Sunday, May 20, 2018

In-Progress: Apple Green Wool Cotte

Something I haven't done for a long time is to share my dressmaking process as completely as possible from start to finish. Over the years, I've developed my methods, and they often repeat exactly from one dress to the next, so it's a bit weird for me to go into the details since it's mostly just repeating myself. This time, however, I had a few things I did differently, and it gave me an opportunity to more fully document the process for you.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Decade is a Long Time


Today, this blog is ten years old. Ten! Older than my oldest child. Older than the length of time I've been at my job. Older than my mattress. Of course, that means I'm older too. A lot happens to a person in the span of ten years.

When I started this blog, I wanted an easy outlet to just share my progress of learning how to sew and do better research into medieval clothing. I had no idea what I was doing 10 years ago, beyond knowing that I wasn't doing many things right. Over the past decade, through this blog, you've seen me find my passions, hone my persona, develop my skills, and of course, most recently, become a Laurel. You've also been with me through a lot that you never even knew about. This blog has been a solid rock in my life.

This post isn't really about the journey so far, though. It's about the future. ...Which is ironic, seeing that this blog is primarily about recreating the past. But, I digress.

I've given a lot of thought to what I'd like to be doing with my time, energy, resources, and money, when it comes to this hobby. I have invested a lot of all of those things in the ten years I've been blogging, and in the 10+ years before that. I will invest more. Medieval recreation is a fixture of my life. One that I derive joy, purpose and entertainment from. I've known for a few months now, however, that I'm ready and eager for a slight change in direction.

Up until this point, I've mostly been focused on learning and personal growth. That's not to say that those things have an end point, but I do feel like they come organically now. I'm not a padawan learning the ways of the Force, if you will. Instead, I'd like to put my focus on completing the larger, complex or deep projects and ideas that seem to always be on my back burner. They don't necessarily make great blog content on a weekly basis, but they are things that I'm really interested in.

One of the larger projects that I will be working on is the creation and development of my in-hobby tailor's workshop. I've been researching medieval tailors, and working on creating a period atelier, and out of all the things I have a passion for right now, sharing my work in this area at events is the one I'm most focused on and excited about.

I feel now is the right time to drop my posting schedule more intentionally to just one or two a month. I don't know how long this will be the case, and I hope that further down the road, I can pick up the pace again. It's my thought here that with fewer posts through the year, I will be able to maintain the quality of writing and content I've managed to keep up so far while still being able to give time to the projects I wish to do now.

I will still be sewing. I will still be teaching. I still have a lot to share. There's at least another 10 years ahead, I would hope, and I look forward to sharing them with you. Thank you for being here with me.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Some Things I'm Not Authentic About (Yet)

I'm often told at events some variation of the compliment that people admire that I don't slack off too often on my medieval appearance standards at events. While that's true, it has struck me that there are a handful of things that not only do I not really do all that authentically, but also I haven't really given too much thought to trying to be more authentic about them.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Post Gulf Wars Project List


One of the great things about going to a week-long event is being able to come out of it with a list of things to work on or improve. I have found that there are deficiencies in my kit that I can only really become aware of by putting it to the test. Coming out of Gulf Wars, I have quite the list of projects, primarily in the areas of my recreation I haven't put much thought to in recent years, or with things that require investments I've found it difficult to commit to. Many of the things I talk about below will require funds that it will be some time before I have. Others are relatively easy fixes that will be added to my running list of current projects.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Looking Ahead

From Le Chevalier errant, BNF Dept. of Manuscripts, French 12559, 1403-1404, fol. 167r.
I'm in something of a low point with projects and SCA-related things at the moment. There are several mundane things pulling on my energy and attention, which I think is normal and part of how we make being historical recreationists work with our every day existance. Every so often we need the minor breaks to refocus and reinforce our passions. There are some things coming down the line for me, however, that I'm excited by and will no doubt get me going again full steam ahead in good time.

The first of these is that I'll be attending Gulf Wars next month in Mississippi. My husband and I will be there for the full week, and it will be a much needed vacation for us both. I'm not scheduled to teach any formal classes during the week, but if you follow me on Facebook and you'll be there, keep and eye out for posts about where and when I might be available if you'd like to come meet me, ask questions, or chat about your projects, all completely informally and low-key. I also plan to continue my tradition of documenting my daily outfits via social media while there.

I won't need to make much for myself for the week-long event, except maybe another chemise, and possibly a simple lightweight dress for early mornings or showers. I'm currently working on an arming doublet for a friend, though, and I'm hoping to get in some new items for my husband.

Dearg stepped away from the SCA a few years ago, and Gulf Wars will mark his return. (Nothing like jumping in with both feet, right?) When he first started in the SCA, like most people, he wore generic garb for many years. Eventually, he settled on early period styles to go along with an 11th century persona. He still has that garb, and it all stiff fits, but since he's basically a having an SCA do-over, he's open to trying out some new things. To that end, he's asked me to make a full mid-14th century outfit for him. I've been waiting soooo loooong for this!

After looking at some ideas I had on Pinterest (mainly the guy on the right in this image), and talking through some color palette ideas, we settled on a very standard labor class outfit with a gold, gray and burgundy color scheme. I will need to make him: a linen pull-over tunic, a wool surcote with a button front, a wool hood with linen lining, wool hose, linen shirt, coif and braies, and garters.


I did some preliminary sourcing of materials to help him visualize the plan. The golden colored wool is something I already have on hand. It's sort of an odd mustard colored yellow, and I couldn't figure out anything to use it for for myself. When I showed it to Dearg, though, he liked it. It will be his surcote. We picked a brownish/pinkish red linen for his tunic, and a deep red wool for the hose. The grey herringbone flannel will be the hood with a solid gray lining. There might also be a hat involved too, but I haven't gotten that far yet. I'll make him a pair of woven blue wool garters to match mine.

I'm excited for this project and the new avenue it can take me down. I have only done a small handful of items for men (since most of my closest male friends also know how to sew and can do things for themselves), so it's nice to be able to do the full ensemble for a change. I'm sure I'll learn much along the way. Since there are several things to make for this outfit, I'm being realistic in terms of deadline and not rushing to have any of it done by Gulf Wars (though having the surcote ready for him would be nice.)

I have also been planning some new things for myself. I have a project or two still in the "unfinished project" pile that I haven't entirely forgotten about yet that I'd eventually like to get off my plate. I would also like to challenge myself to create a "masterwork" dress this year. My idea with this is to create an "example" dress that shows as many of the relevant medieval tailoring skills and techniques as it can. In order to get the elements and the period evidence for them to align as much as possible, I'm using mostly general period or specifically turn of the century sources for this, putting the style in the circa 1400-1410 category.


I'm on the lookout for the "perfect" wool for this dress. In my head, it's lavender, but it could also maybe be pink. Or even green. I'm mostly open to waiting for the right wool to find me, though, whatever the color. While on the surface, it will no doubt look like every other fitted cotte I have, there are some details I'd like to include that will set it apart on closer examination. Side lacing, silk facings, smaller buttons than I normally do, and card woven edging are all in mind. It will, of course, start at the patterning stage, where I can finesse my current pattern to correct some of its current errors, including widening the neckline and ensuring a comfortable fit in the shoulders and biceps with some adjustments to how much ease I typically include (meaning: adding a bit more).

For now, this one is still in the "I'm thinking about it" category, but I'm investing in the idea more and more, and I think it would be a great use of my time later this year.

This year may also be the year I finish at least one of the ongoing non-crafting projects I've had on the burner for a long time. I have several, and every so often I poke at them to keep them from going completely cold. I'd like to take this opportunity, while I have fewer obligations in the project department, to get into those and move them further along. There are a few research-related projects, as well as a fun (also researched, but less academic) project that uses my creative writing skills. I wish I could share more, but I don't want to give too much away just yet, since there's still no guarantees they'll be any closer to sharing any time soon.

While at the moment, I'm in a bit of a lull, and things are mostly quiet, I think that when these things come along and need my attention, I'll be ready for them. I'm definitely looking forward to spending the week with friends in March, and for the start of the spring event season.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Project Complete: Windowpane Plaid Basic Gown


I'm not presenting this one as a typical "project log" like I normally do because for the most part this project was just for fun, as well as for a chance to work with plaid. Late in 2016, I found this wool at Dorr Mill Store (doesn't look to be currently available), and thought it was really cool. (There's some evidence that grid-like plaids were in use in the 14th century.) The cloth sat in my stash for a year, just waiting for me to get to it. At the end of my Doppelgänger Challenge, I was looking for something to do that would give me a break from dedicated early 15th Century, and this wool practically shouted at me.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

So You Want to Improve in Your Craft?


Ten years ago, I didn't really know how to sew. I also didn't know much more than the basics about late medieval clothing. When I look back, it's actually pretty shocking to have learned so much in a mere decade, but I can also see that it wasn't by accident. Everyone's journey in their craft is different, and it's important to understand and accept that not every road leads to somewhere exciting, but improving in your chosen art or craft comes with some pretty important standard procedures. Today I'd like to do my best to walk through the ones that help me.