Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here's the dress

In need of steam, the real bodice cords and the sleeves still, but its officially a dress. The weird bulge I was worried about in the right shoulder strap isn't there once its laced on rather than just pulled close to check fit so WHOO_HOO!

Even with the lining and padding in the cartridge pleats the skirt doesn't seem as full as I'd hoped. I think I may wear it with my larger gold petticoat rather than the salmon one I made for it. That actually sort of works out well. I wore the salmon one with the red dress at Solstice Court and it made the red dress skirt hang much better. The salmon one is shorter and lighter weight and the red skirt is more narrow that the one on the new dress. There are more than 200 inches in the hem for the blue and orange and it is cartridge pleated so I think the gold one will support it better.

I need to put chapes on the kumihimo cord I made to lace the bodice closed and I'm calling it quits for tonight. Bianca announced on the AErie that we needed to bring documentation to 12th Night and if we were doing that full documentation by midnight was optional but encouraged. I'm going with optional and spending the holiday with my husband and kids rather than scrambling. We have lobster tails, shrimp, a couple of bottles of mead and a big ol' pile of board games.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

I knew I'd forget something

34. Larva mask. My vizard/moretta isn't all that much fun to wear what with not being able to talk so I made a more wearable (and hopefully less creepy one.) It's plain and seems boring compared to what I think of when I think Venetian mask, but its more accurate to the research I can find.

35ish Not sure if this is really an accessory or not, but I braided a pair of silk bodice laces/accordoletta on my marudai.

Skirt is now on the bodice and I have a dress. It remains sleeveless, however. I did something funky to the muscles in my right forearm pushing the awl through the heavy layers in order to finish the eyelets for the front lacing. There are 26 of them and the bodice is 4 layers of twill (lining, flat lining and 2 for the boning layer,) 2 of wool felt, and the silk layer making it a bear to push an awl through. Add to that sewing several hundred cartridge pleats (silk, wool padding and twill lining) to the aforementioned 7 layer bodice and I'm just not up to any more hand sewing tomorrow. I guess I'll have to be sleeveless for contest end. I'm sure I can get them done before 12th Night but it just isn't happening in the next 12 hours in order to be officially counted.

I promise pictures (if crummy ones) in the afternoon tomorrow. Davey has confirmed that he'll be coming over to take nicer ones on Thursday to put in my documentation for 12th Night so y'all can see how these things really look as opposed to my terrible photos.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I know, I know, I haven't updated

I've been trying to balance sick kids, scrambling to finish and the holidays. I swear, I'll have pictures and updates soon. The dress is getting close. The bodice is done and I'm just putting the skirt on now. I already had it lined and pleated, so its just a matter of lots and lots of tacking to the bodice. We're taking the kids to their grandma's tomorrow so I hope to finish it in the car. Baragoni are cut and pieced, but I need to bombast them. Still need to cut and piece the sleeves. Its going to be really, really close as to whether the lower sleeves get done by the New Year's Eve deadline. I'm pretty sure I'll have the baragoni done, though.

I was looking at my list of stuff and realizing that I haven't blogged a lot of finished projects so there may be some quick pictures of piles of things to prove they're done and more leisurely posts after the deadline to actually show them off and talk about them. I think all my time is pretty much committed to dress finishing, so this is the list of my completed items unless something unforeseen happens and I find a time portal that lets me get an extra month to work.

Skin layer- Camicia. I finished the plain pleated one so don't need to substitute my lace inserted one, yay!

Main garment-Dress. Should technically be a "dress" by late tonight, some time after dinner. Obviously, I want to complete the sleeves as well, but they'll be getting done at the last minute despite my better intentions.

Warmth layer- Mantellina. Complete in all its handsewn, furlined, cutwork, pearled glory.

Accessory- Peacock feather fan. I think my giant fan of awesome is going to be my official layer 4. I couldn't be more pleased with the luxurious fantastic over-the-topness of it.

Additional garments and accessories

1.Gold coverciere/partlet (needs to be blogged)
2.Salmon linen petticoat (ntbb)
3.Blue linen drawers
4.Particolor leather slippers
5.White linen stockings
6.Blackwork garters with buckles and tassels
7.Orange silk saccocia
9.Fur lined muff
10.Tasseled bag
11.Nosegay (Needs to be blogged-- I even grew stuff!)
12. Sculpted jewel necklace
13. Peacock comb
14. Blue and gold girdle (ntbb)
15. White apron with orange accents (ntbb)
16.Pearl drop earrings
17. Pearl necklace
18. Pearl girdle with tassel
19. Paper and filigree flag fan
20.Chainmaille bracelets (ntbb)
21. Turban
22. Gold and blue hair ornament (ntbb)
23. Crazy curly hat (I made a lot of changes due to some new research so ntbb)
24. Silk sash with cast terminal decorations (ntbb)
25. Handkerchief (currently using my IRCC one since my drawnwork one is incomplete)
26. Zibellino (Using Galanthis since she's pretty awesome and I see no reason to make a new zibi- she was made within the contest parameters)
27. Chopines (using my original pair-- see above for reasoning. Also, I didn't get the pantofles I started done.)
28. Street veil with tassels (Again, using the IRCC one because I love it and it was made within the parameters of the contest.)
29. Parasol with fringe (ntbb)
30. Blue leather gloves (ntbb)
31. Zimarra (I'm REALLY close on the blue and gold. It might not get done by the deadline, in which case I will wear my other one, which is within contest parameters. I hope I can finish the blue to wear to 12th Night even if it doesn't make the sewing deadline though.)
32. Walking sticks (so I don't fall on my head wearing the chopines since I lack servant boys. Found a little research, but its lighter than I'd like. The sticks are fun though. Needs to be blogged.)
33. Blue and orange with gold pincushion. (ntbb)

Stuff I didn't get done and am grumbly about:

Pantofles-- Slide on wedgie sort of sandals to wear with my slippers rather than the crazier chopines. They're cut and mostly shaped but need finish work and to be covered. Guess its something to do in the spring.

Book-- Book of sonnets bound in cuir cisele (water tooled)leather. It was supposed to be just a quicky project for Realm of Venus Idle hands in October but very much mushroomed. I have 4 sonnets written and 2 illuminated. This is going to be a long term on going project.

Drawn thread linen handkerchief-- I have a basic braided border done but the hankie isn't anywhere near completion. It needs a good solid week of work minimum.

Needlecase-- I still haven't figured this out. I've tried a couple of other things since my early experiments but haven't figured out how to make it really work. I did make a little pincushion to hang from the saccocia, but would rather have finished the needlecase and maybe done something more like April/Aurora's gorgeous sewing kit

Pearled reta/caul-- I got the cords stretched on a frame, but didn't have time to stitch the pearls. A day or two would finish it.

Lightweight dyed silk veil-- Just never got around to ordering the silk so this one is more just an idea. I'd like to have one though. I think I'll be ordering it in a week or so just so I have one.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Filigree flag fan

My last attempt at a venterolla/weathercock fan/flag fan was a quicky thing I threw together to motivate myself and I have never been particularly thrilled with it. The handle was too short and I didn't care for the fact that it spun around on the stitches that attached the fan to the handle. After seeing the GORGEOUS fan Angela Bacci made for Idle Hands I was even more determined that I needed a fantastic fan. Angela's is machine embroidered and I don't have that option, nor the months I'd need to do the goldwork by hand but the filigree she used for the handle gave me an idea. I had the same square pieces in stash that I've used for hats and the collar on my zibillino and a bunch of other projects over the years. I was going to just do like she had and wrap the handle and then do the fan of cutwork leather. I even made a fan that way. Its very bright and fun, but after it was done it seemed more like Russian folk art than something for an Italian fan. That's not to say that the flag fans weren't fun. They were printed with rebus puzzles and music and other things.(Again, I'm taking documentation from Purple files archived page.) This image from At Home in Renaissance Italy is of a rebus puzzle poem from the late 16th century by Giulio Cesare Croce.
Another time I want to draw up one of the rebus from Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks (he composed dozens of them) and put it on a fan, but it just wasn't what I wanted for this one. This fan had to rival the peacock feather one I'd already made for elegance and decadence.

I considered doing a cut paper fan, especially after seeing Aine's printable fan based on the extant vellum one in the Marselleti collection in Venice.

I love the lacey reticella effect. So, I pulled out some bristol board and my filigree bits and started assembling my supplies. Seeing the filigree on the paper gave me a new idea, however, and the wheels started turning. I glued the filigree to the paper (on both sides) and thought I was happy with it, but then considered color. Then I added pearls and beads to the handle which meant I needed pearls on the fan. It kept escalating. After all, as Praksedys will tell you, "More is more." I can easily see how regulations forbidding decadent ones like the 1522 statute forbidding "fans of lynx and ermine with handles of gold and silver encrusted with jewels and pearls" happened. They're addictive. For further information on statutes and some great pictures, check out Anea's page on flag fans.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another attempt at a comb.

I spent a good part of October trying to make myself a comb after I gave up the idea of finishing my book of sonnets (which is still progressing, if very slowly.) I found and fell in love with this 16th century Italian ivory comb at the Met.
Its the only one I've found so far that is painted. Many of the others I've found have cast gold decorations (these are often liturgical combs,)some carving and inlay, or are just plain. Getting the two sided comb with variated teeth is something I have not managed quite yet. The first attempt at that was rather sad.
This one is actually the 3rd attempt. The first two didn't get this far. I spent hours on it sanding it only to have teeth break. I tried a hack saw first but had large chunks break out. Then I moved on to my Dremel and a carving bit. Obviously that didn't work very well either. There was less initial breakage, but it just doesn't look right and the teeth still broke when I attempted to sand them smooth. After getting this far, I came to the conclusion that there were 3 things wrong. The blade on my saw wasn't sharp enough. I needed to use more clamps, and my wood was too thick.

After looking at a couple of tutorials, I tried shaping the wood so it was more of a wedge shape tapering to a point at the edge of the teeth. Splitting it worked well for this. It worked really well, but I have not figured out how to taper the top and the bottom in order to do the double sided comb. I used a carving knife rather than a saw, and I clamped the blank in place so it wasn't sliding about. That got me a nice little comb. I think its a good start, but I have to figure out how to get the correct shape. Since I'd spent more than a month on it and not finished the Realm of Venus Idle hands Competition I just wanted to finish something before I gave in to discouragement. Therefore, I moved on to painting.

The ivory Italian comb has plants and animals painted on it front and back. The description also states that it has a heart enflamed in the center of one side. I decided to use my krin heart in the center, paint the floral and vine design from the bottom and to add some birds. I've always loved peacocks and with the color scheme of my dress it seemed natural. I based the shape on this window design from Packwood House in Lapworth, UK. the house is dated from the 16th century. The peacocks also bear a resemblance to those in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, so they seem a bit Rus flavored, making my persona happy. I inked the design in, added a bit of color with gouache, gilded it a bit with some gold leaf, and then went back in with some more black ink. Its sealed with olive oil and beeswax since its intended for use in my hair. I tried it out yesterday and it combs rather well, even standing up to some rather nasty knots and a bit of candy cane tangled and stuck in my hair thanks to my twins.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Purplefiles is down

And I am really sad! Katerina's site is one of my favorite places to go for inspiration and inspiration. Bella, Anea, and she are my top 3 places to start any crazy Italian research quest. I'm hoping she'll get back up.

I swung by this morning to help put together the references on my turban/headwrap. While they are far more common in Florence than elsewhere, I did find one beautiful portrait from Venice with one in it. By an unknown artist of the Venetian school and currently held at the Louvre, Portrait of a Young Woman has the sitter in a gorgeous blue headwrap. Bella has it in her 1520's section.
The references I have seen for Florentine headwraps seem to be for plain or embroidered linen. Again, I'm jumping off of Kat's research. You can see bits of it on the archived page, but most of the pictures are down. Several of the reference photos are from Carole Frick'sDressing Renaissance Florence. I have a copy, but it is currently wrapped and under the tree for me, so I'll have to add pictures after the holiday (I did sneak a peek before I wrapped it though.)

The Venetian portrait is most definitely not linen. As I had a full plate of embroidery already and love the luminosity of silk I went ahead and made mine from a long scrap of coppery brown silk I had in stash. I really love tassels and fringe, so added some, reversing the gold fringe on white from Guiliano Bugiardini's "Portrait of a Young Woman" for white fringe on gold(ish.) The picture is in the National Gallery of Art. The photo is from Hans Ollerman's Flikr photostream. Great closeup of the fringe and embroidery.
An embroidered headwrap is on my spring agenda. Its impossible to resist and would be useful for my Rus as an ubrus, to wear with my Persian coats, or in case I suddenly decided to do a 19th century odalisque My peacock feather fan would work wonderfully for that too. Not likely, but rather amusing.

Still have to work on tying the turban/headwrap correctle, but I think its very fun and love fun hair and hat options so I'm pleased with the overall effect of this quick project.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meltdown the first

The pretty picture of the fan is there to remind me that I am, in fact, getting things done even if it does not feel like it. There are holes in the top of most of my fingertips and ripped cuticles where I've ripped out hangnails. My hands are cracked and sore and I'm feeling stupid right about now. Christmas presents for my kids are actually at a reasonable place but the dress seems hopeless right about now. Therefore, I am posting a list of what I do have done and wearable in an attempt to make myself feel better.

Layer 1- Camicia. My lace inserted one would legitimately count and so this is technically complete. I have a second, plain one in process. Most of the panels have been hemmed and just need to be assembled with an insertion stitch and the sleeves and neckline gathered.

Layer 2- Petticoat. Salmon colored linen lined in chestnut linen and cartridge pleated. It is trimmed in green ribbon and corded.

Layer 4- Mantellina. Chocolate cotton velveteen lined in brown shearling with an intermediate layer of copper silk. Cutwork border accented with pearls. Completely handsewn.

Particolor leather slippers lined in wool with leather heart applique

White linen stockings with cotton lace cuffs.

Green edged garters with buckles and tassels. They feature blackwork hearts in tangerine silk.

Blue linen drawers with brass buttons trimmed in waterlily trim and lace.

Orange silk saccocia with orange and gold trim lined in blue linen.

Golden bead rosary on black silk with white ribbon tassel.

Gold tone beaded girdle with blue beads.

Pearl drop earrings.

Oversized jewel necklace with chain. Sculpted of polymer clay and gilded.

Half Persian maille bracelets.

Freshwater pearl necklace.

Pearl girdle with tassel.

Copper silk poste (scarf/sash) with tassels and pewter cast hearts.

Copper silk turban with fringe.



Black street veil.

Peacock feather fan.

Leather cutwork flag fan.

Fur lined muff with gold trim, pearl buttons, and chain.

Tassel bag.

Fringed parasol.

You will notice the absence of Layer 3-- the dress. Yeah, that lies at the heart of the meltdown. It'll get done. I hope. There are also several other accessories that I've already put a bunch of time in to that I'm hoping to finish. The trim and buttons on the zimarra continue to frustrate me. But the done list isn't half bad, and I'm really, really pleased with some of the pieces. The peacock fan, tassel bag, and muff are things I'm pretty proud of.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bodice cut and pieced.

My children have once again seized and broken the camera. With their assistance it now shoots the batteries across the room (my son broke the latch.) Since he had previously wrapped his kazoo in the last of the duct tape, I cannot fix the problem quite yet. Thus, there is no picture of the silk patchwork.

I'm rather pleased with it actually. I'm also pretty surprised at how quickly it went together. I had stressed about it a lot. Noelle was sweet enough to throw in the muslin we used to fit the bodice pattern in with the paper and I used it to sketch and cut up and divide the bodice to bits, then redrew the pieces with what I thought were generous seam allowances. Somehow they shrank (I blame how late it was when I finally cut it,) but it was enough. When I matched it back to the pattern it was pretty close with only a tiny issue on the shoulder strap. I "think" it will still be fine since it wasn't too far off. Trying to get the 4 strips to all come together squared at the shoulder with an angled seam wasn't as bad as I'd made it in my mind. At least I hope so. We'll see what happens once I actually get the whole sandwich put together and the shoulder seams done. Crossing my fingers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Still don't have a dress, but I am making progress on my A&S 50 challenge

I took a day off to work on a quick little belt pouch gift/prize to give to the cook who made the best bacon treat at Solstice Court. I wasn't able to stay to see what happened, but I hope whomever won it likes it. I decided to arbitrarily add it to my list of favors and tokens I'm making for my SCA A&S 50 Challenge. I have until the year 2015 to make 50 of them. I'm also doing a few other challenges; 50 skills Praksedys would have developed and teaching 50 classes head the list.

I haven't been particularly scrupulous about making my favors and tokens entirely historically accurate, instead working with what the intended recipient would like and appreciate and the budget and circumstance as in the case of the 100 wool rat site tokens I made for our Mystery Event in March 2010. This time around, rather than doing wet felting, I needlefelted the pouch since I'm still working on improving my felting detail work without tidying the lines with some dry felting. Here's the little pouch before I sewed it together (I forgot to get pictures once it was complete-- its a problem with most of my projects.) When complete, it was lined in a gold colored broad cloth and stitched together with a blanket stitch in yellow cotton. There was enough overlap with the flap that I didn't do a fastening and chose to not put belt loops or anything on it since I wasn't sure how the recipient wanted to wear it.

The gryphon is loosely based on the crest of the Crosby Garret Helmet, a Roman Silistra-type cavalry helmet dated between 100-300 AD and found and sold in 2010
Mine is far too cute and not nearly striking enough to be more than inspired by the original. Too many years of felting children's toys, I suppose. It also suffers from lack of texture. I'd like to try sculpting something like the crest in the future, its such a beautiful image.

It is a restored piece, however. A more recent find at Vindolanda in Jan 2011 has a similar gryphon (stated to possibly be by the same craftsman) that has not been restored.

Living in the "Gryphon Lands" of Artemisia, more images of gryphons are always nice to have and I'm sure I'll come up with a reason to play with it again in the future.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Drawers are done

Still haven't gotten around to doing an embroidered pair. Maybe for next year's IRCC? As I have a lot more colored linen than white linen in my stash I went with a pale blue. Since the petticoat is already orange/coral it seemed only right to alternate the other color. I also had a short length of vintage embroidered trim with waterlilies on it that I thought would be fun to use. My last pair of drawers were a straight leg. I like them but thought I'd try a different shape and went with the more full leg gathered into a cuff. I had just enough of the trim for cuffs and then added a simple lace. Rather than a lacing point I put a button on the waistband.

The general shape is very much like the embroidered pair I want to do eventually.
It's a later pair, being firmly early 17th century, dated about 1630. They're held in the Museo del Tessuto, Prato and written up in a number of sources. Go look at the link to Realm of Venus and check out the graphed embroidery pattern and extra pictures. I feel like drafting my pattern for the shape at least puts me a hair closer to making them. My cuffs are more elaborate than the narrow binding and ties of the extant pair because the trim dictated it. I used the trim as the front of the cuff and linen as the back, then added eyelets for ties rather than having them be self tying.

The legs are more full than they need to be and the waist a bit larger. I think its a reaction to my pink pair being a bit tight. Since its the holiday season I'm going to hold off on altering them until my New Year's weight loss resolution gets going.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Giant jewel of sparkliness

This is another one of those "learning experience" projects. It did not turn out remotely like I wanted it to, but I think it might be a stepping stone to get there. Just probably not in the next 3 weeks.

The large jewel sort of stuffed into the front of Lucretia's dress is rather intriguing. It has pinky/red gems and blue ones with a drop pearl. It has foliage and figures and the center is a giant flower. All kinds of interesting stuff going on.
Wikipedia's zoom is loads better than the images at the National Gallery and allows you to see the spiky topped flower stems and the faces of the cupids/putti.

While I would like to make a reproduction of the portrait jewel (in Sculpy since that's as close as I'm going to get to gold) I'm not so sure about my ability to sculpt it. I started on it and the proportions were not very good. I was having a tough time with the total 3 dimensionality of the putti. The entire piece also didn't seem particularly stable. And then my son tried to eat it and I gave up once I wrestled it away from him. I figured I'd start with something a little easier after that. I found this simple pendant dated 1540-1560 at the V and A (museum number M.242-1975) It is that simple because it is more concerned with the efficacy of the stones and their value as talismans, but I love the lines of it. I bulked it up a bit, both because of my sculpting ability as well as needing something more monumental.

Here it is before it hit the oven.
You'll notice the green and red stones, which is what I wanted (mostly. At least as far as the confines of what acrylic stones I had to hand.) I sculpted it, pulled the stones out so they wouldn't melt and put it in the toaster oven. Then my children once again intervened. They ran off with the acrylic. I have no idea where. I had given them their own sparkly stones for "treasure" but that was apparently not sufficient. After several hours of looking I gave up and went back to the bag to see if there were other options. The only ones in the right sizes were blue and pink. I'm not against the blue, but I hate the pink. I think it makes it feel like its something you'd find in package with a tiara and plastic high heeled sandals in the kid's dress up aisle. Also, just to add to frustration, I thought I'd accounted for shrinkage, but not enough. I broke a bit of the setting on the bottom stone getting it in to place. Even after sanding it down it didn't go in smoothly. So I added the pearls to disguise the fix. Then I added some more so it wouldn't look like they'd been tacked on in the end. Every place where I had had little gold balls I removed them and replaced with pearls. Not sure I care for the effect. To make things not so visibly Sculpy, I used liquid gold leaf and then buffed it with a wax gold finish to try to pick up some of the detail. Loads of gold chain and a clasp finish it out.

As I said, learning experience. I thought the acrylic would look fine since they are table cut. The color is a huge issue, however. Some colors look fine and others do not. While the blue and pink is actually pretty close to those in the original jewel, using a semiprecious stone of some kind might be a better option, especially to counterbalance the fact that I'm using a polymer clay. Another few attempts at sculpting is going to improve things over all, and I might get crazy and try the figures in the portrait. I think a bad looking attempt at the portrait necklace is going to make me feel better than a marginally better attempt at something that is already a compromise.

So, making my own sculpted medallions/pendants is going to go in to the pile where comb making is. I'll try again another time. Its something that I certainly want to figure out at some point.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Working on garters

I spent the weekend on the road where I determined that my garters are the perfect travel project. Since they're a repeating counted pattern all I needed was needle, silk, and the garters which all were easily shoved into my pocket. If I had daintier legs they'd be done, but I am rather close to finishing the first one. Just have to do the return journey on one section and attach the buckle. I'm working on a prefinished aida cloth trim that I bought at the thrift store. I got an entire roll (about 100 yards. . .) for $2. I'm pretty thrilled at having come up with some way to use it. Its ten squares wide so it limited the patterns I could use, but one of the first places I ever encountered blackwork, The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework had a repeating heart motif that I've always loved. While that's not exactly an historical source, it is very similar to this pattern from Nicholas Bassee's New Modelbuch of 1568.

The chart is one of Claudette Ziemann's. It used to be available for free in "The Bronwyn's Blackwork Library" but has been taken down. You can still find it via The Internet Archive. The difference between the historic one and the modern is the stair stepping rather than the use of diagonal lines for the sides of the hearts. Leslie Wilkins has a fill pattern very similar to the Reader's Digest one in her Beginner's Guide to Blackwork pictured on one of the band samplers, but it is not charted. Rosemary Drysdale has a chart for the smoothed out heart border identical to the Reader's Digest one in The Art of Blackwork Embroidery.

I started with the hearts and made a few adjustments. I modified the cross in the heart by adding more diagonal lines and turned the cross into something closer to my fleur/krin. That was about it though. This is the fastest pattern I've ever done since its totally straight journey, no trips off the line.

I'm planning to put a buckle on one side and did a bit of fringe on the other end. I left it long enough so it can loop around and hang down. I don't have any documentation for this form of garters, but the last time I went looking at extant examples they were so wide ranging in design that I don't feel that it is crazy. Sprang, woven, macrame, embroidered, knitted, plain fabric, leather. . . the only thing they have in common is that they hold up stockings.

I'm hoping to finish the other garter next weekend at Solstice Court. It's the perfect sort of project to have at an event and I have the entire day without my children to chase.

I finally found somewhere that has the fabric I used. I was looking for cotton aida cloth trim or ribbon. Apparently its called banding or just aida bands. Zweigart makes one that seems to be what I have and its available in lots of colors. Not for nearly the nothing I paid for mine, but I like it so its nice to know I can get more. There are also similar products in linen. I was thinking this sort of thing might be fun to make for largesse as either garters, bookmarks, or trim. As I said, its a fabulous travel project.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last pearl is finally stitched on the mantellina

I've apparently been getting the word wrong. I originally ran across the article of clothing at Mistress Belphoebe's site.
From there I dug a little and found three portraits in the Realm of Venus' selection of portraits. Two are by Licino and the third by Catena, all of them in the 1520-30's.
They remind me a great deal of modern fur stoles, especially the Licino ones which are squared in the front and have interestingly shaped hems.

I didn't have enough fur around to make something this full, but Davey had picked up a beautiful chocolate brown shearling hide to play with. He brought it over for me to look at and I swiped it and cut out the mantellina right then since I had the outer cut from brown velvet. The ones in the portraits might be velvet, might be fur. I really can't tell. I ran across Katherine's mantellina and her discussion of the mentions of them in Moda a Firenze Kat lists wool,taffeta,satin,and velvet with ermine lining. Red is the most popular color listed. Embroidery of gold and decorative frogs are also mentioned. As I don't have a copy of Moda (yet) I haven't done my own reading. I'm really grateful for her summary of options other than the dark and plain ones in the portraits. Not that dark fur isn't beautiful on its own, but I like playing with embellishment.

It's gone through a few design changes. There was the moment of peach flowers. Then I moved on to trying some cutwork to expose one of my favorite flaming orange silks. I designed something that I hope looks like my Krin/fleur on a heart, but isn't so detailed that it is out of style with cutwork designs.
The velvet has a bit more stretch than would have been ideal, especially with the curved shape having most of the mantellino on the bias. When I clipped the krins, it sagged out of place and refused to lay nicely. I didn't interface the velvet or treat the edges. It was a conscious choice, but I wouldn't do it that way again. In trying to come up with a solution, I decided to add some pearls to further decorate the points where I tacked the cutwork motifs in to place.

I'm mostly happy with how it ended up, but it was another of my harebrained decisions. In adding the pearls, I could not use a glover's needle that would have made it easier to put the tacks through the velvet and silk in to the leather of the shearling. I needed a small pair of needle nose pliers to pull the embroidery needle through the leather after awhile as my fingers got cramped and full of holes. I ended up bending about 7 needles in the process of putting the 351 pearls in place. It's not that many pearls, but it certainly seemed like more.

Originally, I had a collar on this, but the curve of the mantle was sitting too far up on my neck once I finished it. I took it off and re-cut the back neckline. I was going to add the collar back on, but decided to keep it closer to the portrait shapes. The largest reason for this is the general lack of collars in the 1530's dresses/partlets/etc. After spending some significant time looking at partlet styles over the last couple of days, a collarless mantle seemed more correct. It is also more in keeping with Katherine's mention of the wearing of mantellinas under other coats for additional warmth. With the oversized baragoni of the dress, trying to stuff more under the zimmara didn't seem like much fun or at all comfortable.

I'd toyed with some gold frogs or edging the mantel in a gold lace, or maybe putting a flat gold braid on the inside of the cutwork, outlining a border. I'm afraid it would further downplay the cutwork and the contrast from the orange. I'm open to suggestions, however, and to be contradicted since I want this to pop and look as finished as it can, especially after all the time spent on it so far. In the meantime, I added a subtle antiqued bronze clasp I've had in stash for a couple of years. It has vaguely heart shapes in the filigree and the color blends nicely in to the velvet. I'm declaring victory and moving on.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Colds stink, but at least I get to go shopping

I did not, in fact, get the mantellino done yesterday. Grumble, grumble, blargh! I didn't get much of anything done at all. Big kids stayed home from school sick and everyone was stuffed up and whiny. Especially me.

The mantellino was all bunchy and sat badly in the back, so I drafted Davey to help me re-mark the neck curve as well as help me figure the waist for the petticoat. He was kind enough to pick up leather for gloves for me and dropped it off, then I ambushed him for assistance. Poor guy gets caught up in a lot of my schemes.

The curve is MUCH lower in the back than I would ever have guessed. It makes sense, I suppose, since the entire point of the "baby mantle" is just to cover the cold spot made by a low cut front on the dress. I'm re-cutting it today and pushing forward with the last few pearls. I still need to decide if I'm going to add further embellishment. Maybe some gold trim along the edge. Deciding on closures for the front would help that decision a great deal. nothing has jumped out to be something I adore. Maybe I'll tie some frogs. I suppose I could do hooks and eyes and not have a decorative closure.

Looking for closures is on today's shopping agenda. As is buying Sculpy and some chain to do the necklace in the portrait. I stripped one of my belly dance pendants in an attempt to come up with another option for making the pendant and am going to fiddle with that as well. We'll see what develops. Cable ties for bodice boning are also on the list along with thread, possibly something for the partlet, and a few other notions. Why yes, it is payday.

I did another couple of inches of blackwork on the garters and Davey brought over buckles when he brought the leather. We're driving down to my mom's Christmas party Saturday and will be out of town all weekend, so I plan to get some serious work done on them in the next couple of days as they are the best traveling project I have.

So, in general, progress continues. I am a little worried that its going to have to stop again so I can work on my kids' Christmas presents, but we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I spent most of yesterday pearling the mantellino. Just 4 motifs left to go. As pearls were the theme of the day, I thought I'd go back and show you the first girdle I made as it is pearls and gold.

I had the circle disks hanging around after purchasing them on clearance and had oodles of freshwater pearls that I'd picked up cheaply from the Gem Faire back in June. The pearls are sort of a problem as the have holes too small for any of my beading needles and won't take a second pass of string through them and are far too large for embroidering with. As a result, they really haven't been all that useful. However, as I said, I have a lot of them. Making a girdle for me takes a lot of whatever it is I use, so they seemed like a likely candidate. The gold disks are set up to sit on two strands and two strands of pearls seemed pretty. One of my favorite Venetian necklaces in portrait has two strands of pearls. (Albrecht Durer's 1505 Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman.)
I'm plotting a green dress this spring and it is on my "must make" list.

However, pretty pearl necklaces being documentable does not mean pretty pearl girdles are. In looking over the portraits in my little chunk of time, it seems that they are all pretty much exclusively gold. Most don't have any visible "drop" either. Thick links at the waist seem to be the most common. However, in the portrait I just finished working with, Camilla's girdle had two drops that were very definite, one to the zibellino and one that her son is playing with. Its still very gold, however. I did find one portrait with a pearl girdle on a Venetian dress. Its from a 1565 fresco by Giovanni Antollio Fasolo. It might still be gold backed, however, with the pearls simply mounted to the gold. (And have a look at the entire piece, its pretty cool. I love the colorful print skirt of her dress.

So, basically, I'm not sure if I'll wear the girdle with this dress. Its pretty, but it seems more English in style to me. My portrait doesn't have a girdle at all to be honest, and I'm not sure the pearls will look right with the crisp lines of the patchwork as the only decoration and the colors. I fretted about it for a couple of days and then went on to make a primarily gold girdle. I'll show you that soon, but I suppose I should wrap up telling you about the girdle itself.

These freshwater pearls, as I've said, did not want to be cooperative and let me do multiple passes of stringing material. I eventually just strung them straight on a 28 gauge wire. I'm rather nervous about how the whole thing will hold up with the weight that any girdle for me automatically is, but that's the largest gauge I could get through the holes. I put the clasp at the back of the waist so there would be as little fiddling as possible. After considering making a pomander, and even starting to carve one, I just chickened out of that and found the tassel on the end at Hobby Lobby. If I end up using this, its $5 more of my budget used.

While I was at it, I strung a simple pearl necklace and threw together a set of earrings. I'm pretty definite on wanting to wear the necklace, but I'm not so sure about the earrings. They might get put aside with the girdle for another project.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Progress and a saccocia

I spent yesterday sewing round and round my petticoat, attaching the lining, sewing two cording channels and putting three rows of trim on. I'm planning to take it to fighter practice tonight and have someone help me mark the waist so I can trim the top, pleat it, and add the waistband. I think I solved some of the problem I had with my last petticoat by making it quite a bit shorter and less full. That should solve the issues my gold one has with slipping down and showing. There's also more fabric in the petticoat than the skirt of the dress so the red skirt doesn't hang as well as I would like. Part of the issue is that I made the gold one intending that it could be worn separately with an Elizabethan jacket. The new one is just a plain old petticoat. I'm sewing it by machine rather than by hand like the first one. I even did the cording channels and trim by machine in the interest of time. I'm not really that pleased by it, but it should be functional. Its at the bottom of the picture. Salmon colored linen I bought for 97 cents a yard at Handcock's last year with the rest of the chestnut linen I used for the lining of my gold petticoat as lining. I corded it with the cotton clothesline rope I had left over from the gold petticoat. The trim is green cotton ribbon that I sewed down with the honeycomb stitch on my machine. The ribbon is actually ribbon yarn. I bought it on super clearance at my favorite knitting shop for 99 cents a ball several years ago. One of the cheapest ways to buy really nice trim is the have a look at novelty yarns. Even really expensive yarn can be very cheap trim once you calculate the yardage.

I also spent some time working on the sleeves for my zimmara. It's the blue and yellow fabric with pomegranates in the picture. I cut it out in January (or maybe February?) with the intention of doing a loose gown to wear with my blackworked coif. Its cut using the diagram for the "Learned man's gown of cloth" from Alcega dated 1589 as pictured on page 6 of Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion. Since then, I've read several reviews of people using the giant bag top sleeve in the Reconstructiong History pattern (which is basically the Alcega sleeve) and HATING it. I got rather worried by that. I didn't have enough fabric to re-cut the sleeves into the round sleeve that I would have preferred for the zimarra, but I had plenty of leeway to futz around with the top of the sleeve I had cut. I ended up trimming some of the sides away so it wasn't as unstructured and cutting the top section in panes. I still need it to have quite a bit of fullness as it will be worn over the puffy baragoni of my Italian gowns and I think it should have it this way. I guess we'll see how it works. At present I have 2 somethings resembling either badly drawn trees, tentacled monsters, or possibly cubist squid. The panes are cut and sewn to the interlinings and I'm trying to determine if I'm going to catch the panes at intervals and pull out false puffs or what. I'm also staring at a silver fabric for lining and trying to determine preferences. A deeper blue or possibly a crazy yellow are also in consideration.

Then we coma around to something I actually did complete. I made a giant saccoccia. My previous pockets have been much smaller, mostly because I just don't have much to put in to them. I have to carry a diaper bag with my twins anyway, so I haven't had much need for a small bag. Decided to try one out anyway, especially as I will be attending Solstice and 12th Night by myself. This is closer in proportion to historic examples, although the shape isn't as long of a teardrop. For that matter neither is my tasseled bag. I just prefer a broader bottom and a more blunted shape. Not sure why, but that's what keeps coming out. Looking at the various pockets we have from frescos and paintings as well as the extant Spanish example (assembled for easy viewing by the fabulous Anea)it seems like one of those items that is decorated to the wearer's taste, and the Spanish one is shorter and more blunted.

I absolutely don't have time for embroidery right now. I'm already doing blackwork garters, couching cord to sleeve panes, and stitching pearls to the mantellino so something pretty for the pocket just wasn't going to happen. I looked instead to the trim application of the gold and black saccocia that is most often reproduced. Since I'm using the orange silk of my dress I considered making piping from the blue silk but then I found about a yard of crazy orange and gold trim a friend had sent me. It really wasn't enough to do much with, so I figured this would be the perfect project. I laid it out, matched it up, and the trim determined the pattern. I like the trillium effect the tiny triangles near the bottom of the opening create. The pocket is lined in a navy linen and I had a package of brown bias tape so that's the strings for tying it on. Looking forward to trying the larger size out at the upcoming events.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Calze/stockings are done

My little boys had me up early again, so I stitched up the stockings. I used Katerina's pattern and research at Purplefiles as my starting place last time and I really liked how well the draped pattern worked. I've had to darn my green stockings up near the toes because of the loose weave, but they are very comfortable and I love wearing them. I used a tighter weave of linen this time around and I tweaked the pattern a bit to fit a little more nicely through the calf and was able to trim about an eighth of an inch off the ankle as well. It fits much more smoothly. Plain white linen isn't as flashy as my silly green ones, but I'm glad I made a more classy pair. The welts are a purchased thick cotton lace that I purchased in a grab bag and had in stash. I just whipped stitched it to the tops of the stockings.

With the pattern already draped, this was such an easy project. I'm thinking I should just make up 3 or 4 pairs to have around. Going to have to wait until after new Year's however, no matter how fast I think it'll go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gold Rosaries

After making my earlier rosary with its inaccurate but sweet smelling beads full of fun memories with my children I started seeing them in lots of Italian portraits. One I find most intriguing is Moretto de Brescia's Lady in White.
The dress is 1540's and such an interesting mix of things, but the two parts I am most enamored with are her giant gold rosary and the fact that her earrings aren't earrings. Instead, in a way very like Rus temple rings, they dangle from the hair ornament down in front of her ears. I'd really like to try doing a similar hair ornament, but right now lets look at the rosary. It hangs clear down the front of her dress, ending in a 3 bead tassel with a little white bow. Chris Laning over at Paternaster Row mentioned it on her blog but I haven't found much else. I had gold beads, but certainly not large enough ones to create something nearly that long. I went looking at other gold rosaries to see if anything further inspired me. I ran across the Langdale Rosary at the V&A (m.30-1934) It's one of the only surviving 16th century English rosaries.
I love the lozenge shaped beads that act as the gauds in this piece. The beads themselves are just amazing. Each is decorated with 2 saints. There are similar early 16th century gold Italian beads with "Ave" carved into them. They're currently held at the Cleavland Museum of Art. They also end in a little bow. I'm not sure if that is surviving or a product of later restringing, but the single decade rosary terminating in a pink ribbon is rather beautiful.
As I'm not a master goldsmith, beads like that are way out of the realms of possibility, but I did have some heavy gold beads with a bit of filigree on the surface. I'd used some of them for my IRCC hairpins, which was unfortunate since it meant that I no longer had the 50 required for a 5 decade rosary, which is what da Brescia's Lady was wearing. Additionally, even if I had 50, they just wouldn't give me the length required. I didn't necessarily want it to hang all the way down to the end of the bodice, but it needed to be longer than a standard necklace.

Then I ran across a gold rosary that had belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots. It had non-counted spacer beads between each of the beads in each decade.

So, I decided to go ahead with a combination of the things I liked about each rosary while working with what I had on hand. I used the heavy gold filigreed beads with a few similar gold beads added to fill up the number to 50. The size is similar, and since I had decided to do flat vaguely diamond shaped gauds the difference between the aves and gauds is significant enough I felt it wasn't an issue. I strung everything on black silk with small rice shaped gold filigree beads for spacers, leaving a little space for the beads to move freely. I had a filigree pendant found in the bottom of a bag of junk jewelry, and I threaded a bit of ribbon through it and tied it in a bow for the concluding tassel

I'm rather pleased with the results of the mash-up of the various rosaries and think its a pretty necklace in its own right. Once I don't have budget constraints I think I'll pick up some silk ribbon for the terminal, but that's all that I might change.

And I only broke 4 needles!

My darling Colin once again decided to wake up at 4 AM and refused to go back to sleep. After 2 cups of juice, a fried egg, banana bits and 2 clean diapers, along with a lot of cuddles, I gave up trying to get him back to sleep. I certainly wasn't going to get any more rest, so I started on today's projects. I'd already cut the leather for the slippers so just had to cut lining, applique, and trim.

Since the dress is patchwork I thought parti-color shoes would be fun. Davey gave me a scrap of deep blue leather he'd had kicking around and a couple of leather cushion covers that he had left from buying a giant stack of them to re-purpose. He refers to the sandy orange as "Hastings' colored" and made me a set of lightweight cuffs that I wore with my bellydance kit when I danced with Shawaza. You can't see them in the shot, but there I am in the back row right. Wearing blue and orange. It really is my favorite color combo. I'm using the same colors for my heavy fighting armor that Davey and I are working on right now. So now I have dainty slippers to batch my bazubands and lamellar klibanion (breast plate.) The thought makes me giggle rather a lot. The applique on the shoes are actually leather pieces that I had cut for embellishing the elbows of my bazubands. The soles are leather scraps from armor making. I also used some brass findings that I got to mount on the armor as parts of my girdle for the dress, so there's quite a bit of snitching of supplies going on.

Documentation on this is more than a little iffy, so I guess I really just get to say they're not obviously out of period. The shape is similar to a shoe found in the Mary Rose shipwreck. Its the pair of shoes to the far right.

The 1540's shipwreck is perfect timewise and the shape isn't too far off, but my construction methods are not correct by any stretch of the imagination. They're the skills I learned making leather and felt baby "soft shoes" rather than a period correct type of manufacture. They're sewn quickly on my sewing machine and then just turned right side out. Real shoes of this type would have a welt and an exterior sole. The weight of the leather I've used is off, being much lighter. The dual color and applique are pure fantasy. But, I have pretty,matchy slippers and they are fun to wear. One of these days I will get around to learning how to make real shoes. Its on the to-do list but my husband gets a little nervous about me adding even more new hobbies and the accompanying equipment and tools.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey and button loops

I'm sure they go together somehow or another. I didn't get much else done today in between baking and cooking and feeding people turkey and potatoes and pie, but had a few minutes for handwork in between turns while playing Chinese checkers with my kids. I finished the button loops on my muff and tacked on a chain for fastening it to the girdle or skirt.

This is the same envelope style I made for my IRCC muff. While muffs may be a little later than my preferred 1540's gowns, with most references to them not coming until 30 or 40 years later, I love having warm hands and adore the Italian envelope style muff with the embellished outer, fur inner and fabulous buttons that allow the whole thing to be opened up into a mini lap blanket so I made one. I don't think its too outrageous or jarring. Furs were certainly being used as accessories in 1540's Italy as zibellinis, mantellinos and capelets, and similar stole type drapes. While the fashion craze didn't hit until 1570 I doubt the fashion police are going to arrest me for jumping the gun a little. I was going to type up my earlier notes on documentation from when I made my first muff in May, but honestly, Jaquelinne Serafina Katerina and Bella have it covered pretty darn well. I do make my button loops differently than any of them do, but that's about the only place I have anything useful to add to the discussion.

Regarding this particular muff, some of the same accent fabric I used for my tassel bag makes the outer. It's lined with a lovely vintage chinchilla. Buttons are made from glass pearls with a spacer bead below and a blue bead that matches my girdle sandwiched between two large copper seed beads. Contemporary descriptions of 16th century Venetian muffs mention the crystal buttons they were fastened with. I looked for some large clear glass beads to use but all I could find were cheesy plastic ones so I settled for the pearls. I actually much prefer the thread worked buttons that fasten my other muff to these for functionality, but the pearls are very pretty.

As I said, I do my button loops differently than the ladies I previously mentioned. Rather than doing loops of trim tacked in between layers or otherwise attached, I finish the muff and then do 3 or 4 loops of embroidery floss. Then I cover the loops in buttonhole stitches. Basically its this technique My reasoning is this: the technique is used to make edges in period needle laces so it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume they might have used it and it holds really well. Since its an integral loop rather than stitched in the chances of it pulling off are very small.

This time around I got to use my new set of buttonhole gauges. My friend Patience made me a set for my birthday. I'd never used anything like them before, just eyeballing things, but the gauges are nice and easy to use. Just wrap the thread over the gauge and pull tight. Once the threads are anchored you can pull the gauge out and each loop is the same size. I did mess up on one of my loops whn I gauged it and then had to go make whip cream for pumpkin pie. When I sat back down I didn't regauge it and it wasn't anchored so it pulled a little more open and is slightly larger than the others. I may still snip it off and redo it but haven't decided how much its going to bother me yet. I'm definitely looking forward to using my gauges for ding button loops on my camping Persian coats, though. I've got 4 or 5 coats all in need of a couple of dozen buttons and they're going to make the process SO much easier.

Sprinting to the end

I've changed my mind multiple times on my project for the Artemisian Costuming Challenge and hemmed and hawed about what I was doing. Back and forth between Russian and Italian and in the process time has run out on me. The deadline is in basically a month, so I'm going to have to buckle down and run to the end.

Since my IRCC dress would actually count for the ACC according to the rules of the challenge, I decided doing another Italian would be the best idea since I could fill in with pieces of the IRCC ensemble for things I don't get done. I'm going to do the Lotto gown, as I've got the hat pretty much done already, the mantellino in progress and a few other bits and pieces in process.

I also made the soccaccia, a couple of girdles and other bits of jewelry, and have the muff almost done. Since I'd like to get back to posting on a daily basis, I'm going to wait and show those one at a time and talk about sources and such separately rather than putting everything in a pile today.

So, today's project is a tassel bag. I wasn't really happy with the IRCC one, so I've been working on doing a better version this time around. I'm pretty happy with this one. The picture also gives a glimpse of the fabrics I'm using for this project. The dress will be orange and blue instead of the orange and green of the portrait. I'm using a smoky/frosty blue dupioni and the rosy orange dupioni silk that I used to line my red dress. Both are stash fabrics and, while not as nice as a taffeta, are a step up from the cotton brocades I'd originally thought to use. I splurged and spent $14 of my $100 budget on a half yard of upholstery fabric for the muff and this bag. Not that easy finding something to match my crazy fabric choices, so I was happy to find it.

The tassel bag is an attempt to make a tasseled round bottomed drawstring pouch worn on long strings over the dress. It hangs low on the skirt. There are two portraits in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion showing this. Illustration 40 is Parisian and 52 is Dutch and I've found a few in other portraits from a variety of countries. Here's a French example from 1581. This print by Jacques de Gheyn II is from slightly before 1600 (de Gheyn stopped engraving in 1600 and was active from the 1580's.) It is a lower class individual, but it has the flap top in addition to the rounded drawstring purse shape.
Album Amoricum of a German Soldier dated 1595 has a number of them pictured, including this lady and this one.

Bags and purses seem to be much like modern ones, with shape size and preference shifting a bit according to the whims of the wearer. I wanted something with a bit more structure after my plain unstructured tassel bag. Looking around, I took inspiration from this German bag made in 1596 and this French tasseled bag from 1595
Although this is later (17th century) I liked the tassels and feel of this Italian coin purse at LACMA

I knew I wanted some structure, lots of tassels, a covered opening, and to be able to use the nifty metal mount I had picked up at a garage sale awhile back attached to a really sad pouch with an elastic opening. I cut the flap to match the mount and then tried to figure out how to give it some structure as I didn't have a purse ring. What I ended up doing was cutting a thick piece of leather that stiffens the back section even with the width of the flap. It also helps the bag hang nicely rather than droop. Then I cut two wide tear drop shapes from my fabric and lined the bag and flap with a blue linen that I'll be using as the lining for the dress as well. I placed buttonhole slits around the top edge and inserted a drawstring. It's a plain piece of grosgrain ribbon with a sliding bead to tighten it. I finished the bag off with little tassels made from the fringe I'll be eventually edging my parasol with and beads left over from my girdle. At present I'm planning to attach a short length of chain to each side of the stiffened section and bring them up to a single attachment point that will attach to another longer piece of chain that attaches to either a pin or my girdle directly. I haven't sewn the chain on yet as I'm going to have to buy the long chain for this and it might not match my short pieces. Or I may change my mind as I dig in stash a bit further since I'd prefer not to spend any of my budget on that.

Anyway, I'm back working on this and determined to finish by the New Year's Eve deadline.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This amuses me

I was up late last night (early maybe?) after being awoken by my younger son and was browsing portraits when i came upon this one and then had to stay up until I figured out what in the world is going on in the right corner. What is that attached to her girdle? It's not a zibellino. What IS it?

The title I found it listed under was doing nothing to help me; just a standard "Portrait of a Woman." This one is by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo. After a bit of hunting I found a further title. "Portrait of a Woman as St. Margaret." That opened it up. Its a dragon. This is an allegorical portrait of a woman as St. Margaret of Antioch. Martyred in 304 AD, she is another virtuous woman of Old Rome put forward as an ideal to be emulated. The dragon is one of her symbols. I seem to keep finding these type of portraits and falling in love with them. The Lotto gown I love is also an allegorical portrait of a famous virtuous woman. Also in a strange pose. Margaret here has a furrowed brow and that great turn of her arm that makes her look so tough, while Lucretia has that "masculine pose." For more on the furrowed brow, check out this interesting article by Clare Renkin.

I really like the quirkiness of these and the fancy dress/dress-up aspect of them. The layers of meaning while still getting to wear something fashionable. I'm sort of tempted to find my own woman of historical virtue and define her allegorical dress as an exercise. Or maybe just make a stuffed dragon to wear attached to my girdle.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Long time no post

I've been buried under a giant pile of grapes, plums, quince, and crabapples that I am attempting to turn in to jams, jellies, and other concoctions. Almost finished and then its on to Halloween costumes for my kids. I'll try to get a real post up soon, even if its just about the fun stuff I cooked up. Some of it is even from historical recipes (chardequince and pekmez to drop some names.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More stuff to put in the bag

Still slowly working on the ubrus and the "hat of doom" but I made some quick notions to go into my shoulder bag for fun. I did some thread winders in the krin motif. I had some little bits and pieces of rawhide scrap at the top of the crafting closet I ran across while I was cleaning last week and I've been trying to figure out a project so I could justify continuing to not just throw it out. I pulled them out the other night and ended up making thread winders. I'd made her a pocket and still had needlecases on the brain due to the fresco picture of the socaccia (one day I will figure out how to make one!) and the inspiration hit. The new owner of the pocket is an embroiderer so something to keep her threads in order seemed like a good idea. Her heraldry has owls and the thread winders turned out adorable if I do say so myself. I liked them so well I had to make myself some. The started out plain with just the silhouette, basically heart shaped. I added the spur shapes on the outside to make it a little more and then the drawn in fleur got cut out. Once I got them sanded I decided some paint would liven them up. Then, since I'm not known for restraint they got some gold. I didn't have quite enough rawhide for the dozen I'd planned, but I did get 10 done. One went missing as I took the picture. It's here. Somewhere. . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

I really do have a thing for hair toys

I keep finding more pretties. Here's another beautiful ivory Italian comb from the 1600's. Not as flashy as the painting and gilding of my current favorite but beautiful. If you have anything like my weakness you should go have a look at where this comb lives. It is part of the collection of The Creative Museum. An entire museum of nothing but hair accessories. Dreamy! I've been randomly wandering through the collection by geographical area. I stumbled on to some to die for painted ivory combs with Persian miniatures and some lovely Etruscan inspired ones in the Italian section. Its a fabulous mix of stuff from up and down the timeline.

I think I'm going to dig out my own vintage collection of kanzashi from the 1940's and wear some silly, happy, over the top beautiful hair tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some days I just need to have someone apply the brakes

I do not have delicate hands. That fact was once again made clear to me as I drafted a pattern for mittens. Dainty fingers are not among my graces. I am excited about the mittens, however, which is good since that was the point of making them.

I started the day with progress. The shoulder bag body is coming along nicely. I'm not so sure about the strap however. The applique stiffened the suede I was using enough that it may not need the lining i was planning, but it isn't heavy enough to make a good strap. I'm trying to decide if I should line it all in wool felt anyway and use 2 layers of suede for the strap with an interlining of the felt or try something else. Maybe do the strap out of a heavier leather, but that would introduce a 3rd color and type of leather to it and I'm not sure I want that. The whole thing gets further and further away from my extant inspiration. So, I put that aside and started working on a simple leather drawstring bag. It's a kalita or moneybag and should have been a nobrainer. There's one in Novgorod and its just a plain drawstring bag with a leather drawstring. But, I had the leather out for the applique and I started thinking how cool it would be to make it match the shoulder bag and I drew a nifty krin motif and cut a couple out. While I was at it I thought how these colors just so happen to be perfectly matched to the silk bodice laces I braided for the Italian dress that don't fit into the eyelets. And it snowballed and my plain pouch now had an applique and silk drawstrings and in no way resembled my nicely documented kalita.

So then I thought, "I should use the applique from the bag to do a comb case, because that would be something I could document and it would still be nifty and be another cool thing to put in my bag." Did I mention this decision was made at 4 AM? That information might be important. . . So, then I spent the better part of the day looking at combs. I found everything but what I wanted, which was a nice single sided wooden comb. I wanted that because I already HAVE on of those. No go. I can find single sided combs into the Viking age, but they're really not what mine is. I also found a GORGEOUS Lombard one decorated with sapphires and it would have been cool to attach some beads and baubles to my comb, but its 7th century. So, no go. There is also a beautiful 16th-17th century Turkish comb in ivory, gold, precious stones and rock crystal that is pretty identical to one in the Hermitage that has an embroidered goldwork case. There are Chinese and India examples as well and I might be able to make a case, especially as the Chinese is from a Mongol connected area. But honestly, a few bits of bling attached to a wood comb don't come anywhere near truly evoking any of these pieces. So, I figured I'd just carve a double sided comb. Then I found this ivory one with painting and gilding and fell for it. Unfortunately, the material to carve it isn't an easy thing. Ivory substitutes are basically plastic and I don't want to put all that work in to making a plastic comb. Especially when I could basically buy a plastic lice comb for $2 and have something similar. It just seems lame to go out of my way to do an historical item but have it be plastic. I had similar issues with the zibi, but it was the very best option and its not in contact with things like my hair. So, natural materials. I can't find bone blanks large enough (the width is the issue) and I'm not familiar with working with horn. So wood. I can make a wood comb. The issue with that is that, while wood combs are very, very common, wood combs are common. If you could afford the painting and gilding you wouldn't have had a wood comb.

That was my day. Fussing over the silly idea that was supposed to be easy yet let me use silly appliques and fit into my bag. The bag that seems to be getting further and further away from documentation. I'm still worrying it but am trying to move to a different project. I figured the appliques would look cute on mittens. I have pictures of a set of children's leather mittens and adults wore similar ones. I'm doing what are called "cold mittens." They are not fur lined. That goes back to the fact that I do not have dainty hands and mittens for me would use up a lot more fur than I want to invest in this. They'll be red leather lined in wool felt so they should still be toasty. Yes, my pattern mock up is Batman fabric. I'm working on placemats for my 4 year old son and its what I had out and in scraps. I started with this how to on leather "chopper mittens" and adapted it to have a period style thumb Seems like its going to work, we'll have to see tomorrow when I will hopefully have a clearer head.
My project just keeps getting sillier and sillier and more all over the place. Sigh. I guess at least mittens might be functional for other uses.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Leather applique is cut

I'd hoped to do the cutwork out of red and put it on a buttery orange leather I had, but the scrap wasn't nearly as large as I thought. So, I'm doing it the other way. Unfortunately the red leather is very, very lightweight. I'm thinking I need to interline it for structural stability so that the applique is visible rather than just sagging together. Doing that really steps away from the original pieces and I'd much rather buy a thicker leather, but I don't have room in my budget, either the $100 ACC one or my actual budget. So, I'm going to have a pretty shoulder bag with wool felt interlining and silk lining. Sumptuous, but not particularly accurate. I'm sort of bummed by that, but the result should be gorgeous.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I think I've changed my mind

Maybe I shouldn't plan. I just seem to change my mind anyway. Between a tight budget, the kids' need for Halloween costumes and warm clothes, Christmas plans, etc, etc, I'm going to have to put the book on the back burner. I considered simplifying it again, but I'm really excited about how it would be if done right, so I'm going to leave it until I can give it the attention it deserves and focus on the ACC and my family instead. I think I'm going to do a set of bracelets like those the fabulous Aine blogged about here. My husband does chainmaille, so I've already got the equipment and I am pretty sure I have a couple of clasps that will work. I want a set anyway and its a low pressure sort of project.

So, while I keep plugging away at embroidery on the ubrus, I thought I'd do a "quick" project and do a purse for my Russian outfit. Instead of the pockets Italian women went for, Russian women wore either bags attached to the belt around the underlayer (they belted their smocks) or shoulder bags. They were worn under the upper layers and reached by slits in much the same way as a pocket. This 15th century example is located in the Novgorod Historical Museum. Seems sort of fun and rather modern, even if we're used to them being on the outside of an outfit. So, I thought I'd give the shoulder bag style a whirl. I wanted something a little fancy but it couldn't involve embroidery, so I went with this interesting leather cutwork applique and adapted it a bit. The original piece is 12th-14th century, also in the Novgorod museum, and on either a bag or comb case. I'm leaning toward the comb case idea myself since they tended to be really ornate. I wanted the krin heart to be a little more noticeable than in the original, so it is slightly larger proportionally, I also changed the shape a bit, making the design more vertical and less horizontal. I also added an extra flower/vine to make that work. The mock up in paper is the picture up top. I'm going to cut it out of the same red leather I used on my Italian slippers (its the background in the picture) so it will really pop. I haven't decided yet if this will be the flap of the purse or the back of the purse with the flap on the other side.