Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finished the apron

It doesn't look like much draped over the chair, but it looks and feels really nice over the petticoat. I might talk my husband into taking a picture later. I need to iron it again as well, since my kids were kind enough to sit on it while I was waiting for the camera batteries to charge.

I fussed over the lace, wanting to do a small lace around the edge and a thicker one on bottom in addition to the one used for the insertion. I didn't have anything so I sat down to make some and then stood right back up. Nope, not going to happen. While I want an apron to help keep the dress clean from little hands, its not worth adding another handwork project tot the mix. I settled for more of the same lace. Its actually an edging lace that I had to trim to use as an insertion, so it worked just fine as an edging. The top is pleated and stabilized with 5 rows of stitching, then a trim was added for ties.

I'm going to try to finish the bits I've got left undone on the stockings so I can officially declare them done and put together an update to send in tomorrow. Its the end of school for my daughter though and there are concerts and such to attend, so we'll see if I manage to get much of anything done.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lace insertion and tablet weaving

My friend Ashley came over yesterday to convince me that tablet weaving garters for this project wasn't a bad idea. She was pretty darn convincing. So convincing in fact that my husband decided I needed to do them that way and ordered a belt shuttle and cards ("Its a good investment, you'll certainly use them again later.") There was also some mention of me making disparaging remarks about my red and white garters and him being tired of hearing about it. She helped me set up the little blue and white sample in the picture. It doesn't look too terrible by the end so I think with just a bit more practice I might get something I won't be embarrassed by.

I'm actually thinking I'll finish the red and white garters since they are nice and stretchy and tie well and then do a pair of tablet woven garters that I add buckles to. Having more than one pair can't be a bad thing. I'm liking my stockings so well that I'm going to be making a couple more pairs of those, starting with a white pair with blackwork.

I also started working on an apron based on one of the extant examples. It went really quickly as long as I was using lace I had in the house. Still need to find or figure out what I'm putting on the outside and the bottom though. The body is all done though. Hope to figure out the trimming today and pleat it up since it was supposed to be a quick project.

Speaking of quick projects-- or not so fast ones, I'm really considering abandoning my plans to do the embroidered pink drawers. I found a really lovely floral trim in my stash that matches the red/orange silk I bought for this project and I'm toying with the idea of doing silk Venetians (the trousers) based on the extant pair in Patterns of Fashion. They would have the trim in the diagonal lines that the pair in the painting I was using for inspiration has. That pair is pink silk so this might actually come out more like the inspiration. Still mulling it over. It would certainly be a lot faster than doing the embroidered pair.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I got my copy of Seventeenth Century Women's Dress Patterns yesterday. SQUEEEEEEE! This is just an amazing book. Once I finish the IRCC, my next project is a jacket to wear with my embroidered coif. This book is going to help with that. Its got gridded patterns of 4 different extant jackets with copious detailed pictures of the embroidery and line redrawings for clarity, charted patterns for the lace, construction sequence, conjectured pattern layouts, x-rays of the garments so you can see non-visible interior details. Etc. Etc. There are 33 pictures of the Layton jacket alone. Swoon.

That's just the jackets, by the way. There is also a slashed satin bodice, knitted waistcoat with knitting diagrams, an embroidered linen mantle, a linen smock with lace insertions, a linen and lace hood, an embroidered coif and forehead cloth, a linen band and cuffs, an embroidered linen and partlet and sleeve panels that mimics the look of a jacket work under a dress, a linen kerchief, embroidered linen gloves, and embroidered leather gloves all dated from between 1600-1630. All get the same super detailed treatment. I already was dreaming of attending The School of Historic Dress. After this book its become an actual priority to get my skills to the level where I could take a summer class in a couple of years. Wow. Just wow. This is just the first volume too. There's more in the works.

So, that's what I spent the day doing. I drooled over my new book. Started an apron as well though. Should finish it today and you'll get to see it tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A pair the hard way

I've been trying to figure out a good solution for making my garters since I am not a confident enough knitter to do the tiny stitches necessary for the red and white colorworked garters nor experienced enough at sprang to do the nifty pink and green ones that would be my ideal option in a perfect world. (Both are babbled about here.) I really do plan to work on my sprang technique and try a version of those after some practice. In the meantime, however, I need something to hold up my stockings.

I have a friend coming over to show me some tablet weaving basics tomorrow. I've owned Candace Crockett's book on the subject for 2 years now, but have never actually sat down and tried it. Something I've wanted to do, but it just keeps not happening. To be honest, however, I already knew it was probably not the best solution. It does the same thing as working on the sprang garters right now would do; it forces me to work on developing a new skill that I would need to practice in order to achieve the accessory I want. Time constraints, Hastings, there are time constraints.

So, I sat down and attempted to write out a list of techniques that I do know that would give me garters in a day or two. I can plait and braid. I can do kumihimo. I can do tapestry crochet. I can embroider (already doing a lot of this.) I could just sew plain bands. I could just cut a couple of lengths of purchased trim (how boring is that though?) I tried out a few options. The tapestry crochet was my favorite since it has a lot in common with the knitted band, but it came out pretty wide. I just couldn't get the pattern fine enough. I'd been working in pearl cotton so I went digging in my stash for finer threads or yarn.

Instead, I found thicker yarn and decided I needed to find a way to use it. I had several skeins of scrumptious Plymouth mulberry merino in white, red, and blue. Its just to soft and yummy. I can't tell you why I fixated on it, but it was late. That's my excuse. The yarn doesn't have a lot of twist, so my first though was I could twist it into cords and do some ply split darning. If you've never played with that, its fun. Peter Collingwood's basic article on it is available here. So that was the plan. Then I saw a squirrel.

I mentioned it was late, right?!!? I was looking at patterns and realizing I was going to have the same issue as before. To get a definite pattern of any kind I was going to need thinner yarn. There are a couple of nice easy patterns using just a couple of cords in Jacqui Carey's 200 Braids. I could have done those. Then I started thinking about doing a heart pattern to match the stockings. That would be cool, right? Hearts?

So, I want a heart pattern and need a technique that will get them using a thick yarn. Something really basic. My summers as a camp counselor for the Girl Scouts overrode my historical recreationist brain and ta-da, we have a solution. Macrame.

That's right folks. I made giant friendship bracelets for garters. I could give you a song and dance about how macrame is an Arabic art dated to at least the 14th century, how there are French garters dated to the 17th century done in macrame. How its a form of Cavandoli work or tapestry knotting. Umm. Suuuuuure. Can we just call it a form of passemaine, know that I'm intending to make a more authentic pair in the future and move on? They're soft and silky, yet have great grip because of the texture of the knots. I'm going to finish them up with some nifty fluffy tassels. I think they will be very functional. Most importantly though, they're almost finished.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Whole lot of nothing

I've got half finished embroidered stocking clocks, a variety of garter experiments, chopines that have had a lot of time put into them and don't show it, 4 cloaks cut out for my kids and some Dutch cloak diagrams and sleeve doodles that will grow up to be a pattern at some point, but nothing actually worth taking pictures of and posting about. I'm really looking forward to a long weekend of doing nothing in particular.

I'm giving myself a deadline of the first to finish at least one more project and get a real update sent to Bella since I haven't done one in awhile.

I'm also hoping to draw out the embroidery pattern for the drawers and get them set up on my floor frame so I can start working on them in moments when I feel like embroidering.

End of school for my first grader, some other real like possible changes and icky weather just have me spinning my wheels so I apologize for nothing much to show right now. Hoping to get my brain in a better place in the next day or two. If it doesn't happen, I'm skipping ahead to the dress bodice to keep up forward momentum, but I'm hoping to not have to get that drastic.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


It's cold. I am not someone who normally gets cold, but 40 and 50 degrees in late May with new snow on the mountains doesn't make me happy. Maybe its too long with multiple heavy layers and fur from the Rus persona, but I've decided I need a coat, just in case. Actually, I decided to take a break from the project and make my kids some hooded cloaks for next week to wear to fighter practice since they were getting cold in the late evening last Tuesday. Figured I'd throw something in for myself while I was at it.

I've had this two tone velvet in my stash for quite awhile. The nap is a blue green and the backing is a cranberry. I love the effect. In a completely separate purchase I bought a lining fabric that shifts from an apple green to the same cranberry the velvet does. They look perfect together. I wanted to make the velvet into a coat/loose gown, but there's only 4 yards of it. I did a little jig when I saw Katerina's Cappotto. Its exactly the sort of thing I was looking for and should work with my yardage restrictions. I also snagged these gold buttons that have been kicking around in my stash for a few years. They chime a bit when the baggie they've been stored in is shaken and my kids have been using them for bells recently, so its probably a good idea to use them before they disappear into the toy box. I tend to lose a lot of notions that way. . . I would love to do thread worked buttons, but I've been down that road before and there's too many other projects involving me making trim and notions right now. This way the cloak will get buttons and I should be able to whip up a fast outer layer rather than adding it to the not-quite-finished pile. As far as trim goes, I am toying with the idea of doing piping with the lining material. Maybe I'll couch it down with gold pearl cotton. I think that could be great looking as well as being fast. So, anyway there's a Dutch cloak, juppe, ropilla or somesuch in the works now. Hoping to finish it and the kids cloaks in a marathon over the long weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In honor of Towel Day

Since it is Towel Day, and I have a ritual towel in the works for Seraphina's Laureling I figured I'd chatter a bit about towels.

I basically demanded she let me make her a towel since for the Rus towels are a big deal. They carry a great deal of ritual significance. I figured I'd get to have some fun with my persona and be able to make something nice for her ceremony. The Ukrainian word for a ritual towel is Rushnyk. It comes from the word for hand. There are multiple types of rushnyky. Some are simple wipers for wiping hands, some are used to present bread and salt in ritual hospitality, some are used in rites of passages such as the celebration of births, weddings and funerals, and others are used to decorate icons. Before Christianity came to the Rus, towels were hung from birch trees in early June to appease the Rusalka (water spirits) and the tradition continued long after. Towels are carefully woven and embroidered with symbols to act as a form of amulet or talisman and bring blessings and protection. The symbols vary depending on the time of year and the use intended for the towel. The length of the towel also varies, but they are usually pretty long. They are beautifully decorative with gorgeous patterns often done in red on white, but historically the ritual use is more important than the aesthetics.

The Eastern Slavs aren't the only culture who assign importance to towels. In an essay on comparative ritual cloths in the Ukrainian Museum's exhibition catalog, Rushnyky: Ukrainian Ritual Cloths, Oksana Grabowicz draws some interesting parallels between the rushnyk and the Arabic mandil. Two of my favorites of the enumerated uses for the mandil listed in "A Note on the Mandil" by Franz Rosenthal from 4 Essays on Art and Literature in Islam are for drying tears brought by the words of a preacher and as a method for lovers to pass messages. "Quatrains written, sometimes in letters of gold, on mandils." Emotional accessories are just plain cool. Mandils also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The materials that make them also vary from expensive silk brocades to more prosaic plain fabrics.

The most famous type of towel in Italy in period, the Perugia towel, stands in contrast to the previous types of towels in that its major purpose was decorative instead of ritualistic. Interestingly enough, however, and probably due to Italy's Arabic and Byzantine links, many of the decorative motifs are the same. This 14th century Italian fragment has the symmetrical horses and birds frequently seen in Rus/Ukrainian towels.

I love it when things come together nicely and the similarities of disparate cultures show themselves. It makes it so much fun to be able to share things in common. I'm going to play with motifs and design something that will be appropriate for the occasion. Hopefully it will be half as successful as the towels I embroidered for my very geeky husband our first Christmas together. They were white hand towels with "Don't Panic" emblazoned in a nice cheery red.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finally finished one layer

Finished the underskirt at 11:55 last night, so I did in fact finish it yesterday. That's what determined it only had 2 lines of cording in the hem and no guards though, so I might change my mind on that. Going around and around the almost 300" hem by hand ate up my day. Next time there is no way, no how that I am hand sewing the underskirt. My only justification for this one is that I'm thinking about wearing it with my Elizabethan jacket and loose gown where it will be an outer layer.

Seems sufficiently poofy. I certainly get a lot of hip as a result of the deep padded pleats. Not sure yet how effective the cording is in the hem. It's easy enough to walk in, but we'll have to see how it works with the velvet once that's done.

So, there it is. A little over a month and I finally finished one layer of the four. Geez, I'm slow.

It's my mother's birthday and she's visiting, so the afternoon is pretty much spoken for. I am hoping to at least get the clocks of the stockings embroidered since I had a simple design planned.

I decided to reward myself for actually following through and blogging every day and working on this steadily. Yesterday was the 40th blog post on this. Wow, huh? I can sure babble on. Anyway, I bought myself a prize. I'm now the proud owner of Arcano the zibellino. He's at the bottom of the page here at Sable Greyhound. Holly is bringing him by fighter practice today for me. Yippee! I've got Galanthias made for the portrait, but Arcano is smaller and more easily worn hanging from the girdle. Not to mention, he's just so cute. I saw him and started singing "Black Magic Woman" in my head. Seemed like a good sign.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Oh yeah, that's why I didn't just buy the trim

I spent most of yesterday just feeling oogy. I'm really tired for no particular reason and have a general body ache. Took a long afternoon nap thanks to my husband running interference with the kids who are all of the opinion that naps are for the weak. Woke up and just couldn't commit to starting anything. Blah. I did take a trip to the fabric store, however. I was looking for some new fabric and some lace for my chemise since I'd basically come to the conclusion that making the lace was just going to take too long and I really want to have something done. My current gauze is also more cream than white and I wanted to fix that.

Oh yeah. There's a reason I make trims and lace. I forgot that the cost of trim is 3 or 4 times the cost of the fabric for the project (minimum) because there's so much of it. Umm. No. Especially since I can't find anything that is really exactly what I want. So, I can either make the lace or do a plain chemise. There's also the possibility of doing embroidery but there is a lot of that to do on the drawers already. I'm going to grumble about this for a day or two, but I don't think it'll end up being plain. Back to lacemaking I suppose. Trim needs to get made for the dress as well.

I did find some really nice beads on serious clearance while out shopping. My girdle may get some of the big filigree pendants in the bottom left corner of the photo. I'm sort of considering adding some of the gold beads in the middle (the ones that are paler and are 3 compartments all the same) to the braid for the dress trim. I spent a good hour sorting my gold beads out from my other bead boxes and putting those and the new ones into this box. Absolutely a waste of time, but sorting gets hypnotic I'm afraid. All the gold ones together are so sparkly.

Nothing done, but there's some embellishment plans fermenting in the back of my noggin'. I'm determined to cord the bottom of the underskirt today so I can finally cross it off the list as a completed layer. Cross your fingers.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Missed the Rapture, but I made a rosary

Not quite what I had in mind, but I'm content with the rosary. The rose beads are more lumpy bumpy than ones I've made in the past, which is rather odd since the mash was smoother than previous batches. All I can figure is its the handling. They are extra sentimental, however, since my kids put so much time into them. I didn't end up using the pearls since the holes in them were too tiny to accommodate the thick red silk I strung the beads on. The gauds are silver beads shaped like roses; rather apropos. The cross is one I was given at Collegium at a class I took on the medieval cycle of life. It is the Cross of San Damiano. It's a cross from Italy with ties to the East. Again, rather appropriate.

I chose to do the rosary in a style similar to the one on the portrait of Federico Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua by Titian. The 5 decade rosary wasn't standardized until Pope Pius V fixed it in 1569, and the 3 bead dangle below doesn't happen much until later either but Federico II was wearing it early, this portrait is dated 1529. He's also a relative of Camilla. Chris Laning of Paternoster Row has a really interesting blog post regarding his rosary, and her site is the place to go if you have any interest in historic rosaries. I didn't add the final pater bead just above the cross, since it didn't fit into my personal methods of devotion, but it was interesting to examine the form. His is also intriguing in that the difference in material between beads and gauds is enough to differentiate. The gauds aren't exceptionally different in size as is the usual case. I used that as justification for using the smallish silver rose beads. The thing that I most liked about making an historical type was the fact that early rosaries are strung on silk and the beads are loose so they can be moved back and forth, rather than fixed as modern ones that are often separated by chain links. Moving and counting the beads is a lovely tactile experience. I strung it on 4 strands of waxed Splendor brand embroidery silk, since its what I had handy. Red is the most common color for stringing rosaries in period.

The vendors at the Faire yesterday kept joking about deflecting the rapture by eating chocolate. I now desperately want chocolate ice cream. May reward myself for cleaning with some. I certainly intend to reward my cleaning of the house with some time sewing. I'm sort of itchy to start the dress. I feel like I've been working on this for quite awhile with little progress since all the projects I've done are small and can't stand alone. Maybe cutting the dress will make it look better. I should finish the hem of the underskirt but my husband is chicken and unwilling to help me mark it. Anyway, something will get done and I'll babble at you tomorrow.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Modelbuchs how I love thee

The terrible sketch to the right is my first quick idea for what I wanted in my couching pattern. I knew I wanted the lily, the heart, some flourishing curly ques and possibly a seeblatt or two. I riffed on that for awhile and drew up 5 or 6 more ideas and then stared at them all for days, unable to decide which one to clean and tighten up for use as the actual pattern.

Then I did what I should have done in the first place, since it was so much quicker and easier. Not to mention totally historically accurate. I flipped through some modelbuchs. I found the perfect pattern on page 15 of Christian Egenulf's Modelbuch aller art Nehewercks un Strickens. Its dated 1527, so the time period is really nicely in my portrait's time period. I love this particular modelbuch because all of the patterns are suitable for freehand embroidery. So many of the other compilations are intended for lace or counted work, so its nice to have variety. The entire book is available in pdf if you follow the link. I darkened my copy and simplified it a tiny bit, ignoring the flowers and dots. Then I taped it up on the big window of my kitchen and traced it onto my linen. Quick, easy, painless. I should have started with that.

That's the extent of the progress, however. My house is suffering from serious neglect, so I'll be spending some time cleaning this weekend. We're taking the kids to the Utah Renfest and Fantasy Faire today. It's been raining for 4 days straight so its probably going to be rather muddy, but its the last weekend. We've gone every year since moving here. Last year I didn't get to go since the twins were only a week or two old so I'm looking forward to it. I usually get my Mother's Day present from the faire. Last year my husband bought me a GORGEOUS handforged Francisca throwing ax. It totally made my day, since I was in total mom mode with the new infants, to have him buy something specifically for the part of me that is Hastings and not mom. Counting down the minutes to when we get to go play today.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Trying to figure out garters

As I said, the only thing I knew about garters was a brief glance at what I thought was Eleonora of Toledo's garters in PoF4. Turns out those aren't even garters. They are explained to be silk ties for her hands in the coffin according to The Cultural World of Eleanora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence and Sienna by Konrad Eisenbichler. Instead, I found this pair of plaid pink and green garters done in sprang. It's rather nifty that you can see the ends of the top one curling and twisting in the corkscrew that is one of the hallmarks of sprang. They are Italian and dated between 1575 and 1600. The time and place are perfect and even the color is right to go with my green stockings and pink drawers. The only problem is my sprang skills are in their infancy.

I own Peter Collingwood's book, The Techniques of Sprang: Plaiting on Stretched Threads and I've done a couple of very small samples but that's about the extent of my experience. In skimming Collingwood, it appears that the garters are probably done with double twist interlinking with a warp of two colors. (Page 98 if you're following along.) There's also a stripe in there. Really beautiful. Not something I think I'm capable of yet. Really, really tempting to try however. That's the reason I so rarely finish things as I tend to go off in some new research direction and want to learn a new skill. Doing the authentic garters is going to have to go in the same compartment as doing the embroidered needlecase. Something to try later. It would actually be a perfect project for Kingdom Arts and Sciences next year or possibly the following year.

Just as an added interesting tidbit, did you know George Washington wore sprang sashes in many of his portraits? 18th century military sashes were commonly made from sprang. I was fascinated when I first ran across that information in Collingwood. If you know about sprang at all its normally in reference to Iron Age hairnets so realizing that it was still popular that recently is sort of a jolt.

Sprang garters aren't going to happen, so I went looking for other options. Thanks to Larsdatter I ran across this great pair of either Italian or Spanish 17th century knitted garters with birds, hearts, flowers and figures patterned in. It also has fabulous tassels. The sprang pair has tassels as well, with some gilt hardware. That's some really detailed colorwork in fine silk thread with itty bitty needles. Not sure that will happen either but it has given me some ideas. Basically what needs to happen is a fancy narrow ware of some kind. I've done fingerloop braiding and a variety of other types of braids, plaits, and weaves. Something has got to be both fast and fancy, even if I just embroider a thick twill tape or something similar. I also definitely want tassels.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lacey stockings

I'm very pleased with the stockings so far. The bias diamonds look really great on. I have no idea why since they are thick green linen with baggy ankles, but somehow or another they feel really sexy. My husband remarked the same thing, so I'm not completely up in the night.

The gold lace worked up really fast because I decided to crochet it in the interest of time. Crochet was popularized as a way to make "fake" Venice lace so it was interesting to be using it for that. The lace is sufficiently drippy and pointy and I didn't have to go on a shopping quest to find it. I had exactly enough of the crochet thread (7 inches left) so hooray for stash! The cotton and crochet also make for a soft lace even with the metallic, so no random scratching on the legs is a happy thought.

I still need to finish hand sewing the ends of the gores and then I want to embroider the clocks with a little krin/heart. I'm going to decide on the pattern and start the couching for the welts today. I might add a bit of color, haven't decided yet.

The other thing I need to decide on is garters. That is going to require some research. While I know they were cloth or possibly woven ribbon, I really don't know much about it. At this point all I've really done is glance at the picture of Eleanora's stockings and garters in Patterns of Fashion 4. Should be a nice way to while away a rainy day. Wish it would stop raining though. We're on our third very wet day with at least one more forecast. I really want some sun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A girl has to have a sense of humor

Remember the rosepetal beads? They are still in process. Normally I just put them in the oven to speed the drying, but this time the kids and I are trying something silly. I had an idea. Always a dangerous thing. Here's a tour through the thought process. (This is what happens when I'm both sleep deprived and have too much of my day spent holding babies and randomly surfing since I can't do anything else with my hands.)

I was making rosepetal beads. I've done that before. They come out sort of crumbly, but smell lovely and are kinda pretty in an ugly duckling sort of way. My 3 year old was helping me, despite having pointed out the fact that the mass of rose mash looked an awful lot like poop. Then I remembered that the Mythbusters once shined poo. How cool would shiny rosepetal beads be? I went looking for instructions on the art of Dorodango. I found this really interesting analysis of children's play and the creation of something from nothing. In reading up a little more it appeared that rose petals probably won't develop a shine quite as well as dirt since they aren't powdery. But wait! I could dry and crush them. The kids were certainly game to give it a shot. So, we started re-rubbing the beads as they dried.

It is at this point that reality asserts itself. There are a few problems with my brilliant plan. A) The kids don't really roll things round. B) There are a LOT of these things. C) Umm, I need these to have holes in them. So, the rose dorodango project just isn't going to work. But we had fun. The kids liked playing with the rose clay. I really was intrigued with the information on dorodango and play and it gave me something interesting to think about for a day or two. The beads are still beads and will still be nice for the rosary, with added sentiment because my kids helped make them and we added my Mother's Day roses. Not to mention the fact that they sure do smell good no matter how much they look like poo. The kids are determined to keep rolling them while they dry, shiny or not. Since they have already put so much time into them I can't tell them no. I figure with the addition of beadcaps and pearls the whole project will turn out fine somehow or another. If nothing else it gave me back my sense of humor in a week where everything seems to be going poorly with the project and looking at the updates of other people doing the challenge has me intimidated and feeling like I have no skill whatsoever.

The lace is almost done for the stockings and I have sketched up a couple of designs for the gold couching, just need to decide which to do. I really will show those tomorrow, I just needed to take a mental health tangent today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Continuing with the Epic fail

Somehow or another it did not penetrate my sleep deprived skull until yesterday that I had sewn the waistband onto my petticoat inside out. Umm. Yeah. I feel like the biggest doofus around. Its a much easier fix than I was dreading, however. 60 of the 80 pleats are redone and I should have the rest done by lunch depending on whether anyone cooperates. Which is to say, they'll be finished at some point since no one ever cooperates around here. I do have gold lace started and the couching pattern mostly designed, though so tomorrow's update should be fun and moving forward.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Well, that didn't work. I was trying to make a little needlecase to hang from my pocket, like I talked about last week. Epic Fail. It didn't work. Not even a little. The little tubes I had made from leather were too large and just looked bad. They sort of looked a little like a family of tube worms. The embossing metal I bought is like gold tin foil and just got all crinkly and looked horrible. I tried curling a metal embossing plate that I had into shape and just got metal splinters for my trouble.

I eventually just made a little cone shape with some red faux-suede. I made a strip of the material and stitched it to the lining in several spots to make pockets and then sewed it to the outer. It's not terrible and it does hold my scissors and some pins, but it really doesn't have the vibe of the picture. I think I'm just going to walk away. Eventually, I'll get around to the crazy project where I make the gorgeous embroidered one with peacocks. That's the one I actually want and I at least have a clue when it comes to embroidery and cardboard.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I draped a sock

I got my stockings patterned. I'm a yarn junkie, so I was hoping to knit them, but I just don't think that there is time. Red knitted silk stockings like Eleanora's will have to be a project for later. So, I figured I'd give linen hose a try. I have never worn them. (Rus wear legs wraps-- socks didn't really get popular until later. Like after WWII later.) Therefore, this is my first attempt drafting linen to fit this close to the body. It seemed to work pretty well, so I'm pleased. I used Katerina's method and it went very smoothly. I wasn't lucky enough to have help, but it only took a tweek or two to make it fit the way I was hoping for. The ankles are a tiny bit baggy when I stand up, but I couldn't get them any tighter and still have them fit when my foot flexed. I'm really happy about the fit of the calf. The stocking stays up pretty well on its own, so it should stay in place well once gartered.

The fabric I chose has sort of made the decision regarding decoration for me. I had a vague recollection of having bought a green linen with a really loose decorative weave that shrunk and tightened up interestingly. When I pulled it out it was prettier than I remembered it. With the stockings cut on the bias the weave becomes diamonds. So, there's my card suite if I use the seeblatter and krin with their accompanying hearts. The color is also gorgeous. The picture doesn't come close to doing it justice. Its a really nice emerald. I have random gold threads in my drawer that are washable and not what I'd use for goldwork on something else, so I think I'm going to couch them on the welts. I've also got a gold cotton thread with a reasonably uncheesy looking metallic that I think I will make lace with to trim the edges. Should be reasonably luxe looking while still remaining washable and a small enough amount of lace that it'll whip up quickly.

Not much else to talk about, and this post is pretty late, but I wanted to make certain I didn't skip a day. Off to sew stocking seams and design the pattern for the couching.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Krin and the Seeblatt

I've been trying to decide what to embroider on my breeches and stockings. There are so many options. Maybe too many. I started by looking at blackwork patterns because the extant pair that I like the most has blackworked (or blue in this case) acorns, Byzantine eagles, and little plaques with mottos. I took a look at patterns from a 16th century Italian sampler. The original is held in the V&A. Several people have been sweet enough to chart the patterns. The most easily accessible is at Dragonlore but if you go to Bronwyn's Pattern Library via the Wayback machine and check it around 2004, there is a beautiful selection of patterns graphed from this same sampler. Like I said, maybe too many options. I am not the biggest fan of counted blackwork and honestly don't know if I have the time to do a pair of breeches that intricate.

So, there's the other pair that I like, the pink silk breeches seen under a fine cutwork smock in Patterns of Fashion 4. It has polychrome floral embroidery in diagonal lines. Really pretty, but also crazy to try to get done in the time allotted. I'm also not really a girl girl with a love of florals. I've been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what to do.

Then, I had a tub epiphany last night (I do my best thinking in the bath.) I've already got pink linen for breeches. The diagonal bands are really nice. Doing simplified embroidery in that shape in one or two colors shouldn't be too hard. Not great history, but it should be pretty and I already have decided that this isn't going to be an A&S competition sort of project. If I split the difference and sort of mix the floral and the heraldic it should be reasonably good looking. Enter the seeblatt. Its a heraldic symbol that is supposed to represent a waterlily leaf. It sort of looks like an inverted heart with a club (the card suit type) inside it. Another vaguely floral heraldic symbol I like is the Krin (that's it there is the second line in the corner.) Krin is Russian for lily. The symbol is a descendent of the Greek wild lily (the Fleur de lis is also descended from this.) It means natural beauty, growth and life. If you want to wade through a really great article on a Kievan Rus jewelry hoard, there's some information on the Krin on page 73. The krin has a red central bud and then is surrounded in leaves. The symbol is really old. There's a beautiful representation of it in felt dating from the 3rd century BC. I used it as a border on a felted wall bag I made last year.

It is, however, in constant use. That's one of the great things about old motifs, especially when they find their way into silk patterns. They linger. The lily in the heart is perfectly correct for 300 B.C., 11th Century Russia, and the France of Marie Antoinette, but would look just as fresh today. As I said, not perfect research, but it does have all the hallmarks of what I love most about history. It falls into my "fun and not jarring" category.

So, I think I'll be drawing up some bands that combine lilies, spades, hearts, and clubs. It'll probably look like I'm ready to play poker. Just need some diamonds.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A long due update.

I got behind and never did last week's update, so here's the official wrap-up.

I am making a gold underskirt lined in brown linen with felt padded cartridge pleats. I finally finished the pleats today after quite a number of false starts. I made the aigleted kumihimo lacing string for it on my muradai in red,black and gold to match the rest of the outfit. The plan is to let the skirt hang for awhile so I can hem it and add felt stiffening to the bottom. I plan to do cream guards with black and gold edging.

I finished my zibellino, just need to attach it to the girdle once that is complete. I made the face and back paws with Sculpey and then added filigree and beads. The little white enamel flowers remind me a lot of the ones on this extant zibellino head. The pearl drop on the forehead was a must so it at least bore some similarity in looks to the portrait. She has a collar of gold filigree and red stones, and there are jump rings on her muzzle under her head for attaching to the girdle. I actually forgot to glue the little rice pearl claws onto the feet before taking the picture, but they are attached now.

I did a flag fan from scrap from my petticoat and a scrap of tasseled trim I had at the bottom of a drawer Not sure which fan I like better, this one or the feather one I made first. Guess I'll have to wait until the dress is finished and make a decision.

Speaking of options, I made some hairpins based on the extant pin in the Met There are 14 of them, because that's how many beads I have and hairpins seem to disappear around here so more is probably better. I tried them out, wearing some in my hair a couple of times. I needed to harden them a bit more than I did originally, and might cut them down a little bit, but on the whole I like them a lot. They're super fun to wear.

I really need to finish up all the bits and pieces I have in progress and hope to have more to show when the 21st rolls around with the end of the first month (wow, time flies.) I have started a rosary, have chopines in the sanding stage, have patterned my stockings, need to make a decision on whether to finish the lace for my camicia or just use purchased lace, and have all kinds of other projects half started. Focus is not my forte, I'm afraid. Still, its coming

Well darn, my cartridge pleating post disappeared

My musings on how many times I've taken the cartridge pleats out and redone them has disappeared. Ah well, maybe I didn't need to have my insecurities on display.

I'm in the middle of putting together an official update since its been awhile. I'm pushing to get all the pleating done before the end of day today so I can have the skirt hang over the weekend and do the hem and guards starting on Monday. I finished the zibellino and its very sparkly. So, my update will have the petticoat, zibi, hairpins, and flag fan. I was sort of toying with waiting until the 21st to update since I'd have a lot more finished, but decided 2 weeks is too long as it is.

I've got a lot of cleaning and yard work to do this weekend, so not sure there will be much progress over the next couple of days. Maybe the rosary will finish up at least. Maybe not, it depends on how long the beads take to dry. I have added a piece of outerwear to my to do list after running across the perfect fabric in my stash to make a cappotto, so I'll at least babble about that a bit and show off the fabric, plan, and notions. I also need to make something to wear to Baron's War since I'll be going so I can be at Seraphina's elevation. I'm trying to decide between a Persian style coat or the Venetian version of the Turkish coat. I have an incredibly crazy fabric with pomegranates in robin's egg blue, olive, and hot pink that would be perfect for a true Persian style coat. It's been in my to do pile for some time now and that might just win out over something with taste and restraint.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Crucible? Annie Get Your Gun? Help me Tim Gunn!

I'm such a Project Runway junkie. There was an unfortunate cartridge pleating incident in Season 8 and I keep giggling about it and flashing to it. A fashion moment running over and over. Sort of like a song stuck in your head. I've been pursing my lips and muttering, "No woman would want to wear that. No one wants to add to her hips." Well, not a modern woman anyway. Cartridge pleats? You're out!

Perfectly perfect for the fashionable Venetian and Elizabethan though, right?

I'm 20 pleats into the 80 or so I need. I've taken them out I don't know how many times for a variety of reasons. I've done them with no padding, with light felt, with heavier felt, and with cotton batting. I've restitched them multiple times trying to get the pleating more even, my stitches nicer, the pleats rounder and better shaped, and the lining more crisp and evenly exposed so it looks on purpose rather than a terrible accident. I've tried a depth of one inch and an inch and a half. The current ones are two inches, but I'm almost thinking they should be deeper. I think I've hit the point where they just aren't going to get better on this particular project, however, so I'm just going to leave them alone before I throw the whole skirt across the room. They could certainly be better, but I'm not going to do a better job on them right now. I think I just need to finish them and vow the next project will be better.

Besides, I might give myself some sort of rotator cuff injury throwing this thing across the room. I tossed it on the scale just to see and it weighs about 11 pounds. I still need to trim the hem, but I also need to add the guards and felt and cord for the hem so it could get worse.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My house smells amazing!

First up, I have to point out that I have no documentation on rose petal beads being used in period for rosaries. The idea that rosaries were made of roses any time before the 19th or 20th century is one of those lovely myths that is, in all likelihood, totally untrue. If you want to read up on what little mention there is of the composition of beads in historical rosaries, I suggest you check out this site.

I, however, fell in love with a rosary made by Katherine Kerr of the Hermitage using rose petal beads and pearls as gauds (the big beads between decades of a rosary.) She also has a mention of an orange peel rosary made in prison in 1597 which I thought was really intriguing. There are some specific reasons why I wanted to do this type of rosary. First up is the reason I wanted to make a rosary in the first place. I recently received a really beautiful cross when I took a class on Cycles of Life in the Medieval World from Sister Scholastica (HE Leah de Spencer KSCA, OP) at Collegium. She is teaching it again at Arn Hold's Baronial collegium this month. If you live in Artemisia and have the opportunity, I can't recommend it enough. The way in which she explains how the view of time in the church defined the secular cycles of time in the community is both fascinating and illuminating. Anyway, I had this cross and no idea what to do with it. Praksedys is Russian Orthodox, and while she would wear a body cross, it would be an 8 ended cross which is the Greek style in contrast to the Roman style.

I also happened to be standing nearby when Dame Theodora Trebizond was restringing pearls recently. She had a bunch that were too large for her preferred uses in needlework and was making them into short lengths to give away for largesse and as tokens. As my persona is Russian she handed me some, because Russian always need more pearls. Its sort of like breathing. Having these two beautiful tokens from two amazing women, I wanted to make something lovely with them.

I had picked and frozen rose petals last summer as part of experiments in rose petal jelly and they were getting freezer burned so it was time to use or toss them. So, rose petal beads. One more accessory for my gown. The accessories are totally taking on a life of their own.

As far as updates on the other in progress bits go, its a mixed bag. The zibellino needs chain and I was unable to find what I wanted locally, so its on order. The leather for the needlecase is drying. The underskirt is back to being padded with felt in the pleats and I keep promising myself I'll just finish it any day now. The chopines are vexing me since I'm not certain my wood is wide enough. I'm hoping for sudden inspiration and a solution to strike me across the back of the head. Lacemaking has pretty much stopped and I'm trying to decide if I want to just purchase lace since, while I'm pretty much done with the lace on the sleeves, it will require a lot of hand embroidery to attach it and do the scalloped sort of shapes similar to the extant piece. I also still have to make the lace for between the gores, for the hem, and for the neckline. If I do that I don't think I'll have the time I need to do the hand work on the partlet, which is visible, as opposed to the camicia. Maybe putting the lace aside for a different project is a better idea. Still trying to decide on that. I'm hoping I'll feel better about it all once I finish the underskirt and at least have one wearable garment to go with my pile of accessories. I may cut the dress out next, just so I don't feel quite so panicked about having no clothes when this is over.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Please excuse the research geek out, but I had an idea and I'm excited about it. As usual for me, there's a big long story behind a very small item.

Well before I ever considered making an Italian dress, I fell in love with an extant embroidered needlecase from Venice. Its just plain gorgeous, as well as being very functional. Its basic shape is like a penner with cords down the sides along which the lid slides to open and close it. I'm assuming it would be worn from a girdle in the same sort of way a penner ( a case worn on the belt that holds scribal supplies) would. According to Bella's Glossary of Italian Words Related to Costume the word for penner and needlecase is the same in Italian so there are certainly some similarities. Totally random fact, but in old Russian the words for writing and needlework are the same. Cool, huh?

I ran across the pennaivolo while doing other research (isn't that how everything is found?) I made some Norse style carved bone needlecases awhile back, and in the process of my research read this survey paper on needlecases and saw a drawing of the incredibly lovely embroidered example featured at Historic Needlework Resources Its heavily decorated with peacocks and flowers embroidered over a painted tube. The guilded and painted collar with its flaming heart, skull, and bones reminds me of my friend Fiametta. Needless to say, I'm not getting a reproduction of that needlecase made any time soon since its a 4 (or 6 or more) month project on its own.

I still like the idea of a needlecase to wear with my dress, however, and its been brewing in the back of my brain. When I did my pocket, I saw this image of a needlecase dangling from the pocket and it seemed a lot more doable than the first. Well, maybe. It has its own difficulties. Like the fact that it is a tiny picture with not much to go on. It appears to be metal to me. Metal is second to bone use for needlecases in the extant ones we have across cultures so that makes sense. There are certainly Italian examples of needlecases done in metal, like this one dated from around 1500. The shape of the one in the link isn't at all similar to the one in the painting, nor does the open topped cone in the painting match extant English pieces which tend to be more tapered and thin. And then there's the fact that I have minimal metalworking skills. Difficulties.

I still want to try it, however. I have some ideas. Many of the extant needlecases have interior tubes of either metal or leather to separate the space into sections. The 1500 Italian metal example has grooves as well. I'm thinking if I do a cone out of embossing metal and wrap it around leather tubes it might work. I picked up some thin metal sheets to play with while I was out today, so I'm going to do some playing this afternoon and see what happens. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My poor, long suffering, husband

"Explain to me again how buying a belt sander comes out of the clothing budget?"

"Do you really need to ask that? You've seen cable ties for duct work, rolls and rolls of duct tape, plumbing tubing, soil cloth for septic tanks, washers, nuts, glues, window screening, painter's tarps and a whole assortment of general hardware go under the clothing budget. Power tools surprise you? I'm making wooden shoes with it."

"When did we become Dutch?"

He really puts up with a lot, does the man of the house. I sometimes think that there should be a support group for the significant others of costumers. It could meet at the hardware store so the little old guys in bright orange vests who walk behind me in bafflement when I inquire after supplies based on their color and shape as opposed to purpose can share stories. Or maybe not, there are certainly worse hazards of being in a relationship with a creative clothier. You don't get to dress yourself, every time you leave the house you have top check for thread trying to hitch a ride to freedom, you can't go barefoot unless you are on the alert for pins, you have to move piles of prewashed fabric aside to get clean pants and socks into the laundry rotation, and of course, the shelves installed for organization in the pantry, linen closet, and garage have all been filled with fabric leaving the same piles of clutter that existed before the shelves.

While he was still a bit bemused over the sander, I changed the subject.

"So, I'm making this dress."

"I noticed. . ."

"I was wondering, when I finished it, if you'd be willing to paint my portrait in it?"

"Do you want something Mannerist or more in the style of the Venetian School?"

And that right there is why I love this man!

In update news, I did some work on the zibellino yesterday. Added some filigree to her face, and attached the mask and feet to the fur. I still need to do the muzzle and chain and make a collar, as well as add the decoration to the feet, but its coming together. She's posed on my pretty roses I got for Mother's Day yesterday. I didn't get as much done yesterday as I planned to, but things are coming along. I really need to focus on the underskirt. There's also the sander to use so chopines should get some attention.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Better get a wiggle on it

I was going to do another weekly round-up sort of thing, but really don't have that much finished for this week. Lots of work done though and I'm hopeful that another day or two will give me some more completed items-- maybe even finishing the underskirt and having my first completed garment. As part of my Mother's Day gift, I get to sew today while my husband watches the kids, so I'm planning for some big progress.

I want to decide on the width of the camisia sleeves today and do a preliminary layout of the lace insertions to see if I'm getting anywhere close to finishing. Crossing my fingers on that. It would be nice to switch patterns and start working on the insertions between the gores just for a change of pace. The other big project for the day is putting the pieces of the zibellino together and finishing that up.

I also need to make some progress on the chopines. I have a splendiferous reason to bump them up the list of projects. The incredible Seraphino Basso got asked yesterday to think about joining the Order of the Laurel and would like a pair to be elevated at her elevation, so to speak. Hoping to learn enough making my chopines, so we can get her an awesome pair made. It also ups my timeline a bit, since I would like to have my dress ready to wear to her elevation since she patterned it.

Guess I better go get working!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A diversionary scroll

This scroll took a lot longer than I was planning for. My 3 year old was once again being very helpful. He decided to add his own flourishes in the text box and dribble all over the miniature with large splotches of ink. I spent a good part of yesterday scraping ink off, repainting and reworking. I still haven't gotten the award text written. Rather worried about that since calligraphy is not my strong suit. The event starts in a couple of hours and is an hour drive away. Thank goodness they don't need it until the end, huh?

This will be my 3rd Kingdom scroll presented. I think I'm making progress, but still a long way to go before I'm reasonable at scroll making. I started doing scroll with an ulterior motive, as a way to get my husband (who is a really wonderful artist) to get more involved in the SCA. I figured if I had assignments and was making a mess of them he would step in and save me since I am not the painter in the family. No such luck, but I'm having fun and getting better quickly.

This was a big stretch for me, since I have been focusing on early Russian and Byzantine illumination styles. Its based on a French manuscript dated 1540. Our Queen has a late period Elizabethan persona, so I felt it was more fitting. She is also both a Laurel and a Pelican so I included those as well as her personal device of the red dragonfly. The bits of filigree at the bottom reminded me of gryphons, so I drew them that way. My version is certainly a great deal more whimsical than the original, but I think it will be appreciated and the award is for Queen's Choice at Kingdom A&S, so I haven't made a mess of someone's AoA or anything.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A note pinned to my coat

Dear Readers,

Please excuse Hastings from writing this morning. Kingdom Arts and Science for Artemisia is tomorrow and she is swamped with other projects. She is responsible for finishing the scroll for the Queen's Choice award as well as pre-judging some written documents. Her brain is about to ooze out her ears and her shoulder has requested a leave of absence.

Ever to Your Service,

Praksedys Turova doch'
Minister of Arts and Sciences, Province of Arrow's Flight

The picture to the left is of Saint Paraskeva. She is the name saint of Praksedys (my persona.) The name translates to "Friday." She is a very popular patron saint of women in Russia as well as being the patron of spinners. Friday is Paraskeva's holy day and women are told not to spin on Fridays. I guess that gives me a good excuse even if I don't get anything accomplished today.

I'll try to get a picture up of the scroll once I finish it later today and get back to the IRCC quickly.


Thursday, May 5, 2011


My 3 year old son is convinced that this is the coolest project ever because I let him hit things with a large rubber mallet. He also says I "made a sun" when I arranged the hairpins for the picture. He helped with that too, which is my excuse my inability to get a circle. It was a really fun morning.

Yes, I know, Camilla is wearing a really great hat and I will be making that, but I fell in love with this extant 16th century Venetian hairpin at the Met and needed to make some of those too. I have pretty long hair, but always wear it covered at SCA events due to my persona. It is considered both unlucky and shameful for a married Rus woman to have her hair uncovered and can bring disaster to her family. Having the Italian gown and an excuse to show off my hair is just too tempting, so I couldn't resist the hairpins. I also happened to have the perfect beads in my stash. Even if I never wear them at an event, I know I'll wear them in real life. I love hairtoys and have a pretty good collection of combs, hair sticks, decorated bobby pins, etc. More sparkly bits to put in my hair will certainly not go unused.

It was also totally worth it for the look of pure joy on my little boy's face as I gave him permission to hit things with an oversized hammer in order to harden the wire. I spend so much time asking him to leave my things alone, that it was a great change of pace. Mallet is also a fabulous word. Mallet.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Zibi feet and mythology

I spent most of yesterday sculpting the head and feet for my zibellino. I haven't played with Sculpey in forever and forgot just how long the darn stuff takes to condition by hand. The gold was a lot stiffer and crumblier to work with than I remember the other colors being. Finally finished and fired it though, after some moderate frustration, and today I get to do the fun stuff and add all the beads and doodads and attach it to the fur. I put holes into the edges of the feet and around the neck so I should be able to sew them into place and add some epoxy for extra strength. We'll see if it works the way I planned it or not.

The more I learn about these odd accessories, the more excited I am to have one. In reading up on both zibellini and Camilla Gonzaga, apparently her portrait would not have been complete without the gold headed fur draped over her shoulder, and not just because its pretty and luxurious. Tawny Sherrill mentions Camilla's portrait in her discussion of zibellini as a symbolic representation of childbirth in her article in Medieval Clothing and Textiles volume 2. As the mother of three sons alive and healthy past the point of infancy, Camilla was certainly a success in that department, and her ornate zibellino backs up the images of her boys in framing her as a good mother.

I'm a sucker for a good myth and zibellini are certainly a conversation starter in that direction. The weasel/sable/marten was apparently a sign of both fertility and chastity. Seems sort of dichotomous, but the mythology of the weasel makes it make sense. It stems from a Greek/Roman myth involving Jove's famous philandering and the birth of Hercules. Ovid tells the tale in Metamorphosis.

Hercules mother, Alcmena, was having trouble giving birth and cried out to Lucina, the goddess of childbirth. Juno stopped her on the way and ordered Lucina to not allow the birth to happen. Lucina entwined her fingers at Alcmena's knees and muttered charms to stop the baby coming. Luckily for the poor laboring woman, her maid Galanthis put a stop to that and interrupted the goddess. For her compassion, she was turned into a weasel by the goddess. Because Galanthis helped give birth by her mouth (the interruption) the myth evolved that weasels got pregnant through the ear and gave birth through their mouths. As a result, the animals symbolize both chastity and childbearing. There's actually even a scientific basis for the chastity association. Mustelids have an odd quirk known as delayed implantation. They don't get pregnant immediately after mating, but instead wait until spring.

As the mother of twins, having a fertility symbol slung over my shoulder may not be the best of choices since I don't need any more children just now, but I'll take the association with motherhood. More sparkle and jewelry is also fun. The zibellino as sort of a trophy of mom makes me smile. It meets up nicely with my reason for doing this portrait dress in the first place.

I had originally thought about naming my zibi Vanyushka. Its a very diminutive form of Ivan. I figured since sables are usually thought of as Russian and my persona is Rus it made sense. It was also a joke pointing to the large fur I had. Calling it "very, very small Ivan" seemed amusing. I'm thinking now I may call her Galanthis. At one point in life I was training to be a midwife and it seems a nice bit of synchronicity.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Waistband finished and an idea for trimming

Finally finished the last of the pesky (far too large) eyelets on the waistband of the underskirt, so I can officially declare that done. I also had said I'd show my idea for the trim, so here it is. I've been staring at the embroidered net on the German waistless kirtle in Patterns of Fashion as well as the black child's overdress trimmed with gold bobbin lace that looks like a lattice and decided that trimming with lace couldn't be that terrible of an idea. The lace looks a lot like the one used as an insertion in this extant Italian apron. I might actually have enough of it to use it as trim for the underskirt and make an apron as well. Not that I need an apron, but I think the one in Antea is beautiful and it shares an artist with "my" portrait. I'm also considering making her gloves and possibly her hair jewelry, so its sort of serving as a secondary inspiration. The look of the apron over the gold skirt is really interesting and it would be nice to have options down the road to be able to use the various pieces of the dress in different ways to get more wear out of it.

I've been playing with pleats, but am nervous they might be too large. I'm lining the gold with a sort of chestnut colored linen and had put a strip of felt in to pad the pleats. I'm not sure they need to be that thick. I'm afraid its going to give me more of a farthingale effect, especially as the skirt of the dress will be heavily pleated as well. I think the ones in the velvet are flat pleats though. At least that's what I'm coming up with from staring at the portrait again. They look flat, right? I've attached a few of the underskirt pleats and then taken them back off the waistband three times now. This wasn't supposed to be this difficult. Grumble, grumble grrrrr. The weight of the velvet will probably crush them to some extent, so maybe they need to be that poofy. Maybe not. I have no idea. I'm going to try ripping the felt out and see if the pleats have enough body without it. Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Nipping procrastination in the bud

I am the world's biggest procrastinator. That's the reason I've been posting everyday first thing in the morning. Its an attempt to get momentum and accountability. I'm hoping enough momentum will result in a finished project. This morning there was nothing to post about, other than a pile of unfinished underskirt. I was just going to not post today and justify it. But then, I've been justifying no progress for a couple of days now. So, here's my diversionary tactic and kick in the pants. I offer up, my flag fan.

Its all stash stuff, which is why the dowel is a bit shorter than I would have preferred, but I'm really kind of thrilled with the happy accident of the tassels. I've had this tiny piece of trim that was too cool to throw out and too small to do anything with. I had about an inch left over. There wasn't enough for both sides, so its folded over the edge and sewn into place. It looks nice and finished on the back, but there is most certainly a front side .

The handle is treated with the same metallic rubbing wax I used for the other fan and I finished off the top and bottom of the dowel with a couple of beads. The fabric is leftover jacquard from my underskirt. I put a thin layer of card stock inside two layers of fabric and then the flag part is buttonhole stitch closed on the edge and whipped onto the dowel. The stitches aren't loose, but they do allow the flag to rotate a little. Between the little bit of give and the swing of the tassels, the fan just feels whimsical and make me grin pretty ridiculously when fanning.

Speaking of whimsy, I pulled out the materials to work on my zibellino and went and looked at Sable Greyhound Gifts for inspiration. Holly has the most beautiful zibis and droolworthy jewelry. I'm really considering forgoing the points and just having her make me the perfect zibellino and caracanet rather than making my own jewelry and fur. She lives in my Province and I've only resisted buying one so far is that I had nothing to wear with it. I won't have that excuse any more, dang it Her newest brilliant idea is the Zibaby-- miniature zibellini. I may have to make my little girls Venetian gowns and get them their own accessories so I can steal them. The thought of my one year old baby girl in a gown with a zibaby and her twin brother all done up to match in a tiny doublet is cause for squeals. My older daughter would just look elegant.

My zibellino is going to be pretty large and would be best worn over the shoulder or arm, I may still make it up just to see how it goes and buy a smaller one from Holly to dangle from the girdle as a different option.

Okay, procrastination held at bay for another day. Just keep swimming. . . er, um SEWING. Just keep sewing. The underskirt has to start taking shape soon, right?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The myth is that I have any time

I spent yesterday separating dandelion petals from their sepals so I can make dandelion mead. Great activity and lots of chatting with me, my husband, and my crafting partner in crime, but no work on the dress happened. I should have yummy metheglin in about a years time though, so totally worth it.

I did spend a lot of time thinking about the dress. I've decided to do the felt stiffened hem rather than cording the petticoat since I want to do that sort of hem on the overdress to match the felt stiffened bodice. May as well practice on the underskirt.

I've got some scribal work to do for next week and there's a "Scribal Brunch" happening today, so I'm going to go hang out and pretend I'm working. I am excited to get the trim/guards started on the skirt now that I have an idea what I want though, so this evening should find me working. I was afraid that this layer was going to be sort of throwaway, but I had an epiphany while playing with some lace, ribbon, and trim and layering it on the gold of the skirt. I'm just going to tease with that and will show you the idea tomorrow-- even if its not sewn into place yet.

Off to play with paint and ink for awhile, and then I'll come home and put my nose back to the grindstone.