Intermediate · Modern Recreationist · Modern Recreationist Intermediate

Amy of Gleann Abhann

Location: Barony of Axemoor, Gleann Abhann

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate

Project Update Blog: The Enchanted Tower

About Amy : I dabbled in the SCA back in college, and I’ve been dipping my toes back in over the last year or so. I am very comfortable using a sewing machine on a commercial sewing pattern, but I sew modern and vintage styles more frequently than medieval styles. I have very little experience drafting patterns; hence my hesitation to attempt a cotehardie. I haven’t settled on an SCA persona, or even a name, but this project is going to be a good opportunity to test out 14th century Western Europe.

Her Project: I’m planning to make a middle-class 14th century European woman’s outfit for myself. I’ve wanted a Gothic Fitted Dress/Cotehardie for several years, and this project is going to be my motivation to finally try one! Due to budget constraints – and the fact that this is going to be a wearable muslin – I plan to substitute cotton for linen and wool. My first layer will be a chemise, my second layer will be a fitted kirtle, and my third layer will be a Cotehardie. My accessory will probably be leather shoes as leatherworking is a different discipline and not something I’ve tried before.

Final Photos

Her final thoughts on her C3 experience:

Thank you for hosting this!

I’ve wanted to make a dress from this period for about 10 years now, and apparently this was the push that I needed to actually do it. It’s not perfect, but that’s okay! I think part of what’s been holding me back for so long was that I wanted my first gothic fitted dress to be perfectly fitted. This one isn’t, but it’s done. Pattern-drafting is hard, and it’s okay if you aren’t the best at something the first time you try it.

Layer 1

This is a woman’s plain cotton underdress. The neckline is very wide to remain unseen while accommodating the style of the first quarter of the 15th century in Western Europe. All visible stitching was completed by hand: felling the gores, skirt and sleeve hems, and neckline. I’ve made this pattern before, so I was able to copy most of the measurements and tweak the ones that I didn’t love from my last go-around this time. The pattern came from a blog post on Reconstructing History. Inserting gores into fabric slits remains challenging, but I found a tutorial on La cotte simple that did help it to lie more smoothly. I’m happy with this garment and might consider investing in a more expensive fabric if I have cause to make another underdress.

Layer 2

1400-1425 France woman’s fitted kirtle. I’m proud of this dress because I tried some new-to-me techniques like self-drafting and flat-lining. Although I didn’t quite get the fit that I wanted even after several muslins, I did manage to get the front of the gown to lace closed. This leads me to believe that I was on the right track with the fit, but that I needed some more help, and maybe in a post-pandemic world I can get that help. I also wonder how much of that fit would be improved by using better fabrics (there are limits to what cotton can do) and more a fitted undergarment. The sleeves especially felt like they suffered because it was hard to make them any tighter when there was so much loose fabric from the underdress fighting for space underneath. Now I want to research more options for undresses. Also, as I feared, by making my underdress first, the necklines don’t quite line up and the underdress peeks out at the shoulders from the kirtle. I definitely don’t have time to fix the underdress, but I have some other ideas for making the underdress less visible.

I did cheat a little bit while I was making this dress. The most obvious visible cheat is that I used my sewing machine to sew the eyelets (technically buttonholes because my machines only sews rectangles). My second big cheat was applying some medium-weight interfacing to the facing along the eyelet holes to help prevent gaping along that front edge. It was effective, and I did enter into the modern recreationist category.

I hand-stitched the visible seams – skirt hem, sleeve hems, and understitched the facing around the neckline. I have no idea if facings are period, but I’ve noticed that flat-lining is popular in SCA circles, and I know that bag-lining is a relatively modern innovation. Facings are certainly an efficient way to finish those edges.

This dress may not be perfect, but it is finished, and now I can start on my next layer.

Layer 3

In keeping with the rest of my outfit this is a gown meant to be worn by a middle-class woman in France circa 1400-1425. I substituted cotton* for linen for budgetary reasons. The gown is simple and relatively efficient, I made the whole thing with only 5 yards of fabric plus the lining. *I say that the gown is made of cotton because that is what I intended when I went to the store. I had a lovely blue selected, and found a bolt that was nice and thick so I was confident that I could get my full yardage. However, when I went up to the counter to get it cut the clerk unwrapped one cut yard of fabric and then another, and it became apparent that if I wanted a single cut of yard I would need another bolt. I went back to the same section and pulled a nearly identical bolt of fabric, but didn’t look closely at the label. After pre-washing the fabric I went to iron it and noticed that it had a lot more stretch to it than normal, so I think that I may have purchased a cotton-poly blend. Oh well.

Drafting the dress was challenging since this was something I don’t really know how to do, but I followed the tutorial offered by another C3 member. I can’t remember his name now, but it’s posted on the Stars and Garters blog, and it was a 6-panel gown. I didn’t get the fit quite right, but I got it done, and that is worth celebrating for me.

The bodice of the gown is lined in white muslin, and I used the same fabric to line the hanging portion of the sleeves. the bodice is flat-lined, but the sleeves are bag-lined. The sleeves should be lined in fur, not cotton, but that’s not practical in my current climate, so I used something else.

I had time to make one lucet-braided cord out of cotton embroidery floss to lace up the side of the gown. I also attached my first aglet to that cord, which was exciting. Unfortunately, the gown requires 2 laces, so I had to make do with ribbon on the other side. Imperfect, but it holds the gown together.

Layer 4

I made a necklace out of coral beads. I’ve seen a few of these on portraits of women throughout Europe in the 1300s. I’m not sure if it was right to make an alternating pattern of large and small beads or if it should have been large beads and knots as is seen on modern-day pearl necklaces.

Bonus Points

Historic Intermediate · Historically Focused · Intermediate

Edine Godin

Location: Innilgard, Lochac

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Intermediate

About Edine : I’m Edine Godin from Innilgard, Lochac. I’ve been in the SCA since 2006. I’ve previously been a keen fencer and a bit of a sewer. I don’t make myself fancy court clothes very often, preferring lower-class clothing. Now I have a reason to make a ‘dream gown’ for myself, but I haven’t made garb at all for a couple of years and nothing structured for about five, so I’m feeling very rusty! The outfit will be as close to my person’s era and status as I can make it. The deadlines particularly will be a challenge for me as I already have a full plate – but without them, I haven’t been making time to sew. I’m hoping this competition and the community of people supporting and encouraging each other will help re-light my fire of sewing interest and motivation.

Her Project: I will make mid to late 16th century French noblewoman clothes reflecting my persona. Drawers, chemise, and partlet; kirtle in black linen with silk trim; green silk gown, sleeves, and headwear; and jewellery – girdle, necklace, and earrings. I’m basing the outfit off a couple of engravings, with additional portraits for some details. I wanted a gown in my new heraldic colours of vert and argent for a special occasion. I’ve been thinking about a nice court gown for a while but haven’t had a good reason to expend the energy and money towards it, as I’m constantly on a budget for both.

Layers 1 & 2

This month I worked on my underskirt for Layer 2. It is nearly complete, I only need to whip stitch down the front of the waistband and put a fastening on it (hook and eye). The hook and eye can’t be done until I make a pair of bodies.
I had someone fit a bodice for me and it became obvious then that I need the full Elizabethan style underpinnings. I will make a pair of bodies and then get fitted again for the over-gown.

If I could do this all over again, I’d seek fitting help for everything, not just the bodice. I would buy a second fold-up trestle table much earlier – having two of them together has made a huge difference to cutting and pinning.
I sat down with a friend and made a week-by-week plan to get my outfit done. I’m struggling to juggle sewing and mundane life, so there will be many helpers involved from this point onwards.

Intermediate · Modern Recreationist · Modern Recreationist Intermediate

Lady Eyvor Halldorsdottir

Location: Barony of Tir Ysgithr, Atenveldt

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate

Project Update Blog: The Viking Apprentice

About Eyvor: Having been in the SCA for 15 years, most of my clothing and energy has been devoted to moving around the Viking-age world and with some dabbling into Rus. I’ve patterned clothing, handsewn full outfits, and generally dabbled in a decent amount in a number of things. I haven’t sewn much as of late, but I would consider myself to be competent enough with a machine that I can tackle anything with enough determination. The outfit isn’t one that fits what I normally do, but I wanted something different that would give me more variety in my SCA wardrobe. I expect that it should be a good challenge, but one that I can tackle and will result in a solid project that I’m pleased with.

Her Project: I’ve wanted a kirtle and cotehardie for a very long time, and actually bought fabric for it as everything was starting to shut down. I’m looking at doing an outfit roughly suited to middle class in the late 14th century. I want something comfortable, that I can wear in a number of situations, and accuracy is not as important to me for this. It’s a project to stretch my skills and to make me happy. This is being entered in the recreationst category primarily because I don’t have documentation for some of the colors and the exact stamping. The horse and raven symbolize both my household and my own heraldry – a white raven on a red background for Hrafnheim, and a white horse on blue for me. (My heraldry a blue horse on white, but I *will* get white quite dirty, so decided something else would look better.) As of now, the plan is as follows: *Short-sleeved white shift *Sleeveless linen kirtle *Long-sleeved parti-colored cotehardie (one side stamped with white ravens. the other with white horses) *accessories: paternoster, necklace, and earrings (all glass. all beads made by me for a non-sewing skill, glasswork)

Advanced · Modern Advanced · Modern Recreationist

Gisele de la Fontaine

Location: Barony of Couer d’Ennui, Calontir

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Advanced

About Gisele: I have been in the SCA since about 2015/16, I don’t recall when exactly. I do not sew regularly for myself in the SCA, though I do sew quite a bit for my partner. I dabble a bit in period cooking, sometimes making period recipes by accident, period dying is fun and I have recently started tinkering with illumination since I have all these hard won watercolor skills that aren’t currently in use. This particular project ties nicely into the direction my persona is going, which is developing more French, though all my current garb is Flemish. I started Flemish, mostly because the garb was comfy and there is a certain quality to late period Flemish kitchen scenes that I love. But in the last couple years I have drifted more French because the period cookbooks are fun, the politics are bonkers and the women of the late period French are a force to be reckoned with.

Her Project: Late Period French Lady’s Ensemble. Between 1530-1550. Lesser Nobility or Wealthy Merchant Class woman(new money from the newly expanding global trade). Not a recreation of any one particular dress, but a combination of features I like from a selection of paintings within the same time period/region. Hood from one image, trim from another, etc. Much of it styled after one of my favorite French Mistresses, Diane de Poitiers, a brilliant woman who managed to stay in favor at the court through multiple French Kings with her intelligence and beauty. Mostly, this ensemble is all the things that have been on the “to make eventually for myself” list. I have had most of the materials for a while, but while I was costuming for a living(the pre-covid times) I usually didn’t have the motivation to also sew in my off hours. I have collected several images for inspiration.

Final Photo

Layer 1

Layer 1. Chemise, Petticoat & Farthingale Chemise made of linen, following a pattern I made based on what I could see in French portraits from the first half of the 16th century. It is a yoked chemise with a yoke about 2” wide, fairly full sleeves gathered into a cuff at the wrist. I have not included a wrist ruffle, as I find them irritating, especially when trying to wash my hands at events and with no viable ruffle in some portraits I decided to leave them off. The second garment here is the requisite red petticoat, in my case made of red linen for added comfort and breathability. There are so many layers, any breathability I can get in the under layers I am going for. I have made a modification to the style, removing the shoulder straps and making it only go around the waist. I tried for a while to make the straps work, but with two additional shoulder layers being added on top, the limited range of motion caused by the petticoat straps sliding down constantly did not make the garment a joy to wear. So, I have removed them and made the petticoat to be able to lace onto the second layer’s farthingale for stability. This was much better for wearability. I have also made both layers a little shorter that seems indicated in my research, again for wearability. While I don’t think our historical counterparts would have had to encounter gymnasium bleachers all that often, they are a regular feature of our events and since it is easier to lift a farthingale than the layers under it, I made them shorter to make it safer to navigate the bleachers. Nothing ruins one’s dignity quite like falling on gym bleachers. On to the Farthingale. This was an especially fun piece to work on. In this case I used a tight woven, heavy shirting cotton I had in my stash for the base and a plaid taffeta for the hoop casings. And once again, the problem of navigating mundane spaces in period clothes raised its head. Hm, how to get in a car in a farthingale? The solution was to make the hoops removable and easy to reinsert. The hoops themselves are made of half round rattan caning purchased from a basket maker online. After a good sanding to smooth them out, they slide in and out of the casings easily and should make the whole ensemble easier to work with in the crowded spaces we sometimes find ourselves at events (looking at you Kris Kinder)

Layer 2

Layer 2. Kirtle and Foresleeves On to the Kirtle. Initially when I started this project I thought there would have to be a separate set of bodies under the kirtle for support but have been fortunate to find that is unnecessary with the quantity and quality of the boning I used in the kirtle itself. I have employed artificial whalebone in this case, for durability and because it is washable, giving the whole garment a better chance at a long life. Additionally for extra support I added a couple small pads under the breasts to keep them in place with small sudo-cups. No matter how tight I laced, the girls kept sliding around and clearly needed some direction as to where they should be. The pads solved this problem without having to strangle myself. The kirtle side laces, for ease of wear, make it possible to dress myself and keeps the back neckline free of any visible lacing. The foresleeves are another piece of period clothing fun that I love learning about. These little beauties tie just above the elbow to cover the chemise sleeve without adding bulk to the upper arm part of the oversleeve. These little guys are slashed with fake puffs pulled out, and as I prewashed my fabric, totally washable for when I inevitably drag a sleeve into something sticky.

Layer 3

Layer 3. Overgown and Hood. French Overgown 1540s. A noble woman of France, inspired by Diane de Poitiers (one of my favorite period people) and Catherine de’ Medici. Here is where it really gets fun. I found this fabric years ago and it has been in my stash awaiting something exactly like this to prompt me to actually make the gown. I have drafted the pattern from looking at assorted portraits from France between 1530 and 1550 as well as consulting the Tudor Tailor for any insights that they may have into construction, because a painting only tells you so much. This was great build and true to period practice, there is a bit of piecing on the skirt panels but it is practically invisible. I have made the gown without a train. While trained gowns are certainly beautiful, not so helpful at events. The bodice closes with under laced forebodies to hold it together and a placard to cover the front, making the closures very much hidden. For this particular project, I have made the over sleeves to lace in as I would like to be able to swap an alternate pair of fur lined sleeves in sometimes. The French Hood was a fun piece to build adn I will likely be making few more of these in the future. The discovery that floral wire really isn’t as sturdy as one might like is a good insight going forward, a double row or heavier gage would have helped a lot. A relatively straight forward pattern, as I have made other versions before, this one was extra fun because I got to use a bunch of small silk scraps that have been languishing in my stash for quite some time now. One is not fully dressed without a hat and this one is a great final piece.

Layer 4

Who doesn’t love a good meal! I decided that dinner would be a great final non sewing layer. So I did some digging and decided on a four course dinner if French and Italian dishes. A meal with a starter of sweet stewed figs, which are suggested as a dish for the beginning of the meal, but I think they are actually perfect over the torte bianca at the end. The funniest thing about this dish is when chilled they get very squeaky when you eat them. Like sneakers on a gym floor. Number two is a vegetable dish of cabbage with fennel and onions. I like this dish as it is not far from how I like to cook cabbage on the regular and is a nice salty compliment to the sweet chicken dish. Third comes a capon in orange sauce. This is a very sweet chicken dish and I have taken the liberty of modifying the rice dish to better work with the chicken. I used a whole chicken that I cut up myself and decided to remove the skin, since the idea of braised chicken skin did not sound even slightly appealing. The gentle stewing made for a really delicious and tender chicken. Fourth is the saffron rice is originally to be cooked into something more like a porridge. But I have chosen to make it with less broth than the original to make a fluffy rice, perfect for soaking up the orange sauce of the chicken. I got very lucky this fall to find saffron crocus bulbs at the local Lowes, so of course I bought a bunch and planted them. I got a fair amount of saffron from them this year and hope for more next year. The final dish is torte bianca, a ginger cheese pie. This was one of the first recipes I came across early in my SCA journey and I’m glad to finally have a reason to make it. Gingery, not too sweet, and the paest royall is an excellent crust with a texture a bit like shortbread. And I will be eating this for breakfast for the next several days because it is the size of a modern pie. Of course had I given more thought to the timing, like not finishing layer four before layer three was done, the pictures would have been better.

(Admin note: More information about this layer in the document at the bottom of the page)

Bonus Points

Intermediate · Modern Recreationist · Modern Recreationist Intermediate

Jorunna Refsdottir

Location: Barony of the Lonely Tower, Calontir

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate

About Jorunna: I’ve been in the SCA going on 4 years now. I’ve been learning to sew my own garb the past 3 years and slowly building up my collection. A good portion of what I have is Norse. However, I have a Persian outfit, a gift bliaut, a couple of Italian dresses, and some roman chitons. I want to have garb from all different times and locations, and have a list of what all I want to make. In the SCA I also do target archery, equestrian, mounted archery, heavy combat, combat archery, embroidery, and dabble in bardic. This endeavor is going to be a bit challenging for me, but I’m excited to learn new skills and have a new outfit!

Her Project: I am looking to make my first 12th Century French bliaut. This project is to add a summer weight or light weight bliaut for warmer weather. I was given a velvet bliaut from a friend, but it’s too heavy for warm weather events. This one will be made from a beautiful silk looking cotton rayon brocade. The fabric has embroidered fleur de lis in gold. The sleeves will be lined with actual silk that is lavender and gold. I plan to make a matching veil too. For inspiration I’ve been looking at images of the carvings on the Cathedral de Chartes, some illuminations, and some other SCAdians’ examples of bliauts. This is a chance for me to make something completely new that I’ve never attempted before. I’m excited to be expanding my sewing skills and knowledge and branching out historically!

Final Pictures

Her final thoughts on the challenge:

I learned a lot with this outfit. I am pretty happy with how it turned out and look forward to wearing it to an event. It’s not 100% perfect, but for my first try I am thrilled how it turned out.

Layer 1

This is an underdress for my 12th century ensemble. The outfit is meant to be a noble. I cut out the dress as a standard early period underdress. Using rectangles, triangles, and squares in the pattern. I decided to go with a scoop neck neckline on this dress, and realized after that I probably should’ve cut it an inch smaller than what I did, but it’s ok, and will work. I decided against decorating the underdress with embroidery, so that I can use it as part of other early period ensembles as well. It’s a pretty base layer and I love the color of this dress.

Layer 2

This is my 12th century bliaut main dress. It’s made of cotton/rayon blend that feels and acts like silk taffeta in a lot of ways. The sleeves and neck (purple/gold) is real silk that was repurposed from sari silk. It’s very lightweight and sewing the two together proved extremely challenging! I had to hand sew almost of the time on it because it kept sliding when I tried to use the machine. I did 20 hand sewn eyelets in the side of the dress. They took a while, but I learned a lot! I decided to machine sew the dress hem because 1. It would be more sturdy and hold up better. 2. I was running out of time for this project because we bought a house and have to move at the end of the month. If I had more time I would’ve hand sewn the hem too.

Layer 3

This was a 3/4 circular mantle I made as the top layer of my entry. It’s based on some of the courtly mantles seen in the paintings of the 12th century. I used a wool/poly felt blend for the top of it. I used fake fur to line it. That was awful. The fake fur while super soft and warm has a stretchy backing that made it difficult to work with. It took 4 times as long as it should have because of that horrible material and I will never use it again. Lessons have been learned. I found a really pretty metallic trim to edge the front of the mantle. This piece was almost entirely machine sewn. The brooches I got from Raymond’s quiet press and are replicas of 12th century brooches.

Layer 4

This is a leather belt I did. I’ve never done leather working other than cleaning horse tack and armor, prior to this. It was all new! I bought a simple blank and the 12th century replicas for the belt findings. I stamped the leather with a circle and Celtic knot design. Then riveted on the findings. I didn’t want to dye it black, but not sure what color I really want with it, so I left it natural for now.

Layer 4+

Rectangular silk veil. I sewed it on two sides. It’s an attempt at a veil similar to those seen in the 12th century statues and paintings. It’s the same silk I used to line my sleeves and as contrast on the collar of my main dress.

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

Display Only · Intermediate · Modern Recreationist · Modern Recreationist Intermediate

Kristine Nic Tallier

From: Axed Root, Calontir

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate (Display Only)

Project Update Blog: Stars and Garters

About Kristine: I joined the SCA in middle school when my mother started taking us to meetings. I wasn’t always as excited about it in the beginning, but when I found tablet-weaving, I was hooked. I met my fiance, Vincent, as well as all my closest friends in the society.

Vincent and I came to a deal a long time ago that he would make our garb, since he enjoys it and it just puts me in a foul mood…. but since I’m spearheading this challenge, I feel like I have to put my money where my mouth is and participate. Wish our household luck!

Her project: Years ago, I came upon one of the images below and felt like I fully understood the woman wearing it – and I love her apron. I can’t just make the apron, right? I have to make the whole outfit to go with it. These images are all from the same illumination and are a little later than my usual time period (I’m usually mid-to-late 14thc Scot) being earlyish 15c inspired by images from The Book of Faiz Monseigneur Saint Loys. So, My plan is to make all the layers shown, a chemise, a supportive kirtle (stretch project of additional pin-on sleeves), a silk cotte with embroidery, and a wool over cotte with embroidered embellishments. My accessory will be a tablet woven belt, though I’ll also be making the aforementioned apron. I have other wacky ideas on extra accessory layers, but we’ll see how it goes!

Final Pictures

Her final thoughts on her C3 Experience: Well, I knew that running the challenge and getting my own outfit done at the same time would be a challenge. I didn’t get to the final overcoat layer like I’d hoped (which would have been blue wool with a red lining) but I’m pretty happy with the four I did get finished.

My favorite completed pieces are the belt (layer 4) and the apron, which was the inspiration for the whole thing.

Overall, I have reaffirmed that Vincent will do all the construction sewing from now on, but I’ll happily help out with hand-finishing. Good to know since we have wedding garb to finish next!

Layer 1

My layer 1 consists of a chemise and a St Birgitta’s Cap. Both are made of white linen and are of machine base construction and hand finished with linen thread.

The chemise is based off the general late period pattern which has been theorized was used in the early 15th century. As I’m in the modern recreationist category, I took a step from what I could document and added a simple embroidered pattern around the neckline and tablet woven trim around the base. The trim is of cotton, as it’s what I had on hand, and was woven by me – the first of many tablet woven projects which will be incorporated into this outfit.

The cap is of basic construction and went MUCH better than my first cap I attempted years ago. It went so well that I’m considering making a second one with some decorative elements.

Layer 2

This short sleeved kirtle is made of linen, with a wide V-front design to allow for changing sizes. The lacing here is tubular tablet weaving I made during the project time. Machine construction, hand finishing

Including the eyelets! This was my first time hand-sewing eyelets and I think they turned out alright.

Layer 3

This layer really tested my patience, let me tell you. We have a rule in my house, as mentioned above, that my fiance (Vincent de Vere) does all the sewing in the house and this dress proved once again that that’s a great policy for us. I tried on this dress and it fit great but there was a little too much on the back, so I took it out. Then I tried it on again…. and it was too small by exactly that same amount, so I had to piece it back in. There’s no reason it should happen, but it did.

Anyway, this is a green/black dupioni silk and I just love the color. Based on information from the Medieval Tailor’s assistant, I chose to make this layer side lacing to alternate with the underlayers. Rather than embroidering, I wove bands for the bottom as I’m a tablet-weaver and that seemed a lot less onerous for me while I was running this challenge. I will eventually go back and embroider in words as is seen in my inspiration images.

This, too, is machine sewn and hand finished, including all the eyelets for the side closures.

Layer 4

I’m a tablet weaver (if you couldn’t tell from all the tablet weaving I snuck into my other layers) so my layer four is a tablet woven, brocaded belt. The main layer is a red 30/2 silk with a mylar metallic weft (because who can afford real gold for these things?) Patterns are self-designed and generically geometric.

I like to have a supportive backing layer on my belts because I’m not very easy on them. It offers a little extra support. The backing band here is a linen in a simple pattern which was woven separately and sewn to the decorative band.

Belt ends are purchased.

Layer 4+

  1. Farmhouse Cheddar – Cheesemaking techniques haven’t changed much since medieval times. I’ve made two cheddar rounds, one smoked (ok, burned. I scorched the milk. But I already had the yeast and rennet in it by then, so I went ahead and finished it. Who knows?) and one regular. They’ll age until January when it’s time to take pictures
  2. Beeswax – The beeswax was processed from the yearly rent paid by the bees who live in my yard. The hive shaped piece is mine for the challenge and the bees went out to people from my local group who have taken up the challenge as well.
  3. Embroidered Apron – the whole reason this was my to-do outfit! The originals had religious sayings but, not being religious I wanted to switch it out for something else. “Vox Nihili” – roughly meaning “saying Nothing” seemed amusing and appropriate. Linen embroidery on lined fabric, with a linen tablet woven band at the top for tying.

Bonus Points

Intermediate · Modern Recreationist · Modern Recreationist Intermediate

Laurence of Grimfells

Location: Grimfells, Calontir

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate

About Laurence: my persona is a 14th century men at arms and a squire to a noble lord knight, I regularly sew and want to use this challenge to further my skills and test my ability not only as a tailor but as pourpointer. I’ve been fighting for about 7 years and sewing for longer, but only after joining and making my first piece of garb a red wool cotte with 50+ hand made buttons and button holes I dedicated most of my free time to sewing.

His Project: the out fit will be drawing inspiration from late 14 early 15th transitional period, and is of the middle upper class of noble men at arms. I’ll be using several historical images depicting the outfit I will be entering, the middle layer of the outfit will also function as a foundation garment for supporting armor.

Final Photos

His final thoughts on his C3 experience:

iv learnd alot and probably wouldint have done as much and sewing if the challange didnt happen im varry glad i enterd and put my skills to the test

Layer 1

1360-70, English, low noble/man at arms, male, noble/legman/man at arms. The garments were made using historical hand sewing techniques, and materials or there closest modern equivalent. All went fairly quickly, and Id probably make the braes differently.

Layer 2

The second layer is a 14th century pourpoint made of fustian padded with cotton batting, a common garment among young noble men at arms of the second half of the 14th century. And a pair of split wool hosen, also popular among the gentry and a predesoser of the full joined hose of the 15th century. This out fit is popular thought out England France and the Itailian city states. the materals for the poupoint were relitivaly new, as cotton was a recently introduced inport though Italy by way of the meditreraina, and was used as padding as well as weaved with linen flax fibers to create fustian offten used in fighting and some civilian garments. The outfit its self was a reflection of martal prowess and the 14th century of masculin beauty, cinching the waist and pronouncing the chest creating the look of a armored solder withou haveing to incase ones self in a steel harness, even the hose are fited in such away to show the musels of the calves and thigh. I`m quiet pleased with the gament, though if i had to do I had to do it again I would machine quilt the pourpoin to save in time especillay where speed is benifical.

Layer 3

The silk over cotte the fasion layer of this out fit, this garment would be a common dress garment of the late/early 14th and 15th century’s. The garment presented is based off sevrial art pecies showing similar garments, and as to period reconstruted as acuratly as posible using a silk shell and a fuistan lining. Being completly and sewn from start to finish i couldent be more happy with it than i currently am, in a future model i will probably use a stifer under lining and a pattern silk, as well machine sew and hand finish to save time.

Layer 4

A belt is the common acssesory of the medieval person, normally highly decorated with brass bronze or gold to show the persons wealth. Iv used hand cut and emblished brass sheets and a simple buckle i had on hand. In period a nobles belt would be decorated with casted metal fixtures, I used the sheet brass to save time, and in the future i will most likly order casted fixtures for a more authintic look. as well the leather is painted red for my own ease as ordering red leather dye would take too long .

Bonus Points

Display Only · Historic Intermediate · Historically Focused · Intermediate

Vincent de Vere

From: Axed Root, Calontir

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Intermediate (Display Only)

Project Update Blog: Stars and Garters

About Vincent: I have been participating in the SCA for about 15 years. I do quite a bit of of basic costuming, especially helping newer members. Beyond sewing I work on a lot of general SCA projects and work on recruitment and retention efforts.

His Project: Mid fourteenth century middle class merchant from Western Europe. This is a commonly represented garment seen in illustrations. I am also working off of the men’s fourteenth century gown from the second edition Medieval Tailors Assistant.

Final Photos

Layer 1

This is the base layer of my attempt for a 1350’s merchant.  It would be a middle class merchant from western Europe.   

Linen Braies: long white linen braies, machine sewn, hand seam finished

Wool Hosen: Machine sewn, hand seam finished

Linen shirt: White linen, machine sewn, hand seam finished

Linen coif: White linen, machine sewn, hand seam finished

Layer 2

The layer consists of the linen doublet. This is an early version of a doublet based on the pattern described in the Medieval Tailor’s Assistant book. I machine sewed the garment with hand finishing and hand done eyelets.

Layer 3

A gown for a merchant from mid 1300’s. The gown is wool lined in linen. It is machine sewn and hand finished. I feel the gown needs to be more full and needs a wider cut.

Layer 4

The Layer 4 accessory is the set of scales. Scales would be a common accessory used by many merchants and trades people through many different time periods. This scale is made out of brass. The chain was purchased. The other raw materials were brass sheet, brass wire and a brass rod. The pans were dished and the balance arms were cut from a rod of brass and shaped using files.

Layer 4+

  • Leather shoes: Machine basting stitch, hand sewn after
  • Leather Coin Pouch: Hand finished
  • Scented body powder: ground orris root and clove body powder
  • Leather garters (x2): Purchased buckles, dyed vegetable tanned leather and hand finished
  • Leather girdle belt for Braies: Purchased bronze buckle, dyed vegetable tanned leather and hand finished
  • Garnet Ring (x2)
  • Garnet Brooch
  • 2 leather belts made from purchased buckles and oak tanned leather
  • A pouch made with a purchased buckle and oak tanned leather
  • Leather gloves
  • Leather shoes
  • wool cloak
  • hat of wool and linen

Bonus Points