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Category: 12th Century

In Progress: Cecilie’s Bliaut

In Progress: Cecilie’s Bliaut

Not exactly SCA related, but sort of tangentially appropriate. My friend Cecilie works at Sherwood Forest Faire here in Austin, and she commissioned me to make her a 12th century bliaut with pendant sleeves, like this one that Racaire made. She bought a lovely blue linen in herringbone twill, and instead of taking time away from her body schedule to embroider the collar and armbands, opted to go with a beautiful blue and gold synthetic brocade.
It's that time of year again.

Although polyester brocade is famously difficult to work with, it was in fact easier than this ridiculously slithery linen. SO MUCH BIAS STRETCH. I was lucky to have vertical lines where the herringbone meets to be able to cut accurately one way. (Bran thinks the whole thing is much better served as a cat bed anyway).
Cecilie's Bliaut The look of this fabric is so gorgeous though. It’s worth it. Almost. I finally learnt the trick of cutting it, which was to make all the vertical cuts and swish the linen kind of up in the air, letting the cut edge settle on its own parallel to the straight edge of my table, and then cut the horizontal lines after that. I am SO GLAD for rectangular construction in bliauts. Cecilie's Bliaut

The neckline is a slit faced in brocade and then topstitched (well-behaved it might be, but this brocade still doesn’t want to iron flat) down. I’d thought about couching some faux gold thread over the top stitching, but it disappears against that lux fabric.

Cecilie's Bliaut Current progress: Sleeves and gussets attached, neckline faced, side gores added. I still have to add the armbands at the elbow seam, but I want to make sure I don’t have to shorten the sleeves first. Then the center front and back gores will be inserted and the sides of the torso will be taken in while the dress is on Cecilie, to ensure the best fit. I’m excited to see it on her!

Cecilie's Bliaut

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part Two

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part Two

When last we left our project, I’d finished up the embroidery on the first pouch, and I’d sketched out the diamonds on the yellow linen (the last of the linen from my Byzantine dress [have I seriously not blogged that either?! What is WRONG with me?], except for what I’ve held back for lining the cuffs, whenever they get finished).  . Digression aside, I basically marked equal spaces along each edge and connected them, leaving me with a lovely diamond grid to embroider.   . I only did one line of chain stitch. Since the overall motif was much denser than the other pouch, I didn’t think it needed bolder lines. Here it is all finished, ready to be sewn up.  . I lined both pouches (but forgot the take pictures) with coordinating linen by laying the pieces right sides together and machine sewing at the seam allowances. I clipped the curve of the cover flap and then turned them right side out and pressed, not unlike the Double Eagle Pouch I made some time ago. But that braided finish is a pain in the neck, and I kind of hate doing it, no matter how fantastic it looks.  . So instead, what I decided to so was whipstitch the pouches closed with a thread that matches the outer fabric, so as not to be so noticeable, and then just do a decorative chainstitch along the edges of the join, to mimic the braid stitch without all the fuss. I did this on the dragon pouch too (technically after these were done, but I did blog that one first), because I really liked the effect.  Finishing up the edges of the pouch with chain stitch. I added long shoulder straps in the lining fabric, as shown in the manuscripts. The strap ends were doubled over to create a smaller footprint when attached to the pouches. The red ones were sewn to the back, and the blue ones were inserted into the pouch and sewn to the lining. I’m really pleased with the way they came out and I want to make a million more of them.  The embroidered pouches are all finished!

And the chest that Juan Carlos made for me? It’s beautiful! IMG_1714

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part One

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part One

For a while now, I’ve been wanting a six board chest, in which to keep my feast gear and other sundries at events. I have resigned to myself to the fact that I don’t have time to do all the things I want to do. And even more importantly, I don’t have to do the things I don’t have any interest in doing, even when the outcome of those activities is a thing I want or need. I am not a wood worker, and I don’t really want to cultivate those skills right now. So I put out a call-out to my reenactment friends, to see if any of them would be interested in doing an artisan trade.

Master Juan Carlos, a Laurel in my local Barony, let me know that he’d be willing to make a chest for me (I’d already seen and admired one that he made for himself, so I was excited) in exchange for a couple of embroidered pouches similar to those from the Cantigas de Santa Maria. I looked through the illuminations he sent me and settled on two designs. One like this, with a pouch flap and a neat rounded motif…

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And one like the yellow ones below, with no flap and a diamond design.  cantiga-maria-2 I picked out my colors (red and black on natural linen, and indigo blue on yellow) and sketched out my designs on the fabric. I decided to go with DMC Pearl Cotton, since I have a metric ton of it, it launders well (I try not to use delicate fibers unless I know who they are going to), and makes a nice bold clean line.
New handwork project, for Master Juan Carlos.

I decided on chain stitch, as it makes the boldest line with a single row of stitching, and the designs are all linear. I also started off using a hoop, but gave it up as I found it was more trouble than it was worth. This red and black design has the flap motif incorporated into the back; the pouch flap will fold over at the top of that line, halfway through the circle.
Working on my embroidery art trade tonight.

The pouch laid out, so you can see basically what it will look like when it’s all folded up.
. . . I finished up all the red, and then began the black, just embroidering another line right next to the one that had already been done.
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I really like how they look together; so bold and graphic.
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All finished up with the first embroidery, about to start on the second. Part two will be the second pouch embroidery and how I made them all up. Tune in Monday!

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Bliaut Modifications

Bliaut Modifications

A friend of mine, Mariana, gave me a whole bunch of her old garb. Which is so sweet, but seeing as she’s more than half a foot shorter than me, there needed to be some modifications made. This particular piece, a Spanish bliaut, is a lovely shade of sea-glass green, with navy blue velvet ribbon trim. I had some linen I had dyed a soft dusty rose pink, and decided to use it as a guard on the bottom, and to make arm bands to tie in that color to the rest of the dress. bliaut sleeve 1

I centered some leftover velvet ribbon in the bands as well, for some added visual interest. You can also catch a glimpse of the pink cord I finger looped for the side lacing too.
bliaut arms 2

This picture is ridiculously orange, but you can see the drape of the guard. It doesn’t follow the flare of the dress, but instead hangs straight down from the hem, so it looks funny hanging like that, but it’s not something that’s terribly noticeable when I’m wearing it.
finished bliaut1

Here the colors are truer, and you get a glimpse into the wreckage that is my work room. The bags are gone; I’d just culled my yarn stash and they were waiting to go away, and the rest of the detritus has been put away. I’ll try to get some pictures of me wearing it soon. finished bliaut 2

In Progress: Bliaut Collar

In Progress: Bliaut Collar

Have I really not blogged about this beyond showing some samples? I know I’ve talked about it a BUNCH on the Facebook page (good reason to follow me there; I tend to post small updates on things that don’t make it to the blog as finished posts). It’s about time I did, then, since I’ve recently taken it up again.

When I made my twelfth century bliaut, I knew I wanted it to have a beautifully embroidered collar, a la Racaire’s lovely work. I did some research into pretty scroll-ish vines and found the tails of the mitre of Thomas a Beckett. I picked one singular motif (since they change in size from top to bottom) and played around with it in Photoshop until I had a template I liked. I printed it out (it’s so much bigger than I thought it would be!), and followed my prick-and-pounce technique to transfer the design to the red-orange linen I used on the lining of the bliaut.

Bliaut Collar Progress

Remember back in the day, when I bought these threads? I had it as my plan to use the green and purple for the embroidery on this collar. The lime green and red-orange is not an intuitive choice to the modern eye, but the medieval aesthetic is FULL of crazy color combinations. I started off using split stitch on the fill. I didn’t like how the clover-leaf finials were coming out, though, so I cut them out and redid that one there.
Bliaut Collar Progress

Here you can see the new clover finials, and the progress. I added in some additional ink lines in the middle of the Y-junctures of the vines, to help guide my stitch direction, which was a really handy thing to do.  Bliaut Collar Progress One side of the green all finished. It’s sitting at about 16:30 hours of work in that picture. 
Bliaut Collar Progress

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with the border, so I bought a darker version of the green fill. At least, it looked like the same color, but when I stitched it on to test it, the border green looked SO much more yellow. So, that’s not gonna work. I cut it out and decided to go with the purple instead. Bliaut Collar Progress Finished up the stem-stitch outline on the vine here. I thought about doing the border in stem stitch too, but it actually looked better in split stitch. I’m still debating what to do in the center of the border squares, but I have a bit of time before I have to decide. I could do a satin stitch square, or a small square outline, a pearl in the center, or I could just leave it as it is. I’ll figure it out at the very end.
Bliaut Collar Progress About halfway done with the second side green stitching. Aaand, that’s where it sits for AGES. I got busy with other projects and put it on the back burner.
Bliaut Collar Progress

But I missed working on it, so I decided to devote at least ten minutes of embroidery time on it per day. I think I’ve worked more on it the last three days than I have in the last six months. I don’t think I’ve stitched less than an hour on it since I started working again.
Finished up the last green spiral where the embroidery sits now. Threaded up the needle to finish up the purple so I can advance it to the next bit.

This is where it is right now. I’m almost done with the purple, and then I’ll advance it to the next, clear section to keep working. It’s gonna be daunting, I think, to see a whole new blank space (and to know that I probably have another three “blank” sections to go, not counting the sleeve sections, before this is finished), but I will persevere in my ten minutes a day resolution until it’s finished.  Bliaut neckline. 45:58 hours. Http://www.opuselenae.com Time invested so far: 45:58 hours.

Teal and Orange Bliaut

Teal and Orange Bliaut

I finished the teal and orange bliaut. Did I even talk about it here? God, I’m such a bad blogger. Okay, so my friend Cecilie is doing a vow renewal this coming spring, at our local Renaissance Festival, which is Robin Hood themed. So she wants everyone to be dressed in 12th century garb. Since I’m to stand with her as her maid of honor, I needed a dress. And when our Fall Baronial event theme was announced as Legends of the Third Crusade (read: Robin Hood) I knew I had to make a dress for it.

Cecilie and Me. You can see the neckline in this post, which was made by the simple expedient of a slit cut down the center of the dress. It messes with the shoulder/upper arm portion of the dress in a way I hadn’t anticipated, moving everything farther down the shoulder. I love the V it makes, though.

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Me all kitted up. I’m wearing a half-cirle wimple underneath my usual oval veil. I kind of love the way it looks. And the colors. And the bit of gathering at my stomach. I need a longer belt to wear with it, though.

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A decent picture of my whole silhouette. I got told several times that I looked authentic, which was the best compliment ever. You can see that I’m wearing my basic white smock that I wear under everything. It’s the most versatile piece of clothing I own.

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A good shot of the side lacing. The torso isn’t lined, just faced at the collar and the side openings. The eyelets are deliberately placed far apart so that the excess length gathers on my stomach. The only part of the dress that’s lined is the bell part of the sleeves.

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Embroidery tests for my bliaut collar. Not I need to get on my embroidery. There will be an embroidered collar and bands around my biceps. I did a couple tests for colors, and I’m liking the green-and-purple swatch best.

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Monogrammed Favor

Monogrammed Favor

Notebook

Starting a new project for the next A&S tournament that’s coming up. The theme is Love and Lust, and you can enter something for either or both sides. I’m electing to do just the Love side of things, and am embroidering a handkerchief favor that can also double as a cup-cover. I have it in mind to give it to one of the recent Queens who has admired my work in the past.

New embroidery project for Smitten Heart.

I started with a gothic blackletter ‘E’ monogram. The inspiration for this was the favor that Elaine gave to Lancelot, that he carried so nobody watching the tournament would know it was him. I think it was another ‘defend Guenevere’s honor’ kind of story. I’ll save my diatribe on the evils of the Lancelot-Guenevere story for another day, though.

The rest of the favor design, based on the Gesta Hungarorum. I may possibly have some one in mind for this, eventually...

This is the design for the rest of the favor, although I ended up rotating the swirls around the E, so it looks a little more balanced. It’s inspired by the capital from this page of the Gesta Hungarorum, written sometime around 1200AD.

Monogram finished.

Above is the monogram nearly complete (it lacks only the finishing lines at the ends of the strokes, so they don’t look so ragged. The red thread is DMC Cotton Floche, bought from my local embroidery shop, The Needle Works.

 Below is a pounce kit I made for myself, based on Mary Corbett’s wonderful instructions.

Made myself a pounce kit today.

And, the results of the grey pounce. The top two are the pounce alone, the bottom left is pounced and inked, and the bottom right is the inked line with the pounce brushed away. It was remarkably effective. Now I rather regret buying that exorbitantly overpriced pounce bag on the left of the above picture.

Pounce results: top are both grey pounce, bottom left is pounced and inked, bottom right is after the pounce is brushed off.

In which, the unexpected happens.

In which, the unexpected happens.

So, Candlemas happened. Those pretty patterned socks I was knitting? I entered them in our local Baronial Arts and Sciences Champion on Saturday. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the SCA, it’s similar to a county fair crafts competition. Sort of. There are judges who have a rubric for “grading” your project. Each project was judged by two judges (well, mine was judged by three; one alone and two in tandem) and given a score from 1-50.

Candlemas 2013

I tried not to eavesdrop, but they were there forever! I was trying to get a shot of my display.

Candlemas 2013

Oh, there. That’s better. And below, some of my samples. I thought it would be beneficial to share my swatches and my mistakes, as well as the second stocking in progress.

Candlemas 2013 Candlemas 2013

So, after the judging happens, all the points are tallied, and averaged, and the winner is the one with the most points.

Candlemas 2013

Which, incidentally, was me.  Here I am, with my Award scroll (which is beautiful, and I’ll post pictures later), and my gift basket (full of period games), and Poppet is holding my lantern (is was Candlemas, after all). The medallion is my signifier of Championship, and the unbelievably huge grin on my face is the result of utter shock. (Picture by Amata)

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