Heraldic Sideless Surcoat (part 2)

After whip stitching the first two charges onto the dress, I decided to use a running stitch to attach the third (and final) charge. This meant that one of the patonce crosses was attached with a whip stitch and the other was attached using a running stitch. I wanted to see which would work better covered by the couching cord and which stitch worked better for sewing curves and points. While the running stitch was somewhat quicker, I found that I preferred to sew the whip stitch. To me, it felt like I had better control over the outcome with the whip stitch.

To finish all of the seams, I simply opened them up and sewed each edge flat out in opposite directions. This helped to remove some of the bulk that can form at the seams when two layers of coat-weight wool are sewn together.


The final step in preparing the surcoat to be worn, was to attach the brass plaques. After looking for these for several years, I was finally able to locate them. Because they were square, it was necessary to make certain they were precise and straight. At first I marked the center line on the fabric, but it was still too difficult to make certain the plaques were level to the ground. So instead, I marked the center line with tape and then placed tape at the outer edges of where the plaques should sit in parallel lines to the center line. This allowed me to mark spacing on the top and bottom. It worked well!

Now all that is left is to couch braided cord on the edges of the charges.

I had submitted my Arms for registration before beginning this project, I am pleased to report that they have now officially passed. That’s a relief!  🙂 

~ Cristiana

Heraldic Sideless Surcoat (part 1)

For some time now I have wanted to construct a heraldic sideless surcoat made from wool.  Having recently finalized the design and submitted my arms for approval, this seemed like a great time to get started on this project.

I set out to draft a design that would represent my arms, but also work well as an item of clothing. After determining design, I was able to calculate the amount of red and blue wool that I would need for the project. What I didn’t realize at the time, was how difficult it would be to locate the correct colors in the same weight of wool. After purchasing 4 yards of a wool that ultimately would not work for this project, I finally found exactly what I needed at http://www.thewoolconnection.com

The next big decision related to construction. I generally finish hems, cuffs, and necklines by hand, but sew long seams on a machine. My previous exceptions to this guideline have been for ruffled veils, which I have sewn entirely by hand. As I began to work with this wool, cutting out pieces, I recognized that I would enjoy working with this fabric and that it would make a great project to sew entirely by hand.

The next dilemma to be solved involved adding the charges of my heraldic design. I needed to find a source for both white and golden-yellow wool. After significant hunting, it was apparent that finding either of these colors would be extremely difficult. At that point I decided to look for 100% wool felt. I was able to find a really nice dealer on www.etsy.com who sold generously sized wool felt squares in a wide range of beautiful colors.

Once I received the wool felt squares, I taped them to a wall and projected my two heraldic charges onto the fabric. This allowed me to adjust the size of the charges on my document camera and then easily trace the projected shapes onto the wool.

With the garment and charges cut out, I laid them out to begin the pinning process. After measuring and measuring to make certain that everything was straight, I whip-stitched the charges to the garment.

More to come…
~ Cristiana

A New Sideless Surcoat

Green SurcoatFor the last two years, I have been working on putting together a formal outfit to wear at SCA events.

While I have been learning a great deal about sewing by making linen dresses for Mirella, Molly, and myself, I am definitely not ready to put together an outfit made with velvet and fur.  As a result, I did not actually sew these new garments myself.  They were put together by someone with far more talent than mine.

Instead, I was more of a dress coordinator.Smile

I began gathering supplies a couple of years ago when I purchased the silver buttons used to close the sleeves on the cothardie while on a trip to Victoria, BC.  Then I selected patterns for both the cotehardie underdress and the sideless surcoat.  Using linen, I made a sideless surcoat out of this pattern to verify that the style of the pattern was well suited for me.

The green velvet skirt has a bit of a train in the back, which made walking at 12th Night interesting.  Quite a few gentlemen (but no ladies) put an immediate halt to my attempts to walk by standing on my dress.  I suppose this is one of the hazards of medieval high fashion. 😉

The one portion of this outfit that I did make myself is the hat.  The sides are green velvet and the top is made from the same brocade as the surcoat.  It is lined with buckram to help keep the shape.  There is a silver trim and beading on the front.


A final touch for this outfit was to find appropriate footwear.  I located a wonderful SCA merchant who makes shoes and purchased this pair.  I was going to wear black linen hose with this outfit, but at the last moment decided to wear dark red instead.  Just for fun.

~ Cristiana