Julie's Dress Diaries

Herein lie my attempts at both blogging and creating period clothing for various locations and times of the Renaissance. Enjoy

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I Love the 80's

You know, I love those specials on VH1 where they reminisce about 80's music, fashion and cartoons. Especially the cartoons. So, one day when I was in Joann's and they had 50% off their clearance stuff, I was looking for 50 cent/yd fabrics. I love getting those for mockups, as you can probably tell from my absolutely hideous and strange mockup fabrics. But that fateful day I found THE mock-up fabric of my dreams. Why, you ask? This is why:

I admit that strawberry shortcake was a childhood hero of mine. And while I prefer her in the old-school cupcake bonnet and fruffy dress, I can certainly accept this "hip, cool" SS in a pinch. And I do have a think for pink and green together. Cotton flannel strawberry shortcake fabric in pink and green....could it get any better?!

Well, yes, actually. It could get better if I used said fabric as a bloomer mockup and ended up with the coolest capri pj pants EV.ER. Witness the glory:

Oh, yes, and ignore the bruise. Apparently I stumble over trunks when I've had one to many apple martinis (which is equal to two martinis, apparently).

So, admittedly this pattern is a little wide-legged, but damn if it ain't comfy. I did take a few inches off the sides for the real bloomers (made out of the same poopy linen of my heart shaped bonnet lining). They're still roomy, but not quite as ridiculous. The real bloomers are so ugly and splotchily dyed that I can't bear to post their picture. They would pale in comparison to the glory that is the Shortcake. And the knees on the real ones aren't finished off yet anyway. ;)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bad Hairdo Ahead

I've been working on the heart shaped bonnet pattern from the Tudor Tailor. The structure is made of two layers of single ply buckram, and some wire I had lying about. I covered the brim and band in black cotton velveteen, and the caul is in black silk. I haven't been able to find a really good example of this in black in the portraiture--what I was going for was a middle class version of this or this.

Below, I've paired said bonnet a quick and dirty elizabethan 'do. I wrapped my hair around a hairbrush handle, bobby-pinned a few times, prayed for it to stay and carfully removed the brush handle. I just did a messy job of putting it up, but I'm amazed that it stayed so well--just 7 bobbypins and no spray, and it was quite sturdy an hour or two later. . Obviously I'll try to do a neater job of it for a real wear.

I'm going to need to make myself some hair rats to get the volume/bulk of those crazy elizabethan hairstyles. I'll be trying Mistress Isobel's directions for my next attempt of this style.

Please pardon the splotchy pimply face. Ugh. Its a special time of the month, if you know what I mean...

My critique: I wish I'd lengthened the headband a bit to completely cover my ears (my head is fatter than the Tudor Tailor's head, apparently--I had to redo the cap about 2 inches larger than their version), but the headband is really only a wee bit short, but the result is that the caul at the back shows the bottom of my hair. Not horrible, mind you, but a learning experience.

And here is the lining. I dyed linen for it. My intent was a slightly muddied golden brown. The result was ugly dingy grey-green turdy color. Quite like the fabric I dyed for the inside of Adam's flemish, actually, and completely un-intentionally. How do I manage to do that?! I have a talent for making ugly muddy green (splotchy) colors, I guess:
That is all for now. Next up: BLOOMERS!!!! And yes, they will be made out of poopy grey-green splotchy linen...how'd you guess?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Onto Bigger And Better Things

Glad that's finished! Here is the caul--complete with swirly band, which embroidered really quickly. Pardon the quality, but its one of those arm-outstretched-hoping-you-aim straight pics (hubby was busy playing a video game). I'm relieved that it actually fits, since I didn't try before I embroidered the whole thing. Since it was based on Beth's caul measurments, I knew it should work, but there's always that naggling feeling....

What's next, I wonder? Corset, petticoat, gloves, headdress/hat, smock? So many little things to do before I can let myself start a whole new dress....

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gah, More Peas?!

Okay, I'm officially sick of posting about peas on this blog. But this pic is for Niter, since I know you wanna see the peas finished. They are officially embroidered and filled. I still need to cut the lining for the caul and the band to gather it into. I think I will have to embroider the band a bit to keep it from looking stark white against the rest of it. Any motif ideas? I might just do plain old swirlies. :)
Incidentally--Beth--these are the wools we ordered--I put the swatch of yours in for a color comparison, but I'll be mailing you things soon.

Monday, January 08, 2007

More Peas

Thank you to everyone for your input on the pea design!

I ultimately decided that my favorite from the sampler was the triplet of peas, based on the extant Maidstone jacket. The problem is that a triplet design is rather large, and I inadvertantly shrunk several of the swirls while embroidering so that triplets couldn't fit. To make matters more interesting, several swirls were much too large to be filled by only one pea (my second fave design). A conundrum, eh?

I ultimately decided to go with variably-numbered sets of peas, so that I could resolve the "unequal swirl size" problem. I ended up taking bits from all the designs to breed "genetically superior" peas. Which is to say that I used the general canoe-shape from the triplet peas (#2), added some swirling vines and the chain-stitched edge from the single pea (#3), and made a siamese twin pea based on #5 out the #2/#3 hybrid. Four different designes made it easier to not have the same type next to itself at all, so I have sets of 1, 2, 3, and siamese peas.

Allessia rightly pointed out that a "variable pea" combo is not documentable as period. So, yes, we've left the realm of strictly documentable pea-ness. But it was the most reasonable way to accomodate my mutated swirlies (a clear sign of my fledgling embroidery skillz).

I also should point out that while there are plenty of extant blackworked coifs, I've not seen any extant blackworked cauls, so who knows how accurate this concept is to begin with? So, this caul is "possible, but not proven," if that makes sense. I suppose any english lass who had a penchant for peas could've made such a caul. But if it ever happened? Who knows! I shall feel like a pretty princess regardless. Hehe.

I must say, I'm rather relieved now that I didn't choose the maidstone pea design, because mine could never look as beautiful as the needlework that Mistress Isobel did for her recreation of the jacket in question. That is downright lust-inspiring. Thanks to Allessia for the link!

And without further ado, the current progress:

I've learned some lessons already:

1) Next time I should concentrate on getting my swirls even!

2) Linen embroidery thread is not my friend. Its lumpy and tangles like a bi-atch. Those elizabethans had it right with the silk, and I really should've known that, but I was so keen on starting that I didn't want to wait for thread to come.

3) 'Tis better to not cut the circle out before embroidering. Getting to the edges this way is...unpleasant. Notice how I'm steadfastly avoiding them until the last? ;)

4) Fill patterns are fun, but probably look much better in evenweave linen.

5) Starting a project like this makes me incapable of doing ANYTHING else when I get home from work. I've been embroidering and watching the history channel for 2.5 nights straight!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Resurrection of the Pea

Its been a while since I've done anything with the blackwork'd caul of swirliness. It lay forgotten in a drawer for many months, but I recently took it up again and finished all the swirls. Its pretty rough-looking embroidery, unfortunately. I think this is due to the choice of linen embroidery thread, but I'm going to go ahead with it anyway. I'm just taking the lesson home that next time I'd like silk thread.

With the swirls done, I must choose what to put inside them. In the original post, I was drawn to peapods, and that hasn't changed. But I was having a time trying to pick WHICH peapods exactly. Last night I threw together a quick and dirty sampler on powder pink linen to test a few:

pea test

#1--The open peapod is from a jacket at the V&A.
#2--The Triplet peas from a jacket in the Maidstone museum (pic from Gostelow's Blackwork)
#3--the curly-q pea is from an alternate sketch inGostelow's book, Blackwork, said to be taken
from a late 17th century blackwork cloth.
#4--is from a nightcap, also at the V&A museum
#5--the double sided peapod is from one of my many books, but now I can't find it. Whoops!

They all obviously need to be worked more delicately and carefully than in the above sampler (especially where the fill patterns are concerned), but this should give a rough idea. I'm quite certain that 4 is my least favorite. But other than that one, I kinda like them all. So...any opinions would be appreciated. Right now I'm considering two options:

1) Pick one and do it in every swirly on the caul. If i did this, which is your favorite? I'm leaning towards 2 or 3, I think.

2) Do a variety of peas, alternating in my swirl pattern (perhaps doing only the 4 I like). Do you think that these look okay together in my sampler, and would that look translate well to a caul?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Goldwork for Beginners

Showing off more of my Christmas goodies.

A little backstory: My family was allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve. Hubby's family were taught to wait for Christmas morning. But it seems my tradition has won in this case, probably because I nag poor Adam about opening gifts so much its best to just let me do so and have me shut up (for a little while, at least).

So on Christmas Eve, the gift he let me open was a tudor rose goldwork embroidery kit from Berlin Embroidery. Here are its many parts:


I admit that I was most thrilled by the gold spangles (lower left edge of paper). Hooray for period sequins!!!! It has everything I need to do a sparkly tudor rose (but I bought the scrolling embroidery frame at Joann's), and a very good set of instructions for a beginner. This is very important, since I've never done goldwork before. I was inspired by an online friend, Adele, after she very kindly gifted me with some of her gold threads, but I had no idea where to begin. Hence the kit. :)

Here's a closeup of my attempts so far. Its imperfect (drat seperating on the petal edge, showing my yarns), but I'm still pretty happy with it so far:

More christmas goodies to come (I need blog fodder, afterall!)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas Goodies.

Well, Christmas seems to be a time where I ask for costuming goodies. :) And just like last year, I've been shamelessly spoiled!

First, my awesome mother-in-law gifted me with a new iron. You can see it here next to my old, weak, wussy-of-an-iron:

iron faceoff

Yup, my old iron was 1) small, 2) broken (couldn't turn it off or adjust the heat), and 3) deemed unsafe. The new model is digitized and turns off if I leave it on too long or if it tips over. Which is insanely useful for someone who has been known to leave the iron on for DAYS before noticing. And it irons so smoothly! I had no idea my old one was that crappy!

The crazy super-awesome costuming present of the day award, though, had to go to the dummy my hubby gave me. I think I shall call her Helga. Helga is a Uniquely You dressform, and after some research, I figured she was the best for costuming (since she is squishy and corsetable). I already put a corset on her to test--I couldn't resist.
But rather than post her here in flattering garb, I figured I'd embarrass her by showing nude photos of her and calling attention to her inhumanly pointy and perky boobs:

nekkid dummy

Those impossibly cone-like boobs were perhaps a bit embarrassing to open in front of the family on Christmas morning, but Helga made me super happy nonetheless!

And now, for Helga's modesty, a shot of her in her slipcover:

I haven't yet altered the slipcover to my own dimensions (which will be much lumpier than Helga's natural ones, no doubt), because the sewing machine is out of commission.

There's a little story behind that....

The sewing machine has a poltergeist. The spirit that inhabits it decided that it would like to sew at inconvenient times. Like when I have a project poised and ready but need to go downstairs for a moment. This leads to much cursing and seamripping when I return. But when the spirit decided to start when I was in the middle of threading a needle, it was the last straw. My finger got away unpierced, but frightened, so I sent Lady Janome to the maintenance shop for an exorcism. I'll hopefully have it back in a week or so--then I can recreate Helga in my own lumpy (and decidedly less perky) image.

I have more costume related Christmas goodies, but I shall have to take their pics and post them later.

Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!