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Anyone have an excess?

I'm so out of time I really don't know what to do. I have a terrible yearning to do handcrafts but absolutely zero time. I cannot do anything while the toddler is up, and in the evenings I don't really have that much extra time either. Still need to do other things, like clean and laundry and what not. And it's only going to get worse with the studies.

<sigh> Have a few have-to-do's on the list at least, like a new jacket for the little one (blue velvet with a pink silk lining) and then I'll probably move over to the new corset. The black jacket is waiting for the embroidery (actually, at the moment it's waiting to come home as our luggage has not yet arrived from Saturday's homecoming), so it'll take me a while still. And I had a weak moment and promised to make another embroidered Egyptian linen shirt as a combined birthday/Christmas present. Looks like it's going to be a long year...

Where do people find all this time to do things, I wonder? Is there like a secret handshake you need in specialy shops in order to get a few extra hours a day?


...But not yet.

I should tell you, though, that there is very little to go. Namely button holes. Sixteen button holes.

And that is it.

So, after this weekend (being the baronial investiture and the Great Unveiling of the New Red) you shall have a rather lenghty description of the process of the NR. With pictures.

Now, all you can do is wait...

Go me!

She's on a roll!

The embroidery for the jacket is done! That is; I have now attached atleast 40m of braid onto the velvet. I still need to attach some to cover the seams, but, as the pictures (!) will tell, I haven't yet sewn the pieces together. That is my next assignment.

And I will, at some point, when I'm not so overly frustrated with the making and sewing of the braid onto the velvet, embroider the sleeves as well. I decided, however, that there is no way I would have the sleeves finished by the Investiture (in two weeks) so I'll leave them for later. Too much of good thing, you know...

The new silk yarn I got form silkkikauppa.com worked really well. The colour came out beautiful, a little lighter and brighter shade of golden yellow, because the white was much brighter to start with. It is also a filament yarn, so the shine is gorgeous. Anyone got medieval shades? The new yarn was slightly more headachy to work with, being filament yarn and snagging on everything, including air. Ok, mostly on my nails and teeny weeny holes in my finger where I keep poking the needle in, but is was frustrating. On top of which it was so slippery it kept sliding of the bobbins constantly. I ended up doing a triple running knot on the bobbin to keep it on. The results can be seen only on the bottom of the picture in the hem pieces, the rest is done with the old yarn.

So here as promised, more pictures:

Here being the embroidered pieces all together. The hem pieces are done with the new yarn. The colours match fine, but I'm slightly peeved at the fact that I had to do the lines crooked at the bottom, because of the curved edge. I mostly did it relatively free, only making sure that the front and back would match. Thus they look a little off. I'm not sure yet if I have to do something about it later.

Here is a picture of the hem inner lining with the felt stitched on. The stitching of one hem piece took three hours. And, boy, was that boring. I've done similar stitching on the collar and wings, but slightly denser on those. The skirt can be a little less stiff than especially the collar. They look good, though...

Next on the list is attaching the pieces together and figuring out how to attach the buttons. I'm contemplating putting the cotton stem through the velvet, and then sewing it on from the linen side. Sound complicated? Don't miss our next exciting episode!

A quick note...

...to say I have finished the buttons! All 28 of them. Go me! This leaves my to-do list at:

-Embroider the wings
-Cut and embroider the skirt
-Make holes for the sleeve attachment (about 20 each side. Great...)
-Sew everything together
-AND make the sleeves (this includes cutting, sewing and making some hooks for the attachments. My plan is to embroider the sleeves later when I have the time and inclination. I think after the jacket I don't want to see yellow silk braid for a while...)

The jacket overall will have several sleeve options: the embroidered stripy ones, hopefully pinked silk satin ones, and read blackwork smock ones. At least. This will make the jacket the only garb I'll be wearing for the rest of my life (excepting the black embridered woollen jacket I'm planning next ;)
I have done things! Yesyesyes! I haven't been lazing about doing nothing. I have been to the gates of desperation and back.

To those who have not heard me complain about this in person. I ran out of the yellow silk to make the braid. Bummer. To put it mildly. But after searching the web and ordering some from Pennsic (which they didn't have. Thanks nevertheless, A!) I bought some relatively expensive silk from Sorri. Doubled up it is almost perfect. The colour came out somewhat uneven, but since I have to double it and then still braid it, it makes no difference. So now I can finally continue with the project.

No, I haven't stayed away from the project altogether. I have 5 more buttons to go still (that's out of 28), I have finished the lacing strips (=40! holes together) with silk. I decided in the end to put a strip of fine linen inside the lacing strip, which is otherwise silk satin. The satin I have is so thin and fine I don't believe it would take the pull of the lacing by itself. I have finished the collar, with a padded and stitched inner lining. I have cut out the double wings and the padding for them, and stitched the padding for stiffness. My plan this weekend is to cut the silk for the lining and sew it together, finish the buttons, do atleast a kilometer of braid, and maybe even sew the main patterns together, if I have time after attaching the braid to the wings and the skirt. Lots to do still.

Even more, as someone kindly pointed out, that I'm not really making a jacket, but a vest. So I need to make sleeves as well. They won't have embroidery on them (yet), though. I'm hoping The NR will be finished for the Investiture. This means I have about 1months, that is 30days, to finish. And I really should sleep sometimes...

But, here as promised, button workshop in pictures:

The cotton covered wood base for the button and the pattern for the velvet cover.

The first stage of the velvet cover: the envelope.

The second stage of the velvet cover: folding in the corners.

The velvet is then sewn onto the covered wood base. They look like berries once done.

The velvet in then emrboided with silk. I used pearl silk, which I dyed the right colour. The embroidery is done with 6 threads across the top to make 12 lines from the centre, then worked round the edges making little cross stitches around the threads. The centre top is finished with a few stitches across to make a little puffy knot on the top.

And here it is! Only 27 more to go!

More pictures next time! Promise!


The main event of the year

It's coming up. The long awaited Cudgel war. Ten days of medieval fun the in the sun. Sounds bad but _so_is not.

I'm mostly looking forward to the long hours spent with a needle in good company. And in this case, time spent on the NR is my main to-do. I'm also going to hold workshop on Reticella and Punto-in-aria. I wish I had more time for lace-making, but it is soooo time consuming I simply must finish other things first. But I was able to finish a coif with a nice forced work hem that looks so pretty. I finished it watching The Dirty dozen. Time well spent, on both accounts.

What I'm not so much looking forward to is the continuos and neverending packing. This year, finally, I'm going to have everything looking as period as my own (and E-M's) comfortability allows. That means, all mundane things well out of sight. Finally. This does mean, however, a LOT of stuff. I've been packing for almost a week now. Need I say more. But I was happy to notice that almost all the garb I'll take this year is to my liking. I still need a few jackets and smocks but those will come in good time. Most of my garb is perfect (to me). Maybe next year I can say it is all perfect...

And what I'm not even thinking of is the unpacking. The washing. The cleaning. The shooing of spiders and ants away from the boxes. Couldn't I get someone else to the unpacking? It'd only be fair, considering I did the packing...

Ten days of pleasure, two weeks of laundry and messy rooms.

It's so worth it!


Catching up...

So far done on the New Red (just so you know I'm getting somewhere):
-The entire back piece is embroidered and ready to gogo!
-One front piece is nearly ready (waiting for one piece of lace I will put in last due to sewing technical reasons ;) )
-The other front piece embroidery started. Then I realized I (still) don't have enought lace so it's back to the pillow. And to tell you the truth, after about 30 hours and 20meters of lace I'm getting a little tired of making it...
-The button cores (space spawn as I like to refer to them) are good to go.
-The inside lining is ready and boned and waiting to be covered.

Unfortunately, now I have to concentrate on the more urgent sewing, that is smocks for the tentcamp in July and trousers for G. I'm pretty sure E-M will manage with what she has leftover, plus the smock and hood and socks coming from wonderful aunties. The great thing about kids clothes is they don't take very long to make being so small and wee. And cute. Just like real clothes only smaller. And no, I'm not going for the "wonderful" article I read on SCA childrens clothing (use velchro and elastic for attachements. Also fabrics that last like denim. Riiiight...)

Nevertheless I'm very happy with my progress. The lace making and sewing it on is taking more time than expected but it'll look all the better. Soon I'll be able to cut the silk lining and start making the lacing strip with all its 36-or-so holes. Yay.

I've noticed that the problem of connecting children with sewing is not the main issue. It's more the finding time and space to cut the material that is of an issue. In an hour you don't get much done on that field. Working with silk and other "precious" materials you want to be sure you're in the right, so planning takes much longer than expected. Especially when you don't have a pattern. Thus I have given up hope for finishing the New Red for the tent camp. There is, though, baronial investiture coming...


I did it!

 No, not the entire New Red, but... pause for effect... I figured out the buttons! 

Now, to the average Jane this does not seem that marvellous. But anyone who has read Janet Arnolds description about the buttons recreating them can be challenging. The description is more or less knotted cotton or wood core, covered with velvet and decorated with silk webbing. Yay. Umm. What? The pictures don't help much either. Of the five buttons in the picture, one is different than the others, and three totally obscured. And did I mention it's a black and white photo? The only thing you can deduce from the one button you can actually see, is that yes, it has some sort of knotted weblike silk embroidery on the top. Do I need to hire a spider?

No. I need creativity and a child sleeping happily on the balcony. Two cups of coffee help. For me, not the child.

I had previously bought wooden buttons of 12mm, no holes, flat on the one side (not holy on the other ;) ). Now out come the buttons. I also located, after serious excavating, some undyed, unbleaced cotton from my stash. I then proceed to cut a strip of about 1-1,2cm wide from the cotton. This will cover the wooden core. I fold it a little from the centre where the core is layed and proceed to sew the cotton on. So far so good. 

Then the velvet. Now velvet as many of you know is not the most co-operative of fabrics. It tends to fray in the sense that flowers tend to bloom and rain tends to fall. Nevertheless I cut a circular piece of the velvet to cover the cottoned wooden core. I turn and twist the piece in my hand and decide no, this is not going to work. The detail you can see of the buttons in the picture is that it is semiglobe. That is not a ball, as many earlier wool buttons are. Hmm. What if I used a square piece of velvet? Much easier to use because the fraying is kept to a minimal (as oppose to global, huge and enormous). This square piece a fold to and envelope (you know, corners in) and stitch a little. And again I stitch the remaining corners in a little, not all the way to the centre and voila! I have a somewhat circular piece of doubled velvet with no fraying edges!

Now we proceed to connect the two, which is so simple there is no need to get into it. The end result is a button! Not completely flat but not a ball either. I am, naturally, rather pleased with myself. The only trouble now is the silk webbing. Again, hmmm.

I had earlier dyed my lovely silk purl donated kindly be St to a glorious Santa Claus red (along with a pair of white undies somebody brought me in the process with the I-really-like-red-underwear-and-these-might-be-cool-puppy-eyes). So off we go! I have done wood core buttons before, where you take a wooden bead and cover it with silk yarn. No biggie, quite pleasing to do. So, Using this vast experience I have I do over the top stitching over the velvet. So far so good. Then I proceed to weave the web onto the base stitching. It's ok but not the same. The meeting points of the weft and stitching is not as pronounced as it should be. Then I came to me (Can I have the trombone now?). Weave it around the base twice to make a little x-shape. Perfect! Exactly as in the photo!

Now, one could argue this is hardly the cure for cancer, but when it comes to being a little nutty about the art this is as close as it gets. It is, really, moments like this that make the hobby. Previously we had the problem that there was not enough material available, as in when I started in the SCA, almost fifteen years ago. You had to do a lot of guessing and a LOT of creating. Which is, after all, a part of the art. Now-a-days you have the net and books and studies and everything the little old/young me back then couldn't even dream about. Because of this, I sometimes feel the creativity takes a blow for the art. Sometimes, things I do in garbing is too, well, scientific. I can document each seam and stitch. The art is more recreating than creating. Nothing wrong with it, but the artist in me wants to do MY things, not copy the things someone else, albeit 500 years ago, has done. This little button episode has brought back the feeling of success whilst standing on my own two feet on the ground, not on the shoulders of past brilliance.

And yes, there will be pictures. This was my trial button, and I will show you the later ones, which will be better. In good time...


The silk has landed

It is finally here! The colour is gorgeous (firetruck red) and the quality is good as well. I'm very pleased with this silk satin. At first I was somewhat nervous that it would look and feel like the silk pajamas I had in the late 90s, but no. This is far better. Pictures pending.

I also bought some silk organza for myself and S-M. Off-white, lighter than air. Yummy. Drool. It is puuuurrrfect. (It will make a perfect cap, S-M) And I have documentation that ruffs, cuffs and other what-nots were often dyed yellow or beige. This is, aparently, not visible in the paintings of the era, as overenthusiastic reconstructors have cleaned the painting too well, and made them white again. And naturally, 500-year-old linen/silk might have changed colour from the original in the process. ;)

On the NR: I have finished the inside linen, with boning and all. I am very pleased. Pictures will follow as soon as I get them off the camera (and on it in the first place). I added some stitching here and there to keep the two layers of linen together. The bodice is well supported and quite rigid, considering it only has six bones on either side. I'm not 100% pleased with the neckline, though. It is rather difficult to fit on oneself and I have ran into the same problem on my partlets, namely that the neckline pokes out under the chin. This is propably because I do not take the centre in enough at the chin. Being slightly bustier than Dolly our necks do not match either. It is not badly off, but I will have to consider it. It will work as it is, but am I going to be happy with just "working"...?

I have also cut the velvet and whipstitched the raw edges (yes, by hand. _I_ would have known it's there!) And I have layed out the first lines of braid on the back. I'm laying them out about 2cm apart and at a 45degree angle. This was accidental, because I laid out the first two rows by eye only and they were exactly 2cm apart and 45degree angle. Some eye! Happily, 2cm is about the same as the width of my measuring tape, and 45degrees is half of a square, so I have no trouble in finding tools for keeping the lines straight. At the moment, only one of the lines wanders a little, but it does not effect the overall picture. Pictures of this is also waiting inside the camera guts.

I have also bought wooden buttons to use for the basis of the cloth buttons. Now I still need to dye the silk yarn I got from St, and then the buttons are waiting to be done. Buttons are fun take-along handycrafts. The velvet needs to be laid out on the table for the braid to be pinned and then worked on a sewing cushion (wants one! The are great! At the moment I'm using a regular cushion from our couch, which is nicely covered with little red velvet monster droppings, so a real one would be great. Unfortunately I haven't been able to locate information on how they were made, and of what material. But - I - must - have - one!)

Apparently I've bought quite a lot of fabric of late... Accidentally bumped into some red 100% cotton velvet in our local Anttila. Bought the lot at 4e/m. It was only ten meters, but now I have material for the Next New Red, which is to be a simple early Elizabethan corset dress. Once the corset is made. And the NR, of course. And I'd still need those new socks for the camping event. And a shirt. And E-M need new clothes as well. My work is never done!


Hope springs eternal

I have found an online store that has silk satin! Yey! There will be sending me a sample of their quality silk satin and email colours if I think it's ok. Double yey! The price is about 30e/m which is a little higher than preferred, but not the 70e at Eurokangas. I have asked for colours of red, dark red, golden yellow, gree and black. Just in case someone else might be interested as well. If this silk is the same I've bought once already then it is perfect for lining, etc. Not so good for actual clothes as it is very fine satin, as silk usually is. But there is still hope. And the same store has French silk embroidery yarns as well. In about 700 colours! How's anybody supposed to figure out what colour they want from that? I've printed out the colour sheet already before and if I'm to buy some silk satin from them, I might as well buy the silk yarn, too. An the place? You shall find it here: http://www.silkkikauppa.fi/

And to other business: The NR is advancing. I have finished sewing most of the inner lining, that is stitching channels for the boning, stitching the two layers of front inner lining together, sewing the back seam. I can hardly believe its happening. Every stitch makes it just a little better (though I say it myself) and it looks good. So good, I have slight apprehensions on how to keep up the level. Now everything has to be as good as the inner lining, which no-one is going to soo anyhow! Umm... Well, just because! _I_ know it's there. And I have picture to prove it:

The inner lining laid out to be stiched and sewn together. I haven't actually sewn the pieces together yet, because I need to use them as patterns for the velvet and the lining. This way, I will be sure that all the pieces match. This is important as we are talking about four layers of fabric, all which behave a little different. The lining has surprisingly much give in it, so the two layers don't match exactly. That is all fine, though, as it looks good and feels, oh, so yummy.

Here be the back seam, done the same way as the top seam in coifs was often done. The seam allowances are turned twice on either side and stitched down with hem stitch. The seam allowances are then whip stitched approximately 2-3 yarns from the edge. The stitches are made rather close togther, about 2-4mm apart, and pulled tight. The seam is then pulled and flattened to turn out like this:

I have also continued on the braid making. I'm now doing about 10cm in two minutes, which makes me very happy. Making the braid is nice and brainless so you can do it while watching TV, for intance. Thus we had to rent Hellboy II the other day so I can make braid ;) The result is about 5m of braid made, in three days. Go me! I think I will need more than the 10m altogether, though. But it's fun. Here be pictures of the method and result:

Next on the agenda is to cut out the velvet and silk. For the silk I have to wait for the sample, so I know I can replace my silk-in-waiting-to-become-sleeves. But when I have the velvet cut I can start applying the braid, which will take me some time, I think. Then I have to start thinking about the buttons. And the red silk yarn I need for that...

G asked the other day how long I think this jacket is going to take me to make. My approximation is about three months. Then again, at the rate I'm going... We'll see...