Sunday, December 30, 2012

This Is Good?

I was fully expecting this to be as time consuming, if not moreso than my coif, which is still in the works. Instead, my slips are being up quite fast, and I'm not sure what to do with myself.

The two slips thus far:

 And a detail:

I am in no mood to go back and rip out stitches, even if many of them are on the big side (by my standards, most are four to two threads wide.) My idea for now is to just keep going back and adding to the design, and hopefully this will end up being the leisurely time consuming project I intended it to be.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Something Slightly Different

I marked out and started embroidering one of the slips I planned. The design is inspired by the top pattern on Elenora of Toldeo's burial stockings.

I simplified the design a bit so I would get worked into a tizzy trying to get it just right.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Italian Debut, part 3

I was working on my outfit at a leisurely pace until one day I realized "Crap, I only have a month left!" Nose, meet grindstone. Multiple layers were squared away, and what hand sewn portions I could easily transport, I did.

The overgown is where I departed from by stash dipping. I did not have enough fabric to make a pretty gown, so I bought some online from Fashion Fabrics Club. It's cotton damask in white and light blue, and it took me ages to decide what side to use. I eventually chose blue with white motifs in the hope it would be slightly less stain catching, and it looked prettier with the red. When I started sewing, I noticed a bit of stretch in the material, but I've mostly ignored it.

Drafting the bodice was easy. I traced the pattern pieces of the kirtle on paper, added seam allowance around the sides, and altered the front so it had a pretty V, and the back so it had four pieces like in The Tudor Tailor. I used some of the old kirtle skirt lining for both mockup and lining for the bodice.

I ran construction seams through the sewing machine and flat felled the entire thing by hand. I had some homemade piping leftover from a previous project, and there was enough for the neckline and armscythes. I justify my dubious use of piping in that it is pretty and Gozzoli's 1491 Birth of Mary features a woman with similar edging on her gown.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Italian Debut, part 2

There's not much to say about the camica. I followed Jen Thompson's instructions and machine sewed the whole thing.The only place where one would see the machine stitching is at the neckline, and I doubted many people would complain about this modern touch. it is made from voile and is very sheer, so I'm not putting up any pictures of me wearing it and nothing on top.

I have chronic bed head, and the caps I've seen in contemporary portraits are small. There are far too many chances for my hair to break free and make a mess. Fortunately, there is Botticelli's Portrait of a Plainly Dressed Lady.  A documentable extra cloth to keep my hair in check, yay!
The cap was less exciting. It is an oblong semicircle, hand hemmed and stitched into a three dimensional shape. The edges are very wonky, and I folded pinned it down on the sides to look tidier on the day I wore it. As I am making a much prettier coif, the first one will be taken apart and used for more exciting projects.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Italian Debut, part 1

I am a fan of a particular video game series, and a good chunk of its middle portion takes place during the early Italian Renaissance. I've no desire to cosplay as any of the major or minor characters, but when I made this outfit, I occasionally pictured myself as a part of the background.

Anyway, with my new Zanobia persona, I needed an appropriate outfit, and the SCAdian clothes I previously made were Irish. This needed to be rectified. As it so happened, I had a linen kirtle I started to make but never completed (the embroidery didn't excite me as much as I hoped, which killed my interest,)
and enough voile in my stash to make a camica.

To motivate myself to finish the whole thing, I gave myself a deadline to have it completed by New York ComicCon 2012.

This kirtle was initially meant to be worn for hot weather, and was linen lined in cotton broadcloth.The most important thing was to do surgery on the kirtle. I took it apart, which was tedious as it meant removing the embroidery around the neckline. Once the bodice was in pieces, I used the former lining as a toile and took in (and took in and took in,) the excess material so I could have something snug enough to give my bosom proper support. I took at least an inch off of the side of every piece.

The new lining for the bodice came from a golden remnant of linen. For the front, I quilted two layers together for extra support. I then trimmed down the edges of the outer fabric, folded them over the lining, and hemmed all sides of each piece, except for the tops of the shoulders. That came later.

After the hemming, I whipstitched the sides of the bodice together, added lacing rings, and tried it on so I could pin the straps for optimal fit.

I removed the lining from the skirt, stitched the former split skirt into a tube, hemmed all the raw edges, and cartridge pleated. As my patience has limits, the hemming was done by machine, using the blind stitch. the construction seams were also machined. The cartridge pleating and attachment were done by hand.

For a final touch, I added a double row of some shiny cord that's been lying around for years.

Friday, November 23, 2012

An Exercise in Recycling

This used to be a smock that I made for an outfit I wore to my graduation. I took a page from the Attack Laurel and use some lines of machine stitching to give the idea of embroidery. (See her commentary for her March 2004 photo.) I have no occasion to wear it again , as my persona then was Irish, and my persona now is early Italian Renaissance, so ruffs are right out. I now use this smock as a mine for linen accessories.

The gaps at the bottom are where I cut to make a couple of caps. The first cap I'm not thrilled with and will be taken apart for other projects. the second one is the coif I'm currently embroidering. After I took the top picture, I removed the wrist ruffs and had fun with my seam ripper:

Once I'm done with or tired of working on my coif, I'll embroiderthese strips, most likely to use one day to trim a pair of drawers. As there is at least one article saying that trim and embroidery got recycled between garments, I'm fine with having a separate embroidered trim for a garment. Also, since it will probably be for an undergarment, it's unlikely anyone will see and complain.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An ideal dress

I have not seen Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, and I have no intention to. However, I've seen this dress, and some costumers' recreations of this dress. In my mind, I decided that I wanted to one day make an outfit inspired by, but not a direct copy of it. The starkness of the stripes and the zone front grab my fancy, but I would do the trim differently and go for more historical accuracy than theatrics.

And then one day Demode's Kendra started her Robe a la Turque and an idea started to form. The top layer would be the stripes, the under layer and petticoat would be black, and the trim would be black white and silver. I already have in my stash similar striped fabric, a length of black and silver rococo trim, and some wide eyelet I can convert into fluffy cuffs. Having the proper undergarments and a basic sloper lying around somewhere also helps.

Here is a crude picture of what I'd like:
I intend for the sleeves to be short, so I whited them out on MS Paint and added lines to stand in for engageantes (the aforementioned sleeve ruffles.) However, I am in not much of a hurry to begin, as I have other more immediate projects to work on. I will try to have it complete by next Comicon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Something a bit different

I rather enjoy late 1700s clothing. I even wrote my Master's thesis on them. During my last year in graduate school, this outfit and another emerged as a bit of a side project. To celebrate me finishing school, a friend and I would go forth into the public in 1780s finery. I made both outfits from the chemise out. I chose to give my clothes another outing for this year's Comic Con.

I chose to leave off the fichu and cap as I wasn't in a mood for them that day, and very few at the Con would give me grief about not being period. Interestingly, the day I happened to wear this outfit was the same day a panel on Rose of Versailles was occurring. It's quite the famous show in Japan and a good chunk of the world, so I had to go. While on line, I got compliments and pictures taken. A few more people stopped me for pictures during the day.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kit Musings

I have gotten it firmly into my head that I want to make a period sewing kit. I know that I can purchase one from Historic Enterprises, but much of the fun for me is in the planning, research and creating. Buying one fully formed from the head of Zeus would be a let down. Fortunately, I have the internet and Larsdatter's page on pictorial evidence of sewing tools.

From that page I learned that needles were kept in little vial shaped cases. This leaves me confused as I have heard of references to needlebooks, mainly from a project listed by the Atlantian Embroiderer's Guild. I think the problem lies in that the description is all text, and a photo or several would help clear things up for me. I believe the project is for a place to put needles into, rather than just a pretty book cover, but I can't tell.

Later, I consulted the Athena's Thimble Embroidery Guild. The consensus was that there was scant evidence of needle books being used in period, but there's an air of plausibility to them. Hence, If I am interested, I should go for it.

What is much more understandable to me is a case for scissors. As you can see here in the detail painting with the yellow skirt, there is a pouch for scissors. It seems like a dreadfully impractical place to hang a vital piece of equipment though, I'd be afraid of the things falling out.

Finally, the pincushion.There is at least one painting involving a soft place in which to shove the pointy things. While I'm not putting this eventual project's documentation on the level of a graduate thesis, I like knowing that there is precedent for what I want to make.

So between the needle book, scissors case and pincushion, I'll have some nice 'broidery projects ahead of me.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grid O' Doom

The preparation work for embroidering this thing is notable enough to warrant its own post. Step number one was lengthy as I did it at my leisure between other projects, where I cut out a basic wavy coif pattern, basted it, tried it on and fussed with it until i was satisfied with the look. It ended up as a trapezoid.

Here is the mock up placed on the linen (a smock I'll never wear again) about to me marked and cut out.

Then came the joy of marking out the grid. Each square is supposed to be one centimeter, but some part are definitely rectangles. I eased my mind with the knowledge that not all period things were perfectly crafted. Maybe some wonkiness will add charm to the project.

 Marking this out took days. I took a break after gridding the edges to baste-hem the edges so nothing will unravel mid project.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Preamble to a coif

I've been looking at The Realm of Venus, its showcase, and its contests for a while. The web mistress has been kind enough to set of some guidelines for her next major costuming challenge that is to begin on April of next year. One of the new rules is that if a piece contains painfully time consuming handwork, such as lace making, weaving large items and so forth, you may begin earlier than the official start, provided that you document it and present the evidence when you register officially.

There is a pretty embroidered coif featured in one of Ghirlandaio's portraits, which I know as "Portrait of a Lady," circa 1480.
I can't make you the details of the pattern, which I am using as an excuse to use any design I please. The edging will be a bit more of a challenge, as I would rather that the final product not be so ostentatious, so no pearl border like some have done. I'll probably do a bit of needle lace or picot trim instead.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

An introduction

Hello, I am a person who dearly loves to work with her hands. I embroider, knit, crochet, dye, spin. and sew. Especially sew.

The name of this blog comes from the name I use in the Society for Creative Anachronisms. I used to belong in college and adored it. Then graduate school demanded great quantities of my time and I had to quit. I am now at a place where I can participate again and to mark this new beginning, I chose a new persona. My previous one was Irish of dubious occupation, named Mira.

Now I am Zanobia Firavanti, living in Florence circa 1490. I'm a widow who is running her late husband's wool business.

Here in this blog you will see my musings, research and creations as they come forth. They will not always be Italian Renaissance, as I adore making things of many periods. I also cosplay. My primary lament is that I have very few occasions to wear my creations, so I don't make as much as I would like.