Friday, June 22, 2012

What to do next?

I cannot decide what to sew.  There isn't much going on around here until after Pennsic, but there are quite a few events coming up in the fall that I am going to need new cloths for.  Partly because I just need more cloths, and partly because I am (slowly) shrinking.  Finally.  Which is good, except that I can't very well work on supportive layers or really fitted things if I am changing shape, however slowly.  After just 15 pounds none of my supportive gowns are supporting and they are starting to look a little funny in the belly area too.

So, I want to sew something.  I have all of this lovely wool to work with (in the hot, humid Virginia summer of course!), but I don't know what I should work on.  I need to make a cyclas and gown from the Manesse Codex, and as those are not really fitted it would probably be a good place to start.  Plus there is the fun hat.  I have some lovely burgundy wool I want to use for the cyclas layer, and I'm not really sure what I'm going to do about the undergown.  It really should be wool, and I have cream and some gold wool that would work, but this is for an event in early November.  It could be cold, or it could be warm.  I'm thinking a linen undergown might be a better way to go for comfort, plus I would be able to get more use out of the outfit.  Of course I don't have any linen for that part.

I also have been wanting to make a transitional houppeland like the one in the Petrus Cristus painting at right.  As far as the outer layer is concerned, it's not that fitted so I would probably be safe making it now for fall events.  I have some dark pink wool in a herringbone pattern that will look quite lovely for this style of dress, in a more middle class/every-day sort of way.  I may have to pull it in a bit at some point through the shoulders, but if I use a modified G-63 pattern this should be fairly easy to do. I have some lovely black wool to do the collar and cuffs, and will probably use heavy linen as a hem guard.  Lining the whole dress is out of the question for the weather here, even in winter I would roast.

There is also the Mary of Hungry dress I've been researching.  I can certainly start on the smocking, and should have enough light weight linen to do that, but the supportive layer and overgown are both too fitted to bother with now.

So what to do first?  Cyclas?  Start the smock as an ongoing embroidery project?  Houppeland/proto Burgundian?  I really need to do something as a break from the weaving.  The loom is almost warped for the Perugia towel (I can't focus on it for much more than an hour at a stretch) and I know the pick-up portion for the weaving is going to be slow going plus I really need something portable other than my current brick stitch project.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More on Mary

Unknown painter - Portrait of Kunigunde
of Austria, 1485 
Thanks for all the great comments on my last post!  Marion McNealy (from the Curious Frau for those of you not into German costuming), as it turns out, as a pintrest board (I love pintrest!) with some other gowns that are quite similar to the Mary of Hungary gown, including the Austrian example at left.  You can check it out here.  There are several examples there of what look to be decorative smocks which would be worn over a kirtle of some sort.  Looking at those images, I'm a lot more comfortable with the 1490ish dating of the gown.  The fancy over-smock is a feature of German costume at the time, and partlets were worn in more Western countries both over and under the bodice, so it makes sense.  The smock in this case is quite long, at least based on the pattern diagram of it I've been able to find, but having tried to wear short full smocks like this before the extra length would be a help as it would keep the whole thing tucked in neatly.

Of course now I wonder if the provenance of the gown is correct.  Given that it's a royal gown I would tend to think the history of it is at least somewhat correct and that Mary wore it, but why she would choose to wear something out of date by several decades is an open issue.  Marion suggested she may have been wearing one of Mary of Burgundy's gown, or one belonging to her sister in law, for the coronation festivities that occurred in the 1520s.  This makes sense and bears a bit more research.  I did find a website devoted to Hungarian art, so that should be a bit of a help.  There are a few images there that show gowns quite similar to this one.  Hopefully I will be able to find some reliable information on coordinating head-wear while I'm poking around.

So now I have a lot to think about, and may have to actually write up documentation on this project.  If I find anything interesting I will be sure to post about it.  I'm really wishing I spoke about 5 languages this week though, between this project and the Lengberg "bras" (more on that later) I'm running into a lot of translation issues.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mary of Hungary

I'm in the process of planning my garb for 12th night this year, which is set at the court of Henry VIII early in his reign before he went all nutso and cranky.  Straight Tudor has very little appeal to me, and I had run across the Mary of Hungary gown awhile back so this seems like a good excuse to make it.  Plus there is smocking!  Yay smocking!

Anyway, the dress is supposedly dated to 1520, however the only other artistic representation of this style of gown I've been able to find so far is dated 1490.  It does sort of look like a cross between a late 15th century Burgundian gown and an early 16th century gown, so I'm wondering what the correct dating is.

I'm also not sure what the correct supportive undergarment would be for this.  My initial thought, given the 1520 dating, is a pair of bodies maybe with an attached petticoat, work under the smocked chemise.  Someone else suggested a 15th century style kirtle, and yet another person has suggested that the chemise is actually the body layer and the kirtle would then go over it.  Given the limited source material I have on this style, I'm not sure.  Wearing a chemise with silver embroidery on it next to the skin seems a little strange to me, as you can't really wash the embroidery.  Plus the stove tile that is my only other reference at this point appears to show the chemise without anything over it.

Has anyone seen any other references to this gown that might solve the dating/underwear questions?  So far I have the following-

Original article on Cynthia Virtue's site, with the stove tile image
Image gallery on Flight of Fancy
Project Diary/notes from Flight of Fancy - she mentioned two books as additional sources which I do not have access to
Hungarian National Museum description
Frazzeld Frau write-up
Pintrest board by Marion McNealy - the portraits here suggest an earlier dating (1475-90).  Marion has also told me that the museum is now dating the fabric to 1475, which given the images we have so far makes more sense.

Weaving update

After much hemming and hawing and gnashing of teeth, I've finally started actual work on weaving my Perugia towel.  Or at least trying to warp the bloody thing.  It's not going well.  I decided to use 40/4 linen, which is pretty close to what was used on the original, and have ended up with a total of 1278 warp ends.  I ended up having to scrounge up more heddels for my loom to accommodate all of these threads and rearrange the ones I already had to work with the pattern draft.

Once I got almost halfway done threading, I realized that the pattern draft I was using (from the CA on Perugia towels) has a mistake.  It will not allow you to treadle tabby, which you need to do for the actual Perugia part of the towel (the blue brocaded bands).  So I re-drafted the draw-down and started re-threading the loom only to discover that I now had my heddles arranged such that I did not have enough on the 3rd and 4th shaft of the loom.  I've now solved that problem, only to snap one of my warps in the process.

Fixing a snapped warp is not that hard, it just sucks to have to do it this soon.  I mean, I don't even have the whole thing threaded yet.  I'm hoping and praying that I actually have the warp arranged on the loom correctly, since I an so short of heddles for this project I need to have exactly half the threads on each side of the center mark on the shafts, or I'm going to run out of heddles.  They make clip-in repair heddles, which are sort of expensive but I may have to break down and order some just in case.

To make things just that much more annoying, I discovered that I made a mistake on the brick stitch book cushion, right in the middle no less, and had to rip out about 4 hours worth of work.  So I spent the better part of a day last week ripping out and re-doing what I had already done.

Some weeks are like that I guess.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Elizabethan Embroidery

Primrose worked in detached buttonhole
I'm still plugging away at the giant brick stitch book cushion, but in the mean time I decided to start a smaller embroidery project so I can get some sense of completion.  Normally I have a big project and several smaller projects going, it keeps me focused and I actually get more done this way.  If I don't, I get board and frustrated with the big thing after a while.  The elaborate and colorful detached style of embroidery seen on Elizabethan coifs, nightcaps, and other smallish items has always fascinated me so I decided to make some needle books as practice.  Eventually I want to do a whole coif, so this has been good practice.  Plus I am using up my old stash of DMC cotton and making some pretty cool little things I can use as tokens or gifts.

Pomegranate worked in trellis stitch
I'm using the books by Dorothy Clark as inspiration and for stitch instructions.  The diagrams are very clear and everything is well explained (though I'm sure it helps that I've been dong hand sewing and embroidery since I was 5).  In the first volume, Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery (Elizabethan needlework) , she instructs you to pad the stitching with fiberfill, which does not work well at all and I can't find any documentation for this having been done in period.  It works much better if you take a small bit of felt and work the stitches over it (which is what she tells you to do in Elizabethan Needlework Accessories , go figure)  .  As far as I know this is what would have been done in period too (that's how I was taught to do raised work with metal threads anyway).  I can't tell if the embroidery on the coifs is raised, I can think of arguments both for and against doing a lot of padded work on a coif.  Hopefully I will be able to find some good detailed coif pictures that will point me one way or the other.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Finished Apron

I finished my smocked apron just in time to take it to Ruby Joust last weekend.  I'm quite happy with how it turned out, and got lots of compliments on it at the event which always helps.  After wearing it all day, I'm very glad I used the shallower pleats.  The apron is made from a 36 inch square piece of fabric (maybe a little longer but not much) and pleated down to about 14 inches.  The proportions look like what is seen in the artwork, so I'm fairly confident that the originals would have been done with shallow pleats as well.  Of course this does make doing the actual smocking a little harder, but that's ok.

Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of me wering the apron, but you can still see how it turned out.  The whole thing is hand-sewn with linen thread through I did use modern poly sewing thread to do the pleating (mostly because I didn't waste my good linen on basting).  I'm looking forward to doing another one with a slightly more interesting smocking design.