Thursday, April 26, 2012


Do these title puns based on "parti" ever get old? Heck no! ...well, okay, yes. Bear with me.

My stash offered up two pieces of 100% linen for my new medieval summertime frock: a dark cocoa brown and a rust brown.  I used a bit of leftover beige linen in a lighter weight to line the front of the bodice, but not the back. That's kind of an experiment. I lined the front to provide that little bit of added strength and to leave a finished edge around the neckline and for the lacing. It just looks nicer, in my opinion. The linen in the back doesn't have to bear the direct pull of lacing, and it's all pretty strong fabric -- former tablecloths-- so I think it'll be fine on its own, and cooler.

I used the same pattern as for my red flannel pettibodies and cut one front, back, and gore from each color. I haven't cut sleeves yet because I was doing a little research into length. I've decided on short sleeves, ending midway between elbow and shoulder.

Now's the part where you're probably asking "Where's the pictures, Wen? We want to see what you've done so far!" And so I will tell you: we took the dog to the creek the other day because it was like 80 degrees and sunny and she loves swimming. We hadn't counted on the springtime making the creek so fat and deep and fast-moving, but there was no stopping Josie once she saw the water -- in she goes! We threw a stick close to shore for her to fetch and bring back to us, but she became confused and grabbed onto a tree root near the bank. Once she realized it wasn't going anywhere with her, she let go, but she had become snagged up in the other roots underwater. She paddled furiously to keep her head up, but couldn't get herself free. I'll admit I panicked a bit, seeing my beloved pup caught up in the water. I went into rescue mode and plunged in after her, wading chest deep into the freezing water to pull her free and help her back to shore. Once there, I was gasping with the cold shock of it, and then a minute later, I realized my phone had been in my pocket the whole time. My cell phone is dead, you guys. I drowned it! But better it than my Josie-pup.

No phone = no pictures. But fret not! In another week or so, I get a new phone -- probably just in time to post pictures here of my finished dress. So stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let's have a parti!

Parti-colored kirtle, that is! Check this out:

'The Mi-Parti or Parti-colour kirtle
This is the kirtle or gown which is one colour on one side and another on the opposing side. The concept of multi-coloured clothing was always popular with musicians and entertainers who liked bright clothing and at the height of the 14th century this style also became popular with noble ladies.'

Suddenly I have a way to use up those linen bits I was complaining were only good for shirts and linings! Time to get out the sketch pad and see what I can come up with.

What next?

Summertime is coming!

I know it's only April, and the thermometer outside reads only 48 degrees, but when one is a seamstress, one must think ahead. To have clothing for hot weather, I must start now if I want to have it finished in time. To that end, I am thinking about my summertime wardrobe.

I want a new linen dress. The green linen kirtle I made for last summer was whipped up fast and dirty, and features such embarrassing details as metal grommets for lacing, machine-sewn seams, and (I shudder) epaulets. Plus the bodice has that weird tendency to pull on the one side, making the neckline wrinkle.

A simple front-lacing linen kirtle is what I want, so about four yards of fabric are what I need. Let's look in the stash, shall we?

Two greens: the pale olive that I used for the Kirtle of Embarrassment, and a similar but darker shade that is a linen blend. Not particularly exciting, but perfectly acceptable, and good colors on me.

The perfect amount of a beautiful royal blue fabric that drapes like linen but isn't. It has just a little bit of sheen that gives it away. A wash might take that off and allow this blue to pass the "campfire test" -- but would I be happy with it? Signs point to "No".

Just over three yards of cocoa brown in a shirtweight. If I'm careful in my cutting, it might be enough, since I don't need long sleeves.

I have all these pieces of linen that are just two yards or so -- pale pink, gold, rust, bright red! If only I could combine them somehow, I could make so many nice things. As it is, they're only fit for shirts and skirts, or lining bodices or bags. Frustration! I mean, not that it isn't useful to have shirts and lined bodices, but the women's garments I want to make use so much yardage. Secondhand fabric shopping has been wonderful to me and allowed me to engage in an activity I enjoy, but it does limit me. ...Attitude adjustment! It provides me with more opportunities to use my creativity to attain my goals.

I think I'll get out my pattern drafts and see if I can make the brown work. If not, I'll use the pale green. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My jealousy, I tell ya...

Ivan's cloak was so darn cute, I decided I'd make one of the same cut for myself as soon as I found some good material. Next day when I went to the thrift store, I found two yards of blue and brown plaid wool for five bucks. Can't beat that!

When I brought it home and started looking through my stash for a suitable lining material, I discovered a very soft brown wool that I'd forgotten I had. Perfect! And just the right size, too.

I made a drawing of my pattern in MS Paint! Dig my crazy computer skillz, yo. As you can see (I hope) it's pretty simple: just cut on the angled line, and use the leftover wedge as a gore in the back.

Thanks to math, the cloak will hang down much farther in the back than it does in the front. It won't join up evenly at the back seams, but just shape it however you like with scissors and hem it up. What you end up with is basically a half-round cape with a nice hood. By changing the shape of the triangle at the top, you can make the hood as long or short as you want, or you could leave it square, or cut it into a liripipe.

Because mine is wool, and lined, I want to let it stretch a bit before I hem it up, so mine's hanging on my sewing mannequin Imogene for now. Look closely: you can see the pins.

My camera has a tendency to distort colors, and this tendency is really apparent here. The cloak looks much brighter than it actually is. I swear it's not orange! The blue is not that intense!

I still need to hem this, and devise some sort of fastener for the front. More as it gets there!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ivan's Cloak

No adventurer leaves his home without a sturdy traveling cloak, and Ivan is no exception. Made of blue wool accented with brown stitches, this garment will keep him warm and stylish wherever he goes!

I'm actually jealous. I think I may have to make a cloak for myself like this one!

Doing this project reminded me of when I was in grade school and asked my mother to make my stuffed Snoopy a pair of pants. Snoopy had an odd body and I recall her saying it was a bit of a challenge, but I also remember that those pants fit him just perfectly, and even had a hole in the back seam for his tail to poke out. (Ivan has a very stumpy tail, and it prefers to stay in his pants.) Well done, Mom!