Tuesday, April 30, 2013

DIY Toothpaste

So...due to food allergies, I can only get very certain types of toothpaste. A lot of toothpastes have corn in them (as a sweetener!) and, although a very small amount of corn won't hurt me, it's better not to tempt fate like that.

Well, my brand of toothpaste, Tom's of Maine, was out at the store. D'oh! And I was completely out at home. However, I remembered reading that in the 19th and early 20th C, people brushed their teeth with Baking soda. So I went home, and found this recipe. I added both vanilla and mint extract and it still tastes horrible (I added too much salt) but oh my goodness! My mouth feels CLEAN once I finish brushing with the baking soda paste. And my teeth are whiter. I'll play with the recipe and see if I can make it taste awesome but, so far, it actually does work.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lovely Early 17th Century Minature Recently on Ebay

From the seller:

A pair of early 17th century miniature portraits of a noble couple. Oil on tin, size 9,7 cm x 6,5 cm / 9,5 x 6,5 cm (3 3/4 x 2 1/2 in.)

From Me:

This didn't fit on my other blog but I thought it was important given how old the paintings are.

There is a lot of interesting tidbits with these paintings. Miniatures were the wallet sized pictures before the age of photography. There are a lot and all you need to do is a quick search to see ton. Painting on metal wasn't uncommon either - despite how weird it might look to us.

A few other late 16th/early 17th paintings that are oil on metal:







Based upon his ruff and her shawl/fall, my guess is late 1620's/early 1630's. The ruff he is wearing would be out of style but make sense with his suit of armor (think military uniform), whereas his bride would be wearing the latest fashion.

Altogether, a very lovely example from the Baroque time period.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Various things

My starter for my bread died a horrible death earlier in the month. It was disgusting and horrible so I won't share the details. I have to make a new one but I'm going to try to use up all the fast acting yeast I have in the fridge first.

I won't be doing anything for the By the Sea Historical fortnightly. I had too many other things on my plate at the time. However, I should have something for the Flora and Fauna.

As many of you know, the lack of accuracy in movies bothers me greatly. Due to the not so gradual decline in education and the pursuit of education, most Americans take what they see as reality and are unable to distinguish between "Hollywood" and "Reality". I deal with it every single day at work. Almost everyday I heard something along the lines of "But in the movie, they said!" and I have to explain, over and over why that is wrong. And it's not just the historical movies. It's almost every single movie ever made.

For instance, one of the most troubling scenes in Mrs. Doubtfire to me is where Pierce Brosnan's character is seen chocking on a piece of shrimp. According to the movie, he is allergic to shrimp. Yet, somehow, Robin Williams' character simply goes over, does the Heimlich maneuver and everything is a-okay. Ummm. No.

What would have happened in real life is that Pierce Brosnan's character would have had to have been transported to the ER for anaphylactic shock and may have even died. At the least, a small pat on the back, so to speak, would not have instantly cured the situation. If anything, Robin Williams' character should have been charged with attempted murder!

There are a lot of reasons why I refuse to go to the movies anymore (sit in a chair that I have no idea when it was cleaned last, with a super sticky floor, surrounded by 100 strangers who have varying degrees of hygiene and etiquette, just to watch a movie that will be out on netflix in two months anyway? People pay $15 for this?) however, this is one of the reasons. Since the 1990's the movie industry has gotten far worse at even attempting any accuracy in filming. TV shows have long since become a laughing stock even when they are supposed to be serious (24 was hilarious!). Unfortunately for those of us that actually would like a story told that is, ya know, believable? There are very few options.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Squee! A new to us 12th Century Cookbook!

Oldest European Medieval Cookbook Found

I would highly suggest reading the article. It's fascinating. Basically, a cookbook from about 1140 was found in Durham Cathedral in the UK. This is lovely since, previously, the oldest Medieval (ie, not Roman) cookbook is from 1290! According to the SCA cooks list, someone was able to get in touch with Giles Gasper, lecturer in medieval history at Durham. Here is his reply:

"Dear Katherine, Thanks you very much indeed for your message, and we're pretty excited bythe news as well. We are planning to publish a cookbook based on therecipes, hopefully within the calendar year, and a scholarly paper on themanuscript context. The event will be covered, I hope, in the BBC HistoryMagazine. I will try and arrange for video as well - I'm sure the mediadepartment can rustle something up. All best wishes, Giles Gasper"

Awesome! I can't wait!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Historical Fortnight #7 Part Two

A Coif and Forehead cloth

Although I do have a lovely embroidered coif I made a couple of years ago, I could always use another. Since I made the ruff, I figured another somewhat simple project would be good.

First, the research:

Coif Width Length
V&A Coif T.12-1948 16.5" 9"
Met Museum Coif 16" 8.5"
V&A Coif CIRC.868&A-1924 17" 8"
V&A Forehead Cloth CIRC.868&A-1924 14" 7"
V&A Coif T.239-1960 17" 8"

Although this is a small sampling, we can already see that the coifs look to average between 16"-17" with a length of 8"-9". I did a lot more research, including into the forehead cloths, however pretty much every single forehead cloth is 14" by 7". After looking at about 5 of them, I gave up. Even though these are all extant (ie, the ones that survived!) they probably are a good measurement for what was typical during the late 16th into the early 17th C. I probably could write a thesis on how the extant garments are only the ones that no one reused and why that's a problem- but, for now, these coifs and forehead cloths most likely survived for two reasons: they are small and therefore not useable in other projects and b) the massive amount of embroidery making them keepsakes. Given that, they probably were worn at some point and made to fit a specific person. So, the measurements themselves are probably accurate for the average lady in the late 16th/late 17th C.

So, for my pattern:
coif pattern drawn

The pattern drawn here (the fold is at the top of the picture) is based on numerous coifs, with the small ear curve. I decided to go with a rough 17" by 9" for the coif. I needed to have a small seam allowance for the hem.


The fabric is just scrap linen I had in the scrap pile. I used white silk thread since I lost my linen thread and have no clue where it ran off to. Silk thread was used in the late 16th C, particularly on embroidered coifs, which I might do at some point to this one.


Since it was a GORGEOUS day outside, I sat on my front porch for about an hour and managed to sew up the hem of both the forehead cloth (the pattern for that really is your standard triangle) and the coif and chase the pup. She was misbehaving.

coif & forehead cloth

Although they are all hemmed, they both need a lot more work. First, I needed to tie them to my head somehow...which is where things got interest.

I had lost my cording as well as the linen thread.

...I blame the cat. He's evil.

Anyway, I ended up having to make cording out of some old stock cotton thread (gah!) that still wasn't long enough but sort of worked for the coif. For the forehead cloth, I very carefully cut a half inch of linen strip, cut it half, folded the edges over and then folded the strips in half...sewing them up to make ties. I then added the new linen ties to the forehead cloth and they worked perfectly.

For the coif, I added a small strip of linen to the bottom edge to act as a casing for the cord. You can see a small white, unembroidered strip at the bottom of many extant coifs. It's just for a drawstring.

Once all of that was done (making cord takes FOREVER!), I ended up with this:


Yay! A coif and forehead cloth! I really love the forehead cloth - I ended up wearing it around while I was still baking bread, cleaning up, and finishing up the coif last night. It came out really well. I like the coif as well but I want my silk cording! The bow on top of the head just looks silly and I really want my coif to be tied behind the base of my bun.

I apologize for the pictures. I did take far better ones; however my camera and my computer refuse to talk anymore. I think it's just an USB cord issue that I hope to resolve this week but, if not, I have the icky mobile phone ones, at least!

Next, the Spanish Surcote assuming I can handsewn the armscyes in an hour.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Historical Fortnightly #7 Accessories

I finished the first of the accessories and I was rather surprised with how quick it went. I made an Elizabethan Ruff.

I wanted a 1570's ruff - the kind that aren't the same width as your farthingale.

I used a scrap of linen from the scrap pile, some dead dino ribbon for the tie in front, and this lovely edged poly organza ribbon I picked up at Pennsic a couple of years ago to make a ruff. It's not a period fiber bit it looks good as a ruff. The lady that sold me ten yards showed me her ruff she made from it and it looked awesome so...

Cost, nothing! All stash stuff. I think the faux organza was maybe $1 a yard? I didn't use the full 10 yards - by a long shot- so maybe a couple of bucks?

The actual project:

First, I needed a base.

in progress

I cut out a 14" by 3" rectangle from the scrap linen I had. I have a 13 and 1/2" neck and I wanted to make sure I included seam allowances. With the ribbon closure, I can easily control how tight or how loose I want it to be.

I sewed the ribbons on first so that they would be stable. I then folded the rectangle in half, lengthwise, and sewed down the open side. I turned the tube and stitched closed the two open edges.

Once that was done, I took my measuring tape and marked off dots every half inch and inch on the bottom of the collar and every 1/4" and 3/4" on the top. These were may markers for where to sew the organza down to for each of the folds of the ruff.

pinned ruff

I then pinned the organza to the linen collar at each of the bottom markers. It looked nice enough with just the bottom pinned to start sewing.

I then sewed the organza down at each of the markers with three stitches and one long stitch to the next marker, going lengthwise. Once the top of the ruff was done, I slowly took the pins out and worked the bottom of the ruff the same way. This is the result:

a ruff!

Grand total of time from cut to finish: a little less than 2 hours. Not bad for hand sewing!

trying on new ruff!

Not the best picture of me -Mom said I look like I'm on the way to the guillotine - but the ruff fits!

Sewing Plans

18th c hat  & petticoat

This is a hint of what I will be working on tomorrow, hopefully. I need a new 18th C dress to match my beloved quilted petticoat and my newish (I haven't worn it yet) hat. The hat is trimmed in a lovely orange ruffled trim that I bought when I went out to Las Vegas last year. Katherine and I had gone to this store where I bought a ton of gorgeous trims and I really need to start using more of them. ;-) I have a larger version of the orange trim on the hat that I will use on the 18th C dress I plane on making to match all of this.

Right now, I'm working on accessories for an Elizabethan outfit for the Historical Fortnightly. I had a Spanish surcote languishing in the UFO pile that really needs to be finished. Since it's an overcoat and not the dress itself, I'm counting it as an accessory. I'm making some real Elizabethan accessories as well, a ruff and a coif with the forehead cloth. Those, hopefully, will be done today.

After these projects, I need to get started on my Dress U ones and on a dress I need to make for a social function (ie, not historical but the dress will be anyways. I'm totally making a 1920's dress!). I think I've settled on what I want to make for everything at Dress U now. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Dress Project!

Easter Dress

I apologize that the picture isn't the best.  My Mom apparently thought that my camera belonged in the passenger door side pocket and not on the passenger seat sometime before Easter.  :-)  (I only found the camera this morning!)  So, I had to take a picture with my camera phone. 

The dress is made out of a pillowcase and king sized flat sheet.  It's hard to tell, but I also added red netting to the hem to help make it puff out a bit. 

I bought the pillowcase and flat sheet from a department store clearance sale a couple of years ago.  The fitted sheet was missing so they discounted the sheets down to $9.99, I think.  It was something reasonable for roughly 4 yards of fabric.  I loved the print and thought it would make an awesome retro looking dress.  (Side Note:  When Mom found out what the material originally was, she muttered "Scarlett O'hara" and something about a curtain dress.  Hehehe)

The skirt is just a giant, one piece, circle skirt.  There isn't a seam so I had to cut the front of the skirt down about six inches so I could get into the dress.  I faced the opening with a couple of scraps from cutting out the bodice.

The bodice is lined in the same fabric.  The straps are red cotton from the scrap pile.   The bodice itself didn't come out as perfectly as I hoped and is a bit wonky - the problem with making your own patterns- but the red cardigan hid the worst offending aspects. 

The buttons down the front are gold with rhinestones.  I really want to switch them out for red buttons but I didn't have any red buttons on hand.   And I finished the dress on Holy Saturday.  ;-)

All and all, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.  It was comfy and I have enough fabric still leftover to redo the bodice. 

On the food side of life:

I'm eating chocolate eggs, chocolate peanut butter cups, and drinking soda.   I'm so happy Lent is over!  And yes, I'll probably think that doing the medieval Lent again next year will be a brilliant idea. 

Oh, I even made bread last night with active fast rising yeast rather than my starter.  That was being totally 21st Century...well, the Ikea bread pan I used was at least 21st.  I love that thing.   Far better than just sticking the bread on a cookie sheet and trying to make sandwiches out of very round, very dense bread. 

The bread I made with yeast is quite good and makes for an excellent Turkey sandwich.   The recipe:

About a tablespoon or so of fast rising yeast.  Mix it with another tablespoon or so of warm water and let it sit for a bit.  (I had just taken it out of the fridge so the poor dear needed to warm up!)

About a teaspoon of onion salt.

A tablespoon ish of basil infused olive oil (Rosemary infused works well too!)

A tablespoon of wildflower local honey (Pepper honey from the Bee Folks works really well too)

A large couple of pinches of basil

A pinch of rosemary

A few shakes of parsley

And then mix all that up before adding the three ish cups of whole wheat flour.  You might have to add some water to the mix to get it good and doughy.  Kneed and let it sit in a bowl for about an hour or until the dog whines at you and the cat starts hissing at the fridge because the towel above the bowl has moved!  

Kneed again and throw it into said Ikea bread pan.

After another hour or so, preheat the oven to 380 F/400C.  Cook for about 35 min. 

Yes, it's not exact.  I'm doing all this by sight and not really by the book anymore.  Feel free to play with it.   The bread itself is yummy and it tastes like it would be delightful for buttered toast but since I can't have butter, grr, it's Turkey sandwiches for me!