Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Potato Leek Soup!

Since I have time again to cook at home, and I really wanted soup, I made Potato Leek soup today!  I bought ingredients a couple of days ago when I went grocery shopping.  We are supposed to limit our grocery shopping as much as possible here in zona rossa.  It came out amazingly well and I will very much make this again.

My actual dinner!

  • 4 Large Potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • enough olive oil or any cooking oil to roast the leek and onions

 I just used a big ole stew pot for everything.  Once, I had everything cut up, I roasted the leek and green onions with the garlic in the stew pot with the olive oil.  Just simmer that over low heat until the leeks are soft.

Then, add the potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, broth, and some salt and pepper to taste.  That that boil until the potatoes are soft (about 5 to 10 minutes on my oven.  YMMV).

Here's the hard part.  Take all that off the heat.  You need to puree these veggies until it's a greenish mashed potato look to it. Take out the thyme and the bay leaf!  I put all the veggies into a mixing bowl and just slowly put some in the blender.  Once that set was pureed, I dumped it back into the stew pot and then did the next batch until all the veggies were gone.  

Then, add the butter and the milk to the stew pot.  I'm honestly not sure how much milk I added - it was about half a small carton.  Just add enough milk to make the soup...soup and not mashed potatoes.  Also, a bit more salt and pepper.

In the picture, I also added some red salt to the top and marjoram which added a bit more spice to the soup. 

That's it!   It was great to have today since it's cold again.  I do not like the cold and can't wait until it warms up! 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Latest in Italian Fashion....

The face mask! I designed my own using just some scraps and a bit of bias tape. I hope the pattern process that I'll try to explain below makes sense.

The lines represent where you should measure.


  1. The Red line is from the bridge of your nose to just under your chin, where you want the mask to cover.
  2. The Yellow line is from top of your cheekbone, under the nose, to the other side of your face.
  3. The Orange line is from the top of your cheekbone, under the chin, to the other side of your face.

These are the only measurements you'll really need.

The Pattern

I tried to do a video and well, I'll try again tomorrow to show how to really draw this pattern out. The red line is the same as the measurement above. Just draw that on your piece of paper, marking off about 1" below the top of that line. Now, draw the yellow horizontal line there using your undernose measurement. Using your measuring tape, as best you can, draw the underchin measurement - this will not be perfect and you'll notice it will not reach the bottom of the red line, that's okay.

Now for the slightly tricky part. Draw a curve from the end of the yellow line to the long end of the red line - this is the green line in the pattern picture above.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  I like using the Frixon markers for this because they are erasable!   Now, measure the difference between the end of the orange line to the bottom (chin) of the red line.  It's typically around 2", give or take an inch.  Whatever that measurement is, half it.  Now, from the red (Center) line find where that measurement hits the "green" line outer edge.  This is the start point for the bottom purple line.

Draw the curved purple line to just an inch or less above the orange line, hitting the red line.  Hopefully the picture makes that make a whole bunch more sense.

The blue line is nothing more than a very fat bell curve.  Again, it doesn't have to be perfect - you'll fix any issue with the mock up.  The top purple line starts along the blue line, about 1 cm or so from the red line and curves down towards the red line right where the undernose yellow line is.

If you want a decent curve, add the gray line - it's really a hand drawn very slight curve joining the two purple lines.  The inside of the two purple lines, the gray line, the green line and the top blue line becomes the outline for your mask.  (Shown in black above.)

The Materials

I used two layers of quilting cotton and one layer of wool. Wool is known to be antimicrobial, making it an excellent inner layer. You can absolutely use just three layers of cotton. I just prefer the wool.

  1. 1/4 of quilting cotton - you probably will not use all of this and can just use scraps from the scrap pile like I did
  2. Fat quarter of wool - again, scrap pile; I used an 8" strip of wool I had
  3. 2 yards of double folded wide bias tape
  4. Cotton thread
  5. Fabric scissors
  6. Sewing pins

Trace around the pattern on to the fabric.  You'll want to cut four piece of the quilting cotton and two pieces of the wool.  Mark, for your own sanity, what the inner seam is. 

Once you cut out the fabric, using the wool - or whatever you have for the inner layer- sew up the center seam.  I used a small zigzag stitch but any will do.  Now, unfold it with the unfinished seam out, and hold it to your face.

Look in a mirror and see where you need to make adjustments.  Mark those, recut the wool, if necessary, and then make sure you also recut the cotton and, using paper scissors, recut your pattern as well to the "better" fit.

Once that is done, sew up the center seams, right sides together, of the cotton pieces as well.  You should have two quilting cotton layers and the one wool layer.  Sandwich them.  Have the "fashion fabric" or finished sides of the quilting cotton out (it doesn't really matter which way you have the wool).  Pin the edges, particularly at the chin, the bridge of the nose, and the "corners".  Stay stitch all around.

Now, the bias tape.  Start with a tail of the bais tape about 14"~16".  This will be one of the ties.  Sew the bias tape around the top edge of the mask.  Leave a similar tail on the other side.   For the bottom part of the mask, you'll need your seam ripper.

About 14"~16" into the bias tape, make a small hole with your seam ripper, right in the middle of the fold of the bias tape.  The hole only needs to be big enough to fit the upper tail through.  Once you've done that, sew the bias tape around the bottom edge until you are sure where to make the next hole to pull the other top edge tail/tie through.  Leave another 14"~16" tail. 

That's it!  It sounds way more complicated than it really is.  I made this in about a half hour this morning and will make another one tomorrow.  These are 100% washable which is fabulous.  It also uses up some of  those scraps you have been hoarding in the corner.  :-)  Do NOT use silk, polyester, velvet, tapestry, a heavy twill, or any other materials other than quilting cotton, linen, and tropical weight wool.  You need to be able to breathe. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Carnivale Gown based loosely off of Felicity's Christmas Gown

After the Ball
The gown above is what I wore to the Mascheranda Ball during Carnivale in Venice.  It was one of the last balls (probably the last one this year) for the Carnivale season.  I had fun (even if I almost fainted at one point) and absolutely loved my gown.  It needs some small touches, but overall, it is one of my favorites so far.

The Inspiration:

The Couture Courtesan did a stunning recreation of the gown a few years ago that I got to see in person at one point. I really hadn't planned on making my own recreation but the silk taffeta I used was only €3 a meter and I cannot pass up a deal like that. Also, it is exactly the right color to make the gown. The silk taffeta begged to be made into Felicity's Christmas Gown. Since I've always been a fan of the pink front stomacher, I decided to go with that instead.

When planning out the gown, I wanted to keep it semi-historical as possible. I wasn't going to handsew the entire thing but I didn't want to get too anachronistic either. So, I decided to keep the colors and overall shape of the stomacher (more on that in a bit), the trim type (ie, the way it goes up and down the robings and is pleated), and the matching petticoat. When researching dresses with similar trims, I kept coming back to one thing:

Woman's Dress and Petticoat (Robe à la française) - LACMA

Robe á la Francaise
Robe á la Francaise- Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

Robe à la Française - MET
They were all Robe à la Françaises and not Anglaise.  So, a Robe à la Française it is!  I may have bought uh....10 or so meters of the blue silk taffeta so I wasn't worried about fabric usage.  At all.

The stomacher on Felicity's dress is, of course, meant to kinda look right while also be expedient for making a doll's dress for little girls to play with.  The ombre pink ribbon with a twist in the middle isn't exactly period.  However, a very similar "look" was - this:

Portrait d'une femme en robe de satin bleu, 1760 Christian Friedrich Reinhold von Lisiewski

English American Stomacher - RISD Museum

Manchester Art Gallery
I kept with the three daggings meeting to make it look more like Felicity's dress, rather than add additional ones.  I used silver buttons, rather than pearls, mainly because I lost my beading needle and have no idea where it is.  I need to order a new one.

The materials:

The blue silk taffeta was really only €3 a meter at my local thrift store.  Once a season, they get in the "not quite right" fabrics from the designers in Milan.  These fabrics sometimes have something wrong with them - a spot here or a bit of undyed yarn.  I saw the orange stickers on the blue taffeta but I have zero idea what is wrong with it.  It looks fine to me.  

The pink shantung I got from Silks Unlimited on ebay for $17 a yard. They, luckily, have a pretty good selection and the color was exactly what I needed. I bought 5 yards and maybe used a 1/4 of that?

The silver trim is some trim I bought, I think, back in 2016 as part of a very large, very big bin of "just take it!" at a SCA shopping event known as Holiday Faire.  The entire bin (think enough to stuff a body in tubberware container) was $15.  And yes, I stuffed all the trims from that bin into my suitcase last year and brought them over with me.  Because...necessary.

The silver buttons were also stash.

The Pattern:

Technically, I used this:

To make a Robe à la Française.  Yes, it's not a Robe à la Française pattern.  In fact, my pattern, I seemed to have lost the sleeve too.  Basically, this was only a base and I went off from there.  I also drafted my own sleeve again.

The gown:

The skirt

The gown

The stomacher looking wonky 

Me, with the dress half off!  Ha!
It's not perfect, but I love it!  I still have some of the blue taffeta and a lot of the pink left.  I might make a very different gown out of it now that the Felicity one is out of the way!

Monday, December 2, 2019

The 15th Century "Wrap" Hat

Detail of the Weyden Triptych
Many years ago when I first started the SCA, I learned about the above painting of Mary Magdalene.  Like many others, I fell in love with her kirtle (note: Mary Magdalene is almost always shown in the latest fashions of the day).  However, very early on, I was told the hat was considered allegorical and probably not what was really worn. 

A bit later in my SCA career, I found a lot of the wrap style hat from the 15th C and did a post on it in the livejournal years.  I had long since forgotten about any controversy over it because it's not my normal geographic area or time period (a couple decades too early for me!).  However, thanks to a post on reddit, a lady asked about the hat and it's a good time to write up the research for it.

Detail from van der Weyden's "The Presentation in the Temple"
This was one of the first other examples I saw, thanks to Hope Greenberg's page on 15th C dress.  It's clearly an example of the wrap hat however, it's also clearly the same model.   Same hair color, same nose, and now, the same artist is painting the same hat.  While it helps slightly to say the hat probably existed, it also means that it's only one person wearing it - which doesn't help.  There is also a sketch of the Magdalene that Weyden did.   Again, the model existed and probably loved her wrap hat but that doesn't mean that it was a fashion statement for everyone.

Detail from the Starck Triptych (photo taken by me at the NGA)
Here we have Saint Veronica with...the wrap hat!   Now could it be the same model?  Probably not.  This Triptych was painted around about the 1480's and Weyden's are from 1452 and 1455, respectively.  Also, this Triptych is from Nuremberg in Germany and Weyden was Flemish.  He died in the 1464, so for the wrap hat to appear about 20 years later over 300 miles away is a little weird.  It could be that someone was just a fan of Weyden's work and copied it but that is unlikely given additional evidence for the wrap hat.

A Sibyl, 1470s
The sketch above is currently housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  It's said to be from the 1470s and also from Nuremberg.  Her wrap hat is a bit different but still pretty clearly fabric wrapped around the head to form a brim.   

Right Wing of the Deposition Triptych by Van der Goes
The above detail from a painting by Hugo Van der Goes shows a lady in the upper center with a black veil over the back of a wrap hat.  Not only is this clearly a very different model, this is from the 1480s and back in the Flemish territories.   Now, we have three different painters all showing the hat in the second half of the 15th C with different models wearing it.

Circumcision of Christ (detail from the Twelve Apostle Altarpiece) Friedrich Herlin - circa 1466
And we are back to Germany with another artist and the Virgin Mary this time wearing the wrap hat.  With four different artists showing it, it's most likely that the wrap hat was very much a fashion during the second half of the 15th Century.   

1480s (?) Lamentation detail, painted by tot Sint Jans
Yes, it looks like she has an air filter wrapped around her head or layered on too many coffee filters.   However, this is yet another example of the wrap hat - this time back in the Flemish territory.   

I saw there are many more up on pinterest but these are the few where I could verify to some degree the source and previously knew about.   The fun thing about the wrap hat is that it's very simple to make - it looks to be nothing more than a very long roll of 5" wide linen.  That's about what I end up having to cut off the edge of the fabric when I do skirts!   So, grab some scrap fabric, sew up one edge, and wrap it around your head snuggly.  It's period correct!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

New Winter Coat!

Sorry for the covered face but I took this picture at 6:30 in the morning and it was not pretty.  However, the picture showcases my new winter coat really well so....

The pale blue is a wool poly blend I got from Fabric Mart in one of their many wool sales.  It was $10.50 a yard and I ended up with three yards.   The pink wool is a strip of wool I got from Tricot Cafe which is down the street from where I live.  I think I paid $10 for the entire strip but I don't remember.  I bought this all last year when I thought I'd make the new coat.

I last made a winter coat back in 2013.  I've been wanting a new one for the past couple of years but decided, this year, I would really get to work on it.  :-)

The pattern:

Simplicity 8298 from 1977.   I bought the pattern along with a bunch of others from a lady in Idaho.  My copy is a women's size 14 so I didn't have to play with the size on it much.  Going from a jacket to a winter coat that would need to accommodate bulky sweaters means that I want the jacket pattern a bit on the big side.

Some edits I did:

The original jacket is unlined so I had to create a lining pattern. Really, most of it was just cutting one of the fashion fabric and one out of the lining but the front "flap" had a facing.  So I traced the front pattern piece on to some Christmas wrapping paper that I don't like anymore and then I traced the facing on top of that.  The piece that was "left", I added a 1/2" seam allowance and cut that out as the front lining piece.

The various wrapping paper lining pieces and the sleeve lining
I also lengthened the jacket pattern by about 3" so it would be more of a winter coat.  Since I wanted a hint of pink in the coat, the side front already came in three pieces - I just added the pink wool by cutting out the middle side front from it.  I also took the rest of the wool to make a belt that ends in a big ole butt bow in the back.  Because.  


Overall, the construction was fairly basic.  Side front to front.  Side back to back.  Ect.   I did add hem lace to the inside of the coat because I didn't want the flannel backed poly satin to unravel like the hellish material it can be.   I also didn't want to double roll it so...hem tape it is!
Close up of the hem tape

Overall lining of the coat
So far, so good.  I might add a hook or another button because the top of the coat fits slightly off.  It's not a big deal and the coat is quite warm.   Hopefully, I won't have to make another coat for a while!

Monday, September 30, 2019

HSM2019Sep:Katina's Pretty New Green 16th Century Italian Dress

Having fun at the Castle

Back of the dress

The Challenge: September: Everyday: It’s not all special occasion frocks. Make something that would have been worn or used for everyday.

Material: Avocado green linen, orange linen, cotton canvas (inner lining), cotton muslin (lining).

Pattern: Very heavily modified McCalls 2806 which is out of print. I used the bodice pieces only and drafted the darts out. I also changed the neckline and the width to fit Katina better.

Year: 1570s/1580s

Painting by Federico Zuccaro dated to 1579

Attributed to Pietro Ronzelli, date unknown

Notions:  The shoelace to lace the bodice up, thread, and my old green apron

How historically accurate is it? I machine sewed the insides but all the trim and the eyelets were done by hand so about 90%?

Hours to complete: I'm honestly not sure.  I know I started on it in September but I can't recall how long this one took - maybe five or six hours total?

First worn: September 28th, 2019

Total cost:  The avocado linen was $10 a yard and I had three yards to play with.  The orange linen was $7.50 a yard and I also had 3 yards of that.  I'm not sure how much I paid for the cotton canvas originally - maybe $4 a yard?   I only used a half yard for the project.   The muslin was $4 a yard but 90" wide so I only used 1/4 of that. 

I made two gowns like this - one orange with green trim which I started on back in August- and one green with orange trim - which I started on in September.   They are exactly the same in style - the colors are just reversed. 

Katina wanted a dress similar to my old dresses so this is one of the three I made for her.   The orange isn't as bright as in the picture but, well, bright orange is documentable (saffron with madder gets you safety cone orange).  I think she had fun wearing the dresses this weekend.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Painting for my sewing room!

Long story short: I'm in recovery mode right now. I got out of the hospital on Wednesday after having my gallbladder removed. Before going in the hospital, I stopped by one of my local Thrift stores. This one isn't open on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. However, what they do do is put out items that they believe, for whatever reason, won't sell out on the front curb. I've been badly in need of picture frames and snagged a couple for free. I also found this lovely hanging canvas of a giraffe that was meant for a nursery. I figured with a coat of paint, it might not look too shabby.

Today is the first day since surgery that I've felt "myself" again - and, really, the first time I've felt normal in probably a good month, to be honest. I mean, yeah, my incisions still hurt, but the rest of me feels normal. Trying not to stress it too much but, at the same time, unable to sit around and just be a couch potato, I decided to paint over the poor old giraffe and make him into something more appropriate for a sewing room.

Every idea I had involved a dress form so I decided to paint my good old dress form I got at the same thrift store for $5. (It doesn't have a stand but, eh, whatever. It's mostly just to pin and display anyway.) You can see it in the upper right most corner of the picture if you look closely. :-)

It's not a great painting but I'm pretty happy with it. I used an entire tube of gray paint, most of the way too peachy to be flesh tone, and a lot of the green to get this painted and get the giraffe completely covered.