Friday, February 17, 2017

Beaded Necklaces

This week I strung some new necklaces. They are glass beads on tiger tail. I also did a couple of extras for use with mundane wear.

Cream glass beads

Green glass pearls

Red and green glass beads
And the mundane necklaces

Green glass beads with purchased pendant

Red glass beads with purchased glass pendant

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gallery of Gowns

Here is a gallery of gowns and tunics that I have made over the years. Some people have asked me why I use so much cotton in my garb. The answer is mostly cost and availability. Cotton is certainly acceptable for use in clothing during the SCA period, although not as common as wool and linen. (Cotton linen blends were used a lot for lining and undergarments/lower class garments and there was a big Italian cotton industry pre-Renaissance as well!) Wool and linen are just very hard to find where I live, and are very expensive. If I limited myself to wool and linen, I would be lucky to make a new dress every two to three years. And I would not have developed my sewing skills very much or been able to experiment. In the last two years I have experimented with a variety of bodice construction techniques (including bagging out, sewing to an interlining, hand sewing completed bodice pieces together and binding with bias). I would never have been game to 'play' with construction techniques and patterns if I had been using expensive materials. So I am very grateful to humble cotton!

Here are some of my garb projects over the years:

Woollen baby tunic


Infant and child size tunics

Rus style tunic

German style gown, side lacing

Italian gown, side lacing

Italian gown, round neck bodice and side lacing

Italian style gown, square-neck bodice and side lacing

Italian gown, side lacing

Italian gown, side lacing

Short loose coat, pattern adapted from an Elizabethan loose coat

Front lacing Italian style gown, inspired by Portrait of a Woman Holding a Book (Vittore Carpaccio)

Front lacing Elizabethan gown

Front lacing Italian style gown with puff sleeves

Front lacing Italian style gown, inspired by this portrait

Cotton/linen blend Roman tunicas

Front lacing Italian gown

Front lacing Italian gown

A short coat

An early attempt at a side lacing Italian gown in linen

Side lacing Italian gown

Side lacing Italian gown

An early side lacing Italian gown made out of curtains from the op shop

Simple cotton tunic and undergown

Elizabethan loose coat and undergown

One of my very early efforts: front lacing Elizabethan ''wench'' style garb

Jerkin from Patterns of Fashion made by my Mum, linen skirt, sleeves etc. made by me. Quite early in my SCA experience

Side lacing Italian style gown. Experiments with and against the 'grain' of the fabric

An experiment in chemise construction

Girls' dresses in the Italian style. I have made a couple more that I don't have good photos of. The green one is my latest attempt and is much closer to historic construction techniques. Most of it is sewn by hand. I appreciate that children's clothing takes a lot of wear, so I probably wouldn't completely hand sew kid's garb again.


My latest front lacing Italian style gowns, made in 2016. I feel happier with the patterns and have used two different bodice construction techniques.

I have a good range of tie-on sleeves, but a lot of these photos were taken pre-Event, in the heat, before I put my sleeves on.

I haven't listed all the complete disasters or half finished dresses, or included men's garb because I haven't done much of that. I have at least six in various stages of construction that were not working out well or had problems. All great learning experiences. I'm not sure that I will ever love sewing, but I certainly don't hate it like I used to. I am getting better at it, and slightly more confident. Experimenting with different construction techniques, seam treatments, stitches etc. has been a (sometimes excruciating,) very valuable experience. I need to become more conscientious about blogging the dress diaries. (Taking photos is now automatic during the creation process, but writing it up at the end can seem daunting.) Because I don't enjoy sewing and have health issues that restrict my time and energy, I have tried almost every hack and short cut to make it easier. Everyone needs to find what works for them, but I would advise sewers not to cut any corners in regards to durability and wearability. I have learnt the hard way that if you dislike sewing the first time, you are going to hate it a lot more when you need to re-do what you already did shoddily because you were rushing or trying to cut corners. I am always careful to make sure that my pleats are very well secured to stop skirts being ripped off when I inevitably step on them. I take the time to reinforce the  joins in seam openings on skirts etc. I haven't yet had any major problems, and I am very clumsy when tired (which is often!) I also always hand sew trim because I like the way it looks, but also because I can more securely attach gimp braid, picot points etc. so that they don't get torn.

I'm not sure that I will ever not be hesitant to cut into expensive silk, linen or wool, but I am more confident about it than I used to be, and that is thanks to my friend - poor, put-upon and much maligned cotton!