Sunday, March 20, 2016

Historical Sew Monthly: Protection

EDIT: Hello everyone from Facebook! I do not have a facebook account and cannot answer any questions or comments you may have. Please ask them here. Thank you!

 Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.)

For this challenge, I decided to work rework a pair of modern platforms into something resembling the chopines of the 16th century. They aren't super high, but they are enough to keep the hem of my skirts out of the muck (or Pennsic dust!). Although most people are familiar with the ridiculous chopines that required a lady to have servants help her stand upright, many were much more practical - only a few inches above the ground.

The original thrift store buy are the left and the recover is on the right. The original thrift store buy was a little under $4 USD. I took off the red "linen" pieces and left the rope because it was easy to sew through and it is period correct for the 16th century.

First, in the inspirations:

Late 16th Century Spanish Chopines at the V&A

Close up of Susannah and the Elders (Lorenzo Lotto) - 1517

16th Century Italian

If you would like to see more of the range of styles, please check out my pinterest board. There are also several more illustrations from 16th century or early 17th century sources on this page. Chopines could be open or closed toe. They could be only an inch or two off the ground or a couple of feet. The most common was the most practical - just a couple of inches or slightly more. The chopine is well known to have kept the wearer from having to drag her skirts through the mud and ick of the streets. Anyone who has been to a place like Williamsburg or other living history village/town knows how horrible and smelly the streets can get. With the normal debris you'll find in any street, add in horses plus people throwing out their chamber pots out into the street? You really didn't want to walk through that! I just want something to walk through the Pennsic mud.

The base of the shoes without the red "linen" tops
The core turned out to be a foam - which is great.  It's very similar in wear to cork, which is what would have been used in the 16th Century.   I used the modern red pieces that I took off the shoe to help create the pattern I needed.  The insole didn't need any drastic changes.  I drew around it on a scrap piece of leather I had to create two new insoles.   The bridge strap, I made a bit wider to make it look more like the original chopines.

Sewing the straps on to the leather took a bit.  I kept confusing the left and the right and which edges to sew!  Reminder, never, ever sew after 10 pm and if something is confusing, double check it in the morning.  ...Okay, so I never pay attention to the first part of that reminder.  ;-D

Close up of the stitches on the back side of the insole.

Sewing the fashion fabric to cover most of the rope around the edge of the insole

Pulled over the platform

From the top

Once the edge was folded under, I pinned it to the base before sewing it all around.
My feet!  They fit!

The finished shoes

To show the height.  They aren't super high at all but they will help with hems!

The Challenge:  Protection
Material:  Silk ribbon, foam core, rope, cotton damask
Pattern:   Just what was the modern pieces that I redid to look more 16th century
Year:   I was going for about 1516 or so
Notions:  Thread
How historically accurate is it?  Although everything I did was hand sewn, it's still a modern platform.  It's enough though that it won't cause anyone's eyes to bleed.   :-)  They get about a 4 out of 5 on the visually accurate scale - you'd have to be close enough for me to kick you in the nose before you realized what was "wrong" with them.  
Hours to complete:  If I hadn't made it much more complicated than it needed to be, 6 hours.  Since I did, it was more like 9.   There was one side strap I had to take apart twice...
First worn:  I sort of wore them today but probably not until my next SCA event
Total cost:  The silk ribbon was stash I got at Fort Fred a couple of years ago.  The shoes were under $4 usd.  The cotton damask was a half yard piece of a bolt that I bought for $5 at the thrift store  last year - it had about 18 yards on it so...a few cents there?  The leather was scrap that I bought years ago for various projects.  I think I paid $20 for the box and I'm still using pieces five years later so...another few cents?  Really, this was a pretty inexpensive project for a new pair of chopines.   

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Isabella's Cottage Pie

  • 2 lbs redskin potatoes
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of butter - melted
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 lb ground beef 
  • 1 package of mushrooms
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tbs rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic or to taste
  • pepper to taste

This is more time consuming than it is difficult.  Particularly if you have a cranky oven like mine.   First, start a pot of boiling water.   There should be enough water to cover the potatoes but don't put them in yet.  Wait until the water is boiling and then put the potatoes in.  Leave them to boil until they are soft (is it easy to pass a fork through them?  Then they are done.).

In a frying pan, put in the olive oil (any oil will do really but I loved the wild mushroom and rosemary infused olive oil with this recipe).  Once it's heated up a bit, put in the minced onion and chopped up mushrooms.   Let them cook until they are browned.  Once they are browned, put in the ground beef.  Let that cook all the way through.

In another bowl, melt some butter (I cheated and did this in the microwave).  Add the butter and milk to a mixing bowl.  Once the potatoes are done, mash them up with a fork (or a masher), in the mixing bowl.  Add some salt and get your mixer to finish blending everything together.  You'll have some very creamy mashed potatoes.

While the meat is cooking, preheat the oven to 400F.  Once the meat is cooked, add the rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic to the meat, mushrooms, and onions.  Put the meat, mushrooms, and onions in the bottom of a deep, oven safe dish.  On top of that, put the mashed potatoes.  Cook this until the mashed potatoes turn a golden yellow - about 20 more minutes.

The serving size is 4 and it's about 350 calories per a serving.  I might add carrots next time but it was delicious this way as well.  I wanted something with potatoes for Saint Patrick's Day.  :-D

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Sister in Law's Green Dress

My sister in law saw the dress above in the Dangerous Liaisons Met book and had to have it. I had asked her to pick out a dress so she could go to the Francaise dinner with me. The dress she choose, she loved the color and the look so...I had to make her everything for it - the stays, the smock, the pockets, petticoat, and the dress.

I ended up using a lighter colored silk - it looked dark on the monitor but it was the same price as the stuff in the store so... I'm actually really glad I bought the silk on the internet. The color was off but my sister in law still loved it. She said she liked the lighter olive much more than the darker green we originally saw. The fabric itself though was a dream to work with. It was more like a silk taffeta than a dupioni and no one could really see the slubs (there were a few but they weren't obvious). For $12 a yard, it really was a great buy.

I thought I had taken a picture of all the underlayers, but apparently not. The smock was a basic a line tunic with short sleeves out of a linen cotton blend I got at Joanns. If you can find their linen/cotton blend (with no unnatural fibers) at your Joanns, get it. It's fabulous stuff. It's cheap (particularly with the 50% off coupons I get all the time) and it is correct for most periods. I use it all the time in my renaissance and medieval chemises.

The stays I used gray linen from Ikea. Ikea has the heavy, course linen in very drab colors. However, it's great for making stays or using as an inner lining. I machine sewed the channels with a green thread and used green bias tape along the top of the stays. The eyelets were also green - as it is my sister in laws favorite color. They are front opening stays using a spiral lace. I used a mix of cable and duct ties for the boning.

The pockets:

This was before I sewed it all together but after I completely the embroidery on one. I had a large piece of purple linen in the scrap pile. Although I know my sister in law loves green, I thought the purple linen with green embroidery would work well - turns out, it's her favorite color combo. :-) I drew out the embroidery design using the Frixion markers the dreamstress spoke about a few weeks ago. I love the markers. They are perfect for everything. Need to mark a seam? Eyelet placement? Buttonhole placement? Mark out your embroidery pattern? They work on everything. For this particular project, I used the yellow marker on the dark purple background. I learned that if you leave it out overnight to dry, the marker will get brighter. This was insanely useful as I would draw the pattern I wanted at night and finish it the next morning.

Once you are done with the embroidery, just iron over the project. The lines really do disappear. I've so far found the black marker is a bit harder to iron out than the rest but I bought all the colors so it's not a big deal at all.

Photo courtesy of In the Long Run Designs
Courtesy of Mom :-)

The final dress! And my sister in law with her camera strap. :-) I was going to do her hair in a hedgehog but when the curls fell out like that, I just put a big green ribbon in her hair and called it done. The curls were too cute to play with. I sewed together the same trim I used to make my Elizabethan Ruff a couple of years ago to make the cuffs on my sister in law's dress. Despite it being a different color, I wanted it to match the original dress as much as possible. Once I sewed the raw edges of the trim together, I half pleated/ half gathered it to the cuff of the dress.

The final verdict: My sister in loves her entire outfit so much, she's been wearing it when her friends come over now to show of her "favorite" sister in law's work. :-) Okay, so I'm her only sister in law but still! She loved the dinner, loved talking to everyone, and is super excited now to go to Fort Fred. I'm going to teach her how to make her own petticoat since she wants to learn how to sew. However, I do need to make her her own jacket. :-)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Historical Sew Monthly Challenge: Tucks and Pleating

The Challenge:  Tucks & Pleating – make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration
Material:  Silk Taffeta
Pattern:   My own, I think.  I don't quite remember as I cut it out two years ago and never sewed it together.  
Year:   1760's
Notions:  The gold trim and the purple cording I got at Jomar's many years ago now.  The metal findings I got at Hobby Lobby and Michael's.
How historically accurate is it?  The dress itself is entirely handsewn.  The petticoat I made when I cut out the dress and it's machine sewn.  The stomacher is a mix of both - all the "showy" stuff is handsewn but the inside channel and the inside seams along the edges are machine sewn.  
Hours to complete:  Two years?  So, I cut this out in 2013 and just never, ever got to it.  I had to recut it a bit since I've lost weight since then.  Really, it took maybe a couple of weeks to get this done.
First worn:  Francaise Dinner 2016
Total cost:  I remember paying about $120 for the silk taffeta, I think.  I got it in New York.  I think the cording was only $3 for the entire 48 yards and the other trim was about 50 cents a yard - I used three for the project.   The bodice is lined in linen and I used scrap fabric for the inner lining of the stomacher (a small piece of fabric that was once part of a huge bolt of about 25 yards that I got for $5 for the bolt at the thrift store so I doubt it would even be considered to be more than a couple of pennies).  The metal findings were about $20 or a little over that. 

For the trim inspriation, I was heavily influenced by styles like this:
Royal Ontario Museum
Notice skirt opening is lined in one trim and the wavy lines are outside of that to the sides.

Palais Galleria
This one from the same time period (1750's) has one trim to the inside and a larger self trim to the outside.  The self trim is edged in what looks like may be the same trim to the inside.
Using these any many more images as my inspiration, I did the metallic trim to the inside of the dress and the self trim to the outside and up the robings.
The pleated self trim is to the outside, lined in a wisteria colored cording.  The metallic trim also has some of that wisteria color in it.   Neither are natural materials but that look good on the dress.

I continued the self trim up the robings as well.  In this picture, I tried on the dress before adding the sleeves to make sure it fit.  
For the stomacher, my inspiration were the extant metallic stomachers like this:
Or the drawings of them like this:
I wanted something that would match the necklace I would end up wearing with the dress so I used a lot of "gold" findings.

Some images of the final dress thanks to Angela!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge 5: Roasts

A day late but it's done! Since it's Lent, I did a Salmon Roast based on several 15th Century English recipes.

samon Rostyd In Sause
This is an excerpt from Gentyll manly Cokere (MS Pepys 1047)
(England, ca. 1500)

The original source can be found at James L. Matterer's website
Samon rostyd in sause. Cutte thy samon in Rownde pecys and roste hit on a roste Yre take wyne and powder of cannell and draw hem throwgh a streynner. Do ther to onyons mynsed small boyle hit well take vynegyr or verius and pouder of gynger and salt do ther to lay the samon In dyshys and pore the syrrppe ther on and serue forth.

samon Roste In Sauce
This is an excerpt from Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books
(England, 1430)

The original source can be found at the University of Michigan's "Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse"

Samon roste in Sauce. Take a Salmond, and cut him rounde, chyne and all, and roste the peces on a gredire; And take wyne, and pouder of Canell, and drawe it thorgh a streynour; And take smale myced oynons, and caste there-to, and lete hem boyle; And then take vynegre, or vergeous, and pouder ginger, and cast there-to; And then ley the samon in a dissh, and cast the sirip theron al hote, and serue it forth.

To Mail samon Rost In Sauce
This is an excerpt from A Noble Boke off Cookry
(England, 1468)

The original source can be found at

To mak samon rost in sauce tak a samon and cutt hym in round peces and rost hym on a gredirne and tak wyn and pouder of canelle and draw them throughe a stren and mynce onyans smalle and do ther to and boile them then tak vergius pouder of peper and guinger and salt and do ther to then lay the samon in a disshe and pour on the ceripe and serue it.

My translation of all three (since they really don't differ much):

To make a salmon roast in sauce, take a salmon and cut it in round pieces. Roast the pieces on a grill (or a roaster in the 1500 one). Take wine and cinnamon powder, passing them both through a strainer. Mince onions and boil them in the wine and cinnamon. Take vinegar or verjuice, ginger powder, and salt as well. Lay the salmon in a dish and pore the syrup over it. Serve forth!

The only difference really is that the recipe from 1468 calls for pepper as well. After tasting it, I think it's perfectly fine without the pepper - which would have been long pepper most likely at this point and not black pepper.

My Recipe:

1 cup white cooking wine
1~tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1 small onion, minced - I ended up with about 1/4 cup of onion
1 tablespoon of Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar (I buy it at Under the Olive Tree for any other DC locals. There is a similar store in OBX as well at mile marker 6)
1 teaspoon powder Ginger
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 flank of salmon

I got my salmon frozen at IKEA. Yes, they have salmon in their grocery store. It was on sale for $8 for four flanks in a package so I cooked one of the pieces for this recipe.

I didn't cut it up into round pieces for a couple of reasons: I couldn't think of a logical reason to do so; I'm not sure if they really meant round or if them just meant to clean it. Since it was already clean and cutting it into round pieces seemed more a chef Ramsey thing than actually necessary, I just left it. I preheated the oven to 390F since that's what I've cooked other salmon dishes at. I put the salmon piece into one of those tin foil bread things you get for $1 at the grocery store. Once the oven was preheated, I threw in the salmon and got to work on the sauce.

I minced the onions and ground up the cinnamon. I did start to use the mortar and pestle but it was too messy (chunks of cinnamon bark kept falling to the floor because I was smashing it) so I did use the modern blender - which got the job done in a few seconds. I put the cinnamon in the strainer and poured the cup of cooking wine over it. I then threw the onions in and let them boil.

Once the onions started to boil, I put in the Vinegar, ginger, and salt. At the ten minute mark for the oven, I took the salmon only partially out and poured the still quite liquid wine/vinegar/onion mix over the salmon. I let it cook for another ten minutes.

Final verdict: It was quite tasty! I served it on a bed of wild and brown rice (that I heated up in the microwave) which they probably would have done in the 15th Century.  The bed of rice, not the heating up in the microwave.  I'm not a fan of onions - I love cooking with them to get the taste but I tend to avoid actually eating them. However, I did eat a few of these with the salmon and rice and it works. It's sort of a sweet and sour dish. The final calorie count for this one ended up being just over 500 calories - which is excellent if you are on a diet like me. I think I might have it again next week because it's not a hard recipe at all and it's actually pretty modern in taste really. It really took maybe a total of 25 minutes for the prep and the cooking.

As far as cost:

Cinnamon Sticks25 ¢
Ginger??On hand
Cooking Wine$1.50 for the amount used
Vinegar$2.00 for the amount used
SaltOn hand

For one dish, it was probably about $6 once you figure out the cost of the salt, ginger, and the rice.