Wednesday, May 8, 2024

More Experimenting with dyes


Not the best picture but it does show that the linen I dyed in the very blue cabbage water  I will do a full write up with video (hopefully!) later but I wanted to share this much.  I'm holding a roll of paper towels above it just for the color focus.  You can easily tell it is not white that way.   

I used leaves of a purple cabbage and boiled it for an hour and a half.  When the leaves were pretty much green from all the purple being leeched out of them, the dye bath was ready.  The linen here has a rust mordant and still came out a rather lovely color.  

I did try to dye with the avocado and ammonia solution but it really didn't work.  I'm going to try boiling the avocado pits next to see if that works at all.  However, that won't be until later in the month.  

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Experimenting with dye!

 I've been collecting avacado pits with the help my family, friends, and co-workers.  So far, I have enough for a couple of experiments.  The first of which I started yesterday!

The first experiment is just cut up halves or chunks of avocado pits (did you know they have seams?) in a solution that is 1 part ammonia and 4 parts water.  This picture above is a close up of the first halved avocado pit in the solution.  The jar I'm using I got for maybe $3 at the local thrift store.  It has a nice cork top that keeps out the smell of the ammonia.  

The plan is to keep the jar in the sun (see nice living peace lily next to it!) for the next three days.  I'm hoping it will get a neat reddish color on the wool I have but we'll see.  

I took this photo about a half hour later and you can already see an orange tint to the water.  

This was last night before I went to bed.  The water was very orange!

The next morning it looked like a reddish iced tea!  

I just took this picture and it is very dark.  I'm hoping to use it tomorrow!

For the other 20+ avocado pits I have, I plan on just boiling them.  The entire experiment will involve putting some wool in alum as an mordant, some in iron (thanks, SOS pad!).  I'll then put one alum, at least, in the boiled pits and one in the ammonia solution.  For the iron, it will also be one in the boiled and one in the ammonia. I'm really curious as to what range of color I'll get from these.

I also almost have enough onion skins for some fun dyes and I will boil a red cabbage to get a neat blue or even pink dye.  

Thursday, August 10, 2023

New sheer handsewn linen camica


The camica laid out on my bed at Pennsic.   It's too sheer to model as it's out of 2.5oz linen I bought from Fabric Store.   

Close up of the neckline.  I used linen thread I would run through beeswax to sew the entire camica.   Each of the edges are rolled or are wrapped in what is essentially linen bias tape.   

Close up of one of the cuffs.  I still need to add twill tape or some sort of fastener to the cuffs.  

Overall, it took me maybe three days, on and off, to sew the camica up while at Pennsic?  This included cutting out the garment and going to classes or walking around.   It really didn't take too terribly long.

The pattern is very simple.  One yard of linen for the front.  One yard of linen for the back.  30" of  the linen, cut in half for the sleeves (so the "top" of the yard is one sleeve and the "bottom" is the other).  5"ish to make squares.  I cut the bottom of the front and back to make binding for the neckline and cuffs.  Overall:  3 yards of fabric used.  

It's very lightweight and perfect for summer.   I'll probably wear it to the North Carolina Renaissance Festival in a few weeks.  :-) 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Late 16th Century Venetian Style Peasant Dress



3 1/2 yards of red linen/cotton blend from Fabric Mart

1/2 yard of cotton duck cloth

1/2 yard of white cotton

1/2 yard of linen rayon blend stripes from Fabric Mart

DMC thread because no one carries red linen and I thought the event originally was a weekend ago

White linen thread from Thimble and Plume

A boot lace

3 ish yards of trim I bought from Lace & Trims on ebay


I used McCalls M7763 for the bodice but with edits. I upped the neckline by at least a good inch. I took two inches off the front shoulder strap and redesigned them to be more narrow at the top. I took some off the upper inside of the front side seam as well.

The skirt is just pleated yardage that I then attached to the bodice. The apron is well, a rectangle with a long, thin strap of material to make the ties.

First Wearing

I didn't get the chemise I wanted to wear with the outfit done in time.  I ended up just wearing a blouse I found at Goodwill that looked close enough.   

The bodice probably could have been laced a bit tighter but, overall, it was pretty comfy to wear.  I love the length of it and will probably make a couple more dresses from the pattern.

It was also the correct outfit to wear as it was pretty warm in the sun at the event.  Unfortunately, I had to leave early because the pup wasn't used to the heat.  She's fine - she cooled down quickly on the car ride home- but I just didn't want her to get sick.   


It was pretty much based on the same images as I used for my friend's dress a couple of years ago.  This one in particular:

Pietro Ronzelli: Nativita di Maria, Chiesa del Carmine, Bergamo

I just did the inverse colors - primarily because I didn't have a bright red Venetian dress.  Now that I do, I think I'll work on making more chemises to wear with my dresses and gowns.  I'll need them come Pennsic!   Who else is going?

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Happy Easter! Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs!

 I've been slowly getting into natural dyeing for years now.  This year, I wanted to naturally dye the Easter eggs.  After looking at a few different options, I went with Turmeric for yellow and purple cabbage for blue.  


The one green/gray one is due to dyeing it with turmeric for a couple of hours and then throwing it in the cabbage dye overnight.  

Yellow Dye Recipe:

  • Two heaping spoons of tumeric
  • A couple of cups of water
  • About 1/4 cup of white vinegar

I put this all on a glass bowl and mixed it up.  I didn't heat up the mixture (which may have made it quicker but eh).  Really, I just put the hard boiled eggs in the mix and left them in the fridge (with a lid) overnight.  

Blue Dye Recipe:

  • Half a head of purple cabbage
  • A couple of cups of water
  • another 1/4 cup of white vinegar
Just rip up the cabbage leaves or chop them and thrown them into a pot.  Add in the water and once, the water is boiling, set it to simmer for 15 minutes.  I accidentally used too much water (4 cups) and while it worked, I think it would have been slightly quicker to dye if I hadn't used so much water.   

Once it's boiled, the leaved will be a pale purple with a lot of green.  It was really amusing to see.  Just gather up the purple water and add the white vinegar to that for your dye bath.  I left the eggs in the dye bath overnight (glass bowl with the lid) to get the indigo color.  

I was hoping for a bright green with the cross dyed one but oh well.  It was a fun experiment.   The nice thing is that purple cabbage was known in the Middle Ages.  I need to see if I can find a recipe or mention of using it as a dye as this does seem to work well and is easy to accomplish for a pretty decent blue.  

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Hairpins in the Medieval Era

Hello!   Is this thing on? I know it's been a long while since I've posted.  I'm back in the States, working at a wonderful new fully remote job where I get to do research all day!   

I thought to post because I came across yet another "Medieval Myth" today that bugged me.  Someone said that they didn't have bobby pins in the middle ages and they always did hair taping.

Now, hair taping was a thing but it was not the only thing going on.  There is more than enough archeological evidence for hairpins.  Here are just some of the examples we have:

V & A Museum, C. 900's-1200's

That's pretty clearly a hairpin as we would know them today but here's some more.

V & A c. 960-1279

V & A c. 960-1279

Basically, we have plenty of extant evidence for hairpins.  While these are all medieval and I haven't seen any in the 15th or 16th C, I also haven't researched more than 10 minutes on this.  I just knew it was wrong.   :-)

Sunday, September 12, 2021

New Regency Era Court Gown


Hello! I have been sewing, it's just been a lot of modern stuff until this week! (I got tired of posting all the modern stuff because, well, how many knit dresses do y'all really want to see?)

Since I live in England now, I got to go to the Jane Austen festival finally. It was toned down this year but amazing. I absolutely love Bath and had a great time.

My gown for the ball was the only new gown I made (because I have umm....a lot of Regency gowns? Like....a lot?). I looked through all my fabric and saw this old sari that I didn't have anything in particular planned for. It immediately got snatched out to of the closet and declared to be the fabric for the gown.


I actually used a pattern that I apparently drafted up ten years ago. Eeck! It only needed a couple of minor changes to it at the back (it was slightly too big of all things!). The sleeves for the pattern were a new draft. I used nearly the exact same method as here to recreate a sleeve base from Janet Arnold (one of the early 1800's gowns). For the gauzy sleeve you see, I simply cut the sleeve base in four, expanded the sleeve base out, and played a game of connect the dots. So, the linen undersleeve is the same as the new sleeve base I drafted out but the gauzy sleeve is the expanded one. I gathered the gauzy silk to the linen undersleeve and stitched those together first. I then added the cuff trim to the bottom of the sleeve and then sewed the sleeve up. It made it much easier that way (trying to fit cuffs around the sewing machine is always a nightmare.).

The skirt is just three big rectangles. I cut off the pallu of the sari and made most of that the train for the gown. The train was lined in the same blue silk taffeta I used to make Felicity's Christmas Gown for Carnivale last year. I still have enough of the silk left to maybe make a forepart, line some sleeves, and make a bodice? We'll see!

The "skirt" of the sari I used for the skirt of the dress; I just cut it into two because I wanted an apron front gown. The top of the skirt has a "belt" of the silk taffeta which the gathered bodice piece is attached over.

The bodice itself is an old pattern but, as I mentioned, I modified slightly. Other than taking it in in the back, I also curved the front to have an "open" front - or apron gown- rather than a normal closed front. The two embroidered front pieces are pinned down to the apron front but I might eventually add a gold belt to hold them together.

First Wearing

Honestly? This gown came out a lot better than I expected. I finished it just a couple of hours before the ball. (I brought my sewing machine with me to the hotel!) My mind has been so on 18th Century and Renaissance that I forgot how to do Regency and had to remind myself how to piece together an apron front gown. Once I got to making it, I quickly remembered, thankfully!.

I wore the train over my arm most of the time (like in a lot of court gown fashion plates from the period!) to dance and it was very easy to dance in as well as wear. I didn't have any major issues but might make more petticoats to really puff out the gown.



Although the second isn't a court gown, these were three of my main inspirations.  All are from about 1804-1805.   

I'll probably make another gown like this one and will definitely add some stuff (it needs gold trim around the neckline!) to the new blue court gown I have now!