viennabelle: (Girl Reporter)
I'm taking a bit of time off sewing to get ready to head to New England on Thursday to work on the Plimoth Plantation jacket project. I'm far behind schedule completing the sampler required for participating on the project, so I'm pressing to finish it this weekend. I'm not happy with my stitching on the embroidery stitches, so I'm expecting that I won't be doing that (I'm figuring I'll do the easier job of sewing on paillettes). However, I do hope I can learn what I'm doing wrong with the stitches (especially the spiral, which I've redone many, many times).


Oh, well, phooey.

I also purchased a lace sample kit, even though the actual lace for the project was done. I have gone through phases of lacemaking in the past and I've wanted to try 16th century techniques. So, for the first time in years, I pulled out a lace pillow and started hacking my way through the pattern. While I found the directions a bit confusing, it's a fairly simple pattern and the techniques came back to me rapidly as I started playing with my bobbins.

My experience with bobbin lacemaking is one of the strangest experiences. It's a totally intiutive experience--I don't think I could explain much of how I do it.  I can follow patterns, but I don't understand how those women in the lace guild can just look at a pricking (a diagram showing pin configuration) and know immediately how many bobbins to use, where to start and what options they have for execution). I expect that comes with experience, but getting my brain around that essential part of the craft is totally baffling to me. Still, I was pretty happy I could figure my way through this simple pattern.


The kit actually calls for making a sample using gold and silver threads and paillettes (provided). Since I wasn't confident about remembering my skills, I did a test run using linen and other paillettes I had around the house. I was pretty happy with the result, though I will have to work at this new way of making picots (they are all there, but they tend to twist oddly). However, I cannot say if I will use the kit materials--I'm not sure if they really want more samples, since the jacket project lace is completed--and given my druthers, I'd like to work on some lace I could use for a costuming project.

Anyhow, the effort left me remembering how lacemaking is a perfect filler project. Once a pattern is set up, it's a perfect little occupation for doing while watching tv--rather like knitting, but with prettier results.

viennabelle: (16th c Italian maid)
Ok, as said, I drafted this pattern a year ago. This morning I basted on eye tape and laced it up. It went on, but it really felt funny. So then I loosened it and flipped it to the back.

Crikey, it's back lacing! I'm grinning here from combined embarrassment and relief!

Well, no harm done. Doesn't it look great with the tie dye?

It fits marvelously, giving lots of support (nb, this is a first layer over my shift). I think it's going to have to have some more canvass and wadding in the front to smooth it out (note the wrinkle by my left elbow).  I'm considering boning it as well. Also, fixing the straps to the back will help, too.

Crisis averted!

viennabelle: (16th c Italian maid)
I have been completely distracted from sewing!

Presentation's from last year's Janet Arnold costume colloquium in Florence, Italy are online here. Registration is required--but it's well worth it! The presentations are sensational, although be warned--the Italian ones do not have translation (although if you do know some Italian, do try it--most speakers made extra efforts to speak slowly and clearly). I've got a long entry after the jump--but if you like the Renassance or murder mysteries, it's totally fascinating stuff. Follow jump for a bit of eyecandy and a juicy murder mystery! )

For me, this was an engaging bit of research that kept me up late last night and reading through this morning! I'm surprised none of this has ever made press in the US, since it's kind of a fun bit of historic mystery--and well as a stunning costume discoveries. Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] fiofiorina for pointing me to the conference presentations!
viennabelle: (Strawberries)

Thanks to the oracle that is LJ, I settled on an inspiration for my kirtle--a detail of a servant in an altar painting in Bergamo (as usual, click to embiggen)! Is this not fantastic??? Subconsciously, this is exactly what I was aiming towards. My wool (for those who asked, I got it a few years ago from Burnley & Trowbridge--it's supposed to look like walnut dyed wool) But achieving this look requires more wool trim.

I finally completed my work yesterday by 2:30 pm and zoomed off to Needle & Thread (Gettysburg, PA) by way of Discount Fabrics (Thurmont, MD). My first stop was less inspired. I found good deals at Discount Fabrics--just nothing I really wanted. Ok, I'll be honest, I did drool over several of the silks and gawked at the huge leather skins they had--and then moved on. I was under the gun to get to Gettysburg with enough time to shop Needle & Thread.

While Burnley and Trowbridge is my all time favorite supplier, I do enjoy my visits to Needle and Thread. It  is an old fashioned, homey fabric store (complete with a Apocalyptically-inspired clerk that just amused the heck out of me) that caters to quilters and civil war reenactors. My first objective was to get more wool twill tape to match the other twill tape that I'd got out of the stash. The tape I'd had was a rather harsh tone of yellow, so I'd dyed it to get it to a lovely scarlet color. I was pretty sure we had picked up the original wool twill from Wooded Hamlet--a vendor who had left sutlering and sold off her business to Needle and Thread. To my surprise, the scarlet braid they had in stock was close in color--but lacked the muted variation I'd achieved in my hand dyed stuff. So, I bought the desired yardage in same the harsh yellow I'd started with, which was also in stock.   I also got some other miscellaneous tapes, wool cording, a bit of vintage lace and a half yard of some very cute quilting cotton for a doll dress.  I was quite pleased. Here is the stash, minus the tape ([livejournal.com profile] angldst --the baggie of buttons is the grab bag I got for you)...



BTW--the wool tape isn't there because I immediately put it to simmer in the dye I had left over from the first bit of tape.

Since I tend to discount shop, I am a fairly frequent re-dyer, especially of the trims and embroidery floss that I pick up on sale. For living history demos, I love natural dyeing, but for day-to-day sewing, I tend towards the convenience of fiber reactive dyes. For this project, I used a combo of Pro-Chemical's Polar Red and a little bottle of Jacquard's Poppy Red silk dye, along with a good dollop of white vinegar. Pro-Chemical sells neat little sample kits, which are perfect to keep on hand for small jobs like trimmings--I keep mixed up concentrate batches in the basement fridge, so I can just do small jobs on whim.

I soaked it in a water, vinegar and dish soap solution, put it in my dye pot to simmer for a couple of hours (no stirring!), then let it cool down and rinsed it. This morning I determined I hadn't left it in long enough (it looked a little too tomato-ish) so I resoaked it, then put it back to simmer.  Here is a photo before I returned it to the pot (this time, I corrected the colors, so that is the correct color for the kirtle).



Please note--my dye pot is hardly optimal. It is a very inexpensive old tin candlewax pot. The metal of the pot may very likely mute the brightness of the colors, but for my purpose, that's fine. Better than that, there's a safety consideration. Because he knows I've used it in the past to melt wax, my dear husband is unlikely to appropriate this pot when he next craves a dish of ramen noodles. Why  men would rather use cheap tin pots over good quality kitchen wear is something I've never understood (is it a chromisone thing?)--but this is always a consideration when I select pots (I hide my good steel dye pot that I use outdoors so he's never tempted).



While writing this, the lace I scored on Ebay when my sewing group visited the other day arrived in the mail. It is lovely--and interesting to compare with the lace I bought yesterday. The ebay lace is stunningly fine chemical lace, probably from the 1920s. The coarser lace I got yesterday may be a little older. It's machine bobbin lace with re-embroidery (apparently, by hand). The embroidery makes it look more like needle lace, so I'm leaning towards using it for my Charles II mistress gown, even though it's less refined. I have another idea for the finer lace...
viennabelle: (Crazy Cat)
I got a bunch of awesome ideas for my renaissance dress--and I'm buzzing through chores to try to haul butt to Gettysburg this afternoon...

However, while reading responses last night, I got inspired to make an English coif (I know, I know, my goal is Florentine--but I do like the coifs, too). So, I turned to Drea's outstanding tutorial on making coifs, printed the pattern, cut it out and got to handwork. Once I was nearly done, I realized I totally mangled the pattern. Ergh. Some folk can ignore instructions. I am not one of them.

Oh, well, it's not impossible to fix (I'll just take out the stitches, press it and repeat on the other sides). However, realizing I made such a pissant mistake is frustratingly irksome. I crumpled the darn thing into a ball and threw it at Muffy the cat, who was busy hissing at Scout the cat (because he was rolling on his back and looking cute).

Today, I will not work on it. I have enough other projects. On the plus side--I can say positively that if you have stuff on hand and follow directions, it's an easy project that can be completed in a night's work.

I did not follow directions. But goshdarnitall, my handwork looks good on it!

I am a numbskull. I can live with it. Over and out, got to do errands!

viennabelle: (Strawberries)
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a whole lot about the 16th century construction techniques!

Two weeks ago, I journeyed to Florida to spend the week with my mother. I had a lovely time, though my sister, who also was visiting, was ill. We spent the week laying low and I started--and made significant progress--on a Late 1500s/Renaissance Kirtle. Here's where it's at (click to embiggen):

I'm in a quandry about several finishing points. I've asked folks who came over last night for sewing--but our era is the 18th and 19th c. This kind of work lies outside of our expertise! So, for all my SCA/renish friends (or soon-to-be friends), I wonder if you could click below the jump and offer your advice on some things I am confused about.
Questions and photos )
Thanks for any advice--I want this to look good, so your suggestions are very welcome!

(cross posted to SCA-garb)

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