Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Sideless Surcote

I finished my surcote today and now, with a few accessories I still need to make, I will finally feel "fully dressed" for the 14th century.

The sideless surcote was worn with fitted kirtles/underdress and though at first glance it may strike you as dowdy and plain, once on a female form this is a *very* feminine style. During the few months I've been researching this kind of cote I have run across several contemporary descriptions that indicate that, in the 14th century, this was rather a revealing garment to wear. I don't know if the phrase "gates of hell" is authenticated (but it certainly often turns up when reading about this garment) but it creates an interesting mental picture of the way the curves of a woman, revealed through the cut away sides of this cote, may tempt a man into sin. Honestly, clothing and the inevitable people who complain about what they perceive as immodest styles have not really changed *at all* over the centuries!

Well ladies, if you have curves you might as well show them off. This is one period where being curvy is a good thing. :)

My surcote is made in a dark gray wool. I only had 3 yards of it but it was more than enough for this style. The construction and cut is really very simple and the drape and cut away armholes is what makes this garment stand out. The colors are a bit drab; in contemporary art brighter colors are often depicted. But, it is what I had and is what I used. Maybe my next outfit willl utilize some more cheerful colors.

I based the cut on the sideless surcote in The Medieval Tailors Assistant. I didn't follow the diagram exactly since the way it was cut would have created more width across the torso. I wanted it fairly straight to the hips, where it flares out with the use of four triangular gores to a full hem. A website that was helpful was this one: The Sideless Surcote Another helpful site was this one: Sideless Surcotes.

I apologize in advance for any typos. Our computer is kind of working, but the monitor is still very, very difficult to read.


Friday, December 3, 2010

I Finished My Coat!

After lunch today, the boys decided to all three nap at once in the living room. Judah was the last to succumb to sleepiness and his little yellow head with his bright blue eyes peered silently at me as I sat on the couch opposite him and stitched away at six buttonholes to finish up my winter coat. The white lights on the Christmas tree sparkled, Malachi sighed in his sleep and shifted position. David was curled up next to me in a corner of the couch, a pillow on his legs for a blanket.

I battled with silk buttonhole twist, wax, and a very shifty area of moleskin and fleece. But, at last, it was done. My coat is finished! Yay! And just in time. Tomorrow we are supposed to get our first substantial snowfall of the year. And I will be ready for it! Hmm. I must make some peanut butter blossoms later this afternoon so we will have something nice and homey and chocolatey and peanut-buttery to eat while the snow flies outside.

I'm really rather happy with how my coat came out! David says it reminds him of an 1860's generals frock coat, reenactor-style. Reenactor style because the cuffs and collars are black velvet, while military regs of the 60's called for dark blue velvet. But most renactors just use black.

I was very bad this week and started a new sewing project before I got this one finished. I know! But it was an impulse thing. Here is a sneak peek of it; a 1930's/1940's style silky print blouse. I'm not much of a blouse person and I'm not very experienced at making blouses but I thought I'd give the pattern a whirl and I had the perfect fabric on hand to try it out in. (Thanks Jackie!!) It needs buttons and a hem and I need to sew the tucks down at the waist.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tis the Season to Stay Warm

Warm weather stayed for a long time this fall, but cold temperatures are inevitable - especially here in Illinois. We were blessed with a long and beautiful Indian summer but last week the month finally remembered it was November and the skies became overcast, the wind picked up and gray flimsy clouds scudded quickly overhead. Precipitation came - some hard icy bits of snow, freezing rain and plain rain.
Thanksgiving weekend was fun for David and I. We rarely get to go out by ourselves and my mother in law came over on Friday afternoon to watch the boys while David and I went to the Yule Ball and she stayed the night so as to watch them again on Saturday when we went Christmas shopping. While we were out, I realized I needed a coat. I have had many coats over the years but currently have a 7-year old denim coat lined with fleece - an old favorite, much worn - and a cream colored fleece coat that zips up the front. I love my denim coat but the fact that it is getting dingy is getting harder and harder to ignore. The cream coat is rather fashionable but it is absolutely not flattering on me and it is rather not warm. . .being made of a single layer of fleece, smooth on the outside and “fleecy” looking on the inside.
Some modern coats are hideous and some are actually pretty cute, but it always seems the cute ones are more than I want to spend. I have had good luck finding like-new things at thrift stores so we stopped at our favorite one on Saturday and I browsed their coat rack. There was a cute green one in my size, but it was way too long waisted. David pulled out a substantial snuff-colored woolen one, straight of the 70’s. . .it definitely looked warm but it was too hideous to wear, even for me. There was a 1980’s styled long black leather coat, embossed all over. It was actually tempting. . .but $17 for a used coat? I left the store feeling a little depressed and as we walked into Wal Mart, our last stop before going home, I shivered and pulled my coat tighter around me. Then I had a brilliant idea. I remembered 5 yards of a dark royal blue sueded moleskin I have been hoarding the past few months. I had no idea what to make with it. . .until then. I knew it was destined to become my new winter coat.
Wal Mart coughed up a few yards of black fleecy fabric for the body lining. . .it was ugly with a flashy zebra print on the right side, but the inside was perfectly good. From my stash I pulled some worsted wool scraps for the sleeve interlinings and cut up a dark red satin sheet for the sleeve lining. Black velvet bits cut from a pre-baby Laura Ashley dress was set aside to be lapels, the collar and cuffs.
I had a few ideas for the design but in the end went with what I knew was best for my needs. It had to be long enough to reach my boot tops. It had to have some feminine shape to it, darn it! I hate ugly coats that are all up and down angles and make one look like a stuffed sausage. It had to have fairly classic styling. I debated making a “real” historic style but tossed the idea. I always make historic things and then rarely wear them. . .this coat can go with modern or historic clothes and still look normal.
I settled on a princess style coat with a double breasted front closure, for extra warmth, with skirts flaring gently from a slightly fitted waist. The sleeves are plain and long. It is very basic, but, I hope, will be very serviceable for many years.
I have been working on it this week, more from necessity than from desire. I am really burned out on sewing right now but I really do need this coat. It is currently about 75% done. I need to hand stitch the lining to the armholes to finish the seams there, even out and make the hem and make buttons and buttonholes for the double breasted closure. I may make some pockets for the front - just welt pockets with a black velvet tab - but I don’t know for sure yet. I should. I use pockets as I rarely like to carry a purse. I need to decide before I do the hem, or else I won’t be able to access the outer layer separately and putting in the pockets will be hard and awkward.
It is hard to believe it is December 1st today! Where has the year gone?! We set up our Christmas tree over the weekend and I made my first batch of Christmas cookies. I want to savor every moment of this Christmas season instead of waking up in a few weeks and realizing “Oh my! Christmas is in three days!” We went to the Festival of Lights parade on Saturday night and the boys enjoyed seeing the huge lighted figures drive by. A very perfect way to kick off the Christmas season, I think. :)

Stay warm! Happiness to all!



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Finished Pictures - Wool Medieval Kirtle

Despite temperatures hovering in the 20's this afternoon, David was still obliging and took some photos of my finished dress so I can share them with my dear readers and fellow costume enthusiasts. A layer of linen and a layer of wool may not seem very warm, but I was actually far more comfortable being outside than I had anticipated. I still need a big heavy cloak though. :)

So this is my first kirtle. I was inspired by many costuming sites and will list the ones I found most helpful at the end of this post. I would like to encourage anyone who is thinking about making a dress in this style to just do it! I was intimidated at first because I have heard it is not possible to fit this kind of dress on oneself. I do not have a sewing buddy and my husband is rather . . .well. . .less than helpful with pins and fitting. ;) The fit is not perfect and the bustline is not as high as I may have been able to achieve with the help of a fitting buddy, but for a working class, active impression I think it will work nicely.

The fit is not all that different than fitting for a corset. The support of the bust is gained purely from the cut of the bodice and the natural stretch and molding abilities of the wool outer layer and linen (for the bodice) inner layer. The critical areas to fit are the neckline, shoulders and underbust. The bust is supported by the tight fit of the underbust and the bosom is pushed as high as it can go and held in place by the cut of the armscye, neckline and shoulders. To accomodate the resulting mounds of flesh, the neckline is cut away so as not to compress or flatten the shape. This may seem immodest, but after experimenting with several mock ups, it was the only way I found to get this shape and as this dress is meant to be, for full dress occasions, worn beneath an outer gown or kirtle, it is not really so bad. Since the bust is lifted as high or almost as high as it can possibly go, there is no danger of "falling" out of your bodice. I find the fit very comfortable and supportive and secure, similar to a sports-bra.

The kirtle is made from four pieces cut as rectangle, shaped above the hips to fit the torso/bust. Four gores were inserted at the sides and the front and back to add fullness to the hem. Since this is technically an under-dress it does not need to be as full as an outer gown. The hem on this one measures about 140". The Medieval Tailors Assistant calls for a kirtle hem of about 103" so mine is fuller than that - just because to me, that amount seemed so skimpy. The length is ankle length, for active wear. Fashionable ladies would have had longer, trailing hems. I plan to cook over a fire and chase children in this, so ankle length is the most practical for me.

I used a combination of machine and hand stitching. All the main seams are done on the machine but all the finishing work and any stitch visible from the outside is done by hand. The lacing cord I braided from four strands of brown wool yarn. It laces the fifty-three eyelets up from neckline to hip. I use a bobby pin to lace the cord up and have to almost fully unlace the dress when putting it on or taking it off. So far, it takes me about fifteen minutes to get this dress on and laced and everything arranged properly.

The sleeves are narrow but not tight. They are slit for about six inches up from the hem and close with six handmade ball buttons and buttonholes. A more fashionable lady may have many more buttons on her sleeves than these. The buttonholes are worked close to the edge of the sleeve and the buttons sewn directly on the edge, so there is very little overlap.

I made a simple and quick kerchief to wear based on instructions in The Medieval Tailors Assistant. It is basically a 32" square of white cotton (I had no linen light enough and TMTA recommended sheer cotton or semi sheer cotton to use in place of linen for headdresses) knotted at the neck and with the ends brought up and pinned around the face. It was very easy to make and it easy and comfortable to wear. Even in blustery winds, it did not come off my head. :)

My next accessory will be an apron. I definitely need an apron if I want to do work of any sort in this dress! Then I will be making a dark gray surcote to go over this dress, hopefully to be finished before January 8th. A hood would be nice too, for winter wear.

Here are some of the links I found very helpful:

Dame Helens Site
Jessamyn's Closet
Historical Life


Monday, November 22, 2010

Malachi's Yellow Wool Medieval Gown

Yesterday afternoon was our first participation event with the Barony of Illiton. I just barely got our basic clothes finished in time. Actually, I still have quite a lot left to sew for us but at least we all had a basic garment to wear. I will never attempt to make a kirtle, two little-boy size tunics and a baby gown all in one week, ever again. It was a lot of work and the last few days incredibly stressful since I didn't think I'd get everything done in time.

I brought my camera to the event but due to the wild behaviour of our children, and my resulting disappearance from the audience to sweep the unruly boys outside, I did not get any pictures. At all. Much to my dismay, because there were some really lovely clothing examples there. I was so inspired by everyone and am sooooo excited about being a part of this awesome group of people.

Some of you may remember the diagram of a childs dress I posted about a few weeks ago. I fell in love with the style when I saw it so I was excited to try it for Malachi. It is an easy style to adapt to specific measurements and Malachi's dress ended up taking me only four hours to make, including a lot of handsewing. The wool is a yellow-tan color and is lightly twilled and a bit on the fuzzy side. In these pictures it looks a bit darker than it really is since I had to wash the gown this morning and it is still currently quite damp. Malachi decided to dunk a chicken leg in some beef stew and press it fondly against his heart yesterday, leaving quite a horrid pinkish-brown spot down the front of the dress! Thankfully the stain came out after two washings!

I absolutely love how clever 14th century cutting and piecing techniques are! Malachi wears a size 2/3 and this dress, being full length, took just under a yard of 60" wide wool.

I cut it large, so hopefully it will fit him for a while. It is unlined and the neck is faced with a straight grain strip of lightweight linen.

He looked quite adorable, if I do say so myself. ;) Unfortunately, he is learning how to use his cuteness to advantage in order to attempt to decieve and emotionally control other people. Sigh.

Here is me and my baby boy. I am pretty happy with how my kirtle came out, although I think I may have to take it in a little under the bust since it seemed to stretch a bit as I wore it. I will hopefully have pictures of it later this week, as David will have some time off for Thanksgiving and will be able to help me take some photos. I think I'm hooked on medieval style clothing!

Have a wonderful start to your week, dear ones!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kirtle Progress

I have been working on my kirtle this week and today finished what I think was the most time consuming part - the eyelets. They are spaced 3/4" apart from neckline to hip level so there were a lot of them. It took me about 3 hours to do the eyelets and another hour to make the lacing cord. I was extremely nervous when I tried on the kirtle to make sure of the fit before I continue on with finishing it. Here are some pics of it so far, thoughbe forewarned; they are very bad pictures and I look horrible in them but they will give you an idea of the look.

I am pretty happy with how it is working, though! When I stand perfectly still it fits smoothly, but as soon as I move, well, there are wrinkles around the waist. Not terrible by any means, but they are there. Sigh. I guess I will have to wear this and get used to how it fits and feels and moves with my body.

I have to make the sleeves still and then hem the skirt, but otherwise the hard parts are done.

It is such a simple garment, but the more I work with these styles the more I realize that it is the simpler garments that are hardest to make well. Because of the utter simplicity of style, everything must be executed as flawlessly as possible - the fitting, the cutting, the stitching. If not, the error glares out at you and makes everything look just awful. No room for error to be hidden beneath gathers or pleats. :P No corset to take the strain of wear - it must be fitted exactly so, to support yet not be too tight nor too loose.

It is definitely not perfect but for my first kirtle I'm pleased. It will work! The only thing that really bugs me is the drape of the skirt at appx. hip level on the front of the dress - see how it kind of droops in a scallopy shape? I think it's because of my stomach though. :P If I suck my stomach in to appear more slim, it droops. If I let it naturally bulge out (having 3 babies just does that ;) ) it does not really droop at all. I guess I will have to get used to the protruding stomach look.

More pics this weekend of everyone, hopefully!


Friday, November 12, 2010

1860's Ballgown Progress

Not completely done - but almost! I should have this sucker finished tomorrow and then I can relax and breathe a sigh of relief as I lay it away for the Yule Ball.

I really had no idea how it was going to come out. A dear lady I made some gowns for earlier this year gifted me with this beautiful taffeta after I told her the blue-green color of the dresses I made for her reminded me of my Grammie. Unbeknownst to me, this dear woman searched high and low to find the same fabric to give to me since I had liked the color so much. She couldn't find the exact fabric, but this shade is very close. This was back in the summer - since then, I have wondered about how I ought to make this up and at last, with the ball coming up in a few weeks, I decided now was the time to do it.

I could have made it perfectly plain - but what fun is that? I drew lots of sketches and at last settled on what has always been my "dream gown" design. I always loved Disneys Cinderella. I watched it every day when I was little (just like my boys now love to watch Cars and Toy Story.) You know the dress the mice make for Cinderella so she can go to the ball? It is pink and whit eand has scallops and flounces. Very pretty and one dress I've always wanted. So I trimmed the skirt with two rows of ruching in a scalloped shape. To dress up the plain fabric, I added a fringe of clear beads between the rows of ruching. Although the bodice is not done yet, it will also have two rows of ruching and one of beads as well. The sleeves are trimmed with beads at the hem and will have one row of ruching just above the hem. I may make some poufy sheer white undersleeves but I haven't decided for sure yet. The trim on the bodice is just hastily pinned on for the pictures. I may move the position of the beaded fringe to a gentle curving horizontal line instead of the corset-like line it has. . .I think that may "go" with the skirt better.

For Christmas, the high points of the scallops are trimmed with a gold poinsettia. I have doubts as to the period-correctness of gold poinsettias, but this ball is not really a strict ball by any sense of the word and the gold looks pretty with the green. :) After Christmas, I can easily take off the tacked on flowers and replace them with other flowers, or bows, or ribbon clusters, etc. Or leave any trim there off altogether.

All that is left to do is to make and attach the bodice and sleeve ruching and attach the sleeves and sew on the hooks.

Right now it's lunch time! Time for soup and crackers and shutting windows. The whole area, outside and in, reeks strongly of ammonia. I'm hoping its just a standard thing that farmers put on their fields in the fall. Whew. It's awfully powerful.

Have a great weekend everybody!



Saturday, November 6, 2010

David's Brown Linen Medieval Tunic

This week has been one of making David's tunic. He was sick on Monday so he stayed home from work. I draped the pattern on him that afternoon, cut the fabric on Tuesday and started sewing. I finished the garment a little while ago and he tried it on for the last time - the last time prior to his first event, that is! :)

This is technically a "Middle garment", being worn over his undershirt but underneath an outer garment. I haven't made his outer tunic yet, so for now, he has to make do with this. It has some rectangular construction (skirt gores, lower skirts) but the chest and shoulders are fitted and the sleeve is a transitional type sleeve that is curved in shape but set in with a gusset.

The fabric is a medium weight brown linen. I got the linen from Fashion Fabrics Club and wasn't happy with the rest of the order so I was reimbursed - and got to keep the fabrics. There is some controversy as to whether linen was used for main garments during this era, with it being th ough wool is generally more accurate to use, but I didn't know that before I got this fabric. David really liked it, so I used it. Most of it will be hidden beneath the outer garment anyway.

The sleeves were the thing that gave me the most trouble. The first sleeves I made had the buttonholes on the wrong side, so I made a new set of sleeves this morning. I had to sew the new ones in twice to get them to hang right but I think now they will work nicely!

Hopefully this coming week I'll get my kirtle done! I have an 1860's ballgown to make for a ball the day after Thanksgiving too. So much to sew!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Plaid 1850's Dress, Simplicity 3727

A few months ago I posted about the then in progress 1850's dress I was making for my friend Nona. Well, at last, it is finished! Nona came over two weeks ago for the bodice fitting and over the weekend I made the bodice. Since Nona and I are very nearly the same size, here are a few pictures of the finished dress on me.
The dress was fitted to go over a hoopskirt and modern undies.

Even though I wasn't personally thrilled with the overall design for myself at first, and the style is really not appropriate for me to wear for 1860's reenactments, I really really like the finished dress. I need to make one for me!

Even if not for reeancting, it would be fun to wear for church or around the house on those days when I feel like wearing something a bit more exciting than my standard jean skirts and sweaters. I think I'd love a deep blue and brown or gold plaid. And I love black trim. The velvet ribbon and fringe just sets off the lines so nicely, I think. 

Now to plunge back into the 14th century. I have David's basic tunic draped and patterend and cut and partially sewn together. Today I need to make the eyelets for lacing the front. 22 of them.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three Little Spirits

I grew up in a home that did not celebrate Halloween. I did, once, when about ten years old, attend a Halloween party. I dressed as a gypsy in a swirly pink dress, sheer shawl and lots of bangle bracelets and jewelry. But that was it, besides the occasion when my brother and I draped ourselves in dark sheets and blankets and crept outside the house, to knock on the front door in hopes of getting some of the candy my parents inevitably bought for potential trick-or-treaters.

David, on the other hand, always celebrated Halloween. When we had children, we didn't really plan on what to do. The last five years we have done nothing. Which was fine with me. This year, though, we thought we'd try trick or treating and dressing up in costumes. If Halloween is a day set aside to honor the dead, why not choose a great person who has left a great legacy to honor? Sure, there are some horrid things people do to celebrate this day. . .but no worse than what some people do to celebrate the holidays of Christmas or Easter.

We decided to portray characters from a great book we all have enjoyed, written by a great man. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens seemed a perfect choice and a great way to kick off the coming holiday season. With a few days to throw some costumes together, I scanned the book for ideas. In the end, we dressed as (of course) Ebenezer Scrooge, Ebenezer Scrooge's one-time fiancee, and the Ghosts of Christmas.

First off, here is our Ebenezer. David wore his flannel nightshirt and wool nightcap and carried around a brass candlestick and beeswax candle. Scrooge likely would not have had a nice candle like this - knowing him, he'd have gone for Cheap - but it gave a nice appearance.

"It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing gown and nightcap. . ."

Wanting an excuse to wear my regency attire (which I rarely get a chance to wear these days) I dressed as the woman whom the young Scrooge was engaged to marry. Those who are familiar with the story will remember that this young lady released Scrooge from their engagement once she realized what the love of money was doing to him.

According to the book, she was a "fair young girl in a mourning dress: in whose eyes there were tears. . ." Since in the Victorian era purple/lavender were considered mourning colors (though I do not know if this holds true for earlier years) I wore my lavedear and gray striped regency gown. I added the circlet of flowers and the sash for a more festive look.

Now, we have our Ghost of Christmas Past. This was Malachi, who wore Judah's white linen tunic, trimmed with yellow roses and with a red taffeta sash with the ends trimmed with gold tassels.

"It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh holly in its hand; and, in singular contrast of that wintery emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers."

Next is the Ghost of Christmas Present. This outfit was the really the only one requiring much effort since I didn't have anything else that could be used. David got the position for the reason his hair is the darkest of the three children and the Ghost of Christmas Present is described as having "dark curls".

"It was clothed in one simple, deep green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. . .and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreathe, set here and there with shining icicles. . . .girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it." Having to use what was in my stash, I chose a dark green/blue brocade. I made a simple T-tunic garment and trimmed the sleeves and neck with fake white fur cut down from an old Christmas stocking. The wreathe was some wire bent to shape and covered with wound bias tape; I attached a holly flower and some white clear beaded fringe as icicles. He wore a leather belt and an empty knife sheath as his scabbard.

Last is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, which was portrayed by Judah. I also had to make this costume but it was very easy - a big rectangle with rounded corners with a hole cut in the middle for his head. I used a dark gray sheet, and the pillow case that matched was used for a hood, which I sewed into the head opening.

"It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form and left nothing of it visible, save one outstretched hand."

We went trick-or-treating up and down one dead end street in town last night. This evening we took them to a mall where we walked to the different stores. David carried his candle-stick and smiled and greeted passersby with a heartfelt "Merry Christmas!" :P

Suprisingly, many people knew who we were portraying. Last night we even found out that news of our portrayals had preceded us in the neighborhood we visited! The boys got too much candy but with it rationed out to a few pieces per day, it will last a very long time.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mens Medieval Undies

David and I finished up his medieval undergarments this week. I measured, cut and sewed and he suffered through measurement and fitting sessions and kept me company while I worked on finishing seams.

His underwear are a bit more involved than mine. Not only a shirt, but braies as well. These are made from a square and rectangle method and are extremely basic. Still, I did make a mistake with his braies and they ended up way too huge at first. I had to shorten them by a good six inches and take in 8 inches in girth before David was happy with them. But, at last, they are done. Both shirt and braies are made from 5.3 oz bleached, softened linen from David reports that this linen is quite comfortable. It is a pain to iron though, so, I just won't iron it. :P Rumply linen will be just fine.

The shirt is exactly like my smock except the neck is not so wide and there are no gores for extra width at the hem. It ends about mid-thigh on David and the sleeves are more loose than mine are. The braies were a bit more difficult to figure out because it seems there are at least several ways to make them that I have so far come across. Some seem more authentic than others but in the end, I went with what David was most comfortable with. These braies are similar in shape and fit to the boxer shorts he wears as loungewear at home so he said he will wear them. Several other styles we discussed he said he just would not wear! They are insanely simple and consist of rectangles for the legs and a square gusset for the crutch area. The gusset has some elasticity so when David put the braies on he can roll the casing a few times to get the characteristic padded look, and the gusset stretches to support, well, the stuff that guys need support for. Quite nifty. The top has a casing for a drawstring and slits over each hip where he can attach the ties that will hold up his hose. The instructions I based these off of had a rope used for a drawstring but David thought that would be uncomfortable so I made a flat, wide drawstring from a finished strip of blue linen for the belt. It is about 1" wide. Some sources that depict 14th century braies have colored belts, so I thought the blue linen would not be too far out of the ballpark.

Here are some of the sites that were instructional, inspiring and helpful!

Chausses and Braies (I used this method for making Davids braies)

Men's 14th Century Clothing (pattern here for braies similar to the ones I made)

Recreating 14th Century Braies (some cool ideas for two different styles of braies for transitional clothing)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Mock Up

There is not very much to report on since last week. The children were all stricken with an illness (runny nose, cough, etc.) over the weekend so I did not get any sewing done. We stayed home since we thought the boys would get worse if we camped in the windy chill at the last Civil War reenactment of the season. We had pizza, watched all three Lord of the Rings movies, had lots of tea with honey and on Sunday celebrated little David's 4th birthday with an outing to the park, traipsing the wooded trails (we did 3 miles!) and a big white birthday-cake with white frosting and 4 slim candles. Malachi walked almost half the trail and when he got too tired, I carried him on my back in the sling I made for him as an infant. A versatile, long-use and very cheap piece of baby equipment!

Yesterday I did get a little sewing done. Or, rather, fitting. I decided I didn't like all the wrinkles in my last bodice mock up so I pinned out most of the wrinkles as excess length and lengthened the bodice more to fit the length of the torso better. (That makes sense, right? Shortening the bodice and then lengthening it?)

I cut the new mock up from the brown linen I will use to line the bodice of the kirtle. The result? Quite smooth. The linen has the perfect amount of give and I am very happy with the fit now. There is a slight wrinkle over my right hip but I think that is because that hip is a little higher than the other. It is quite slight, so I can live with it. Plus, once the gores are put in at the sides I think the winkle may go away entirely. I did cut the neckline a bit wider since taking this photo, to get a more boat-shape to the neck.

I will use this as the actual lining and now am ready to cut the wool. I want to wait til I get the right thread though, so today will work on finishing David's underclothes - his shirt and braies. If the boy-O's cooperate! Lately I have been able to sew very little since it seems they KNOW when I'm not actively overseeing their pursuits and so they use the time I am occupied to wreak havoc in the house. I have decided that keeping them out of mischief is more beneficial to my sanity than sewing anything. ;P

It is a beautiful, COLD autumn day! Have a blessed week dear friends!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Medieval Lady's Smock

I put in the last stitches for my 14th century underwear today. The smock took only a few days to make and now that it is finished, I can fine tune the kirtle mock up fitted overtop of it and start the gown at last.
And there ya have it, folks. The underwear of a 14th century lady. As Edgar Allan Poe so poignantly put it (although in reference to a tapping), only this and nothing more.

I made mine based on the square cut method. I used a big rectangle for the body, two triangles on each side for the width at the hem, two rectangles narrowed at one end for the sleeves and squares for the gussets. It actually took me longer to cut this out than to sew it together. Because this fabric does not tear, I had to pick out individual threads to mark the dimensions and cut along the line the removed thread left. Can I say tedious? But it is done now and I am happy with the result though I wish I had made the smock a bit longer. It is currently mid calf length but I think a few extra inhes would not have hurt anything. Oh well. No one will see this, anyway.

Last fitting for the kirtle tomorrow, hopefully!