Monday, October 29, 2018

Split Stitch Heraldic Weasel Badge

I recently finished this large (approximately 15 cm long) heraldic split stitch badge for a friend.
The design is traced onto calico that has been reinforced with iron on interfacing. I started in the middle of the design and worked out to try and keep the tension even.

I find that lining my inner embroidery hoop with bias binding also helps to maintain an even tension.
The embroidery is split stitch worked in wool. The weasel (meerkat) features and chevron outline are also worked in split stitch but I used a fine crochet cotton.
I rinsed the completed piece, and when it had dried a little I stretched out any tight patches using a hot steam iron on the back of the damp piece.

I trimmed the excess calico away leaving about 1.5cm around the edge.
I roughly sewed down the edges of the calico to the back of the piece.

Next I couched some silver gilt cord around the edge.

Finally I whipped a piece of felt onto the back to cover the stitching.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rigid Heddle Weaving (Badly!)

Well, I picked up my rigid heddle weaving again for the first time since May. Who knew you could actually get worse at something than you were when you first started?! I'd like to blame the fact that I'm getting over a lingering case of walking pneumonia, but I honestly think it is just tiredness that is causing the errors. Even when I first started practicing, I noticed that I started to make mistakes after the first inch or so. So much for a speedy way of making trim! Oh well, I will keep plodding along...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Tudor Style Brimless Bonnet

Here's one I didn't get around to posting back in May.

I had a Tudor themed event coming up and found that my French hood has warped due to the buckram being affected by humidity. I did make an attempt at replacing it, but I didn't have enough time to do a decent job so I decided to make a brimless bonnet to wear over a wired coif.

I got this lovely brown wool remnant from an SCA buy/barter/sell day, and it seemed the perfect size. This project was very much a ''fly by the seat of your pants' project! I had made flat caps before, but never a bonnet with no brim.

The project was inspired by these Holbein portraits-

Portrait of Amelia of Cleves by Hans Holbein
Image from

Portrait of a Court Official's Wife - 1534- by Hans Holbein
Image from

I traced out a circle shape that seemed to be the right size. Then a second one with a smaller hole cut in the centre for my head. Because I was guessing re sizing, I cut smaller rather than larger.

I machine sewed the two pieces together with wrong sides out. I tried it on, and it fit ok, so I did a small hand sewn hem around the head hole edge. I notched my seams to prevent bulk on the rim edge.

When I tried the bonnet on over my coif, I found it just a smidge snug and I worried that it might slide off over the course of an event. So I unpicked the hem, trimmed off about 1.5 cm and re-hemmed it. Much better!
The part that touches the head. The hem added a lot of stability and gave a surprising amount of support.

I was really happy with how this quick project turned out. I would make another one, but only in wool. The wool gave enough stability that I didn't need to add wire or buckram. Wool is really lovely to work with, but quite difficult to come by where I live. I'd also like to try making a Tudor bonnet with a brim and a Lettice cap. I guess I'll have to make a new French hood too.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Blue and Gold Tie-On Sleeves

I had an event back in September and I thought a new pair of sleeves would perk up my old gown.
I used an existing sleeve as a pattern.
The fashion fabric was sold to me as 'silk and gilt.'
I cut out the sleeve in the fashion fabric and lining in some solid cotton broadcloth. I machine zigzagged round the edges for stability.
I machine sewed the centre back seam, and then hand tacked all the seams open. Then I slid the sleeve and lining together (wrong sides out) and pinned together at the top.

I machine stitched around the top, clipped my curves and then turned the sleeve right way out. I use a pin to make sure that the seam is fully pulled out and sitting nicely, and then pin the lining into a secure position. I then whip stitch around the top of the sleeve to make sure the lining doesn't move around when I am wearing the sleeve.

I mark the positions of the eyelets to correspond with the ties on my gown. I use an awl and a knitting needle to make the holes. I use a double running stitch to sew around the outside of the hole and then I go over the edges with a satin stitch in thick thread.
I added a decorative tabbed piece at the wrist. This decorative effect can be seen in many sixteenth century portraits. I double over a piece of fabric, and sew it together. I then sandwich it in place at the edge of bodice or sleeve (as in this case.) I whip stitched it into place on the outside and inside. Sometimes I add a running stitch along the inner edge for extra strength. I usually don't snip the tabs until it is sewn into place; it depends on how tired I am! Be very careful when snipping that you don't catch the actual sleeve. I usually do 0.5 cm or 1 cm tabs (snipping every 5mm or 10mm).

The bodice edge on this gown shows a similar tabbed effect. 
Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia by Lorenzo Lotto c 1530
Image from:

This portrait of the lovely Eleanor of Toledo shows a tabbed edge to her bodice.
Portrait of Eleanor of Toldeo by Agnolo Bronzino
Image from:

You can see tabbed bodice edges on several of Eleanor's gowns, including this one:

Supervision by Bitey

The new sleeves with my black gown

I was really happy with how this project turned out. I am looking forward to making up some more sleeves in different fabrics. I know I have said it before, but a range of tie-on sleeves really are a great investment and a valuable addition to an Italian noble wardrobe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Split stitch napkin

I've been really sick, and still struggling to get on with my work. I managed to finish another split stitch napkin. I added a running stitch around the hem as a little 'extra'.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wardens in Sirrop

I am hoping soon to have more time to spend cooking medieval recipes. A glut of ripe pears inspired me to investigate different recipes for lightly stewed pears that might appeal to my family's very modern palate.

Stock footage from

Here are some  medieval recipes:

"To conserve wardens all the yeere in sirrop. Take your wardens and put them into a great earthenware pot, and cover them close. Set them in an oven where you have set in your white bread. and when you have drawn your white bread, and your pot, and they are so cold that you may handle them, then peel the thin skin from them over a pewter dish so that you may save all the syrup that falls from them. add to them a quart of the same syrup, and a pint of rosewater, and boil them together with a few cloves and cinnamon. When it is reasonably thick and cold, put your wardens and syrup into a galley pot and see always that the syrup is above the wardens, or any other thing that you conserve."
From The Good Huswife's Jewell (Second Part) 1597 - Thomas Dawson

The original recipe: 96 Peris in Syrippe. Take Wardons, and cast hem in a faire potte, And boile hem til ei ben tendre; and take hem vppe, and pare hem in ij. or in iij. And take powder of Canell, a good quantite, and cast hit in good red wyne, And cast sugur thereto, and put hit in an erthen potte, And lete boile; And then cast the peris thereto, And late hem boile togidre awhile; take powder of ginger, And a litell saffron to colloure hit with, And loke that hit be poynante/ And also Doucet/

A modern English translation: 96 Pears in Syrup. Take Wardons, and cast them in a fair pot, And boil them till they are tender; and take them up, and pare them in two or in three. And take powder of Cinnamon, a good quantity, and cast it in good red wine, And cast sugar thereto, and put it in an earthenware pot, And let boil; And then cast the pears thereto, And let them boil together awhile; take powder of ginger, And a little saffron to color it with, And look that it is poignant/ And also Sweet/
From  1450 Harleian MS. 4016 available at

88.  Perys in Syrup
Boyle wardons that they be somdell tendyr pare hem cut hem yn pecys take canell a grete dele draw hit thorow a streynour iij or iiij tymys with good wyn in a pott do ther to sygure a grete dele poudyr of gynger anneys clovis & macys and yf thu wilte datys mynsyd & reysons of coraunce set hit on the fyre when hit boyleth cast yn the perys lete hem boyle to gedyr when hit ys boyled y nowghe loke hit be broun of canell & put ther to poudyr of gynger a grete dele loke hit be somdele doucet & serve hit forth.
From the Wagstaff Miscellany c 1460

This recipe is most like the following one for wardens in syrup from Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books.  The basic ingredients, steps, and spicing are all there.  The Wagstaff recipe's optional addition of dates and currants makes it more like the "pears in compost" recipes.
x - Wardonys in syryp. Take wardonys, an caste on a potte, and boyle hem till they ben tender; than take hem vp and pare hem, an kytte hem in to pecys; take y-now of powder of canel, a good quantyte, an caste it on red wyne, an draw it thorw a straynour; caste sugre ther-to, an put it in an erthen pot, an let it boyle: an thanne caste the perys ther-to, an let boyle to-gederys, an whan they haue boyle a whyle, take pouder of gyngere an caste therto, an a lytil venegre, an a lytil safron; an loke that it be poynaunt an dowcet.  [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)]

Since I wasn't actually preserving hard pears, but just cooking ripe pears for dessert, they didn't require much cooking.

The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight has a recipe for Preserved Wardens which is very similar and uses red wine. I had white wine available, and felt that it might be more appealing to my family who are not very used to or comfortable with medieval food. I took aspects from all these recipes and created something that has medieval elements but would also be appealing to the modern palate.

I added about 750g of peeled and trimmed pear pieces to a heavy splash (probably 1/2 cup) of sweet white wine. The pears were juicy and I had saved and added the juice when cutting as suggested in the Good Huswife recipe. I added 100g of sugar, 2 tsp of cinnamon powder, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, some cloves, 2 tsp of rosewater and let it simmer gently til the pears were soft and warmed through. 

The simmering liquor was absolutely fragrant and delicious and would make a wonderful mulled white wine.
Just before serving, I stirred through a little cream.

The dish was lovely, and very well received with requests to do it again. I might add an egg or two next time and turn it into a sort of baked custard. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Elizabethan Forehead Cloth for A Friend's Birthday

I normally love giving projects away, but I confess that this one was a bit of a wrench. It was the last project that Bitey and I 'worked on' together, and I finished sewing it after she had gone.

It was designed to go with an Elizabethan monochrome coif I embroidered many years ago. The design was very slightly different to that on the original coif because I no longer had the pattern for the original piece, only an enlarged design based on it that I had planned to decorate a partlet with.

My post about the original coif can be found here:
Here are some photos of the original piece-

The forehead cloth was sewn with black DMC floss on linen base fabric with a mix of double running stitch and stem stitch. 
 Designing the pattern
 The design traced out with Frixion marker

I left it unlined to reduce bulk and heat, and omitted the spangles so that it sat flatter and closer to the forehead and had nice, clean lines without the edges of spangles sticking out on odd angles.
A strip of the base linen was bound to the un-hemmed edges and used as the cords to tie it on.

Machine zig-zagging the edges of the embroidered piece for extra durability.

Ruling out the binding strips/ties.

Binding/ties pinned on and ready to be hand sewn.

The finished piece.

The not-so-neat back!

My dummy head is quite small so the forehead cloth looks a little big on her.


A gift for a friend made with the help of a friend.