Monday, May 28, 2012

Tidying Up

Since I have been sick I have really just been setting myself little tasks to work on. One was to go through a pile of fabric and miscellaneous articles that have been waiting to be dealt with for more years than I would like to admit! And what did I find? Three chemises and two partlets, all at the 'mostly finished' stage! I am so glad that I got on and did that chore now!

An embroidered partlet waiting to be hemmed and have a ruffle added

This partlet was originally inspired by the following portraits:

Paolo Cavazzola's 'Portrait of a Lady' from 

Ritratto di Gentildonna by Bartolomeo Veneto at 

File:Veneto, Bartolomeo - Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress - 1530.jpg
Bartolomeo Veneto's 'Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress' - 1530 from 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Second pocket finished

I picked up some sort of serious respiratory infection at the Medieval Faire and have been pretty much bedridden since. I've been put on prednisolone, which has done nothing for my lung complaint, but has made the pain in my hands and joints so much better! I couldn't work out why I was suddenly able to do embroidery ten times faster than normal. I wish that I could sew this fast normally; my 'to do' pile would be much smaller!

I have put the purple linen coat on the back burner temporarily as there are a few issues that I just don't think I will have time to deal with before the next big event.

One thing I have managed to finish is the second olive pocket. I couldn't end up matching the brown Coats embroidery floss to the DMC threads that were available at my local Spotlight, so I went for something similar. I won't matter too much as the pockets will not be seen side by side. I like the brighter floss much more, and the embroidery is much better because I did it in natural light.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Olive pocket

Last week I finished a new pocket (saccoccia) to go under my olive Italian-style tourney dress. I wear pockets in the split where my side-lacing dresses join, over my underskirt(s). I have adapted the style that we see in portraits:

 Woman at her Toilet (Donna alla toeletta), by Alessandro Allori, 1575-78, fresco, Florence, Church of Santa Maria Novella, Gaddi chapel, pg 138, fig. 71 from

Birth of the Virgin (Natività della Vergine), by Alessandro Allori, detail, 1595, Cortona, Church of Santa maria Nuova. pg 82, fig 71 in Moda a Firenze

My pockets are bigger, mainly because I carry around my money, camera, mobile phone, medication, lip gloss and other modern things as well as a hankie, spare lacing cords and things like that. So they need to be big!

I didn't have a wide enough piece of fabric to make the pocket front in one piece, so I adapted my pattern to allow for a seam in the front. When I make a pocket front from one piece of fabric, I slit the front and bind the opening (usually with a bias strip.)

I put tabs on the back of my pockets so that I can use them with any of my belts or sashes.


The little line of embroidery was sketched on in tailor's chalk and then worked in double running stitch. I will admit that it is probably the worst embroidery that I have done in many years, but I did work it in very low light as a bit of an experiment. I am working on a matching second pocket that has the same design and I am doing that embroidery under natural light. It is much neater and looks better! 



The pockets are made from scraps of fabric left over from the dress and lined in more scrap fabric. I made tassels out of brown crochet cotton. The pocket is machine and hand stitched. I tend to whip stitch the edges of even machine-made items to make them sit better. The tab at the top was far too thick to sew by machine anyway- my machine really doesn't do well with thick fabrics.

I was first introduced to the convenience and practicality of pockets by my friend THL Katerina da Brescia, who gave me my first pocket as a gift. I recommend her interesting website:

I also recommend the book Moda a Firenze as an excellent research tool and source of drool-worthy inspiration!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A new hat

I take medication that causes me to get sunburnt very quickly, so I really need to wear a hat to events. The only problem is that I have a huge and very strangely shaped head so it is difficult to find hats that will fit me.
For a long time I toyed with the idea of making a hat like this one in the image of a 'Girl from Turin' from Vecellio's Costume Book:

As you can see, it has an open top to allow for her hairstyle. I bought several old straw hats and had planned to re-sew them into a hat like this, but I never got around to it. (I will - eventually.)

At the recent Medieval Fair, a friend introduced me to The Undertailor, who specialises in historical corsetry, undergarments and millinery. I had the opportunity to look at her wonderful hats and hairpins, and found a hat that will fit on my head, even over a caul or a coif! Here's a picture:

I am completely delighted with my hat - and the prospect of no more sunburn! Plus I picked up some chignon and bun pins.

If you would like to contact The Undertailor, go to or have a look for her on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Medieval Fair - Fruits

This weekend was our local Medieval Fair. We had really good attendance and I met some really pleasant and enthusiastic people who will hopefully be interested in joining my local SCA group.

Here are some marzipan fruits I made to go on the Arts and Sciences display table. The stems are made from cloves, which made them smell very nice!