Saturday, 19 September 2015


That was the sound of July, August, and most of September whizzing past me. Sorry about that. Things have been pretty hectic in Fiendishland. Raglan happened at the beginning of August. It was fabulous and stressful - fabulous for seeing people and doing things, stressful because I was helping to run it and we had a food co-op this year. Anyway.

New Frock 1.0 was successfully finished, and I am rather happy with it.

There is a fair amount of tweaking and adjusting that needs to happen for New Frock 2.0, but this is a functional garment that is comfortable. Also visible here is the velvet sash I made to go with it. Could probably have done with a longer one, but I might have gone mad if I'd had to sew it for a moment longer.

For bonus points, the lacing rings as I was attaching them:

I also made an overdress to go with both this version and the silk one, once it's done. The overdress is reproduction 16th-century fabric, so a little later than the style of the dress, but I love it utterly.

The pattern on the fabric was perfectly centred, so I was able to use it as a cutting guideline. Consequently, it lines up really well.

Here's a picture of the combo, taken at Raglan by my friend Ian Walden. (Photo used with permission.) I still need sleeves, a partlet, and a proper cap, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Suddenly, a necklace!

I went up to the sewing and bead shop this morning to buy supplies. Found black cord that will do nicely for lacing at 35p a metre, which was excellent. I also got the supplies to turn my brooch into a Florentine-style necklace.

I have no experience with making jewelry, nor do I have any intention of taking it up. This piece is intended to do until such time as I have the money to buy the real thing; consequently, I've done very little research into how to assemble it. It just needs to look right.

So. I inserted head pins through the pearl drops. (Plastic pearls, because the shop doesn't sell real pearls that were big enough.)

Then I started wrapping the head pin through the curlies of the brooch. I'd intended to use jump rings, but the ones I got were too small to fit around the bits of the brooch. This would have been easier if I could remember what I did with my needle-nose pliers, but hey, it worked.

The first one was a bugger to get into place because I left the pin on the back of the brooch. The other two were not nearly so fiddly. I used my trusty Warhammer clippers to trim the head pins off after they'd been attached.

I got enough of the cord to use for the necklace too, and I think it looks rather well!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

In honour of a wee small

We spent this weekend visiting Lord and Lady Coventry, two members of our SCA household. The main purpose of the visit was to meet their recently-born sprog, Nemo[1]. He is utterly adorable despite having thrown up on me twice.

I'd made him a hat before he hatched, but I had a partially-worked piece of embroidery I designed back in March when Terry Pratchett passed away. As Nemo's parents are huge Pratchett fans, and as the quotation in question seemed remarkably apt for the start of a new life, I decided to add the relevant details and call it a birth sampler. I think it came out rather well, personally.

Worked over two on 14-ct Aida cloth in some mysterious hemp embroidery floss. I ended up using it as it came from the hank rather than splitting it into strands. It seemed in keeping with the heavy fabric and juvenile style. Anyway, the parents seem to like it. At least, they bought a frame for it within an hour of me presenting them with it...

[1]Not his actual name.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Next steps

V. 1 of the dress isn't finished yet, but a lot more goes into the outfit than just the dress. Apart from figuring out how to style my hair I have a whole range of accessories I also need to make.

Florentine painter Portrait of a Lady Technique: tempera on panel Measurements: 69 x 46 cm Date or Period: c. 1500 Item used to belong to the following collections:    family von Ingenheim  I suspect this painting is earlier than the estimate, based on dated Florentine portraits in this style of clothing. Current whereabouts of painting unknown.


The biggest thing I still need to make is a pair of sleeves. The fabric looks like velvet to me so I've acquired a couple of yards of silk/rayon velvet. While the upper sleeve is clearly a solid tube (you can see the inside of one arm and the outside of the other), the lower sleeve is open like a gauntlet. This is rather convenient, since it appears to be in the same proportion on the model's arm as my archery bracer.

The tube of the upper sleeve appears to have a slight, angled sleeve cap rather than the rounded shape that would let it rest flush against the torso, and the bottom edge appears likewise angled (albeit more sharply). The angles could be an illusion caused by the puff of camicia protruding from underneath, but certainly at the bottom edge the camicia is clearly draping down and away from the upper sleeve.

What I am particularly uncertain of is whether I ought to line the sleeves. I'm inclined to think yes, simply to protect the edges of the velvet.


The narrow sash appears to be made of the same fabric as the sleeves. I'll cut the velvet the full length of the piece, which is 2m plus about 6 inches. (The seller cut it very generously!)


Our subject is wearing a sheer partlet that somehow fastens under the arms and miraculously stays put over the bosom. Tyger Friend theorizes that part of the weird stuff going on with the lacing is actually a brooch that holds the partlet in place. No idea how it fastens under the arms, nor what the shape of the back is. I have half a yard of gorgeous silk muslin that will be perfect for this once I figure out what the heck I need to do.


Another mystery. Boss Laurel and I have been debating this cap. I reckon lace; she reckons embroidery. It's moot for this round of sewing anyway, as I haven't time to make either before August and will just be making a plain cap. Of course I haven't a clue how I'll do that either.


I've decided that instead of trying to source a round pendant, I'm going to go with a red stone set in gold with pearl drops. This pendant style shows up in several paintings from late-fifteenth-century Florence.

Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni - Domenico Ghirlandaio | Museo Thyssen

I've found a brooch on Etsy that looks just right, and will be buying some pearls and wire on my next trip up to the sewing shop.


Eventually the plan is to make round tabletwoven silk cord for all the lacing, but in the meantime I'm probably going to use bought round cord. If there's time before August I'll make my own. If not, meh. I'll get there eventually.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


The outer shell/interlining layer is done!

Next step is sewing the lining into the shell.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Slight change of plans

Boss Laurel pointed out that I'd need something a little more structural to attach the padded interlining to the outer than just the hems. Consequently I had to do a little ripping.

Oh well. 45 minutes of my life down the drain. Still, now that I've got that particular issue resolved, I can move on.

I've done all the pad stitching. It's not really something you can see in the fabric, but it's gone from having a ton of drape to being able to support its own weight. Very cool stuff. (I was a little dubious, but it totally worked.)

The reason for the ripping is that I'm going to seam the outer and the interlining together at the same time, like so.

Again, I'm really glad that I decided to make this practice dress first. I'm discovering a whole lot of things that will make v. 2 much better. Take the lining, for example. Making that up first was a bad call. I hadn't considered how much the pad stitching was going to warp the underlining, nor how much bagging there would be between the inner and outer layers.

Consequently, the lining isn't going to fit perfectly inside the bodice. It won't be terribly off, but it will bug me. So, next time:
  • assemble padded interlining pieces
  • cut out outer shell fabric
  • seam outer and interlining together
  • finish edges of outer onto interlining
  • cut out and assemble lining to fit inside the completed shell
  • insert lining
 Today I've been trimming the interlining to the right size to fit over the lining. Now that it's done, I can unpin the lining, sew down the edge of the outer shell, and get back on track.

For today's bonus, a little hairstyling experiment. If I'm going to pull this look off properly, I'm going to need the right hair! Still needs a little practice and a cap to go over it, but I'm getting there.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A digression into rectangles

Work on the bodice continues apace, but it occurred to me that I'm going to need a skirt in order for this project to become a dress. Everything I've been able to track down seems to indicate that the skirt ought to be a single rectangle of fabric, hemmed at the bottom and gathered at the waist to fit into the bodice. That actually works well with my fabric, as I had only just enough to cut out the bodice pieces and leave three long panels for the skirt.

I can't sew the tube all the way shut until the bodice is done. I'm going to need to be able to pull it on over my head, and I may need to create a placket of sorts at the top of the waist to give me enough room. I wanted to get it hemmed, though, so I've partially sewn and finished that last long seam to allow me to do so.

For now, back to the bodice.