hsifeng: (www.crackafuckingbook.com)
/brushes dust off the stage

*taps on microphone*

Hey kids, long time no see. Just popping in with a little 'Summer Break From My MA Research' pressie for you all... Enjoy! :D

Click the picture for the full video...

Transcription Notes:

“Clothing of the Common People in Elizabethan and Jacobean England”
Lecture by Stuart Peachey
Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, 4/7/15

Under here for lists of items and their associated timestamp in the video.... )
hsifeng: (Landsknecht)
... and wanted to let y'all know that they were rocking this look LONG before you were even born.

Let's be clear - there is nothing truly "new" under the sun. In the medieval era they dressed up like Romans for holidays, and I am sure the Romans dressed up like someone else too.

But damn, Ulm Festzug 1898 looks like it was one HELL of a party!


They clearly got the "laying around on the ground like a pimp while the ladies serve you wine" memo...

HEY! How did Stephen Jacobson get in this shot (second standing from the left is a *dead ringer* for him)?!?

"Look ma! A parade!"



And guess what... this wasn't even the *first year* of this event. Nope. Observe the 1877 program booklet kiddies!

1877 Festzug Ulm booklet
1877 Festzug Ulm booklet - inside

And Ulm wasn't the only city to hold them!

Erfurt Festzug 1902

PS: It looks like they are still throwin' this shindig, even today... :D

PPS: And that 'jousting' they host at the end of the parade. Yeah. Not on horses.

Yes, that is a dude in a dress. Get over it. Apparently it is a 'thing' at these events. They are JOUSTING IN BOATS for goodness sake...
hsifeng: (Landsknecht)
All cords and tassels are done... now I just need to form the aglets over the ends of the point ties and take photos!

Hopefully this weekend...

hsifeng: (*Arrrrrrrr!* Sewing Pyrate!)
Link sharing for those who would like to know where I get my ideas for the tassels and cords I am working on for the Cloak Project:


There are dozens of sites out there on how to do these. My current favorite is from Racaire on her website here. When it comes to methods for finishing tassels (ie. making them purty) there are a number of options including Turks Head knots, embroidery, and beading.

Some lovely inspirations from later in the period...
Original Tassels - late 16th, early 17th C


My preferred method for cord making is fingerlooping. There are other versions for making cord available out there (such as lucet cording), but I prefer the variations in design and durability of cut cords much more with the fingerlooped method. Also, I have questions about the historical accuracy of lucet cording in this period...

 I am planning on doing a pattern called 'lace bend rounde', and will vary between 6 and 8 bowes (the number of loops being worked, which varies the diameter of the final product). The plan is for the cords to be red and white, with some tipped in black tassels (to help match up on the larger tassels that will be affixed to the tails of the hood). The cording will also be used to close the neck of the cloak, although I will be using ties rather than the supposed loop-and-hook closure seen in this extant piece:

Stephan Prauns coat (1544-1591) - co Lady Petronilla via Flicker
Stephan Prauns coat (1544-1591) - co Lady Petronilla via Flicker. GMN.


As is my wont, I will be using DMC embroidery floss for these items. It's cheap, easy to get, and has served me well. If I decide that the larger hood tassels need bigger threading, I will use the wool yarn I have at hand. Any 'shaped heads' for the tassels will either be formed over a wooden base (beads and buttons) or over a stuffed cloth form. 
hsifeng: (handsewing)
Hooray! :D

All the trim has been added to the garment, including trim on the inside and the outside of the cloak's hood (since you see both the inside when the hood is 'open' and the outside when the hood is 'closed'). How much trim, you ask? Well, there is plenty of twill tape left on my 100 yard spool, but I am going to guess 30-35 yards. I know I went through almost two whole spools of thread at 250 yards a spool.

My fingers...they are Swiss cheese... And they would have been ten times worse if [livejournal.com profile] sstormwatch hadn't let me in on the secret of using a running stitch rather than a hem stitch to attach all that trim. Bless you darling!

There is still that *slightly* crazy voice in my head that wants to use some very narrow soutache to make some fancy patterns on this bad-boy. But I think I may save that for the next one (already in the planning phases in my head...).

Next up - tassels and cords and more handbound grommets - Oh My!

Cloak Front
Completed cloak body - front view

Cloak Back
Cloak Body - back view

Hood, Down - Back View: A view of the 'interior' cloak trim
Cloak with Hood, Down - Back

Hood, "Up" - Back View: A view of the 'exterior' cloak trim - different pattern
Cloak with Hood,

Cloak & Hood Tails - Front View
Cloak, Hood

Throw a couple of pins in those shoulders and you apparently get a pretty badass little 'Schaube Collar' look out of this garment. ;) This is going to look even cooler when the tassels are attached to the end of those tails, and the collar and tassels have their fingerlooped trim and ties attached.

We are going to close the cloak with one tie at the throat, set in the same manner as the grommets on the following extant piece:

Stephan Praun's Pilgrim's Cloak, 1571
hsifeng: (handsewing)
The cloak body and hood are all stitched and ready for banding. Woo hoo! As I discovered when making up the full circle of this design, the back does tend to drape into lovely folds under the hoods body all on it's own. These are not as small and precise as the folds in the inspiration image, but the only way I can imagine getting those with regularity would be to tape the cloaks body to train the pleats (as I did with hubby's Waffenrock). However, in taping the garment that way I feel that the cloaks practical use becomes more limited (you can't flare the whole garment out to cover yourself with while sleeping on the march, for example).

So we've decided to not tape at this time. We may revisit that decision later, and I feel comfortable doing so since I am convinced there is more than enough fabric in the full circle to pull this look off without any sort of insertion panels.

Original Image
Original Inspiration

Cloak/Hood - Pre-Banding
Cloak/Hood - Pre-Banding

The red ribbon is only there as a placeholder; the final tie(s) will be fingerlooped, as will the attachment points at he shoulders. I will note that the top of the hood is probably wider than it needs to be, making the gaping between the attachment points more pronounced than it 'should be'. As you can see when the garment is sitting on my husband, and then looking at the inspiration image, the double thickness of the hood also exaggerates this difference....

Shoulders 'en situ'...

However, with the hood up it is clear that the design works perfectly for use, and in fact tucking the 'tails' back under the first gap between the points that hold the hood to the shoulders will secure the overall shape of the hood nicely!

Hood Up

Some set up shots for cloak trim designs. I think this will be lovely, and time consuming...

Collar, Back
Collar Back

Collar Front
Collar Front

Cloak Front, Bottom Corners
Bottom Corners
Ignore the bits where the trim crosses off the edge, we are going with overall Trim Design #3, so this is just a layout with uncut trim. ;)

Hood, Center Back
Hood Center Back - Yes, that bit at the top will be properly mitered, not just twisted into position. ;)

Hood, Tails - WITH TASSELS
Hood Tails
These are the tassels from the Roadkill Showgirl, only used here as a size/style consideration.

And just so I don't ever forget how far the trim is from the edge of the garment, and from itself (for the second row):
Don't Forget The Measure!

S couple of shots from me sewing in the car on our trip this weekend. It's actually a very comfortable set up once everything is wedged in place, and I even managed to get my trim pinning done (on the hood, not the cloak which would have been a BEAST to manage in a small space)

The Set Up
Sewing Set Up

Pattern Layout - Hood Trim (going for a basket weave on the cross overs, so order is a bit critical)
Trim Pattern Layout - Hood

In Progress
In Progress

Lastly, this is what I've gotten done so far. Not going to lie, I was totally tempted to call in sick and just keep stitching with Edwardian Farm on the Youtube and a cup of coffee at my elbow...

Trim To Date
All the edges 'run off the ends' for now, until the alternating trim bits get applied and then all the ends will get finished. Only trim #5 still left to place on this side, then the other side to be done. :)

Collar Set

Nov. 20th, 2013 09:22 am
hsifeng: (Creative Sewing)
The collar is now all set in and looking lovely! The twill pattern has been matched at the neckline and I am quite happy with the scrummy* results! I did the whole thing by hand (the better to control the curve of the attachment and to ensure that the fashion fabric was taken up evenly throughout the seam). My fingers, they are in need of some lotion!

Collar being Set In

Work on the last bit of hem stitching will be worked up the back seam over the next day or so. This is slow going since getting to the hem involves burrowing under the Whole Weight Of The Cloak (good lord, there is a lot of wool in this thing!) in order to get a nice, even stitch on both sides of the joined seam.

Once that bit is done, I am off and running on the yards of trim that are to come next! I have a few thoughts on how this might be done:

Trim Treatments

So far #1 is my favorite, with the layers overlapping with a bit of a weave (laid in an over-then-under alternating fashion as the strips are added).

What do you think?

*I blame the boys on BBC's Edwardian Farm for getting this word lodged in my vocabulary after talking about scrummy apple cider NON STOP for the past two episodes. And now I want a cider.
hsifeng: (Creative Sewing)

The cloak has been lined, and the lining has been prick stitched all the way around the hem so that the fashion fabric 'rolls' to the inside of the garment by a 1/2 inch all the way around. I love the way that hand done top stitching looks... W00t!

Since the fashion fabric wool has more 'stretch' to its weave than the lining fabric (which could probably stop a bullet) does, I ended up with a bit of extra exterior fabric at the center front on both sides. This means I have a lovely little 'facing' at the center front, which I actually adore. Thank goodness for happy accidents.

Next step, set the collar in (hopefully tonight) and then YARDS AND YARDS OF TRIM OMG. *chuckle*

Not going to lie, I am loving all the handsewing - it is an addiction of mine.

Also loving a chance to catch up on all the BBC 'farm' shows (through Victorian, in the midst of Edwardian, and catching Tudor Monastery as it comes available). I want to grow up to be Ruth someday... and not just because she is always making fancy underthings for darling Peter... ;)

Cloak - Lining set in and ready for the collar to be attached.

Cloak - with the center front open to show the lining

Things I would change if I did this again:

1) Better weight of fashion fabric. I love this wool, but the looseness of the weave has lead to stabilization nightmares. ie. This is the SECOND lining that this cloak as been put through, and there is a reason I chose a THICK liner the second time around. The first liner was a bit of 'woolish' scrap that I had no other use for and it fought both me and the fashion fabric every step of the way. A more stable fashion fabric would have avoided this issue (in fact, a heavier fashion fabric and I may have avoided lining altogether...).

2) Having reviewed the JA PoF patterns - the body of the cloak would have been cut as an ellipse rather than as a circle. Thankfully the bit over the shoulders is not significantly shorter than the front and back of the body. :) 
hsifeng: (www.crackafuckingbook.com)
[livejournal.com profile] ladykalessa pointed out a thread on the FB Elizabethan Costuming list (EC Bees) that is currently discussing cloak fasteners for gentlemen's clothing. The discussion is varied and well thought out and being attended to by some of the best researchers I know in that period:

If you aren't on the EC Bees list, I cannot recommend it enough. These sorts of tidbits surface on there so often that one can Not Keep Up with the data stream most times...

Some specifically interesting bits for me included the following potential options for keeping capes in place; interior straps (ala fur stoles), hooks (which were generally not seen as a better option than ties, since both have the potential for destroying the fabric of the doublet layer) and PINS (which was my first instinct, and I was happy to see that Ninya Mikhaia also thought likely). I also tend to think that the *cut* of the garment is critical, and suspect that greater-than-half-circle capes stay in place more easily as they fit over the shoulders better and distribute a greater volume of fabric/weight to the front of the wearer.

Additional info regarding cloaks in JA's PoF:

Images of cloaks in use during dance:
hsifeng: (Blackpowder Love)
So, a little progress post for the Landsknecht cloak project...

The pattern, she is finished! The final adjustments included making the hood slightly less wide (nape-of-neck to forehead measure), and shortening the 'tails' of the hood a bit. I had to do a tiny amount of piecing for the wool liner, but in the end all of that was limited to the CB edge of the garment and should be nearly invisible.

Next step was ordering my black twill tape (for trim) which I found for about $20 for 100 yards online. I am *pretty* sure that should be enough to cover the necessary ground - it is certainly going to be keeping me occupied with hand sewing for the foreseeable future. *chuckle* The plan is to create a trim pattern similar to this:

Albrecht Durer, Two Mucisians

So while I await the arrival of my trimming material, I got to work on my collar for the garment. I had planned on pad stitching two layers of felt to light canvas base, to use as the inner 'guts' of the short standing collar. Then I realized that none-of-these-stitches-are-going-to-show-and-this-is-a-perfect-excuse-to-use-some-of-the-stitch-cams-that-came-with-my-awesome-vintage-Elna-Carina!

Because I got a 'new' sewing machine a couple weeks back....*

Don't remind my ol' Kenmore that I am cheating on her. :(

Seriously though, I am in love with my Swiss beauty.

Aaaaany. After I had cut my stiffener pieces (*the light canvas layer has no seam allowance along the top edge and the felt layers have no seam allowance at all) I stitched both felt layers to their canvas counterparts, leaving the canvas seam allowances unobstructed by the felt layers. Then I sewed the canvas together into the collar form, and basted the entire thing to my lining layer of the collar around the outside edge - using a blind hem stitch along the top edge so that the stiffener layer is *just* caught to the inner woolen layer at that point - avoiding unseemly top stitching in the finished lining of the collar.

Here is the result:

The 'New' Elna and the overall collar liner pinned to the collar wool
The Carina, (aka "Roswitha") in situ

Close up of the non-overlapped seams and the fake pads stitching
Close up of the fake pad stitching - but the effect is the same as on the collar I did by hand last time...

I am hoping to have more images of the cloak coming together throughout the course of the week. The *goal* is to have the item done (or at least wearable) by next weekend for an event we are attending with friends. :D

*[livejournal.com profile] ladykalessia is a goddess...a temptress goddess with an penchant for luring her minions into the outer darkness (inner light) of vintage machine addiction. I am currently lusting after her green Husqvarna Viking...
hsifeng: (Xi-Feng)
Long time, no post!

Sorry folks, I have been pretty busy the past few weekends. Not much sewing has been done, although there *should* be a progress update on the cloak project (which is turning out to be quite *SQUEEE* worthy!) after this weekend. I just have to convince Eloise - my dressmakers dummy - to give up the goods and let me take the damn thing off her.... ;)

In the meantime, this is what I have been up to:

Greyhound Adoption Center Volunteer Event

So a few months back C and I adopted our second greyhound, a seven month old pup named Nigel. He has been *quite* a handful - like, once he outgrows the chewing stage we will get a new couch to replace the one that is slowly being taken to pieces. *makes a face* Overall he is a total sweetheart, but he is lucky he is so damn cute because I have to remind myself that he is just a baby and doesn't really know any better every time I find a new paperback book torn to pieces in my living room.

He hasn't touched the research books yet. That has saved him from being a lovely wallet. ;)

Late last month, Nigel and I participated in a meet-and-greet with the local branch of our adoption agency. Here are a couple of photos from that event:

Nigel & I at ClovisFest 2013 v1
Despite what it looks like, Nigel is *very* outgoing and was quite happy to lick every child that came withing muzzle reach...

Nigel & I at ClovisFest 2013 v2
42 MPH couch potato - THE DOG NOT ME. *grin*

Tough Mudder Two - Electric Boogaloo

Then a couple of weeks ago C & I drove to North Lake Tahoe for the Tough Mudder event held at Northstar ski resort. Team Jog-or-Naught had some new membership this time around, and C was really just there to make sure that the event kept our beer cold until we were done with the course. ;)

Honestly though, it was a good thing he came because 1) he got to see me complete the scariest obstacle I have taken on to date and 2) he was the only EMS responder available when a seven year old girl took a header on one of the slopes and had be c-spined and carried out (by C and a Northstar volunteer) to reach the main paramedic station on the site. She is fine, but thank the lords of chaos that my husband was around.

Team Jog-or-Naught: Tahoe Tough Mudder, September 2013
It always starts out so clean... Jim, Amy, Joel, Nina and Me

Joel takes one for Wounded Warrior
Joel gets a mohawk for a cause (Wounded Warrior Project) - Nina Approves!

Our team took the course in a little less than five hours. Elevation did not help our cause, but honestly, we had a great time and EVERYONE finished (which is the point of the event). I completed every obstacle at least once which included climbing through narrow pipes, pulling myself through water filled trenches, climbing mountains (literally), wading through mud, doing pull ups and push ups, carrying logs, diving into pools of ice water, jumping off tall platforms, climbing tall platforms, and generally proving that Crossfit has made me into a tiny rock star when it comes to accomplishing weird tasks.

Zombies, I dare you to catch me. ;)

Sadly, the 'after' photos were taken by on site photographers who want an arm and a leg for an electronic copy of their work. You'll just have to imagine my smiling, muddy mug inserted into the following images. *grin*

We're planning on San Diego, November 2014. I am thinking we need to do an Anchor Man themed team...

Northern Invasion, German Camp - Casa de Fruta Renaissance Faire

Then last weekend we headed out for German Invasion with a crew of other krauts; I have to say, this annual event is *da bomb* for catching up with far flung friends. Due to dog-sitting issues we were only able to go out for Friday night and Saturday, but it was so worth the trip. :D

Sadly, I totally *failed* at getting any photos myself that day - I am hoping that [livejournal.com profile] claughter713 has some squirreled away. What I *can* say is that the new Wulsthaube & Schleier set that [livejournal.com profile] mmcnealy created for both of us worked BRILLIANTLY. I understand that she may be in the market to make some more of these beautiful, historically accurate and versatile hats for ladies who would like to up their reenactment game.

To see how these work, check out the video that [livejournal.com profile] mmcnealy made, below:

So, next week - back to posting about sewing! *w00t!*]


Still no shots of claughter713 and I, but here is one of my hubby, C, and me!
Me and the Hubby, German Invasion - Northern, October 2013

Because I am nothing if not klassy (that is not a typo)....
hsifeng: (Landsknecht)
So the lovely [livejournal.com profile] sstormwatch came by to work on some fittings last night and did me the excellent service of ensuring I didn’t lose my mind in Mock-Up Hell on my cloak project. I had started out with the basic de Alcega cloak pattern that I have posted in this project before. Just in case you (somehow) missed it:

de Alcega Cloak

Based on this I had come up with a lay out that looked like this for my mini-cloak:

Cutting Layout

The problem? Well, let’s just say that the de Alcega ‘cloak’ actually seems to be scaled on the size of a ‘cape’. And a short cape at that. Given that my inspiration image is clearly knee length, this meant that my layout was going to have to change.

I had planned on just whacking out some basic shapes in muslin and then ‘messing with them’ until they worked. Not only would this have been massively inefficient (in both my time and in materials) but the chances were good I would have made some pretty annoying mistakes right from the jump that would have sent me into a downward spiral of compensatory drinking and sewing machine cursing.

Let's just say it's happened before...

So how did she save me, you ask? She asked if I had graph paper. And of course, like any self-respecting geek raised on D&D, I did.

So, using my basic measurements and the mini-cloak mock-up as a guide, we developed the following.

Neck Placement - Charted
Note: I would have totally centered the neck hole on the body of this cloak and been miserable when it hung longer in the front than the back. Saved. Me. I tell you…

I used an online calculator to figure the diameter of the circle for my neck opening, and then added this number to my overall cloak length X2 in order to get the diameter of the final circle shape. This was 98” overall.

Yeah, no way the de Alcega based layout was going to work. Mostly.*

The neck is off-set for the center point of the circle so that 2/3rds of the space is to the ‘front’ of the cloak (4” of the 6” diameter neck circle), and “2 is the ‘back’ of the cloak. This is because our necks sit forward on our body by about these same proportions (2/3rds to 1/3rd).

So once I had the basic ‘circle’ figured out, I drew a representative example of the width of my fabric, which was folded widthwise, and folded the tiny pattern of the cloak body to a quarter circle for an example cut chart. This let me see what my ‘waste’ fabric would be and what I could fit into that space for other cloak bits.

Then I drafted up the hood pattern, based on the following measurements:

Middle of shoulder blades, over the top of head, to forehead = 24”
Middle shoulder blade to middle, plus some “wiggle and draping”/2 = 14”
Base of ‘trapezoid’ of main hood shape in mini-mock up is approx. twice the size of the shoulder to shoulder measure, making this = 28”

Pythagoras helped with the length of the angled side…  = 27”

Based on the mini-mock up, the ‘tail’ of the hood sections is basically the same length as the angled side of the trapezoid shape of the main hood body = 27” (or 54” overall).

Basic Hood Pattern - cropped

Please note, in the final shape the line without a measurement in this diagram will NOT be straight, it will be tapered into the long side of the trapezoid shape long before it reaches the mid-line of the hood (as it does in both the original art and the mini-mock up). When I am working in muslin, I go for the ‘more is better until you cut if off’ method. This allows me the maximum of material play with in determining the final/best shape for the ‘tail’ pieces on the hood.

So, with the grid hood in hand, I played with some lay out options in the ‘waste’ sections of my cut diagram. Sadly, none of them were perfect, but in the end I did find a means to using a majority of the waste fabric efficiently. If I was willing to piece the be-Jesus out of the hood (still an option) I could probably get the whole thing in; but I am not interested in a whole mess of seams in an area that I’d like to keep as water tight as possible, call me crazy. ;)

Hood Cutting in Theory 1
The circle and hood laid out on my 'test grid' version of the mock up fabric. Please note, the fabric is folded widthwise, not lenghtwise. Each square in this = 4".

Then it was time to cut fabric, but we appeared to be experiencing a greyhound infestation.

Nigel Helping
A more adorable pest I have yet to meet. With the possible exception of my cats. Who I think Nigel is taking lessons from.

Piecing in practice
Hood Cutting in Theory 2

Piecing in action
Hood Cutting in Action

Next steps, putting it all together and making up a collar. Then messing about with taping for drape.  Once I have test fired the patterns in real life I will use the graph method to devise my final cut chart based on my actual fabric widths (think of this as a trial run on the concept).

The important thing I have to keep in mind is that my final version needs to allow for TWO WHOLE SETS of the hood – since it will be both lined and covered in the same wool fabric (if it is lined at all, which is still up for debate depending on how much fabric I have in my stash…).

*Still theorizing on how a narrower fabric and additional piecing may end up with me going back to a version that is closer to the de Alcega in the end. We shall see.

Cloak Deco

Sep. 13th, 2013 03:53 pm
hsifeng: (*Arrrrrrrr!* Sewing Pyrate!)
Not that I am to this point yet... but I should have the pattern done this weekend and be well on my way to thinking-trimmy-thoughts. So I am going to gather a few items here for reference.

Stephan Praun's Pilgrim's Cloak, 1571: Piped and slashed trim at collar and 'frogs' for button closures...

Albrect Durer sketch: Knotted detail on hanging ends...

Albrecht Durer, 'Two Musicians' (1504): Narrow double band of trim - common treatment...
hsifeng: (Ladies Sewing Circle)
So what did we accomplish as a group?

Mucha Maidens - Gala Project - CoCo 2013
The Whole Canvas

Claudia, Vivienne, & Kris - Mucha Maidens Gala Project - CoCo 2013
[livejournal.com profile] claughter713, her adorbs daughter V, and our dearest K

Cathy, Scotty, & Tonda - Mucha Maidens Gala Project - CoCo 2013
[livejournal.com profile] harmanhay, our gentleman S (as Alphonse Mucha), and beloved T

Marion, Michelle, & Carol - Mucha Maidens Gala Project - CoCo 2013
[livejournal.com profile] mmcnealy, the fabulous M, and amazing C

Laura & I  - Mucha Maidens Gala Project - CoCo 2013
[livejournal.com profile] ladykalessia and myself

Cybil, Kim and I  - Mucha Maidens Gala Project - CoCo 2013
My niece C, my sister K, and myself - the fact that my family got to do this with me is PRICELESS to my soul

What can I say? This group of women is amazing. And I mean that in every sense of the word.


[uh-mey-zing] Show IPA
causing great surprise or sudden wonder.

Every time I turned around, both in the production of these costumes and during the course of CoCo 2013, this group worked together to produce both brilliant costumes and a loving and supportive experience at the event. I am truly in awe of the fact that we've all found each other.

Don't plan on going anywhere ladies. You're mine.


Tonda Sums It Up
T Sums It Up

PS: Bonus, Sunday Undies - wherein not all members of the group had recovered enough to be present at at time conducive to a 'brunch' event...  ;)

Kris, Laura, myself and Cathy - Sunday Undies, CoCo 2013
In All Our Fluffy, Under-slept Glory
hsifeng: (Sudlerin)
Some of us think we’ve been doing this ‘landsknecht thing’ since we were knee high to a grasshopper. But then, some of us HAVE been doing this landsknecht thing for that long…and even longer. Elizabeth Frye Jeffress can’t remember her first event, understandable given the circumstances. Elizabeth says, “My dad likes to joke that I've been going to faire since I was in the womb, and that's basically true. My parents first wore landsknecht gear to a faire in Fall of 1980[i], and I was born December of 1980.”

Elizabeth’s dad? Gordon Frye[ii], who along with his wife Charlotte help form the first fahnlein at Northern Renaissance faire.

Gordon and Alexandra Frye
Gordon with Elizabeth's Sister - Alex(andra) in 1983

So what was it like to be in a fahnlein from the very beginning? For a girl whose parents regularly dressed up and portrayed people from other centuries, it was not as odd as you would think. Childhood, with some distinctly historical moments thrown in for sparkle, as Elizabeth notes, “Some of my earliest memories are of playing around the St. Michael's guild yard….Lucinda [Nickel-Fors] had a goat. For the life of me I can't remember the goat or Lucinda that clearly, but the fact that she had a goat was always firmly in my mind…”

Elizabeth and the Goat
Elizabeth with Lucinda's goat

…and yes, there have always been questions about Landsknecht fashions…

“One of my clearest memories was when my dad was wearing his waffenrock, and I asked him why he was wearing a dress. He got so mad!  ‘It's not a dress!’  I remember thinking, ‘Okay, Daddy, whatever you say. It still looks an awful lot like a dress.’”

And what about her own clothing?

“I always wondered why I couldn't dress in shiny sparkly pink dresses and instead had to wear a simple, rough and tumble dress….I still remember the little pewter goblet my dad tied to my little belt. Water and juice tasted better out of that cup because it was mine. I had little leather cowmouth shoes that my dad made for me.”

Even at a young age, the folks who helped form the roots of American Landsknecht reenactment made an impression:

“I thought the world of my dad's reenacting friends. I called Carl Ontis ‘Uncle Kafter’ -- apparently he wanted me to call him Uncle Catdirt, but Kafter was the best I could do….”

But as we all know, things change as we grow up. The fun and games of the guild yard began to wane as Elizabeth reached her early teens, when “…the idea of running around in costume was mortifying. I didn't mind dressing up so long as the crowd was mostly reenactors, but having to face the public in a costume was far too embarrassing.”

There was a period where she avoided faires, but it seems that some things are part of nature as well as nurture. Elizabeth’s sister decided to try out faire as a hobby again around 1998. Elizabeth recalls, “….[Alex] came back every Monday talking about how much fun she was having, and it made me think I might give it a try. But I wasn't really that into it yet….Then the next summer, 1999, Alex desperately needed a ride out to workshops and she bullied and cajoled me in to driving her out, and while I was there I should take a few classes. Everyone was so fun and cool in St. Michael's that I ended up staying.”

As part of her return to reenactment, Elizabeth met many of the ‘new generation landsknecht folks’ including members of the multiple fahnleins that had begun to spread through the state. She spent a lot of time that winter getting to know folks and researching/sewing her costume. What she discovered a group of reenactment friends of her own[iii], which that included at least one person who would become a permanent fixture; Jeremiah Jeffress, her future husband.

Jeremiah SRS 2012 - SN Jacobson
Jeremiah Jeffress - School of the Renaissance Soldier, 2012 - S.N. Jacobson Photography

When I asked her about what highlighted her time growing up at faire, Elizabeth pointed out that much of her experience was similar to that of other young college student, including positive and negative run-in’s with both boys and alcohol.  But the environment made all the difference. “I am so glad to have been surrounded by grown-ups who'd already made the same mistakes and allowed me to do so as well -- in a safe place. Having ‘big brothers’ armed with katzbalgers and zwiehanders wasn't something I thought about then, but it was probably a really good thing.”

Zeke at SRS 2012 with the Boys - S N Jacobson
Zeke and his 'big brothers' - School of the Renaissance Solder, 2010 & 2012 - S.N. Jacobson Photography

Just like her parents, Elizabeth found herself drawn to research and history. As someone who had participated in numerous styles of reenactment events, she recalls that she was attending Sutter’s Fort at the same time she was studying the Donner Party in school. She believes that the total emersion of her experience lead her to see history as ‘more real’ for her than it was for her other classmates. It is likely that this lead to her choice of major in college, where she received her BA in History.

Together Elizabeth and Jeremiah attended faire for a number of years with various groups. Eventually the time to participate in events faded as Northern Faire moved further away, and school and career began to take more time in their schedules. However, they never left completely. Both Elizabeth and Jeremiah regularly attend the School of the Renaissance Soldier[iv] events developed and hosted by a group comprised of original St. Michael’s members. They also bring their young son, Zeke along to experience the life of camp and field (sometimes with his grandfather in attendance as well –three generations of reenactors together is something to see!).

Elizabeth and Zeke SRS 2010 - S. Jacobson v2 Elizabeth and Zeke SRS 2012 - S. Jacobson v2
Elizabeth and Zeke - School of the Renaissance Solder, 2010 & 2012 - S.N. Jacobson Photography

Zeke and Gordon SRS 2012 - SN Jacobson v2 Zeke in Gordons Lap SRS 2012 - SN Jacobson
Zeke and Gordon, on the horses and in the camp - School of the Renaissance Solder, 2010 & 2012 - S.N. Jacobson Photography

When I asked Elizabeth about what she thought about having a child out at events with her, she offered this observation: “Reenactment events are great for kids, just for the chance to unplug and eliminate all the screens and toys from their lives. I was amazed at how creative Zeke's play was at SRS. I only brought a few wooden blocks and otherwise no toys at all, and yet somehow he managed to be entertained constantly... I remember similar creative play with my sisters when we were kids at various reenactment events. Reenacting is the ultimate ‘unplugging’ experience!”

With Elizabeth’s permission, I want to share one of my favorite memories of the Frye-Jeffress family at a recent School of the Renaissance Soldier event. A few of us had organized competitive challenges for the ladies of the camp to participate in. The goal was to demonstrate ones skill and wits while having fun with both other camp followers and soldiers who were fresh back from the drill field. One of the games was jokingly called ‘The Venetian Courtesan’ and the ladies who played had the task of making one of the young soldiers blush. Whoever managed to get the biggest reaction of embarrassment would be the winner. Other participants whispered dirty stories, engaged their ‘lady lumps’ as smothering weapons, and largely played the expected roll of saucy wench in their attempts to get a reaction.

But not Elizabeth.

When her turn came, her husband and father brought forward a small bench and placed it directly in front of our soldier’s own seat. Then Elizabeth walked over and sat down with Zeke in her lap.

And then she breast fed her son.

To those of us in camp, this was a totally normal and non-embarrassing experience.

Apparently it is a little different when the nursing is happening right in front of you; while the mother stares directly into your eyes; grinning as her husband and father shout encouragements from the sidelines.

Our poor soldier was completely undone. If he could have sunk into the dirt, I think he would have. He had to last 30 seconds and I believe he did so only through an effort of tremendous will.

Hil. Lar. E. Ous. :D

Elizabeth Frye-Jeffress is one of the original campfrau – although I am not sure she thinks of herself as such. In a very real way, she is the bridge between those that started this tradition of reenactment and those that came to their fahnlein’s later. For my part, I can say unequivocally that events are always better with her there; she is women I both respect and enjoy, and one that I am happy to consider a friend as well as a fellow history geek.

[i] This date has been confirmed by other contributors to this series.
[ii] While it has been a bit since there was an update to this series, Gordon Frey was one of my first contributors. His interview can be found here: http://hsifeng.livejournal.com/149708.html
[iii] Elizabeth specifically singled out St. Maximilian’s Guild as a group that she found a special kinship with. Having also spent time with this landsknecht unit, I can only agree that they are a very special and inspiring group of people. http://www.st-max.org/
[iv] The School of the Renaissance Soldier is a non-public reenactment event held every Spring in the Northern California area. If you are interested in attending, check out their website here. http://actionspast.com/Groups/RenaissanceSoldier.aspx This event has also inspired others like it in both Southern California and Bristol, Illinois. The event itself can be seen as a spin-off of older Renaissance Military Society (RMS) traditions such as Schutzenfest and the Camp Tamarancho militaria events from days of yore.
hsifeng: (Ladies Sewing Circle)
We all sew in here, right? That means you all know how it is with us – our own projects always come in dead last when it comes to prioritization on a timeline. Same story here.  Now that my niece and sister were solidly on their way to finished dresses, I had to start my own.

And I was stumped.

Let me clarify; I knew how I wanted to put the dress together and how to get it done. The problems were:

1)      I had *too many* ways that I could proceed – nothing like choices to slow you down;
2)      I was pretty sure the best way involved a whole lot of things I have never done before…

As with all projects, I spent a lot of this time pondering my stash of freshly purchased fabric. I am actually very proud of my selections, especially in light of the All Purple, All The Time palette from my inspiration image. I managed to find a range that looked good together and got pretty close to the original colors/textures of the piece. Woo hoo!

Fabrics for the CoCo 2013 Mucha Project - Bieres de la Meuse Original Inspiration
The Palette (from L to R): Main Dress, Narrow Sash, Shawl

Then I spent another few days messing about with my accessory pieces. I started with the ‘fabric pauldron’ support structure you see on the left shoulder of the inspiration image. My sneaking suspicion is that Alphonse added this bit as an artistic whimsy (“Her shoulder would look so much better with a huge flying buttress of material…”), but since it was in the piece I had to try and make it work in my real-world dress.

Flying Fortress of Fabric

I started my process by strapping Eloise (my dressmakers dummy[i], a gift from [livejournal.com profile] claughter713) into my intended support garment. I knew I was probably going to end up draping the dress in the long run (although I feared the results) so I traced the shape of the Merry Widow onto Eloise’s form; this way I would be able to determine if my draping was going to cover the undergarment, even if the undergarment wasn’t on the form at the time of the draping. BTW - This was done with one of my favorite sewing accessory EVAH…

Not Your Grandma's Tailors Chalk
Click On The Pic To Get Your Own - I am not the only one who loves them.

Eloise - Chalked And Ready To Go

First, I made a paper mockup of the general shape I thought would work for the pauldron which I pinned to Eloise’s shoulder, making sure to overlap the line of the undergarment[ii] . This also gave me a chance to check the 'angle' of the pauldron's wear - not too sharp or droopy a line from my own shoulder.

Paper Pauldron

I checked the result from all angles, trimmed and shaped it a bit, and then cut two layers of my craft felt[iii] base, and an additional 'edging piece' of the same felt that matched the outer curve of the pauldron. Using my machine I sewed all the layers together along all edges, on the outer edge I sewed a number of channels, spaced approx. 3/8 of an inch apart. Between this stitching and placing a section of featherweight boning in the outermost channel, I achieved the level of firmness in the shape that I needed.

Not as effective at taking down small prey as I would like.
Weirdest fabric boomerang ever...

I then cut a cover from my fashion fabric using the same paper pattern and covered the whole shape, handsewing the final seam. Now I could work on placing my dress fabric over a support structure that looked (essentially) like another bit of draped fabric.

Easy Smeeshesy Items

Next up were the sash and the shawl. The making of both is pretty easy, so let’s skip on to the next project.

Miles of Silk Intestine One Seam Is All You Get!

The Medallion Belt

Early on in the project (like, back in April) claughter713 and I scoured the interwebz looking for a source offering oval belt buckle blanks for a price that was almost reasonable. What we discovered was that a wholesale license was going to be needed in order to get the quantity necessary for less than an arm-and-a-leg. Then I remembered, I *know* a costuming couple with a wholesale license – Better Yet! – they make custom belts!

I called A&B of Legendary Costume Works, they confirmed that they had the necessary blank on hand and were willing to give them to me. Hooray! Best of all, they hand delivered them at the headdress workshop.


Now I had the materials on hand, but they required both modification and painting in order to work the belt configuration I had in mind. So after I removed the original ‘mounting hardware’ on the backside of each, they got four holes drilled in them[iv] and a coat of paint (or two) inside and out and then mounted them on (yet more purple) rawhide cord.

For Some Reason This Belt Makes Me Want An Astromechdroid

I tried them on Eloise and was pleased as punch with the results. But now I had no more ‘distraction work’ to do and needed to get on to the final project…


Seriously y’all, if I spend as much time sewing projects as I do *thinking about* how I can sew them, I would have an entire wardrobe full of gear.[v]  I knew that the dress could be done in a variety of waysm and this was what I had been considering:

Plan A: Fully draped dress mounted to a fitted underlayer with no actually ‘patterning’ in sight;
Plan B: Fully patterned dress with some level of decorative draping over the top;
Plan C: A combination of the above (with about 12 variations possible dancing through my head at any given time).

So I hemmed[vi] and hawed, I did test drapes and cried at how they looked. I searched the internet for resources on how other people had made their Mucha creations, and found none. I leaned heavily on the trust that my fellow LSCaCS members were getting along with their projects, and they looked great (so mine could hid in the background if necessary).   Then I realized I needed to just pull the trigger on Plan C if I was going to be wearing ANYTHING[vii] to Gala.

So I started with an underlayer. Using Eloise as my base, I draped a pattern for a basic strapless bodice with a dropped waist. I bit my lip as I made my mock-up and then had my niece help me with a final fitting.

And what do you know? It. Totally. Worked.[viii]

The Front The Side The Back
With a bit of tweaking, the wrinkles seen here didn't end up in the final pattern

Transferring The Pattern
Making the mock up

Once the basic bodice was cut using the same pattern as above for the fashion fabric and lining, I got to play with featherweight boning for the first time. I literally applied in the Exact Same Manner And Location as shown on the product packaging.

Pictorial Instructions FTW!

Of course, what I failed to note was that the resulting bodice promptly rolled itself into a tube.

Bodice Taco

Apparently, plastic boning should be heat treated to get it to lay down flat and behave *before* you add it to your project. Since I had failed to do this utterly, I simply pinned the whole bodice to Eloise and then steamed it into submission with my iron.

This also works, by the way.  ;)

Finished Bodice
Finished Bodice - I cannot lie, this result made me very happy. :D

Once the bodice was complete and pinned securely in place (no back closure yet, since Eloise is just a *schosh* bigger than me – even when dialed down to her smallest size) I attached the fabric paudron and simply began draping.

The big head ache here was that my fabric, which I had purchased 8 yards of, was really *chunks* of yardage. What was left on the bolt when I purchased consisted of 2-3 pieces of 1.25-1.5 yards and another few longer bits. I loved the fabric so much that I had convinced myself that this would be OK to work with. Now that I was actually doing so, I wasn’t as sure.

I started with the shortest bits first, ensuring they were long enough to drape from the center front of the bodice and still hit the floor. They were. Then I worked my way around to the back of the dress, adding fabric and playing with the shaping of the draped bits as I went.[ix] This tutorial was very handy in calming my nerves and giving me a direction to go in.

Despite my initial misgivings, I was pleased as punch with the results! Eventually...

First Draping Final Draping
From L to R: First attempt - which resulted in a stiff drink. Second attempt - More Pins! = Success!

Next, handsewing. Lots and lots of handsewing. I made my way all the way around the bodice, removing pins and tacking the fabric in place. The biggest concern was not sewing all the way through the bodice and into Eloise – which I managed to only do twice!

Tools Of The Trade - NETFLIX
I could never do this much sewing without Netflix, praise be to the internet gods!

This handsewing included one bit of machine work which was installing the hook-and-eye tape at the center-back of the bodice. The closure was largely covered by the draped fabric that gathered at the back of the gown in a manner not unlike an 18th C sack-back gown (only much more free form).  That portion which was visible was then covered by the drapery that had been swagged and attached to the pauldron at the dresses shoulder being tucked in once the dress was hook-and-eyed closed.

At this point, all that was left to do was the hemming. Given that the dress was entirely draped, I had a lot more fabric at the hemline than you would normally encounter.  After checking to make sure that Eloise was as close to my height as possible[x] I placed her on my sewing table and then simply chalked a rough hemline into place. This allowed me to play with the shaping of the train a bit before any cutting was done, and the added height helped ensure my back wasn’t in agony.

Hemming Made Easy
Draping from the back - Eloise ready to help me hem
(the bit draped up over her neck is the tail of the fabric pauldron draping, placed up and out of the way)

I had intended to use the same method of facing the hemline that was employed on my niece and sister’s dresses; but in the end it wasn’t practical to attempt to create pieces that matched the cut of my draped-and-pieced hem. Thankfully, the ‘inside’ of the dress fabric was beautiful and I didn’t care if it showed (and I had taken the time to French my long seams), so I just used my chiffon hem finish and called it a day.

As soon as the dress was finished, I nervously tried it on over my Merry Widow and discovered that a) It Fit! B) It covered the undergarment completely. C) I loved it…

Sans Wig
Why yes, that *is* my inspiration image on my phone cover...also, that dog is not dead - no matter what he'd like you to think

So ends the saga of my portion of the Mucha Maiden’s project. I had an amazing time, learned a ton of new sewing techniques, and generally discovered that I can survive outside of my 16th C comfort zone.

Which of course means there are a TON of new projects to consider…


[i] Thankfully, Eloise is very close to my own figure; although she is a bit taller than me and her conversational skills leave a lot to be desired. At least she doesn’t steal my drinks or scream when I stick her with pins. Which I did. A lot.
[ii] At the time, I was thinking of sewing the pauldron directly to this layer…but later thought better of it when I realized just how complex that could make the draping of the garment top…
[iii] I think I actually had to burn my Historical Sewing Card just for touching this stuff.
[iv] My poor, long suffering husband helped with this portion of the activities by helping me figure out the best removal method and setting up the drill press and a template for me to use. Without him I am sure that I would now be down a number of fingers…
[v] OK, maybe TWO wardrobes; since really I do have at least one already.
[vi] Sewing pun alert! Of course, if I had *actually* been hemming there would have been more progress at that point…
[vii] BTW – naked was a totally legit choice in my head, after all Alphonse clearly enjoyed the unclad feminine form. I was pretty sure that CoCo administration would frown on that choice though. :P
[viii] You could have knocked me over with a pin. This was the moment that draping when from exotic art form to a skill I actively want to cultivate. Because seriously – WHO NEEDS TO EVER BUY A PATTERN AGAIN?!?
[ix] In the end, I didn’t even use the longest piece of fabric.
[x] I checked this by standing next to her and looking in a mirror to see if our bustlines were at the same level.
hsifeng: (www.crackafuckingbook.com)
If you are a book lover + 16th century history geek like me, the image below may be pornographic in nature....

Before The Mast - Available To Buy, Second Edition

That's right y'all - the reprint of 'Before The Mast: Life and Death Aboard the Mary Rose' has been released. Unlike the first printing of this work, the current version is set up in two volumes to better accommodation of the HUGE TRACKS OF RESEARCH therein (without the inevitable spine breaks that the first printing seemed to have when they attempted to fit it all in one book).

My favorite review of the book to date?

"I got it for the surviving garments but stayed for the forensic anthropology. Fantastic"



The Mary Rose carried a crew of naval officers and sailors, a fighting force of gunners and soldiers, a Barber-surgeon, several ship's carpenters and skilled navigators. Of nearly 500 men, fewer than 40 survived the sinking on 19th July 1545. Trapped by netting, or below deck, they stood little chance, and their bodies and belongings went to the bottom of the sea. Excavation of the hull and contents produced a huge collection of objects that together make up a detailed picture of what life was like on board.

Before the Mast explores how the men of the Mary Rose lived, through their surviving possessions; how they were fed; their music and recreation, medicine and provision for illness and injury, as well as working practices: carpentry and maintenance, stowage, navigation and ship's communications. The personal possessions of the crew included religious items, books, fishing lines and weights, sewing kits, money, hair combs, jewellery, knives, musical instruments and many items of clothing. The Barber-surgeon, who had his own cabin, brought on board a fine chest filled with canisters, bottles and pots of ointment and medicines, a variety of surgical instruments and a fine set of razors. Another cabin nearby was clearly occupied by the ship's carpenters whose toolkit included planes, adzes, axes, hammers and drills, as well as pitch pots and special mallets for patching up leaks in the ship's hull. The ship's navigators had the best in sixteenth century compasses. The ship's galley was in the hold and this area in particular produced many examples of wooden and pewter plates, bowls, pots, bread troughs, and tankards, as well as barrels and baskets still containing beef, pork, fish and fruit. The volume also includes an analysis of the human remains providing evidence for the stature and age range of the men most were under 30 their health, and injuries sustained.

Where can you get yours? HERE

Considering the limited run of the first release, I would recommend eating Ramen for a bit and getting your order in now. The copies of the first run are currently going for $350+...

hsifeng: (Ladies Sewing Circle)
So now we had fabulous headdresses that were beautiful and drew comments from every random stranger we passed by[i]: clearly the pressure was on to produce gowns to match.  And that was when my sewing reality hit me like a ton of bricks.

See, my sister and my niece were coming out to CoCo with me for the first time. Having never been before, and having not been ‘in the sewing game’ for a while (in my sisters case) or as a costumer before (my niece), I realized that they were going to need a bit of help getting their Mucha dresses together.

Like, from the ground up help.

Fabric procurement, pattern drafting, mock ups, assembly, final fit – the whole rodeo.

So I wasn’t working on one Gala dress, I was working on three.

*head desk*

OK, let’s be honest here: I love this stuff! Three different gowns that are all based on artists sketches which only bear the most passing resemblance to how *actual* gowns fit and *actual* fabric flows? Sign. Me. Up. But holy hell, this was for my family members and my normal ‘mess around until the last minute and then blow it all out at once’ would never work (not just because of the volume to be done, but because I needed their Actual Physical Forms present for a lot of draping and fitting work).

That mean procrastination was not going to be my friend.

So we got right to work.  The inspiration images had already been selected:

Nieces Dress
Inspiration Image - Cybil

Sisters Dress
Inspiration Image - Kim

We bought our fabric at Stone Mountain & Daughter and at JoAnne’s. I beat my fiber snob fairy into submission.[ii] The selection was cheeringly wide, and cheap, and made me feel better about not forcing everyone into silk. We bought satins, and textured poly, and the Demon Chiffon. We bought WAY more than we needed (I had no idea how much all this drapery was going to take). My sister and niece were champs about my guesswork, but I suspect they will have new curtains to match their gala gowns at some point…[iii]

The principles we used in selecting fabric here was much the same as those used in the headdress construction workshop. We knew the colors we wanted, but we tried to ensure that we used a VARIETY of textures and fabric weights. This helps to add depth to the finished pieces.

The next step was for me to put my brain hat on and try to figure out HOW to put these dresses together. Let’s be clear. Alphonse Mucha did not paint many women in dresses. Mostly he painted them in sheets and curtains. I mean that literally. Sheets and curtains.

Its a Curtain - Not a Dress Its a Curtain - Not a Dress v3 Its a Curtain - Not a Dress v2Its a Curtain - Not a Dress v5 - Clutch It Like This DearIts a Curtain - Not a Dress v4 - Nudie!

Yes, that is a boob. It's art people...get a room. ;)

A number of the ladies in our project actually *did* this, literally took bed linens and uncut yardage and made their dresses from it. And, might I add, to great effect! I am still really hoping that [livejournal.com profile] ladykalessia will do a write up on her dress and the technique she used to make it because – ladies and jellyspoons – this little number is GENIUS.

Laura's Dress
Photo Credit: American Duchess - CoCo 2013

But oh no…not me.  When I looked at the inspiration images for these dresses I saw structure in the fit of the bodices and the drape of the skirts.[iv]

So I had the girls come over and we did some duct tape pattern making. For those of you who don’t know this process, a mini-tutorial on using this technique for a basic bodice is here.

Of course, unlike my prior uses of this technique, I realized that I could actually use *darts*[v] to fit my bodice patterns in this period[vi]/application.

Also of course, I have no idea how to use a dart to save my life.

A Rough Translation From The Duct Tape Base

The Mock Up - Don't Judge

The Bodice - Prior to Skirt & Trim Application: This Is When I Knew The Darts Had Won

Again, thank god my family is forgiving.

The darts aren't horrible, but I realize now that I could have put them UNDER THE BREAST to better effect. *sigh* I got this right in my sister's bodice, and thank god my niece has a naturally beautiful figure that helps to make up for my errors in pattern making!

Once we had the basic bodices down, it was time for the skirts. Based on the fashion plates of the time, I used the fabulous tutorial available here to make a basic, trained skirt form.

Seriously folks, if you have to make an Edwardian skirt from scratch, Use. This. Tool.  It was dead simple and that is coming some someone who has *never* drafted a pattern from measure before.

Hard to See, But I Swear There Is A Pattern On That Paper

My Cat Begging For Death and the Implement Of His Potential Destruction

Success! - the Muslin Proof on Eloise

The original idea was to use this pattern for my niece’s garment only. But upon looking more closely at my sister’s inspiration piece, I realized that with the addition on a ‘false apron’ to one section of the skirt, I could achieve as similar ‘wrapped and tucked’ effect[vii].  I had my sister wear the muslin mock-up we had created and simply pinned and drafted the apron bit from another section of muslin.[viii] Perfect!

Now we had both bodices and both skirts patterned and a plan of action. Over the next few weekends, we met repeatedly to put the garments together; the work order went something like this.

Nieces Dress[ix]:
·         Cut and line bodice in blue satin
·         Get ready to cut trained skirt from off-white satin
·         Realize that satin is so thin a moth could fly through it without damage
·         Gnash teeth
·         Realize we can line satin skirt with cotton muslin already completed during patterning phase
·         Have a celebratory drink
·         Actually cut off-white satin for skirt, as well as additional facing sections to create lined dress as per the instructions here (see 'Step 3': again, DEAD SIMPLE – except for the part my niece had to do with all the hands sewing… )
·         Cut cream chiffon for skirt cover
·         Realize that [livejournal.com profile] love3angle is completely correct and that chiffon is the DEVIL
·         Have a bracing drink
·         Cut the trained section of the skirt pattern after having ‘expanded’ the overall size of the patter piece by three times, this included expanding the overall curve of the train so the chiffon over layer would be evenly expanded over the whole hem
·         Consider cutting each of the other skirt pieces individually
·         Finish the bottle that you are drinking
·         Decide that the remainder of the skirt can be constructed of a rectangle composed of the remaining SEVEN YARDS of chiffon
·         Attach ‘trained’ chiffon section to large chiffon rectangle
·         Use a gather stitch and an army of pins to attach the gathered waist of the chiffon to the lined satin
·         Baste the two together
·         Hem all nine yards of chiffon using this technique (Bless You Pinterest!)
·         Open new bottle, start chilling the third...
·         Add skirt to bodice, ensuring a split in the back waist for getting the dress on - with a proper modesty panel
·         Add hook and eye tape for closure
·         Drape, pattern and add a dropped sleeve/strap to one side of the bodice in the same blue statin as the body proper
·         Trim the neckline of bodice and top of the sleeve/strap with a constructed ‘ruffle’ of various textures of fabric hand cut, stitched and trimmed to a variety of heights[x]
·         Construct and add ‘chained arm decorations’ to alternate arm
·         Dip dye ornamental scarf in orange

I know that my niece didn’t get a chance to add the additional embroidery and metal blingy bits to the bodice of the dress and that the 'chained arm decorations' abandoned ship not long before we hit the Red Carpet, but I hope she goes back and adds these all later because it will take a beautiful dress to gorgeous!

Sister’s Dress:
·         Cut and line bodice in white – to be used as a base layer for attaching the skirt to and draping the burgundy material onto
·         Cut trained skirt and false apron from gold satin (hem with facing in the same manner as the skirt above)
·         Thank the gods that you don’t have to line this one too…
·         Attach skirt to base bodice layer
·         Add hook and eye tape for closure
·         Cut and assemble sash from burgundy satin[xi]
·         Drape and hand sew burgundy layer over under bodice, leaving the shoulders free in white fabric (see footnote, as above)
·         Cut and assemble false ruffle/drapery from a variety of textures in white fabric[xii] and affix to neckline of the base bodice layer

What did we achieve?

Lessons learned?

You know, sometimes draping and pinning really *is* the way to go.

Start sooner.

In our next installment we will explore the insanity that was the real draping and handsewing nightmare: my own gala dress. See, all this time working on the gowns above was really just a means for me to avoid having to make a decision about my own clothing…

[i] This is what happens when you wear these things out in public, en masse, for no apparent reason. Who knew? Well *clearly* we weren’t waiting until AUGUST to wear them for the first time… *grin*
[ii] “What do you MEAN synthetic fabric is going to pass under my sewing machines pressure foot?!? NEVER!!!” *whack whack whack*
[iii] OK, that might be a *bit* of an exaggeration in some cases – I know that my niece’s skirt fabric was pretty much spot on and we used every inch of chiffon, but I think my sister and I could make a whole second dress from our cuttings.
[iv] Trust me, you don’t have to tell me to get my vision checked. I know. *chuckle*
[v] My normal application being 16th C. German costuming…which apparently also has some proof of darts being used per research done by those better versed than I!
[vi] “Period? What period? The period of the forest nymphs?” Let’s just say that I was trying to roughly base my construction styles (in some cases) on the fashion forms used during the time that Alphonse Mucha was painting these images.
[vii] Little did I realize until later how much ‘wrapping and tucking’ would go into my sister’s final gown…
[viii] This was the first bit of *actual* patterning from draping I have EVER done. Needless to say, it was not the last in this project…
[ix] To be clear: My niece and sister did the lionesses share of the handsewing and construction on these garments. I basically just ran the weekend sweatshop that helped get the pieces cut and basically assembled to send home with them for finishing
[x] In the original dress, this was probably just the top of the sheet sticking out around the neckline where the blue wasn’t wrapped high enough to cover it… But you know me… STRUCTURE! *head desk*
Structure! In Progress!
[xi] Remember when I said before that I had no idea how much ‘wrapping and tucking’ would go into this dress? Well, my original plan was to create a two yard long, 4 inch wide sash out of the burgundy fabric (to create the drapey sash in the inspiration image) and actually drape and sew the remaining burgundy sections on my sisters white under bodice.  In reality, my sister ended up making one HUGE sash (approx. 5 yards long and 10”-12” wide that we pinned and wrapped around her on the night of Gala. And you know what…? It totally looked just like her inspiration image.
[xii] By ‘cut and assemble’ I mean, while standing in a hotel room with your freshly burgundy wrapped sibling, holding safety pins in your mouth and muttering under your breath about not having time to tack the filmy bits in place. Again, the result was *spot on* for the original image. W.T.F.
hsifeng: (Sudlerin)
Just so that I can warehouse them somewhere:


Love these from [livejournal.com profile] ladykalessia:
Medieval and Renaissance Accessories
Hold Your Fire (period fire vessels & modern versions thereof)

....all the things from [livejournal.com profile] mmcnealy...

...and these from [livejournal.com profile] claughter713...
Germanfest (German costume inspirations)
Rustic Kitchen Lust (because a girl can dream of a cooking hearth)

...and finally, from [livejournal.com profile] vanagnessayem:
Burgundian Inspirations
15th C V Necked Gowns (really gowns and accessories)
15th C German (clothing, accessories and household items)
16th C German (period image sources)
Recreations German (things people have produced)
German Pearled Headbands/Headwear (just what the title says)

Just found this while poking around...

Any other boards out there I should be following for landsknecht related materials?

PS: You can find me over on that site under this same user name (hsifeng)... ;)
hsifeng: (Ladies Sewing Circle)
So, taking up where my prior entry left of; how did we make those Mucha things anyway?

We started with the headdresses.

This seems simple enough, until you try to find flowers the size of the ones in the inspiration images, or at least my inspiration image:

Alphonse Mucha - Bieres de la Meuse

Poppies. That. Huge. Cannot. Be. Had. Anywhere.

After poking around online I had found sources for all my floral needs except these enormous beasts. A few places had 5” poppies, but they were asking $20+/flower and 5” was still too small. Great. Now I sound like a flora size queen.  *chuckle* I was up in the Bay visiting friends on another sewing related adventure when I found myself at Beverly’s Craft & Floral. I was delighted to find that they had All The Flowers there that I needed – except my damn poppies. That was when T stepped in and pointed something out:

“Why don’t you just buy some of these red peonies and modify them?”

Red Peony - Unmodified


So that evening we gutted the central section of one of our peonies with the help of a sharp pair of embroidery scissors. These flowers are constructed with a small plastic ‘basket’ that holds the central section of petals closed around the stamen of the flower; we found that if you cut this basket off and remove the petal sections it contains, you end up with a nice, open flower with a bright yellow stamen center. After applying black fabric paint to the ‘new’ central petals[i]– and perhaps also to the center-facing portions of the next layer out – you end up with a HUGE poppy.

Red Peony - Modified

Now make a bunch, because you will need them.

The whole group met up the last weekend in June at the fabulous Sewing Circle Retreat[ii]. What did we take with us? Here is the general list:

·         Fabric flowers & greenery (procured at Michael's Craft & Floral, Beverly Fabrics, etc.)[iii]
·         Floral tape & wire (I personally recommend the fabric/tape covered floral wire)
·         Wire cutters
·         Glue gun & glue
·         Any 'bits and bobs' you are adding to your headdress for bling (sparkly bits, ribbon, etc)
·         WIGS[iv]
·         Head forms – because being able to *see* the darn thing being worn makes all the difference, and you don’t want to drip hot glue on your own head…

Things to keep in mind when you are making your headdress:

·         Ensure that you have enough ‘range’ in your materials palette to provide for variety in both color (different types of greenery, for example), size (big focal point pieces – like poppies! – plus smaller interest pieces make a more interesting looking result), and effect (drapey bits that hang down, stiff bits that stick up, etc.).  Worst case scenario, you have enough left over for another headdress!

·         If you aren’t sure if it is big enough yet, it probably isn’t. Seriously. Aim for just shy of this and you will be there…
Bracken Buck

·         This is a 3D piece of art, make sure you fill in any gaps and that it looks good from all angles. Place the headdress on a head/wig form and check it out from behind, in front, on top. Fill in as needed.

·         There is a stage in every headdress where you are sure it is a disaster, just keep working on it and adding bits – you will eventually hit a critical mass point where it becomes FABULOUS

·         If you are making yours based on a piece of art, keep that image handy and check back in often.

The ‘Construction’ Steps:

Start by making a ring of your floral wire that is slightly bigger than you want your finished piece; the extra space will be filled out by flower and tape bulk as you build.

When your ring is the right size, bend the wire where the two ends meet into a pair of ‘hooks’. These will hook around each other (and possibly be bent around each other to form a permanent ring) and allow you to open and close the ring base of your headdress as/if needed during construction.

Using your floral tape, begin by making a small bundle of interesting floral and greenery bits. Think the size of an overgrown boutonniere. You will probably be cutting flowers and bits of green off of larger bundles, but be sure to leave enough ‘stem’ to wrap around as you gather them together. Keep the principle of variety in mind here – color and types of bits.

When you have a tiny bouquet that you like, make another. Having two or three of these under your belt makes the idea of facing a whole headdress a lot easier.

Now.  Starting at either the center front or a focal point location on your headdress design[v], place the tiny bouquet on your floral wire ring and tape it in place with your floral tape. This should be done as securely as possible; while trying to avoid using so much tape that you end up with a wad. Don’t worry – this will become easier as you work along. Also, if the thing won’t stay you always have more floral wire and hot glue[vi] if need be.

Add more tiny bouquets to the ring.

Occasionally throw in a larger flower (size variation) or drapey/pokey bit (effect variation).

When you have gotten all the way around the ring (or covered the portion your headdress requires), place it on your head/wig form and check it for holes. Can you see the wire anywhere? Obvious bits of floral tape showing?

Grab your glue gun and some spare floral bits (smaller sizes work well here) and greenery (left over leaf bits from your flower bunches are perfect for this). This is best done on a wig/head form because Second Degree Burns Hurt.
Forms Help Make This Happen

Fill in the holes.

This is also a chance to add any ‘blingy bits’ – jewelry bits, sea shells, crystals, small birds, bones, etc.  These can either be glued in place or added by stringing them with bits of floral wire and affixing them that way.

Check for holes again and repeat above as necessary.

Now, try on your headdress over your styled wig. Does it still fit? Too loose? Too tight? Adjust it at the ‘hooked ends’ of the ring and add/subtract flora as needed to accommodate.

Once the headdress is sized you can either permanently twist the ends of your ring together to cover with floral tape and more flora; or you can leave the hooks in place, allowing you to adjust the size. This second option is better for folks who may have to open their ring in order to get it around wig bits or hats in future.

Eventually you will find yourself with something like this:

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 - Cherylyn as Bieres de la Muse

And now, some general Oh My God This Was So Much Fun shots:

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 -  Jessica
J, wearing one of the original White Picnic headdresses that started this whole thing off...

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 -  Amy and Brayton
A & B Rock The Mucha Look

Cathy Visits
[livejournal.com profile] harmanhay - winner of the longest distance traveled to attend (via Skype from England...)

Variety is the Spice
Seriously, Buy More Flowers!  Also, berries, hops, nuts, twigs, ferns....

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 - Tonda
T, in all her Bracken Buck glory...

[i] Painting Tip: be sure to ‘fade’ the black paint out as you move away from the center of the flowers, this prevents a harsh black-to-red transition and looks more natural.
[ii] Not the real name of this establishment – but if we had a club house, this would be it!
[iii] LOTS of flowers and greenery. Mountains would not be an underestimate here. Basically, if you think you have enough, get a couple more pieces just to be sure.
[iv] Cosplay wigs rock for this. They are cheap, long, and you can style the crap out of them with the addition of a couple swags of plastic fake-hair and some foam rats. You will want your wig around when you are making your headdress because you need to be able to get the headdress ON TO your styled wig-wearing head. ;)

But I warn you, you will NOT look like yourself when you are wearing them...
Wigging Out
[v] For example, my headdress doesn’t have a central flower on the front, but rather two large arrangements of poppies over each ear. So I started there on each side and worked my way around to the back, finishing the project by filling in the front with bits of green.
[vi] As a total novice at this floral wire and tape game, I found hot glue to be my best friend.


hsifeng: (Default)

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