Archive for April, 2007

The textile guild of the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael inherited several huge boxes of fabric and sewing equipment from THL Caitlin Dierdre, who lost her fight with breast cancer late last year. Last night at guild meeting we did a preliminary sorting through the boxes and found yards and yards and yards of fabric – enough to supply us as we endeavor to flesh out the baronial gold key, to set up a textile guild sewing box, and the seeds of a textile guild library.

Our plan for next month is to get a better idea of what’s in there – inventory, burn test, etc., and then decide what’s going to be used for loaner garb and what’s going to be used for other purposes. In the meantime, there’s a hell of a lot of fabric in my sewing room. ;^)


I’m reading Home: A Short History of an Idea for my dissertation, and it’s full of information about domestic life in the middle ages.

Rybczynski, Witold. 1986. Home: A Short History of an Idea. New York: Viking Penguin Inc.

I’m reading it for information about the development of the concept of personal privacy, but I’m also making SCAdian notes and will be making a copy of his endnotes because they’re full of citations to books on the middle ages. (My favorite so far: Wright, Lawrence. 1980. Clean and Decent: The History of the Bath and the Loo. London: Routledge.)

ETA: Best quote so far:

“A well-dressed squire [in the late Middle Ages] resembled Michael Jackson in a sequin-covered nightclub costume” (33).

I just finished destroying my first official A&S entry.  The entry was my red cyclas, which I made five and a half years ago.  I was so very proud of it at the time.  Now I look at it and think, what was I THINKING?  Long arm openings, ok.  But the skirt was nowhere NEAR full enough (only one gore per side) and the TRAIN!  Oh, the train.  *shakes head*

I entered it in the A&S competition at Kai & Michaelene’s investiture, and it was well-received.  I got a Queen’s Favor (from Olivia) and won the competition.   I was a nervous wreck all day watching the judges pawing over it.

Because of the too-narrow skirt and the ridiculous train, I haven’t really worn it much at all.  I couldn’t alter it because I don’t have any scrap left.  When I was going through the SCA closet a while back, I decided that rather than hanging on to it in its un-worn state, I should take it apart and use it for something else.  And so I have – it is destined to be 2 tunics for Shoshanna (one for now, one for later).  I’m pretty sure that I can get a tunic that will fit her now (with a good bit of growing room) out of just one of the body panels – certainly I’ll be able to do it out of the front body panel and one of the gores.  That will leave the other body panel and gore for a future red garment for her.  (Or maybe I’ll make myself some short red hosen.  That would be fun.)

So, just for old time’s sake, here it is…  (I don’t wear that veil anymore, either, but I do still wear the black linen tunic on a regular basis.)

red cyclas

I ended up deciding just to flap the edges of the neckline down rather than trimming them and overlaying a facing.  The primary concern there was bulk, and I think the facing would actually have been bulkier; certainly the bulk would have been less distributed.  I also did some “decorative” running stitches around the edge of the neckline – also intended to stabilize it a bit, since it’s very much on the bias.  I’ll probably do the same stitching on the cuffs and hem.  Other than that, I got one sleeve put in.  That leaves me with probably two or three more evenings of work on this garment, depending on how long it takes me to set the gores.  I also actually got to see how it’s going to look ON last night (other than the tabard-look that we got the other night when I checked out the neckline) and was quite pleased with how it’s draping.

(No new pictures, sorry.)

clipped from

An Upgrade for Ye Olde History Park

Patrick Henry was sitting just to my left in the Virginia House of Burgesses as the debate raged about the events that had been following the Boston Tea Party.
One doesn’t really step into the past here, or in any of the other historical villages developed after Colonial Williamsburg’s pioneering success.
Reproductions and renovations and innovations intermingle, creating an image of the past so carefully constructed that it is a re-creation in all senses of the word.

After perusing a bunch of pictures in my archives yesterday, I concluded that I had, in fact, made the slits in the body panels too short. See, for example:

Maciejowski Bible, f. 18v

Maciejowski Bible (need to check the folio numbers)

As you can see, the slits clearly come up to the waist. So I ripped a total of 17″ of stitching out last night. Once I had that done, I stitched the shoulder seams and was able for the first time to actually put the garment ON Matatias. The diamond-shaped neck is going to work just fine and I guesstimated the size perfectly. I also checked the fit of the sleeves, which I had convinced myself were going to be too small, but they were just right.

Progress on Matatias’ riding tunic. I finished stitching the lining and fashion fabrics together (I did the gores last because they were the finickiest of the bunch) and then started on the actual construction (well, except for the sleeves and gussets, which I did a while back). I started with the body panels – measured how long I wanted the split to be (and I fear it may be too short, but that will be relatively easy to alter later) and stitched the center front and back seams. I also left slits for what will ultimately be the neckline – it’s going to be diamond in shape, and I haven’t decided yet if I’m just going to flap down the fabric or if I’m going to trim it and apply a facing over the raw edges. Again, this is a decision that I can make later.

The body panels have presented a bit of a challenge, actually. They’re not entirely uniform – and one is substantially smaller than the others. That one is also the least square of the four – I think I’ve managed to arrange it such that the difference in size won’t present me a huge problem, but the consequences may not show up until the garment is on the body.

Progress pictures:
Lining Stitching

Stitching in the lining… you can just see the previous stitch against the brown fabric between my fingers.

Seaming Technique

The seaming technique… it’s just a whip-stitch through all four layers of fabric. Each stitch is very small – about three threads from the edge, and four or five threads apart. They have to be this small to keep them from showing through when the garment is right side out.

Sleeve & Gusset Join

The join point of the sleeve and the gussett. I had to double-stitch this, because the first time my stitches were too big and all showed through to the right side. That’s why I’m making them so much smaller now.

I’m still not sure how this technique compares time-wise to other flat-lining methods, but I do like it. The actual construction goes fairly quickly, even though I have to be very careful about keeping my stitches small and I can realistically only take one stitch at a time. I never keep track of how long it takes me to do things – and I think I’ve disappointed a lot of people when I’m completely unable to answer the “how long did this take you?” question.