Saturday, December 29, 2012

Doggy Zibbellino

My furry helper got a squeaky 'zibbellino' for Christmas!

(It was draped glamorously over one shoulder, but she just can't resist attacking it!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas gifts

I hope everyone had a wonderful festive break. I got very spoilt with lots of needlework and historical books and accessories. Here are a couple of the presents I received....

Monday, December 24, 2012

Best Wishes

Wishing all the readers a very joyful festive season and 
happy sewing in 2013!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Busy week

I have spent this week frantically embroidering projects for other people. I am feeling satisfied with the amount of work that I put in and what I have achieved, especially given the trouble that I have been having with my hands. Unfortunately, the projects are all multi-person projects, and when my part is done I pass them on to the person who is doing the next part. So there is not much to show at this stage.  These pictures are of lines of embroidery that will be a set of cuffs and a collar, a split stitch badge that will be couched down with gold thread, and some flowers that will decorate tabbards.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Old lovers reunited after almost 500 years

Here is an interesting story of love and art combining:

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This week I have been very busy embroidering roses onto white wool for a friend. She designed the piece, I just put the stitches in. They will be cut out and couched down. I am very pleased with how they turned out. The project gave me the chance to refresh my memory on split stitching - not a stitch I usually use very often.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Golden Apple Subtletie

A friend of mine was  running a tourney on the weekend with a mythological theme. She asked me to make a golden apple to give as the prize for the event.

We decided that fruit cake would make a tasty base for the apple, and I decided that a light fruit cake would be best as it tends to appeal to a wide range of tastes. I planned to try and cover the fruit cake 'apple' with marzipan.

As these things tend to go 'pear-shaped' (no pun intended!) I wanted to make a test apple first.

I decided to experiment with colouring the marzipan first, instead of doing my usual trick of painting the marzipan after moulding.

The pictures below show my 'test run'. I used yellow food colouring kneaded into the marzipan and lightly sprayed with edible gold shimmer paint. I think it came out too yellow.

Check out the big fingerprint in the middle. I was too eager and touched it before it was fully dry!

So for the next and final apple, I left the marzipan plain and sprayed the apple with edible gold paint after the marzipan had dried a bit. It took several sprays. I used one can between the two apples. 

The apple before the leaf was added. I dusted the apple with bronze dusting powder and gold dusting powder.

I used a cutter to shape the leaf, and painted it with green food colouring.

The apple travelled fairly well in my un-airconditioned vehicle, especially considering it was a 33 degree C day.

The apple presented to the winner.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Planning, planning....

Friends of mine are due to step up as Royalty in the next couple of months, so this week has mainly been spent charting non-counted embroidery designs from period Modelbuch sources and looking at Renaissance portraits. Not a bad way to spend some time, but I am itching to get embroidering!

I will be pretty busy with Coronation items for other people over the next several weeks. At the end, I should have some very nice photos to share.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Extant Italian Dresses link

Today's link is to a site that I am sure many will find helpful. Anea does great research, and I love her work!


Here is her research on extant Italian dresses-

Saturday, November 17, 2012

No sewing today

Today I did absolutely no sewing; not a stitch! Look at the lovely High Tea that our friend prepared for my Sister's birthday! It was DELICIOUS!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sloper Pattern Drafting Link

Someone directed me to this site. I haven't had a chance to really look at it yet; if anyone uses the instructions, I'd love it if you would post comments or a critique. Thanks


Pattern Drafting 101: Basic Bodice Sloper
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A sloper (also sometimes called a "block") is a simple, fitted pattern which can easily be manipulated to create more detailed patterns. In this video I'll go over the basics how to start drafting.

My method gives you something that fits pretty well, but is not perfect. To make a perfectly fitted sloper, start with this method, sew a sample in muslin, then fit it to your body. As much as I like to break down fashion and sewing into a science or into something very mathematical, it's really more of an art, and the only way to achieve perfection is to waste a lot of time and a lot of fabric.

I'd say taking the time to make a "perfect" sloper is worth is, because it's something you can reuse over and over again as a template for other patterns. I dont mean to discourage you though, this method makes something that works fine 99% of the time. It's just that I probably enjoy pattern drafting more than I enjoy sewing, and I'm always trying to better my current technique.

Anyway, this video is somewhat long and dry but if you are interested in fashion design and patten drafting, you will have to understand these basics eventually. And there are many projects I have in mind that are so simple.... but only if you already understand sloper basics. I wanted to have a video that I could refer people back to when they had questions. This isnt the best tutorial, but it is an introduction and hopefully it will help you understand how to think about clothing design and how to approach pattern making.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Titian

Titziano Vecellio (Titian) Portrait of a Girl (Lavinia)

Portrait of a Girl (Lavinia) by Titian
c. 1545

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Green and white necklace

Today's post is of a necklace that I made and really like. It is so simple, and very light, which makes it great for hot weather, or those days when you feel like wearing understated accessories with your garb. It is made from small crystal beads, and is a nice alternative to pearls.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Licinio?

Today's inspiration comes from this interesting portrait where the sitter appears to be wearing two partlets.

Anonymous Venetian (maybe Bernardino Licinio) Portrait of a Woman

Anonymous Painter- possibly Licinio
Portrait of a Woman c. 1550


Friday, November 9, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Anonymous

Anonymous Venetian Portrait of a Woman

Portrait of a Woman - Anonymous Painter
circa 1550

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Veronese

Here are several lovely partlets to enjoy today. All come from the excellent gallery at

from the 'Madonna of the Rosary' by Veronese and his workshop c. 1571

Paolo Veronese Madonna of the Rosary

The lacing on this blue dress is beautiful

Paolo Veronese Madonna of the Rosary

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Bassano

Leandro Bassano Portrait of a Lady

Leandro Bassano's 'Portrait of a Lady'
c. 1570, Norton Simon Museum, California


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Some horsey pics to celebrate Melbourne Cup Day

As it is Melbourne Cup Day here in Australia, I had to post some horse-related pictures!

Tudor Horse and Rider 

Portrait of Anne of Denmark with horse and hounds
1617 by Paul van Somer


There still some noticeably Elizabethan influences in Anne's garb, including the ruff and cuffs.

The Family of Henry VII with St George and the Dragon
The Royal Collection 2011/Bridgeman Art Library

Study of a horse for 'the Battle of Anghiari' by Leonardo da Vinci
The Royal Collection 2011/Bridgeman Art Library

“Queen Margarita on Horseback” wearing La Peregrina, by Valasquez, 1634-35, Collection Prado Museum

(It is interesting to note how much this costume, painted in 1634-5, resembles Spanish costume of the 1590's, especially when compared to the Anne of Denmark portrait above.)

A Stallion

A horse and Elizabeth I on horseback, unattributed woodcuts or engravings


"Queen Isabel on Horseback" wearing La Peregrina, by Valasquez
1634-35, Collection Prado Museum


A Costume Design for a Masquerader on Horseback by Leonardo da Vinci
The Royal Collection 

The Funeral Procession of Elizabeth I

Daily Inspiration - Anonymous/Tintoretto

Anonymous Venetian (maybe Jacopo Robusti) Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady
Anonymous Venetian (possibly Tintoretto)
c.1560 - Location Unknown


Monday, November 5, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Veronese

I'm sure everyone has noticed a bit of a 'theme' with my Daily Inspiration portraits lately; Yes, I have a weakness for embroidered partlets!

Paolo Caliari Veronese Portrait of a Woman Holding Gloves

Today's is by Veronese: Portrait of a Woman Holding Gloves
c. 1560

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Micheli

Parrasio Micheli Portrait of a Lady

Parrasio Micheli 

Portrait of a Lady
The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania, USA
ca. 1550


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Daily Inspiration - Tintoretto

Tintoretto Portrait of a Lady

Tintoretto's Portrait of a Lady c. 1575

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trim dyeing

This week I decided to try and dye some trim that I had in my stash.

I wasn't sure of the fibre content of the trim; I suspected a poly-cotton blend.

I realised that I was not likely to use it in it's pink form, so I pot dyed it with some Rit cold water dye (brown), salt and a little laundry detergent.

I stirred for 30 minutes while the dye liquid simmered. I rinsed, following the dye packet instructions, and waited anxiously to see how it would turn out when dry.

And I was delighted with the result! Now I have too many fabrics that I can use it on!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Red 'coral' necklace

Here is another necklace that I made as a prize for the upcoming fighter auction tourney. The beads are called coral, but are a natural substitute for reef coral. The black beads are wood, and the pendant is made of sterling silver and enamel (purchased).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


My local group has a fighter auction tourney coming up, and the populace has been asked to donate prizes. Today I finished a white glass pearl necklace with a pearlised pendant. I think it will go nicely with just about any late period garb.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Elizabethan Hairstyle Accessories

Here are the photos of the items that I use to do my Elizabethan rolled hairstyle. The only things I have left out are the beaded bun cover, the hairspray, and the headbands I wear behind the rolls. I like this particular type of comb as the extra teeth help to hold everything in place and reduce movement.

The bun clips came from The Undertailor (
I use two of the combs on either side of my part to make the rolls.

And here is the finished style:

In this photo, I have added pearled pins on the rolls and a hanging pearl in the part. Using the barrel curler means that I don't need to tease my hair to make it stay in place.