Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mom's Spencer

It's not completely done, but it's close.  I still need to add the cuffs and the hooks and eyes.  That's it!   The spencer is out of  navy blue wool scraps that I pretty heavily pieced to get the straps and sleeves.   I'll take more detailed photos later showing the piecing.  I really only had enough of the blue wool for the spencer.

The pattern is the Sense and Sensibility one that I think everyone has.  :-)  I changed it up slightly - adding a casing of blue wool to the bottom of the spencer.  I also had to shorten the sleeves, take in the shoulder straps, and take in the back of the spencer to get it to fit nicely. 

The spencer is lined in very much not period flannel backed baby blue poly satin.  Maybe it's rayon satin.  Something not natural satin. It's all part of the "leftovers" pile.  Mom's cape that she loves is lined in the same satin. So I know it's safe. 

Mom's Corded Late Regency Petticoat

I decided I wanted to play with cording a petticoat. I honestly haven't tried before - I've bought all my hoopskirts- but I saw one of my buddies on my Livejournal friend's list do one a few months back using a zipper foot. It worked. Well, actually. I just did a couple of channels around the hem to give a bit of a puff. I used cotton/poly twine you get at Home Depot. I folded over the hem, held the cord inside the hem, and ran the zipper foot with the needle all the way over to the right. It's not super stiff, but it does add dimension to the dress.

Side view.  The mess is a couple of different projects.  One is my Edwardian UFO and the other is the pattern pieces to the spencer I'm working on next.

The dummy mummy and my Mom now have different dimensions- which is why the fit is a bit off on the dummy mummy.  However, you can see the skirt flares well for the 1810s/early 1820s look.

Side view with the petticoat.  It's not a big amount of puffiness - just enough to keep the dress "light" looking. 

A close up of the cording under the dress.  I added some wide eyelet edging to the hem of the petticoat - so, should it peek out, it's okay. You'll just see more muslin and embroidered lace.

If she likes this style, I might make her more petticoats in different colors - I have some green that would look fabulous beneath this dress.  Right now, she has a lovely blue bonnet with a white feather courtesy of the Bohemian Belle.  I'm trying to create a wardrobe for her that will match that.  Which means I should probably make a navy blue petticoat next rather than green.  ;-)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mom's Regency Dress

Originally, the skirt was a tablecloth.  :-)  I bought the tablecloth years ago on etsy as part of a lot.  The other tablecloth already became my Regency era gown. This one will be Mom's. 

The tablecloth was only finished on three edges.  The far width edge was rolled over and sewn down.  I cut off the top scallop edge of the tablecloth (actually, I cut it and then ripped the cut right down to the other width edge so that it would be straight..) and used that for trim.  The edge is now on the sleeve edge as well as around the neckline.  I only have maybe 8" of it left! 

The pattern is one I developed for Mom.  She tried on her stays I made her and the mock up only needed a few minor changes.  The lines of the pattern are based on extant garments.  Except the sleeves...those are the basic trapezoid with a bell curve at the top.   The entire dress is machine sewn.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Getting to wear the blue and white 1920's Dress

Thank you so much for all the comments everyone previously gave on this dress! I figured that, given the amount of comments, you might actually want to see what the dress looks like on. :-)

I really like the way it wears. It's comfy and fun. I can MOVE (no corset! Yay!) but I still feel like I'm wearing something *different*. The only thing I might change is the neckline. I think a less open neckline with maybe a more T-tunic keyhole style might work better. The dress kept wanting to slip off the shoulder a bit because the neckline was so open. Still, it's fine as is and I'll definitely wear this one again.

The beaded cap is actually an item I've had for a few years. A friend in the SCA got a bag of "stuff". The stuff turned out to be various garb pieces. Two ladies who were members of my household at that point, found this in the bag, ran it out to me, and declared that it mine. :-) It's perfect for Italian Renn as well as 1920's.

My hair is done up in the same style as I did last year with only a bit more "wave". Since I've gotten bangs since the last time I tried this, I just got a couple of bobby pins and pinched the bangs under the beaded cap. I'm trying to grow them out again anyway.

The shoes are ones I found a few years ago at Old Pueblo Traders. The clothing is all "old lady" but the shoes look nicely vintage and fit my feet! Even though I wear a perfectly normal 8 or 8 1/2, depending on the shoe company, most shoe companies have decided that my feet are too short. The back of many shoes come up too high (a few have been as much as a half inch past where a shoe should hit on my foot!) I end up with mules a lot for that reason. However, the shoes the old lady clothing store sells are fine. I guess I just have old lady feet? I figured that's the one part of the body that really wouldn't change drastically with time!

The car is from 1927. :-) No Branson to drive me around, unfortunately. We think he was drinking in a corner somewhere....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

HSF #9: Black & White

The Challenge:Black & White
Fabric: I *think* it's a cotton embossed with velvet but it might be linen.
Pattern:  My own!
Year:  1590's ish
Notions: Thread, purple silk lining
How historically accurate is it? The cut is correct and the fabric looks correct - even close up- but it is all machine sewn.
Hours to complete: four or five
First worn: This weekend, hopefully. I'll post much better pictures when I get a chance
Total cost: I think I got the fabric for $15? The silk lining was some violet silk I got to line a work dress a couple of years ago. I *think* it was $25. So somewhere around the $30 range given the amount of fabric I used.

I promise to post more later. I just wanted to get this up. I managed to do this while recovering from the flu - which is not fun. I think I've gotten a total of 5 hours of sleep in the past 72 hours thanks to this stupid cough. I do have to iron the jacket and add the hooks and eyes, admittedly. However, it's in jacket form right now so that counts!

Elizabethan Jacket Progress

This is the mock up over my not so accurate but comfy 16th century stays and bumroll.  The orange dupatta is there just to give an idea of what I might want to use for a skirt.  

The lines are based on multiple Elizabethan/Jacobean jackets made between 1580 and 1615.   I honestly think that some museums just give a general 1610 date because that's what other museums have done.  We know, based on the inventory of QEI, waistcoats (jackets) were around and embroidered since the 1580's.  We have a few extant ones dated to the 16th century though most museums seem to like to put them in the early 1600's. 

I've collected a lot of extant jacket photos here: as well as some other embroidery.  I've also created a list of portraits showing ladies wearing the jackets here:

What I've found interesting about the jacket portraits is that time and time again, ladies wore just as elaborate - if not more elaborate- skirts with their waistcoats.  Some are of printed Indian cloth (popular during Queen Elizabeth's time) others are what look to be of saris - none are plain.  Yet, normally, we see ladies who recreate these jackets - often beautifully- wear very plain skirts or skirts with a few guards.  None tend to be as richly decorated as they were in period. 

This was part of the other reason I have the dupatta up - I wanted to see about using it as a skirt.  There isn't quite enough fabric so I think I'm going to use one of the saris instead.  Or find a large dupatta. 

The fabric I'm using for the jacket is very interesting. 

It looks like blackwork, but it's not.  It's embossed velvet.  You can't tell until you touch the fabric.  The pattern is similar to a jacket dated to the 1630's.  I know I've seen the embroidery pattern earlier - it was on a cloth on a table of a half length portrait from about 1600- but I saw it once and have never been able to find it again.  I just remember thinking that normally people chop off the bottom of the portrait when publishing it on line which is why I hadn't seen the cloth before.  If anyone finds it, let me know!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My New 1920's Dress!

I should be working on my orange Teens Era dress but this little guy just wanted to actually be made!   I refound the fabric in my stash last week and realized it would be perfect for a sweet 1920's day dress.  The fabric is a blue cotton knit with white velvet emboss in an embroidered floral looking pattern.  The white lace band across the middle is real lace from the stash. 

The pattern is the same as I've used previously with only a very minor couple of changes.  The first is, rather than cut out a curved armsyce, I made the straps longer and cut it a bit more square to give "cap" sleeves.  This makes it a bit more like the yellow dress in this 1925 Fashion Plate:

The band was added to give more length to the dress as well as add a bit of contrast.  The belted style, like this, was popular through out the 1920's.  

I might add some purple or pink flowers to the dress just for a bit more contrast.   I'm pretty happy with it.  It only took an hour to make (including taking out the hem of one sleeve and putting it back in so that my arm could fit through it without it being snug!).   I think the blue knit was $10 or so - I don't remember because I bought it a few years ago thinking it was real embroidered cotton and not velvet embossed knit! 

Now, maybe, I can work on the Teens Era dress!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly!!!!

As anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I'm slightly obsessed with medieval cooking.  ;-)  I just found out about a new Historical Fortnightly project that revolves completely around food.  Woohoo!   Technically, anything pre-1960s is allowed (which means the crazy cake is totally acceptable) and it starts on June 1.   Read all about here.

I was thinking about doing something similar just for me earlier this month.  I love attempting the medieval recipes but I though I might try once a week outside of lent to try a medieval recipe for dinner.  This will be every two weeks and will have challenges - which will actually help me stay on goal.   Yummy!

More Pennsic Thoughts

This is my new folding chair I made myself.  :-)   I have to add the seat and back, of course, but it's painted and works!   It looks like a kindergartner made it but whatever.  I actually made something out of wood that was not precut.  I had to use measurements and math! 

Now will it hold an actually person?  Even I'm not sure.  I might err on the side of safety and this will be come a lovely handwashing station, with towels on the arms and a bowl on the seat, at Pennsic. 

On to what I've been planning!   I really *really* want to make my vardo solar.   There are a lot of reasons for this (I can charge up my phone, my computer, and run the lights!) but it comes down to one simple reason- I want to be able to run my fridge, darn it!  Yes, I can easily add some ice packs and just use the fridge as an icebox the entire two weeks but...I want my fridge!  Plus, with solar power, I can turn the vardo into a wifi hotspot pretty easily....

Solar is quiet, effective, and a great power system all around when camping.   The problem is the price.  The price to full make my fridge run and turn on a light or two would be around $900.  That is not a small chuck of change.   And the reason for the price isn't the panels either - the one panel I know would be perfect is a slight bit more than the others I've been looking at.  Still, it's $229.  It's also the only panel I need. 

In reality, the entire solar power system is easily $322 - I priced out the panel, the inverter, the regulator, and even the trickle charger.  It's the batteries that make up the rest of that $900 price tag.  I would need two true deep cycles or four golf cart batteries.  The best I could find for the cheapest I could find were 4 golf cart batteries at $150 each.   That's $600 right there. 

Storing the batteries in the trailer isn't an issue - there plenty of space.  It really all comes down to price.  Do I and will I use the trailer enough to really justify throwing around $900+ on making it ready for the Zombie Apocalypse...err Pennsic?  The very impractical "I WANT MY FRIDGE" side of me says yes!  However the more practical part of me realizes that spending just under a grand on something I'll use maybe four times a year might not be the best use of my money.  I also realize, that if I do get it fully solar powered I might actually use the vardo even more - which would help a lot in off setting the costs.  Plus, the system should last a good decade (the batteries will need to be replaced after that).  Even at four times a year (3 weekends= 6 days and Pennsic= 17 days, giving a total of 23 days) over ten years, you are talking maybe $4 a day.   Still, it's a lot of upfront costs that I don't necessarily have right now, no matter how much I want to run the fridge.  :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Norse Disc Brooches

Most people are familiar with the Norse Turtle Brooches. They look like this:

The problem is, that if you are into Norse garb that is, getting replicas of the turtle brooches will set you back at least $80, easily.  I've seen about an average of $120 for a set.  This isn't good if you aren't sure if you like Norse or if you don't want to do Norse all the time.     It's an investiment that isn't for everyone.

In comes the far less talked about but very much used in period disc brooches.

These were sometimes decorated with gems or enamal themselves.  Other times, they were more just sculpted metal like the above.   Both the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse had disc brooches for fastening clothing (probably due to all the trading/raiding between the two!).   These brooches were used for fastening apron gowns just like the turtle brooches.  The good thing is, you can typically make your own disc brooches for a lot cheaper.

Here are mine:

I took old earrings from a vintage jewerly sale and took the backs off of the discs.  I then hot glued pins to the back of the discs.  Period?  No.  Will it look it  from the face of them?  Yes!   Besides, these were each only $1.  The bag of 50 pin backs was maybe $3.  $6 for three sets of brooches is an easy investment for anyone that is interested in Norse garb.   I really love the plain metal one as it has four holes for adding beads at the bottom of each brooch - it originally had dangling beads that I took off the disc.   The plain one really looks "period" for the 7th - 11th Centuries - the disc brooches were being used for a very long time.  You'll find examples going back before the SCA period (600-1600) and well into the late SCA period.  If you find some nice round 1980's earrings, buy them to change them into brooches.  It's easy and cheap.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Painting the Trailer!

I have a vardo and I love it. I wanted one every since I saw the "Pennsic Homes" at my first Pennsic back in 2007. I kept making plans, trying to figure out cost and materials, but nothing much came of all that (mainly because I couldn't think up a place to build it easily!). One day, however, I saw this one up for sale on ebay. I haggled with guy a bit and managed to talk him down to a price I could afford. I drove all the way up to Wisconsin and came back with this beauty.

Okay, so maybe it doesn't look beautiful in this picture.  This is the back of the house (and it is a house).  I had to replace the back bottom panel due to my own negligence (Dad helped! Fixing it, I mean).  I also had to put putty in the upper part of the middle beam due to an evil woodpecker.  Why a woodpecker would go after the thickest part of the trailer is a bit beyond me other than he must be stupid.

See?  Putty.  Because of the putty (and because I really didn't want to tape everything off), I decided to paint over the beams and the panels.  Also, it was cheaper.  I didn't want to buy a bunch of stain and have to put that on the beams.  It would have taken forever.  As is, it took me a good six hours to paint this thing myself.
I started by taping off the windows and the evil eyes.   I really like the evil eyes on the sides of the trailer and didn't want to see them get covered up.  Besides, they are high enough to be somewhat protected from the rain and sun -thanks to the roof.  I was more worried about the panels- the guy that built the trailer used interior paint.  It was starting to show a bit badly and I was worried about some serious warping.  Some of the wood already has started to warp a bit.
The front of the trailer - I decided to tape off the door and door frame but paint everything else. 

Post painting!   I really painted everything I could.  I think the trailer has a good decade before I'll need to paint again.  Thank goodness!
The front door to the vardo.  It's drastically different than before but I really like this look.  The color works well with the purple of the evil eyes. 
The vardo is slightly messy right now but I wanted to show the Moroccan lamp I hung up in the center of it.  This will be great to light the vardo at Pennsic. 
The vardo at the gated yard.   It just looked so much better with the new paint!

Tomorrow, I should post about some of the new camp furniture I'm making.  I finished a table but I'm still working on a folding chair.  The problem with Pennsic on my brain means that I will be making some crazy stuff over the next few weeks.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Pennsic List!

Yes, it's five AM my time.  Stupid allergies!  While I'm waiting for the allergy pills to take affect so I can go back to sleep without wanting to rip my skin off (I'm really really itchy), I thought I might make a Pennsic list.

Pennsic is the most wonderful event ever.  It's when myself and 10,000+ of my closest friends descend on a small town in Western Pennsylvania for two weeks.  The entire time, you must be dressed in appropriate medieval or Renaissance garb.   When were the middle ages?  Most people - including the SCA handbook- put the start at 600 - once Rome was good and fully gone as a world power in the Ancient world.   This gives everyone a nice 1000 year spread (600-1600) to choose from for garb.

Besides being in garb the entire two weeks, you can fight, take classes, and/or shop.   You'll also be going to parties, meeting new people, and camping.  For two weeks.  A lot of people only come for the second week - I've done that in the past- but this year, I really want to stay the entire two weeks.

My Pennsic list will be different from some others and will also be different from some other camping lists.  First, you need garb - enough for every day that you are there- which you wouldn't on a normal camping list; but also, I have my vardo.

I don't need a tent, a cot, or anything else like that.  My cute little vardo has almost all the comforts of home except a working bathroom.

Pennsic List:

  • Garb - this should include all my "peasant" Italian dresses, my Norse dresses, and a few nobility dresses.  I will also need a new chemise for each day.   Luckily, the vardo has a lot more room than it looks.
  • Bedding - I already have a mattress, sheets, and about a dozen blankets in the vardo so that's taken care of.  Still, an extra set of sheets and a couple of comfy pillows would be nice.
  • Shower tent - I plan on making my own.  I checked on using PVC earlier today to make a decent frame and it is cheap.  It would cost about $20.  However, I also like the idea of keeping to wood which would be the same price for a frame.  Either way, I have the outdoor fabric (it's tan) to make the walls out of.  I found a couple of interesting shower devices.  One creates water pressure with just 4 d cell batteries.  However, you need to provide the water source (typically a large jug painted black to warm the water).  There are also the solar showers that are cheap.  We'll see.
  • Firepit & accessories.   I plan on getting a cheap one at Wally world.  I actually have the lumber, right now, to make a simple table and breakdown chairs for around the firepit.  Although I have a lovely folding table and chairs, I don't want them to get wet!   It rains, a lot, at Pennsic.  So, I need something that I don't care about and will be allowed to get wet if I leave it outside.
  • A gate of some sort.  Most camps have some sort of "here's where you come into the camp" entrance.  It's not necessarily a traditional gate, but just an entrance.  I found a really cool looking one made from two cheap arbors and a bit of fabric going between them.  I think some of the poly saris I have plus craigslist will come in handy for this idea.   
  • Spray paint.  I need it to mark off my encampment.  It's cheaper than buying a lot of rope and stakes.  
  • Personal hygiene accessories.  This includes, but not limited too, shampoo, conditioner, soap, tissues (handkerchiefs work well too), and even a trash can.  I have a small crate I keep most of my stuff in.  This helps when carrying it to and from the shower tent.   (Well, not the tissues, of course!)  I also need to remember towels, washclothes, and clothesline.  The clothesline is very useful for drying out towels or freshly cleaned laundry.  (I have a sink in the vardo.)
  • Kitchen accessories.   I already have a propane stove in the vardo and a tripod with dutch oven for over the firepit. However, I need to remember pots, pans, spatulas, and dish soap.  Pot holders would be nice too.  And my tea kettle.  And my mug.... and probably some utensils.  Maybe some paper plates although I will have my feast gear in the vardo.  Oh! And mixing bowls!  Measuring spoons...measuring cups....  Basically, everything in my real kitchen needs to go into my vardo kitchen. ...tin foil. Parchment/wax paper. Plastic baggies. Trash bags.
  • Food.   Yes, if you really want to, you can easily eat out every day at Pennsic and never cook for yourself.  I'm not like that.  With food, you do need to be sensible about what you bring, however.  The fridge in the vardo - even if I don't get the solar power system for the vardo by then- will act as a good cooler for many raw meats and other items that need to be kept cool. 

    Flour, honey, sugar, olive oil, salt, and some packs of dry yeast are good for making fresh bread over the fire in the dutch oven. All these items also don't need refrigeration. Herbs and spices are great to bring along as well - I'll probably bring basil, oregano, pepper, and maybe some sage. I don't want a whole bunch of spices, but enough to make a good basic alfredo sauce would be nice. On that note, I will also bring almond milk - it won't need refrigeration until after I open it- and shells.

    Potatoes, carrots, and onions are all great for fire cooked meals. Add some beef (that can be kept in the cooler for a couple of days if you actually keep it cool) for something really yummy. The veggies don't need to be kept in the cooler and will last a while - which makes them great for camping. I also like to bring hot dogs to camp - I have a hot dog roasting stick. That with some rice and soy sauce is a "comfort food" for me.
  • Wooden pallets.  Although I no longer need a floor for my tent (Vardos are awesome!), I would like a semi-even surface to put the chairs and table on.   If I throw a board across a couple of pallets, I get an instant (and cheap!) side porch for my vardo.  I've also seen where people have created wooden sidewalks out of old pallets and fire hose.  This would be awesome not only for walking on on the muddy days, but also for throwing beneath the trailer tires should they become stuck.  As pallets are normally free (many smaller hardware stores love it when I ask if I can have a few) it's a very cost effective way to get a platform tent, or, in my case, a nice porch.  
  • Luggage carrier.  I need to borrow the one from my parents.  This is really just to cause a bit more of an airstream around the truck and vardo.  The vardo is a lot taller than the truck, causing air to hit right against the top of the vardo and causing a lot of tension.  It's fine when I'm driving at 55mph...but I can't go over that at all.  To help with some of the aerodynamics of it, a simple luggage carrier should work.
  • A wagon.  I'm borrowing this as well.  I'm just going to use the traditional red wagon to haul stuff up from the grocery store in the middle of Pennsic (yes, there is one) to camp.  This does mean I need to make some sort of cover for the wagon (with dagging!).  I've gone without a wagon before and carrying the bags of ice back to camp without one is not fun.  
I think that's it for my list. Most of it is stuff I already have - garb, kitchen stuff- or stuff I'll need to buy anyway - shampoo, food. Going medieval camping does not need to mean $$$. I think my first year, I spent maybe $300 on everything I needed - and that was from scratch. If you stretch that out over a few months, it's not that bad. Most people can get by in most encampments with just a tent, a cot, and their garb. (You do want to have something that will lift you off the ground. This isn't just because of your back when sleeping on the ground for two weeks- this is because the flooding at Pennsic is the stuff of legends. Keeping stuff off the ground means keeping everything dry.) If you really want, some people buy everything they need at Pennsic - yes, even the tent. I would suggest though buying a tent beforehand. Many cabin tents are between $120-$200. Check military surplus stores for something more medieval looking (many military tents have shapes similar to those you see in the late 16th century).  Also, ebay always has "Civil War" canvas tents up.  Many of these do have older designs and tend to be in the $250 - $300 range ,  Remember, the tent should last you at least five years if not a lot longer.  (you can also do what I did and just make your own..)

You can get a nice, simple, wood bed frame from Ikea for about $40, I think. I can vouch for the twin mattress from Ikea - $79 on sale and very, very comfy. So, for about $120 you get a nice, reusable twin bed to sleep in rather than a normal cot. (It also looks more medieval)

I'm sure the list will get longer as Pennsic approaches.   Candles, lanterns, bug repellent, and other such items are just a few I know I missed.  :-)