Group · Historically Focused · Intermediate

Actreo

Group Members: Baroness Linnet del Grenewode,

Location: Barony of Carolingia, East

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Intermediate

About Actreo: The two of us are a couple who have been in and out of the SCA for years. We heard about the Challenge from people in our local group. We will be making garments that we have wanted to make for a while. The inspiration of this challenge is a gift right now.

Project Update Blog: Crafting Ourselves – An SCA Arts and Sciences Journey

Their Project: We will be making a set of clothes for a high status (Thegn level) man and woman from England in the mid 11th Century. These garments will be based on artwork and writings done in period, as well as fragments from grave finds. We have been researching on this period for a while, but have yet to make a set of historically accurate clothing for the late Anglo Saxon time period. We need a set of court garb, not just pennsic clothes. We will be making for the man a shirt, trousers, tunic and cloak, and for the woman a smock, gown, mantel, and veil, as well as a number of smaller pieces.

Final Photos

Layer 1

We are making clothing suitable for an Anglo Saxon man and his wife who are high status individuals (Thegn level). There is little evidence of how the underlayer of clothing looked in the form of illuminations or grave finds for this time period for anglo saxon culture in England. There are many written sources, particular the words in Old English used for garment types. We used 2 main sources of information for making our decisions on how to make this: Dress in Anglo Saxon England by Gale Owen-Crocker, and the Authenticity Guide for Regia Anglorum.

For the man, the first layer would be a linen shirt or tunic, and either trousers, or hose and braies. We chose to make a simple shirt similar to those made elsewhere because the word Scyrte implies a shorter garment, rather than a full undertunic. the shirt has square gussets under the sleeves, and a keyhole neckline bound with silk.Hose and Braies were coming in as a style, but the anglo saxon trousers were still worn. After looking at, and experimenting with several reconstructions of early trousers starting with the iron age Thorsberg trousers, we decided to make the trousers by starting with 2 tubes with a seam down the inner leg. We tried several types of gussets and gores, and found that for us, they fit the best by taking in the lower legs, and adding a square crotch gusset. We left the bottom of the inseam open for the last few inches to get the trousers on over the foot. The trousers were held up with a linen twill tape tie. There was evidence for either ties or belts for this. There are old english words for what is assumed to be a loin cloth, but we opted to stay with modern underwear underneath.

For the woman, the first layer is a linen Smoc made in a similar pattern as layer 2 will be. We used the Nockert Type 1 form of tunic, as this is the most common type of tunic found around the 11th century. This tunic has square underarm gussets and side gores. We did not use center gores. Images of women’s clothing at this time appear to be mainly vertical in line, without much flaring out from the waist. The sleeves were very long and tight. The look at this time was for smoc sleeves to go over the hand some, and to have wrinkles on the forearm. The cuffs and necklines were bound with silk. There was a thriving silk trade in England at this time, and silk ribbons and strips were commonly used if one could afford it. The cap is to cover the hair so it does not show under the veil or wimple that will be added later. There are words for this garment like Feax Clap (head cloth), but what it looked like is up to interpretation. We used the English Cap proposed by Regia Anglorum for this. It is similar to a viking cap, but rounded at the top, and larger, so that all of the hair is covered. Some people use something like a St Birgitta cap, but that would seem to be to late to be used at this time.

All sewing was done by hand using waxed thread (linen for linen, silk for silk). Construction seams were done in back stitch; flat fell with whip stitch; and attaching strips to the edges with running stitch.

Both Linnet and Kendrick worked on this layer. Both of us worked on pattern development. Linnet did most of the construction sewing. Kendrick did the embroidery embellishment on the cap. He will be making many yards of fingerloop braid for the next 2 layers, as well as tablet weaving, and has already started working on those.

Layer 2

We are making a set of clothes for an 11th Century Anglo Saxon high status man and woman. Layer 2 consists of tunics. The term Tunece applies to male garments. The term Cyrtel used to apply to short male garments, but by this point in history was used for longer female tunics. Both garments were Nockert type 1 tunics with square gussets under the sleeves, and triangular side gores, and were made from the same medium weight tabby woven blue fabric. A reproduction red silk was used on the cuffs and necklines. Silk was readily available in England at this time. The most common use was to cut the fabric into strips and use it to trim the edges of garments. Both the Tunece and Cyrtel had 3 cm wide strips on the bottom of the sleeves, and the Tunece had an additional woven band of gold silk on it. The Tunece had a square keyhole neck. This was a style seen in illuminations from England during this time period. It had a silk facing which comes to a point in the center front. The Cyrtel had a round keyhole neck, with the edge bound in silk. Women’s necklines were rarely seen, so would probably not be as showy as men’s.

We had planned on adding blue fingerloop braid to many of the seams, and gold braid to the collars and cuffs. Experimental trials made with silk cord indicated that it would take far, far more time with silk than previous trials with cotton or wool. Weaving the silk into a narrow strip also gave problems with tension and smoothness of weave compared to other fibers. We ended up settling for two woven bands to put on the Tunece, with the thought we might come back to this later. Linnet did the sewing, and Kendrick did all the work with braiding and weaving.

Layer 3

We are making a set of clothing for a high status anglo saxon man and woman. Layer 3 consists of a cloak for the man. It is made of a heavy brown wool with the rectangular construction common in this period. The long edges of the cloak were bound with red silk taffeta ribbon, and trimmed with a two color hand woven silk band. Layer 3 for the woman has 2 parts. The cloak during this period for high status women is a semi-circle of wool sewn into a cone shape with a neck opening. This style is believed to be copied from chasubles seen in byzantine art. Our cloak was made from a soft tan wool, and was worn either with or without a sash. The head covering for Layer 3 is a long rectangular veil of wool gauze. These veils were worn draped around the head over the cap. Lower status women tended to wear a more hood-like garment. In art, these veils are generally shown in a color other than white. For our project, the veil was dyed with black walnut. Several trials were done to try to get the color even. It was decided not to mordant this veil to darken the color with iron, for fear of damaging the fine wool gauze. Walnut has enough tannin, that a mordant is not required on wool. Kendrick did most of the work on the cloak, and Linnet sewed the mantle, and dyed the wool for the veil.

Layer 4

Kendrick did most of the work for this accessory item. The inspiration for our piece is an 11th century reliquary pouch. The original is in the German National Museum in Nurnberg. It is dated to 1050 to 1100 C.E. and Byzantine origin. We feel confident that trading between Anglo-Saxon England and Eastern Europe would have allowed similar bags to be found in England at this time. The original is a silk bag 12.5 cm wide and 14.8 cm tall, the front of the bag is decorated with 21 silver plaquetes, the center five are covered with an almandine stone, which is a purplish garnet, and 4 gold thread covered knots complete a five by five grid of elements, this is surrounded on each side by 7 heart shaped almandine covered plaquetes and 14 small square silver plaquetes with every other one covered in an almandine stone. All of these elements are surrounded with long strands of white seed pearls and three rows or silk cording. Unfortunately we could not create an exact copy of this bag.

Compromises of necessity and material were required. We could not duplicate cast silver plaquetes so heavy pewter craft foil purchased from Blick was used to cut same size and shape plaquetes which were sewn on using white silk thread. The heart shaped plaquetes on each side were eliminated as they were too hard to replicate or substitute with similar shaped pieces. Remnant burgandy silk was used instead of brown silk fabric for the bag which lead to a change in stones, although we had similar sized and shaped purple stones we decided that red coral stones looked better with our silk. Some of the bottom square plaquetes were replaced with bugle shaped coral beads because mounting the bead on the plaquete completely covered the plaquete. Additionally spacing the small square plaquetes was changed to allow for possible future seed pearl cords to be added, we couldn’t find small enough seed pearls to allow closer spacing. Gold silk 20/2 yarn was used to weave the bands across the top. The twisted tan cords around the sides and bottom of the original was replaced with 4 strands of loosely braided 10/2 ecru silk yarn which gives a similar “bumpy patterned” look to the border. When we get the chance, we will complete the decoration of this bag with strands of white seed beads surrounding each element on the front of the bag. Kendrick is proud of this example of an 11th century reliquary bag even if keeping the overall look of the original required some substitutions. The biggest change would be making or purchasing cast plaquetes but purchasing different shaped cast plaquetes would have changed the overall look of the bag so with our skill at this moment, cutting metal plaquetes was the best choice and we couldn’t find similar shaped plaquetes from the medieval craft sellers we know. A class that has been on Kendrick’s “to learn” list is enameling on metal, he thinks this might be the most approachable and best looking replacement for cutting special shaped cabochons.

Layer 4+

For our extra accessory layer, we made socks with a nalebinding technique. There are very few examples of nalebinding from this time period. The most complete one is the Coppergate sock, which dates from the 10th Century in York England. This would have been from the Anglo Scandinavian part of England. Due to the abundant trade between cultures, and the lack of any surviving socks from Anglo Saxon cultures, many researchers assume that nalebinding was a likely technique for the Saxons as well.

The socks were made from the top down. The exemplar sock was done in what was dubbed the York stitch, but this is the only example of that stitch in any surviving work. As I am familiar with the Oslo stitch, and these were my first socks, I chose to work in Oslo. Also, since I prefer to work on my thumb, I worked in a medium weight yarn, not a fine knitting sock yarn. At the cuff, a small raised collar was used, similar to the coppergate sock. This was worked for a few rows, then half of the row was detached to form a gusset. The heel was worked in decreasing rows in the space left open. Then the rest of the sock was done in decreasing rows until it was reduced and tied off at the toe

Since this is the first time I have made socks by any method, the first pair was a learning experience, then tossed. The second pair was much better, and the final pair was finally getting close to what I wanted. This is the pair I have submitted to you. I loved nalebinding socks, since prior to this I have only done hats. I plan on playing with this more in the future.

Bonus Points

Advanced · Historic Advanced · Historically Focused

Aethelwynne of Grimfells

Location: The Shire-March of Grimfells

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Advanced

About Aethelwynne: I joined the SCA last February, so I’m still very new! I sew regularly, both for work and for fun, and have been creating historical costumes for about 10 years now. I originally started with Victorian-era costuming, and worked my way back through time to early medieval, which is now my absolute favorite period of history to study. Besides sewing, I also participate in heavy combat and archery with my local group. This project does directly tie in to my persona, a 10th century Anglo-Saxon woman. I think the sewing itself will be easy for me, but the bits I’m hoping to do, specifically the embellishments on the gown and wimple, will definitely be harder as I’m still learning to tablet weave and embroider!

Her Project: I’m planning on making a late 10th-early 11th century, high status Anglo Saxon women’s outfit. It will consist of a plain linen smock/chemise, a green wool gown with pale yellow silk trim, brown wool cloak, and white decorated veil. Due to the inclusion of silk and the color of the wool, and the planned embellishments on the veil, this outfit could have been worn by royalty, high noble status, or wealthy abbesses/nuns. It isn’t based on one specific illumination, but I have taken different image references from “Dress in Anglo-Saxon England” (drawn from sources such as contemporary religious texts and the Bayeux tapestry) and picked various elements as my inspiration. It won’t include heraldry or awards because I have none yet (joined just before all the covid cancellations). This is an outfit I’ve wanted to make for a while; I have a few normal “everyday” gowns that look nice, but I want something extra special to wear to court or have for big events.

Final Photos

Her final thoughts on her C3 experience:

I really enjoyed this challenge! I tried to make my clothing as accurate to the evidence as possible, and I’m pleased with the final look of the outfit. I’m happy to finally have something more extravagant to wear to events, that would have plausibly been something a 10th century Anglo-Saxon woman could wear. I was able to improve my tablet weaving significantly by doing this project, and learned which areas I need to work on for future weaving. Once it’s safe for events to start again, I look forward to getting some wear out of this outfit!

Layer 1

This is the shift I’ll be wearing as my base layer for my 10th century female Anglo-Saxon outfit. I made it out of a medium weight linen; I prefer this weight over handkerchief linen because it doesn’t seem to cling to the body as much when it’s hot out. I hand sewed the entire shift, with backstitch in the higher stress areas and a running stitch everywhere else, then felled all the raw edges on the inside; the sewing is pretty much invisible on the exterior. The pattern is a simple T-tunic style, with underarm gussets and side gores, following the cutting example from “Dress in Anglo-Saxon England”. The sleeves are nearly a yard long, with extra fabric to bunch up along the forearm as seen in period artwork of women. It isn’t specified whether this was a style worn by all classes of people, or if it was a way to show how wealthy a person was to afford extra fabric, but in most of the artwork women and men of this period have pleats or bunching along their arms, so this is the style I’m going with. It’s a little awkward to put on as I have to bunch the sleeves before I can pull it over my head, but I love the finished look. The construction went as planned, but the one thing I would do differently next time is cut the sleeve looser right below the elbow. I tapered the width a bit too much so it’s a little tight once I push the extra fabric onto my arm. Hopefully as I wear it the linen loosens so it will be more comfortable. Overall, I’m pleased with how this came out and ready to work on the main gown!

Layer 2

This is the second layer of my 10th century high status Anglo-Saxon outfit. It is a gown made of green worsted wool, and trimmed with gold silk that I’ve embroidered with wool and silk thread. This is cut in the same manner as my shift, following a t-tunic style layout. It’s entirely hand stitched in green silk thread. I sewed the seams with backstitch along the arms and shoulder seam, and running stitch along the gores. I then folded the raw edges toward each other and whipstitched those edges together, forming a mock French seam. This technique is documentable during the period. The facings are made of silk charmeuse that I’ve had in my stash for years. I embroidered it by couching down a fine wool yarn with silk floss, then adding French knots in between the lines with the same wool. This was my interpretation of a common design seen on Anglo-Saxon clothing in period artwork, where two parallel lines have small dots or circles running between those lines. This is seen along hemlines of gowns, sleeves, and cloaks, but I also added it as a neck facing. Everything went as planned, but the one thing I would do differently is find a stiffer silk to make the facings. I used the charmeuse only because it was what I had, but it was so thin and easily warped as I worked with it. This made the embroidery difficult; I used linen underneath it for some structure and had to keep it under tension as I sewed. If I were to do it again, I would use something like taffeta, that won’t wiggle off grain so much. As it is, the embroidery looks decent, but it was particularly hard to get it even on the neck facing due to the charmeuse so I’m not entirely happy with that. Overall, I do like the gown, and I’m glad to finally have something fancier to wear to special events!

Layer 3

This past month I worked on my 3rd layer, a wool cloak. Anglo-Saxon women of the 10th century wore mantles (poncho like garments, basically a piece of fabric with a hole cut in the center for pulling over the head) and cloaks; I prefer cloaks since they’re a bit more versatile- for example, you can fold over part of it to use like a hood, or you can use it as a makeshift blanket at camping events, so this is what I chose for my outfit. I used a thicker wool broadcloth, and construction was easy enough; I cut the fabric to length, and the fabric doesn’t fray, so I left the edges as-is. Period artwork tends to show women in plain cloaks, but written accounts mention more decor on clothing than what is seen in the drawings. This is in contrast to artwork of men, who are shown in decorated cloaks. The trim I used on layer 2 (a contrasting band with dots/circles along it) is shown in multiple images of men in the 10th century, and as there is ample artwork with women wearing this trim on their gowns, I figured it would be reasonable to decorate the edge of my cloak this way as well. I tablet wove a band in yellow wool directly to the bottom edge. For the dots seen in pictures, Dress In Anglo-Saxon England mentions that this could be embroidery or jewels sewn on; I chose the latter to contrast with my second layer. The cloak is wrapped around the shoulders and closed over the center of the chest with a brooch. The construction all went as planned; my only gripe is that I settled for glass beads on the trim, as that was what I had available locally. These were used in period, but after the challenge I might try to find flatter or smaller gemstone beads to replace them, as high status people would have likely used gemstones rather than glass on their clothing at the time.

Layer 4

My final layer is called a fillet or binde, which was a woven strip worn across the forehead underneath the wimple/veil. This band was worn by married women of all social standings in 10th century England, with finer materials used for fillets worn by wealthy women. My fillet was tablet woven in silk thread, using a “pickup” method seen in archaeological finds from England. How this works is that the cards are “rocked” back and forth; two holes on each card have both white and blue threads in them. To make the pattern, you turn the cards, then manually lift each thread in the correct sequence before throwing the weft and turning the cards again. This technique is slower, but there’s more freedom in the designs you can weave. The patterns I chose are from a fellow reenactor’s website; she used patterns from existing Anglo-Saxon embroidery and stone carvings, so this is something that could have existed during the period. Making it up went as planned; I’ve made fillets before using this technique so I had no worries there, but this is the most complex pattern I’ve ever woven, so I really had to take my time and pay close attention to what I was doing. The big thing I still need to work on with my weaving is keeping the tension even- the beginning of the band is slightly narrower than the end, but it’s not terribly noticeable. Overall I’m very happy with it, and think it really adds nice detail to my outfit!

Layer 4+

This non-judged layer is a part of my headgear (a tablet woven fillet). It is a linen wimple that I decorated like the wimples seen on page 224 in Dress in Anglo-Saxon England, which shows a group of nuns in elaborately jeweled headdresses. The wimple is a cone shape with one seam that joins the edges together. To decorate it like the picture, I fingerloop braided multiple lengths of silk thread- one for each edge of the wimple, and two to go from forehead edge to the back- and dyed them golden yellow. Once they were stitched on, I added pearls from forehead to back as well, between the two rows of silk braid. I think it looks much nicer than just a plain wimple, but doesn’t take attention away from the woven fillet or dress.

The other accessory I’m wearing is a tablet woven belt, made prior to this contest. It’s woven in wool and linen, and I wear this belt with most of my outfits. It seems, based on artwork, women in the 10th century wore belts if they wanted to; some pictures actually do show a belt or sash along the waist. I like the look of the gown cinched in a bit, so I’ve chosen to wear a belt in the final photos.

Bonus Points

Beginner · Modern Beginner · Modern Recreationist

Aoife inghean Úi Thormaig

Location : Grimfells, Calontir

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Beginner

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?

Final Pictures

Her final thoughts on the challenge:

I learned so much with this project. I can’t wait to make something else!

Layer 1

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.

Layer 2

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.

Layer 3

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!

Layer 4

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.

Bonus Points

Intermediate · Modern Recreationist · Modern Recreationist Intermediate

Birna Isleifsdottir

Location: Barony of Castlemere, Trimaris

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate

About Birna: I’ve been in the SCA for about 40 years. Own and operate an agro educational Icelandic farm in north east florida where we teach leather, wood, metal, and fiber arts. I have until now sewn by machine but have started sewing by hand; pretty ugly still. I have never embroidered. The garb design and initial construction should not be a problem. I have never made shoes before so that will be challenging. Also the trim; although I make the looms and teach the craft, takes many hours to get that much for hems and other pieces so that will be time consuming. I think the hardest for me will be the embroidery since I want to be very elaborate with Norse knot work and other designs in multi colors. This will be directly related to my persona and will be used when I compete at local, kingdom, and IKAC events.

Her Project: This is an archery outfit of my own thoughts. There will be a hood, shooting cap, dress, and apron. There will be hand woven trim; by me, on all the pieces and the dress, hopefully, will have embroidery around the hems and sleeves. I am doing this in a Norse style, early period. I also plan to make a pair of shoes in the Jorvik style and pour a pair of broaches at my forge. Although this is not fashion related I am also tooling a new leather quiver and making a set of period arrows. I am a mid 11th century Icelandic woman who was raised by my father to do everything the men do as well as what the women did around the farm. I fight, loose, do metal and wood, leather, cook, and run our farm.

The Complete Garment

Birna’s final thoughts on her C3 experience: i am very pleased with most of what I did. I wish I was better at embroidery at the beginning of this. I have had some very good practice over these past four months and I feel I have progressed. The dress I’m working on now for my wife; not in the challenge is way better than the dress I made for the challenge.

Layer 1

This layer is a Norse dress for someone in the tenth to eleventh century. I am Icelandic but it could be any of the Norse countries. The dress is part of an ensemble for a female Norse archer. The material is a camouflage pattern to blend into the woods of the landscape. The embroidery is hand stitched and the trim is hand woven on a loom that I built. This is the main layer of the ensemble. The next layer will be the pants and apron. After that will be the boots, hood, cap, and then final layer will be the weapons.

Layer 2

the pants are norse draw string pants. The apron is a strap apron with broaches.

Made my pants and apron from matching material. pants are lined with flannel for comfort and warmth. apron is double sided with the material for stability and strength. X stitched every seam on both pieces with embroidery floss. Embroidered six designs on the apron. made the trim for the straps on the viking flat braid loom that I made.

Layer 3

Early Icelandic woman’s archer garb. boots and cap. part of my entire ensemble.

Layer 4

This is a female archery garb for 11th century icelandic or scandinavian. it went as planned. Most was done by hand and although some was done by modern conveyance such as a gas forge it was substituted for an period method. This is all my work.

Layer 4+

this layer is all the bits and pieces that go with the garb. The two knives, the pouch, and the belt. All hand tooled and hand made.

Bonus Points

Advanced · Historic Advanced · Historically Focused

Ceara of Novgorod

Location: Falcon Cree, Atlantia

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Advanced

About Ceara: I’ve been in the SCA over 20 years and lived in several Kingdoms. I enjoy sewing and have done it since before I started in the SCA. I came to the SCA with a very modern, very basic sewing background. I’m planning on hand sewing my entire outfit. I’ve previously hand sewn a garment or two, but not an entire outfit. I specifically chose Advanced category because I want to challenge myself and am hoping for feedback on areas I can improve. I’m also a tablet weaver so am planning on making the belt and trim. I have a Rus persona, so I’ve really been looking forward to making one of the Upper Volga Dresses.

Her Project: My outfit is 11th Century Upper Volga Rus, based specifically on the excavations of the Pleshkovo-1 Cemetery. There were over 37 women buried there and, based on the ornamentation at lease some were wealthy/noble women. They were of Slavic with some native Baltic and Finno-Ugrian influences. My outfit will be primarily based on the clothing in barrow’s 57 and 58. I chose the Pleshkovo finds in general because there is a large number of textile fragments for the Upper Volga region, making it easier to select appropriate cloth to make the garments out of. I specifically chose these two Barrows based on the lovely hair ornaments and because I liked the really large temple rings in Barrow 58. I’d like to wear this outfit to virtual Atlantian 12th night, as it’s one of the few times of the year that wool dresses will be comfortable in the South Eastern US.

Layer 1

11th Century upper Volga Rus. Specifically the Pleshkovo-1 site, barrow 53. This is Rus with a strong ugaro-finn influence. Cut of the underdress should somewhat resemble a sarafan in general shape, but without pleating or straps. Also this barrow was thought to have a high slit neckline.

Historic Intermediate · Historically Focused · Intermediate

Eleanora d’Arcy

Location: River Haven, Lochac

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Intermediate

About Eleanora: This will be my sixth year in the SCA. I grew up sewing and doing various crafts, though had a long break in using them. Am also learning many new skills in the SCA, and want to challenge myself to learn or use new skills for this challenge. This project will tie in with a challenge I have given myself, portraying a series of women through the ages, making outfits as complete as possible including accessories. Materials will have to be largely those already in the stash, due to financial constraints, which will add another level of challenge. This will basically be my main persona’s Saxon Grandmother. Saxon is not something I would have imagined doing when first joining SCA, but will help to round out the range of periods nicely.

Her Project: Anglo Saxon Late tenth to mid eleventh century gentlewoman. Looking at a number of illustrations to pick ideas. I have challenged myself to try to do at least one full outfit for each hundred years after 1000, too late to enter my half complete 12th century outfit, but this will also work well to have an outfit for a partly Saxon themed event I hope to co-steward next year. This will be my main persona’s Saxon Grandmother, circa 1066. Anglo Saxon is something quite new for me, so this will be a huge learning curve.

Final Photos

Layer 1

11th Century Anglo Saxon upper class (but not royal) ladies underdress Linen chosen in a colour appropriate for second wash madder. Embroidery was to have been silk and gilt on linen, but suitable silk was not available so cotton used. Stitches chosen included Bayeux stitch for the background, stem stitch and chain stitch to outline. The pattern was taken from a handout on Anglo Saxon Embroidery.

Embroidered facings were worked first, then dress cut out. I have made a number of bliauts and viking underdresses before, so use a similar geometric technique, but made the body of the dress a little wider for ease of wear, and altered the sleeves to make them longer, baggy at the top but very narrow over an elongated forearm to allow it to wrinkle/fold up as in contemporary sources. Gores were added to the sides only (three each side, may have been somewhat overkill, but the fabric was there) to maintain the flat fronted appearance. The facing was added by stitching right side of the facing to the wrong side of the dress, cutting and clipping then flipping it to the outside and ladder stitching down (after much pressing and pinning heavily and leaving to settle overnight). All sewing was done by hand, backstitching and faux french (whip stitched after folding) for the seams, and ladder stitch to attach the facings. Hem was folded and whipped after allowing to hang for a few days. I had forgotten to add extra seam allowance to the sleeve facings, so had to insert a piece and stitch down well at the seam. The neck facing is just big enough, but slightly higher than I personally enjoy wearing, so would probably increase it just slightly for a next time. The dress is quite long as per the fashions of the time, but may be taken up at a later date.

Layer 2

High class Anglo Saxon 11th century ladies overdress (Gunna).

Hand sewn from linen. Modified T tunic shape, larger elbow length sleeves and knee length with larger neckline to show underdress. It is very loose fitting as seen in illuminations of the time. Seams done as faux french, whip stitched closed. Neckline and sleeve trim from black silk with goldwork chain stitch embroidery, and embelished with freshwater pearls, carnelians, and turquoise. The pattern was adapted from the edges of the Sutton Hoo Brooch. I chose dragons as they are part of my heraldry. (I had toyed with using peacock pearls to simulate the closed eye of my sleeping dragon, but the price was prohibitive. Likewise the fleur de lis on the underdress is based on my heraldry, although they are argent not teal).

Originally I had planned to also do a wide goldworked front panel and hem trim, as well as embellished medallions with coral, turquoise, carnelian and onyx beading, but unfortunately time constraints and real life dramas prevented this. They are still in progress and will be added to the outfit at a later date.

Layer 3

11th century upper class ladie’s mantle based on manuscripts of the time. Rust coloured wool and purchased trim. Basic rectangular shape, the hardest part is finding the precise point to attach the pin holding it together, so as to allow the mantle to fall in a flattering manner, and also allow it to be quickly pulled up as a self hood in case of sudden inclement weather. Trim hand sewn to wool piece. Was very pleased that it seems on the dummy to sit very much as the illuminations depict. I chose to do a very light mantle as it is summer in my area, and I already own a heavy duty early period cloak.

Layer 4

11th century homespun naalbound ladies hose.

This was my first attempt at naalbinding. I had tried to do this with some dropspun yarn, but it had been spun at a demo and was very uneven and was not working well, so I purpose spun some thicker wool yarn on the wheel (for speed) and that was far more successful. They were each worked as one piece, tubular to the start of the heel, heel plate worked backwards and forwards, then the stitches on the edge picked up (and some skipped) to shape fully. Post construction areas which will have heavier wear (sole and heel plate, back of ankles) and any areas where the yarn seemed thinner were padded out by weaving wisps of underspun fibre through the fabric. The hose were then put on and fulled with the help of a footspa.

Knee length worn with garters were used by ladies in this period, longer hose usually worn by men. I am postulating naalbound hose as these were common in the Viking period, not only amongst vikings, with bias cut cloth used in later centuries, especially after the Norman conquest. At this time knitting was really only practiced in the far to mid east.

While they are not perfect, fulling them made them much better. The most surprising thing about them is how amazingly soft and comfortable they are, and not too hot. There will definitely be a few more pairs made in the future.

Layer 4+

Accessories for a high class 11th century Anglo Saxon Lady. It was my plan to have a complete outfit from underwear out totally handmade by me of, as much as possible, period materials and with as period techniques where possible.

Shoes: (first ever attempt) Black leather, pointed, semi turned with a front seam as seen in pictures of men’s shoes of this period. Most illustrations of ladies shoes just show black pointed ones similar to men’s shoes peeking out from under the hem of the dress. Cut in one piece from black leather, stitched with matching linen. Next time I would trust my original patterning (had thought they would be too tight, adjusted and now they are a little loose but should be ok with a felt or suede lining). Learned a lot about using a stitching awl during this! (and thoroughly qualified for the “bleed for it” category).

Enamel Brooch. Done during an A&S class dedicated to enamel brooches, had the teacher cut the shape using an Anglo Saxon pendant cross as the template, made using a modified version of the original cross pattern. First time doing enameling for over 40 years, would love to pick this skill back up again if able to afford the equipment.

Headrail Woven from 20/2 black silk, 300 thread warp 24 inch four shaft table loom. Again another real learning curve, with learning to use a warping board and loom. I had thought the end result a little gauzy, but it has settled well off the loom, and is probably more appropriate for our climate than the welsh black homespun originally pegged for the job. (this will be used with a revamp of the silk warp to weave a second headrail for winter). No respectable older Anglo Saxon lady would be seen without her headrail, and black was one colour repeatedly noted in illuminations of this time.

Garters Inkle woven from Gutterman silk thread, with the addition of a little gilt thread from the embroidery. This is still a relatively new skill for me, and at 80threads to make 8 mm (just over a quarter inch) it was the first time I had attempted anything so fine. Very fiddly and challenging to make, but quite satisfying. I have already bought thread to make some similar as trim for other projects.

Inkle woven belt Again, a relatively new skill. I had hoped to learn tablet weaving to do a silk belt for this outfit, but time forbade it. The first belt I made was approximately 1 inch wide, too wide for a Saxon lady of this time period, so the pattern was adjusted and the second one is around a half inch wide.

Sadly time also prevented the original plan of making pattens to wear with the shoes.

Bonus Points

Intermediate · Modern Recreationist · Modern Recreationist Intermediate

THL Kathryn MacLuing

Location: Barony of Blackstone Mountain, Æthelmearc

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate

About Kathryn: I joined the Society in 1988, before Æthelmearc was even a Principality of the East. I have been helped start two Shires and my own Barony, served in various Offices for all three plus another Shire, and have been Granted Arms for my Service to the Kingdom. I still remain a student of many things, master of none, but about the only thing I haven’t tried is Martial Combat. I will never be a Laurel, or even a Fleur d’Æthelmearc (grant) for my sewing or art, but all my gowns are my own work, which is simple cotehardies and surcoats I love from 11th Cent design. For my years of experience alone, I will apply for Intermediate, as I am far from a beginner, but mastery is beyond me. This will be a chance to try out a new fiber art, use what skills I do have for sewing, as well as attempt embroidering designs on the planned sleeve trim. Or, I might simply make a few yards of lucet cord and stitch it down. My plans, even at this late date, are still fluid.

Her Project: I am planning an 11th Cent Norman chemise, underdress, and overdress with card-woven belt, as a lady of the manor might have worn in cooler weather. This will not be based off a particular source, but drawn from many. I hope to have it finished for a possible 12th Night next year, or the annual Tournement of the White Hart (and love and beauty) in March. While I am tempted to have it show my awards, I do not think my embroidery is up to doing the AoA and Grant level Service awards for Æthelmearc. I was not planning to make this project, but your Challenge gave me a kick to use some of my stash. Unfortunately, I do not have suitable linen for the chemise, so it will be gold cotton. The underdress will be a cotehardie with fitted sleeves and bodice, of either red or blue linen (still juggling that decision), while the overdress will be a lined bell-sleeved cote with trim of the underdress’s linen on sleeves and hem. I am planning my first-ever Card-woven belt, with gold and red chevrons bordered with blue for my 4th item, and also plan a wimple and hat similar to GoT Olenna Tyrell’s lovely headdresses, in honor of Dame Diana’s passing. Of course, all plans are subject to contact with the enemy, and what I Plan may not be what I get. *sigh*

Final Photos

Layer 1

Layer one is a basic chemise, which is ubiquitous from Early Greek to 1700s women’s undergarments. This neatly covers my late 10th/early 11th Cent Norman/Saxon period. I used a 60in width gold mid-weight cotton and the SCA-favorite T-Tunic pattern. The width meant I could cut the full sleeves and the full width of the hem without any gores or piecing, and gave me a lot of excess fabric for other projects. With the dress all one piece, that left me with only two seams to sew up. First, I cut the neckline, and did a simple tuck-n-fold instead of a facing. I also did the simple fold for the wrists. Both the neckline and the wrists were hand-stitched down with a simple running stitch. Then I used my sewing machine to start at the wrists and sew down each side, then went over it again with a stay-stitch to prevent fraying. After the sides were sewn, I laid the dress out and curved the hem, then did a double-fold hem with my sewing machine. After that, I used my Lucet to braid with #10 crochet thread in red and blue, using a technique where both colors are cast on the horns, and then the threads crisscrossed to create designs in the cord. I free-handed a pattern of dual solid color sections spaced between sections of the two colors chevroned, for a total of a few inches over 12ft. This red/blue cording was used to decorate the wrists and completely around the hem.

Layer 2

Layer 2 is a kirtle. Kirtles were found from the 800s-1300s throughout Western Europe in women’s fashion, and were worn over a chemise either with or without a layer atop it. This meant it was suitable for my target of a late 10th/early 11cent Norman/Saxon. For the kirtle I used a 45in width mid-weight blue linen. After discovering that ALL my dress patterns were missing, I jury-rigged a pattern based on my current measurements and an older dress I made from the missing pattern. The pattern has inset sleeves in the bodice, a slightly fitted waist, and then flares straight to the hem. The bodice was cut on a double fold, the sleeves on a single. Each piece of the dress (bodice and two sleeves) were stay-stitched around every cut area with my sewing machine.

Instead of a facing, I turned the fabric under on the neck and wrist and hand-stitched it down with a running stitch. After hemming the neck and wrists, I used my machine to inset the sleeves, then machine-sewed the side-seams from the wrist to the hem. I then laid the kirtle out and curved the hem before double-folding and machine-sewing it down.

From cutting to finishing the hem took roughly 4hours. The next part took most of October into November, as I used #10 Crochet thread in red and yellow to create roughly 14ft of cording, in freehand pattern of dual solid color sections separated by a chevron of both colors mixed. I hand-stitched the cording around the neckline, the wrists, and completely around the hem.

Layer 3

My 3rd Layer is a cotehardie or surcote, common to the 9th-11th Cent. women’s fashion. This was the top layer, meant to show off the lady’s wealth or sewing skills. It was often gored, heavily embroidered, and often with different sleeve treatments to show off the kirtle beneath. I chose to use a pattern found in Coptic, Norse, and Saxon grave-finds, with a straight central bodice, 3/4 length bell-sleeves, and a gore that attaches to the sleeve before sleeve and gore is sewn to the bodice. Due to the loss of my dress patterns, I had to go off straight measurements and my memory of how to piece it.

Before sewing the pieces together, I took advantage of having them as flat sections to not only stay-stitch every cut area, but to create a facing for the neckline and sleeves out of the gold cotton. This was all hand-sewing, to make sure the facings would flip to the outside correctly. After stitching the facings down, I then took red and blue DMC floss and free-handed a scalloped pattern on the gold facings, using an outline stitch. The sleeves is a simple scallop, the neck facing I inter-wove the lines more. After the embroidery was finished, I then attached the gores to the bottom of the sleeves, and pinned the sleeve and gore to the straight bodice. Starting at the shoulder, I sewed first down the front, then the back of the dress. That way, the fabric did not skew the sleeve or the shoulder. After attaching the second sleeve and gore, but before sewing up the sides, I draped it over me. THAT is when I discovered I’d mis-measured, and would need additional gores in the sides. Thankfully I had enough scrap to cut the gores (2 per side). Again, I machine-sewed from the underarm to the hem, but the tip of the gore I hand-stitched to the sleeve. After this emergency, I was able to machine-sew from the wrists to the hem, and had to admit the extra gores did give the dress a better flow. I laid out the dress and curved the hem, then double-folded and sewed it down with the sewing machine. The dress was done by November check-in, other than the final decoration.

By this time, I’d made two lengths of cording for the other dresses, and was getting burnt out. I managed to make 7ft of blue/yellow cording, in a pattern of dual solid color separated by chevrons of mixed color, and I was burnt out. This is why the cotehardie only has lucet cord on the front hem and not completely around. The cording does go from side seam to side seam, covering all the gores and the central section, but I simply could not complete the circuit.

Layer 4

Woven belts can be seen wrapped around ladies’ waists in paintings and sculptures from the 900s up til the 12th century. These all seem to be patterned in colored thread/yarn/cloth, with braided or decorated ends. Sometimes they wrapped twice, sometimes only once, and were usually knotted, not caught with a buckle. Grave finds in Britain, France, and Scandinavia have suggested they were card or tablet woven on looms.

I have never tried to card-weave anything, although I have been allowed to try it out at events. This was going to be my Rookie Project.

I found a pattern via Pinterest that seemed easy. It took 14 cards, and would be a simple 8 turns forward, 8 turns back to create a >><<>><< pattern. This pattern can be found all over Europe as scraps of trim, and is the base of several trims sold in by SCA merchants (see Calontir Trims).

I bought several skeins of 2.5 worsted yarn in red, blue, and gold. I received as a gift from my Baroness a full pack of playing cards, punched and cut to proper size. Following the pattern I found, I cut roughly 3.5yard sections of yarn and threaded the cards as instructed. Then came the fun part. I had no loom, so I decided to improvise. I upended my cutting table and strung the yarn over the upturned legs. Then, I discovered I needed more tension, and decided a chunk of wood tied to the working end would be a good work-around.

I started working on my jury-rigged loom, and it started out ok. I used the blue yarn for the warp, remembered to count the turns, and was feeling good about it. Of course that couldn’t last. Everytime I had to advance the weft, I either lost count of turns or didn’t get the tension back on the weft properly. Due to the looser tension, the cards started catching on each other and sometimes I didn’t catch it for several turns. This caused the pattern to muddle, or for sections to get skipped. Yet, I persevered and fought my way turn by turn to the end of the weft. I braided the ends, tied them off, and nearly wept because it didn’t look like I wanted it to look.

When I could look at it again, I added two sets of three cheap metal bells to each of the braided ends.

Layer 4+

  • Veil: Women have worn veils for millennia. I don’t believe there is a date that one can point to and say ‘this is when it started’, but veils only started going out of fashion with Elizabeth I. During the late 10th/early 11th centuries, the veil was in full swing, worn with a hat that’s been referred to as a ‘filet’, or less flatteringly as a ‘coffee-filter hat’. The filet is a stiffened center of some material, covered with a richer material and either pleated or otherwise decorated. All of the work on the veil and filet was done by hand, and the filet is the one that finally made me bleed — TWICE.
    • The veil is 45in width light-weight natural linen, cut in a long oval 45inches long and roughly 25inches wide. My mother compared it to a NASCAR track. I double-folded the fabric and used a diagonal stitch to hem the full circle. Then, I took gold DMC floss and free-handed a scalloped outline stitch just inside the hem. I felt it needed more, and so I took red and blue DMC floss and made simple 6-pointed stars in the outer edge of the scallop.
  • Filet : The filet is made from a bias-cut scrap of the gold cotton used for my First Layer, the chemise. I found a double-walled cardboard 13in cakeboard, and cut a 1.5inch strip for the inside stiffener, bending it to curve properly. Before I sewed the cotton into a tube, I decided to bead it. My grandma had kept a broken necklace with pearls already string two by two on wire. I used needle-nosed pliers to remove the twinned pearls, salvaging 6 sets. I laid them in a simple circle and stitched them down on the center front of the cotton with button stiches through the wire ends. Next, I used a diagonal hand-stitch to make a tube. After I turned the tube right side out, I slid the cardboard inside. I used postal tape to strength the cardboard’s ends, and then stapled the ends together with a slight overlap. I covered the staples with more postal tape to protect the fabric. I pulled the fabric to overlap, tucked in the raw edges, and blanket-stitched the seam.
  • Lucet Cord

Bonus Points