Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Blue Caul

I managed to finish another caul last week. This one is very simple and is made of a remnant of fabric that I found in a bargain bin.

A caul is usually just an oval or circle of fabric gathered into a band. I tried to put less gathers over the top of the head and keep them around the side and back to make the top sit flatter on the head.
The gathers pinned into place evenly on the headband.

I baste the seams of the headband before whipping the gathers into place. This is to make sure that the headband stays evenly folded as I work.

This caul is a bit looser than the ones that I normally wear so I added wig clips for security as well as the usual comb in the centre top.

The pattern is slightly off-centre because I didn't have enough fabric on the remnant

Sunday, November 6, 2016

New hair billament

This hair billiment project has been on the backburner for months and months because other things keep coming up. I got it finished this week. Not a tricky project, just fiddly, Basically, it is just a whole heap of jewels and jewellery findings sewn onto a band, then lined with grosgrain ribbon to help it stop slipping on the hair. A few wig clips also help. Previously I have angled the base band by putting a little pleat or dart in the centre, but I am trying a simpler technique this time.

Getting a few more accessories done means that I can extend my wardrobe a little without having to make big items like gowns.

I love this band, but the jewels are a little too faceted to be accurate. I really should coat the centre faceted jewel with a few coats of enamel to make it look less faceted. I just haven't found the right colour enamel yet. (And I love the sparkliness!)

This link should take you to a previous post about this type of hair ornament and some Renaissance portraits showing similar styles- http://broidermebethan.blogspot.com.au/2014_06_01_archive.html

Friday, November 4, 2016

Gold caul or Scuffia

Back in June, a friend gave me some gifts wrapped in a fabric remnant. The fabric was really pretty, and I managed to cut a circle caul out of it. There was just enough for the band (I have a big head) and the circular bag part that holds the hair.

I edge the circle shaped bag piece with zig zag stitch to control fraying. I prefer to make the headband part in one strip if I can. This strip is then folded in half and the edges tucked under to give a clean finish.

I put a running stitch evenly around the outside edge of the circle part so that it can be gathered up to fit inside the band. This time I did not gather the part that sits across the top of my head. I was hoping that it would sit flatter, as some of my other cauls have had some strange bagging in that area.

Pull the running stitches up gently to gather the circular piece until it fits inside the headband. Try and make sure that the gathers are sitting evenly and neatly. I like to baste the edges of my headband and also run a line of basting stitches along the middle fold of the headband because it can get a bit hard with all the pins holding everything together at this stage.

The caul all pinned and basted for hand sewing. I hand sew because it is easier to ensure that the pleats are in the correct position. I usually do the outside of the band first and then turn the caul inside out and stitch down the inside of the band too, just to make sure.

Once the band was secured, I carefully removed the basting. I sewed a line of large gold seed beads along the flat top edge of the caul.

I added a comb in the centre of the caul headband, and a wig clip on either side to keep it in place on my hair. I usually put a weight of some sort in the finished caul bag and let it sit for a week or two to set the pleats in place before I wear it.

Many thanks to Nicki for the lovely fabric.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Seahorse Banner for a feast hall

Looking through my list of 'Draft' posts tonight, I feel a bit ashamed of how little I have been posting! Doing a dress diary or detailed post about things I have made often seems to be very tedious once all the hard craft work is over, and all too often doesn't happen. So I must try harder.

This post is about an indoor banner or gonfalon that I made in May this year. It was designed to be displayed in a feast hall and features my SCA heraldry. This was my second try at making an indoor banner. An introduction to Gonfalon can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonfalon

Making the banner: 

I bought some purple cotton velveteen to be the background of the device. I found a patterned white bedspread at the op shop that I decided to use for the sea horse and the backing fabric.

I enlarged the design with the help of a photocopier.

My design was then traced out and pinned to the fashion fabric.

In this photo (above), I have cut the fashion fabric out, but the tracing is still pinned on top. To mark the details, I used a pin to prick the line into the tracing paper. Then I drew over the pinprick holes with a removable embroidery pen. This told me where to add accents and details later on in the process.

The fashion fabric with the pins and paper removed.You can't really see the lines that I have marked in this picture because of the low light level.

Pinning the applique securely to the backing is very important so that you don't get bubbles. Whether you use modern applique methods such as machine sewing the edges/needle-turning the edge as you hand sew it down, or use the more period technique of sewing the edge down without turning it under and then embroidering over the top, it is crucial to keep both pieces of fabric snugly together and well-pinned. I think I sewed the edge down by machine to ensure that it would stay stable as it was rolled up and unrolled (and save time as I was working to a deadline.)

I added an interlining layer of strong cotton to support the weight of the velvet and stop it being pulled out of shape by it's own weight.

Once the seahorse was stitched down, I went over the machine stitched edges with chain stitch for extra strength (and to make them look pretty). Chain stitch is an SCA period stitch with many applications. On the fin-areas like the mane and tail, I angled some quite large single satin stitches to give an illusion of movement. The ermine and eye details are black felt with embroidery over the edges, and the collar is a bit of pretty ribbon. I hand sewed these details.

The lining of the quilt cover made the lining of the banner. The edges were hand sewn with black bias binding.

After I made the banner up, I decided it was out of proportion, so I folded the top edge over to make a large rod holder and hand-sewed the edge down. Normally I would add a separate rod-holder, but this solution solved two problems.

A slightly wonky photo of the finished banner. It was too dark in the feast hall to get a good shot at the event. I feel that the seahorse could use a bit of darker embroidery to add definition to areas like where the mane meets the body, but that will have to wait until I make the next one.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chemise Adjustments

Last year I made a cotton chemise for the IRCC5. I made it in a bit of a hurry to meet the competition deadline, and planned to add cuffs later. Since then I have worn the chemise quite a bit and never got around to adding the cuffs. I realised that I like the big flowing sleeves for certain events, especially outdoor events when it is hot. After wearing it on the weekend, I decided to add lace on the sleeves. I also took a bit off the bottom because it has no gores and the hem was restricting my walking just a teeny bit. It is now about knee-length. Not quite a mini-dress, but a bit of a shock to the system, when you are used to your chemise being calf or ankle length!

The sleeves prior to adding the lace. The hem is hand sewn.

After the (machine made) cotton bobbin lace has been added. 

The chemise with lace added to the sleeves and the hem shortened.

Monday, October 31, 2016


Well, I haven't got everything on my to-do list for other people done, but a couple of weeks ago I DID manage to finish a few items. I will post dress diaries in the future, but for now, here is a picture of three reasonably long standing projects that are now finished.

The green dress is a child's dress with puffy sleeve caps in the Italian style.
The maroon coat is an infant coat (with an embroidered motif) in a generic early period style.
The jerkin and removable sleeves are triple layer to meet SCA fencing protection requirements.
All have a large amount of handsewing with only hidden seams and zigzag edging done by machine.
Lucet cord lacing on the dress and jerkin were made by Heather - many thanks!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ridiculously boring sleeve edging

My smugness at my organisational skills and forward thinking did not last long ;-)
The obvious downside to planning ahead and having a dozen odd new pairs of sleeves cut out waiting to be decorated and sewn is that they (and their linings) all need to be edged for durability. Guess what my sewing time this week will be spent doing?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Baronial A&S Cloak

A few months ago I attempted a sewing project that was completely new to me. I volunteered to sew a short cloak  to adorn the Innilgard A&S Champion. I had the heavy combat Champion's cloak  to use as a pattern, which made things a lot easier.

The blue wool was donated by Lord Jarnskeggi. It was lovely to sew. I was lucky to be able to cut the whole cloak from one panel, and I edged it with zigzag stitch. I then sewed white hem tape along the cut edge and used matching white bias tape to make a panel of trim. (Blue and white are SCA Arts and Sciences colours.) Cotton webbing tape was used to make the neck facing and ties. I sewed small falcon bells along the trim line to symbolise the A&S bells which are given to competition winners. Baroness Linet graciously gave up her time to help me finish sewing the little bells on.

 Cutting the cloak panel

The two sizes of bias tape

The cloak was made to a pattern based on cloaks made by Viscountess Ingerith. It is not too heavy and quite comfortable to wear. The little bells make a pleasant jingling noise.

I have yet to get a good photo of  the finished item, but I will soon!

Monday, October 17, 2016

A pile of sleeves to be sewn...

Lately I have been working on projects for other people, teaching, and expanding my range of accessories. I haven't been very well, and just can't face taking on a large project like a new gown (although I could use a couple more.) I have cut out about ten pairs of sleeves in various styles and colours, and plan to gradually work through the pile, decorating and finishing them. A whole pile of new sleeves will certainly expand the look of my wardrobe. I think that this project is more important at the moment than making body linens, so I have changed the focus of my personal Quest to 'accessories' for the next few months.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Italian Renaissance Forepart/Chemise Cover

I have been busy working on projects for other people lately, but I recently decided that I needed to put an hour or so aside to make a new forepart/chemise cover. As a bigger busted lady, I prefer to wear a set of short stays under my late period Renaissance dresses. (I am aware that no extant bodies or stays with boning have been found from sixteenth century Italy, and I certainly don't want to open any debate about the likelihood of this being a dress option for ladies at that time.) This choice of underpinnings seems like a logical choice to me, is comfortable and supportive, and gives a nice line to my bodices. Since I often don't have anyone to help me dress, I wear a lot of front lacing gowns, and the forepart/chemise cover hides my underpinnings and gives the look of a chemise poking through the lacing.

Some portraits that inspired this look include:

Portrait of a Venetian Woman by Veronese
Image from: http://bjws.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/portraits-of-women-attributed-to-paolo.html

Portrait of a Venetian Woman by Veronese
Image from: http://bjws.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/portraits-of-women-attributed-to-paolo.html

Portrait of a Lady by Bernardino Licinio
Image from: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernardino_Licinio

To make these items I take a rectangle of fabric that corresponds to the front of my bodice, allowing plenty of extra fabric for variations in dress bodices and changes in tightness of lacing depending on the event. I used cotton this time, because I had some scraps in exactly the right size, but I do love using linen. It is nice to sew with, looks good and breathes very well. It is also more likely to have been used in period.

I use a backing piece and then pin a larger piece over the top, pinning the extra fabric into small pleats. I am usually in a hurry when I do these, so I pin by eye and I tend to buzz over the pleats with the sewing machine. I sew around all four edges of the rectangle. Then I pin another rectangle over the top of the pleated piece (good side to good side.) I sew the pieces together with the machine, leaving a small area unsewn for turning. Once I turn it inside out (so that the pleats are back on the outside,) I use a big knitting needle to push the corners out. Then I hand sew the open seam together, usually with a quick whip stitch.

At this point I might add lace or some decorative stitching to the top edge, depending on what I plan to wear the forepart with. I use small dress pins to pin mine on over my stays, lining the top edge up neatly with the chemise and dress. Then the dress bodice is laced over the top as you can see in these pictures


It is not a fancy or exciting piece of clothing, but it is extremely handy to have. I have a several- they can take a while to dry after washing in colder weather, and it is always nice to have a spare or two in case spills happen. 

At some stage in the future I would like to get time to make some highly decorated foreparts/chemise covers.
Portrait of  A Venetian Woman by Francesco Montemezzano (1550)
Image from: http://bjws.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/a-few-robust-1500s-women.html

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another Device for Banner Project

I recently completed another banner for our local SCA populace banner project. It is made of felt with embroidered details and goldwork and beads. I sewed the yellow shield shape to the black base, then cut out the black seraphim shape and added it to the yellow shield. I embroidered the details and couched down a gold cord for highlights.The beads on the halo are gold alloy jewellery crimps.

Here are the finished device banners. Not all the devices have been made by me- many others in the Barony have contributed to this project (which has been running for about sixteen years.) The banners are designed to record the devices of the members of the Barony in the order in which they were registered with the College of Heralds. The devices are created in a range of fabrics and using a variety of techniques.

 Banner 4

Banner 5 (current)

 Banner 1

Banner 2 (I got involved in the project at this point)

Banner 3