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…
This last weekend brought a lovely cool winter day for Glymm Mere’s Yule Feast. Gerald and I were excited to enjoy a beautiful day with so many of our friends. Although when we left Huntington House that morning, we could not have imagined what a special day lay before us.
Gerald was called into Royal Court to receive his medallions for the top Thrown Weapons scores in An Tir for 2011. He had not expected to receive these and found himself caught off-guard, which was the perfect time to surprise him. Needless to say, he was astonished when The Crown asked him to kneel as the Royal Herald called the members of the Order of the Grey Goose Shaft.
This order has traditionally invited new members for their excellence in archery, but Gerald’s skills are found in the area of Thrown Weapons. That they have chosen to include him in their numbers, is a great honor.
Listening to our dearest friends speak on his behalf brought tears to Gerald’s eyes. (I had the perfect view of this.) The stunning 14th century style scroll that was presented to him, featuring images of our family, brought tears to mine.
What a wonderful honor for Gerald and an amazing surprise pulled off by some really phenomenal people. We are humbled by it all.
…Special Note – this brilliant scroll was designed and made by someone we don’t even know, Rowan Beckett Grigsby. What a gift!
After marking all 1200cm of veil tape, the pleats were made by placing a running stitch at each marker. Once the pleats were drawn up, the veil tape was attached to the veil with a simple whip stitch. Two stiches were used to attach each pleat.
I was extremely pleased that after all of the measuring and pleating, there was only about 5cm left of unused ruffle. The calculations turned out to be quite accurate. This veil drapes and moves differently than the first frilled veil that I made.
It has been an experience to learn to pin and display it in ways that I had not previously tried. I feel a special bond with this project, as it was my first well-researched creation.
And now for the next frilled veil… 😉
I decided to acid dye the dress, as this could be done on the stove while I was preparing some food that would travel with us to the war. This made for an interesting afternoon; stir the sauce, cover the sauce, stir the wool, repeat… 🙂
I am happy with the new red dress that Molly now has, and thankfully, she is happy with it, as well. Hopefully, it won’t show quite as much dirt as its pink predecessor. Huge thanks to Elisabeth de Besancon, who re-hemmed it (a bit shorter to avoid future issues) while I ironed (and ironed) our clothes for An Tir/West War. I couldn’t ask for a better laurel. Seriously, I couldn’t. 🙂
Molly has grown so much this last year that it was clear she would need a new wool dress for this camping season. I looked around and found a wool that I knew she would love – pink. 🙂
And so I finished this new dress just in time for Honey War, which was great as it was a cold and damp event.
Unfortunately, because I cut the dress full length to keep Molly warm, it often touched the ground as she played during the day. Each time I saw her, more and more dirt had wicked up from the ground and by the end of the day the bottom of her dress was no longer pink.
After three washings, it was obvious that the pink dress was not going to come clean. Alternatives would need to be considered. With An Tir/West War looming, I decided to dye the dress red and hope that the darker color would hide more dirt. 😉
For several years now, I have been studying the frilled, ruffled, pleated, and crimped veils of the 14th century. In the fall of 2009, I made my first attempt – a veil which I have loved and worn and worn. However, it was definitely a beginner’s attempt.
After examining dozens and dozens of images and reading every frilled veil article that I could get my hands on, I decided to make a second frilled veil in the fall of 2010.
This time, I decided to have the ruffle surround the entire veil perimeter, which was 235cm. The next decision was about the style of the ruffle. For this project, I made the decision to use a cartridge pleating technique. As such, I experimented with 3 different pleating sizes: 0.5cm, 1.0cm, and 1.5cm. After trying all 3 sizes, it was easy to choose 1.0cm as the best size for both width and spacing.
The next problem was to figure out the best method to mark for the pleats. I decided to use pins instead of a modern marking pen as a possible method more authentic to the middle ages. With 1cm pleats, 1,200cm of veil tape was needed – with 1,200 marking pins.
This year’s Kingdom Arts & Science – Bardic Championship was an amazing experience. The morning started with a surprise when I was honored with a Jambe de Lion from the Crown of An Tir. After morning court, I had a great time judging the Children’s A&S Competition. An An Tir 5th grader made butter and cheese for the judges – and it was excellent. She was a skilled presenter and the butter was very tasty. 🙂
Later, I was a student judge for a 14th Century Wool Dress entry. This was a genuine learning experience. I was impressed by the quality of the work and by the questions and observations made by the judges. For me, personally, I was appreciative to have an opportunity to reflect on my own work and research in comparison to some of the phenomenal artists of An Tir.
The highlight of my day was becoming Baroness Brighid’s protégé. We had a (thankfully) short, but meaningful ceremony. Again, I found myself honored to become a student to one of An Tir’s great peers. What a significant year this has been for me.
Both of these images are © Talentus del Albero, who’s skill is brilliant. I am in his debt.
I have been in the SCA for six years now. At some point during each and every outdoor event, I think the same thing. “My hands are freezing!” For this entire time I’ve been wanting to wear mittens or gloves, but unable to find the evidence I needed in order to do so. And so up until this point, I’ve allowed myself to walk around, weekend after weekend, with cold hands.
Well, the time for change has come. Perhaps it is my impending 40th birthday, but I no longer find this situation to be acceptable. 🙂
This last year I started looking around for images from the middle ages of gloves or mittens. Most of what I found was either being worn or carried (often tucked into a belt) by men. There are both mittens and the 3-fingered mittens, which likely evolved toward gloves. A number of excellent examples can be found at Kongshirden 1308 – Akershus (a Norwegian site). Here is an example from the Lutrell Psalter:
I mentioned that I wanted to make a pair of mittens and then embroider on them to my mother – and it was my lucky day. Mom gave me a pair of mittens that she had made a few years ago. These were originally knitted in wool and then fulled to shrink into a smaller, thicker fabric. Sadly, when they shrank, they became too small for my mother. However, my hands are just a bit smaller than hers and they fit me. Yay!
I decided to try embroidering on them and was very pleased with the results. But then like so many of my SCA projects – one thing led to another. I decided that these mittens would be so much better if they were red. So, out came the embroidery and into the dye bath they went. I’m just giddy with the results.
And here is the final product – awaiting new embroidery. 🙂
So, having selected this plaid fabric and then worked up the courage (and documentation) to make a houppelande out of it, it was time to settle in on a style. I decided to cut this in the style that starts with two half circles, which are then cut down to quarter circles. The end points of these circles are cut off and then sewn together to form the shoulders. The nature of this style causes the plaid to fall on the bias.
With such a detailed and busy pattern, Elisabeth suggested a simple style and finishing – and I agreed. My plan is to cut the sleeves fairly fitted and the cuffs and collar will be finished in a brown fur.
Having made that decision, the next quest was obvious…find the fur. I ordered 7 brown fur samples from a company that sells the most amazing faux fur. Some were just too distracting, but in the end I found what I was looking for – a classic rich brown.
It all started last November with a visit to the Pendleton store. Just look at what I found – an exceptionally lovely woven plaid. Not surprisingly, 11 yards came home with me. While I knew that I could document plaid fabrics to 14th century England (Museum of London, Textiles and Clothing pg. 50), I was not certain about using it for a houppelande.
And so, I set out to find evidence of woven plaid wool used to make a houppelande – and I found it! Located in Germany, at the Heidelberg University Library, is a text produced in workshop that existed in 1418 Alsace, France. This book tells Rudolf von Ems’ French tale Willehalm von Orleans (1235–1240). It is the story of an ideal knight striving to survive in a harsh world of practical realities. Imagine my excitement as I examied each page (wonderfully photographed and posted online) to find multiple plaid images.
And so, I’ve begun the process by cutting out the gown. Now I’m committed to the plaid – and loving it!