Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My progress on the ACC has been very slow to start. Thus, to get myself on track with the long list of things I wanted to accomplish with it, I set up a task list and aligned them with my calendar for due dates. Then, I discovered the awesomosity that is Astrid.com. It's an easy to use task list, which has a free Android app for my phone that also syncs google tasks. You can use Astrid to assign other people tasks, or follow other people's tasks like a stalker. And who doesn't want to be a stalker?

You can also set Astrid up to be a widget on your android phone so you can see today's tasks at a glance. Word to the wise though - Google tasks are weak - sync once to import your tasks, and then use Astrid exclusively. I had a background sync activated and Google over-rode the due dates I'd plugged in through Astrid. This is turned off now.

I'm super excited and on track now, as I now know how little time I actually have to accomplish my goals. Yikes! Time to get cracking!

Monday, August 22, 2011

ACC - Muff Progress

I have finally put needle to fabric in the ACC. Finally. Between scroll work, Sven's tunic (of which I still owe you pictures), and my exchequer duties, I feel like I'm very behind.

This image is reflecting the fierce yellow of my living room walls (I usually photograph things down in my studio with my special art lamps), so while the color is off, it's proof I've done something.

Due to the delicacy of the gold worked trim, I have to hand sew everything for maximum control. I have sewn down the two border strips and have begun sewing down the edging braid to "hide the ugly." So far, so good. I'm not really looking forward to hand sewing the fur though...

I have selected some buttons from my stash that have a bit of a gold filigree/black enamel look. I think they will work well. They're extras from my black/red corduroy "doublet" circa 2002. I remember being so proud of that thing, and now I look at it hanging sadly in my closet and wonder what I was thinking at the time.

Friday, August 19, 2011


These are the latest additions to my library. I was stoked to find a copy of the New Carolingian Modelbook (at long last). I have been an avid follower of Kim Brody Salazar for some time. When I saw a copy for sale that was within my budget, I snatched it up. Woohoo!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ACC - Muff Update

My last few days have been spent cleaning up from Midge Marsh Melee (the event in which I neglected to get photos of Sven in his new red tunic... D'oh!). We went to Thrown Weapons practice on Tuesday, and yesterday had to run errands to get supplies to fix a giant hole in our garden hose which is preventing us from watering the lawn. One week without watering in this weather = dead grass. My landlady would not be too happy.

I did steal a few minutes to start disassembling the faux fur lined coat to get pieces to use in my muff.

I have learned that pulling apart old coats is nasty business. Dusty, musty, and the outer fabric is a gross plasticy vinyl that is icky to the touch. Little furry bits fly everywhere.  I did have some success though, and have enough fur from pulling the sleeves apart to line my muff. It will have to be pieced to get the right shape - the sleeves were several pieces of tapered fur, much to my dismay. C'est la vie.

Monday, August 15, 2011

ACC - Muff

Wherein my brain gave birth to an idea for a muff...

Muffs became fashionable in Italy during the early 1570’s, and from there it spread pretty much everywhere. Harrison, as quoted by Janet Arnold, records that “Women’s Maskes, Buskes, Muffs, Fanns, Perewigs, and Bodkins, were first devised and used in Italy by Curtezans, and from thence brought into France and there received of the best sort for gallant ornaments, & from thence they came into England about the time of the Massacar in Paris.” (St. Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August, 1572).

Cesare Vecellio, in the second edition of his fashion book Habiti antichi, et moderni di tutto il Mondu, published in 1598, shows a woodcut entitled "Winter Costume of Venetian noblewomen and wealthy ladies."

There are no extant muffs that I am aware of, but there are quite a few pictorial images of muffs, and documents referring to them.

According to Andre Blum, in his volume "The Last Valois," it is reported that King Henri III of France was fond of "perfumes and cosmetics, ear-rings, velvet or satin muffs lined with fur -- in fact, a whole range of modes formerly reserved for the use of women." Another reference to Parisian fashion for wearing muffs appears in Janet Arnold’s "Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd (QEWU)": “Amyas Paulet was also instructed to get Elizabeth [Queen] a muff or ‘countenance (so they call it here)’ in Paris in 1579. He sent one, ‘the best I can find at this time thinking it better to send this as it is when there is some cold stirring, than to wait for a better till the cold be clean gone. I have caused this countenance to be furred as well as it can be done in this town, but have not perfumed it because I do not know what Perfume will be the most agreeable to her Majesty.”

Venetian costume of noblewomen and wealthy ladies. c. 1598.
Eleanor Verney, Mrls. William Palmer. c. 1590.  William Segar. 
Detail from an embroidered valance, c. 1588-90.  Victoria and Albert Museum, London
 Illuminated miniature of Queen Elizabeth carrying a muff.  c. 1586. Bodleian Library, Oxford.

I've had this black gold worked trim for about seven years - there's only about a yard or so of it, which isn't enough to do much, but after measuring a few things out, is long enough to act as bands on the edges of a muff. The edges of the trim is not even though, as it appears that it was worked on stiffened velvet and then cut into strips. After digging into my stash though, I found this creamy braid that goes smashingly with my pale yellow tufted brocade. I will use this as vertical bands on the edges of a muff.

I have purchased a faux fur lined coat at a thrift store which I intend to disassemble and use the fur to line the muff, as well as add fur trim to my mantelline when the time comes. It is a dark brown mink-ish looking fur. I will use some buttons from my stash as well.


1. Donald King and Santina Levey, The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750, V&A Publications, 1993, 160 Brompton Road, London SW3 IHW.

2. Santina M. Levey, An Elizabethan Inheritance: The Hardwick Hall Textiles, 1998, National Trust Enterprises, Ltd, Great Britain.

3. Cesare Vecellio, Vecellio’s Renaissance Costume Book. Dover Publications, Inc., N.Y.

4 Blum, André, The Last Valois 1515-90, George G. Harrap & Co, LTD. London, England.

5. Janet Arnold, Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d, 1988, Great Britain, W.S. Maney & Son, LTD, Hudson Road, Leeds.

6. http://www.houseffg.org/belphoebe/Research/Muff/Index.htm

7. http://katerina.purplefiles.net/garb/diaries/FL_Manichino_Muff_1.html

8. http://renaissanceitaly.net/mygarb/muff.htm

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ACC - Fabric Choices

My silk coming in a completely different shade than expected caused a problem. This problem:

I hate the way the plum dragonfly brocade looks next to the silk. Maybe I'm being picky, but color is very important to me. In anything I make, be it painting or sewing, my color choices are deliberate. Thusly, I have raided my stash and have come up with the following possibilities:

Here's what I'm thinking:
Sottana - yellow damask
Veste - eggplant silk
Mantelline - Navy velvet
Accent fabrics and possibly mantelline lining - brocade

Right now I'm leaning towards option #3 because the brocade pulls the mauve from the silk really well, matches the navy velvet, and has touches of gold to match the damask. The down side to this option is that I have VERY little fabric. I would probably have to tear apart a Persian coat I made out of it to get what I need. Honestly though? I wouldn't mind over-much. It was a poorly made coat - a rushed job that I never even lined. That Persian also has some awesome buttons on it, IIRC, that would look smashing on a muff. I have used the other two brocades as forepart and sleeves on Elizabethan gowns.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Halloween 2012

Mark your calendars, folks! There WILL be a Victorian Fancy Dress party in October 2012. Date to be determined (I'm thinking the Friday or Saturday before Halloween).

All interested parties are welcome. Leave me a comment or send me a message at cobaltdragonfly (at) gmail.com so I can keep you in the loop for proper invitations.

Victorian fancy dress or other Victorian inspired dress (including steampunk) is highly encouraged. I'm looking to possibly rent a venue appropriate to the theme, because that would be more fun than crowding in my tiny living room (which would hold two bustle gowns, max); so location is not set, but will be in the Salt Lake/Ogden area.

If you're interested in helping me organize this little soiree, let me know.

Now, go start looking at fashion plates:
Old Rags (all Victorian)
Old Rags (Fancy Dress)

These are nice places to start, but there are loads of fashion plates all over. Go forth and drool!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eggplant-ish Silk

I purchased some eggplant silk taffeta from Bangkok Thai Silks (and was pleasantly surprised to have it in record speed). I was less than pleased with the color.

On their website, the color was exactly what I wanted, and though I am aware that monitors make colors vary, I was sure it would be great.

I pulled it out of the packaging to find something closer to a maroon/mauve than the eggplant/aubergine that I wanted. Slightly annoyed, I took it to my special art lamps to see it under better lights. Still slighty annoyed, I took pictures, and discovered that this squirrely fabric hates to be photographed, and I'm not surprised it's not true to the web photo.

Mind you, my camera phone automatically adjusts lighting, but here it is against yellow fabric, looking almost grape(!!):

And here we are with no background colors, which is sort of a light reddish eggplant:

In reality it is pretty close to the medium/dark shades in the second photo. Now that I'm over my initial color shock, I'm not sure how bummed I truly am. It is still a lovely color, even though it's not what I expected, and the silk quality is very nice - good and thick, with a beautiful sheen and stiffness.

So now I'm to decide whether to go ahead and make a zimarre or veste to go with the ACC sottana (but not as part of the ACC) as planned, or to stash it for now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

I recently came across this fashion plate, La Mode Illustree, France 1887, via http://oldrags.tumblr.com/:

If I had an occasion to make a Victorian Fancy Dress... I'd totally make the dragonfly dress. I do love the game one too, but you know me. Anyone up for a Victorian Halloween party in 2012 or 2013?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Weekend Progress

For the ACC, I decided to try my hand at making my own lucet cords to lace my Sottana. I thought I was doing pretty well until I made a mistake and attempted to correct it - but failed at in my attempt. It looked good at first, until I put pressure on it as though trying to pull it tight for lacing - portions of it stretched out.

Ah well, more learning to do, I suppose. This is my first attempt at lucet weaving longer than three inches. I understand that there are also issues with the document-ability of lucet in this period, so I may not go with this after all - but it's a nice skill to have even if it's not 100% accurate for my period.

In other news, I worked on Sven's brick red tunic! He chose and purchased the trim. I had some black linen left over from other projects, so I decided to do the neck facing in black for added interest and contrast.

I measured and cut (in most cases ripped, actually - I love rectangular construction done in fabrics you can rip), and began assembling the tunic. I attached the underarm gussets and then flat-felled the seams by hand.

I usually try to do this using an invisible stitch, but I back-stitched the flat fell instead, using threads of linen drawn from scraps of leftover fabric. I need to work on keeping my stitches a more even length, but I'm pretty pleased with how straight they are looking, on the whole.

I attached the sleeves, side gores, and neck facing, and am now in the process of felling all seams by hand. I will sew the trim down by hand around the neck facing. Then I'll have to sew the sides up, and hem the sleeves and bottom. I might do a guard in black linen around the bottom hem... maybe.