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

Advanced · Historic Advanced · Historically Focused

Gianna Viviani

Location: Oakheart, Calontir

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Advanced

About Gianna: I’ve been active in the SCA for 4 years. I’ve sewn for a long time but over the past 3 years I have started focusing on learning how to construct my clothing using historical methods and fabrics versus modern methods. My primary focus is 1450-1580 Florence. However, I have a strong interest in Tudor England and Venice. When not sewing I dabble in tablet weaving and other fiber arts. I find Florentine clothing to be challenging and deceptive. All of the structure of Florentine clothing is created within the clothing itself, meaning, they did not have corsets or farthingales to create the overall shape and support. Creating the veste will require a few new skills so this should be interesting.

Her Project: I’m drawn to the elegance of the portrait of Isabella de Medici by Alessandro Allori from around 1560, Florence. I will recreate the ensemble seen in that painting. Isabella was part of the Medici family who was ruling Florence, Italy at the time. An outfit of velvet and numerous pearls would’ve been worn by upper nobility as I imagine the cost would’ve been prohibitive for anyone else. This is an outfit that I’ve been wanting to make for a while and have completed some of the pieces that will not be entered into this competition.

I will be making the camicia, sottana, and her veste (or overgown). The sottana is the supportive middle layer dress that will help create the overall shape. The sottana will be made it so that it can be worn as stand alone dress. For my 4th, non-sewing item I will be making a pair of chopines. These are elevated platform shoes meant for outdoor wear to keep dresses and shoes out of the muck and show off wealth.

Final Photos

Her final thoughts on the C3 experience:

This was really fun but if there’s a next time I hope that it doesn’t line up with the IRCC challenge because completing both was a lot. Overall I now have some new clothes that I really like and can’t wait to wear them to an event.

Layer 1

I’m submitting a linen camicia which is the underlayer that was worn by everyone. Since my entry is later period I added cotton lace around the neckline and wrists. The construction seams are machine sewn but all finishing is done by hand (hem, felled seams, and lace). Once I can try it on with the sottana I may wish that the neckline was a bit lower but we’ll see.

Layer 2

I’ve made a upper class women’s sottana (dress) that would’ve been worn between 1540-1560+. It’s difficult to know exactly when Florentine women stopped wearing these because they went from being the outer layer to being the middle layer throughout the 16th century. I went ahead and made this dress so that it could be worn as it’s own dress or as a supportive layer. Bodies, stays, or farthingales weren’t found in Florence during period so all support and structure are created within the sottana.

The outer layer is a shot silk dupioni that’s either an icy blue or periwinkle, depending on the light. It’s trimmed in a dark blue velvet in a pattern that is fairly common for the era. The sleeves are also trimmed in the same velvet and feature a spiral design. The bodice and sleeves are lined in linen. The support and structure of the bodice was created by layering duck cloth and melton wool per the method found in The Modern Maker vol. 2. The skirt is stiffened with wool felt that I stiffened with 3 rows of zig zag stitching creating a faux pad stitch.

The bodice is side laced through metal lacing rings. I wove 2 cords on the lucet with pearle cotton which I then waxed (wax, melt into the fibers, repeat) to strengthen the cords and hopefully help prevent wear from the lacing rings.

Layer 3

I made a veste/over dress based on the gown worn by Isabella de’Medici in a portrait by Alessandro Allori.

I began by modifying a bodice pattern that I had from previous projects. The bodice is velveteen, inner-lined with pad stitched wool in the bust and back area to help define and stiffen the upper chest while the entire bodice is inner-lined with canvas. The bodice is closed with hooks and eyes that I made then lined with silk charmeuse. I created tabs with velveteen edged with white silk and sewed them around the bottom of the bodice.

The skirt is cartridge pleated beginning near the hip and around the back. This provides fullness and mimics a the shape that a bum roll would create. Bum rolls weren’t worn in Florence during this time. There’s 3 layers of wool stitched together and sewn into the hem to help stiffen the hem and create a bell shape. (farthingales weren’t in Florence yet)

The baragoni (shoulders) were broken into 5 segments. A row of tabs, followed by vertical panes, another row of tabs, a cuff, and another row of tabs. I backed the panes with buckram to help stiffen them and support the pearl cluster. I should’ve made the buckram pieces longer. The cuff is lined with canvas to help support the weight of the pearls. The baragoni were then sewn onto the armscye.

I took a sleeve pattern and broke it into 3 sections. The two outer sections I then divided into smaller pieces to get the angled pieces. Each piece is trimmed with silk ribbon and sewn together at the corners with pearl clusters. The sleeve pieces were lined and closed up. They attach to the veste shoulders with lacing rings and lucet cord.

It pretty much went together as planned but this gown has been swimming in my head for about a year now. Overall it was a great learning experience and I like it a lot better than the first veste that I made. There’s not much that I’d change other than making the sleeves a bit smaller because they seem a bit big.

Layer 4

I made a pair of pianelle which is an overshoe. These could be worn either with just stockings for indoor wear or over slippers for outdoors. The style that I went with can be worn either way because they lace up and can be adjusted.

The research that I found stated that pianelles (under 3″ tall) and chopines (over 3″ tall) were made of wood. We started out with that plan but couldn’t find a ban saw big enough to cut the massive block of wood. I ran across a pair of sandals with a cork base and plan B was developed. I took the vinyl straps off of the shoes for my base.

I patterned the vamps from paintings, extant examples, and other recreations. The vamps are velveteen to match the veste, inner-lined in canvas, and lined in some cotton that I had laying around. I worked 6 eyelets into each piece to be able and lace them closed.

I had some suede and thought that it would make for a nice insole, sturdy enough to stand up to being worn with slippers but nice enough to wear with stockings alone. I used more velveteen scraps to make long strips that would be drawn over the sides of the shoe and glued down. Since my sewing machine wasn’t capable of sewing through all of the layers I ended up sewing it together using waxed linen thread and a saddle stitch. Once the covers were done I glued them to the shoe. Once the glue dried I added some gimp around the bottom of the shoes and laced them up.

They’re surprisingly comfy and fairly easy to walk in.

Bonus Points

Beginner · Modern Beginner · Modern Recreationist

Kaitlyn McCloud

Location: Barony of Axemoor, Gleann Abhann

Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Beginner

Her Project Update Blog: The Casual Costumer

About : Hi there, so I am very new to the SCA, roughly a year or so- but with the pandemic I’ve only made it to 3-4 events. I am fairly new to historical sewing but have been making costumes and cosplay for myself as well as a variety groups and Mardi Gras krewes in New Orleans for several years. I also help run the Sewing Squad facebook page, which is a small group of people in my region that want to learn more about sewing skills and history focused garb.

Project: I’m going to be doing a (roughly) 1480-1500c Italian Renaissance set of garments. This will be inspired by a set of paintings from that period, though the fabrics will be different, since I’m picking this period/style to utilize a yellow silk taffeta and a red silk brocade that I already have. I also wanted an opportunity to work on my embroidery and with the heavy ornamentation on the sleeves of this period, hopefully I can get some nice detail work done ( though I’m pinning that as a “stretch” goal, time allowing).

Final Photos

Layer 1

I am checking in my Spanish camisa layer. This is the Spanish renaissance version of the Italian camicia (shift). They are very similar garments with the main distinction from the 1490’s period I am working in being, that the sleeves do a large bell at the end and dangle out of the bottom of the gamurra sleeves instead of tying or buttoning at the cuff. I have added my art reference to the Facbook album- “Mencia de Mendoza with Saint Dominic”, artist contested. I am hoping to do a complete recreation of this painting. She was high nobility in this period and my fabric and notion choices are reflective of that. These shifts were typically either heavily embroidered with blackwork or lace and were often made of fine linen or silk.

I opted for two types of silk-synthetic mix lace after examining the source painting closely. I sourced and purchased 15c reproduction lace for the collar and used lace I already owned for the sleeves and bottom hem. These were hand sewn on with a cream colored silk thread and a whip stitch. The camisa pattern is drafted by me, using art examples, online research of others recreating this period- “15th C Clothing For Men and Women” by THL Peryn Rose Whytehorse, and several books I own- “Patterns of Fashion” by Janet Arnold, Herald, Jacqueline- (1981) “Dress in Renaissance Italy 1400-1500” by John Murray, “Dress in Italian Painting 1460-1500” by Elizabeth Birbari.

I also consulted with the SCA Iberia Facebook group to get more Spanish specific info for this period, and help understanding the fashion differences between them and Milan. The camisa is made of a semi-sheer silk in cream, with gathers at the neck, back and around both sleeves. The inside sleeve raw edges are covered and whipped down with a cream colored twill tape for additional strength, since the cloth is quite thin and prone to unraveling. The neck was bound with a bias tape I made of the same material, with the lace being attached to the edge.

The sleeve and bottom hems are rolled and whip stitched with the lace added at the bottom.

If I could do anything differently- I probably would have picked a different painting. I didn’t realize at the start of this that there is VERY little information know about this artwork, and most of it is contested. They aren’t even sure this is actually Mencia De Mendoza…. So a lot of assumptions were made based on published research of that art. This led me to the ten year period around 1490, and influences from both Milan, and Barcelona as she was tied to both areas. Her fashion in this painting has elements of both cities- the long sleeves of the Spanish camisa, with the tighter fitting sleeves of Milan gamurra dresses at that time. The bodice of the dress isn’t seen in this gown so I had to use other art references from that period and those regions to help me pattern.

Having none of the support garments and very little of the under-dress showing in this art has been a difficult but exciting challenge. It has also given me a little freedom to make creative choices that would normally be limited in a strict recreation with more of the support garments showing.

Layer 2

1490’s Spanish/ Italian- Milanese style gamurra

I modeled my entire outfit off of a painting entitled “ Mencia Mendoza with Saint Dominic” which is roughly dated to 1490(s). When researching this painting I hit a ton of snags so some suppositions were made. Per the biographical information on Mencia Mendoza she was Spanish with heavy Milanese influence. So, because of that, and the fact that the gamurra layer is not heavily visible in the painting I sources comparative works for that region and time period. “Bianca Maria Sforza” by Ambrogio de Prendis 1493

“La Belle Ferroniere” Leonardo da Vinci 1490

“Lady with an Ermine” Leonardo da Vinci 1490

“Detail from the Pala Sforzesca” unknown 1494

I created my own pattern using some input and research from online sources. In particular, for bodice construction the paper “15th C clothing for men and women” by THL Peryn Rose Whytehorse, Barony of the South Downs, February 2015. The gamurra layer is composed of a layer of canvas, with boning inserted in an attached linen burlap backing. Then covered in an additional canvas front. This is covered in a 100% yellow silk taffeta. I debated between the more historically accurate cording vs. boning, but time constraints won out and I used synthetic whalebone.

The bodice is fitted with 7 bones in the front and 5 in the back.

I then started on the skirt, with is 7 yard of the silk taffeta, lined with a thin bleached muslin. Because of the weight of the skirt I opted not to used the heavier weight linen I had. I also attached a twill tape the the top of the lining and felled the silk on top of that so I would have more stability when attaching the skirt to the bodice.

The panels of skirt were then cartridge pleated and whip stitched to the bodice.

This layer was 90% hand sewn. The only machine process was sewing the skirt panels together.

The sleeves are a linen burlap covered in the yellow silk taffeta., they are deliberately not lined with silk, as I plan to embroider them at a later date.

The lacing rings on both the bodice and the sleeve are 15c reproduction, and are hand sew on with a 3 strand embroidery floss.

I then made 18 fingerloop braids- 2 for the bodice lacing and 8 per sleeve, using 6 strand embroidery floss. I purchased aglets for the points, and sewed them onto each braid.

The sleeve cuffs are a layer of linen canvas covered in silk taffeta and have a 4mm yellow gold cording sewn in, to match the cuffs from the painting. The cuffs are attached separately to the finished sleeves.

In retrospect, I will probably go back and do hook and eye for the cuffs. And will probably shorten the sleeves overall by 2-3 inches. There is just slightly too much bunching in the forearm.

Layer 3

1490’s Sbernia overcoat

This layer was the most visible in the painting. I was not able to find a satisfactory pattern or tutorial for its construction so it was made using the drape method over my dress form. The construction was fairly simple, with two gores at either side. I did pleating at the shoulders to get the appropriate sloped look in the painting. The panels are machine sewn and all seams are hand finished.

I left this layer unlined as the damask fabric was already quite heavy.

I then took a vintage mink stole I was gifted and reconditioned and lined it, cut it into tim sized panels and whip stitched this onto the front opening and the sleeve openings. I trimed this in a maroon silk bias tape.

This layer was 80% hand sewn.

Layer 4

15th century pointed turnshoes

This was my first attempt at shoe making. I watched several youtube tutorials and looked at a few extant pieces before getting started.

The shoes are made out of 4 oz for the top, and 8 ozfor the soles- veg tanned leather.

I created my own wooden shoe lasts to work on this project using two 2x4s cut to about 1 foot each and using my foot tracing and measurements I sawed, whittled and sanded each last. Then sealed with neem oil.

The soles are then tacked onto the lasts and the top portion is sewn together then placed inside out on top. I then used an awl to punch diagonal holes from the soles to the leather tops. Then using waxed linen thread, I sewed the tops to the bottom. Wet the entire shoe in warm water fo 30 minutes or so. Turn right side out. Let dry overnight on the lasts, and condition, stain and seal with leather waterproofing.

I created the patterns on the tops of the shoes based on a 15th century extant find from Italy.

While the tops are still flat, I used my leather knight to cut the small lines, and a leather hole puncher to create the 4 point design.

The shoes are hammered and flattened at the seams before and after turning to create a smooth bottom.

I lined the heels with an alaskan fish leather, which isn’t period accurate, as far as I know but looks fabulous, and has the benefit of not rubbing my heels raw.

The buckles I had on hand were attached with a grommet at the ankle.

Layer 4+

Velvet lace belt. I used a yard of leftover black velvet I had. Hand sewed into a wide belt then whip stitched onto a set of lacing facetings I had. Unsure about the historical accuracy of this, but I needed a belt for the sbernia and was about 36 hours from due date.

Bonus Points