Wow! A new post in less than three month! (Insert sarcasm here...)
Anyway...it has been a couple of months and I have tried to stay reasonably busy. So here's a little overview of what I have been up to...and in no particular order or structure :)
First, I have taught two classes in the last month and am gearing up to teach a third. All of these classes are on different styles of blackwork embroidery (which happens to be my favorite) and range from basic counted blackwork, Lagatera/Spanish blackwork, and the last class will be on uncounted blackwork. Fun stuff ;) Actually, the most fun is in creating the patterns themselves. I will admit that I am a pattern junkie and I love drafting out patterns for blackwork on graph-paper. I started doing it years ago, when I was asked to teach a class and felt uncomfortable teaching from a commercial pattern. Even though I don't charge anything for the classes, beyond materials on occasion, it didn't feel right if I couldn't get permission to use the pattern in that way. So, I took towards designing my own. I am sure that nothing I do is totally "original" as many motifs and designs have been used for centuries, but it is the combination and structure of the pattern that makes it original and mine.
Anyway... for the basic uncounted class I drafted a couple of patterns off of a sampler from 1565ce and used it for the class. It is cool to think, that in this small way, that woman who stitched the sampler gets to live on a bit in her motif. It makes me smile. The Lagatera class pattern was adapted from a sampler in the book I have. I have since added a border around the central motif and I expect to turn my little sample piece into a needle-book when I am done with it. I haven't totally finished with the uncounted pattern yet, but it will probably have gilly/carnation flowers or Tudor roses as they were two motifs used a lot.
Here's the counted and Lagatera motifs I taught.
While putting together the patterns for the first two classes, I was given a box of all sorts of random game pieces and boards. Inside the box was a beautiful Parchisi set, with lovely wooden pieces and dice, but a really crappy cardboard playing surface. Ugh. Parchisi is one of my favorite games, next to Backgammon, and it made me think of designing my own board. I have a computer Hoyle board game set that includes Parchisi with a really neat board that has the four seasons in the starting corners. So, using the pieces as a size reference, and 28 count even-weave linen, I patterned out the board using the four season theme as a starting point. The board is now about half finished in the main outlining and I have Fall and Spring designed, Summer almost done, and Winter mostly designed in my head. It should be pretty awesome when it is finished. I've have had to promise myself that I would actually USE the board regardless of how pretty it is...what is the use of making the board so neat if I'll never use it? :)
The board in progress... Patterns!
The next thing on my working list is little presents for a few of the folks who have helped me so much in the SCA, especially in my being Baroness these past 6 years. I will be stepping down from that post, next weekend, and it will be a big change for me. I am finding it a bit sad, but at the same time I am so looking forward to doing even more artsy stuff :) so I can't be all that upset. One of the gifts I made are little sewing kits. A friend shared a pattern with me that was a little felt roll up sewing kit that holds a bobbin of thread and has a space for pins and needles to be tucked in. It is pocket sized and perfect for keeping in a basket or bag for emergency sewing repairs. Too cool! So I made a couple as gifts. I am still working on a couple of beaded necklaces and I have been making a few more lampwork beads as gifts also.
Cute and small and easy to tuck in a pocket or basket :)
I also finally finished that canvaswork piece that I was working on in my last blog. The stitching is done, but I haven't yet mounted it on the box I found to go with it. I still have to stain the box and then get the canvas piece affixed to the top. But it is already so pretty!
Stitching is all done!
On the garb front...I have almost finished a gambeson for a local fighter friend. All that is left at this point is a final fitting, sewing the side seams and attaching ties for closing. It is in black quilted fabric and is edged in blue bias tape. As it is all hand stitched, the seams will be nice and flat and shouldn't bind or be uncomfortable under his armor. The sides are slit and the coat is knee length and follows the Moor-ish style he wears.
The next item or two is that dress of mine. I did get the kirtle re-sized down by a few inches (yeah me!) and it fits well. So I have my partlet, my kirtle, a silk partlet (that still needs to be re-sized), a petticoat, and a outer wool partlet for chilly days. I also have my finished circle mantle cloak that I adore. So that really leaves the overdress....finally deciding on the style was the hardest part of the whole operation!
I have been going through all my books, every painting I could find on the web and in the library, and even picking the brains of a few of my fellow clothing geeks. *Sigh* it has been a trial! However, I think I have finally figured out what I am doing. Most of my quandary has been that I really like how the fronts of the Tudor style gowns look, at least the early Tudors before the front point got so pointy and past the waistline (doesn't really work for those of us more fluffy gals), I prefer the straighter waist-line, the lower cut, square neckline, and the pretty jewels. The catch is, I really HATE those big, droopy, sleeves! I do needlework at events, I help set up, I help break down, I chase kids, I clean, and those obnoxious sleeves get in my way...argh...So, I have been looking at all the other areas around the same time period (1490-1525) that I prefer. Once I started looking through the Italian dresses of that period, I found the styles I want :)
Aren't they spiffy? I especially like the sleeves in the third picture with their strips of the fancy fabric and the puffs of the "chemise" underneath. I also really love the first picture as well, besides the fact that she is fluffy like me :)
So I have mostly settled on a style and structure for my overdress. I have the bodice cut out and the structure begun. I am working with a red cotton velvet I had in my stash...it might not be a "correct" fabric, but it is close enough for luxury within my budget, and that is a good thing. The dress will be lined in lightweight linen, and it will be front closing. I haven't been successful in fully confirming or denying that the Italians also had dresses with a placket or "stomacher" covering the front openings. At this time, I am planning on either using a stomacher, or using the period trick of using ribbon or trim to cover the front opening and then using hooks and eyes or hidden lacing rings to close the dress. I don't think it is too far fetched to be an English woman who is making a dress in the "Italian style" to use English tailoring as well. So much was similar and swapped back and forth that it isn't that much of a stretch. I will continue searching though.
While doing the research on my dress, I finally got into all the glass pearls and silver jewelry spacers that I have been accumulating for the past few years. I have wanted to make a jewelry set for a dress: choker, long chain, and girdle belt. I finally got it together :) One iffy note is how the belt is closed...the few pictures I can find (that doesn't have the person's hands in front of the center of the belt) just shows a complete centerpiece and nothing that looks like a closure. I did find a site that sells re-creation pieces that are used by a lot re-enactors in England and I liked the look of her closures. Using a toggle style clasp is not a stretch and actually makes sense, especially putting the closure towards the back. So that is what I did. I'll continue looking for more info on that as well, but for now, I am happy with the general appearance.
I put the girdle belt pomander up by the neck so you could see the neat piece I was given. It does open, and I want to put a small bag of lavender, or something else nice and pretty smelling, in it.
So, that is where I am right now. I am sure that I have forgotten a thing or two, and I do have more irons in the fire that are modern but crafty. I am still finishing the bee sewing set, and I am also working with two girl scouts to earn their Junior Girl Scout Bronze Award by doing craft decorations for the local senior center's Easter brunch. Busy, but fun!
Keep crafting! :)