Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Livia's Zimarra

I just realized that I hadn't posted this project. Looking at images of zimarre while working on the black and pink one I came across this image of Countess Livia da Porto Theine. I liked the idea of having a fur lined coat to wear to events during the colder months. Jason and Stephanie gave me a gift certficate to a local fabric store for Christmas and I used it to purchase gray and white faux fur (I have no idea what kind of animal it is supposed to simulate). Then I got stuck on finding the fabric for the outside. I really wanted silk but I'm just not knowledgeable enough about fabric to choose it online. I have to see and touch it to know if it is right. The silk satin I was finding locally was $40 per yard which is totally out of the question and polyester just isn't an acceptable substitute so I set the project aside.
Last week I was browsing ebay (I had a Paypal refund buring a hole in my pocket. :D ) and came across listings for satin fabric in a 55% cotton 45% silk blend. I decided to give it a shot and order half yard cuts of two colors. The fabric arrived yesterday and it is gorgeous! It has the perfect dull sheen and a nice weight and, best of all, it's $11.50 a yard. Now I just need to decide on the color. To my eye the coat in the painting looks like a deep salmon-y color (though it looks slightly different in each of the three or four images I've found online). The fabric is available in crimson which seems a bit too bright to me and in mauve which is a lighter pink than I thought it would be when I ordered it. I suppose it would be possible to overdye it to get the right color but I'm just not brave enough to go that route for fear of messing up and ruining the fabric. I think I am leaning toward the mauve but I just have to keep looking at it for a few more days before I decide.

Edited to add that I've ordered a piece of this fabric in cranberry to see if I like that better.

Camping Clothes

Forgive me if I ramble a bit today. I figure typing things out will help me clarify my thoughts/plans. My plan is to go to Pennsic this year which means I need more clothes appropriate for wearing in the heat and the dirt. (That and I refuse to put the effort into a "court gown" until I lose at least 20 more pounds!) This is my list of what I figure I need to make by mid-July to supplement what I already have:
two camicie/smocks with square necks- one with full sleeves, one with narrow sleeves
two more partlets (at minimum) to keep the sun off my neck and chest
two or three simple dresses
It would make sense to start with the smocks since the fit is less exact and less effected by weight loss but I need to buy more handkercheif linen first. I do, however, have linen on hand for two dresses. I have some medium to heavy weight medium green linen that I bought last year and haven't done anything with yet. Then yesterday I stumbled upon a moving sale for the JoAnn Fabrics across town and scored five yards of light to medium weight navy linen for $12! So I think I am going to get started on the dresses. I am going to make them side lacing (under the arms, not side-back) partly because that style is SOOOOO much easier for me to get into and out of without help and so that I can make them to lace with a gap to fit me now and just close the gap as I continue to lose weight. What I still need to decide is if I want the waist at my natural waistline or slightly above and whether I want the skirts box pleated or cartridge pleated. As I type this out I am thinking that I could go with a slightly raised wasitline and box pleats for one and cartridge pleats at the natural waist for the other. Time to pull out my bodice pattern and start tweaking it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meet Jelly Bean

I'm gonna be a grandma!!! Jason and Stephanie are expecting a little one mid September! The ladies at ScrapFreak dubbed the baby Jelly Bean and started teasing me about making Renaissance baby clothing. I told them I might try this:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Silly Red Hat

Okay. So I bought some red wool to make Tom a hat the same time we bought the ivory wool for the tunic but I just didn't get around to doing it until now. I used a black fleece hat that was laying around as my pattern to cut four pieces of the felted wool. Then I just overcast or whipstitched or whatever the correct term is the edges together.
the inspiration/pattern

the cut pieces

the finished hat

I think I actually prefer it with the stitching on the outside

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fake Venetian?

A post on the RenaissanceFestival.com forums this morning asking about stomachers got me thinking. When I made my blue gown last summer it was too tight by the time I finished it so I wore it once and didn't plan to wear it again until I lost some weight. The stomacher question got me thinking about how I could still wear it while losing the weight. I had leftovers from the gold embroidered curtain panel that I used to make the forepart, sleeves, and caul (which btw is currently on clearance for $20 at BB&B) so I pulled it out and pinned it to my corset.

I played with it a bit and removed the farthingale, pinned the skirt closed, and laced a cord across the bodice opening. Whadya think? Could it pass as a Venetian gown?

PS- I realized I could also do this with leftover silk and my red silk sleeves.

(Kindly disregard the camecia/smock in these photos. It's just what happened to already be on Bertha so she wouldn't be naked.)

Ivory Wool Tunic or Cote

After Tom nearly froze his tushie off at Fall Harvest I decided it needed to make him something warm to wear for cold weather SCA events. All he had were warm weather RenFest clothes: a few cotton and linen shirts and one pair of knee length pants. He didn't own any kind of doublet or jacket and I didn't feel that I had the skills or patience to try to make him one. We settled on a generic wool tunic or "man's basic cote" using the cutting diagram in The Medieval Tailor's Assistant.
This was supposed to be a quick and easy project so we chose an inexpensive wool blend fabric. I cut the pieces and quickly assembled them by machine. I follow the no *visible* machine stitching school of thought so planned to do all of the hems by hand. I expected to just pink the seam allowances and call it good but, unfortunately, the inexpense fabric ravelled like crazy! Deciding that felled seams would be too thick and bulky I chose to turn under each seam allowance and stitch it down with a running stitch. It's a good thing we ended up not going to Winter Revel in January because all of that hand stitching took me forever to finish. I did get it finshed in time for Val Day by hemming in the car on the way to the airport for the cruise.
In the interest of full disclosure (and because I share my mistakes so others than learn from them LOL) I did NOT know what I was doing when sewing in the split center front gores and totally screwed the top point up. Fortunately my mistake was hidden under Tom's belt because I also made the split a bit too high. And I did do a better job on the back. I didn't do a facing for the neck but simply turned the edge under and stitched it down. I may at some point in the future turn it into a keyhole neck and add some trim.




Here's how it looked after we got home around midnight (which is my excuse for the crappy pics). I'm also posting a crappy mirror shot of my outfit because I never seem to remember to get pics of me in my garb.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Tom and I just returned from cruising aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. Our only previous cruise had been a family event filled with shore excursions, shopping, and onboard activiites. This one was decidedly different. This time we skipped most of the scheduled activities in favor of relaxing in the Solarium. I made use of the spa and Tom spent some time in the casino. Instead of staying up half the night partying most night we turned in before midnight. This 5 night cruise was only scheduled for two ports, Costa Maya and Cozumel, and ended up with only one. I had been looking forward to a ruins tour near Costa Maya but we were unable to dock there due to high winds and rough waters. I got a few photos of the shore we never set foot on. We headed to Cozumel early and stayed there overnight. Many of the passengers took advantage of the extra shopping and partying time but the noise and pushy vendors at the port annoyed me enough to make me get back on the ship without heading to town. The next morning we took our scheduled excursion to Passion Island. I can't reccomend Passion Island highly enough! It was a beautiful peaceful island that our group of about 30 had to ourselves. The food and drinks were good and plentiful. I only wish that we had been able to stay another hour or two. Upon our return from Passion Island we again skipped shopping and/or drinking town in favor of returning to the pool onboard the ship. I think cruise vacations are something we need to do more often. :)

Christmas Gift Shirts

So this past Christmas I made several handmade gifts for my kids. Among the things I made were some t-shirts with bleach out stenciled designs. I did a little poking around online for ideas and found out about discharge paste (which does look as grtoss as it sounds!) which removes the color from natural fibers without weakening the fabric like chlorine bleach. I order a quart of the stuff from Binder Art Supply. The stencil designs that I cut into overhead transparency sheets are actually pumkin carving stencils from ZombiePumpkins.com but they served the purpose quite well. The discharge paste was painted on the shirts and allowed to air dry. After drying a steam iron was used to activate the bleaching process. The 100% cotton shirts bleached out white. Some of the shirts were a 50/50 poly/cotton blend- The cotton bleached but the polyester didn't leaving an interesting heather gray design.


I am home from vacation and have my newly repaired and upgraded laptop!!! I haven't posted in forever mostly because it was a pain in the ass using the shared family room computer. Now that things are back to "normal" be prepared for the deluge of posts to get everything caught up. :D