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.
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.
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.
So! Next weekend is my first official event with the baby. I'm not counting the ball in January because we hadn't planned to be there and didn't even last an hour thanks to the plague. I have various garb specifically made for nursing in the works right now: a cotte with a button front and a hood to go over the top which will be really convenient if I ever finish it (it's been a UFO for TWO YEARS, original blog post here) and an early high-waisted Italian Renaissance dress that will have hooks and eyes or ties at the top of the shoulder straps, originally envisioned as maternity garb last June, but with a busy life, a baby, an impending houseguest, and other excitement I wanted something a little quicker and more trusted for next weekend, so I decided to look at what I already have.
Way back in 2014 I made my red bliaut and gold underdress ensemble for the coronation of TRM Konrad and Kortland. Here is the original post about that, and I will say that those hand-felled seams have lasted incredibly well. The garb still looks good, and has only needed a few minor repairs. Should last a good many years more, though I would like to line the bliaut sleeves and add trim at some point. Anyway, that red dress had a bug that turned out to be a feature. I cut the v-neck way deeper than I meant to, and it reaches almost to the bottom of my ribcage. Wearing the dress without an underdress proved that I could comfortably shift the neckline and get a breast free for nursing, but I still need an underdress for the sake of decency and historical accuracy, of course, so I decided to get creative.
I have looked at a lot of period nursing images to figure out how women did it back in the day. You can see a selection on my Maternity, Nursing, and Kids' Garb Pinterest board if you're interested. Nursing garb in period seemed to either involve vertical slits over each nipple, pulling a breast out of a low neckline, diagonal slits from center front over the nipples, or front-opening dresses, but as a bustier lady I like a little bit more coverage, so I used a different technique copied from my favorite nursing top. I tried on the good old gold underdress, marked the line below my bust line across the front (about where my bra band sits), then girded my loins and cut a horizontal slit from one side seam to the other along that line. I double turned the edges under and sewed them down with my machine. Here's a visual.
Then I sewed five hooks and eyes along the slit (because that's how many I had handy, and that seemed to be enough to keep things secure so there wouldn't be big gaps between them).
With this setup, the slit is low enough not to show with the bliaut on. I can unhook the hooks and eyes and lift the front up enough to nurse the baby but still be decently covered. I'll report back after the event next weekend and let y'all know how it works out.
I'm learning two things about baby garb as I work on dressing wee Freya. 1) hand-me-downs are awesome and I have several friends who have given us lovely ready-made garb. 2) when you are using non-stretchy fabric you need big armholes to wrestle babies' arms into submission.
Here are a few pictures of Freya in her first little gown. This is basically just a tiny T-tunic. Next time I'll skip the underarm gussets and just make wide sleeves. I added extra width and length for her to grow into, but could have added even more. I also had to go back and lengthen the keyhole neckline because baby noggins are enormous, especially babies related to me.
Photos by my hubby.
+6Well! This one has been brewing since December when I finished this hat. Our household has an annual winter solstice gift exchange/party and this year I drew our beloved leader, Master Killian. His persona is late period, and he presented me with an opportunity to make something I'd had on my list of things to try for a while, a knitted and fulled flat cap.
I've been making berets and Scottish bonnets for a number of years, mostly for reenactors in the Jacobite/French & Indian War/Revolutionary War circles, so I had some experience with making fulled caps, which turned out to be a good thing because the only online pattern I found that looked viable turned out to seem needlessly complicated to me. Not having had the chance to examine an actual period cap myself, I decided to use my Scottish bonnet pattern as a staring point. In the future I'd love to do a bit more research about if these caps were knitted top-down or bottom-up, how they were cast on and bound off, etc. Some of those variables are impossible to sort out, so we just have to do what we can. Others are probably only discernible from examining physical objects.
In any case, I based the shape and look of the cap on this one from the British Museum, though I did not copy the 11 stitches per inch gauge of the original, opting for a worsted weight yarn that's probably closer to 6-8 stitches per inch when fulled. This makes for a warmer and more waterproof cap, which can come in handy in our neck of the woods.
Because I designed the pattern myself, I decided to offer it for sale through my Etsy and Ravelry shops to the general public, but I've given it to several SCA folk who are interested in historical knitting, and would be happy to share with any blog reader who's interested in giving it a try, in the spirit of free and open exchange of info. If you'd like a copy, use the contact me link above, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send it to you free of charge. I'd love to see photos and hear your feedback!
For now, though, here is a picture of the finished item, and a few photos of Master Killian himself modeling it. Thank you to my husband, Lord Aonghus, for the photos, and to Master Killian for excellent modeling skills.
Well, another week, another project. I don't really feel like I've made a whole lot of progress with anything. I have had some health challenges (yet again) both physically and mentally, but I still have lots to share.
Here's a preview photo of the embroidery on my new bliaut. I realized that this is the first time I have planned to hand embellish a piece of garb. I am really trying to improve my use of period correct materials, and my new bliaut is a good example. The fabric is 80% silk 20% linen, and this fabric, to be used for the neck facing, sleeve guards, and ceinture (belt) is a slubby silk. I realize the slubs and the coarser weave aren't particularly period, but this is a piece I had in my stash, so it fit the bill (and the budget). The embroidery thread is silk, and I included the box of mints and penny to show that they served as my stencils for the lozenge and circle pattern. I am using a green woven trim from my stash to go around the neckline, and it will also be used in the guards and ceinture.
I am using a mystery brocade-ish fabric in a cream color for the maunche (sleeve) linings. I'm pretty positive it's a polyester/cotton blend, but it looks plausible and again, was something I already had in my stash. In the interest of time I decided to use my serger to do the construction sewing, and ended up using grosgrain ribbon for the side lacing, so it's not my "perfect" period dress, but it will be some very plausible-looking period court garb. I would have loved to finish it by the ball on January 28, but things just didn't work out that way, and I ended up spending a good bit of time helping my sister with a cotehardie that came out so nicely, so no matter. Here's the only picture I caught of it, while she escorted her fiance up to accept an award (Order of the Yggdrasil) from our Baron and Baroness:
Luckily, I have lots of other pretty dresses, and ended up winning Lady of Azure in the Lord and Lady of Color competition with my blue bliaut with pleated skirt.
The ball was very nice. Great appetizers, fun (but not too long) court, one of the best bardic competitions I've ever seen, a brewing competition, nice dancing with live music, and socializing.
Well! I have so much to update about. I am slowly chipping away at my little list of topics still to cover from my recent activities, and now that I have a bit of respite in between summer and fall classes I can get down to business.
Raptor War is our Barony's premier event, and this year I was looking forward to enjoying it after co-stewarding it with my husband last year. It's also sort of a big event for our household, since it's really where we all came together and formed what would become the Cavalry of the Sword and Horse. It was going to be one of the only events everyone could make it to this year, so we really wanted to make it good.
The site was the beautiful Niagra Springs State Park, as it was last year, and we had the place to ourselves, so everyone spread their tents out willy-nilly. It was great for getting the steps racked up on my pedometer, but it led to ltired feet too The Cavalry set up their encampment around the fire pit, and wound up being party central for the event, which is fine with us, and makes it easier to stumble back to the tent when it's time to sleep.
On Friday afternoon we set up camp in our usual arrangements. Period tents in a circle around the fire pit, with mundane tents behind them and out of sight. After all the tents were up, we started preparing for the Pelican vigil of our own Don (now Master) Gomez. The household teamed up to make refreshments, and I was happy to see that his vigil shirt (post on that to come) seemed to fit him well. Once all was ready, the King came over to kick off the vigil, with the other landed Barons and Baronesses visiting next, then the rest of the rabble as they arrived. I stood guard for a shift, and we all tried to share guard duties so nobody was stuck too long.
I wish I could say people were patient and prompt, but as always there were people who didn't comport themselves as they should. It gets hard to be genteel when those who supposedly outrank one can't do the same. I am still trying to figure out the best way to stand up for myself while being courteous and respectful of rank, and I'm still frustrated at the attitude of acting like all is well while gossip and rudeness go on behind closed doors or in private conversations. It can be hard not to let this stuff get you down. Egos just suck when they get out of control.
In any case, the vigil went well, the refreshments were lovely, and we all got to bed at a reasonable hour. On Saturday morning our household held a pancake breakfast for anyone who wanted one, and it was pretty popular, despite some setbacks with the grill. I competed in our Barony's archery championship, and didn't do too badly, though I was no match for our new champion, Pieter.
After the archery, we proudly watched as our newest Quarter Horse (Cavalry member) became a squire. Congratulations to Titus and Sir Etienne. They're a great pair, and he's a heck of a fighter.
My sister Thora came up for the day and brought the dogs with her, which was fun. We don't usually bring them to events, but it was great to have them, especially since I didn't have much to do or much company, as my husband was off marshalling for the heavy fighters. I spent most of the afternoon enjoying the shade and visiting with friends, with a little break to run the children's scavenger hunt, and another to take a dip in the springs, which pour right out of the cliffs above the camp ground.
After our swim we were nice and clean, and somehow all of us ladies got persuaded to take part in the recently un-banned game of Helga Ball, a variation on rugby popular in the SCA among people who like to get injured. It must be played in a dress, with a cabbage for the ball, which can only be caught and carried in a skirt. I was gratified to hear one of the female heavy fighters say that it was far harder, and rougher, than heavy fighting. I got my hand stepped on, and just got my rings off before my fingers started to swell. Nothing was broken, but it was bruised and sore for a week, and it is still tender now, nearly a month on. After the Helga Ball another group played shinty (a Celtic relative of field hockey), which was just as injury-filled and entertaining.
Saturday night we had a fundraiser dinner followed by court. I was helping out in court for this one, so I spent some time before hand looking over the agenda, prepping tokens and scrolls, etc. with the herald, Master Braden, and my fellow Lady in Waiting, HL Malatesta. Funnily, I saw my name on the court agenda, but kind of glossed over it. I thought it was there because I was one of the ones helping out. Of course, that wasn't it, and I was given a society-level award, something I really wasn't expecting.
The award is called the William Blackfox Award, and it's given by the Society Chronicler to chroniclers and Baronies for their newsletters. The Barony of Arn Hold and I were given the award for Best Layout and Design for AS 49. It was really nice to be recognized for my work. I've been doing our newsletter for two years now, and sometimes it feels like nobody reads it. All my fellow hoodlums from the Cavalry, including my husband and my sister, were sitting on the grass at the back, so there aren't any photos, and I doubt anybody could hear our rather soft-spoken King, but it meant a lot to me.
Master Gomez's vigil was really beautiful, and his garb turned out so well. I got a couple compliments on the doublet, which are so nice to hear. Despite my holding up a lantern through the ceremony (and getting the requisite bug bites as a result), it was too dark for any good pictures of the garb, so those will have to come later when we can corral Gomez.
After court the Cavalry held a giant party, culminating in our second annual men's belly dance competition. It was truly entertaining to watch, and our own Duke Ronan will be champion for the coming year. My husband was very happy to relinquish the title. The beverages and revelry continued, with a decent bardic and a lot of good stories.
Sunday morning came far too early, and we were packed and on the road by 11. There are a few photos below courtesy of Her Excellency Kara of Wealdsmere, mka Rachel Kleinpaste.
I like to: play with fleece, spin, knit, weave, sew, garden, cook, eat, bake bread, dance, read, sing, and learn new things.