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. πŸ™‚ 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.)

So much to do, and so little motivation to do it.

I need to finish that rose-colored (believe it or not, I mean pink, not pale grey πŸ™‚ ) velvet houpelande I started last year. All the pieces are cut out and I just need to start putting it together.

I need to finish… more emboidery projects than I can count.

I need to ORGANIZE MY SEWING ROOM. When we moved in, back in February, I just sort of piled all my sewing stuff into that room, and I still haven’t sorted through it and put everything where it’s easy to find.

But I do have a pic of a couple of my embroidered bookmarks…

Both of these are backed with grosgrain ribbon — ivory for the one with keys and gold for the scroll-vine one.

“Do these pumpkin pants make my butt look big ENOUGH?” First pics of my first Renaissance outfit

Remember that gold velvet I mentioned? Well, I made it into a masculine Renaissance style outfit for me to wear to a masquerade hosted by the Shire of Blackwater Keep (SCA group) this past weekend.

So far, I only have a couple of pics of me in this outfit — one while I was wearing the mask, too, and one after I decided I needed to breathe more and took the mask off.

You can’t see it well in these photos, but the pants are lined with pale gold silk, and the panes, plus the slashes in the doublet (I left the sleeves off because they’d be too hot) are edged with a dark gold satin. The pants are huge because I built-in stuffing between the lining and the foundation layer out of TWO TWIN-SIZE QUILT BATTS, cut into strips and shaped to follow the desired shape of the finished pants. (One of the things I dislike about a lot of men’s Renaissance costumes is that they either leave out any sort of “filler” to make the pants as full as they’re meant to be, which makes the pants look “weedy,” or they stuff ’em but don’t do anything to keep the stuffing in position, which results in “Picasso butt.” (Remember in the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights when the Merry Men are all disguised as women to sneak in to the archery tournament, and one of them tells the blind guy to fix his fake boobs because he ‘looks like a Picasso’? So “Picasso butt” is when the stuffing in Renaissance-style “pumpkin pants” shifts and looks lumpy and lopsided and weird.

By the time the second of those photos was taken, I’d even spent some time SITTING, and the pants still held their right shape. EXPERIMENT SUCCESSFUL!

My shirt is embroidered down the front and on the collar and sleeve ruffles. The thread is an antique gold color (DMC 729) that perfectly matches the color of the velvet. (The embroidery design is La Tene Celtic, because I was feeling rebellious and didn’t want to go with one of the same blackwork designs that everyone else uses. After making this short, I can now say I am comfortable doing split stitch, at least for lines.)

The cat mask, by the way, is made of papier mache, and I wore a hood made of yellow-gold fabric to hide my hair. My husband made a mask for me (and one for himself, too) while I was panicking working on clothing for both of us. (He wore a late-Renaissance “plague doctor” outfit.)

I’ll write more later about how I made these clothes…

needle books

I don’t have a tutorial for this yet because I need to make another one and actually TAKE PHOTOS to show the steps, but here are some pics of one of my multi-page needle books:

(Embroidery scissors and pencil included to show relative size – the “book” is about 3 inches wide by 4.5 inches high by 1 inch thick.)

(Top-down view makes the “book” look bigger than it is.)

(As you can see, I put WAAAAY too many needles into each “page” because otherwise I’d have to make about a half dozen of these things.)

When I post a tutorial, I will include charts for the covers in case anyone wants their own Book of Sharp Objects, Book of Pointy Things, or STABBY! A True Story.

Needle books seem like popular largesse items in the SCA (at least according to what I see on Pinterest boards!) and I wonder if something like this but with an SCA-themed picture on the cover would be good to make… After all, I do have that chart for the populace badge for the Outlands and I am certain our shire’s populace badge will be completely approved Real Soon Now. (It’s my own fault that I chose a device that will be hard to make into a cross stitch chart without being rather large — probably 2 inches or more! :-0 )



Garb making and deadlines — EEEK! (and some embroidery)

I’m not getting anything done on my new SCA garb.

OK, that’s not true, I did finish making the pattern for part of it, but I haven’t SEWN anything yet, and the event I need it for is in a few weeks and now I’m starting to panic (“Panic now and avoid the rush!”) that I won’t have enough time to finish this outfit AND my husband’s AND to help other people who WILL wait until the last possible minute to say they need help making their own garb because they seem to think “the best garb EVER” can be made in a Saturday afternoon with no fittings, no pattern, and only ten dollars for fabric.

(Sorry, I needed to rant a little bit, I LOVE helping people with garb but I hate having to hurry and do less than my best because there’s NO TIME.)

Some of that gold velveteen will be used for someone else’s garb, too, but I can’t tell you about that because I promised not to — he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s attending that SCA event, and I’m not gonna even TRY to understand what goes on in his head that he’s so obsessed with maintaining anonymity or whatever he calls it. (I married the SANE one and the other one is not my responsibility even though he is my friend, OK?)

Part of the problem with MY garb is that I want to use a little bit of the dark blue-green velveteen I have in my stash, and THAT fabric “doesn’t play well” with sewing machines. I don’t know why but even though I can sew it by hand with no trouble, I CAN’T get my sewing machine to sew it, the needle won’t go through two layers of the fabric! The color is PERFECT to go with the gold, though, so I’ll try to figure something out. I could sew everything by hand, I actually prefer to do that when I can, but there’s no time… My garb, my husband’s garb, and one other person’s garb all have to be done before the end of October, plus I may be asked to help more people with theirs.

I DID get part of my latest embroidery project done, though – 4 “populace ensigns” for the Kingdom of the Outlands stitched on 25-count fabric, and I’ll sew these onto ribbon (green or gold, I haven’t decided yet) to make bookmarks. My husband thought we should give something to people who have especially nice garb/masks at the November event, and this is what I came up with. (NOT those “nail swords” made by another member of the shire, which is what has been used in the past. They’re cool but they’re also DANGEROUS and we DON’T want little kids running around stabbing people with flattened nails.)

I think it’s funny that when I Googled “SCA” and “Outlands” and “cross stitch” looking for a chart for the Outlands badge, my blog came up in the search. I didn’t think I got that much traffic/readers. (People on Pinterest seem to really like my mini-tutorial about changing the colors for a chart but I don’t know if they re-pin for the tutorial or just for the chart I use as an example.) I need to write another tutorial of some kind, maybe on how to make a needle book with more than a couple of “pages.” (MINE have 10 pages EACH, and they even have titles – Book of Pointy Things and Book of Sharp Objects, and when I make another one like I need to, it will be called STABBY! A True Story. πŸ™‚ )



New fabric for SCA garb, new embroidery project

Got seven yards of velveteen in the mail today… πŸ™‚

In the online photo it looked sort of buttery yellow, a nice color but not one I usually wear either for mundane clothes or for SCA garb. The actual color matches DMC floss color 729 (old gold med.), a color I use ALL THE TIME in my embroidery (because it goes so well with my favorite green, DMC 500).

Now I need to find either a satin or a dupioni silk that goes well with this.

I’ll probably use small scraps of this velveteen for finishing my latest embroidery project, which involves the populace ensign/badge for the Kingdom of the Outlands. THIS time, instead of filling in the background in green, I DYED the fabric so I only need to stitch the white stag and the gold border. That’ll save a few hundred stitches EACH… I’m making several of these to give away in November. (What are they? That’s a secret… Shhhh. πŸ™‚ )


I know a lot of people say it’s “not period” to use cotton velvet/velveteen for SCA garb because “They didn’t have cotton back then” (except they DID, and which “they” are we even talking about?) but at least the cotton kind LOOKS like REAL silk velvet, which doesn’t look at all like the “silk velvet” you usually see.

This photo (from the web site of Sartor, a company inΒ Prague that sells, among other things, some of the most AMAZING reproduction brocades) is of PURE silk velvet (no longer available *sigh*). Notice how it ISN’T SHINY…

Now look at this next photo of “silk velvet” that’s actually RAYON pile on silk ground. It has a really soft drape, and it’s rather shiny, and it looks nothing like all-silk velvet.

I once saw pure silk velvet steeply discounted to a mere $360/yard! (but that was more than a decade and a half ago, and it was a rather unattractive tobacco brown)… That’s why I use cotton velvet/velveteen for my SCA garb…