Thursday, June 30, 2011

Still pleating the skirt

Hand pleating 250 inches of velvet takes a while.  I finished the edges of the side back openings and I'm pretty pleased with my finish work for once.  The stitches are nice and small and mostly invisible.  I decided against the separate waistband under the bodice after staring at the portrait some more.  It appears that the skirt is attached to the outside of the bodice,  There is definitely some volume between the bodice and the skirt.  The tip of the partlet rests in the sort of valley formed by the ridge of the skirt.  Have a look and see if you see the same thing I'm seeing.

I've turned over the top of the skirt as you would in cartridge pleating, but I'm currently doing knife pleats that I'm basting into place.  We'll see how it works or if I'll be ripping them out and trying something else.  I THINK it looks right so far.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Veil is complete

Since you've already seen the trim close up, there's not much to say about the veil other than I made some big black tassels for the corners and added it to a big rectangular veil.  Took forever for such an easy project.  That's the hazards of making your own edgings I suppose.   It just sucks up the time. I'm happy with it though.  The edging weights the veil nicely and the tassels are fun.

The blurry baby at the bottom of the picture is my youngest daughter Elora putting in an appearance.  I guess she felt left out since her twin brother had dropped in a few weeks ago.  That, and the fact that she is a new walker and just needs to be EVERYWHERE these days.

I cut out the panels for the skirt yesterday and seamed them together, so today's project is pleating them to the bodice.  Since the bodice is complete as it is, I'm trying to decide if I want to put the skirt onto a separate waistband or not.  I had considered keeping them as two different pieces for flexibility reasons, but after fussing with trying to keep the petticoat and bodice without gaps at the wedding last weekend, I'm certain I just want a dress.  It did nix the train idea, however.  If the skirt is permanently attached the train is probably not the most functional option.  My husband also pointed out the fact that the kids are bound to stand on it and create problems.  The velvet skirt has a hem measurement of  250 inches as is so its rather heavy to start with.  Should be plenty full.
I want to do some more work on the balzo soon and have bodice laces to braid-- I've already set up the braid on my marudai, just need to do it.  I've been playing around with cooking with roses for the last day or so and its had me distracted.  The house smells wonderful though.  I do need to buckle down and sew since I've got my sister in law's wedding this weekend so not much will get done over Saturday and Sunday.  The contest deadline is creeping up, and my own personal deadline of having most things done by Baron's War on July 22nd is closing in.  Ack!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finished the necklace

Can I be highfalutin and call it a caracanet?  It turned out so much better than I had hoped.  Its made of some clasps, bead frames and other bits and pieces I got on clearance and it somehow came together to be something I'm super proud of.   Not the necklace in the portrait, but I think its got some similarities.  Its got sparkle and filigree and the drop pearl.  Which, by the way, was the hardest part.  I cannibalized an earring I got in a bag of junk jewelry for the drop.  I still need to find two more for the earrings.  So far I haven't had any luck.  The center bit is a gold plated bead frame with a glass bead and two little gold seedbeads that were spacer beads on some other beads I'd bought.  The heart shaped leaves are clasps, so the necklace can open in 5 different spots.  I might have to epoxy them closed so that doesn't happen when I don't want it to, but they seem to be secure.  Just to make things difficult the clasp I'm actually using as a clasp in the back center broke when I was trying it on.  Thank goodness for wire and plumber's epoxy and the fact that its going to be hidden under the partlet or my hair.  I love plumber's epoxy.  I used it to hold the pins on my quicky Viking brooches made from a couple of large pendants.  You just knead it fora minute or two, squish it into where you want it and sculpt it to shape and then let it dry.  Voila!  A bond that just plain doesn't separate.  The brooches have heavy strings of beads hanging from them and got quite a workout since I wore my Viking dress while nursing twins and they were opened and closed a lot.  No fear at all the clasp will break again.

The veil is done and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  Need to get a picture and I'll post it tomorrow.  I'm not working at all hard today, can't get motivated, but the pleating for the skirt is coming along.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Terrible pictures as usual

I had hoped having someone else take the picture would mean we got a decent one.  No such luck.  Its proof I made some stuff though!

As a first attempt on the doublet with hook and eyes sewn in at the last minute and the lining not in place I'm actually really pleased.  The next one is going to be really nice I think.  Everyone who saw it had loads of complements on the shirt and its the one piece of the ensemble that I don't feel needs any tweaks or fixes.  Its a really nice shirt.   Gandhi loves the Venetians and they fit really well.  He told me he was pleasantly surprised, assuming they wouldn't be comfortable but he wants another pair so there's a seal of approval right there.  He liked the cape as well, but June might not be the time to really test it out.  It hung nicely and made another layer.  I joked with him if I made him a hat he'd have his own 4 layer challenge outfit.

My outfit at the wedding wasn't quite as successful.  It was pretty and I've certainly worked hard on all the pieces, but it was much less complete.  I was really happy with the fit of the bodice, but something strange happened and a couple of pieces of the boning moved around and escaped the interlining so I had to pull it apart and fix that this morning.  I also had to fix the camisia.  I had "gather smocked" the neckline and backstitched across the gathering strings, but sections in the sleeves broke and it loosened a lot.  I am in the process of fixing that.  The plan had always been to attach a band and add more lace to the top and hem so this just confirmed that I need to further secure it.  The petticoat was really comfortable, even in the heat.  I wore the apron since I didn't have the overskirt done and it was a fun piece.  I'm glad I made it and think it will add a lot of versatility to the finished dress.

I finished the veil and the necklace and am sending in my update to Bella so there'll be some fun stuff to talk about tomorrow.  Going to get back in the swing of things and get back to being better at the daily babbling.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Going to get a picture later today when my husband gets home in the midst of packing to go to our friend's wedding.  I got us each something wearable.  Not complete by any means but wearable,  Its not a reenactment thing so even an attempt at "Ren" will be appreciated.  I'm wearing my camisia, the bodice, my petticoat and apron.  Not sure if I'll go bareheaded or wear my blackwork coif.  I got him a doublet, venetians, shirt, and cape done  The sleeves didn't get done and the doublet needs more trim and what is on it now if really shiny gold, but its reasonable and he's excited about it.  I think wearing things will be motivational for getting more done quickly.  I really want to get the sleeves started.

Now to finish laundry and make the card for the wedding.  We bought the couple a longbow off their registry and I'm making them a pair of bycocket (Robin Hood) hats as their card since the bow hasn't shipped yet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Really, there will be pictures soon

I got the pleating/gathering done on the camisia neckline done this afternoon and cut my husband's Venetians.  I'm locking myself in my sewing room tonight to try to get things done for this weekend.  My sanity might not survive, but I'm getting loads done.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ack! Can't find the camera.

Nothing is safe here with both babies now walking, climbing, and pulling things off every available surface.  I can't find the camera, so there are no pictures.  And there are things to take pictures of!  My fears about the bodice have been set to rest.  It fits PERFECTLY!  So perfectly that I might take the next one in a bit so I can lace it a bit looser and lose a pound or two and then tighten it up.

Didn't get around to the skirt yet, but I worked on the camisia.  It needs one more side panel attached and the second sleeve and then its all constructed.  Lots of handwork left with the gathering, but its starting to look good.

There might actually be something wearable by this weekend.  I've been bemoaning the plainness of my portrait dress up to now, but it very well may save me.

Can't happy dance yet since I have a doublet, a pair of trousers and a skirt to make by Saturday, but things are coming together.  There are clothes happening rather than just bits and pieces. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sneaking in a post this morning

Up most of the night with an insomniac infant.  Every time I put my daughter down she woke back up screaming.  Nothing wrong, she just didn't want to sleep between 2 and 5 AM.  Back up at 6:30 with her brother.  Argh.  On the plus side, I'm down to 2 eyelets on the bodice.  Rather than working on the Venetians and camisia I'm going to concentrate on the dress today.  The plan is to get a skirt on it by this evening so I've got something wearable for this weekend.  The eventual plan is to do a felt stiffened hem with the tuck, but I'm planning to just tack it up for the wedding and do the handwork when I can concentrate on it next week rather than trying to rush it now.

The hope is for pictures by this evening.  It will be my 70th post for the blog.  Back to eyelets and on to skirt making.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Camicia sleeves

I spent most of the morning fussing over lace inserts for the sleeves.  I started out trying for the zigzag of the extant camisia that I was using for inspiration, but mitering the lace to get a crisp angle made it rather thick.  It just didn't look good with the materials I am using.  Just one of the problems of trying to add lace rather than making integral needlelace.  I considered bagging the lace idea altogether, but since I had 12 yards of the stuff I plowed ahead.  I ended up with horizontal insertions.  They don't look like much thrown across my chair, but I think they will be nice made up into billowy sleeves.  Next up is the insertions between the body panels.  I was considering doing more like the extant piece, but I will probably just end up using Bella's pattern and inserting between the body and side panels.  If I do 2 side panels instead of slitting them (which is how I usually insert my gussets on other types of smocks) it will give me 6 strips of lace in the body piece.  I think that will be plenty and use up most of the lace I purchased.

I finished the edging for the black veil late last night.  Just need to block it and attach it.  The plan is to do that when I change thread colors to make Gandhi's Venetians.  I'd hoped to get them made quickly, but I've got to take the kids to the dentist tomorrow so I may get little to nothing done until Tuesday.  I may try for a late night tonight and see how far I can get with the camisia.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

At least HE'S going to have something to wear.

Pretty productive day on the ensemble for my husband.  I need to slipstitch the collar lining of the cloak and add ties, but its basically done.  His shirt needs cuff fastenings but its almost done as well.  I'm pretty pleased with it.  Its a very lightweight cotton voile and he says he really likes how it feels.  He vetoed the length of the shirt in the pattern, so I cut off about 12 inches from the length and he wanted ruffles on the cuffs but not on the neck.  Other than that I did it exactly as specified.  Following a pattern that closely is unheard of for me.  Probably the reason I actually got two items of clothing done, however.  No detours into frustration and creative reconstruction. 

I'm hoping to get the Venetians cut this evening and maybe sew some more eyelets so I can make at least a little progress on my dress-- especially since it needs to be wearable in a week.  Tomorrow's project is hopefully finishing Gandhi's trousers and starting on my camisia.  He's celebrating Father's Day by watching our kids so I can sew.  There was some mention of a movie.

Shopping yesterday went nicely.  I picked up the cotton voile I used for his shirt and some batiste for my camisia.  I also picked up about 25 yards of lace to do the insertions.  There's a thicker one for the zig-zags of the sleeves and a coordinating thinner one for between the body pieces.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Certainly nicer than what I was making.  I washed the lace this morning and then spent about an hour and a half blocking and ironing it.  It didn't shrink all that much, which was a nice surprise.  I promised Gandhi if the camisia isn't going quickly tomorrow, I'll change plans and do a quick plain one for the wedding next weekend and get back to working on the one for the IRCC afterward.  He's worried about more frustration hitting with the tight deadline.  He's probably right, but I also want to see some progress on the project.  Especially since I'm way overdue for sending in an update.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another historic skill being kept alive by seamstresses

With GPS there just aren't that many opportunities to truly frustrate yourself by trying to fold a map back into its original dimensions.  Luckily, however, anyone who sews gets to continue to practice this obscure and disappearing craft by attempting to put the tissue paper pattern back into the envelope.  A good time was had by all. . .

Actually, it was. I had a pretty constructive day yesterday.  I got the pattern cut out so that I could try it on Gandhi and retraced his size on to plastic.  We decided with the heat to wait on the fur lined scholar's robe until winter, so I'm doing the half circle cloak that is part of the pattern.  I got that cut out.  I finished another yard of the veil edging and did 8 more of the eyelets on the bodice.  I'm still dissatisfied with them, but have decided to finish them.  If I still detest them once they are all complete, I can re-do the bodice entirely, but I'll have at least practiced eyelets that much more.  My friends keep reassuring me that once the laces are in them I won't be as bothered.  I hope they're right.  The eyelets are very functional and placed correctly, its just that the stitches are not at all even.

Today is a shopping day (payday!) where I plan to pick up fabric for Gandhi's shirt, buy silk to make the lacing cords, and purchase lace for my camisia since I've given up on getting the lace I was making done in time.  I found what I hope is a suitable replacement at a local shop that caters to heirloom sewing for children.  They have one of the largest selections of laces I've ever encountered.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It doesn't take much to make him happy

I once made my husband a hoodie.  It took me less than an hour and he wore it basically every day for a couple of years until the nap wore off of the elbows.  The hood was badly shaped and the front pocket was on slightly wonky.  He didn't care.  I'd made it for him and thus it was his favorite thing.  Even in its current state he still wears it from time to time.  Every time he can find it in fact.  I keep hiding it. . .

Nothing like that sort of vote of confidence to make you feel like you can make anything.  I've been feeling bad about my construction skills so I figure the perfect antidote is to make the planned doublet for my guy.

I bought Margo Anderson's pattern for the Elizabethan Gentlemen's Wardrobe.  I've got just over a week to get it done for this wedding we're attending.  Nothing like a deadline to motivate.  The nice thing is I know he won't care how it turns out.  I could make him a rectangle of fabric with a hole cut out for the head, call it a tabard, and he'd wear it.  That fact makes me want to make him something truly beautiful, however.  He deserves it.  To brag about him a little more, he just got a new job.  He's rather brilliant actually and is a computer software developer.  He wasn't looking for something new, but it found him.  His current job wanted to keep him so much there was a sort of bidding war for his services.  I'm pretty darn proud of the man. 

So, I guess I better get busy cutting his doublet and making him something nifty. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back at it. and wondering about veils and lace

Mysteries are fun.  I decided to do an edged veil after seeing Christa Gordon's inspiration image for her black veil and becoming intrigued.  Its got an obviously scalloped edge and tassels but that's about all the information there.  I pestered my friend Seraphina about veils and she didn't have a lot of extra to add.

It's sort of the same place I came to when investigating Anatolian veils and oya lace or "igne oyasi" last year.  Also called Turkish Lace, its colorful flowers of needlelace.  Which flowers and how and when they are worn became a symbolic language.  I ended up ordering Oya Culture since the Ottomans, but it has no real information on the history of oya.  The instructions and patterns for making oya aren't that helpful, and none of the patterns predate the 1960's.  Having something shipped from Turkey was sort of novel though.  It and several other publications have been put out by the government in an attempt to preserve folk culture and craft.  It doesn't answer the question of whether oya is old enough to be in SCA period though.  All I can find are vague references to "ancient," "centuries old," and the cringe inducing "traditional." 

Since Venice adopted things like under drawers for women from the Turks I sort of wonder about the two cultures and veil edging.  Particularly in light of the tassels at the edges of the veil.  It could be absolutely nothing, but it could be something.  I love a good research mystery.  We take for granted embroidered, beaded, and lace edgings as integral parts of veils now.  I'm curious how early that sort of thing happened.  Russian veils are highly decorated with fringes, embroidery, gold and pearls.  There's a beautiful extant veil belonging to Ivan the Terrible's  first wife Anastasia Romanova.  Its 16th century, so pretty late, but its there and there's evidence it started much earlier.   

My fantasy edging is going to start me on another big digging expedition, I can already tell.  Anyone already done some of the work?  What do you know about veil edgings and decorations?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taking the next two days off

I think I need a break from thinking about this for a day or two.  I have the wedding deadline in a week and a half, but its supposed to be fun, so if I don't have something made by then, it won't be the end of the world.  No sewing, no thinking about, list making, or buying for the challenge.  I'm also giving myself permission to not make a blog entry tomorrow.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blargh. . .

Eyelets are not going well.  I'm not nearly practiced enough at them.  I just don't like how they are looking.  I went to a sewing day today where I managed to do a whopping 5 eyelets amidst much complaining and gnashing of teeth.  I was contemplating throwing the darn thing across the room and stomping on it a bit. 

I'm considering taking the shell off and cutting out a new bodice and starting over.  I've been slow and careful and, I'd hoped, meticulous with the sewing, but it really looks shoddy.  I have plenty of both the silk and the velvet so materials are not an issue, I'm just upset at having lost a week of work.  Just not sure what I am doing wrong, but I'm concerned the bodice isn't going to fit and the bad looking eyelets are the final straw.

Maybe Bella is right, it is Survivor.  Looking at just this week I'd either be voted off or just quit and go home.  The pile of accessories is helping though.  If I stop now I have nothing whatsoever to wear them with. . .

So, teacup tempests and temper tantrums.  Giorgione's Tempest and its roiling clouds and thunder in the background about sums up my mood.    

Saturday, June 11, 2011


This little fellow is Arcano.  He's my new zibellino from Sable Greyhound.  He's my personal reward for blogging and making progress.  Yes.  I bribed myself to play.  Isn't he adorable?  Holly's work is so beautiful.  They're supposed to be accessories, but they're more collectible art.  Some of the owners have named their own, but mine came with his name attached and its perfect.  There's been a joke about his "dark and mysterious past" as a zibi assassin or something.  I said something about zibi trading cards .  Holly made the mistake of saying okay.  Bwahahahahahah!   I poked my husband about helping me do some character sketches.  We'll see what comes of it.  If I can't get him working on it I might poke Marguerite's husband about it.  Silly?  Of course.  But fun.

In a related distraction, I spent my morning reading up on fur currency in 11th-14th century Russia.  One type of unit of money was the kuna.  Its derived from the word kunitsa which means marten.  Even after the return to silver coins kuna remained in the language as a word for money.  In an interesting twist, the word nogata was used to mean a "fur with legs" but is derived from the Arabic word nagd which means "a good coin."  Etymology is cool.

I have the back shell of the bodice stitched, just need to have some help adjusting the shoulders so I can attach front to back.  Then on to the eyelets.  I was hoping to finish them this afternoon, but we have surprise friends in town.  They're driving up about 3 and half hours to attend the Utah Scottish Festival and Highland Games.  It's 5 minutes from our house so we HAVE to go.  The Wicked Tinkers are playing the evening concert.  Fun, fun.  Dancing, bagpipes, large things being thrown, and good friends.  The dress can wait another day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nothing much to see, but I'm still working.

My house has become a disaster so I've been cleaning rather than sewing.  The back of the bodice is almost done though.  I would probably have it done already, but I've got a migraine on its way, so I'm cancelling the rest of the day and will get back at it tomorrow.

Other than that, I have been working on an edging for a big black veil.  It will look better once I block it and attach it, I swear.  Might add a bit of gold to it as well.  Or maybe some beads on the picots.  Not sure yet.  I'm making 11 yards and have about 4 yards to this point.

More later, but I need to go find a dark room and ride out this headache.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chug a chug a choo choo

Maybe just a little train?  I watched Jenny La Fleur's video of her pink Florentine gown in action and now I'm wondering if a train wouldn't be rather nifty.  I certainly have plenty of velvet for it.  As my friend Marguerite pointed out when I was obsessing about cutting the bodice, "you've got enough fabric to make a dress, burn it, and make another one."  It'd also make the dress a little more exciting, which is something I've been worried about since its just so darn plain.  A train would also be something unusual for me.  Russian dresses don't even go to the ground.  They are normally just a little short in order to stay out of the mud and had the added bonus of showing off beautifully embroidered boots.

 Going to have to think about it for a day or so.  I've got probably at least two until I have to cut the skirt.  I finished stitching the lining on the front section of the bodice last night.  Today's project is the back section.  Then I need to make the lacing eyelets.  I'm rather excited.  There's a really good chance I'll have a wearable dress by the end of the weekend.  No sleeves, but since I still need to make my husband something to wear to this wedding in two weeks I'm going to leave the sleeves for awhile and shift to working on his doublet.  Trying to get things done quickly but not rush anything on my dress.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pinning is progress, right?

Started assembly of the bodice.  Oh yeah, I'm a slooooow handsewer (as you may remember from the underskirt assembly.)  Its going to take a day or so to get it stitched together and probably another day or so to do the eyelets, so there just isn't much to see.

I am a little worried that its just so blah.  The portrait doesn't have any trim or anything on the dress.  There's gold trim on the sleeves in straight lines, but the bodice is completely plain.  All of the interest comes from the partlet.  I guess it does make for a quick dress, however.  I shouldn't complain.  The prospect of having this wearable within the week is actually a really good thing.  It'll let me make up my husband's outfit for our friend's wedding.  Only about 2 weeks to that deadline.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First day of summer vacation

We celebrated the first day of summer vacation by having Gandhi (my husband Abe's official nickname) play hookey from work. I played hookey from the project as well, and we took the kids to the local "Farm Country" attraction. Goats, chickens, strutting turkeys and wagon and pony rides. All within 5 minutes of our house. Yes, there are real farms nearby as well, but the kids liked the displays. They were really interested in the "space basil." Local junior gardeners are growing basil from seeds that went up in space and comparing its growth rates to some NASA has growing on the space station.
Also of interest was the pizza garden. I bought a copy of Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots a couple of years ago. Looks like they're finally old enough to enjoy some of the activities in it. After very late snows, it finally looks like the weather is going to be nice so I'd better hurry and get some plants into the ground if we're going to have a garden this year. We do square foot gardening so the kids can help a lot.

I did get the rest of the bones filed and inserted into the interlining and the felt pad stitched so I'm ready to assemble the bodice today.

I leave you with important advice from my 3 year old son. "You need 2 apples to take to space, so when the aliens steal one you still have a snack." Good tip, I know I'll keep it in mind.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Putt-putt-putt- putt

Plugging along. I got the boning channels sewn into the interlining for the bodice and the bones into the front section. I'm using duct ties and still have a few to file smooth and the back ones to put in. I did 20 bones in the front section and then 8 in the back. It seems like its going to be plenty supportive. Crossing my fingers. I'm rather squishy and pretty well endowed as well as being fat. Every little bit of structure is going to be a good thing since I'm not doing a corset, but counting on the dress for all the shaping. I'm going to finish that and then pad stitch the felt to the canvas. That should keep it together so its not loose to shift around, but also add that much more firmness to the support layers.

Looking forward to getting the bodice done so I can play with jewelry and make the girdle. I've been putting it off so I can get the size right and make sure it lays correctly. Shiny!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cut the bodice

I'm hoping to have more to show by later today but figured I'd post now in cas, e I didn't get around to it. The kids and hubby all have colds so sick may push back the sewing. I've also got to go get some chalk or pencil for marking since mine has mysteriously disappeared. I'm going to blame my 3 year old for that.

I'm using red canvas for my interlining layers and had hoped to have a large enough piece of red felt so that all of the inner bits were red. I'm not sure why I cared, but eh. The red wool felt I had made wasn't large enough so I went with some green commercial stuff I'd gotten on clearance. $2.99 a yard! Its a 80/20 rayon and wool rather than the 100%, but I followed a tip I got years ago from my friend Dannielle/Princess Nimble Thimble and washed and shrank it. I used to make children's toys from wool what seems eons ago and this isn't the first time I've thrown a load of wool felt in the washer with boiling water and tennis balls. It thickens up nicely after a wash or two and starts to look and feel more like the all wool stuff. A quick iron and steam smooths it out for cutting.

Did some significant standing on the chopines. Its slow, but it is shaping them. I'm far too impatient and just want to get on with them.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Some progress on the chopines

Please excuse the gratuitous cute baby picture. He was "helping" me with my chopines. I've been fussing with these for far too long, trying to take off small bits with handtools. Finally got my wood a date with a bandsaw. Hooray! They're actually starting to look a bit more like chopines. They've got an hourglass shape in at least one direction. Now I have to figure out how shape them in the other direction. Sanding, files, and my tiny carving chisels just aren't cutting it. Maybe a table router? My dad has one and we're going down south for a wedding at the end of the month.

Speaking of the wedding-- I guess I'm adding an outfit for my husband to the mix. Our friends who we've known forever are having a Renaissance themed wedding and we have nothing to wear. My husband's SCA persona is 12th century Persian. Not the sort of thing to blend with Renaissance-oid parties. I've been eyeing Berdino Licinio's Portrait of an Architect as inspiration for him for a while now. Its just so very him. He even has the coloring and the beard for it. His favorite color is also red. Its simple and clean without a lot of fuss, which suits him well. He also already has a scholar's robe that I made him for a previous occasion, so if I run out of time for the outer layer he can wear that. I like the more shaped sleeves and fur collar on this one though so would prefer to make a new one if I can find the materials and the time. I do have a great fabric for the doublet. Its a deep black cherry. He's going to look seriously wonderful in the color. He's put in a vote for not having matching trunkhose, so I guess I'll probably be doing black. I haven't done a lot of men's late period, so I ordered Margo Anderson's men's pattern yesterday rather than fuss with trying to draft it myself and lose time from other projects. Guess I'm going to have to get out of my tortoise mindset and do a bit of sprinting for a couple of weeks. Should be fun.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Balzo beginnings

I really love hats. I love wearing them. My mom has very few pictures of me as a child without a hat of some kind on. I am often identified at events as "the Lady in the giant hat." I also really enjoy making them. If my SCA heraldry ever passes it will be a hatter's bow, a tool used for carding wool and more often fur used in the manufacture of hats. I'm also a felting fool and wool fanatic. Basically that's all the long way 'round to say I've been excited to start working on the balzo.

I taught a class back in March on the making of a basic felt hat shape. We used a resist form to layer wool roving on and make a basic "hood" or body. Its a felted and lightly fulled base that can be blocked and finished to make a variety of hat shapes. The ugly duckling I'm wearing on my head is the demo piece from the class. Its oversized and wonky and uneven. I think its going to be perfect for the balzo project-- eventually.

First up is a bit of fulling to make it smaller and to firm up the felt. Its going well so far. I'll be trimming it to a small crown shape soon.

I looked for some articles on the creation of balzos, but didn't find exactly what I was looking for. This one is fascinating, but the construction techniques are more suited for hat styles larger than the type Camilla is wearing. I want the red and green dress from a painting by Lorenzo Lotto, however, just so I can make and wear the hat. Fluffy, curly. and oversized, its a lot of fun. It isn't the sort of hat in my portrait, however. My hat is quite a bit tamer. It really seems more like a shaped crown with a padded roll. My choice to not do a cane or vine frame may be a bias from my preference for working in felt, so I'm certainly not sure. Again, I'm stumped and at a bit of a loss since this really isn't my area of research and I'm having to skim the surface. Looking around for views of sides and back of balzos turned up a couple of rather helpful paintings though. The most interesting to me is "The Giusti Family of Verona," by Antonio da Vendri. Its dated about 1520, so its early for me, but the hats seem about the right size. A full back view and some side views. There are a couple of others that have side views of very definite padded rolls on a hat crown. Oonagh's hats are of this type and she has some great portrait examples. Camilla's is really similar, with the tapering roll, but there seems to be a bit more smoothness, more of a transition between the crown and roll. It could just be the way its painted, however. For that matter, with as close as the color match is between Camilla's hair and the hat, it could actually be an elaborate form of hair taping with a netted caul or something. I'm going with a hat, though.

My plan is to attach a felt roll integral to the hat and then cover the entire hat so the shape is smoothed out a bit. I'm hoping that proper shaping and blocking will keep the hat in place. I've found with past hat projects that balancing the hat and proper fit makes things you wouldn't think would stay on do quite well.
This picture is after a really long day that included me nursing babies, picking kids up and taking my hat off and putting it back on. There are no pins or anything else holding this hat on. Its just well balanced. Huge and silly, but balanced. Despite the size and weight its actually really comfortable to wear. Hair prep is a big deal too. A couple of weeks later I tried to wear a hat I hadn't quite finished. It was really back heavy and the base wasn't well fit. I also was in a hurry and my hair not as tightly braided and secured as I usually wear it. It was a disaster and my hat sat on a table rather than my head for most of the day. I joked with my husband that I will never leave the house with a new hat not tested for aerodynamics.

So, that's the challenge. I need to figure out how to get a really good fit on the balzo. I'm pretty certain that's why there's so much visible hat flat to the head in the portrait. Its a counterbalance to the back heavy roll. If the fit is snug enough it should work in concert with the backstop provided by the ridge of hair formed by either hairtaping or wrapped braids to keep the hat securely in place. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The great Christmas ribbon salvage operation

Amazing what can be found lurking in the depths of my stash. I was looking for misplaced bits of items I'd cut out to sew for the kids late last night when I ran across a bunch of rolls of Christmas ribbon. Pretty sure my mom bought them in the mid '90's when I worked at a craft store and there was a huge 90% off clearance. She cleaned out her crafting closets earlier this year and I inherited a couple of boxes of random stuff. I retaliated by gifting her a stack of miscellaneous quilting fabric.

While moving some of this aside, I noticed that a couple of rolls had rather nice color and edges. Looking closer, the wired edging wasn't through the gold cord, but sandwiched between the cord and the edge of the ribbon. It seemed like it would disassemble rather nicely. Nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot. SCORE! Its a pretty high quality floral ribbon (it was sold for like $2 a yard back in the day.) The cording isn't a covered core either, but is multiple strands twisted. I matched it up with DMC's gold metallic "pearl cotton" and its a solid match. Nice, since it will couch down nicely with that, and I can make more cording with a drill if I run out. It came to pieces without shredding or destroying and the individual element seems like it will hold up well. I had 8 yards of the color I was playing with last night. That gave me 16 yards of cord. I have another 9 yards of a different color that has the same color corded edging so that will give me another 18 yards. The velvet portrait dress doesn't have any visible trim on the bodice, just the sleeves. The trim on the sleeves is in straight vertical lines down the under sleeve and on the edges of the panes in the upper sleeve. The total trim isn't at all extravagant. I'll probably add a guard to the skirt, but 30 or so yards will probably be plenty. I had planned to do some macrame and do something a bit more textural, but I may just settle for the cord since the portrait trim is so understated. The other option is to make or find something else for the dress and use the salvaged cording for the balzo. I'm going to give it a day or two before I decide. Either way, free trim from the bottom of my stash makes me happy.Link

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And then there's the other list

In contrast to what I have completed, there is the list of what still needs to get done.

1.) Side back laced velvet bodice
2.) Bodice ties
3.) Knife pleated velvet skirt
4.)Slashed velvet under sleeves
5.) Puffed and paned over sleeve. (I'm still up in the air on whether 4 and 5 are two items or not and if 5 is attached to the bodice or not.)
6. Gold trim for dress
7.Camicia with lace insertions and trim
8. Silk Venetians
9. Partlet
10. Tablet woven garters
11. Girdle
12. Necklace
13.) Earrings
14.) Balzo
15.) Chopines
16.) Shoes
17.) Gloves
18.) Veil
19.) Dutch cloak

I think that's pretty much it. I've broken the dress down into a number of smaller bits so its not quite as bad as it looks, but I do need to make some other pieces of garb in the next 2 months so I've got something to wear to Baron's War. I also need to devote the rest of this week to getting something for me and the kids to wear to Melee Madness this weekend so I'm mostly suspending the project for a day or two.

Sending in my update

I didn't get what I wanted finished, but its the first, so I'm sending in an update anyway. The kids have taken off with my camera, so I just plugged past images into photobucket's collage maker dohickey. I think the image in the lower right says it all.

Trying to make myself feel better about what I actually have finished, I made myself a list.

1.) Fur lined muff with threadworked buttons.
2.) Zibellino with sculpted head and back feet, filigreed and jeweled muzzle and collar.
3.) Fully lined corded petticoat with felt padded cartridge pleats, hand bound eyelets and kumihimo braided lace with chape.
4.) Linen lined brocade pocket.
5.) 5 decade chaplet rosary of hand made rose petal beads with silver rose shaped gauds strung on red silk.
6.) Tassel trimmed flag fan.
7.) Wood handled feather fan.
8.) Lace trimmed handkerchief.
9.)Gold beaded hairpins
10.)Tasseled garters of wool and silk with a pattern of hearts
11.) Diamond patterned green linen stockings with gold lace trimmed welts. (Goldwork and embroidered clocks might still happen, but they are wearable if plainer than planned.)
12.) Pleated linen apron with lace insertions and trim.

I started to list the projects still to accomplish, but I'm going to walk away from that for a while. Instead, I'm going to rejoice in the fact that I have 2 layers technically complete of the 4 required.