embroidery for pink Medieval gown

I’ve finished half the embroidery for the neckline for the coral pink Medieval gown I’m making:

IF I can find my other spool of white  silk floss I will also make embroidered edging for the sleeves. Otherwise I’ll just use the silk fabric without embroidery.

Stitch: chain stitch outlines. Floss: “Splendor” silk by Rainbow Gallery.

The embroidery design is based mostly on this:





So many medieval outfits, so little time…

First, here’s a couple of sketches – I don’t have photos of the actual clothes, sorry – of garb outfits I already have:

It’s the same under-layer in each outfit – I like that shade of blue. (It’s also the same amber and garnet necklaces and the same “turtle” brooches.) One “apron” dress is a bright leafy green and the other one is a rich medium dark brown.

And I like this style for garb in hot weather because it lets me have layers without having too much. And the apron dress style is SO easy and comfortable to wear anyway – I don’t like clothes that are tight or get in the way.

So I’m making another one:

Another under-gown, actually, to go with the same brown apron dress. (That’s not pink, it’s “carnation,” so it IS period! ­čśŤ )

Sometimes though I don’t need HOT weather garb – even in summer, New Mexico gets cold after dark – and I’d rather have the sorts of layers that are my favorite.

Like THIS:

This outfit is completely new. Dark brown under-gown, rusty coral-pink top layer. The neckline and sleeves will be edged with a slightly lighter coral pink SILK and embroidered. (I just drew squiggly lines to show the embroidery in the sketch, but it will be more complex on the actual gown.)

I WANT to get this last outfit finished before the end of April, just in case I end up going to an SCA event then. I haven’t even started on the pink part yet but I am more than half done with the under-gown. the embroidery is what will take the longest and I don’t REALLY have to do that until later – I can add the contrast fabric after the rest of the gown is complete.

This is a sketch of the embroidery design for the neckline and MAYBE also the sleeves:

The embroidery will (probably) be chain stitch in white silk.

fabric for Medieval-style… pillowcases

I just bought 3 yards of this fabric:

to make medieval-style pillow covers like these:

a friend put together this collection of illuminations from the Middle Ages showing blue-plaid pillowcases

It appears that light to medium blue and white “windowpane” plaid was VERY popular for bed pillows in the Middle Ages. (I did see a handful of pictures with other colors of this kind of plaid – red, tan, black, or green.)

When I saw that Fabrics.com was having a sale on Kaufman “Essex linen” (actually linen/cotton blend) I had to get some before it was out of stock again!

My husband and I plan to start getting our pavilion (if you’re not into historical re-enactment, that just means “fancy tent”) ready this summer. I don’t have much skill with woodworking to make furniture but I can make the cushions!

…and MORE fabric to make MORE garb

This (photo above) is what I’m sewing right now.

According to my husband, his SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) persona is quite a “clothes horse.” AND he likes red, although my husband doesn’t care for it most of the time. (I can relate, I don’t like orange AT ALL, but “Gwenllian” LOVES saffron orange.)

So let me tell you a story about how THIS project happened: I was looking for fabric to use as contrast around the neckline and sleeves on a Norman gown, and my husband suggested silk, so I IMMEDIATELY went online to see if Silk Baron (OMG, all the colors!) had something that would go with the deep coral pink I’d chosen for this gown, and I did find dupioni that matches EXACTLY… and then my husband saw some deep red shantung (sold as dupioni but it’s virtually slub-free, so it’s more like shantung, IMO) that he just HAD to have for a new coat…

That’s what I’m working on right now – basically a “Herjolfnes coat” like the THREE he has already (one in black that I made last autumn plus two emerald green ones, one for warm weather and one for winter) that he’ll wear layered under a short-sleeved coat made of silvery-taupe velvet. Very Eastern European. I think I’ll make him a hat to go with this outfit – maybe the dark red velvet left over from that cotehardie.

I lined the silk with plain cotton broadcloth (also red) that was basted to it around the edges so it’s like the two fabrics were one layer when I sewed the seams. Now I’m about halfway through finishing the seam allowances on the inside to make it all tidy. (I obsess about tidy seam finishes and hems that are invisible from the outside. Always have, always will.) Once that’s done, I’ll be ready to sew the buttonholes by hand. I have a sewing machine that makes nice buttonholes, but not for THIS garment – I didn’t spend $80 on garb fabric just so I could have modern matching stitching on the outside. Besides, this is a way I can “show off” my needlework skills. (It’s just buttonholes, no big deal, but I guess some people think it IS a big deal to sew by hand at all.)

I am also sort of working on a new tunic for my husband to wear with his armor – he finally wore out the old one, and this time I’m making it with specially shaped sleeve gussets so it won’t rip under the arms. (The “secret” is to make the sleeve gussets LONG, NARROW DIAMONDS instead of squares like most diagrams show. The long narrow shape allows for more movement of the arm without straining the seams.) All that’s left on that is to sew the bottom edge with “arrowhead” shaped dagging. This tunic is light gold cotton sateen. (I couldn’t find sateen ANYWHERE in a gold color, so I just bought a sateen sheet and dyed it.)

cross stitch charts: changing the size

(This tutorial is kinda unfinished for now but I just got a request for info on how to make a small pattern bigger…)

Never let anyone tell you there’s no math in cross stitch!

The EASIEST way to change the size of the finished piece is to use a different thread count of fabric. If 14-count would give you a piece too big for what you want, how about 18-count? If 25-count is too small, 18-count could be just right.

When I stitched up samples of my unicorn phone-cover chart, I did it in both 14 count AND 28-count. The number of stitches is the same for each one but the one in 28-count is half the dimensions of the one in 14-count.

What if 14-count is too big but 18-count is too small? That’s where it gets a LITTLE bit more complicated. I don’t know of any place that sells 16-count fabric for cross stitch, but I have seen 32-count linen. Most people (I’m not one of them) stitch over 2 threads when using linen instead of fabrics like Aida or Monaco, so using 32-count linen effectively┬ámeans stitching in┬á16-count.

Say you have a chart that’s 140 stitches wide. In 28-count, that’s exactly 5 inches (which is why I picked it – I’m used to doing the math for 28-count). In 25-count though it’s slightly more than 5 and a half inches. In 22-count (which I don’t like because 1 strand of floss isn’t enough for good coverage but 2 is too thick) it’s about 6 and a third inches. In 18-count it’s just 4 stitches short of 8 inches. And in 14-count it is 10 inches, twice what it is in 28-count.

(I’ll be adding the math formula — don’t worry, it isn’t hard — for figuring the finished size of a pattern depending on stitch count of your new fabric… I just need to make up a good picture to go with that.)

pink velvet for my houppelande

This is the velvet I’m using to make the Ginormous Pink Gown (houppelande) I started almost two years ago.

The color is a sort of warm mauve/dusty rose that doesn’t show up exactly right in the pic.

So far, I have the main body pieces of the gown sewn together and I’ll be sewing the lining probably this weekend. I haven’t even cut out the sleeves yet (but I bought plenty of the fabric so I can do whatever I want) but I will probably go with a moderate bagpipe sleeve because flared “angel” sleeves are too heavy even in linen, the gown is really heavy already and I don’t want to add all the weight of HUGE sleeves. Also it’s easier to move my arms and do things if I don’t have huge sleeves getting in the way.

The lining is ivory satin and I plan to face/stiffen the hem to make it easier for me to walk in a gown that trails on the ground a bit.

(Another “advice” I used to get and still hear sometimes about garb is that “Pink isn’t period.” Hogwash! I’ve seen too many Medieval illuminations and portraits and such to believe that. Lots of pink HOUPPELANDES actually. Besides, red dye was expensive, and they wouldn’t have just thrown out the dye bath once it was too weak to make intense red anymore – they’d have kept using it as it got weaker and weaker and made lighter and lighter shades of rose and pink. I think ANY color that could be made with natural dyes was period.)


Velvet for SCA Garb: what kind?

Years ago when I first got interested in the Society for Creative anachronism, I was given a lot of “advice” about what was acceptable or not for making garb, and one of the things I heard a lot was ‘Don’t EVER use cotton fabric of any kind, they didn’t have cotton back then.’ That meant that velveteen, which is cotton, was “Not Allowed” for garb. I always thought it was weird that the same people who said NEVER use cotton thought polyester or acetate was better for Medieval or Renaissance clothes…

(I KNOW it’s totally against SCA etiquette to acknowledge that the “Garb Police” exist – officially, no one has EVER been told their garb is ugly because they Did It Wrong or because they aren’t wearing clothes from the period preferred by the local “pointy hats” or because they’re a newbie and yet somehow already knew how to sew a basic tunic WITHOUT special help from the Most High Garb Expert in the group… but these people exist anyway. I can at least say so on my own blog, because no one reads it. ­čÖé I hate Garb Police but I do think it would be nice if anyone WANTING suggestions for how to improve their garb could get those suggestions without being told THEY are acting like Garb Police: ‘Does anyone know a good substitute for wool for those of us who can’t wear wool because we’re allergic?’ Noooo! Stop trying to be Garb Police! You are ruining everyone’s fun! People can wear whatever they want, they don’t have to use fabrics that look like period fabrics! ‘I just want this for MY OWN garb, I’m not telling anyone what to do.’ Nooooo! You are acting like you are the expert on sewing Medieval clothes! You are new so just shut up and let the Important People tell you what you need to know – if they don’t tell you, you don’t need to know it!’)

One of the things I was told was that, because “Cotton IS NOT PERIOD,” velvet for garb has to be “silk velvet” that is actually mostly rayon. This doesn’t make sense to me – if rayon isn’t period, why is rayon basically lined in silk period? At least cotton existed back in the Middle Ages, rayon wasn’t invented until sometime in the nineteenth century!

And… Cotton velvet/velveteen LOOKS MORE “PERIOD”/MORE LIKE 100% SILK VELVET than modern rayon/silk blend velvet.

Now I have pics to prove it.

See how the cotton velvet is a lot closer to the 100% silk velvet in sheen and stiffness than the rayon/silk kind is? Most people can’t afford pure silk velvet (we’re talking HUNDREDS of dollars a yard!) but cotton velvet or velveteen is much more affordable AND it looks more like the stuff nobles were wearing in the Middle Ages and Renaissance than the more expensive rayon-blend fabric. (Rayon/silk velvet is sooooo pretty… for mundane clothes. It has a very soft drape that makes it not work for garb unless you give it a stiff interlining, and why bother when you can use something else that works better anyway.)