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.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Colors the Peasantry wore in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Part Two

In part one, we looked at various paintings that show the poor were anything but monochrome. Now, we'll look at writings and archaeological evidence that further proves the poor had dyed clothing.

I'm going to go with the most obvious first.  Why and how could the poor have access to dyes to have colorful clothing?  The easiest way was to get hand me downs.   Just like now, giving clothing to the poor was very much a thing in the middle ages and renaissance.  Works of Mercy included giving away clothing to the poor. 

There were also second hand shops; basically pawn or thrift stores, in the middle ages.  Again, it wouldn't be the latest fashion but it would be a way for someone with a few extra pennies to get a nice dyed garment that is a season or three too old to be fashionable.  Second hand clothes shops were essential to medieval life.

However, probably the most compelling evidence that the peasantry wasn't monochrome comes from the archaeological evidence itself.  In a study of textiles from both bog and grave digs in Northern Europe, all time periods, including 8th-10th C, showed indications of blue dye being used.  Sometimes, the blue dyes were found in conjection with a yellow dye - meaning that green was a probable color.  In fact, red appears to only show up in the wealthier graves but both blue and green are in the archaeological remains.

More fun is a test of textiles found in the waste layers from Medieval Prague.  172 samples were taken for dye analysis based on a dig site that dates from between the 14th and 15th Centuries.  The entire paper is here and is a fascinating read on it's own.  The 172 samples are broken down into (34 silk and 138 wool samples - which is slightly disproportionate to the overall finds.  Only 4% of the textiles found were silk.  However, some of the textiles were also items such as rope or other non-clothing piece as well as the silk pieces possibly being larger or more easy to test for dyes than some of the wool fragments.

Taken from a presentation by Helena Březinová
Of the 172 pieces tests, only 27 or 15% of all the samples had no dyes detected.  85% of the samples had at least one dye at this medieval dump site.  The dump site would have pieces from across the classes; however, those with estates would dump items on the estate.  (I've been to one too many archaeological field schools where you are digging in the trash pit for the kitchen of some sort of manor/plantation house.)  So, for this dump site in the "New Town" area of Prague, it's pretty safe to assume you are mostly looking at the lower and middle classes with only a few upper class textiles involved in the dump.

The coccid is most likely polish cochineal which makes for a nice variety of orange, pinks, and reds depending on the dye bath and mordant used.  Madder is more oranges and reds.  Cochineal is brighter and more pinkish in it's hue while madder is more the color of a natural Ginger's hair.  :-)  Brazilwood is another red; this one is most likely the east Indian stuff and not from the New World.

Woad gives you a beautiful range of blues.  Tannin dyes, most likely walnuts, gives an array of browns; from khaki to almost black.  Weld will give you primary color yellow. Persian berries is the one outlier and also gives you a neat yellow.

Basically, in this pit, you have a range of reds, woad for blue, some browns, and two different ways to get yellow.  You have your primary colors so any color, pretty much, is possible.  Again, this is the waste layers of a city - you'd expect to find a high amount of items from a variety of classes but mostly the lower and middle classes.  Only 15% has no dye.  Everything else comes in a wide variety of color.

Want purple?  According to this archaeological report, madder (red) and woad (blue) together (purple!) account for 19 of the 60 double combinations; it's one of the most popular.  The tannis were most likely used to give the dye a darker overall hue so the 2 pieces that show woad (blue), weld (yellow), and tannis (brownish) probably came out to a lovely forest green.

Granted, this is just one archaeological report but it does show that the lower classes had color.  How popular that color was, based on the other archaeological paper focusing on digs further north and a few centuries older, depended on both time and location - just like everything else in the SCA period.  So wear that pink tunic with purple trousers as a serf, it's completely period.  :-)