Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Night Circus Inspiration has Struck

Yes, it's time to start working on outfits for Teslacon again. (Past time, really.)

This year there is a sub-theme of a traveling circus which comes one night to the western town we will be visiting in the main story line. I confess I am not wildly enthusiastic about the wild west theme, but a night circus is something I can get behind!

I've been inspired by this illustration: 


I just love the juxtaposition of gossamer and sturdy fabrics and the femme-military vibe. Perfect for the Circus!

There will be changes, of course. I want a fluffy bustle with lots of folds and a contrast lining, and I already have a few pieces of sequined fabric (former skirts) which I am planning on using in my frothy layers, but I'll be keeping the solid colored waist and all the military braid!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

And then there was a muff - part 1

Spurred on by the impulsive purchase of a fabric sample in *just* the right colors I have been working on a new accessory  for the IRCC5, a fur lined muff. And yes, I mean real fur. I'm recycling a vintage coat I was given a couple of years ago which I have been too afraid of to touch until now. amazing the courage the perfect fabric can give one! :)

My fabric scrap is too small to make the muff on it's own so my first step was figuring out how I was going to enlarge it. I decided to baste it onto a slightly larger piece of two layers of linen and cover the joins with some metallic gimp trim I have in my stash.


 Close up of basting. It doesn't have to be neat to be effective!

I actually had about eight metallic trims which I considered and I find it interesting that one of the cheapest was actually the one that looked best...and most expensive...when paired with my fabric. It reminds me that it is best not to make assumptions about these things!

As to the fur lining, when I took the fur apart I discovered all sorts of interesting things. They had used huge sloppy stitches through the hide (but hidden under the hair) to hold various facings and turnings in place, and they had made the original vents at the hem with an integral, turn-back facing stiffened with something like soft parchment or a stiff lightweight leather. This gave a crisp edge to the fur while allowing it to cleanly continue to the reverse side. very nice.  I was inspired by this technique to try making a facing strip of brown paper for the edges of my muff.

After cutting out my fur I split open a brown paper bag and cut out 3 strips of paper which were 2" wide. I marked one edge with a guideline 1/2" in and then basted it to the wrong side of the fur with the 1 1/2" edge hanging over  

Right side

 Wrong side

Then I flipped it back using the 1/2" of paper as a guide and basted it into place while also overcasting the cut edge of the fur

Wrong side

It makes a beautifully soft clean edge (with no shedding!) so I continued  the same process on the other two cut edges of my fur. The third edge of the fur has a band of leather finishing the edge which I kept since I think it will provide a nice stable place to attach the buttons and will wear well.

Right side (but I think you knew that)

The facings give a lovely stiffness to the edge which I think will influence the finished muff to hold it's shape. After some consideration I decided that I wanted to add an internal layer of felt by basting it onto the front also. It helps fill in the hollow left where the front turnings end, and I hope it will keep my hands toasty.

Felt layer basted in place

I then placed my front piece an the fur backing--slightly off center as my original fabric sample isn't centered and I forgot to even it up before I attached it to the linen)--folded in the edges of the fur backing and stitched the whole thing together along the edge of the fur.


The assembled muff

Next steps are to add more trim, sew the short ends closed, and add buttons and loops. Almost done.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ooops! I've been a bad blogger! Update on subtelties at last.

The glorious feast at Three Saints and a Ruby has come and gone and I am FINALLY posting pics of the subtleties course which lead off the feast

Mice (made of hard-boiled eggs, radish slices and roots, and parsley stems), Carrots( made of cheese and parsley) , cheese (made of marzipan), and bread! I had hoped the bread would give the impression of rocks, but...not so much. Still, I think they turned out well. They were certainly well received!

We placed two platters for four on each table.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

IRCC5 - And we're off! (almost...)

Tomorrow, April 1, 2015 is the first day of the fifth Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge, run by Bella Lucia da Verona of the Realm of Venus.

I have lots of plans. :)

I was one of the lucky few who supported the Kickstarter fundraiser for Margo Anderson's Italian Wardrobe patterns and they are just waiting to be taken for a spin around the block. I am planning to use them for both my layer 1 (drawers) and my layer 2 (a parti-colored sottana). I'm not sure if I will use the pattern for my layer3 (striped overgown) or not. It rather depends on the fit of my layer 2. I think now that I have discovered the joys of making full gowns with 4 yards of fabric I may feel that the skirts are too full, Plus I've been longing to try out Matthew Gnagy's cutting and tailoring methods...

I may just frankenstein together a bodice drafted by his method (as close as I can infer from his book on mens tailoring) and my new Elenora-style skirt...or whatever style skirt is necessitated by my experiments...instead

The one thing I know for sure about the outer layer is that I want to try to make a striped dress. This dress, in fact!


Francesco Montemezzano
Portrait of a Lady
Private Collection
ca. 1580

I am completely fascinated by the stripes in the skirt and I want to answer the question of whether this representation was likely to have been an accurate portrayal of an actual style--or at least is possible when using ordinary striped fabric.

Not that my fabric is "ordinary!" I have the prettiest teal and gold plaid in my stash and it is very sure it wants to be this dress.

Who am I to say no?

Largess for Game Day #3 - Tablut

I am going for another strategy game this week, and a much more complicated one! Tablut is a two person game played with sides of unequal strength--sixteen brutal ATTACKERS and a small band of eight loyal DEFENDERS seeking to protect their KING. It sounds very exciting!

We need a board with a nine-square by nine-square grid. Once again I made mine in felt!

And then there are the necessary pieces and a six sided dice (just one).

I also made paper versions of the board and instructions slightly adapted from these which are kindly provided by Baron Modar Neznanich, OPel. The paper versions mean that everybody has a set of instructions handy during game night, and they can take a game home with them. (A good thing in my book.) BTW, there is a bit of method to my madness, I plan to put the games out on the tables during the day at the Three Saints and a Ruby event in May!

All in all Tablut was pretty easy and quick. Which is a very good thing since I kinda waited until the last minute. I get to play Tablut for the first time tonight! :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Baker's Dozen Largesse Derby - Dipping my toes back into the world of Largess

It was my great honor to receive an origami Dragon from the hands of their majesties during the Constellation Regional A&S Competition this past Better War Through Archery. It is perched on my computer monitor as I write this and every time I look at it I am reminded that small and light largesse is A GOOD THING! It is convenient for both the giver and the recipient and quite small and simple things still have the marvelous ability to make the recipient light up with happiness, even months after they first receive the gift!

I usually lean toward large and complicated largess, so my Dragon is a wonderful inspiration to try my hand at smaller things. Even if I do have to keep beating myself back from overly complicating things by adding more stuff!

One of our neighboring shires is being elevated to a barony shortly after the Three Saints and a Ruby event this May and we are holding a Largesse Derby focusing on largesse for the new Barony. We hope to be able to pass on many lovely things to the new Baron and Baroness Shadowed Stars...

And I am making pins.

Yes. Simple little brass pins. I'm actually rather excited about it because I have never made pins before, yet I have wanted period appropriate pins made of brass wire for ages! I confess that I may enamel the heads of some of them, But I WILL NOT make complete sewing kits with boxes and needles and scissors and thread-winders and a pincushion and a beeswax tablet and ...

I will not.

I am making something small, light, easy to carry and eminently useful.

I am making PINS.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Largesse for Game Day #2 - Gluckshaus

Another month, another game!

Some people like games of skill, some those of strategy, and some like games of luck. I'm trying to cover a little bit of each, and what better game to start with than one named for the Lady herself! This week's game was Glukshaus, or the House of Fortune.

Using the information kindly provided by Dragonell the Juggler at http://www-ca.canisius.edu/~salley/SCA/Games/gluckshaus.html  I made up another felt game board. (I'm working on a full set of five, but these take a while to make And since the game can be played by any number of people, we only needed one.) I bought dice at the local party store--they had them in their 'poker night/casino party' section--and also made a pretty version to print on 8 1/2 x 11" paper. Having wised-up a bit, I printed the paper boards on card stock with the instructions on the reverse so everyone who attended could take away the game.

Which many did. Score!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Simple Subtelties for a spring event - Carrots!

I have been pondering the opportunity the first course which is often "on the table" at an SCA feast gives one for not only taking the edge of the hunger of restless diners, but to set a appropriately festive and medieval tone for the meal ahead. Our Barony is beginning to prepare for our annual Spring event "Three Saints and a ____" and I have been seized with the notion of making our first course an homage to spring. Perhaps a combination of the first Spring fruits of the garden and the last remains of the Winters staples...in illusion food!

My first idea is baby vegetables.

Baby carrots!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Largesse for Game Day #1 - Alquerques

Part of my plans as A&S Minister for the Barony of Rivenstar have to do with teaching regular classes in skills that Medieval/Renaissance gentry would have had. Particularly those which would still be useful in a SCA/modern context. Period games figure high on my list of 'ought to know' so I started up monthly gaming sessions.

The plan is to teach a different game every month, and also to have all previously taught games available to play for those who want them. This means I need game boards. Lots of game boards!

I want something easy to pack and carry and clean that is also colorful, inexpensive and easy to work with...hmmmm....FELT!


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Turning Heads Challenge: Step One - Make the Tool

I've decided to go forward with a hairnet for the challenge. I'm intrigued with the contined presence of decorative hairnets in Italian art right through the 16th century. While they are by no means present in every portrait, they continue to be seen and it makes me ponder the possible interaction of an *unseen* hair-colored net and the jeweled head bands I love so much. It seems to me that the sequence of fully dressed hair might be:

Braided hair pined or sewn into a ring on the back of the head
Arranged hair covered with a hairnet and tied in place
Braided cord edging hairnet covered with necklace

Certainly it seems likely that a hairnet might help preserve my hairstyle. :)

So, I needed a netting needle.

Somewhere in my tools stash I own a metal netting needle but I know it is larger than I would prefer to use on this project, and also a bit too rough for the delicacy of the thread I plan to use. After some looking on the Internet I had almost decided to make do with a regular needle again...but then it occurred to me that I might be able to make my own.

I raided my jewelry making supplies and pulled out the thickest brass wire I coud find. I cut off a piece about 7" long

And hammered flat the last 1 1/2" on each end

Then I sawed the flat ends down the middle to make two arms

I spread the arms and hammered and filed them smooth. Then I twisted the arms a 1/4 trin so the flat planes of the metal would be brought together at the tips when I bent the arms.

I bent the arms about halfway up and after some hammering of the central stem to harden it I have a lacis netting tool! I'll report again as I use it on the project, but at this point I'd say you can make your own netting tool.

Feeling very accomplished right now....   :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Turning Heads Challenge: What to do?

I'm just about ready to throw my hat into the ring and join in the adventure of the "turning Heads" challenge over on the Realm of Venus. The quandary is...what to make?

I admit to a rather strong fondness for the fancy jeweled headbands seen on some period portraits, but I have noticed that the ladies in the Venetian portraits I favor seem to sport unadorned hair--perhaps to focus the attention on the wonders of the hair itself--while the jewels seem to be more worn in other areas of Italy. Hmm. The truth is that a sneaking suspicion that my jeweled headband isn't accurate for Venice would in-no-way prevent me from wearing it! :) Possibly giving rise to the erroneous belief in other that such a thing was accurate... Bad reenactor!

So, do I make one of these lovelies, or keep myself from temptations way?

Another strong possibility is a pair of glasses. I would love to have glasses that I felt free to wear at events because they *added* to the event, not just because I needed them to see. And I will be taking an enameling class so the project might fit right in...I might even take on making an enameled case! 

And I have such a love for these lace veils. The idea of making one has definite appeal...

Finally, It would be difficult to find an item more authentic and appropriate than a hairnet. A simple *netted* silk hair net strikes me as being the equivalent of period style shoes. It is another ubiquitous item that most people do without, but which would totally elevate the authenticity of my presentation. and (unlike shoes) it's not even expensive or all that difficult to make!

As I said, what to do....?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Another chair, and WHAT a chair it is!

This is a first for me..


A classic chair...in metal!

German, 16th century and Stunning!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Things New

Well, the new year has swept in like fresh air around here and I am off and running on a million different projects, sewing and otherwise. My current favorite is filling up my new ribbon rack with the many yards of trim I have collected over time. I'm scavenging for it in strange spots all over the house and with every bit I collect, respool, and rack I feel more and more wonderful!

I have a lot of trims! I know where they are! Wow! They are so pretty!

Looking forward to making pretty things with you this year. :)

Speaking of pretty things, another favorite  project is this skirt which I have rescued from my "donate me now!" bag. Once I have finished removing the remaining vertical strips of badly damaged sequins the skirt will be moving on to a glorious new future as part of my 'Night Circus' themed outfit for TeslaCon 6. I'll need to make the striped corset first, but watch for this fabric to reappear in all it's gaudy glory and BUSTLED later this year.