Thursday, February 28, 2013

Your Wardrobe Unlock'd Competition Link

If you are after some out of period costuming inspiration, have a look at the Your Wardrobe Unlock'd costuming competition entries for 2013:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Attempt At Illumination

This week I finished my first try at illumination.The experience reminded me of painting on sugar plate, but the colours are much bolder.

A Dragon from a Bestiary c. 1270 (Therouanne?)
JPGM, Ms. Ludwig XV 3, folio 89
p. 90, 'Beasts' by Elizabeth Morrison, 2007, J Paul Getty Trust

I found the experience to be very enjoyable, and I learned a lot from my first attempt.
* Medieval scribes must have been very patient people with an enormous skill base, tons of patience and steady hands.
* You should not get overexcited and try to rush this type of work. (I know this from embroidery, but I'll admit that I did get overexcited and rush it!)
* Doing scribal work at the kitchen table in a busy household during the afternoon/tea time rush is not ideal.
* I need a finer paintbrush.

I used Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache as recommended by the Lochac Scribes (   and

I am still enthusiastic, and plan to continue practicing in my sketchbook. I love the fact that you can get such a bold and dramatic effect relatively quickly; well, compared to embroidery, anyway. I chose this particular picture because it looks like the original artist used a paintbrush to draw the black lines, and I thought that would be very good practice for me. (Plus, I liked the dragon.) I have a lot of trouble with shaky hands, but I am reasonably happy with how the lines turned out. Learning how to load the brush with an appropriate amount of paint is another thing that I need to learn.

My introduction to the scribal arts has been the very talented Honorable Lady Katerina da Brescia of the Purple Files. You can see some of her work here:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New IRC Challenge Announced

Lovely Lady Bella from Realm of Venus has announced a new Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge. Head to
for more information.

I am planning on entering; I am getting organised and working out what I have in my stash - and what I need!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Plimoth Jacket Project link

Here is an interesting page on the gorgeous reproduction of the Plimoth Jacket-

One day I will make an embroidered jacket for myself.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Unpicking my Italian gown and Elizabethan coat

I started two sewing projects mid to late last year; an Italian front lacing gown (in blue) and an Elizabethan coat (in grey). I worked on them yesterday but I'm afraid my fatigue and brain fog was so bad that I spent more time un-picking and re-sewing and ironing than actually achieving anything. On the plus side, I am getting very good at unpicking!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Illumination research

It was at least 100 degrees today, so no stitching for me. I have piles to do, but mundane life got in the way. I did get a chance to have a look at a couple of illumination books, but I have not yet picked something to do as a scribal exemplar.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Scribal Meeting

I have been thinking about getting involved in my local SCA scribal group for quite a long time. Recently, the meetings were moved closer to my house, and so yesterday I took the opportunity to go to my first meeting. It was very interesting and exciting. I think that calligraphy is a bit beyond my skills at this stage, but I am excited about trying the illumination. The process seems very similar to the design process for embroideries, which I really enjoy. It was a lot of fun to really look closely at the pictures of manuscripts and enjoy the imaginations of those old scribes. This one below really took my fancy:

It illustrates the old riddle about the man trying to get his turnips, his lamb and a wolf across a river in the boat without anyone getting eaten. This is from the thirteenth century- early fourteenth century Ormesby Psalter -

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Yummy OP shoes from American Duchess

As you know, my preferred historical re-creation period is the sixteenth century. But the luscious shoes at American Duchess regularly make me reconsider my choice of time period. Check out their new releases at the link below. (And take a peek at their to-die-for Marie Antoinette shoes while you are there!)

‎"Gibson" Edwardian Shoes, 1900-1920 - Pre-Order February 15, 2013 - March 8, 2013 at

Please share with anyone who may be interested! We're trying to sell 50 pairs of each color. If we don't meet that goal, the least popular colorway will be canceled :-(
"Gibson" Edwardian Shoes, 1900-1920 - Pre-Order February 15, 2013 - March 8, 2013 at

Please share with anyone who may be interested! We're trying to sell 50 pairs of each color.  If we don't meet that goal, the least popular colorway will be canceled :-(

Friday, February 15, 2013

Making Buckram from Linen

The Tailor's Apprentice posted this on Facebook yesterday:

A fabulous tip on how to make buckram from the @Abigal's Closet group...

"BUCKRAM.............We always have people ask us about buckram, concerned that they have to have some special textile. In the 18th century buckram was used typically in men's clothing. It gave stiffness and shape especially in things like coats. Provided strength for weak places like button holes, button stand and pleat points. You can make your own buckram with ease. A variety of quality in linens were used. Typically unbleached being the least expensive linen. Get out your scrap bag or buy an extra 1/4 yard next time you get linen from us. The trick is to have a bottle of GUM TRAGACANTH in your stash. (see below link) Slather it on both sides and let it dry. Do as
many layers as you think for the stiffness you require. That's all there is to it. Good Luck!!"

This sounds like a relatively easy process, although gum tragacanth can be hard to get here in South Australia. I have a couple of metres of commercially produced buckram currently in my stash (and would prefer to use my dwindling supplies of gum tragacanth for sugarplate), but if any of the readers have tried this, please let us know your results!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bean Boobs

For those of us without a duct-tape dress dummy, here is a great suggestion from American Duchess on how to make a standard dressmaking dummy more 'shapely' in the bust department:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Costume-based Movie Review Site

Here is a link to Frocktalk, an interesting costume-based movie review site:

One of Colleen Atwood's designs for the Snow White and the Hunstman Movie
taken from:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Portrait by Catena

Today I was excited to find this portrait (which I had never seen before) of a very high waisted Italian gown. The 'Portrait of a Young Woman' is by Catena (Vincenzo di Biagio) circa 1505.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Portrait of Henry VIII

I found this portrait of Henry VIII on Pinterest recently. Not much information was given except for a tentative date of 1535. If this date is correct, it is interesting to see Henry as he looked when Anne Boleyn was in love with him.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Restoration of Gentileschi’s David and Bathsheba

The restoration of Artemisia Gentileschi’s David and Bathsheba at

File:Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi.jpg

Artemisia in a self-portrait depicting herself as the Allegory of Painting

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Fruit Seller - Must Make This!

Oh oh. Another item to add to the 'Must Make This' List. I LOVE that partlet.

And her hair-do.

And, come to think of it, I am pretty keen on that dress too!

The Fruit Seller by Vincenzo Campi - from

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Richard III's remains identified

10:45AM GMT 04 Feb 2013

From:  The Telegraph

"Scientists say they have found the 500-year-old remains of England's King Richard III under a parking lot in the city of Leicester.
University of Leicester researchers say tests on a battle-scarred skeleton unearthed last year prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that it is the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and whose remains have been missing for centuries.
"Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England," has been found," said the university's deputy registrar, Richard Taylor.
Osteologist Jo Appleby said Monday that the study of the bones provided "a highly convincing case for identification of Richard III."
And DNA from the skeleton matches a sample taken from a distant living relative of Richard's sister."

Image of Richard III of England from:

The skeleton of Richard III.
The skeleton of Richard III. Photograph: University of Leicester from site.

Find more interviews and news on the subject here:

Monday, February 4, 2013

High-necked Partlet Silk Embroidered Panel

Recently I finished another collar panel. It was originally intended as a gift, but I made too many mistakes in the stitching to be content to give it away. It will probably end up going on a high necked Elizabethan partlet for me.

The piece is sewn in Guterman silk on white linen. The non-counted blackwork is worked in two strands of silk in a double-running (Holbein) stitch.

The design comes from Modelbuch Aller Art.I traced the original design onto tracing paper and then modified it to fit the panel size that I needed. Then I taped the design to a window and traced it out in dissolvable fabric marker pen. I worked the piece in a hoop.

I am considering whether to add seeding stitches to the insides of the motifs so that the embroidery has more effect.