medival phoenix

After the event

In a nutshell, the garb was a hit. While it wasn't perfect, or even as well-fitted as I'd hoped, it looked good together, and received much positive commentary.
What I wore:
-wool cap
-open (formerly loose)gown OR doublet of doomy doom

I only wore the doublet for fighting (which went well, thank you very much), because there's alot to dislike about it. It looks alright from a distance, but that's about it.

The sleeves, by the way, were dark navy blue wool lined with red linen/cotton blend, trimmed along the outer seam with the same red braid as I used on the gown. I'd cut the wool just a bit too small, so I stitch bright blue wide bias tape between the outer edges of the upper and lower pieces, then stitched the braid over the bias tape, so you get tiny glimpses of bright blue when I move my arms. I really like these sleeves, though I'll have to experiment with the tying arrangement. It may be appropriate enough to have the straps of my kirtle slide down my shoulders because the sleeves and gravity work together that way, but I don't find that very comfortable. I skipped wearing the sleeves during tourney, because I was certain that slipping would be very distracting while trying to wield a sword effectively. For ties, I'd made small eyelets at the top of the sleeves, and sewn small plastic rings (knitting stitch markers) to the underside of the kirtle's straps, four ties to each side, with black twill tape going through eyelets and rings. I wasn't sure at first which layer (kirtle, gown, doublet, etc) to tie the sleeves to, but it occurred to me that the kirtle was the most sensible layer.

Speaking of the kirtle, I'll need to take it in again soon. That's a good thing.

The gown needs to be taken in around the waist and lower ribcage, little tucks here and there. It looked pretty, but I need a snugger fit for sure. Other than that, it's great. The lining was a lifesaver, as it not only makes the garment much warmer, but also weighs the skirt down so that it doesn't flap all over.

Farthingale, petticoat, and shift all did what they were supposed to do. Being old pieces, there's nothing to report there.

The coif I'm especially happy with. Not only is it 100% linen fabric (cotton thread though, the best I could do, but at least it's not cotton-wrapped polyester!), but it's 100% handsewn, and fits like a dream. It stayed on my head all day, comfortably and perfectly as one could wish. At some point I'll embroider it, but I'm already very pleased with my most period-perfect piece.

I wasn't happy I didn't have a new hat made (or the muff, but I should've started all the sewing ages ago), but I made the old wool cap do well enough. I started by switching out the orange ostrich plume for a bundle of small peacock feathers, those really narrow ones that grow below the eye part of tail feathers. Fixed and pinned a fake pearl brooch onto that, puffed up the top, squished the brim, and voila! It was like a different hat, and I was okay with it.

So, I'd be inclined to grade this entire outfit fairly generously, especially if graded on a curve, because it was definitely one of the fancier get-ups present at the event, and one of the more appropriately done late period outfits.

I will be making a new hat before too long, as I've come up with an excellent plan to convert a modern felt hat into a period-appropriate tall hat, and I'm looking forward to the process. I intend to do a tutorial of that, so when I have a properly working camera again, I'll do that. I'm also hoping to do that with the muff, and probably whatever else I make.

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medival phoenix

Today and tomorrow, can she do it???

Here's where we're at:

-Loose gown is lined and trimmed, and needs only hooks and eyes to be complete. I'll put those on after I try the gown over the kirtle and farthingale, so that I can be sure of optimal placement.
-Belt is done, and it is pretty!
-I have a petticoat which will look good with the gown, and I can place it so that the shabbiness shows very minimally.
-Kirtle's still good. I'm glad I took up the hem.
-Farthingale stands out much better now, which is good.

What needs doing:
-Hooks and eyes on gown
-Bleaching the shift and fencing shirt
-Hat could use replacing

The 'needs doing' list is pretty much in prioritized order. I'm a little worried because I can't seem to find the jewelry which goes with my late-period garb, which means it's probably in storage and thoroughly inaccessible.

Good news, and something I haven't mentioned before: I found some hairpieces for ridiculously cheap the same evening I found the jewelry for my belt. They're blonder than I currently am, and more ashy toned than red, but that won't matter if I'm just using them to fill out a coif. At some point I will probably try dying them, since 3 of the 4 are made with human hair. I've never used extra hair, fake or real, for a better period look, but I'm pretty excited about this.

I have to pause and reflect on this garb project for a moment. Some would say that I'm putting in an awful lot of effort for a costume that isn't beholden to any strict standard (SCA: we're not the authentinazis some make us out to be unless we chose to be for ourselves), and especially for a costume which is not made of period correct ingredients.

The fabrics and details are all wrong. Shift is cotton (and the cut is slightly wrong too, but close enough for all but the strictest) when it should be linen; kirtle is a mix of rayon, acetate, polyester, and cotton, and it laces on the sides when it should lace in front, and is otherwise not quite right. Also, kirtle is black (not right for an underlayer), and has a band of printed fabric in black and cream. The print pattern is good for the period, but it should be embroidery or applique or weave, not print. The petticoat is very light, almost gauzy cotton, also printed, but with gold threads woven through as well. Cotton is wrong, print is (basically) wrong, and it's really too lightweight to be a proper outer layer. The gown, while initially cut to period pattern, is of artificial fabric and wrongly textured--it's crinkled and slubby, totally wrong. The colour is great though, a deep reddish-toned chocolate, with burgundy and red accents. The lining I put in is all sorts of wrong, as I noted before. Twill isn't the best for a long lining because gravity and weight will pull it, and it'll lean more one way than another because of the weave. Reddish-violet is a sketchy colour for that period. It's cotton, probably mixed with polyester. Doublet is unknown fabric with a moire pattern, not at all right for period, buttons are good size but wrong type, and the cut is only kind of okay. The hat I have is really very masculine, and doesn't look right with the lady clothes. Wrong wrong wrong.


It looks good. The colours and patterns go with the general aesthetic of the period, it looks good on me, and the lines are right. Because of how I built the kirtle, I get a moderately corseted look, and a comfortable and safe fit while I fence. When I put on the petticoat and gown, the kirtle won't show and the petticoat will be mostly hidden. With sleeves on, sloppier details on the shift won't show.

This outfit is meant to be a learning experience regarding sewing appropriately for myself for a 16th-century look. It has been that, and shall continue to be so. This is also a sort of stop-gap; because I'm fencing again, I needed garb to go with it that could hold up for a season or two. I have more (and better) fabrics in storage, but getting to them is problematic just now, and buying is just out of the question. One sturdy, good-looking outfit that I can also fence in the end result here. If someone can look at my full garb and feel like the worst problem is the fabrics being not linen, wool, and silk, then I've done pretty well.

As a plus, the coif will be linen, as I have a piece just large enough to do that with. It's not so fine a linen as would be consistent with the rest of the garb, but it will do, and I will eventually embroider it. The muff can be done with trimmed silk or wool, and will be very close to perfect. I won't promise that the trim itself will be natural fibres, but it will be appropriate. I have wool for sleeves. I don't know what I'm doing for the hat, but I'll figure something out. If I do end up just wearing my old cap, I'll decorate it as well as I can.

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medival phoenix

Day....oh forget the counting. It's Wednesday. Loose gown.

I've been a bad blogger, and nowhere near as productive a costumer as I'd hoped.

The good news is that I found pieces to make a pretty, appropriate metal girdle (decorative belt) with, I've sorted out exactly what needs doing, and there's still half a chance of getting it together.

The bad news is...well, let's just list it:
-The doublet is still not right. Still. I think I have a solution in mind, and I'll be giving it a try. If it works, awesome. If not, I cry.
-Sleeves and coif and muff still aren't even begun. Seriously, I need to kick that procrastination/avoidance in the butt.
-After fixing the farthingale, my preferred petticoat (which I'd spent several hours fixing) not longer fits smoothly over it. I'm sure that can be dealt with somehow, but now is not the time to be experimenting with that.
-Loose gown had to be altered at the bodice part as well as lined. Taking it apart means I'll have to repleat a few yards of fabric, and there are two long seams which really need to be....wait, maybe I can do that on the machine, and have it not show. Wait, no, that doesn't work. Bah. Two long handseams it is. Still, there's no avoiding the need for trim on the bodice to make the additional piecing look less awkward. And I just now thought of a way I could have dealt with the piecing which would probably have looked better and been easier to deal with.

So, the loose gown was originally made for a woman 7 inches shorter than myself, and wasn't lined. When it came to me, I solved the length problem by adding about 10 inches of cotton velveteen to the bottom, with trim over the seam. It looked quite good, actually, but I eventually came to appreciate that the bodice ended rather higher on my torso than looked appropriate for an English gown, and when I gained upper body muscle and then more bosom, it didn't even look cutely Italian. So the bodice had to be extended, no more avoiding that.

Yesterday I took the bodice and skirt apart, cut 7 inches off the bottom of the aforementioned velveteen, and attached it to the bottom of the extant bodice. What I should have done is cut 7 inches off the top of the skirt, so that it'd be the same fabric as the bodice, then just throw some trim over the seam, repleat and attach the skirt, call it good. See, I'm just moving 7 inches of fabric to the bodice, so it could (and should) have come from the top of the skirt as well as the bottom. Too late, I'm not changing it now.

The fabric I'm using as lining is a very soft twill weave, content at least partly cotton, probably a fairly high percentage of polyester as well. Most of the fabric I'm using for this is mixed or fully artificial, which makes me wince a bit, but I'm working on skills here, and it's all free fabric, so if I can use it in a way that makes the fabrics not obviously artificial, I'm happy. Right now I'm more worried about getting a good fit and convincingly appropriate shape.

Back to the lining. It's soft, kind of cottony, a bit heavy, very drapey, and a weird shade of dusty reddish-violet. It's purple, which is a sketchy colour for this project due to period available dyes and even more due to period sumptuary laws (look it up, I'm not explaining that here). However...I'm in a hurry, it's an SCA event (not strict with authenticity as some groups are), and it's the only fabric I have with enough continuous yardage to do the job (aside from some bright white acetate stuff which doesn't bear consideration). It'll work, it'll be pretty, and I've already got the fabric cut and hemmed to the gown skirting.

Today I will:
-Put trim on the gown bodice, and it will be pretty!
-Seam the skirt sides. I don't think I have enough trim to run down those edges (it's an open skirt, there should be trim), but if so, I can get away with doing the whole thing on machine, which makes me very happy.
-Put the belt together. Should actually be very quick and easy.
-Cut out sleeves. Maybe.
-Fencing practice, wearing farthingale and kirtle--should include doublet.

Maybe all this should be listed after "Make doublet be okay!"

And now I go, to run errands and (hopefully) make things work.

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medival phoenix

Day 2, already a bit frustrated

Today I:
-Dug out the sewing machine, discovered that the bulb is burnt out (and replacing it isn't a strong option at the moment)
-Found my good scissors and my needles (they'd been hiding for months)
-Sorted trim, bias tape, and ribbon. Feeling very accomplished by this alone
-Handstitched more trim on the doublet
-Took up the kirtle where it'd been marked

-Burnt-out bulb
-Parts of doublet need re-doing
-Can't find my case of bobbins, meaning I have exactly one bobbin for the machine. Currently I'm only machine-sewing on the kirtle, so I guess it's not a real problem yet
-Extant pieces (petticoat, loose gown) desperately need work.

Reprioritized list:
-Get kirtle to appropriate length
-Mend farthingale
-Adjust doublet
-Take buttons off high-necked shift and replace with strings
-Deepen front opening of shift
-Rip old trim off gold petticoat and replace with more appropriate trim
-Alter loose gown to better proportions
-Line loose gown
-Put hooks and eyes on loose gown
-Deal with the belt issue. Current state is far from pretty
-COIF. Unavoidable. Simple enough, just gotta do it
-Iron everything
-Make a skirt forepiece just because it's best to have one handy
-Be glad the piece set aside for a forepart goes reasonably well with the loose gown
-Find, sort, and fix jewelry

I'm about to take up the kirtle again, and then I'll trim and secure-stitch the fabric where the skirt attaches to the bodice part. If all goes well, the kirtle will be done after that. I hope to have the alterations to the shift done tonight, and the trim ripped off the petticoat, if not fully replaced. I know I'm still procrastinating on sleeves and coif, which is really not good, but I feel I'll do better, more efficient work if I do it at the beginning rather than end of a day. Lining the loose gown is a fairly intimidating prospect just now, though altering it in the bodice region is technically more tricky. I'm really not sure how I'm going to do that with what I have, and get a result I'll be really happy with, but if I don't think about it for a day or two, inspiration may well come.

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medival phoenix

A few easy links

For a basic over view of what sort of costuming I'm doing (and what some of the less-common vocabulary really means), check this: Putting on an Elizabethan outfit.

For a re-creation outfit from the same era but with design elements I will be definitely using, look Belphoebe's German outfit. For the muff, look at Belphoebe again.

For coifs, look here.

For a beautiful loose gown (most people would call it a long coat; it's the outermost layer in these pictures), and an overall look I aspire to, check out the bottom of this page.

It's safe to say that the websites represented here are currently my major sources of inspiration, both for style and in developing discipline in documenting what I do.

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medival phoenix

Quick and not-so-dirty 16th century garb

Today I took a big step, and did what I should have done weeks ago: I went through what I own, and the layers needed for a full ladies' outfit from 1570ish (might be bumping up against 1580 by the time this is done, but I'll sort that out later) England.

I have:
-A high-necked shift, commonly miscalled a chemise
-rope farthingale
-two petticoats, rather shabby
-not-quite-properly constructed but still very good and comfortable fitted kirtle
-sleeveless loose gown which has been altered to better accommodate my 7 extra inches of height (it was originally made for someone who's about 5'5")
-Nearly-finished doublet
-a hat of very questionable style apropos, but it does look good
-furs. Hat, capelet, collars. Again, the styles are questionable
-jewelry, of mixed and questionable styles

I need:
-to finish the doublet
-better-looking petticoats
-mend the farthingale
-perhaps also a low-necked shift
-SLEEVES. Ye gods, I need sleeves!
-to take up the kirtle, as it's quite long
-gather, sort, designate, and possibly alter jewelry
-COIF. I've gone unforgivably long without one, and it's too cold for a little caul. Also, the caul doesn't effectively cover my short hair.
-footgear. Difficult at best
-perhaps a new loose gown, of a later (and warmer) style, made to my own dimensions
-less 'need' than 'really want': a fur-lined muff

I can do:
-make a forepart to help compensate for a sturdy-but-ugly petticoat
-fudge like mad on footgear with gray suede boots, so long as I remember the arch inserts
-definitely whip out at least one petticoat, though it may not be appropriate as a visible layer
-make sleeves
-probably everything on list above, really

Today I have:
-pulled out fabric from my tiny stash currently available, and found pieces to do all of the above
-marked designation of said fabrics with notes on post-its
-found, laundered, and dried a piece of 100% white linen for coif. Major good luck, that!
-altered a modern chain belt to make it more period-agreeable, if not fully appropriate. It will have to do for now.
-finished/fixed a beaded cross which will probably go quite well with the whole ensemble

-camera is not with me (in storage), and phone camera flash is busted. Therefore, documenting the process will have to be text-heavy for now.
-not enough time for anywhere near the appropriate level of embellishment on anything.
-budget of effectively zero

Strong points:
-internet immediately available for research and inspiration
-a tiny bit of stash fabrics and costume jewelry
-motivation--an upcoming event where I'll see people whose opinions about such things I really respect. Also, I want to look fabulous, and I love a creative challenge.
-You, the audience. Your feedback and encouragement (and constructive criticism) is incredibly valuable.
-I have the tools I need to work with the materials I have
-if everything fails, I can still show up in what I have, and be okay. Except for the lack of sleeves; that'd be problematic.

With all that in mind, current prioritization is:
-SLEEVES! At least one pair, with at least a little trim
-COIF! Really gotta quit putting that off. No way it'll be embroidered for this event, but I can at least construct one properly, removable lining and all, and practice wearing it properly
-Forepart. It'll be stupid-easy, to be honest, and then I can use it even if I don't make new petticoats.
-Muff. I really, really want the muff. It should be embroidered,but I don't have time, so I'll sew on pretty trim, and construct it in such a way that if I want to put a different external layer on, the whole thing doesn't have to be pulled apart.
-mend the farthingale
-take up the kirtle. It's already pinned, and just needs stitching.
-low-necked shift
-Loose outer gown
-More sleeves
-better hat
-embellishments on extant pieces
-new pair of bodies (corset)

I will be aiming for at least one update per day as I work on this over the next six days. Pictures will come when I can reasonably make that happen. Feedback is always appreciated; even so, just the daily documentation will probably be very helpful in keeping creative momentum.

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medival phoenix

It's been how long...?

So, I'm living in Shoreline right now. I've got a very part-time job in Seattle, doing cruise ship check-in on weekends. I'm looking for more work, and getting interviews at least. If more income starts coming in soon, I'll be living in an apartment of my own in August.

Leaving Bellingham wasn't a hard decision; the hard part was admitting that staying was doing me no good. Leaving was very easy after that. I don't miss the place, not yet at least. Seattle is large, busy, full of people I don't know, and that's exciting! Within a week of leaving Bellingham I got a job and a lovelife. Both are very part-time, and somewhat temporary (certainly the job is; lovelife is just a little complex), but the point is that they are present and worthy. Perhaps the most important part is that those things give that boost of confidence and esteem so necessary to getting back on top of life.
coronet icon

(no subject)

Still alive, still have a hole in my foot. It's healing well, but I need to keep off it as much as possible for quite a while yet, as recent activity has shown. *must not aggravate wound*

There's a been a bug going around the house, and last night was the first in a while that I felt like going out. I really wanted to be dancing, despite the crappy music, but the foot wasn't having it.

I'm working on writing out my knitting patterns, also working some knitting and other craft patterns. Why? I'm writing a book. I've arranged a photographer, and I'll be needing people to beta said patterns. Announcements of "ready to beta" will be via Facebook. I've made some cool things thus far, and I'm looking forward to getting feedback from people.

I'm also working up classes to offer here in town, knitting to start with. They'll be in May. Fliers and sign-up sheets will be up in a week or so. I'll announce here and on Facebook.


It's spring, and I'm feeling frisky and highly social.
medival phoenix

(no subject)

Still alive, and reasonably well. Managed to give my right foot a gnarly puncture wound a few days back, so I'm trying very hard to stay off it as much as possible.