About Aoife: I attended my first event in October ’19. I only got to go to one more before Covid. Sewing is new and intimidating. I learned sewing, weaving, and embroidery just so I could fit in with you all. This project will hopefully be the fancy thing I can wear to court. It will not be easy. I’m already freaking out.
Her Project: I am new to the SCA and am making my kit myself because I can’t afford to buy clothes. I am aiming for pre-Norman Irish Celt because all my friends are Vikings. So, 10th-11th century? I’m not a fancy lady, but I do like to look nice. I’m making a pink underdress (I saw a picture of Mary wearing a pink leine once; Book of Kells, maybe) and a red leine with gold-colored trim out of linen. I will also make a red brat out of a cotton fleece I have, and I’ll try to embroider on it the fox that I hope will one day be on my device. I’ll likely weave some trim for some part of this. For the fourth item, maybe a copper cloak pin?
Her final thoughts on the challenge:
I learned so much with this project. I can’t wait to make something else!
This is an underdress for this outfit, but I’ll be able to wear it on its own, too. I did underarm gussets, which didn’t turn out quite right, but I feel confident that I can do them better in the future. It’s pink linen, which matches my skin beautifully.
The overdress! It’s just like I had in my head! I had some trouble with the neckline, which was followed by a spectacular meltdown. Several people talked me through how to fix it, and now it’s so much prettier. I wove the trim from cotton thread on cardboard tablets I made. The dress is linen. I’d also like it noted that it didn’t fall apart in the washer.
This is my brat. I don’t know what the fabric is. It’s something Mom had on hand. I wish I’d had more fabric for this, because I feel that it’s a bit small. I did the embroidery on it, which didn’t turn out as pretty as I’d envisioned. But, I’m better at making uniform chain stitches now (though no better at turning corners). This is the layer I stabbed myself on!
I let my friend talk me into a kidney belt for my accessory layer. He helped me draft a pattern and told me how to do everything else, but I did all the work myself. This is veg-tanned cow hide. I used a gel antique for the color and designed the tooled pattern based on a coaster I saw online. I will probably make lucet cord lacing later.
About Flavia: I have been in the SCA for about 11 years. This is my first endeavor in making a complete outfit based on a historic piece. I’ve made bits and pieces before, but it all went with my old persona. I’ve changed personas since joining the SCA and I am now a Roman courtesan. This outfit ties into my persona perfectly. In the SCA I have done quite a bit of embroidery. I’ve also focused on teaching, but in recent years I’ve been away working on my mundane career. (Which is teaching.). I also have dabbled in the bardic arts, calligraphy & illumination, and the making of largesse.
Her Project: I am looking to create a Roman women’s outfit roughly around the eruption of Vesuvius. My inspiration are these statues at the Getty Villa (which are recasts of the originals that are in Naples.) plus a statue at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I plan on hopefully including a strophium, peplos, tunica, and if I’m lucky and the metal gods are smiling upon me, handmade buttons! Oh, and a palla for good measure. I also plan in making a leather circlet similar to the ones(which may or may not have been leather…since it’s a statue we won’t ever know) on the statues.
Her Final Thoughts on her C3 experience:
This was really fun. It is the first outfit I have sewn by hand in its entirety. It is simple in construction and it’s all about how well the fabric drapes. Modern fabric such as the lightweight linen I used, will drape correctly once it softens a bit with wear and washing. I am so proud of myself because I finished this after starting a month late and having COVID. I didn’t do all the things I wanted to. I’m sorry I couldn’t find a less modern spot to take pictures. We’re in the midst of a remodel so all I had was a corner of my front room. 🙂
Layer 1 is a linen tunica that would have been worn in Ancient Rome. I am a Roman Courtesan and this would have been perfect as a skin layer or even on its own.(though a little more than sheer.) I hand sewed the seams and hand hemmed the raw edges except for the selvage edges. I sewed the brass look buttons on to create the gap sleeve look. The only thing I would change would be the length. Evidently fabric store added some length to my order, which I didn’t catch.
Red linen peplos from Ancient Rome. I was inspired by a statue at the Museum in Boston that has a peplos over a tunica. I hand sewed and hand hemmed this. Again the length is a bit of an issue thanks to fabric store sending me more length. Oh well. It was also a PITA to pin. I would see where two buttons would be a better choice. I love the look though!
Wool gauze Palla. No respectable (I’m a courtesan…but I’m respectable) Roman woman set foot outside her home without her palla. This is hand hemmed and it was a pain because the gauze liked to pull! That gauze is yummy! Thanks Dharma! This can be used as a head covering, a wrap…I even imagine as something to cart a baby around, though that may not be HA.
This is a leather circlet. I took inspiration from one of the reproduction statues at the Getty. I would have gone to see the original in Naples last spring…but the Rona! I dyed this length of leather with black leather dye and then used bronze leather paint to paint the design by hand. I used sueded cord to close the circlet similar to the inspiration pics. Circlets can be made of lots of different materials. I’m not sure what the circlet on the model for the statue was wearing so I took a leap of faith. I cut the little notches in the end with leather scissors and an exact knife. This was a pain to do. I like the look of it, and the fact that it is adjustable(with some coaxing it will slide.)
About Jacquette: I have participated in the SCA for about 12 years, off and on. I was an avid sewer in my early years, but in the past few years have found it difficult to give my attention to. This project will encourage me to get back into a hobby I have long admired while challenging me to focus on historical research.
Her Project: My plan is to construct a Viking apron dress that would have been specifically used for breastfeeding. By interpreting burial artifacts, illuminations, and foreign cultural influences, I will portray what I theorize is the style mothers would have worn while feeding their young. This focused piece is inspired by my own lactation challenges, and my interest in how mothers prevailed in history.
The under tunic (or serk) for my Norse (Viking) garment is based on the Herjolfsnes archeology find in Greenland. I focused on the garment D10585.1 which shows a serk with a front slit in the middle of the chest. This garment got me thinking that with the slit in the middle, a Viking mother has accessibility when breastfeeding her child.
All the sewing was done by hand with wool or silk thread which was purchased at a SCA event. The stitch used for the basic structure was the running stitch while the decorative stitch is the hemming bone stitch. All together the under tunic was made with linen or linen-blend fabric. I am proud to say that I finished all raw seams with a whipstitch. I rarely ever complete a garment’s raw edges.
I had originally planned to make this layer an exact replication of the historical garment, however, due to issues in the patterning and construction of the garment I had to do some modifications. Firstly, the tunic was too short at the bottom (or hem), thus I added a blue linen kick-panel to add length. Secondly, I attempted to sew the gores and gussets in the technique suggested by “Medieval Garments reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns” but found complications when doing so. When adding the gores, I folded the raw edge of the serk and sewed it flat to the gore using the herringbone stitch. This work marvelously on the sides of the garment and added an extra decoration. However, when using this method to gores in the back or front, I had to use a different stitch and manipulation of fabric around the points of the gore to make it not pucker as much. After attempting this on the back and being frustrated, I chose not to add the gore to the front, which would be similar to garment D5674.
If I was to redo this garment I would finish the seams with a flat-felled seam or French seam. The greatest hurdle I would like to overcome is being consistent with all my stitches. I notice that when I get fatigued I tend to get sloppy with the size and length of each stitch.
The second layer of my Norse (Viking) garment is the apron dress (smokkr). This garment is roughly based on the Birka archeological dig. The construction is based on the theories of Hagg (1974). I mainly focused on the grave titled 464 and 465 for interpreting the types of fabric and parts of construction. The Birka dig found fragments of a blue wool with a linen fragment pressed against it. Encompassing both fragments at the top was a strip of silk. Thus I chose the wool as my main fabric component and linen as the lining for the smokkr. For the sides, I folded the wool over the raw edge of the linen and stitched it with a whipstitch. I did not double fold the fabric. I found this technique was the better way to sew the garment because of the thickness of the wool. I used a strip of white silk over the top of the linen and wool, and used a whipstitch to finish the seam.
The main construction of the smokkr was based on the theory that the apron was made of one solid piece of fabric that wrapped around the body. I tried to imitate this in my construction and found that for a voluptuous woman this caused extra space around the bust line. A better choice would be to gather or pleat the material. The smokkr loops I made from wool. The fabric was folded on both sides, causing 4 layers, and stitched along the raw sides with a blind (or sometimes called ladder) stitch. This was found in many of the Birka graves. The majority of the graves also had several loops at either the top or bottom of the turtle brooches, especially in the case of 465 grave. This leads me to believe that other components, such as a front smokkr panel, could have been attached.
This brings me to Bau’s (1981) theory of the front smokkr being open and a front panel being hooked onto it with loops. The theory of the detacheable front panel would be plausible for a breastfeeding Viking women who would have to adjust or get rid of the front of the smokkr to have access to the chest.
The third layer of the garment is based on Yorkshire Museum’s Viking Silk Cap (900AD-999AD). I chose this as a basis for what a Viking mother would have worn around her head to cover up her hair while breastfeeding. Personally, I found that breastfeeding while there is hair flying all over the place is very frustrating. Therefore, some form of cap would be plausible. The main body and fabric of the cap was made similar to the Yorkshire cap. It was constructed using two silk fabric pieces with a seam down the middle. I chose to put a linen lining to add comfort and interest to the cap. I used the same method of finishing the seams as with the smokkr. I folded the edge of the silk and linen, however, I did a double fold since it was not as bulky as the wool. I whipstitched the seam with silk thread pulled from left over pieces of fabric so to match the cap.
The fourth layer of my garment is an attempt to replicate a tri-lobed brooch. Based on skeletal remains in Birka and other locations, the tri-lobed brooch was usually located around the “adams-apple” or chest of a serk, or attach to a cloak or coat. The use of this accessory for the serk was similar to a button, holding the top two edges together. This would be plausible for Viking women who would need some form of closure around the neckline of the serk.
I tried to replicate the tri-lobed brooch by making clay molds and melting metal into the molds, aka casting. This layer was extremely difficult for me because I never had dealt with metal and casting before, and I did not have proper materials like a kiln. I used terra cotta clay and sculpted a mold. I then baked it using a typical kitchen oven at 275 degrees for about an hour to harden the mold. I had to make sure that the mold was less than 1/2”, so it would dry out properly. If not properly dry, it could explode when hot metal hit it and there is moisture (known as a steam explosion). Unable to get bronze, gold, or other fine metals, I attempted this accessory using molten lead through a melting pot. Having difficulty designing a clip to attach to the brooch, I settled on melting a safety pin to the backside. If I could do it again, I would solder pieces of metal together to create a clip.
About : Hi there, so I am very new to the SCA, roughly a year or so- but with the pandemic I’ve only made it to 3-4 events. I am fairly new to historical sewing but have been making costumes and cosplay for myself as well as a variety groups and Mardi Gras krewes in New Orleans for several years. I also help run the Sewing Squad facebook page, which is a small group of people in my region that want to learn more about sewing skills and history focused garb.
Project: I’m going to be doing a (roughly) 1480-1500c Italian Renaissance set of garments. This will be inspired by a set of paintings from that period, though the fabrics will be different, since I’m picking this period/style to utilize a yellow silk taffeta and a red silk brocade that I already have. I also wanted an opportunity to work on my embroidery and with the heavy ornamentation on the sleeves of this period, hopefully I can get some nice detail work done ( though I’m pinning that as a “stretch” goal, time allowing).
I am checking in my Spanish camisa layer. This is the Spanish renaissance version of the Italian camicia (shift). They are very similar garments with the main distinction from the 1490’s period I am working in being, that the sleeves do a large bell at the end and dangle out of the bottom of the gamurra sleeves instead of tying or buttoning at the cuff. I have added my art reference to the Facbook album- “Mencia de Mendoza with Saint Dominic”, artist contested. I am hoping to do a complete recreation of this painting. She was high nobility in this period and my fabric and notion choices are reflective of that. These shifts were typically either heavily embroidered with blackwork or lace and were often made of fine linen or silk.
I opted for two types of silk-synthetic mix lace after examining the source painting closely. I sourced and purchased 15c reproduction lace for the collar and used lace I already owned for the sleeves and bottom hem. These were hand sewn on with a cream colored silk thread and a whip stitch. The camisa pattern is drafted by me, using art examples, online research of others recreating this period- “15th C Clothing For Men and Women” by THL Peryn Rose Whytehorse, and several books I own- “Patterns of Fashion” by Janet Arnold, Herald, Jacqueline- (1981) “Dress in Renaissance Italy 1400-1500” by John Murray, “Dress in Italian Painting 1460-1500” by Elizabeth Birbari.
I also consulted with the SCA Iberia Facebook group to get more Spanish specific info for this period, and help understanding the fashion differences between them and Milan. The camisa is made of a semi-sheer silk in cream, with gathers at the neck, back and around both sleeves. The inside sleeve raw edges are covered and whipped down with a cream colored twill tape for additional strength, since the cloth is quite thin and prone to unraveling. The neck was bound with a bias tape I made of the same material, with the lace being attached to the edge.
The sleeve and bottom hems are rolled and whip stitched with the lace added at the bottom.
If I could do anything differently- I probably would have picked a different painting. I didn’t realize at the start of this that there is VERY little information know about this artwork, and most of it is contested. They aren’t even sure this is actually Mencia De Mendoza…. So a lot of assumptions were made based on published research of that art. This led me to the ten year period around 1490, and influences from both Milan, and Barcelona as she was tied to both areas. Her fashion in this painting has elements of both cities- the long sleeves of the Spanish camisa, with the tighter fitting sleeves of Milan gamurra dresses at that time. The bodice of the dress isn’t seen in this gown so I had to use other art references from that period and those regions to help me pattern.
Having none of the support garments and very little of the under-dress showing in this art has been a difficult but exciting challenge. It has also given me a little freedom to make creative choices that would normally be limited in a strict recreation with more of the support garments showing.
1490’s Spanish/ Italian- Milanese style gamurra
I modeled my entire outfit off of a painting entitled “ Mencia Mendoza with Saint Dominic” which is roughly dated to 1490(s). When researching this painting I hit a ton of snags so some suppositions were made. Per the biographical information on Mencia Mendoza she was Spanish with heavy Milanese influence. So, because of that, and the fact that the gamurra layer is not heavily visible in the painting I sources comparative works for that region and time period. “Bianca Maria Sforza” by Ambrogio de Prendis 1493
“La Belle Ferroniere” Leonardo da Vinci 1490
“Lady with an Ermine” Leonardo da Vinci 1490
“Detail from the Pala Sforzesca” unknown 1494
I created my own pattern using some input and research from online sources. In particular, for bodice construction the paper “15th C clothing for men and women” by THL Peryn Rose Whytehorse, Barony of the South Downs, February 2015. The gamurra layer is composed of a layer of canvas, with boning inserted in an attached linen burlap backing. Then covered in an additional canvas front. This is covered in a 100% yellow silk taffeta. I debated between the more historically accurate cording vs. boning, but time constraints won out and I used synthetic whalebone.
The bodice is fitted with 7 bones in the front and 5 in the back.
I then started on the skirt, with is 7 yard of the silk taffeta, lined with a thin bleached muslin. Because of the weight of the skirt I opted not to used the heavier weight linen I had. I also attached a twill tape the the top of the lining and felled the silk on top of that so I would have more stability when attaching the skirt to the bodice.
The panels of skirt were then cartridge pleated and whip stitched to the bodice.
This layer was 90% hand sewn. The only machine process was sewing the skirt panels together.
The sleeves are a linen burlap covered in the yellow silk taffeta., they are deliberately not lined with silk, as I plan to embroider them at a later date.
The lacing rings on both the bodice and the sleeve are 15c reproduction, and are hand sew on with a 3 strand embroidery floss.
I then made 18 fingerloop braids- 2 for the bodice lacing and 8 per sleeve, using 6 strand embroidery floss. I purchased aglets for the points, and sewed them onto each braid.
The sleeve cuffs are a layer of linen canvas covered in silk taffeta and have a 4mm yellow gold cording sewn in, to match the cuffs from the painting. The cuffs are attached separately to the finished sleeves.
In retrospect, I will probably go back and do hook and eye for the cuffs. And will probably shorten the sleeves overall by 2-3 inches. There is just slightly too much bunching in the forearm.
1490’s Sbernia overcoat
This layer was the most visible in the painting. I was not able to find a satisfactory pattern or tutorial for its construction so it was made using the drape method over my dress form. The construction was fairly simple, with two gores at either side. I did pleating at the shoulders to get the appropriate sloped look in the painting. The panels are machine sewn and all seams are hand finished.
I left this layer unlined as the damask fabric was already quite heavy.
I then took a vintage mink stole I was gifted and reconditioned and lined it, cut it into tim sized panels and whip stitched this onto the front opening and the sleeve openings. I trimed this in a maroon silk bias tape.
This layer was 80% hand sewn.
15th century pointed turnshoes
This was my first attempt at shoe making. I watched several youtube tutorials and looked at a few extant pieces before getting started.
The shoes are made out of 4 oz for the top, and 8 ozfor the soles- veg tanned leather.
I created my own wooden shoe lasts to work on this project using two 2x4s cut to about 1 foot each and using my foot tracing and measurements I sawed, whittled and sanded each last. Then sealed with neem oil.
The soles are then tacked onto the lasts and the top portion is sewn together then placed inside out on top. I then used an awl to punch diagonal holes from the soles to the leather tops. Then using waxed linen thread, I sewed the tops to the bottom. Wet the entire shoe in warm water fo 30 minutes or so. Turn right side out. Let dry overnight on the lasts, and condition, stain and seal with leather waterproofing.
I created the patterns on the tops of the shoes based on a 15th century extant find from Italy.
While the tops are still flat, I used my leather knight to cut the small lines, and a leather hole puncher to create the 4 point design.
The shoes are hammered and flattened at the seams before and after turning to create a smooth bottom.
I lined the heels with an alaskan fish leather, which isn’t period accurate, as far as I know but looks fabulous, and has the benefit of not rubbing my heels raw.
The buckles I had on hand were attached with a grommet at the ankle.
Velvet lace belt. I used a yard of leftover black velvet I had. Hand sewed into a wide belt then whip stitched onto a set of lacing facetings I had. Unsure about the historical accuracy of this, but I needed a belt for the sbernia and was about 36 hours from due date.
About Makenzi: My name is Makenzi. I have not chosen a SCA name. I was introduced through my sister and her husband, Makayla and Tristan Smith. I joined in the spring. I do sew regularly, just not clothing to this extent. Mostly repairs and accessories. I enjoy Archery, and am learning to be a scribe. I am sure this project with provide many challenges. Thank you!
Her Project: I am new to the SCA and wanted to create something nice to wear to my first event when they are able to be held again. I have loved the look of italian dresses for many years and decided to create one for myself.
Her thoughts on the C3 experience:
This was such an amazing experience and I learned a lot. I can’t wait to do more projects and become for period accurate as I go! It took lots of Blood and Tears. I am thankful for Jorunna for answering all of my questions even though it was hard to explain in text and most of the time I didn’t know how to ask the question without showing her. I am also thankful for my sister, Makaylas knowledge and distant encouragement. Silly pandemic keeping people apart. If not for socially distancing She would have been a great help with sizing and stopping me from making silly mistakes. Even with the struggle, I can’t wait to start again.
My first layer is a modified Chemis. I was unsure how to make it to fit at first and so I pinned it to my size and sewed it. It looks nice and I am happy with it. I have learned since that it would be more time period to add a string and lace it through to fit on the neckline, so next time that’s what I will be doing.
My second layer is a 16th century Italian dress. I used a light green fabric for the skirt and a tough dark green for the bodice. I used hook and eye for the closures and laced the sleeves with a gold ribbon to match my first layer. If I were to change anything, I would modernize it a little more by adding inches and making it more easy to move in.
Layer 3 is a heavy black cloak. I used a fleece layer for the lining to keep warm and a stretchy cotton material to add weight and protection against the elements. It is very warm and blanket like. I cut my fabric into triangles and sewed each together before sewing together the layers. I am very happy with this peice and would even use it in my day to day life.
I make a leather square pouch. I used a white leather I was gifted. I sealed it with beeswax. Which originally stained it yellow. I then dyed it black instead. It was tough to sew together, I would probably use a softer leather next time. I used popsicle sticks, cut and sanded myself until the shape I wanted for the button closure.
My final layer was a cloth belt. I used left over fabric from my bodice and a gold trim. I am super happy with it and this it gave just the perfect touch.
About Olena: This dress will tie into a new persona I have created for myself. I have been in the Sca for almost 20 years off and on. Have sewn a bit of garb but nothing I would consider spectacular.
Her Project: Recently discovers I enjoy the Tudor period. So I will be making a 1560 ish Tudor period dress. Which will include: black work chemise(underdress)and cuffs, kirtle, dress, false sleeves, and French hood. I have attempted one gown previous to the one planned. But since I cannot work with a pattern only sew by sight I will find it challenging.
Her Final thoughts on her C3 experience:
I enjoyed this challenge. It was my first ever completely hand sewn outfit ever. I am very proud of how it turned out.
The chemise was patterned from the Elizabethan chemise pattern. It is a typical 1500’s underdress to wear under main articles of clothing in order to keep the main layers clean. Women in England and other countries owned a few or many sending on their status and what they could afford. Mine is made out of linen which is historically accurate for this time period. I did have some issues lining up the fires but it worked out in the end. It is completely hand sewn.
My second layer is the kirtle. This was also sewn by hand. Plastic boning was included in the front.
Tudor period overdress. Bodice and sleeves I found were the hardest to construct. Lots of measuring, fitting, measuring, fitting. Next time I would like to work from an actual pattern.
About Sugawara: I have played in the SCA, off and on, for 18 years, beginning in Meridies which then became Gleann Abhann. I came for the costumes and stayed for everything else. When not sewing or researching the Heian era, I dabble in calligraphy and illumination, music and food. This project is a levelling up for me. I’ve made the garments before, but this time, for the first time, I’ll be using period patterns and attempting to translate and follow the instructions which are in Japanese. This is my first A&S competition.
Her Project: I plan to make a travelling outfit suitable for my persona, a Heian Japanese noblewoman circa 1020. It will be modelled after the travelling outfit found at the Kyoto Costume Museum using color choices appropriate for my rank. The uppermost garment in the ensemble will be made from fabric bought for this purpose many years ago, and all fabrics used will come from my stash.
Her Final Thoughts on her C3 Experience:
When I set out on this project, I intended to recreate a travelling outfit that would allow me to walk around events in a highly period fashion. I wanted to make the ensemble as historically accurate as I could so I could be a better version of a walking “class” when someone asks about what I’m wearing. But, I didn’t start with a complete picture. Halfway through the Challenge I attended a class and discovered that the outfit I was making actually had more pieces, and that I was wrong about the chemise. I completed the project in line with its original design as I did not have time to rework the errors or add a whole extra garment. I have firm next steps to improve the hitoe and chemise and plans to make not only the missing kosode, but a pair of shin-protectors as well to round out the ensemble incorporating the newer information. And I’m incredibly proud of what I made.
Layer one was actually the second layer I worked on, as I started with the accessory or fourth layer. Work on the chemise for layer one began October 27 and finished November 20. This skin-layer garment is made of a light silk taffeta, hand sewn with silk thread. The pattern was developed using patterns from similar extant Heian (794-1185) Japanese garments and later period kosode patterns. It is made in the style of a kosode and is appropriate for a Heian Japanese noblewoman.
Work on layer three began November 21 and was completed on December 25. This hitoe is made of a fine silk dupioni that was overdyed to the proper shade of blue-green and is hand stitched in matching silk thread. The pattern used is one created by experts in Japanese Historic Costume from an extant garment. It is appropriate for a Heian Japanese noblewoman.
Work on the uwagi began December 26 and concluded January 9. It is made of a synthetic brocade lined in silk taffeta, hand sewn with matching silk thread. The two pieces were joined together with topstitching along all edges, done so that the darker gold of the lining sets off the lighter gold of the brocade. The pattern used is one created by experts in Japanese Historic Costume from an extant garment. It is appropriate for a Heian Japanese noblewoman of modest rank.
The hat was purchased. The veil panels are silk gazar hemmed by hand in silk thread. Work on the weaving of the kazari-himo or decorative cords for the hat began on October 1 and was finished on October 27. The hat was assembled on January 10. The kazari-himo were woven from thousands of yards of silk thread that was divided into 8 hanks of 40 threads each and then woven by hand on a marudai (a late 16th century Japanese weaving stand). Each of the finished 4 cords was 13’-9” or longer. The cords were all trimmed to the same length and woven through a channel in the veil panels, emerging at small slits at the outside center and interior edges. I modelled the veil construction and cord application on the example found at the Kyoto Costume Museum. The hat is appropriate for a Japanese noblewoman of the late Heian and Kamakura periods.