Monday, December 31, 2012

My Historical Sew Fortnightly Project #0

Item, one coif, embroidered in red.

I confess that I have been involved in 16th century costuming for more than 3 decades and yet this is my *first* coif!

I followed the basic, 'fold a rectangle of cloth and fit it to the back of your head' method but added a couple of small darts to shape it more smoothly to the head in back.

I started with one of a pair of embroidered guest towels, Flora from Pottery Barn, which I bought on eBay.

Marking the curve

Cutting out

I french seamed the edge and then pinned in the darts

All sewn up


My gosh! That really was super simple!

Well, I've got ONE thing for my Pennsic trailor

You remember the interior fireplace from my plan? Well, I now have the glass-enclosed, liquid bio-ethanol fueled fire to go in it! I'll dress up the front to hide the stainless steel, of course, but I'm really happy to have the glass guards to help keep my skirts from sweeping into the fire.

Best birthday present ever. :)

Oh my goodness! Chopines!

Another amazing find from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore

Italian. Second half of the 16th century.

I love the careful way her skirt is raised to show off her shoe!

See it in the museum catalog at

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year of walking about, naked.

Clarence and I have been ill for days but I found myself with a little energy this afternoon as I lay in bed, my mind wandering, and I suddenly found myself looking at my piles of clean laundry thinking

"You, know. I don't actually like that skirt anymore."

"Or that one."

"Or that top. Or any of that...stuff"

I thought I'd gotten rid of a lot of my old clothes when we moved to this new apartment. Not so much, apparently! It may have been the fever at work but I have blasted thru my closet--pretty much leaving just 'hooks and some wire.' It's nearly entirely empty!

Feels pretty good.

I'm thinking that my sewing juices may be flowing again. If not, well...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The evil project wish list...

Starting back into working on my pavilion has got me thinking about other projects I'd like to work some thing smaller/lighter/easier...maybe a day shade?

Something like this!

And really, if I'm going to make one, why not two?

Maybe a day shade would be a good gift for the Barony...

Our Baronial device would look great in pearls....


Saturday, December 15, 2012

More on Turkish tents

The Turkish Cultural Foundation has a page on mobile palaces with a bit of tent history and...more pictures!

Amazing how the web changes in two years!

Eye candy: Images of tent appliqué

Well, thinking about getting back to work on my Pavilion has gotten me back to poking about the Internet to see what I can find...

And the second site I looked at has the most wonderful tent walls!

I don't know how old these are, and I don't really care at this point. Just...oooooh!

And here is the interior of a 17th century Egyptian tent

Blurry, but how a want a fancy liner!

And the there's this lovely Pinterest board:

And another blog with Egyptian tent makers:

It all rather gets my tent-making energy flowing again!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hmm...this blog is almost 2 years old and I haven't finished my Pavillion

Maybe I should get back to work on it!?!

The new apartment is far more condusive to sewing than the one we rented for our first year in Indiana. And with winter about to settle in I think I will have plenty of time to sew.

Best of all, I've discovered we have a local tent company. I've been thinking that a professional machine that was accustomed to canvas might be able to handle the harder seams I have coming up in my assembly plan. I haven't contacted them yet ('cause I don't want a potentially negative answer!) but they say they do custom work so I am hopeful that if I get my parts ready they will put them together for a fee.


I know where the bin with this project is living. I guess I'll go pull it out!

Monday, December 3, 2012

OK. Back to the clothes!

I managed to get both bodices close enough to finished that they could actually be worn so both the brown linen and the plaid silk made the rounds at TeslaCon 3.

When you consider the fact that I only *finally* found my corsets on the morning we left it's pretty amazing that they fit at all, let alone the fact that they looked pretty good! The brown linen was fully sewn and lined but it will need to be taken apart to have the seam line boning added now that I have more time. I'll also be raising the shoulder line and taking in the bodice above the fullness of my bust.

The surprising twist on this outfit is that although I arrived with a bodice I had to be sewed into. (And only halfway, at that.) I walked into the vendors area and lucked into a booth selling corset-making supplies and scored a length of brass hooks and eyes on black twill tape.

I've loved this stuff since I first saw it but it never hit my brain as 'period' enough to use...until Steampunk!

I stitched to the outside of the front opening of my brown bodice and it works/looks smashingly! (Insert happy dance here.) It gives just the edge the outfit needed.

The plaid silk bodice hadn't gotten nearly as far when we left the house so I dragged along my sewing machine and the fabric and pattern to make sleeves. (And the pattern to mark the neckline, and lace and ribbon for trim, and so on.) Luckily I had already sewn on the main bodice lining so when I finally realized that I could either *be* at Teslacon or *sew* at Teslacon I was able to make a wearable bodice out of what I had. I really like the simplicity of this one so I think I will finish it (boning and shoulder adjustments, maybe a placket under the center front...or a zipper...) and then make the 3/4 sleeved dinner bodice with lace flounces I had envisioned. I think I may have enough fabric for a day bodice and additional overskirt or train pieces too. I guess we'll see!

What is Steampunk?

Many of the people whom I told about TeslaCon asked me that question, which I wouldn't presume to attempt to answer 'for real.' My favorite quote had been: "Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover the color brown" but now that I've gotten my feet wet I'm starting to think that at least *some* of Steampunk is what happens when renassiance costumers take a holiday!

I have a sneaking suspicion there were more than a few of us about...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Oh my, but TeslaCon is fun!

More about the costume progress later, but I thought you'd like to see the plaid dress in action!

Monday, November 26, 2012

There's hope.

Just a work-in-progress pic to remind me that I am moving toward bodice-dom!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What was I thinking? Or was I even thinking AT ALL?!

Having cut out all my linings, interlinings, and the fashion fabric for my day bodice I am now confronted with the fashion fabric for the dinner bodice. Can anyone remind me why I thought it would be a good idea to make my first bustle dress in an UNEVEN PLAID?

(Pounds head on table)

Worse, an uneven plaid with a strong HORIZONTAL STRIPE?




What's that you say? It'll be pretty?!


OK, take a deep breath...

I WILL start on my bodices for TeslaCon. I WILL!

Right now.

A picture is worth, well, a whole lota words

See? Side to side ribbons holding my bustle tapes together so it doesn't look hideous from the outside!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thank goodness for portable posteriors!

I have been deep in the mire of a rather spectacular FAIL with the bustling of my second skirt. I started by approximating the placement which worked so well with the plaid silk, but...


Then I tried moving things around to lift the center lines considerably higher (in an attempt to rid myself of that rather horrible set of side to side folds) and...

Double Yuck!

I've been moving the pins, and trying it on, and getting Clarence to give opinions and take pictures, and taking everything off and trying again. Over and over.

Only to arrive at yet more YUCK!


I had read the very good suggestion of draping your bustles on a dress form but since I don't have one I was stuck in the fitting loop until it occurred to me that maybe I could rig something up...and thus my Marvelous Fitting Assistant was born! (OK, created!)

Yes, that is a pillow and my bustle pinned to a high-backed chair. When in use the front of the skirt is all rucked up but it is full enough not to be a problem. And being able to make adjustments and see the changes first-hand makes a huge difference!


As it turned out, my problem was that the tapes depending from the waist band onto which the outer puffs are attached were sliding to my sides and stretching the skirt fabric into flat folds. I simply attached two short pieces of ribbon horizontally to connect and draw together the opposing points. Easy-peasey!

As Clarence commented, now my butt has a bow on it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bustle skirt #2

In a lovely brown on brown striped linen from my stash.

I'd still like to play with the bustling, and come up with a few more outfits, but since one daytime and one nighttime outfit are my bare minimum list of things I *have* to make for Teslacon I'm going to move on to bodices. Which means I need to go dig through the stacks of still-packed boxes from our move and find my corsets...

What fun. (Sigh)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A blast from the stash

Something like 15 years ago I found an whole lot of organza ribbon in a wonderful pumpkin pie color, CHEAP, and bought it up. I stitched it up with some lace and black cotton with the intention of making a flounced petticoat but it never got finished and I have been dragging that too-pretty-to-throw-away-but-basically-useless pile of fabric around with me ever since.

I am now quite flushed with the glow of virtuous accomplishment because it is a useless pile no longer!

My bustle petticoat in progress...

I put on my bustle and had my honey measure the waist to floor length front and back (which is 13 inches longer, by the way), took off 21inches for the finished length of the flounce, added 4 inches for a 2" tuck to cover the seam, added seam allowance and cut I piece to the front length and one to the back. I sewed those pieces into a tube (with an opening at the left side for getting in and out) and here we're pinning in the darts and back shaping/gathering to fit.

Even with the tuck turned the wrong way (up!) I'm pretty happy!

Only 14 days to Teslacon 3...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

OMG, It's a skirt!

In fact, it's a skirt with a big poufy butt!

I still have all the handwork to do to finish it (waistband, hooks and eyes, ribbons, etc) but look, it's a skirt!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Another bit of progress

All three rows of lace are now stitched on my skirts so I thought I'd post another picture. The uppermost row is the lace just after it has been stitched and flipped over, the middle row is partway through the pinning process (I match up the corners of the pattern above and below the place I will sew the tuck, 1/2 way up the lightest row), and the bottom row is all done!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back home and back to work

In order to cut out my skirts without making a separate set for the plaid skirt I basted in the tucks and hem before I cut it my pieces. This move allowed me to simply place my pattern pieces on the fabric, cut as usual, and when I removed the basting stitches my seam lines already had all the fancy angles I will need to get my tucks to lay flat on angled seams.

To make my lace emerge from underneath the bottom edge of the tuck I attached it by zig-zagging the upper edge of my lace to the fabric which will lie just behind that edge when the whole thing is finished.

The striped fabric which you can just see through the lace (above) is going to be the face fabric when the tuck is complete (see below).

I stitched the tuck so that the black lace will fall above the black stripe on my skirts. This first row of lace/black is also the hemline for my skirts. (I should mention that I reversed the direction of the back piece from the pattern. I want a straight hemline with a black stripe so I put the extra fabric which accommodates the bustle at the top of my skirt instead of the bottom. I put in some extra in order to accommodate my larger bustle too. Yet another experiment!)

I like a deep hem so I included an entire pattern repeat when I cut the fabric. This stitched up into the top of the fabric behind the tuck. It's completely invisible from the right side. Nice!

And now, back to the ironing board!

Monday, October 29, 2012

And then there was SANDY

Hey, who knew they were expecting a hurricane in Baltimore?

I only heard about it as we were on the way to the airport, at which point it seemed rather too late to say "hmm, Honey, maybe we should stay home?"

I've never really been in the potential path of a hurricane before. it's...interesting. In a hotel there isn't much you can do to prepare! I think I'll go see if they have any bottled water in the vending machine...


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Renaissance Africans in Europe...and BALTIMORE!

Wow. I really don't know what to say.

Being in an art museum that has *any* depictions of black people is pretty rare in my experience. If we are there we tend to be the ketchup of the show, not the burger...or even the fries. Just the condiment that underscores the importance of the main dish.

Unless, of course, it is a special exhibit of some kind...(sigh...)

So here I am at the Walters and it *is* a special exhibit, but for the first time in my experience it is truly a show about me. My timeline and place in art and the world, and history. I'm surrounded by folks who could be my family, wearing things I would wear, doing things I might do, and suddenly I'm not that weird black girl who likes to pretend to be 16th century Italian. (Like *that* could have happened! ... Insert eye roll here.)

I'm that weird 20th-21st century girl who likes to investigate her cultural history. I *belong.* We really were there.

And I gotta tell you, the painting of a whole gang of Black Landsneicht is a real life changer!

And now for the lecture...

Hi from Baltimore!

I'm here and braving the potential hurricane to see the REVEALING THE AFRICAN PRESENCE IN RENAISSANCE EUROPE exhibit I previously mentioned. As it happens, the only day I can visit the show is also the day they are having a 4 hour forum about it. So I'll be there too, of course, and I also hope to pay a visit to their very nice collection of renaissance jewels, and who knows what else?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I can be such a scaredy-cat!

I've been sitting on my hands the last few days. (Well, OK, pleating lace trim in my glorious new perfect pleater!) All because I have been too afraid to cut into my plaid silk for the skirt of my first outfit.

You see me starting with the hardest of my planned outfits? I pick the one with tucks in the plaid skirt, some of the pieces of which are triangles, to start!

I started basting in the tucks last night and cut out the back panel, Today I've gotten a good encourageing "talking to" so the front pieces should be cut out tonight. In-progress pictures soon...


I've decided on on making 3 rows of pleated lace over the lowest three rows of black in the pattern. They will be attached to the back of the tucked stripe layer. It means I'll lose 3 rows of fabric per tuck but I think it will look just lovely.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The great bustle adventure continues!

I added the waist tapes to my black bustle and it is just as amusing as I thought it would be to *finally* have a properly protuberant rump!

Who would ever have believed that my natural endowments could ever come to seem...skimpy?

I discovered that the hoops of the bustle poke me in the back when I sit down ('though the whole thing does fold up rather nicely) so I've decided to hold off on finishing it up. I'm contemplating making the innermost hoop shallower but I want to see/ feel the effect of a more professional bustle, and try it with a skirt, before I decide.

So, on to bustle #2!

I've bought Truly Victorian's pattern TV163: 1887 Imperial Tournure and have been altering it to something closer to my size. Since my hips are extreemly full in comparison to my tiny waist I expect I'll be playing with the fit quite a bit after I get it put together, but to start I sized-up the waist band by two sizes and the other pieces by 8 sizes. It really should be 10 but since the Tournure doesn't actually close in the front I don't think it will really matter and Clarence and I agreed that 8 sizes larger seemed to be about the right coverage across my butt.

We won't know if it was the right decision until the thing comes together...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yeah for birthdays!

My darling Mama has just decided to give me a perfect pleater for my birthday present this year! I have been gazing at them admiringly as I contemplated all the trimmings I will need to make for my new bustle gowns and now...woohoo! A perfect pleater will be mine!

Combined with that nifty barbeque fork pleating trick I think my dresses might just turn out alright! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

OK! We're off and running!

It's just shy of 2 months until Teslacon 3 and I've finally put down my fear, picked up my sewing tools and gotten started on my costuming projects. I've ordered three patterns which should arrive next week (more about them later) but in the meantime I've started on two projects I've been thinking about for a while. Namely, reworking two pin-tucked white cotton shirts and a skirt into a passably steampunk petticoat-chemise combination which could become a tea gown with the addition of a matching jacket. And a collapsible wire bustle.

Yeah, a BUSTLE.

I've been intimidated by this project for a lot of reasons but today I got up and started untwisting those hangers from the dry-cleaners and...Voila!

My bustle in progress:



I'm still in the process of wrapping each individual wire with organza ribbon. I plan to attach rosettes over the hinge on each side and a flounce on the bottom wire...and add the waistband, of course! Measurements will follow along with pictures of my finished project.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Off line for a bit

Our new home has no phone line, so weird!

We're having to figure out a new way to stay connected to the internet so please bear with me for the next few days as we work our way thru these..."technical difficulties!"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back to thinking about that Lotto partlet

I ran across a sample of the kind of work that made up those mats I mentioned in my earlier post. I found this on eBay

See the similarity in texture and depth?

The ad describes it as crochet but it doesn't resemble any type of crochet I've seen or read instructions for. I'd think it was woven on a frame and knotted except that the threads lie in stacked bands rather than bunches and the connection points are level with the rest of the surface rather than dipping in. If you happen to know the name of this technique please share!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's that time of year...again...


We're moving once again.

Only a couple of miles away from our current apartment and to a place and location which seem like they will suit us much better, so that's good, but it's still all kinds of packing and hauling right in the middle of a nightmarish level of other commitments!

Not the least of which is the IRCC II Challenge.

I'll have at least a few days at the beginning of August to concentrate on sewing but right now progress is so slow as to be undetectable without a time-lapse camera!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

IRCC II - Tasty Nibble 14: Oooo! Lacy!

I'm keeping a more detailed record of the progress of my Camicia in the "Stitch by stitch" page but I couldn't resist sharing this shot...

I'm not getting much lift (I need to try fitting a bodice when it doesn't have lace I care about attached) but even though it's cut extremely low I feel really secure that this neckline isn't going anywhere. It's definitely the best fit I've achieved so far. happiness!