Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Five Foundations Challenge

I have decided to join Mistress of Disguise's Five Foundations Challenge this year.

Unlike her awesomely impressive project list of doing five items in each category, I will aim for doing one in each category.  I know my speed, capabilities, and need, and one per category is sufficient for me at this point.

Challenge 1 - Shifts and Chemises

I have been working on embroidery for cuffs and collar for a high-necked smock, and hope to finish that in order to apply it to this challenge.

Challenge 2 - Stays and Corsets

My stays are about five years old, and don't fit well due to weight fluctuations.  I'd like to make a new set in order to make my wardrobe more versatile.  I have several boned kirtles, but that only goes so far.

Challenge 3 - Petticoats

I desperately need more petticoats.  I only have one, and it's getting pretty ragged.  No excuses other than laziness.  I have fabric in the stash - it's time to make it happen.

Challenge 4 - Skirt Supports

This one is a little tougher as I'm in no mood to redo my farthingale as much as it needs it... perhaps a remodel could count?  I need to remove the bones and bleach the living hell out of it, and re-insert the bones as well.  I may also make a corded petticoat - do we think this could count?

Challenge 5 - Finishing Touches

A new pocket needs to happen, and I'm also making several partlets (or at least plan to!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Napkin Largesse

Or serviette, whichever you prefer.  I've spent quite a bit of time pricking my fingers lately, working on a largesse project.  I started by making a couple of embroidered medallions, which are done in satin and chain stitches. All materials came from my stash, so the embroidery was a mix of silk and cotton floss.  I then appliqued the medallions to hand-sewn linen napkins, made from 14"x14" linen scraps.


The gold embroidered napkins were given to Their Royal Majesties, Raven and Sajah at Solstice Court this weekend, within gift baskets full of goodies from the household I belong to, Sable Sun.  

Each napkin was carefully turned and hand-sewn, with mitered corners.  Of course, we couldn't leave out our Esteemed Barons and Baronesses of the Kingdom in our endeavors.  This happened to be an investiture event, meaning the Baron and Baroness of Loch Salann, the hosting Barony, were retiring, and the newly chosen Baron and Baroness were invested (the ceremonial term for receiving their coronets and taking their station).  The outgoing Baroness has a thing for dragonflies, just like me, so their napkins included some dragonfly appliques from my stash.  They are iron-on jobbies, for which I am ashamed but simply didn't have time to hand-embroider them.

Each of the Baronages in attendance received a gift basket including two napkins, and we also donated a basket that included four napkins to a silent auction.  This was an easy but time consuming project.  I could have done it much faster by machine, but there's something charming about little uneven hand stitches. It was also a great way to use up some of my scraps of fabric.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vintage Sewing Patterns

I began sorting through my grandmother's patterns, and took pictures of some of the oldest ones I found.

THIS.  I want so badly to make an awesome apron to wear for Thanksgiving.  Timing-wise, it's not going to happen, but aren't these adorable!?

I'm completely lustful for the pleats on McCall's 4584.  I do not have the figure for this dress but I may have to figure out a way to make this anyway.

I spoke to Noelle on Tuesday, and we are in agreement.  Crinolines are back.  It's mandatory.  Everyone, spread the word.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Surprise! I sewed a thing!

It's been literally ages since I've accomplished much by way of sewing.  I have, however, been very busy doing embroidery.  Unfortunately it's not exciting to post pictures of yet a few more inches of the same boring blackwork pattern.  I promise I'll share images when the overall project is done though!

So this weekend I hosted an undy-making day, which ended up being a party of one for the most part.  Hah!  C'est la vie.  The good news is I have a shiny new pair of drawers.  This is a "warm" pair, being made of some soft cotton twill.  Not the most period appropriate choice, but these will never be seen by anyone but me.  I have found this fabric choice to be wonderful for cold-weather events.  To further laugh in the face of historical accuracy, they have an elastic waistband, and have some super cute vintage heart lace to adorn my kneecaps.  No apologies from me on this - my drawers = my business.  Well, perhaps partly your business now that I've gone and put a picture of them on the internet...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Family Crafting Fun!

This weekend I spent time with my family scrapbooking and having a great time.  While I was there, I finally picked up an exciting set of packages that my mom has been holding for me.  Vintage patterns!  These patterns are rescued/blatantly snatched from my amazing grandmother's stash.  They include well loved and used patterns from the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's.

I must admit I'm not a big fan of 1970's fashion, so at this point those will be archived until I decide what to do.  I will, however begin cataloging each pattern by company, year, and pattern number and carefully transferring them into archive quality plastic bags so their delicate paper is protected. This project will take me a while as I have other things on my plate at the moment as well.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Old Calligraphy Pieces

Whilst strolling through the internet, I came across some photos of SCA Scrolls that I worked on, but never got pictures of because I only did the calligraphy on them.  Once I'm done with the calligraphy, they were given to Bethany of Windermere to illuminate and I often never see them again.  She's the main one I collaborate with because she's like a sister to me.  Also, she's really good at begging. Hah!

Most of these are several years old.  And again, illumination on all pieces are by Bethany of Windermere.  Hopefully next time I'll have something more exciting and recent to post.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Royal Blackwork

On my way to hang out with friends, I realized I'd be just sitting all day chatting, and would do well to do something with my hands during that time.  I grabbed a scrap of linen from my stash, and some skeins of silk floss as well as needles, beeswax, and a handful of period patterns, and set to doing some blackwork in my spare time.

I chose a spiral/diamond motif from this 16th Century Italian Blackwork samplar, and began stitching in a beautiful royal blue silk.  So far, I have completed enough for one camicia/smock cuff, and intend to do another as well as enough for a collar.  This will likely end up as a high-necked smock since I only have one and it's far easier when self-dressing to use one of those as opposed to a camicia and partlet combo.  Yes, sometimes the easy way out trumps versatility... though can you call hours of embroidery the easy way?  Not so sure...

This is blue silk floss run through beeswax, and stitched onto lightweight linen.  As the linen is not an even weave, and I do not use waste canvas, the motifs are not as evenly shaped as they would be otherwise.  I count two linen threads for each blackwork stitch.

I've had many people ask me how I can do that and still see.  Well, I don't see.  Hah!  Actually, I'm absurdly near-sighted but too much so for stitching without glasses.  The key is good lighting, and the angle of the lighting so you can see the shadows behind the linen to help distinguish between threads.  

The main difference between this piece and other blackwork I've done is that it is not reversible.  The motifs are not connected to one another in any way, and have a tiny square between each of them, so it's not worth it to try and finish off the threads over and over for a reversible look, particularly when it will be the top layer in a cuff.  When I'm done I'll show you the back side for reference.  It's sloppy, but not unbearably so.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Brick Red Norse Tunic

Remember the brick red tunic I was working on for Sven?  No?  Not surprised.  Refresh your memory here.

Well I finished that tunic nearly two years ago, and never got a "Project Complete" photograph.  He's worn it several times but luck was never on my side.

This weekend was Artemisia's fall crown tournament, and he wore it again, and I managed to snap a photo this time.  Although, the sun rising over the mountains led to some interesting coloring.  I swear, there is no filter on this photo.

Both fortunately, and unfortunately, Sven has lost quite a bit of weight since I made this tunic, so it rather drowns him.  This is awesome for his health, but not so awesome for the huge amount of hand sewing I did on this piece.  I don't think I'll be taking it in, though I may have to take the sleeves up a bit.

The frigid temperatures as we set up site reminded me rather briskly that I need to step it up to finish making warmer clothes for Sven.  Perhaps a wrap coat and some wool pants.  His linen pants were far too lightweight to wear this weekend.

100% brick red linen
100% black linen
Silver/Red Celtic knot trim

Monday, September 23, 2013

Frayed neckline - A fix!

After washing one of Sven's Norse under-tunics, I discovered that I had clipped my seams too close when turning and sewing in the neckline facing.  This caused some awful fraying.

Since this is a key area that takes stress, this would not do!  I took some fray Check and covered the offending area, carefully.  This will cause the fabric to stiffen up and will result in plasticy-scratchy fibers.  It may also create stains depending on your fabric, so apply with caution.  

After letting the Fray Check dry, I began running a blanket stitch around the entire neckline.  This added a subtle decorative edge, while also binding the offending frayed fibers back into place.  I eyeballed the stitching length and width, but for perfect accuracy, measure everything first!  I did this in white at Sven's request, but any color would work well and look good, to boot.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Ink

The beauty of having a husband that has parallel interests means we often get to share toys.  He recently purchased some new ink for use in his studies and writings, and happily shared with me.  This is "Black Swan in Australian Roses" by Noodler's Ink.

on Rodia lined notebook paper

Its shadows look like a dark burgundy-ish brown, which lightens to a brownish rose.  If it bleeds, it halos to a lovely dusky rose.  

On Bristol vellum finish art paper
Overall it has a lovely antique brown finish with warm rose undertones.  While not a period formula, it wouldn't necessarily look out of place on a medieval style manuscript.  It certainly would make gorgeous modern calligraphy come to life.

It flows smoothly, but will bleed out on porous papers - which could be beneficial for those looking for the rose halo effect.  As I detest bleeding, the right paper selection and nib size is important with this ink as it will soak down into the paper rather than pooling on the surface.

Do you have a favorite ink brand or color?

Friday, August 23, 2013


I've been trying to expand my skill-set in calligraphy, and when I found out an old high school friend was getting married, I offered to do something for her.  She asked me to come up with a Monogram for her thank you cards.

Being very new to this, I was extremely nervous and did a lot of research on monograms.  It's tricky business, "marrying" letters together in a way that creates a balanced, aesthetically pleasing image.  I came up with the lettering concept and sent it to Lorien for proofing, and she seemed thrilled.  I asked a few questions in order to come up with a frame for the letters, and she gave me very valuable input.

The overall image is very...busy... but it fits their love of steampunk.

This was an awesome learning experience, particularly when it comes to digitizing the image to send to the client.  This is an area I could certainly improve on.  But so long as the client is happy, I'm happy.

Disclaimer:  The frame is from Florid Victorian Ornament by Karl Klimsch, a book in the Dover pictoral archive series, meaning the designs may be used for free for graphic and craft applications.  I would have drawn something free-hand loosely based on this, but due to time constraints (so Lorien could have this prior to her wedding day), it is an exact copy.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Little Incensed

Recently I've been playing with my husband's incense collection, and making custom blends for fun.  You wouldn't think that squishing resin with a mortar and pestle is fun, but it is!  

I start out with nuggets of raw resin incense, and some herbs, and blend them together to suit my personal preferences and/or design goals.  It's important when doing this to test the blend out to see what your nose thinks it needs to achieve balance.  

For resin incense, we use a self-igniting charcoal disk over an incense burner.  We like those as pictured above because after the charcoal is burned and turns to ash, you can gently shake it, and the ashes will sift down into the container below, and you can start over without cleaning the burner every time.  You'll notice it sits on a small wooden base - this is important as the entire brass burner gets very hot from the charcoal, and the base keeps the desk surface safe from scorch marks/burns.

I've used a marble mortar and pestle in the past, but the resins tend to stick to the marble surface (especially if you want to add essential oils to the mix).  The brass one pictured here works much better.

The first blend of the week is something I call "Cleansing White Lavender."  My intentions were to make something that is good for cleansing away negativity, purifying, and acts as an anti-anxiety scent while leaving one open to new positive experiences.  It's a delicate balance of white copal, frankincense, lavender, sage, and Hawaiian white ginger.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New Ink!

As a surprise gift, my loving husband bought me some new ink to play with, Noodler's Baystate Blue.

Ignore the sloppy Copperplate - I haven't done much practice so my technique is still crap (too round, still don't have a grasp on pressure for thicks/thins, etc).  The purpose of this picture is to show off the beautiful cobalt blue hue of this ink.  It's highly pigmented, but a tad sticky, meaning it is not for use in a fountain pen, but works beautifully for dip pens, particularly the copperplate nibs that don't have the separate reservoir.

This weekend we had a bit of a stitch 'n' bitch at my home, though I have been under the weather and wasn't much of a host.  A few lovely ladies came over and played in my art studio, sewing, beading, mending, etc.  I didn't even think to take pictures, but it was nice to share my space, particularly on a hot day when my room is quite chilly.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Adventures in Calligraphy

I purchased an oblique pen holder and some nibs (from John Neal Books) appropriate for Copperplate and Spencerian calligraphy, the two most popular hands for wedding purposes.  This is definitely new territory for me.

Thicks and thins are produced by pressure of pen to paper, somewhat akin to the volume of a note on a piano.  The middle of the nib spreads a bit as you add pressure, thereby providing a thicker line.  In medieval calligraphy, pushing so hard the nib spreads is a big no-no - you'll only serve to damage your paper/parchment and the nibs, and make ink spit all over your work.  These nibs, however, are very flexible and don't have ink reservoirs that helps prevent spitting but leads to constant dipping.

The oblique holder is supposed to help you obtain the angled lettering.  This is something I need serious practice with, as all my calligraphy experience has trained my hand to do everything on a vertical line.  I'll have to pick up some angled practice paper to help out, as my consistency is crap.  My flourishes are also very infantile, but I'm more concerned with mastering the basics before going there.

So in short, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it's awesome and exciting!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Kirk - Final Entry

I finished the hem and Sven wore his "Kirk" tunic to its first event this weekend.  He seemed pleased with it.

In truth, he said it was very comfortable and served him well.  That's the lovely Tanzeda in the background.  Isn't that shade of blue gorgeous?

Final sewing notes:

  • Made of 100% linen. (IL019 Autumn Gold from Fabrics-store.com), and some black linen from the same site.
  • Metallic gold braid on the sleeves was from Jo-Anne's if I recall correctly. Trim hand-stitched on.
  • I used a huge variety of sewing techniques on this thing.  I hand sewed part, hand flat-felled, machine sewed, machine flat-felled, and even serged part of it.  This is what happens when a project goes through phases of completion over the course of a year and you gain new tools and plans on how to deal with things.  Hems sleeves, and facings were all hand-sewn.
  • Basically, it took way too long due to life situations (flood, flood, buying house, packing, moving, unpacking, etc).
  • I really enjoyed making an historical garment that was inspired by something so unexpected.  I'm sure there will be more to come on that front.  Sven is already talking about a Spock Tunic...

This picture has nothing to do with the Kirk, but Their Excellencies Vilhelm and Bethany are family to me, and this picture turned out too gorgeous not to share.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Misc. Weekend

This weekend was full of a lot of crazy randomness, with house guests and the Utah Renfest, to boot.

While the husband was entertaining guests, I snuck away and made him some more bookmarks.  This set came out much better, as I pressed the trim both before cutting and sealing the edges, and after.  I also used some Mary Ellen Best Press to set them (Caribbean Beach and Lavender Field are my faves!).

We went to the Utah Renaissance Festival and Fantasy Faire on Sunday.  I'm sad to say it was not impressive.  Alas, a huge rainstorm on Saturday left the grounds a messy mudpit, and it was the last day of the faire, so merchants were low on awesome.  It even seemed like the entertainment was weak.

I was, however, able to pick up my headband from Sable Greyhound, and while the picture doesn't even come close to showing how amazing and sparkly it is, I'll post it anyway.  I think these don't like having their pictures taken because the crystals are so reflective.  Holly, if you're reading this, I think a little video might benefit you! I got compliments all day from strangers.

And while trying to capture the headband, I discovered that my aging face is kind of oddly foreign to me.  Has this happened to any of you?  It's not like I don't see myself in the mirror every day, but it's different in a photo.  Like... I really had no idea I had that much of a dimple.  Where did that come from?

Veil + wind + humidity = crazy fuzzy hairs

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

25th Street, Ogden

Sunday I arrived early for a showing of From Up on Poppy Hill at the Arthouse Cinema 502. It was a glorious spring day, so I wandered up and down 25th Street (Two-Bit Street for the historically inclined) to kill a little time.  I've been reading a book about Two-Bit Street, a fascinating history of a seedy part of town, birthed by junction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Local lore has it that gangster Al Capone declared the place too wild for his tastes.[1]

The place is much different today - a street of eclectic shops museums, restaurants, and more.  I was struck by how pretty it is. I don't miss living in Ogden, but I must admit it's a pretty cool city.

1. USA Today

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sonnet 116

A friend of mine became extremely ill in January, requiring extensive hospitalization.  A group of us participated in an online auction of sorts, donating goods and services to raise funds to help his situation.  I donated a custom piece of calligraphy, suitable for framing.

It has taken an inexcusably long time to finish this, for which I have much to apologize for.  But Phae was the lucky winner.  She asked me to do Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare.  Excellent choice.

This is 8x10 with a wide blank border on the left for additional decorations to be added.  I had extreme spacing issues and had to start this over four times before I got it down.  It was longer than I anticipated so had I continued on, I would have run out of paper.  Woe betide the scribe who fails to measure.

I used a slightly modified Gothic Textura Quadrata  with decorative cadels on the top line.  Higgins Eternal ink on Bristol smooth finish paper.

A a bit of a segue related to someone paying for calligraphy, I've been interested in starting a side business, doing calligraphy.  Does any one out there have advise or input on this?  Recommendations?  Suggestions?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I'm super excited.  Holly over at Sable Greyhound Gifts made me a customized headband.  Ok, let's be honest.  I threw some money at her and told her what color I wanted.

You can get one too.  (I know, I've given her lots of crass commercial announcements, but LOOK!  Shiney!) She's on Facebook, but these are also over on her Etsy page.  Mine is indicolite.  I'm sorely tempted to get another in a more neutral color.  Another style even... but alas it must wait until more money is to be had.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Kirk

Now I have to be honest... The Kirk is not 100% done.  I asked the husband to try it on so I could mark out the hem, the last remaining thing to be completed.  I'm pretty pleased with it, but he has lost a little weight since I started the project almost a year ago, so it's a little loose on him.  We're just going to roll with that though.  It gets belted in anyway, so I'm not altering it.  Especially since those side seams are all hand-sewn and hand flat-felled.

He decided that with his new buzzed head that he looks like Kerry King and therefore wanted an impromptu photo session.  What can I say?  He's got metal in his blood.

I'm finding that with each new piece I make, I learn new things.  This time, I've found that Sven's shoulders are pretty deeply sloped, making a true T-shaped tunic drape oddly on him. The armscye really does need to be cut in and fitted to him or it slides around and makes the neckline look very sloppy.  Duly noted.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Go Shopping.

Admittedly, I don't do steampunk (yet).  But I have made respect for those who embrace it and rock the socks out of it.  So this is a shout out to the awesomesauce peeps over at Kelley Emporium (whom I know and love, and will personally vouch for their extreme loveability).  Their etsy shop is right here.  Go check them out.  The Doctor Carnivale mask (with monocle!) makes me grin.  Pretty much all their stuff fits right into the steampunk genre.

While I'm dropping names, go check out Sable Greyhound Gifts.  Holly makes pretty much all my costume jewelry and is pretty much one of my favorite people.  She'll even make custom stuff, so contact her with your ideas and she'll churn out this amazing bling that will knock your socks off.  Like her on Facebook, and you'll get notices when she's running specials.

I'm IN LOVE with her new prototype headbands.

Photo: Jeweled headband prototype 2
(set crystals and pearls, pearl drops)

Go shopping.  You know you want to.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Marginalized. Also, Zombies.

Someone drew my attention to this via Facebook, but a bit of web-searchification, found the source.  So I won't directly show the image, but urge you to go over to Lapham's Quarterly to see a hilarious scribal/calligraphy related picture.  It's all about complaints made by medieval scribes.  I'm pretty sure I've made all the same complaints on occasion.  Love it.

Because no blog should be without pictures, here's a few for fun.  In honor of the new Evil Dead movie, there was a production of Evil Dead, the musical.  My friends and I dressed up like zombies, and went to the show (which was hilariously awesome).  Be jealous.

I am a melancholy zombie.
Jenny is a glamour-zombie

John, Kao, and Theresa are bored and hot zombies.