Friday, March 29, 2013

Front-opening bodice with exposed lacing holes

Over the Easter long weekend I have been working on a blue drill dress that I started in about August or September last year. There have been lots of changes to the plan as I work on this dress in dribs and drabs. I re-made a pattern which has straps further off the shoulders and a pointed bodice. I wanted a front lacing dress so that I can dress myself, as often I don't have anyone to help me dress.

I had planned to close the front of the dress with hooks and eyes, but when I basted them in, they didn't seem terribly secure. Because I am big busted, I plan to wear a pair of bodies underneath the dress anyway, but I didn't want to take a chance on the closures opening up when I bend or move. I also considered ladder lacing, but I have not done it before and I need this dress to be finished within a month. So I am planning on doing ladder lacing through eyelets. This is not a very common bodice closure based on what I have seen of period portraiture.

I have a whole roll of some very nice blue and gold trim, so I can 'go to town' with the decoration. The real trouble is making a decision on which way to go with it! I am also unsure about what type of sleeve head decoration to use. I played around with the pattern for several hours this week and am completely fed up with the whole concept of sleeves, so the sleeve head pattern is on the back burner while I work on pleats and eyelets.

Here are some portraits that have been an inspiration to me:

Titziano Vecellio (Titian) Portrait of Titian's Daughter Lavinia

Giovanni Antonio Fasolo Portrait of a Lady

Tiziano Vecellio (Titian) Portrait of a Young Woman

Anonymous Venetian (maybe Jacopo Robusti) Portrait of a Lady

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First attempt at pewter casting

A couple of weeks ago, I had a 'play' with lead-free pewter. I had read a lot of articles on the internet, but didn't really feel that I had an idea of how a cuttlefish mould would react to the molten metal. My only previous experience of casting had been in childhood -  casting lead fishing sinkers in commercially made moulds with my Dad. 

I roughly carved designs in the cuttlefish shell

Melting the pewter on a gas stove outside (for good ventilation)

The first pour - what a mess!

The result

All in all, it was a useful and valuable experiment. I have a much better idea of how the cuttlefish reacts to carving, how a second cast in the same mould turns out, and the general properties of molten pewter. I am considering other options for making moulds, as the natural variations in the cuttlefish translate into the cast piece.
I am already looking forward to doing more casting!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tudor Child Exhibition

The Weiss Gallery is having an exhibition of Tudor Children's clothing to celebrate the launch of the Tudor Tailor's new book 'The Tudor Child'.

Details can be found at:

Speaking of this exciting new publication, look what arrived on the doorstep last week:

I dropped some pretty big hints about wanting this signed edition of the book for my birthday. I did get to have a sneak peek at a friend's copy. Now I just have to wait. Seven months suddenly seems like a VERY long time!

Op Shop Score

I had a couple of medical appointments last week, and I had to wait a long time for my films to be printed. To kill some time, I went into a local opportunity shop and got some great bargains. It was a discount day too, so I got these brooches for even less than the marked price!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tudor and Stuart Fashion Exhibition

A new exhibition is coming up; how I would love to see this!

In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor & Stuart Fashion

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Friday, 10 May 2013 to Sunday, 06 October 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Dye Silk Organza from Threads Magazine

Here is a link to Threads Magazine's article on How to Dye Silk Organza:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rapier Tourney

Yesterday I went to a small rapier tourney in my Barony. It was one of those events where the camaraderie, the pageantry and the courtesy just recharges your SCA batteries. I feel excited and motivated about current and planned projects again!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Coif for a Man

I know that it probably looks like I have had a super-productive week, but in reality it has just been one of those weeks where a lot of smaller projects that I have been working on for weeks have been finished off.
Nevertheless, I am riding high on a wave of personal satisfaction to get a few things off the 'To Do' pile. I think it is probably a law of Nature, or physics (or maybe just Murphy's Law!) that at least as many requests for items/assistance come in as finished items go out, but at least I am never bored. (Or likely to be, in any conceivable lifetime!)

Here is another coif for a man. It is designed as a court-type article, rather than an arming coif (which I believe usually has a gusset in the middle. Given my fear and loathing of gussets, I have not yet attempted one of those.)

This coif is constructed in the same way as the light blue one I posted about earlier. The pattern was cut out of two pieces of cotton linen blend fabric. The edges were zig-zagged to prevent fraying and then the seam up the back was sewn up. I opened the seam out and stab stitched it down on both pieces to reduce bulk. The pieces were then sewn together (inside out) leaving a small gap for turning. Triangles were clipped into the seam allowance to ensure the fabric sat smoothly when turned.

Once the coif was turned right side out, I used a blunt wooden knitting needle to push the seams out. Then I whip stitched over all the edges.

Finally, I sewed a piece of bias binding along the bottom edge. Another was applied to the top, and the long hanging ends were doubled over to make the ties. I added a small line of running stitch in black embroidery thread just to fancy it up.

Since I enjoy hand sewing - and make less mistakes with hand sewing than machine sewing - I added the bias strips by hand.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rapier Coif

I have been consistently busy for the last few weeks, working on projects (mainly) for other people. Here is another item that I have finally finished (huzzah!)  - a rapier coif for a friend.

Yes, that is an embroidery frame holder serving as a head mannikin. It is a very long coif!

This has been one of those projects that just went wrong at every turn. It has four layers, and all the layers needed to have the seams sewn open to reduce bulk. I whipped the layers together and hand sewed all the bias down. One of the many exciting problems that arose during construction was the bias strip join splitting. Naturally, this happened right at the end of the project! I normally make my own bias, and if I am caught short and have to purchase pre-made bias, I check that the joins are sewn rather than glued. I don't know how this bias slipped through, but slip through it did. I was so disappointed; I had to darn the split and then I added another small piece over for strength.

I am relieved that this one is done, and reasonably pleased with how it turned out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Man's Blue Linen Coif

I finished this man's coif last week. It is the first time that I have made a coif of this type. I used the machine to sew up the back seam, then hand sewed the seam flat. Then I bagged the coif out, turned it right side out, and then whip stitched over all the edges. Then I hand sewed an ornamental bias strip around the edges, turning the edge of the top strip into ties.

It looks like it has a weird shape in the pictures, but that is because it is sitting on a vase. I am pleased with how it turned out, and I hope that the recipient likes it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blue Floral Elizabethan Coif Update

In between other projects I have been working on my blue floral Elizabethan coif. Here is how it is looking:

There is still some seeding to be done. Then I need to decide whether or not I will add spangles. I am also (as an alternative to spangles) considering adding some red or orange highlights.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Project Pics

I have a few new project pics to show, but I am having trouble transferring pictures from my camera.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Food Historian at Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Famed Food Historian to Visit the MIA
"Supper with Shakespeare: The Evolution of English Banqueting"

Reproduction Tudor Quince Marmalade from

Food historian Ivan Day (from shows such as 'Royal Upstairs Downstairs') is recreating historic recipes for the Minneapolis Institute of Art's new exhibition relating to English banqueting history.

Find the details at

Friday, March 1, 2013

Street Vendor Woodcuts


This interesting site has some excellent prints of street vendors that may be of interest to costumers. Go to