Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Finished Mammen Coat

I am very pleased with how this coat turned out!  The embroidery was fun to do, and not that difficult.  It's all stem stitch, just like the original, done in silk.  I used a combination of filament and spun silks as that's what I had on hand, sticking fairly close to the original colors.  This is the second project where I've been able to use mainly filament and I must say I really do like it.  The difference in sheen is remarkable.  I did find that I needed to keep my nails in better order when working with the threads and that thread conditioner of some sort helped (no idea if they used this in period on silk or not).

The pattern for the coat is loosely based on the Eura gown.  It's sort of a mash-up of the standard Turkish coat and the Eura gown really.  I can't say how accurate this is, but it's a plausible way to cut this style of kaftan for a woman, as it would continue to fit as the body changed shape during pregnancy and it fits much better over layers of clothing than the loose standard t-tunic style method of cutting I had used for my last coat.  Both of those garments are men's shirts anyway, which I am beginning to think would not have been used for cutting women's garments but more on that latter.  The pattern is comfortable, has a nice drape to it, and uses only 2 and a half yards of fabric with no waste (I can get a full length gown out of just over 3 yards of fabric with no waste at all as well).

I fully lined the coat with a silk and linen blend herringbone twill, sewing the lining in as I made the coat itself, the same way many 18th century garments are made.  This made it a lot easier to ensure that the lining and the exterior fabric matched up and draped the same way and will keep everything in order as I wear the coat.  It also meant I only had to sew any given seam once rather than twice, making the sewing much faster.  The neck and cuff edges were then stab stitched closed and the hem will be turned and stitched.

The only tiny issue with how this project turned out is that the sleeves are perhaps an inch or so too long.  Really this isn't so bad, since I will be wearing the coat over other clothing and as a warm layer the extra length is probably a good thing, it just makes the thing looks like a monkey coat on the dress form.  I need to remember to make this adjustment next time I make a coat though, once I do the cuff embroidery it's very difficult to adjust the sleeve length.

This coat is part of my effort to re-do my Viking kit, since I have shrunk out of my old kit and it wasn't up to my current standards anyway.  I've now got two linen Eura gowns to wear under the coat, and will be cutting out a new apron gown based on the Kostrup find.  I got a warp-weighted loom for my birthday last month and will be weaving some leg wraps for myself on it as soon as I can get it warped.  I have lots of veils and headwraps, and got proper shoes at Pennsic this year, and will be done with my naalbound mittens shortly, so I should be in good shape by the end of the year, barring any major disasters or huge new distractions.  At some point I will need to make a new wool overgown as my old one, which I loved, had a laundry disaster and went to live with a teeny tiny friend who fits into it.  I have something that will serve in the meantime but it's a blend and if I am working over the fire it gets a bit uncomfortable.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

War of Wings Feast

This year at War of the Wings (a kingdom war here in Atlantia that takes place every October) I decided to spend Friday cooking a period feast over the firepit using as many period cooking techniques as I could.  I only used one modern sauce pan and a single dutch oven (which isn't the worst concession to modernity as they had similar things, I just don't happen to own the period equivalent as of yet).

The meal turned out really well.  The biggest disaster turned out to be the guest list, we had some missing people and ended up with a lot more leftover than planned but that's not so bad.  People wandering by were pretty impressed that we had a high table set up in camp in such a primitive camp site.  The food turned out well, everyone enjoyed it, and no one got sick, so I count that as a win!  Here's what we ate -

Bread - I made a honey wheat bread in the dutch oven.  While not necessarily a period bread recipe, baking in the coals is a period method and it was a lot of fun.  The first loaf turned out beautifully except that it got charred on the crusts.  I ended up giving it to the rest of camp and they made quick work of the inside of the loaf, leaving a scary carbonized crust.  The second loaf sort of collapsed a bit in the middle but baked perfectly and was still tasty.  I think the over wasn't quite hot enough but as this was the first time I had baked in the dutch over on my own I think it went pretty well.

Birds on the Spit - I spit roasted 3 chickens on the spit my cousin made me for Christmas.  These turned out quite nicely and the spit worked great, though they didn't cook as evenly as I would have liked.  I think the spit was overloaded.  Next time I'll limit myself to 2 birds at a time.

Pumps - Medieval meatballs.  These are really tasty and were a big hit.  I've made these twice before and decided to double up the recipe this time, which turned out ok but if I do this again I will need a bigger pot as they didn't cook as evenly as I would like.  The balls need more room to float around in the broth.

Buttered Worts - I used spinach this time, though you can use a range of leafy greens for this dish.  Last time I did this I had spinach and mustard greens which was quite nice.  This time I simplified the cooking, sauteing the leeks in a large pan over the fire in butter, then adding the greens then a bit of the stock from the pumpes.  When the greens were done I dumped everything over the sopes.  Very good and much easier than all the boiling, though I suppose the boiling may be necessary for some greens.

Roasted Turnips - again simplified the preparation by turning this into a single-step baking process, baking it in the dutch oven.  Worked fine and was very tasty.

Lumdardy Tart (beet pie) - Yum!  People had no idea this was beets until I told them.  To be fair, there is some debate about whether the recipe refers to beet root or beet greens.  I used beet root, and more than called for than the redaction linked, and it was good.  I've seen other people use Swiss chard, which might be interesting to try some time, but this is a tasty version that people like.

Apple Muse - Basically applesauce, with a twist.  If you can't get saunders, I would suggest cutting back on the honey and being careful with the saffron, perhaps adding a bit more salt.  Do NOT use food coloring, the saunders is doing more than adding color (I found this out the hard way the last time I made it).  It was a very nice dish a good way to end the meal, and is REALLY nice with a bit of heavy cream and powder blanch on top.  Be sure to use the best apples you can get.

Pears in Syrup - I like to add cinnamon, galangal, mace and a bit of nutmeg to the spice mix and try to always use turbinado or demara sugar for the extra flavor.  The leftover are killer on french vanilla ice cream.  This makes for a nice, light-ish dessert and is very easy to cool over the fire, you can set it in the cooling coals and pretty well forget about it until you are ready to plate it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mammen coat progress

The embroidery for my Mammen coat is coming along very nicely.  I am looking forward to being able to wear this and show it off.  The colors look a bit Crayola-like, but that seems to be the aesthetic, and it is rather striking.  Much more so than a modern palate of colors would be.  Perhaps this means I'm developing a more refined period color sensibility.

Anyway, the neck is done and I am very pleased.  I had to improvise a bit with the back of the neck and the end of the face section and leaving them both plain didn't look quite right.  Keeping things simple seemed like the best plan.  I think it turned out well.  The sleeves are coming along really well.  I ended up changing the colors a little bit.  Both pieces are very close to the colors used in the original fragments, with a few variations to accommodate the silks I had available.