I made these…

(Click on photos for larger views.)

This first batch of buttons are 3/4 inch wide. The embroidery is done in purple silk on 28-count white linen.

These are 7/8 inch wide, and the linen is 32-count. Silk again. The design is the populace badge for the Kingdom of the Outlands, part of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I made the chart for these buttons myself because there wasn’t already a chart that would fit a circle, especially not one only 28 stitches across.


WiP quilt: Duke’s Dilemma


The photo shows 4 blocks together. Normally they’re not set this way — they’re usually set alternating with solid-colored blocks, but I like the secondary patterns (*glances at brother-in-law, shakes head*) that emerge when there are no blank spaces between the pieced blocks.

I drew the pattern for the blocks myself after seeing a photo of a standard-variety Duke’s Dilemma quilt. Each block is 14 inches; the quilt itself is 3 blocks wide and 4 long, plus an outer border.

It’s all pieced together now and I have done SOME of the quilting — wavy lines to look like either wood grain or water in a stream, interrupted here and there by the circles which have Celtic spirals in them and by leaf outlines in other parts of the blocks. Quilting-wise, this is my most ambitious project so far.

the blue bliaut-like thing

blue gown sleeve detail

First, a close-up of the sleeve showing the embroidery. (It’s those Celtic hounds again… Actually, this was the FIRST time I used this design.) Silk floss on 28-count fabric.

The gown itself is linen. I did the embroidery BEFORE choosing a fabric for the garment (because I’m stupid — I mean, I get caught up in an embroidery idea and don’t ask myself what I’m going to DO with it), and I was very lucky to find such a nice fabric that exactly matched one of the colors.

The gown was made from a commercial pattern — one of those that’s nice for a costume but in no way “historically accurate,” you know? (It’s one of the “Mists of Avalon” patterns, but I don’t remember if it was from McCall’s or Simplicity… and to make matters more confusing, my brown bliaut-thing was made from the OTHER “Avalon” pattern. *shakes head* And now I’m gonna have to come up with one in a lighter blue just because… Maybe a use for that HUGE piece of cornflower-blue linen finally?)


Here’s a full-length picture of the gown. the sleeves are lined in white dupioni and there are narrow undersleeves made of white voile, because I didn’t want my arms to be bare inside those wide sleeves.

The double-wrapped belt is white linen appliqued with triangles of green and blue cotton broadcloth (the only way to get the colors matched). The belt’s long ties are braided out of pearl cotton and have silver and painted wooden beads at intervals.

Zipper in the back? Heck no! Not after doing all that work (the embroidery, the hand-stitching and finished seams everywhere)! The back of this gown has hand-sewn eyelets for lacing.


This is how I (mostly) got over my fear of buttonhole stitch, by the way. After sewing 40-something of these eyelets, I knew I could do buttonholes (or more eyelets) with no trouble.

I don’t have a photo of it, but to draw attention to (show off) the hand-sewn eyelets, I braided the lacing out of green, blue, and white embroidery floss so it wouldn’t blend in with the color of the gown too much.

Fashion — ARGHH!

I don’t like shopping for clothes because NOTHING FITS.

I’m too tall. I’m too thin to wear plus-size clothes but I’m too big especially in the chest to wear misses’ sizes. Everything is designed for women with smaller boobs! (I CAN’T “just lose weight” to be smaller in the chest. I was a D-cup when I had a 20 BMI – I could be TOO thin and “the girls” would still be bigger than B.) i don’t look right in the styles for either plus-size or regular sizes either because I’m too big in the chest. Those shift dresses that look GREAT on most women don’t look right on me. Every see that old movie Thoroughly Modern Millie? Remember the scene where she’s trying to get her long flapper necklace to hang right but her boobs keep ruining the line of it and finally she has to put on a bra that flattens everything down? That’s how I feel except there ISN’T any bra I can wear to flatten everything down – sports bras don’t come in my size.

But what about just sewing my own clothes?


PATTERNS are also made for women who wear B-cup bras. There’s a thing called making a full-bust adjustment but it’s a pain and some styles just dont’ work with that kind of change anyway.

I LOVE the look of maxi skirts. (It has nothing to do with wanting to dress “modestly.” Screw modesty and the horse it rode in on! I just like the look of long skirts. After all, most of the dresses I own are medieval-style ones so of course I am more used to long skirts than short ones!) I’m tall so I should look good in those, at least. But… The ones in stores are too short for me. They’re supposed to reach my feet or at least ankles abut they don’t. And I’m supposed to be wearing these skirts with HEELS? Not going to happen! They don’t fit when I’m wearing flats or sandals (and also I don’t wear heels — I’m tall enough as it is, thanks). I would wear maxi skirts and jean jackets all year round if I could find skirts that fit me. Or if I could find fabric that would work for those skirts – knits are best but the stores around here don’t sell much and I don’t like buying fabric i can’t touch first to make sure i like how it feels.

I HATE skinny jeans because I don’t like pants that feel like they’re going to fall off any minute. If I could find skinny jeans that weren’t low rise maybe I’d wear them, but I can’t find any – at least not in my size. BIGGER, sure, and of course smaller, but not for in-between me. And they’re too short, just like most clothes.

Like a lot of women I have a “virtual closet” on Pinterest. I call mine “Clothes I wish I could wear.” Mostly I can’t wear the things I pin there because I just don’t have any REASON to own clothes like that. Or there’s that PERFECT dress – dark olive green maxie dress like a floor-length henley, OMG I love it! – but the largest size it’s made in only fits a 36-inch chest. 36 inches is “extra large”??? AND… it’s too short. Of course. It gives me ideas though, because I CAN make my own dress in the same style. I’m keeping an eye out for the right fabric…

Here’s something that might get me some “hate mail”: I DON’T LIKE ALABAMA CHANIN CLOTHES. I like the idea of handmade clothes and I even like the silhouettes of THOSE clothes but I don’t like the – to me – sloppy stitching in how they’re made. Why go to the effort of making clothes by hand and then make them so badly? I want MY clothes to be perfectly sewn with tiny neat stitches and pretty applique decoration that ISN’T about to unravel. Lots of sewists copy Alabama Chanin though, so maybe I should make my own stuff that’s like that but TIDY.

This is why when I’m not wearing my medieval style dresses for SCA events I’m just wearign jeans and t-shirts. It’s easier than trying to find more fashionable clothes that fit me and don’t look weird.


Stuff I made and stuff I’m making now

This is one of the things I made this summer. It’s a badge for the Shire of Blackwater Keep, the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism.


The fabric is 32-count linen, because I’m crazy and have an obsession with TINY stitches.

It was easy to get the design to fit in such a small space only 27 stitches wide, once I realized i didn’t have to include the laurel wreath that’s part of the Shire device. (A populace badge, which is what ordinary members of a group use, doesn’t have the laurel wreath. Also I ought to mention that someone from the group keeps writing “populous” instead of “populace” on Facebook and it is driving my friend Thomas INSANE. He keeps quoting Robert Frost as if that would do any good…He’s not in the SCA though so it’s none of his business.)

I also made a chart for a populace badge for the local kingdom, the Kingdom of the Outlands (that’s such a cool name, don’t you agree?), which is a white leaping deer on a green background. I managed to get that one down to 28 stitches across so it’s close to the same size as the Shire badge and is also about the size of a quarter in 32-count. (On normal 14-count Aida, though, it would be 2 inches across — HUGE! 🙂 )

I am also working on some medieval-style clothes for myself and for my husband. I’ve got plenty of dresses but I still want more! Right now I am finishing a “sideless gown” from dark blue linen that I started a few years ago and then stopped working on. Well now I’m going to finish it! I thought it was almost done and then I noticed I’d forgotten to add the side gores… so I had to take out the side seams, and add the gores. Now the skirts are drooping and I’m not sure what to do, I think it’s caused by the weight of the fabric.

The other thing I’ve been making for medieval clothes is a “Herjolfnes cote” for my husband. It’s almost done too, but I need to check the fit before I sew the buttonholes. He bought me a new sewing machine — he’s used it more than I have so far! — so I wouldn’t have to make buttonholes by hand. The cote is dark green fabric because he’d seen one that color online and likes how it looks.

light green ‘sea dragon’ purse


This is the purse I use most of the time lately.

It started with the cross stitch dragon/sea serpent in the middle, and then I needed something to DO with it. I had planned to just make a coin purse but I couldn’t figure out how to make the metal frame fit so I added borders around it to make it a little bit bigger and then used the whole thing as the middle panel of a purse. The light weight canvas fabric I used for the purse wasn’t big enough to cut the strap as one piece. That’s why I added cross stitch inserts to make it look like the pieced strap was planned from the start instead of something that I HAD to do.

The chart for the dragon was found on Ravelly and was created for fillet crochet instead of cross stitch. The chart for the “vines” border came from a book of Celtic designs I bought years ago. That chart is one I use even more than the one for the Celtic hounds. The other charts are vintage and I don’t know where they came from originally.

The purse’s lining fabric is a light-green print cotton and the strap is backed with ivory grosgrain ribbon. There’s an exposed zipper in the top.

I recently stitched up another dragon – without all the borders – but in dark blue on a pale silver-gray background and I am going to make another purse with it. I’m not sure if I want to use denim or dark blue velveteen for the body of the purse.

Photos of recent projects – unicorns, plus cats on quilt

I promised photos of some of the things I’ve made recently.

Here is the rampant unicorn stitched in both 14 count and 28 count to test that chart I made.


Here’s another unicorn. This one is for a 1 and 1/4 inch covered button. (Sorry about the blurry photo…)


I also have a few photos of my cats “helping” me make an appliqued-and-quilted wall hanging.

First Tabitha discovered it and decided it needed some cat hair to really look good… This was while I was putting the layers together.


Then Tabitha’s daughter Una came along to investigate…


…And Tabitha’s sister Calliope got in on the quilt-sitting action. By this point I had managed to partly baste the layers together despite feline interference.


The wall hanging is partly quilted now. My first real machine quilting project – yay! I did the background in a simple diamond grid, and I’ll outline the applique shapes using free motion quilting to make them stand out.

I made the pattern for the applique design from a cross stitch chart. It isn’t hard to do but it does take a lot of time. What I did was start with several sheets of 1/4 inch graph paper that I taped together to be big enough to have a grid the same size as the grid for the cross stitch chart. Then I copied the shapes from the chart – outlines only – onto the graph paper. Next I smoothed the outlines and made other adjustments. These shapes became the templates for the fabric pieces.

I traced the shapes onto separate paper so I could keep the original enlarged design. I used it to do the “pounce” method for transferring the design onto the background fabric (poke LOTS of pin holes along the lines you want to transfer, then place the pattern over the fabric and rub chalk powder over the holes to make dotted lines). That way I had a clear guide for where each shape belonged.

(This is by FAR the biggest/most complex applique project I’ve ever done. The last one was just a few paisley shapes on a pair of jeans.)