Category Archives: garb

sewing, sewing, just keep sewing!

Bar Gemels is this weekend!  It’s an indoor/outdoor sort of site, and although the weather forecasts are good, I figured it was still good to have some warm-and-dry stuff available.  So I finally started on the Norse coat I’ve been thinking about for ages.

There’s slim evidence for a coat like this, and even less for how specifically it might have been constructed, but I’m basically making a Nockert type I dress, a little bigger than usual to fit over layers, slitting it up the front and cutting a V-neck down to a couple clasps slightly above the waist.  The fashion layer is a wool blend, black with an overlay of SPARKLY RED STUFF.  It’s so not period, but I don’t care, I adore it!

I got it all cut out yesterday; I recently acquired a cutting table and mat and it made the process SO MUCH FASTER.  As usual I did some things weird or wrong, but I’m learning!  (Yesterday’s lesson: cut the sleeves FIRST.  I almost forgot about them completely, and I ended up having to piece one together out of scraps. Had I cut them first, I’d just have a shorter coat, but normal sleeves, which would be better.)

Since the fabric is already not-so-authentic, I don’t have to hand sew this garment (‘have to’ being my own standards, you understand :).  That helps in terms of speed, although not in terms of back pain.  I continue to adjust the exact angles of the top of the body pieces (continual struggle is that at shoulder level, my measurement is significantly different than at bust level, and standard rectangular construction with a straight body piece gives me shoulder seams near the elbows!) – we’ll see how this one turns out.  I’m also trying two square underarm gussets rather than four triangles – the geometry is messing with me but I’ll persevere. Although given that I’m putting pretty wide sleeves on I’m not sure I’ll really need the gussets – we’ll have to wait and see.

Fashion fabric and felting materialsAnyway. While I don’t know that the embellishment will get done by this weekend (in fact, I doubt it will!), I plan to try a new craft: needle felting! I scored some supplies via freecycle and bought some lovely wool yesterday, and I’m intending to do some felted vinework along the edges.  Stay tuned to see how it goes!


finished dress!

So I finally finished the red dress! Mostly, anyway. All the seams are sewn and flat felled and it’s ready to be hemmed. I didn’t have quite as much fabric as I’d hoped, so it hits about mid calf. I could either leave it is as a shorter overdress, or add a length of another color around the bottom. Given what’s in my stash I think I’d have to add white. Not sure how I feel about white at the bottom! Not the most practical idea, certainly. I could wait a little and see what I have left when I make up the gold wool for Galeran… ponder.

Anyway. I had originally planned to norskify the hell out of this with mammen embroidery but I have changed my mind; if I do something less culturally specific the dress is more versatile. But I do want to jazz it up somehow, just not something that screams ‘norse’ so I think I’m going to take inspiration from these lovely cuffs I saw at Crown last fall and seek out some metal findings and accent those. It’ll be sort of generically period-esque, I know, but beautiful and versatile!

moar projects!

So the longest-term project in my crafting life lately has been the red dress.  This is a red wool dress that was made at the last minute the night before an event and, well, looked like it.  Last June I picked it apart and started the process of careful measuring, cutting, and all that to put it back together (100% hand sewn, silk thread, bone needle).  I also made google drawings of my body measurements and of the shapes I cut for the kyrtel, so that I’d have a record of what I did and how well it worked.

Well, last night I finished everything but the hem and tried it on.  It’s tight, but it fits, and looks a zillion times better than last time.  There are things I want to finesse about this pattern (a pretty standard Nockert Type I  garment, with the shoulders cut in a bit), and there are a couple places where my sewing did not do exactly what I wanted it to, but overall I am very pleased with it!

I had originally intended to jazz this dress up with tons of Viking-style embroidery based on the Mammen finds, but I’m reconsidering that plan.  For starters, the dress isn’t perfect enough for me to want to spend  THAT much time on the embroidery – and I was figuring a LOT of embroidery!  I think I’ll do some simpler embroidery designs on the dress, and will probably do something pretty elaborate on my Jorvik hat, but I think I’ll leave the red dress alone at least for now.

Instead… MOAR PROJECTS!  I am torn between doing another Nockert Type I garment in hopes of perfecting the pattern, and doing a St. Francis tunic as described by Alianor, which has the advantages of (she says) producing a perfect 13th c. silhouette – and, as you will note, NO DAMN CENTER GORES!  (I am contemplating cutting all my future gowns that have center gores all the way up the front to avoid inset gores, since I simply cannot get them right.)

I dunno.  What do you think I should work on?

lady in red

I’ve been working steadily at remaking my red dress.  This is a geometrically constructed tunic a la Nockert Type I, with one change: I angle the tunic inwards from where the gussets meet the body up to the top of the shoulder, because making it big enough around to fit me as well as straight there means that the shoulder seam is about at my elbow!

This is my first 100% hand sewn garment since my first SCA garb (and I hand sewed that, badly, because I hated sewing machines – my motivation is different now!).  The fabric is wool (I’m pretty sure, anyway), and I’m using silk thread and a needle hand carved from a piece of antler (not carved by me).  At this point, I have two sleeves (with gussets) sewn on and flat felled, two gores sewn on but NOT flat felled, and the neck sewn down.  I just turned the neck under twice and stitched it in place; although I finally learned how to do facings properly thanks to Maestra Maddalena, I am not a big fan of how they look and feel, plus they involve lots of fiddly bits, my least favorite part of sewing.  So yeah, I did it the easy way.  This has worked poorly in the past, but this time I did it with the dress still ‘open,’ not all sewn up.  Why I didn’t think of this before I have no clue, but it works MUCH better this way!

My hand sewing is still a bit raggedy but definitely getting better, and practice makes perfect, right?  I’m excited at how quickly this is going and how much I’m enjoying it.  Also excited by the chance to use my cute little elephant pincushion and watch lots of Dr. Who.  Win-Win situation!  Since I finally have a camera battery again a few more pictures follow…..

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sewing prep

A project I’ve had pending for quite some time is to remake my red wool gown; it’s one that I cut out at the last minute before an event and didn’t measure carefully, and of course it’s always showed.  I took it apart last weekend (and it was depressing how much faster it came apart than it had gone together!) so I’m ready to trim up the pieces, get everything cut evenly, and do it all again.  (I’m also taking the opportunity to hand sew the entire thing, including flat felling the seams, with silk thread.)

In prep for that, I’ve created this little graphic in google drawings detailing all the measurements I want to get (no laughing at my artwork!).  The convenient thing is that I can just type in the measurements straight onto the drawing, and update it when/if my weight changes significantly, and it will always be right there waiting for me.  I will probably create a similar graphic detailing the size/shape of the pieces I need to cut for the gown; it seems like every time I write down measurements and/or make notes on clothing construction, I end up scribbling them on a little piece of paper and having to reinvent the wheel next time.  Well, no more!  I am prepared and organized this time. 🙂  And if you think having a drawing like this would be helpful to you, just lemme know – I can ‘share’ mine with you on google docs, and then you can resave and add in your own measurements.  (The drawing would need modifying for boy measurements – primarily adding various leg measurements – but that shouldn’t be too hard.)

i can haz mantle!

Tonight I sat down and cut out and sewed my mantle – decided not to bother handsewing it since it’s made of dead dinosaur anyway.  It was SUPER easy – just cut out two half circles (fashion layer and lining), sew together, and voila!  (note that the cutting out is harder if you have a cat that wants to pounce on your fabric. and scissors. and hands.)  I sewed it up and then went back and zigzagged to prevent fraying.  For once, I actually sewed a garment without having to pull out any stitches because of sewing wrong sides, or putting parts on backwards, or whatever.

I still have to iron out the stitches and then hem it, but that’s easy enough.  I will hem it by hand – no visible machine stitching for me!  And then of course I need to figure out how I’m clasping it – I think I have some cord I made a while ago still around, and I have an idea for the clasps if I can find the pins I’m thinking of.  But, YAYY, exciting!  Haven’t done any sewing for a good year, and haven’t done a lot of art recently anyway, so it feels really nice to accomplish some of that.

Sadly my sewing machine is being very difficult.  Comes unthreaded about every four inches, or doesn’t stay threaded properly, etc.  Very annoying; but I haven’t had it serviced for almost three years, and have been meaning to do so, so clearly it’s time!

fabric stores lie

this damnable mantle project is becoming, well, damnable, and I haven’t even sewn anything yet!

Went to wash the fabric today and had less than I thought I did – it’s about 60″ wide and I have maybe two yards of it.  So when I drape it over my shoulders as it would fall for a half-circle mantle, it comes roughly to my waist – not real long.  But of course it falls nicely to my feet in the back.

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Now, I got this from the remnant pile lo these many years ago; it was labeled as wool and someone had painted ‘made in italy’ on it in yellow (which doesn’t come out, hence it’s being lined).  But I looked at it again today and it didn’t have that little scratchiness I associate with wool, and I pulled off one little thread and sure enough, it melted.  ARRGH.

So now I’m not sure what to do.  I really want to use natural, period fibers, but I also hate to waste fabric.  And it’s soft and drapes nicely, after all.  But I really need a wool mantle before Pennsic.  I could probably give this away or donate it to something, I guess.  And does have a really lovely medium weight wool for a very reasonable price…. sigh. What do you think?