Greetings! Below is the handout from my garb rehab class taught at the Barony of Arn Hold's Arts, Arms, and Academia event. It focuses on mending, refreshing, and generally squeezing more life out of old or damaged garb. Enjoy!
In March, our Barony hosted the coronation of Their Majesties Floki and Gwenevere and the stepping down of Their Excellencies Yuri and Sumayya. Gwen and Floki have Norse personas and have a strong dedication to research and accuracy, so I wore some of my Norse garb, including a newly made Skjoldehamn Hood. The hood is a lightweight gray wool tabby (the original is in a 2/2 twill with slightly different color warp and weft) with a green linen lining (the original was unlined, but I wanted a bit of extra warmth and something to help it lie more smoothly), and the edges are finished with blanket stitch in a gold silk thread. The original hood had whip-stitched edging around the face, but I like the look of the blanket stitch more, and since it's also a period stitch I subbed it in. I found the medieval-baltic article about the hood especially useful, and used the dimensions of the original listed on that page for my hood. If it was any smaller, I wouldn't be able to get it on over my (rather large) head and thick hair, but it does work and the hood is roomy enough to stay on and keep me cozy. This has become one of my favorite bits of garb, to be honest. In the future I'd love to try to make one more "from scratch," as I've always been fascinated with the fact that the cloth was woven from a double-coated sheep, with the stronger coarser guard hairs (tog in Icelandic sheep) used as warp thread and the softer finer under-coat (thel in Icelandic sheep) used as weft, which makes perfect sense. I've been working through an Icelandic fleece that I think would be a great candidate for this.
In any case, the event was a lot of fun, though we mostly spent our time chasing the toddler, who had fun for a while but eventually melted down due to overstimulation and no nap.
The coronation itself was truly wonderful. With King Yuri expiring on the throne and queen Sumayya stating (rightly) that as a Mongol queen she had a right to continue to rule, but she chose to pass the crown on to her heir, queen Gwen. Gwen also stated that she could choose to rule alone, but she opted to call her deceased husband back from Hel with the help of a truly impressive cadre of otherworldly-looking shieldmaidens. Floki obligingly returned, stating when the harvest came, he would be forced to return to Hel. I'm getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
The location, the Gem County Fairgrounds in Emmett, ID, worked really well for our group. I'd love to see them used again. For now, here's a quick pic, courtesy of my husband HL Aonghus, of our daughter and I in our red dresses enjoying the spring sun. You can see my hood a bit here, but I'll come back later and add some more pictures.
I did my first calligraphy for the SCA for the event last month, and the story of how it happened is very weird.
My younger sister, Lady Thora, has always been an artist. My hubby and I have encouraged her to do some illumination since she first started in the SCA. Finally, Aonghus said he'd like to commission a scroll illumination from her. He bought the paper and supplies and she obliged with a lovely 14th century-ish anthropomorphic moose (our Barony's main charge on its device). As any normal artist would, Thora expected to be paid for her commission work,, and Aonghus paid her.
The Baron and Baroness told us they wanted a scroll for the Guardian of Sincerity and Honor for the ball, so I dutifully learned a (still rather wonky) blackface/textura script and cranked it out. At the event, Their Excellencies told me (the sneaky buggers) that the scroll was for Aonghus! I added in his name and they signed it. However, they managed to surprise me too, because when they called Aonghus up to receive his scroll, they awarded me with one too! They both said they had briefly thought about asking Aonghus to do the one for me, but decided that was *too* far, so mine was made by His Excellency Gomez. I need to snap a picture of it, but for now here's the one I did for Aonghus, the only person I know of who has ever paid for his own scroll for a non-peerage award. ;)
For the masked ball this year, I decided to finish the green silk/linen blend bliaut I had started back in 2016 for the 2017 ball (original post here), as the theme for the year was Wear Your Heraldry. In the 12th century, the only way that people really wore their own heraldry was on a mantle, which I doubt I would get much use out of during a ball, but which I will certainly make someday. However, this dress is slightly fancier than the rest of my garb and features my colors.
I never did make a ceinture or add bicep bands on this dress, but I'd still like to do so in the future. I even bought a couple sets of pearls to sew on, which somehow were forgotten in the push to finish.
I also experimented with set-in sleeves on this bliaut rather than my usual square construction, and it was a bit of a challenge. Let's just say it's a good thing my arms are smaller than when I first made the dress, or it wouldn't have worked out. The other challenge is that I let my darling husband help me pin and cut the hem, and it wound up uneven, so therefore shorter than I'd planned. I was able to use some scrap bits of the silk to make a facing inside the skirt so I was only losing a little bit of length, maybe 1/4" instead of the inch or so I'd lose with my typical double rolled hem, but needless to say I didn't have any train for train wrecks. Next time I'll try this great tutorial for hemming without help.
Sadly, the only photo I have is a selfie I took in the car before the event, so I will have to do a photo shoot if and when I wear this dress again.
I also made a mask using the bear from my device as the theme, and made a little circlet with garlic flowers made from pearl beads for it to wear. Again, the only picture is a selfie I nabbed during the evening with my friend Bug, who also wore a bear mask.
The challenge is that this dress is not breastfeeding friendly, and I'm still nursing at this point, but for this evening formal kid-free event it worked well. This was also my first full night away from Freya, who my sister had to basically pry from my arms and hide for me to consider an evening without her. Motherhood is weird.
The event was very nice. I chose the dances for the ball and worked with the musicians to secure live music for all of it. My friend Viscountess Morgan ran the dance practice and we shared the brief instructions before the dancing in the evening. There was a bardic competition, a heraldic mask competition, and a lot of nice nibbles and drinks. I also donated a period spinning lesson with all supplies (including distaff) provided, which was purchased by my friend Mistress Gilliana. We'll have fun with that, I'm sure.
Our autumn baronial event this year focused on welcoming newcomers. We did a demo at a ren faire a few weeks prior to the event and handed out invites to anyone interested in trying the SCA. We had beginner-level classes on topics including garb making, courtly graces, etc. with a dance class by yours truly featuring dances coming up at the January masked ball. There was a pot luck lunch and some fun socializing too. Below are some pictures, including more photos of the red dress I made. See the captions for more info.
I was honored to be asked by my dear friend Baroness Merin du Bourbon to be her consort for fall crown this year. I enjoyed making her a favor to wear a year ago when she fought for me, though I never did get a picture since I wasn't able to attend at that time (being days away from having my daughter). I made her a pair of knitted striped garters in green and white with tassels at the ends. They look very fetching under her armor.
For this event I wanted a new dress, and I had about 2.5 yards of a lovely lightweight red wool with a subtle check, which I received from my mom who had kept it in her stash since she made a dress for me with it when I was a toddler (photo pending). I used it to make a new hangerok for myself with overlapping fronts so I could wear it as breastfeeding garb. I also had some white, black, and red trim in my stash made by Sir Brynjolfr years ago in a swap for some trousers I made him.
My pattern for the hangerok was very simple. I used the basic concept of the 4 gore apron dress (four straight rectangular body pieces with triangular gores between them to form the skirt and modified it. I had four straight panels, but each were 1/3 of my bust measurement (with a bit extra for seam allowance). The front had two of the panels together, with the tops sewn together but the rest of the panels not connected. The two side/back panels met at the middle of the back, with a gore inserted from hip to hem along that seam, and gores inserted where the side panels met the front panels. I added trim around the top and along the seams where the front panel met the sides. I used scrap fabric for the straps, which connect near the back seam and at the seams where the side panels connect to the front panels. I made a rudimentary schematic of the pieces, and if anyone would like a more detailed tutorial, please let me know!
The event was lovely and Merin truly honored me with her skill and chivalry. My husband also competed for his inspiration, our friend Law. Here is the only photo of me I could find from the event, which gives you some idea of the dress. Merin, my daughter, and Merin's hubby Caspar are also featured. Photo by Nicole Scofield.
I have a few other photos of this dress from other events, so stay tuned for more!
Okay, so, breastfeeding. I posted a while ago about modifying my garb for breastfeeding. I split one of my chemises horizontally below the bust and added hooks and eyes to nurse wearing that and a low-v-neck dress. The slit and v-neck worked great for nursing and kept me fairly decently covered (not that I'm very shy about it), but the hooks and eyes were a royal pain. For this modern method, just use velcro. Or, do what I do, and leave the slit hanging open because nobody can see it anyway. The hooks are hard to open in a hurry with a fussy baby and really quite a pain to close, even if you're not still holding the baby afterward.
The Roman garb I made last summer is a breeze for breastfeeding, since the sides are open far enough under the arm to just pull the opening over the bust and nurse that way. If you wear a wrap/veil you can throw that over yourself and the baby if your baby is distractable and/or if you worry you're showing too much (though what could be more Roman than feeding a baby! They REVERED matronhood.).
I recently modified another chemise to use under another dress (see below) and this time took my inspiration from period images of nursing mothers like this one from the excellent What Nursing Mothers Wore page. The image is Virgin and Child by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio (1493-1499)
I haven't taken a picture of the finished nursing slit chemise yet, but I have some progress shots. I basically put the chemise on, marked where my nipples were, then marked out about 6" long vertical slits centered over each. I sewed down a 1" wide strip of linen over the slits (a row of stitching on each side, with a single stitch across the top and bottom) to act as a facing, then cut between the stitches, pulled the facing through to the wrong sides, pressed, and rolled the facings under and stitched them down. This was a good chance to give some love to a rather beat up chemise, which also got repairs to collar, cuffs, and underarms. Here's a before pic of the chemise and one pic of the pinned facing ready to stitch (the facing is on the inside)
So, I'll update more eventually with how those work out. I suspect I'll like them much better, but I don't know that they'll work as well with my standard bliauts.
My next project was one I'd hoped to get done before King's Road in July, a hangerok out of some red wool I have with a sort of shadow check throughout. I only have about two yards, so a hangerok's about my only option. I know there's a lot of debate and very little evidence about how these looked, but I found an image on Pinterest (everyone's favorite legit research site) of a hangerok with two overlapping fronts. Bingo. This will be perfect for breastfeeding over the white chemise.. Here's the image, from this pin from a blog with a bunch of broken image links.
as long as the fronts are fairly easy to detach from the straps this should be both modest and accessible. I am going to do four straight panels 1/3 the measurement of my bust, with gores in the sides and back for shaping. Now I just need time to do it.
Our group was invited to participate in an Amazing Race style competition where runners had to complete different challenges. We set up a little encampment and had participants throw axes and knives at targets, pop balloons by hitting a pell with a sword, use calligraphy to write their name on a certificate of completion, and sew a fabric button.
We brought A&S projects to work on and the baby came too, and we had fun chatting to folks about the SCA and how to get involved. Here are a few pics by my husband.
Phew! Ursula here, reporting from the land of everything takes longer with a baby. I am determined to continue my habit of blogging about events we attend and projects I work on, but I'm a few months behind. Today, let's talk about the May Champions' Revel in Arn Hold.
The Champions' Revel was our first event with the baby in tow, and Aonghus's dad was also in attendance from Scotland. We brought and set up the tent to help give the site a more medieval look, and it wound up being great to have a place to hide out, put the baby for a nap (though she didn't do much of that), and store our stuff.
As the outgoing Arts & Sciences champion, I spent a good chunk of the day helping out with the A&S championship. I did a LOT of judging. There were some great entries, and far more people competing for champion than last year, though I'm not sure my enabling/chatter over the previous year was responsible for that at all. I received the Cirque d'Honneur at the event, the award given to all outgoing champions. The token was a small glass vial containing a few moose hairs from our Baroness's father's moose hunt, hung on a ribbon. Freya thought it was a delicious toy, and since the vial was glued shut I was happy to let her play with it under my supervision.
I had planned to teach some dancing during the day, but honestly, the day was so busy that everyone completely forgot, and it wasn't really missed! That's a sign of an over-scheduled event
The garb I made Freya worked great, and I was able to happily breastfeed at the event. Nobody got a sunburn or bug bites, so that was a win, and I was able to take part in the sword arch the rapier fighters put on for Master Gomez, our Baron, as he joined the Order of Defense (baby in hand of course). There aren't a ton of photos from the day, but here are a few.
I posted last week about what I'm learning about making baby garb and shared a few pictures of Freya in her first SCA outfit. She has a plethora of lovely hand-me-downs from friends, but I wanted to make something special for my little treasure. Anyway, when I shared last week, what you saw was the assembled dress with raw edges everywhere. However, I wanted to make an heirloom piece, one that might be worn by a future sibling, or handed on to other babies. One that would be soft and comfortable to wear, and pretty enough to merit our lovely firstborn. I firmly believe that handmade items are a physical manifestation of love. They show the hours we spend thinking about the recipient and giving them our good intentions. If billed by the hour at a rate worthy of the skill it takes to make these items, they would be cost-prohibitive. To that end, I knew I wanted to put some hours into making something special for my wee dove.
Here are a couple of photos of the final product. All the hems and seams are rolled and stitched by hand in linen thread. The neck closure button is a wee Nazar bead that my husband received as a gift (I believe from previous Artemisian Queen Esther). Nazars are ancient amulets to protect against the "evil eye," and would have been common trade goods throughout the medieval period, as they are even now. Honestly, I'll take all the good vibes we can get, whether real or not. The loop to go around the button is a bit of needle lace in linen. Making that wonky loop was a good reminder that I need to practice my needle lace some more! The embroidery at the collar is split stitch done in white spun silk and features a ramson flower from my arms and an acorn from my husband's (convenient that we both have white plant bits on our devices, eh? We didn't plan that.). This style is universal enough that the dress could work for either my husband's 9th-century Viking persona or my Norman one. Baby clothes haven't changed much, really. I put enough extra room in this dress that Freya should be able to wear it more than once, which is great, since it was certainly a labor of love.
I like to: play with fleece, spin, knit, weave, sew, garden, cook, eat, bake bread, dance, read, sing, and learn new things.