30) Emergency cotte

A friend is coming to her first SCA event on Saturday; she is as tall as I am but can't wear any of my garb.

Enter the emergency cotte/tunic/bliautoid:


This used to be a curtain, but was swiftly repurposed.  A mere scrap of red fabric provided the trim.

Started working on it at 2pm, and was done, including a quick press, and dinner, by 10.  It is complete, but not finished, with a fair few taggy threads hanging out, but will cover R. in a garment that is the right shape for her first event.  If she wants to keep it, she can; if not, I'll donate it to the shire for loaner wear, or perhaps remake it slightly in a more sophisticated version.

Rhaglan fair 2008

Just back from an extra-long weekend in Wales.  Camping.

Fortunately, after the last fortnight of hideous weather, the gods smiled on us and the sun came out (after a couple of false starts), and we had a couple of days of really nice weather.

It was my first camping event with the SCA, in my 'new' tent, shared with Kay.  We had the most wonderful time, and it seems quite odd to be back indoors now, not to mention clean.  A few photos:

The tent goes up!


The period encampment viewed from above:


The other side of the period encampent:


The floor of the great tower:


A young page:


Sadly, I didn't get a chance to photograph the site cat, who smugly watched the idiots setting up tents in rather more wind than was good for them, then proceeded to visit each tent in turn, coincidentally usually at meal times, and was usually given a good cuddle for her cheekiness.

I got to try archery, which was a heck of a lot of fun, and as usual, there just wasn't enough time to meet people, do stuff, just chill.  More SCA event, that's what I say!

Wearable, not finished

Just a quick post with proof that I finished the WHOLE DAMN OUTFIT.  And wore it.

Well, ‘finished’ is an odd word; the outfit is complete and wearable – not a safety pin in sight.  However, there are still lots of raw edges, bits that need trimming etc.  I suppose it has been completed, but the finishing needs some work.


Anyway, this is an interim photo.  It’s so interim that I almost didn’t post it, there is so much I would like to change.  But I thought I needed to post proof that my effort over the last week really did pay off.

I’ve now put the dress, sleeves and shirt in the ‘finished’ wardrobe, but have a list of things to clear up before I’m really done.

Starting to win…


The sleeves aren’t together yet.  The sewing machine can’t manage because of all the beads.  Beads?  Yes, beads.


And talk about a close fit.  I’m taking the  pinned sleeve to bed with me and will pop beads off frm the seam allowance.  I expect to find myriad plastic pearls in my sheets for days to come.

Good mooooorning! It’s a beautiful day and I’m in a *great* mood

Good mooooorning!  It's a beautiful day and I'm in a *great* mood.  This is possibly because I managed to get the whole skirt pleated, and the tops of the pleats sewn down, before I came in to work.  I had brief conniptions yesterday when I realised that the width of the skirts was more than five times the length of the bodice waist.  And that I am planning to pleat, not gather, this skirt.  Ordinary knife or box pleats reduce a fabric's width to one third of its original, if they are packed as tightly as possible without overlapping:

Box pleats

Double box pleats reduce the fabric to a fifth of its original width:

Double box pleats

But these skirts are MORE than five times as wide as the bodice.  Eeeep!
Fortuitously, it turns out that almost all the 'excess' can be considered to be in the back panel of the skirt.  This skirt has six panels; one front, two side-front, two side-back and one back.  Because the bodice's back waist is much smaller than the front waist, only the back panel of the skirt attaches to the back of the bodice; the rest attaches to the front.  Confused yet?  Good.  In short, the front five panels are almost exactly five times the width of the front bodice waistline, allowing a small amount to create a placket.  So, double box pleats there.  The back skirt panel is quite a bit longer, even with double box pleats, than the back bodice waistline, so the two box pleats at the back are *triple*.  It works, perfectly.
I've also managed to fix it so that all the pleats are all the same width around the skirt, but a 'peak' aligns with the centre back of the bodice and a 'valley' aligns with the front.  I figured that a pleat would 'ploof' out more at it's peak, and that, along with the triple pleats at centre back, will give a nice bum-roll curve-enhancement-esque thing, with lots of fullness in the skirt back there.  But I also decided that I wasn't going for the 'very pregnant' look, so I probably didn't want a 'poof' at centre front, but a bit offset.  The fact that this has all worked out so neatly is pure dumb luck.  If I've learned anything from making this dress, it's that the important bit, when planning the skirt, is how it will attach to the bodice.  The one other time I've made a tight-bodice-big-skirt dress, I used cartridge pleating (a posh kind of gathering) to attach the skirt, and that took far less planning.
I'm planning to sew the bodice to the skirt by hand, but I did sew down the pleats on the machine, just running it straight across all layers.  I wasn't entirely sure my machine would cope; there are up to seven layers of curtain lining and top fabric there, and I just got the poor thing repaired.  But I was even less sure my fingers would cope with sewing through all the layers, and I am getting desperately short of time.  So I crossed my fingers, gritted my teeth, and threw the skirt at the machine.  It coped fine, if noisily, bless it.  I'll have to feed it some extra-tasty oil later, as a thank-you.

Oh – it's just occurred to me that I've never told the blog what I'm actually making.  Well, it's an outfit in the style of early 16th century Florence, Italy.  It has been inspired by (if not generously ripped off from) Jen Thompson's work.  You can see her finished outfit here, complete with the same type of sleeve that I'm going to use (hers are reversible!  How cool is that?) and even a round/wrapped hat-like thing.  She's also gathered a selection of portraits from the period, which you can see here.  This painting gives a good impression of the overall 'look' of the period; the woman in the orange/red dress is wearing a different sleeve style, but the woman in the yellow dress is wearing sleeves like mine (that is, like mine will be…):


This has become an obscenely long entry.  I originally intended this to be pretty much another 'todo' list to keep me on the straight and narrow today.  So I'll put that very important bit after the cut for anyone who is still interested!

Continue reading “Good mooooorning! It’s a beautiful day and I’m in a *great* mood”

Silly deadlines: the state of play

Hmmm.. let's see.

Wearable.  Not finished, but wearable.


Needs the ends of the black edging darning in and, ideally, the pleats need to be sewn down.  The black edging is a roll hem from my overlocker.  I think I once vowed never to use my overlocker on a period costuming project.  Ahem.

Bodice is together.  Handsewing is taking place around the neckline. Front:


This bodice has side-back lacing.  It will still need lacing holes, along both edges of each of the two slanting openings in the next picture, but I can use my temporary strips for the next stage of fitting.  Back:


Skirt pattern is drafted, and I've found my lining material, but the skirt is not cut out.  I'll probably use Prym eyelets for the holes – another 'no-no' – but this dress is mostly experimental anyway (not to mention probably polyester – known as 'silk' on eBay…

I've found the lining!  I know what pattern I'm going to use, and I have all the fabric, but that's about it.  The fabric for the sleeves is lovely stuff – and really is silk.  Photo another day, though.


Possibly best not to ask..


Lost the yarn.  Hmm.

ETA: Typepad is playing silly buggers(TM) with the layout.  I am Too Damn Tired to fight it, and am going to bed.  Sorry.

Lots of sewing…

So, for several reasons, I'm not going to Woolfest.  In some ways I'm really, really disappointed; after all, I've been planning to go since Ally Pally last year, and planning to go with Scarlet for the last few months.

But in other ways, it's not so bad.  I *will* get to go to Coronation.  So clearly, I need new clothes…  Oh, dear.  Another event, another crazy deadline.  By Thursday evening, I hope to finish:

  •  one dress
  •  one shirt
  •  a headdress
  •  maybe some socks

Sounds do-able, right?


To be fair,  the shirt is 'together' and only needs the hem and neckline finishing, and the dress bodice is al least recognisable.  Here's a couple of quick pics of the dress bodice interlining.  It's stiffened – moderately – with packing twine, a la Jen Thompson.  It's somewhat more advanced now, though I haven't cut out the skirt yet…