it will match the appliques (since this is the dupatta for the outfit I scavenged them from) but mostly its because I have a shortage of white linen in the right weight right now.  Linens and brocades would all be nice for this project.  I probably actually want more body to the fabric than I will end up with, but I do plan to add a removable lining later so that I can wash the lining without having to wash the whole hat and that should take care of some of the issue.

Step 1: Cut a rectangle.  The Russian instructions suggest about 10x13" and Sofya says to do the height the length from ear to ear over your head (plus seam allowances) and the width the length from your forehead to your nape.  I cut mine pretty large since I have a melon for a head. (mine's about 14x20)  Cut two slits on the front edge about 3 inches in about 4 inches deep.  As a side note, don't iron your fabric and then sit on it crumbling it up into a pile of wrinkles.

Step 2: Gather the center section.  You actually want to gather the whole thing, turning the corners and gathering all 3 sides.

 Step 3:  Sew the two short ends of your outside pieces together.  This seam is now the center of the front of the povoinik. 

Step 4: sew your gathered edge to the front band of the coif distributing the gathers evenly.   Now would also be a good time to do a rolled hem on the short sides of the rectangle.

Step 5:  Take the other long end of your rectangle, turn it under and sew a casing/hem.

Step 6:  thread a drawstring through your casing.

Now the fun part comes.  Decoration!  You'll notice in the Russian article that there is a wide piece of trim put over the forehead piece which covers the seam.  That makes it really convenient to make your povoinik and then add a slip of embroidery so that you're not trying to do the decoration on two separate pieces that are then seamed together.   I'm planning to embroider the forehead, and then attach a facing to finish the front edge and cover the gathering on the inside.  How you finish the front edge is going to depend on how you chose to decorate the forehead.  I made one where I wanted a narrow front band and just folded it in half and stitched it down inside making it into a facing.

I'll get going on the embroidery/applique and babble about more finishing options as I show you my progress. 

BTW, this isn't nearly as puffy on my head as on the mannequin.  As I said, I have a large noggin, and the poor dear has no hair to need the extra volume created by the gathers, where I do when I get my double braids wrapped around my head.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The animal soul

I've been doing two things lately that have been intertwining and my crafting sent me on an intellectual/philosophical jag this afternoon that I thought I'd share.  I'm working on a felted rug as a prize for an upcoming rapier tournament.  I decided to feature the 4 animal virtues from Fiore's Flower of Battle.  There's an elephant with a tower for stability and fortitude, a lion with a heart for audacity and bravery, a lynx with a set of calipers for measure, timing, and foresight, and a tiger with "the arrow of the sky" for quickness.  In addition to that, Davey and I (mostly Davey) have started working on my armor for heavy combat.  As a result, I've been looking at the military treatise for what it is and trying to absorb some of the thoughts.  Don't get me wrong, I'm taking up fighting mostly for fun, but my body isn't nearly as trained as my brain so having something to work with intellectually makes things much easier for me (the diagrams and figures from my anatomy classes are the only reason I survived massage school.)

With a sword in my hand I feel instantly the dumbest and least coordinated individual in a 10 mile radius (probably more, but I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt.)  I'm just clueless and make things worse by beginning to be clever and make snide remarks about my total lack of skill and ability, and weight, etc, etc,  So today I decided to try to fix that.  I know more training will help as will the physical conditioning I've started, but I needed something faster.  Basically I needed to put my brain in its place.  So, I turned to Plato.  Its a strange side trip, but here's sort of how the thought process went.  I was considering the pain of a friend which got me thinking about the state of the soul, which got me looking at the ancient theory of the soul according to the Greek and Roman philosophers (perfect stuff for a Sunday afternoon.)  And then the remark that it is the soul that is at risk in battle clicked into place with some other thoughts and I turned to the levels of Plato's soul.  The vegetative soul controls our autonomic functions.  The animal soul controls interaction with others, fight or flight, and movement.  Our cosmic soul is the contemplation, the predictor, the wit and the analysis.  My cosmic soul is always in charge.  It has no place in this though.

Yes, this is totally "live in the moment" and should be a total, well, duh!"    But it finally clicked for me, at least for a minute.  So, the second guessing is taking a vacation and I'm going to work on turning to the animal soul.  The cosmic soul can come play later.  It doesn't need to be driving here.  It's too busy writing the punchlines for the nasty jokes with myself as the punchline.

I really need to install a pell so I can beat something.  That's the next project as soon as I finish making my rug.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just lacks a ribbon and we have a volosnik

I thought I had a ways more to go with the netting, but ran out of the pearl cotton I was using (left over from another project)  and decided to check and see how much I needed to purchase.  I put in a temporary drawstring of the first piece of cording that came to hand thinking I had quite a ways to go.  I tried it on and its plenty roomy enough to cover my braids and the povoinik that would be worn underneath.  Hooray for being done with it much more quickly than I'd hoped.

Since this is a first attempt , won't really be seen much in the finished outfit, and I'm trying to use as much stash as I can for certain elements so I can splurge on others; I didn't use gold, silver, or silk threads, which would have been more appropriate.  I opted instead for a light cotton perle.  I did a series of Solomon's Knots rather than netting.  Both use a gauge to loop and knots to stabilize, but I'm much more comfortable with a crochet hook than a netting shuttle.  I used the out of period technique in the interest of time, so I'm not still making this next summer.  As I said, just a little bit of finish work left.  I'm planning to starch the mesh a little so that it gives a more proper shape.  I think I will just sew some more of the green into a tube and use it for the ribbon to continue with my salvaged materials theme here.

I've been watching Star Trek:TNG while I sew so I have decided to make the povoinik and pozatylnik next.  I better explain that last sentence, hadn't I.  A pozatylnik is a rectangle of fabric that lies over the back of the neck, covering it from exposure.  It always reminds me of the headwrap/drape the Ferengi wear.  The povoinik is the basic coif that starts the whole edifice that is a Russian woman's hat.  It's a pretty simple coif with a drawstring at the back to draw it tight over the double braids, but they usually has a decorated forehead just like the volosnik.  The pozatylnik is attached over the povoinik to cover the neck.  The volosnik is worn over it.  Its sort of analogous to a chemise and drawers and petticoat for the head.  As I said, we're building a proper foundation for what goes over the top.  Just need to decide if I'm going to use something different for the forehead of the povoinik or continue on with the applique.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thinking about makeup

I've been making lists of layers and things I want to get made and decided to put the heavy white makeup worn by Rus upperclass women of the 16th and 17th century on the list.  I certainly don't plan to mix up a batch of lead whitening and galena black as both are a wee bit poisonous what with the lead and all so I need to come up with other solutions.  The cosmetics are too important to the overall effect to just ignore.  The medieval Russian ideal of beauty was monumental.  Clothing hung from the shoulders with heavy layers actually intended to make a woman look more statuesque.  White skin, dark brows, and red cheeks were prized.  In the 16th century they took it to the extreme with red rouge and lips, black painted brows (and often black painted teeth) and clown white makeup.  Giles Fletcher, a traveler from England in the 16th Century remarked that "from terrible women they transformed themselves into beautiful dolls."   This is especially interesting in light of the similar fashion among English women in the Elizabethan period just a little later. 

According to one of my sources (that I am having difficulty locating right now so I will have to edit with the reference later) in addition to an extension of the concept of beauty, Russian women whitened their faces as a form of veiling.  Muscovite women at this time had begun to be sequestered in parts of their homes called Terem.  This had not been part of their earlier society, but developed after the Mongol invasion as Moscow rose in power, became more autocratic, and women lost more and more rights and opportunities to have any sort of public life.  This is actually a big factor in my choice of an earlier persona as much as I love this costume.  Getting a great hat and loads of bling isn't really worth having to live life in seclusion.

My concern with a theatrical white makeup is getting it all over things.  There will be a highly ornamental collar as well as the ubrus/veil and I don't want to make a giant mess.  I've used a couple of versions of kohl in various incarnations as a Goth teen and tribal bellydancer so that shouldn't be too hard, but I'm not so sure about the black teeth.  My teeth need whitening under normal circumstances, going totally black sort of creeps me out.  Certainly going to be interesting to investigate.  Rice powder maybe?  I don't know, but makeup is now on the list and I get to really start digging for some solutions.  I know its the sort of thing 18th century reenactors need to worry about too so I figured I'd start there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Starting work on the volosnik

I got a pretty good haul of embroidered appliques from the salvage operation and decided to start playing with them.  There are a lot of the same lotus fan and flower, but there were also a few pieces that didn't have many duplicates.  I decided to play with the orphans and do something small to start with. 

The first idea that came to mind was a volosnik.  It's a little cap with an embroidered forehead piece (called an ochel'e) and a net that covers the hair.  Russian married women were obliged by tradition, superstition, religion, and often law to cover their hair.  A Russian girl changing her braids from the long single braid of a maiden to the two wrapped around the head of a married woman and covering them was a big part of the marriage ceremony.  I really like the headcoverings of medieval and "Renaissance" era Russia with their elaborate layers, each with a particular function.  Its very like the underlayers of a dress with each giving the whole its correct shape.

The picture in the background is the cap of Czarina Maria Dolgorukaya.  She died 4 months after marrying Czar Mikhail Feodorovich and was buried with this hat in 1624.  The embroideries are gold trees of life and unicorns on a silk taffeta that was originally scarlet.  They symbolize marriage and virginity.  (Information and picture is from Treasures of the Czars a catalog of the exhibition presented at the Florida International Museum with the assistance of the State Museums of the Moscow Kremlin.  London, 1995)

  While it would be preferable to actually do the symbolic embroidery, I don't have the time and there are examples of Russian embroidery that is strictly decorative and quite a bit of floral embroidery.  I did want to keep the general look by utilizing the axial symmetry and horizontal layout.  Thus I used a large oval piece in the center and am playing with the appliques back an forth from a central point.  Once they are all in place I will go back over them with a cord along the edge as is the hallmark of period applique.  I had a scrap of green silk about the right length and not really large enough for other projects that went beautifully with the deep peach and golds so I pulled that from my cabbage bin.  While red was the most popular color in Russian clothing; green, blue, and other bright colors were also very popular.  Black was even starting to be used for people other than widows and clergy in the 16th century as long as it was heavily decorated.  I will put a layer of wool felt inside the band to stiffen it once the embroidery is complete.  Then I'll start the netting for the hair cover. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another salvage operation

I'm looking at my list of stuff to do and already despairing.  EVERYTHING has to be heavily embroidered.  I don't have a lot of trim in the stash either, having used most of my reserves for the IRCC.  I started opening random boxes in the garage, hoping for inspiration when I came across the lengha.  Heavily, heavily embroidered with mirrors and goldwork its been something I haven't ever found the perfect use for.  I did use one of the sleeves to make a bag to keep my zills in for bellydance, but the rest of it has just been sitting around for several years.  While the motifs aren't really correct for Russian, I'm thinking the sheer amount of gold and bullion knots might make it something I can work with.  I'm still amazed at how useful the Christmas ribbon salvage was for the Italian.  The cord and the ribbon itself went into quite a few of the different pieces of the outfit.  hopefully this will be half as useful. The little flowers aren't obnoxiously wrong.  So, I'm plunging in.  As sad as it makes me to waste some of the embroidery, I think cutting the individual bits apart, mounting them and appliqueing them to create some trims is the best use.  I'd already planned to integrate some orange and gold in with my green and red (it ties in with the fabric for the letnik and clashing is a good thing anyway.

Holding my breath and starting to cut.  Ouch!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some inspiration for the embroidery

Most of what we have preserved of old Russian embroidery is ecclesiastical, and this piece is no exception, but it uses old motifs.  This follows the Russian pagan cosmology with the tree of life, the birds in the heavens and the stags on earth.  This piece also demonstrates one of the major hallmarks of all Russian embroidery: axial symmetry.  The piece combines the upperclass hallmarks of gold and pearls with the older peasant symbology.  For that reason its one of my favorites.  Conveniently for me it is also dated 1544.  Most of the other extant pieces with the tree of life motif are either earlier (12th century) or later (19th.)  That's not to say that the motif didn't continue all the way through, its just preserved pieces are few and far between so its nice to have something in the middle to point to.  I plan to use the Tree of Life, the birds, and the sirin (bird woman hybrid that is a symbol of happiness) as my major decorative motifs in combination with the krin/heart design.

The krin dates clear back into the Scythian felts.  I babbled about it a bit here  The picture I have there is actually from 12th century embroidered Russian pieces.  If you'd like to see some more examples of the heart and the tree of life and some birds, one of my favorite articles is here  with an English translation here.    Again, it is a continuing motif with some older examples and lots of post period examples.  My middle piece is slightly post SCA period, dating to 1667.

I've seen some other examples in period and better showing the heart than this one (which replaces it with bezants/plaques,) but I can't lay my hands on them this morning. I'm not finding a couple of my books on Russian embroidery.  FRUSTRATING!  Both of these come from Early Russian Embroidery in the Zagorsk Museum Collection by T. Manushina, Moscow 1983.

I think I'm going to do some sketching for designs for the muff today and see what I come up with.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kickstarting the Russian project

I keep looking at updates on the IRCC instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing and getting started on my ensemble for 12th night and the Artemisian Costuming Challenge. It's daunting to start from a blank slate again. I have a stack of research material on the floor next to my bed and its taller than my 4 year old. Right now I'm trying to settle on the embroidery designs for the smock (called a sorochka or rubakha.) They're highly symbolic and are amulets for protection. Additionally, place is a big part of what patterns are used. I've been researching this for a couple of years and still feel like I don't really know enough to make the correct choices. Then I get overwhelmed. So, I've decided to start something else. Something small and fast. As I said before, the big pile of accessories is what kept me going to finish the IRCC. So, the new plan is to build up some finished items for motivation.

I've been watching Serafina and Jacquelinne's progress as they work on their Italian muffs. I totally adore the muff I just made for the IRCC and can't wait for winter. Since this ensemble will be worn at 12th Night making a muff for it seems like a wonderful idea. This one will be Russian, however. Russian muffs have some significant differences from the Italian version. The most obvious one is that they are more narrow. Similar to the Italian, they were made from silk, velvet, brocades, and gold cloths and were lined with the fur on the inside. That is totally in keeping with the Russian approach to fur in general. Only the poor couldn't afford fabric to cover their fur. Fur was common in Russia, silk fabrics were not. In addition to the fabric, the muffs were decorated with pearls, gemstones, and gold embroidery. (Info is from Giliarovskaia, N. V. Russkii istoricheskii kostium dlia stseny. (Russian historic costume for the stage) Iskusstvo, Moscow, 1945 p. 102.)

So, today I get to flip through my books and pick out some fun motifs for goldwork and pearls. I'm doing the ensemble in reds, greens, and gold so I'm considering using left over red velvet from the Italian dress for the Russian muff.

Here we go again. Wheeeeeee!!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I wasn't sure if I was supposed to post these or not, but it looks like several of the other competitors have posted their final pictures. First one is of almost everything. Coat, dress, partlet, chopines, flag fan, all the jewelry, and the zibellino.

Flashing the chopines, the drawers, and my stockings

Dress with the flag fan

Back of the dress. You can see my zibi's feet. She's got rice pearls for toenails and it makes me laugh every time I see them.

Veil and muff. I'm actually surprised at how much of my face you can see.

The vizard protecting my complexion.

Being silly with the nosegay. The scent of the oregano is actually really very nice. I can totally see it as a useful item to have in a room full of sweaty bodies and unaired clothing.

SHOES! I'm unreasonably proud of these. I just love how they turned out.

Side view. Check out just how poofy those over sleeves are.

Apron and the rosary. I'm not sure how correct it would be, but I took off the partlet because the apron and it was just too much white for the light we were dealing with.

hairpins and jewelry. One of my stones in the necklace cracked on the way to pictures. I replaced it this morning. I suppose something had to go wrong.

Pocket and petticoat. The light was being bad since it was late in the evening and I couldn't get very good contrast of the chemise to show off the lace. Its SO pretty in person and so lame in pictures.

I've got a few dozen more pictures, but those are the highlights I think.

Watched the timer count down

I am such a goober.  I actually sat there for the last half hour of the contest and watched the counter count down to zero. Just one more day for people to get their write ups and photos submitted.

The final total for me is:

4 required layers-- camisia, petticoat, dress, and partlet

2 dozen accessories-- balzo, necklace, earrings, girdle, hairpins, rosary, pocket, apron, shoes, chopines, stockings, drawers, zibellino, garters, veil, zimmara, muff, parasol, flag fan, feather fan, mask, handkerchief, nosegay, and purse.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Peek a boo

My boys are helping me model the last couple of things.  My 4 year old is under the parasol.  I had thought about making one back in June and found a really great tutorial from Threads Magazine on recovering an umbrella and read up a little on parasol history.  Then I decided that I was probably too chicken to try doing one and just planned to purchase one.  Then I got nervous.  I freely admit that competition has seized me this last week or so and I've started to think about maybe winning this competition by sheer volume of stuff.  With other people working clear up to the deadline and making more and more items I couldn't just sit here today like I'd planned.  The knot in my stomach wouldn't let me.  So, I just started cutting and it was really easy.  Then I spent a few hours sewing on fringe.  I don't know if its apparent, but there are two layers of chainette fringe whipstitched to the edge and then a round of gold trim attached on top of that.  I added a couple of gold rings to the top just for fun.  I'm sort of thinking about adding a large pearl as a finial and then adding a few more along the ribs and in the center of the gold trim on each panel.  That's going to wait though.  It's dinner time and I really am done for sure.  Feeding the kids and sitting around this evening without a project and then going to bed.
Colin is going to help me show off the last thing.  Its another thing that needs more trim after the competition is over.  I intended to wear it open anyway, but I do want to eventually do the buttons and braid all the way down the front.  I concentrated on the shoulder treatment and I'm very pleased with it.  It doesn't look like much on my chair, but really looked great over the dress when I took pictures yesterday.

Just a couple more days and we'll know how this turns out and I'll post all the pictures.

In the mean time, I have a rug to make for a prize for a rapier tournament in a couple of weeks and need to start working on my Russian ensemble for the Artemisian Costuming Challenge.  It's been going on for a bit and I've been doing this.  By the time I get around to starting on it (hopefully Monday) I'll only have 4 months to do another complete outfit.  I guess at least I'm confident that its possible.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One more for the road

I'm sitting here waiting to go get pictures and I can't seem to stop.  I'm done though.  Really.   I'm not going to make anything else.  Probably.

As I was putting together props for the pictures; an embroidery frame, my copy of the Hastings Book of Hours (get it!  Yeah, I'm not really funny.  I just think I am.) and the pile of stuff, I decided to do one more quick thing.  A nosegay.
I included a variety of herbs in it. It has three leafed clover and strawberry leaf and flower. In Christian art they're both fertility symbols and by extension symbols of marital love. It also has flowering oregano. In ancient Greece bridal couples were crowned with wreaths of oregano. There's also a bit of raspberry leaf in there. Its another herb believed to bring good luck in marriage according to a variety of folk traditions. You might be seeing a theme here. I wanted to put a little thank you out there to my long suffering husband who has supported me through this. Especially the total unexplained crazy of the last week as I've gotten really anxious and nutty. I love you sweetheart.

SPF 10,000


Finished my silly mask (which isn't crooked I swear, I'm just wearing it that way in the picture since I made my husband take it in the middle of the night.)  Its supposed to be for keeping sun of a lady's delicate complexion.  Seems a little creepy for that.  Especially since its held in place by a bit made from a bead clenched between the teeth.  I used one of the large slightly oval wooden beads that are my favorite foundations for threadworked buttons and attached it to the mask with a bit of linen floss.  I didn't end up glueing the velvet to the buckram as had been done in the tutorial I linked earlier, opting instead for stitching it to the buckram foundation.  Its very lightweight and soft this way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I REALLY need to make a duct tape double or something so I have a display for showing off.  Throwing it on the chair just doesn't do much for things.  The giant puffed sleeves actually look rather nice when worn.  Between the velvet and the stuffing I can totally see their practical use as pillows for small children being carried and wanting to rest their heads on mama's shoulder.

I need to get the real laces in and fix the spot at the waist where the skirt unpleated for about 2 inches.  I also have a little bit of the hem to finish up (I was up late  with insomnia doing most of it.)  Probably not much happening today, however, as it is my son Demetri's 4th birthday so I'll be focusing on being a mom for most of the day.

Pictures are planned for Thursday.  Which should also be fun since my husband is going out of town for the weekend and his plane leaves early in the evening.  Juggling the kids and trying to wear the dress is going to be exciting.  Too bad I didn't get their clothes done.  I'm sure I'd have ended up with some approximation of the portrait with kids tugging on clothes and playing with jewelry and generally being in the shot.


I put most everything on tonight after finishing up the baragoni to wear to fighter practice as sort of a trial run before pictures.  Still a few things to finish up (like my coat) but I thought I was pretty well done.  A few minor things turned up like one part of the pleats of the skirt separating and a big run in the fabric of my stockings that needs to be mended.  Simple repairs.  Easily fixable.  All except for one thing--

  I had my bodice patterned to back in April.  I made the bodice back in June.  In June it fit perfectly.  In June I was nursing twins.  They've been weaned since. . .

Yeah.  It doesn't fit so well any more.  Not terrible and its certainly wearable, but ugh!  I was feeling so good about my pretty dress.  Not that its not still pretty.  It most certainly is.  Just to reassure me a little 5 year old girl came up to me in the park and had her mom ask me if she could have her picture taken with me because I looked like a princess.  It really is a cool dress.  Ah well, nothing ever comes out as well as you'd like it to I suppose.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Accordellata-- my fancy schmancy bodice ties

I have absolutely no idea why what my bodice laces looked like mattered to me when a shoelace would have been fine, especially since my eyelets are far from perfect, but I guess it did.  For the same reason what my petticoat is laced closed with mattered, I suppose.  Reasons.  That's all I can say.  So, I braided myself some fun bodice laces out of silk.  This is red orange and gold Madeira silk floss.  8 strands of 5.5 meters of silk worked up to almost exactly two yards of finished braid.  This is the half round braid from Jacqui Carey's Beginners Guide to Braiding.  It took me about 5 hours in front of the TV to finish it.  I suppose, at the very least, my bodice laces aren't going to get mixed up with someone else's.  The chances of them breaking isn't very high either.  They're pretty darn strong.  

And now I'm going to sleep.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More tassels

I'm really glad my time dancing American Tribal Style bellydancing gave me loads of practice tying tassels.  You never know when skills will come in handy.  So, 5 more fluffy red tassels to go along with the ones on the tips of my toes (chopines) and the edges of my veil.

The lucet cords I made back a month or so ago finally got used too.  This isn't the original bag I had planned after making them, but I think I'll be happier with the mix of wool and leather than I would have been with the embroidered silk bag I had planned at that time.  I used the last of the green leather scrap from my shoes as the edging and 2 other random leather scraps had enough in them to make the bag and gusset.  I stitched cross-cross for some interest.  It seems rather jaunty and flippy.  Nothing makes me want to dance more than tassels and having them swinging near the hem of the dress should be fun.

Undersleeves are done

I just finished the last lacing ring to tie the undersleeves on.  They're lined in the rosy gold silk and fit beautifully.  I'm feeling a little silly for slashing them and then doing false puffs, but I honestly couldn't imagine myself having time to pull all the slashes through every time I wore the dress, and the white is such a huge part of the look of these.  Kids are helpful that way.  You're lucky if you get completely dressed, let alone get all the details right.  I used scrap of the partlet for the puffs since it was already gathered.  I just tacked the fabric to the inside of the slash and pulled through so that I got a natural look more in keeping with how it would look to have the camisia pulled through.  I figure if I ever chose to I can undo the tacks and take out the false puffs and slash the lining and do them correctly.

On to the baragoni (short puffy oversleeve.)  I've just got to finish bombasting them and attach them to the bottom tabbed bands.  Just as soon as I go buy more thread since I have run out of anything remotely resembling red or gold thread.

I've been wandering around in circles trying to figure out buttons and trim for the zimmara that doesn't involve me doing a bunch of threadworked buttons really quickly.  I think I came up with a good idea about midnight last night.  We'll see if it can take the light of day.

Hoping for sleeves and a coat by dinner time.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Strawberry slippers

I didn't quite imagine how green edging on a red pigskin slipper with pinks that showed the gold brocade lining would turn out.  According to my 7 year old I have "strawberry toes."  Mostly I was just trying to put a little more oomph into the slippers and I'd found a remnant at the leather store earlier today and though it would match the green I just lined my zimarra with.  Strawberry toes are fun though, right?  Especially with chopines and bright green stockings?  I added a square of the same lace that's in my handkerchief since I wanted something more decorative than just the pinking but wasn't up for cutting the leather that finely.  With the time constraints, these are sewn on my sewing machine with a leather needle, but I hope to tweak the pattern a bit more and make another nicer pair by hand later.  I certainly have enough oodles of the leather hide left.

Back to finishing other stuff.  I took a break for most of the day and played, having my hair cut and going out to lunch, so I'll have to hustle to get back on schedule and get you those pictures I promised of sleeves.  they're SO close to being done.

Tomorrow I'll get pictures

I'm in the middle of about 5 projects, but they're getting close to being done.  I just have the lining to finish stitching into the undersleeves and the lacing rings and they're complete.  The baragoni are pretty close too.  Just have to finish the bombasting and line them and do the lacing rings for those.  I decided to make a quick moretta mask since I kept seeing them in reference pictures for other things I was making.  I couldn't find any Italian extant pieces, but there is the Daventry mask, which was found just in June of last year in England and a doll sized one at the V&A.  Mine is done with a buckram base shaped on my styrofoam head form and then covered in black velvet and lined in silk.  There's a bead attached to the mouth slit for biting on to and holding it on.  I adapted this tutorial.

Since I had the picture up for the Dutch cloak, I made a final decision on whether to attempt it or not and decided I'd rather keep the velvet I had planned for it for my next project.  Instead, I pulled a brown and red brocade from my stash and decided to make a zimarra (lose gown) instead.  It's actually the back side of the fabric, since the front has more red than brown and the brown works better against all the red of the dress.  It's lined in a lightweight green cotton.  I did basic rectangular construction, and I plan on just doing shoulder wings for now.  The fullness of the sleeves of the dress seem like a bit much to have another sleeve over.  I may add a hanging sleeve in the future.  It's sewn together, just needs trim and the wings.  If I get enough time I'll do threadworked buttons and military style bar braids for fastening.

Here's another one of those examples of moretta masks/vizards that I kept finding.  This one is actually the reference for my drawstring bag with tassels.  Just finishing the decoration on the bag.

No, I can't really ever seem to focus on one thing, and I know I'm supposed to be finishing this rather than starting new projects, but I'm enjoying it.  I've never finished anything other than at the last minute, so it just wouldn't be right unless I was scrambling to finish the last little bits. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pink underwear with hearts

I never got around to the pink linen embroidered drawers that I was so very excited about at the start of this.  I decided against the silk Venetians with diagonal floral trim that had been my backup plan because I want to use the orangey/red silk for my Artemisian Costuming Challenge where it can actually be seen.  I still wanted drawers for comfort reasons though.  I considered just plain white ones but decided there was no fun in that, so I needed something a little jazzier.  I decided to go ahead and use the pink linen I'd originally planned to embroider on because my green stockings were decided on to go with the shocking pink and, even after using some to line a Persian style coat for Baron's War and make these, I have loads of it left.  It was bought on clearance last year for $1.97 a yard.  Pink isn't one of my favorite colors but the price was right and it has turned out to be a great purchase.

Since I was using bright pink I decided to add some hearts as sort of a joke.  I had just enough of this palmette designed wide lace to do an insert up each leg at the seam.  I put them in "upside down" so they're more like the krin motif I babbled about ages ago. The lace trim at the hem is the same lace on my chemise hem and cuffs, around the edge of my handkerchief, and on my partlet.  I got several lengths of it in some grab bags at the lace store.  I've only got about 6 inches left and they don't carry it any more which makes me sad.  I'm almost out of lace and trims of all types to be honest.  Thank goodness this is almost over since my stash is pretty depleted.

Fluffy, frilly gathers of doom

The puffy white monstrosity is done.  It took me two days to gather the fabric and only about an hour to actually sew and assemble the thing.  It looks sort of wrong in the picture, but the shape should be just right with the support the dress gives.  I looked and looked at the portrait for some sort of fastening, like the ties on other partlets. but didn't see one.  It didn't seem to have an underarm seam either.  That just doesn't work with the pointed look of this particular shape.  All I can figure is that it is pinned into place.  It sits fine now, but could easily be twisted if it isn't anchored in some way.  I might starch the collar just a little to give me more the look that is in the portrait. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Totally unrelated tool show off.

I have to show off my new chicken scissors. Because they're CHICKEN SCISSORS.  How fun is that?  They're Mundial "Chanticleers."  I've got boring lion tails and filigree ones, but these are poultry.  They make me cackle.  Which is only appropriate with chicken scissors.

I also got this pleater in a garage sale sort of thing.  Rather fittingly, I'm working on my partlet and wishing I could just run it through the pleater rather than drawing the strings up.  If I didn't need to order needles for this and make sure it actually works, I would be so very, very tempted.  I can't wait to try it out and do some smocked things for the kid's garb (as practice.)  We're going to be so fluffy for Solstice.  That's when I plan to show off the Italian dress with my girls in red velvet kirtles and my boys in jerkins and Gandhi in his doublet.  That might even be the Christmas card picture this year.  I'm sure anyone who actually knows us will not batt an eye.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chopines are finally finished

Loads of trim and 180 upholstery tacks later, the silly platforms are done.  At least I think they're done.  How do you determine at what point a pair of bright red tasseled 8 inch platform sandals with giant bows and filigreed gold trim goes over the edge of good taste and into too much?  They look especially crazy when worn with my green linen stockings.  I'll have to try for a picture of that later, but it doesn't work very well to take a picture of your own feet.

  I had planned to wear them with the red and gold cutwork leather slippers, but those may have to wait until after the contest is over.  Makes me really glad I decided to do a split vamp so they can be adjust to be worn with shoes or without.  The tassels are made from rayon embroidery floss.  I'm not as thrilled with them as I'd like.  I'm sort of considering making a pair of gold tassels instead, but I'm not going to worry about it until the contest is over since I need to move on to other things.

I had planned to braid silk for the bodice laces as my next project but now I'm waffling.  I even have the silk.  I did a pair for Serafina's Elevation dress.  I might skip it at this point since they're not exactly a big bang for your buck project.  They took me days to do and are strong and nice, but really subtle.  Same sort of thing as the petticoat lace.  Its nice, but not really obvious.  Another option is working on the tablet woven garters.  Again, its a time suck that perhaps I should wait on.

The only thing left on the dress itself is the sleeves.  I'm making slow progress on them, but they're coming along.  I'm couching trim.  That should keep me busy for a few days.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chopine progress

Getting closer!  Unfortunately I ran out of tacks.  I need to pick up a lot more this evening.  But, they are covered finally and that makes me very happy.  I made my husband (who is 6'4") stand next to me while I balanced on them.  I'm a good 3 inches taller than him and get to look down on him.  That thrills me for no particular reason.  Between the shoes and the hat I should be approaching 7 feet tall.  BWAHAHAHAHAH!  I get to be the tallest person in the room.

Trying to decide if I should use more of the narrow gold cord to lace the vamps, or be silly and use fluffy ribbon and aiglets.  Big bows might be fun, but I'm worried they'd take away from the giant tassels I have planned for the toes.  Are they over the top yet?  Gee, I hope so.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A weekend of backward progress.

You ever have one of those moments (weekends) where your brain just doesn't engage?  Yeah.  That's what happened here.  I spent two days very carefully smoothing and covering my chopines.  They looked really good.  Then I put the leather soles on them and had a giant DUH! moment.  I was supposed to do that earlier and fill the overhang with putty (since my wood wasn't quite wide enough at one point) and sand the edges to shape so that my rather rectangular timber became more foot shaped.  I knew that that needed to happen, and yet there was some sort of disconnect.  So, the envelope had to be cut and peeled off.

In similar news, I cut my partlet out and gave it generous seam allowances.  Not generous enough.  Since the fabric is being gathered and ruched, the whole shape was off.  This time I'll be smarter and gather and ruch the fabric and THEN cut the pieces out.  As I said, total brain disconnect.

That was apparently a good thing yesterday though.  I suited up in armor and had my first go at heavy fighting.  I LOVE IT!  Seriously as fun as fabric shopping.  And that is saying a lot from me the crazy fabric hoarder.  I'm still giggling and smiling like a mad woman.  I had so much fun.  My instructor said I might have a back ache from the weight of the armor, but its nothing compared to hauling my kids and their stuff around.  I feel fabulous.  I'm now having a really hard time focusing.  I want to start building armor rather badly, but I need to finish the dress.  I did buy a basket hilt online last night to start making my sword.  I just couldn't wait.  The deal is that I'm not allowed to start it until the hem of the skirt is finished and the partlet and chopines complete.  I'm sanding the chopines to shape this morning, just as soon as I finish the project my kids and I are doing. 

That would involve the "still" on my stove-top pictured above.  We're making rosewater and then going to make more beads with the leftover petals.  Should be a fun project for a rainy day.