June 2015

Considering starting the blog back up ?

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


Excuse the lack of proper ties on this one, i removed them for something else...

This is a tiny coin pouch about 7cm high with a brass device, surrounded by seed pearls and glass beads. It will be lined with proper ties.

This is my bag that matches my red and gold 14th centuary outfit. It is red and gold silk, with gold one side and red the other side. The top trim is couched on with gold silk thread.

The other side

The old embroidery at the top of the sideless surcoat... I have to rip it all out to change the neckline as it is too narrow for the neck line on the red silk dress!!!!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Holiday Blog

Just incase you want to have a look at what we got up to on our holiday, here is the link to our overseas holiday. Excuse the beer photos, but there are lots of pretty pictures. For everyone in Europe they are the same old same old, but for us, it was a new world of wonder.

In particular MEDIEVAL BAGS see this post!!!!
We went to:
South England
Yorkshire (family)
London (family)
South england (family)
Poland (again)

and many others.

We did every museum we could get ourselves into... and enjoyed the cultural delights of many a beer hall....


This is some of my fabric that i have away for a special dress/occasion...

sigh.... i love it...


Ok so i have been a little slack this week...

but i have done a little bit on the trial dragon.

I still havn't fixed the face, but i don't think i will. Might finish it and keep it as it is.
Am planning on playing with a small scene based on a section of the tapestry to cover the side of a pouch.
Have just seen some of the detailing that Racaire has done on her Bayeux stitch. While i have done mine the same, (couching over the threads as i go) i havn't done those couching stitches as close as hers. I might try them a little closer next time.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow....

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Playing With Bayeux

Had a play with the Bayeux tapestry stitch today, obviously not finished yet, as i havn't even finished the green and the black edging in the center isn't done. But i think that with some more time i could get used to this stitch quite easily.

I mucked up the lines on the face, but i can redo them.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Brown Florentine dress 1474-80 updated photos

Well, Constance wanted me to post origional photos with my room mess around my feet, but I didn't want to do that! I could have taken pictures the other day when my room was tidy, but I didn't, so I waited till everyone was out today and I had the house to myself and took some photos.
Here they are! I can't figure out how to put some beside each other- so they are in a long list.

Then I took some with the sleeves from my blue dress

The dangly cord you can see in a few is just the trim I haven't finished sewing to the neckline yet.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Brown Florentine dress 1474-80

So my new re-enactment group have officially selected a date of 1480, with a research period of 1470-85, rather than ten years earlier (there’s not much change, just a whole lot more research available for the ladies) which means I can now use one of my favourite portraits as my main source of research, as it is smack bang in the middle of the period, not right at the end or after. This is the portrait:

It is of Ginevra de' Benci who was a Florentine noble woman, she was married in 1474 when she was 16. I have seen this painting dated at 1475, 1464-76, 1478-1480, 1476, 1474-78 etc, but you get the point, in the latter half of the 1470s, or sometime between 1474 and 1480. No matter what the date, it is perfect for our new time period! Yay! It was painted by Leonardo da Vinci, you may have heard of him ;)
Now I think there aren’t half enough re-enactors wearing brown, orange, yellow etc, so when I was actually looking for silk and saw some brown linen while waiting at the registers to be served, I said “I’ll have that”When I started cutting the dress out the original plan was to have four panels 1 metre wide and 120cms long (the assumed fabric width) and use the half metre left over for bodice and sleeves (I had 4.5 metres). The panels would be cut into eight gores and attached bias edge to straight and box pleated.Then I measured my fabric, and it was 150cm wide- too long for a skirt, and I didn’t want to just cut 30cm off the hem, as a 4metre by 30cm strip of fabric isn’t useful for much except pouches… and that’s a lot of pouches!So I decided to cut panels 120 cm long, and use the width of the material as the width of the fabric. Of course, 4x1 metre goes into 4 metres far better than four 1.2 metre lengths! So I thought I would just make three panels and gore them to have six gores. Of course, the material wasn’t the sort that ripped!!! The huge t-square wasn’t where it lived, so I wasted a good 30cm of fabric trying to get a straight edge, until dad got the t-square from the old tv-box in the garage (NOT where it should have been). Now, I realised I wouldn’t QUITE have enough for the third panel, and I couldn’t cut it shorter, and I didn’t want to not have sleeves that matched. So I worked out that with the two panels I had 3 metres width of fabric (1.5+1.5 remember). I got my calculator and multiplied my underbust measurement by three, and ended up with 216, so if I were going to box pleat straight panels I would need almost a metre less than I had cut, wasting not only HEAPS of one panel, but almost another whole panel I had left in the material! So I multiplied it by five, and got 360. If I cut a third panel 60cm long, then took 30 cm off the end to make it 60 wide by 120 long, I could have enough to do stacked box pleats, and enough left for sleeves and ONE pouch! So this dress now has two straight panels 150cm wide and one panel that is 60 cm wide, that pleat down to 30cm, 30cm and 12cm which make 72cm of pleated skirt at the ‘waist’- just right! In reality the 60 cm panel will be cut 66cm, because the measurements don’t include seam allowance, and so the extra on this one will make up for the fact that I loose just under 2cm of fabric in each panel, and that I want the skirt to be slightly longer than 72cm so it can meet up and overlap slightly in the front rather than just stopping at the edges of the bodice, as there is a gap in the lacing. I then pleated one panel, remembered just as I finished I hadn’t hemmed it first, unpleated, hemmed the top, pleated it again, sewed the pleats down with a whip stitch along the top (which halved the thickness by compressing and holding things in place, and was smoother than the pins) and as I went I did a few stitches down the front of each pleat as an experiment- I like how that looks. I then hemmed one side, and hemmed half of the other side on the bus. My stacked box pleats are two inches wide, as I like the look of them. Here is a painting showing wide box pleats on a brown dress!

I didn’t get much more sewing done, as I had a museum display to finish for the new museum exhibit- and it was all a rush- it was finally all finished 30 seconds before the first people arrived for the opening on Friday night! Yes, really, We had just stuck a last sign up and had just picked up the paper from the double sided sticky-tape, and it was in my hand when we heard voices just outside asking if the museum was open or not. We heard a “not quite” and yelled back “yes”.On Saturday afternoon (day after the opening!) I sat down in front of the tv and the real version of Pride and prejudice- the BBC version.I make my bodices by cutting a lining the same size as the finished bodice piece (ie, without seam allowance) and the fashion fabric bigger. I then fold the outside fabric over the lining, and stitch it down. Then I used tiny whipstitches to attach the pieces together. This time I tried not clipping the seam allowance, except for the neckline as I heard it was possible to do with this technique and made the seams stronger. It works fine. So this is what I did, by the time the first disk was over, I had finished one front piece and one back, and sewn them together at the side and the top. I had also started on the other back piece, and it was half finished, and half sewn to the other back piece.On Sunday I had a meeting with my re-enactment group and I almost finished the bodice there, then I came home and put the last few lacing rings on, and started hemming the bottom edge. Since then I have finished the two big panels and whip stitched them to the bottom of the bodice. I have also started to put some red and gold trim (the 30 cents a metre one that looks for all the world like a five or seven loop finger braid gone wrong) and will also do a line of gold embroidery either side. The sleeves will be brown and partially sewn in. However if I find I am sewing them on, taking them off and re-sewing them on too much then I will just point them on or something.
This dress is entirely hand sewn, all visible sewing is done in silk thread (because it is a dream to work with, and because I wanted it to show a bit more), all unseen sewing is just done in synthetic thread (which was, as always, NOT a dream to work with, I didn’t have one tangle with the silk), I would have used all silk if I had enough.

So this is an in progress photo taken with my camera’s self timer. Better ones will follow when it is finished!

List for Abbey 2008

I have always looked at other peoples lists of things to sew, and wondered how they could be so organised as to know what they want to make! Well, I need a whole Italian wardrobe- and it happend to me!

Here is my list. Red text means I have finished it (or have hardly any more work to do, ie less than an hour), Bold means I need to have it done by June, Italics means I have started it.

One dark blue linen Gamurra and sleeves

One light blue linen Gamurra and sleeves DONE!

One brown linen Gamurra and sleeves (Bodice finished, trim 1/3 done on neckline, embriodery on neckline not started, two 150cm skirt panels done and sewn to bdice, one 60cm skirt skirt panel to do, need to sew skirt panels together and hem and trim)

one light blue silk Giornea/Cioppa and sleeves

one green silk Giornea/Cioppa and sleeves

one orange silk Giornea/Cioppa and sleeves

One mid blue linen Giornea and sleeves (Sewn together, Front opening needs to be hemmed, need to figure out train, cut and hem. Sleeves not started)

Orange linen sleeves

Linen Camicia 1 (Just over half done)

Linen Camicia 2

Cotton Flannel Camicia (to sleep in!)

Wool sleeves to sew to my pink wool kirtle (so I can use it as a warm coat at night)

One pair of mid blue linen hose (cut out, one foot sewn together)

One pair of reddish linen hose (I dyed some white linen as after I dyed dad's bag hat material there was plenty of dye left)

One pair of reddish/purplish woolen hose (after the linen I thought there might still be some dye in the dye bath, this wook took the last of that out. However, it went a much darker colour than dads bag hat, even though the dye bath was warm and dilute abnd when the bag hat stuff went in it was hot and concentrate. Hmmm)

hair piece- DONE! I have a plait long enough to wrap and sew round my head, it was discontinued and only cost $30!

Make something to cover my hair on bad hair days that is suitable for Italy 1480.

Things to alter

My orange dress into an italian style (I just have one more side seam to sew and need to re-do the front lacing rings.)

Fix my linen shift (in such bad condition)

Things I need for 2008 (or to borrow)


Shoes (I need to make a new pattern for my dad so he can make them. He has givin my a line drawing of an extant garment (ackatin or something) that I need to at least pattern for him.

Blue Italian Gamurra 1470/80

I really like blue- however I am trying to steer away from using it in medieval clothing- because it seems like it is one of the most popular colours used by re-enactors where I live. The most popular colour combination seems to be red and blue. There isn’t half enough browns or oranges or yellows- three colours I love and am determined to use more. However fabric that is useable and cheap (poor uni student here!) enough to buy is very hard to find, so if I find it, I buy it. Hence why when I saw some 60/40 cotton linen pieces in the remnants bin in Melbourne, I brought every scrap- even though not only was it blue, it was the exact same shade of blue I already had a dress out of. It is also the blue I ALWAYS get compliments on- so at least it is a nice blue!

This dress was my first experiment into Italian fashion, and I had a few boxes I wanted to tick. First- was to make a new skirt pattern. I wasn’t really happy with any of my patterns so far. I had found an article about a skirt in London made of 12 trapezoid shapes sewn straight edge to bias, and so decided to do that.

Second- was not to have a really high waist, as I had lost a lot of weight and wanted to show off my waist!. I decided on about an inch above my natural waist would be fine.

Third: I was to use lacing rings- I much prefer them to making eyelets! They are so much faster! Fourth: not to spiral lace it- I decided on ladder lacing.

Fifth: to finish it before I first wore it (excluding trying it on etc).

So, how many of these boxes did I tick? A grand total of two out of five. Hmmmm…

The bodice patterning was tricky- as I needed to draft a complete new one due to weight loss, and I had to draft it on my own. Pinning up your own back is hard. In the end, I got the fit around the bust right and guessed at the rest.

So I sewed it together and attached the lacing rings for ladder lacing and tried the ting on. There were two main problems. Firstly, due to guessing the side seams started at the sides at the top, and ended up as front side seams at the bottom. Secondly, the ladder lacing wasn’t working- the cord was pulling the lacing rings together vertically as well as horizontally, and the thing was bunching up. I asked for some advice on this second issue online, and was just sent links to how to ladder lace- which is how I was doing it- so not that helpful. I decided just to spiral lace it. So I spiral laced the thing, and it was uneven as the lacing rings were not set for spiral lacing- but I would fix that- just not now.

I worked on the skirt- which cane together quickly as I was just running stitching it. Each skirt seam took 20 minutes to sew, and didn’t need pinning first. If TV was really good it could take up to an hour for each seam though as I get distracted sometimes…

Once the skirt was done, I pinned it to the bodice. Problem the third: I looked like a freak.

I wanted this bodice to have a higher neck than I have had in the past, and of course it was only an inch or so above my natural waist. This made the bodice look freakishly long, which apart from making me look like a freak- didn’t sit at all well with the prevailing silhouette at the time and place. Also, there was this wrinkle down the bottom that wouldn’t weigh down and those side seams. I

decided to make it shorter, picked a shortness line, and tried to get mum to mark it even all the way around. It took several attempts as she wanted to do it with her sitting and me standing, making the ink run away from the tip in the pen and it not work, and she didn’t check to make sure it had drawn like I told her to. After her being confused about why it wasn’t working I finally explained it all to her, and she was marking the waist properly, still going on about how very high it was.

After this I evened up the line myself, and marked a line two inches higher and made that the new waist. I also re-did the lacing rings for spiral lacing.

After some time I worked out the knife pleating and the skirt was attached to the bodice. I made some sleeves- made mistakes on both of them but they were wearable.

I first wore this dress and it was not finished- the front seam was not sewn (hid it in the folds) and the sleeves were not hemmed at the top. Months later- I still need to finish these details, and make a nicer pair of sleeves. I am pleased with the result however- I like the look of the higher waist.

Another thing I have to do is make a new lacing cord. This one had a very loose patch for about 1cm (I got distracted with TV) and after a fair bit of using has started to weaken at that point. I have others, but this is light blue and I want another light blue one, as my next dress I am making is based on a portrait that has a light blue lacing cord.

Period Documentation

Here is a picture of an example of that dress Cathelina. 1485 Florence

Almost taken from the same angle isn't it!

Examples of Medieval Embroidery from a Novice

The following pictures are some examples of the embroidery that we saw on our travels. It was amazing. The pictures do not do these items justice. The skill level was outstanding. I left totally inspired to learn how to embroider. The most embroidery i have done is couching a row of gold thread onto the neckline of a dress and its sleaves.

Most of the embroidery that has survived has come from religious items that were forgotten about/kept safe in times of trouble and treasured as the works of art they are. Therefore, most of these images come from church clothing and alters. The following examples are mostly from 1400 - 1550.

Here is a close up of a section of the embroidery.

A close up of the couching technique

This is one of the slightly later images. The use of the metalic threads is quite a different style to the others.
I loved this one the stitching is brilliant.

Here is a close up of the stitching. (Cammera was really still at this point)

Couching again

Friday, 7 March 2008

Little German Coin Pouch

Here is another project i have been working on, details and sources will come later.

This is a very small coin purse.
Background: Gold Silk
Pattern: seen on a German purse i believe to be dated around 1350.
Thread: Silk
Stitch: Split
Time: 5 hours to this point maybe?

Close up of pattern
Eventually the purse will have a embroidered band with the holes for the cord to pass through, (colour undecided) with tassels hanging off the side, will be lined in silk, and will be sewn up the sides with a fancy, tablet woven style finish.

Saturday 8th March:

Here are a couple of good links for medieval purses showing photos of extant items from museums around the world. Some of which i have seen in my travels:

Here is the closest picture i could find to the type of purse i am doing. Mine is NOT in counted thread work like many of these as it was a "lets try and do that" sunday afternoon project and not researched exactly. At the moment i am still learning about the actual embroidery part. I am hoping to start some replica items in the near future.

First Embroidered Bag

Here are some of the images of the creation of my first embroidery project. I started this in Europe while we were backpacking around. As it was a backbacking embroidery, it isn't quite what i would have done if i had access to internet and sources, but it's ok.

Background: Pillow case pinched from a hostel (sorry i was desperate)
Thread: Imitation silk (couldn't explain real silk in German.)
Pattern: Shape, fairly common throughout the Middle Ages. Floral design - fairly standard. Green background, perhaps could have been in couching stitch, but i wasn't too sure on doing that on the go.
Stitches: mostly split stitch, some stem stitch.

Still need to put a band around the top and do the back however.