Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Okay, I feel a bit like a heel since I haven't updated this in MONTHS. However, I will confess that writing is definitely not my strong suit. I never kept a diary or journal as a kid, and I struggled with the "notebook" I had to keep in art class where I had to write about my projects. I am fully aware that I am a "do" person, not a "write" person. That being said, I realize that it has been a long while since I wrote last, but I have be at least a bit productive. I have been going back over what I have done since my last post, and it was a decent bit. I am not going to try and put it in "order" because I wouldn't get it correct anyway. I'll just work through what I remember doing, and that should get a least a good chunk of it...

One of the projects was to make new garb for a fellow SCA'er friend of mine. He is shifting his preference and persona from early Renn to late Viking. He thus needed new tunics, new trousers, and even a tunic he could wear over his armor. He picked up the fabric and chose the colors, so I got to make two light linen, white undershirts, three different medium weight, blue/black linen shirts and one set black trousers. He chose a heavyweight linen in black and yellow for his fighting tunic, but I'll get to that later. Since he was prince during this time, I wanted at least one of his shirts to be "spiffy" rather than have all of them be basic...good, but still basic ;) When I started work on the first tunic, word came to us that he was going to be knighted. This definitely changed my tack on getting his first tunic done. I had planned on doing the seams with the machine and a surger edged finish, with the color borders hand stitched where it showed. However, the knighting made me want to kick up my game a good bit. So, I still did the big seams with the machine, but then all the external edges and all the seams were hand finished. the same went for the under-tunic. I wanted him to be able to pass any and all "laurel handshakes" that he could be subjected to. For those not familiar with the term "laurel handshake" it is when you greet a person who has been given the highest level award for the Arts (including sewing) and they greet you back while inspecting your clothing. It can be rather daunting but also a complement, so I really wanted him to look good. It isn't often that you get to dress a prince, especially when he is getting knighted :)

Anyway...while getting the tunic started, I came upon the bright idea of getting the other stitchers involved by having the color border sections embroidered. I enlisted the aid of my friend Grete who does amazing Viking embroidery. She drew out the design on the yoke, the sleeves, and the hem, and then she, myself and a few others hunkered down and got the embroidery done in less than a week. I finished the assembly of the tunic before I left the house for the 6hr trip to Anchorage, but the seam finishing on the undershirt was finished on the road. I ended up doing the last little bit by flashlight. Whew! But he did look very spiff, and he was VERY surprised that we went to so much trouble. It was fun, and surprising a person like that is always a joy :)
Not bad, eh? :)

After the knighting, I got the rest of the tunics done and off to him. They are all variations of black and blue with different yokes around the neck. It gives him a bit of variety and still has him in the colors he likes. As for the fighting tunic...he was watching me while I was assembling one of his later tunics, and he asked me to teach him how to do it. I gave him the basic rundown and had him assist in putting the tunic together that I had been working on. We then cut out and made the borders for his fighting tunic. I then sent him home with the pieces and instructions with advice to call me if he got into trouble. A week later he came back with a finished tunic and a proud smile. He did really good for a first tunic. The borders didn't quite meet, but it was assembled well and should hold together for a good long time.

Right about the time I was teaching him to make his tunic, we had a few new people show interest in the SCA. all of these gals wanted to make their own outfits, and they were all beginner to intermediate sewers. A T'tunic is really the "jeans and T'shirt" of nearly 1000 years, so it is a great starting point for new garb makers. In several individual sessions, I got all the girls into new clothing of their making, and off to make even more garb using that "T" pattern as a basis. So far so good :)

Okay...guy clothes, newbie sewing classes...what else... Oh yeah, I also sized down a set of my daughter's outgrown garb into a set of garb for the little two year old that lives with us. She is growing like the proverbial weed, so is in constant need of new clothes. Rather than just cutting down the larger garb (which was made for a 10yr old), I was able to take growth tucks in the back, sides, shoulders, and hem. It should, with luck, last her for several years. Hopefully she'll wear it out before she grows out of it. She does have an underdress, but "onesies" are great quick substitutes for little ones.

Her Mom also came to my notice as she was getting frustrated with her garb also. She and I have been doing a good bit of "life-style" change (using sparkspeople.com), and we both have been losing weight. It means that her garb isn't fitting right anymore, and is really too loose shaped for her to feel pretty or even comfortable in anymore. I had two kirtles that I wasn't wearing anymore, and they suited her quite well. However, they needed a bit of adjustment as I am a great deal broader in the shoulder than she is. She is bigger in the chest, but she still needed the shoulders fitted to her. After a bit of tweaking, I got it all to fit. The funny part, to me anyway, is that even though she is 5'6" to my 5'3", I didn't need to let out the hem or add a guard. I knew I was short torso-ed and long legged, but sheesh. Oh well, she looked good and I got two dress out of my overloaded garb closet. I didn't get a picture of the blue one, but here is the black one on her. The chemise is her own.

After getting garb done for the little one and her Mum, it came to my attention that my two youngsters had also grown a good bit. So new garb for them too. My son, who has been focused on 16th century Japan, decided that he wanted to travel the spice road north-west and go for Steppe Russian clothing instead. No biggie. He found pictures of what he wanted, and I got it made. He was given 6 undershirts in white cotton with black and red trim, so we tried to match the trim on his black linen over-tunic. He also got new pants out of the same linen. I have more of the trim for the overcoat he wants. Now I have to bite the bullet and get the wool that is needed. He wants it in red coat wool. Mmmm, right up his Mom's favorite color alley ;) I'll work on getting him another set of pants when I do his coat.

My daughter was another case all together. While she does love her coathardies, she also competes in Rapier. She has been bugging me for more middle eastern style clothing that gives her the ability to wear pants. Since she is 12, even though she is shaped like a woman, she plays like a tomboy, so making her clothes like that is actually a smart idea. I found a couple of tunics for her at our local second-hand store, as well as a couple of pants. I really wanted her to have court style garb, and she suggested a sari. So, off to the fabric store we went in search of good sari fabric. She found a beautiful green and gold she liked, and we picked out matching fabric for her choli and pants under the sari. Now came the hard part. She is 12, and the process of tucking and folding the sari (over and over) would have had her coming to me every five minutes or so. I needed to find a way to have the sari be easy to put on and take off. Using a piece of elastic around her waist, I tucked, pinned and stitched to sari as I put it on her. Using hooks and eyes and additional elastic, I was able to create a easy-on waist band for her to put on her sari herself. The sash that went over her shoulder was held pleated with a large kilt type pin, and then pinned to her shoulder. It worked like a charm.
My son...My daughter. Not bad if I say so myself :)

I also did garb for myself. Silly actually, as I will most likely have to take it in a great deal if I keep on losing weight (I am already down nearly 30lbs since I started...sorry, but I needed the "Yea, Me!" moment), but I really wanted GOOD kirtles that would work with Italian, Tudor, and Flemish dresses. My favorite kirtle is a front lace that is in a blue that isn't exactly period. I know this and wear it anyway as it is the color blue that our Principality uses. I did spiff it up a bit more by adding short sleeves that are stitched to the kirtle at the top, and it has red wool pin-on sleeves, a white linen ruffled partlet with blackwork embroidery, and a black wool over-partlet, as well as a red linen apron. I didn't get a picture of the full front of it, but someone got a shot of my back during morning court. I think it looks pretty good, and in the wet, cold, persistent drizzle, my sleeves and over-partlet kept me quite warm.

The other kirtle was a much bigger deal. I did a good bit of research looking at tons of paintings, Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion Book 4, and lots of other SCA costumer's sites. I came to the realization that the basic kirtle (ie: supportive underdress) was pretty much similar if not totally the same in quite a few countries. Armed with Drea Leed's Flemish Working Woman's Dress book, my knowledge of the early Tudor kirtle, the Tudor Tailor book, and the festiveattyre.com site, I put together a kirtle that I felt I could use in the different areas I wanted to. I did take the extra step and tried the hemp/reed boning, and it was a success as far as I am concerned. I will not wear a corset because of the way my fibromyalgia reacts to that constriction, but a snug fitted kirtle actually feels good, and the hemp boning was actually amazingly comfortable. Since I was wanting to try an Italian (I actually like the sleeves better) the hemp/reed boned kirtle was a good choice. It had ties at the shoulders that allow me to mix and match with many different types of sleeves. For our Coronet tourney this month, I used a pair of sleeves I had made for an Italian (long ago), I hand stitched a sheer silk parlet in the Italian style, and I made a giornea (Italian surcoat/over-dress), and a Juliet cap to finish it off. I don't have a good picture of the cap, but even still, it looks pretty good. I ran out of time before the event to get the gionea done by hand, so I machined it. I will probably tear out the hem and do it by hand, and I do want to add a clasp and take the back of the neck a bit lower.

before the weight lost... 30#s down and still losing.... :) Btw, the spiffy lady next to me is in Germans. Isn't she pretty? No, I haven't felt the urge to make myself Germans, but I have agreed to help someone else ;)

What else besides garb have I done? Hmm..... Oh yeah. I have completed three needlebooks, one as a gift and two as prizes for Arts and Sciences competitions. I completed two more ring pouches, one for myself and one as a object for an Artisan auction being held this fall. I taught a basic beginning embroidery class at an A&S meeting, and I taught a begining Torchon bobbin lacemaking class at Coronet and I taught another person how to make the ring style pouch so that she could make one as a gift. I designed and made 19 girdle books for my room-mate to embroider for the princess to give as ribands/gifts, made two napkins/cup-covers for a gift, and I quilted a checker board for a game set. In amongst all of that, I also did a bit of doll making, painted a doll house and made furniture, and I made up a little gnome math counting game set. Nah, not busy at all ;) I won't post pictures of all of that here on the blog, but if you feel curious enough, then you can check out my page at http://west-arts.nig.com/profile/MargeryGarret where I will put all the pictures up.

I make no promises that I will update this in a more timely manner...that just sets me up for trouble :P But I do promise to keep working on things and learning and doing more and more, and I challenge you to do the same. Till next time :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Stitch Forward...

Surprise, surprise! I didn't let a whole month go past before writing again, Yea Me! January wasn't the best start of a New Year, but ignoring the icky stuff I don't want to talk about, the good moments was worth looking back on.
In the SCA world of things, I didn't do all that much this past month. The one main focus I had before the Coronet event on Jan 16th was my entry for the Arts and Sciences Lacemaking competition. The requirements for this contest was that it needed to be made from metal threads. I will admit that I am very fond of working in linen and cotton fibers and not real enamored of the metal fibers. So, I decided that if I was going to do this, it needed to be a fully thought out piece. I know documentation is my weakest area. I love doing the research online and in the books I can get my hands on, but I have a great deal of difficulty in getting my thoughts on paper. If you can't tell by my blogging here, writing is not my strong skill. For this entry, I once again fell back on that wonderful book by Janet Arnold. In the Patterns of Fashion 4, there is a picture of a ruff that has a thin plaited piece of bobbin lace around the inner edge of the metal frame holding the main lace ruff. Rather than restating all that I put in my documentation, I will put it here, and you can all pick at it :)

Metallic Thread Bobbin Lace
Margery Garret

Bobbin lace making is a technique where multiple bobbins are wound with thread and then “woven” into patterns that can range from the very simple to the more ornate. It is worked on a “pillow” following a pattern of pinholes called a pricking. It is not well known when and where bobbin lace got started, but it is generally agreed upon that it emerged in the early 16th century. Both Flanders and Venice claim to have invented it, but no one truly knows. It is not surprising that metal thread bobbin lace could have originated in Venice. Venice was an important center for the manufacture of metal thread. Milan, Lyon, Paris, and even Aurillac in the Auvergne were also centers for manufacture of metal thread. All these places also became known for metal thread lace. It was quite common for metal thread lace to be made in cities where a metal thread industry had risen from the bullion trade. Silver, gold, and even less valuable metals were used. In the diary of an Elizabethan theatrical entrepreneur, Philip Henslow, he makes many comments regarding his company purchasing copper lace.
In the early days of bobbin lace making, the lace was typically used as insertions and applied to household linens and even some clothing. It was made from threads ranging from bleached linen, colored silks and even silver and gold metallic threads. As the technique spread, it began to imitate the designs that were being made in needle lace. By the time of Elizabeth I, bobbin lace had become much more popular and had begun to move towards the fantastic designs we can see at the height of the eighteenth century.
For my sample piece, I used a picture from Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 4, to create my pricking. The picture shows a close-up view of a bobbin lace ruff attached to its wire frame. Attached over the inner edge of the fan is a thin metal thread bobbin lace trim. Study of the picture shows that the pattern is made up of a single middle braid that is intersected by a second braid that weaves back and forth in a “S” pattern.

Not having a good idea of the size of the original piece, I used graph paper and simply created a pricking in a size that I could use for future projects. I used DMC Fil metallise gold as my thread as it seemed to be similar in appearance to the thread in the picture. It was also a thread suggested by Brenda Paternoster in her Threads for Lace book. It is similar to Japanese gold thread, but is far less expensive (an important consideration in my book). I worked a 6” sample for this competition as well as to keep for my personal reference.
The trim worked up nicely, but I did make a few changes between my piece and the extant example in the picture. My tension is a great deal tighter, and I worked more stitches than in the first piece. I wanted a more sturdy trim, especially if I was to use this for cuffs or collars. The lace is very firm with this particular metal thread. I would hope to try this pattern again with several other metal threads to see how the feel of the lace changes.

My lace:

Anyway, that was what I turned in. Unfortunately I was the only entry :( but Viscountess Eliza chose me as a winner anyway, so it felt nice :) I just would have loved to see another person's take on the exercise. My next lace challenge is to put together a beginner Tennerife class and a beginner bobbin lace class for spring and summer, respectively. I agreed to teach the bobbin lace class at Coronet this summer and I am hoping that it wasn't too big of a bite to take, considering that I am the co-autocrat for that event. I should be able to pull an inexpensive class off with some creative tweaking....blue foam as basic pillows, and lollipop stick bobbins, and cotton tatting thread. I do have one or two earlier lace patterns from the early 1500's (ish) that are simple plaits and use anywhere from 2 to 6 pairs. They are good ones to start with.
Outside of Lacemaking, I am trying to get the model piece started for our Arts and Sciences March class on Elizabethan sweete bags. It is mostly a form of crewel work, but I want to include some of the easier bits of stumpwork also. That is the main project for right now SCA wise. I am also working on a canvaswork stitching accessories set that includes a scissor case, needlebook, and pin keep, as well as a box to keep it all in. It is a modern pattern from Wendy KC Designs and it allows me to just indulge in modern threads and stitches. It is also more challenging because of the sheer variety of threads and stitches. I am totally enjoying it. I do hope to get the set finished before the fair in August. We'll see.
I've decided to take a break on doing anything at all towards the Tudor dress I started this blog about. A week or so ago, I got on the scale and did NOT like what I saw there. I have since started making some pretty concrete changes, and I would like to see where those changes take me before I start trying to build a fitted dress.
That is it for now...I have probably forgotten things and misspelled and typo'ed galore, but at least I got something written :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life goes on...

It has been a LONG time since I sat down and updated this thing. I haven't been as busy doing needlework as I would have liked though. After my last posting, I successfully pulled off an event I was in charge of. Michaelmas is our one SCA event a year where we focus on a particular time and place and then arrange a period feast around it. This year's theme was the middle east of the Crusade time period. We traveled from Persia on up into Andalusia and covered about 100 years of time. It was a lot of work, a lot of cooking, but BOY was it yummy! However, within a few days of that event, I got hit by the dreaded flu. I am not sure whether it was the H1N1 or not (my doctor didn't bother to test it as he felt that the flu was the flu) but it hit me and my 16yr old son, Hard!
I recovered in just enough time to fly down to Salt Lake City to see my eldest son. We had a good couple of days visiting with each other and with our friends who had just been moved to Hill AFB. I did get to enjoy the novelty of attending one of the local SCA group's Arts and Sciences nights. They were teaching shuttle tatting, and after many mistakes and having to completely restart, I did manage to complete one small pattern. I haven't really looked into just how likely tatting existed pre 1600's, but even still I may just stick to needle tatting as the shuttle ties my fingers in thread!
When I got back from my trip, I promptly had a full relapse of the flu. I was out of it for another full week, and then it seemed to take at least another week or two to get back to full speed. Looking back on it now, I realize that I essentially lost a month! It is rather frustrating when you get to spend so much time trying to catch up from an illness like that.
Mind you, I did get a few things done.
I put together a class for our modern needlework guild. I usually teach a plastic canvas ornament class each October, but this year I wanted to do something different. This year I decided to do a little blackwork ornament. Sticking to the Christmas theme, I designed a little holly and ivy piece.

While getting that class ready, I also set up a basic Hardanger class for our local SCA Arachne's Web Lacemaking Guild. While Hardanger is considered "post-period" for the SCA Needleworker's Guild, it is an accepted form of lacemaking for the Arachne's Web. I think it is also a wonderful way to introduce needleworkers to the world of lacemaking. It isn't as daunting as bobbin lace or Punto in Aria needle lace, and it uses basic stitches that most needleworkers know quite well. I will also admit that getting this class ready allowed me to "kill two birds with one stone". I had volunteered to provide a needlebook to the West Kingdom Needleworker's Guild for their 2010 project. Even though it is a "lace" not a "needlework", I made the book to match the bookmark I designed for the class and then sent both items in. Fortunately for me, they we wonderful and took pictures since I forgot to do so...yet again.

About the time I had mostly finished these items, I received the fabric for two sets of collars and cuffs that I had agreed to blackwork. The fabric got to me by the 5th of December, and my goal was to get it into the return mail by the 2nd of January. That seemed to give me lots of time...silly me! I forgot to figure in all the time for dealing with the holidays and all their myriad of activities, as well as getting two kids through the end bits of their semesters with school and scouting. Somehow, I made it! I am still not too sure how I pulled it off. The designs ended up being far simpler than I had originally planned, but that actually worked out for the best. When I got to see pictures of the finished outfits, more ornate embroidery could have thrown the whole look off. Once again, I didn't get any pictures before I sent them off. I have one picture that Duchess Megan took of Eilis in her finished outfit with the blackwork showing, however, there aren't any of Titus. Hopefully I can get some sent to me. Anyway, here she is :)

So, now I am set to take a deep breath and then try and get some more projects squared away. We will see where the next month takes me :)