Saturday, June 28, 2014

Belt tip?

Okay, I think I found something that will pass as a suitable belt tip. It's actually a piece of a small brass easel. I got two of them as a set from the thrift shop for three dollars, and it was just a little quick work with a hacksaw to cut off the bit that I wanted to use. A metal file took off the sharp edges, and then I drilled a few small holes to allow me to sew it in place. I think it looks pretty good. The only problem is, it's too big to fit through the buckle I found for the other end. Just have to thread it through and then sew the tip on, I guess. That's not so bad.

The two easels were slightly different, as you can see in the picture. I can't remember what made me choose the one I did, as I actually like the other one better, but I'm sure I had a good reason. Maybe the one I didn't use was a tiny bit wider. Whatever. It looks pretty good for a buck and a half!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oregon Country Fair!

The one time of year that I take rare days off for vacation is to attend the Oregon Country Fair -- OCF.  It's not a reenactment event or a medieval/renaissance faire, more of an art fair, with everything very hands-on and communal and creative. There's a lot of face painting and tie-dye to be had, but it also draws the steampunk crowd and reenactors and weirdos in general.  Check out the link. There's tons of pictures!

All the food is made on premises and no commercial entities are allowed. So if you want a cold beverage, maybe you'll get a lemonade or a homemade rootbeer or an iced tea, but you won't find a Coke machine or Starbucks here. At mealtime, there's all kinds of cultural foods, fresh fruits and veggies, and pizza, burgers, and spaghetti -- but if you want McDonalds or KFC, you're out of luck.

There's music everywhere, and craftspeople selling everything from ironmongery to shoes, musical instruments, clothing, hats -- you name it. I always stop at the place that sells leather, fur, and horn/antlers, because they have a scrap bin that I enjoy rooting through. That and the library. The library is set in a grove of trees, and wooden shelves are set up between the trunks. There are benches, hammocks, swings and rugs to sit on and read, and there's usually a gentle breeze. It's lovely to sit and take a quiet moment there.

There's no reason for me to wear my 14th century anything there, but I often do anyway, just because it lends to the magic of the event. Last year I wore my parti-colored dress and straw hat, and I was very cool and comfortable all day, despite the 80 degree heat. (that's about 26 c to you metric folk)

This year we're camping for two nights and three days and I'm not sure what all I'm going to wear. Probably I won't garb up for all three days. I'd really like to wear my new blue dress and belt, but I'm not sure wool ---even a lightweight wool like this blue-- is the best choice for the hot weather. I mean, I think I'd probably be okay if I were sitting in the shade a lot and tucked up my skirt, but as I'll be with a group of friends who won't be similarly dressed, I don't want to slow them down or be the reason we don't sit in the sun to enjoy a show or something.

I'd love to go to a real reenactment event sometime, where everyone would be dressed in a style similar to mine, so I could talk and learn and shop and not feel so alone in my odd little hobby.  I'm so jealous when I read blogs like Neulakko and see everyone having such fun playing and learning together!

Until I find something like that, OCF will have to do. (Along with trips to Camlann Medieval Village!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Doodad update!

I know it's late and we're all tired and want to get to bed, but I just wanted to post these work-in-progress pictures of how the belt is doing. I got the upholstery tacks glued onto the buttons tonight, and I think it looks splendid. Got a few other filagree-style thingies from the scrapbook section and played around with placement. I'm excited about how good it looks! With some gold metallic stitching down the edge, I think I'll have a very nice-looking belt to show off this summer!

Doesn't look so much like a bottlecap now! Yay! 

The filagree needs to be Rub-n-Buffed to match,
but you can see what I'm aiming for, yes? Isn't it great?! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Doodads for the Belt

I decided that the cogwheels by themselves were just not enough to give this belt the look that I wanted. After some thought, I came up with a plan. I glued buttons to them and sewed them to the belt, and I'm going to glue fancy domed upholstery tacks (with the pointy part clipped off) on top to hide the button holes and stitching. The whole doodad is given a brush with Rub-n-Buff to give it a uniform color and we have a rather nice-looking decoration.

Here's the buttons glued on, showing them before and after painting with the Rub-n-Buff. The buttons are just cheap plastic ones. I had to sand them a little on the back to make sure the glue would hold.

And here they are stitched six inches apart on the belt. The upholstery tacks have not been put on yet, but they will cover the stitching and holes so that it's not obvious that I've used buttons.

I really hope the decorative tacks are convincing in making these decorations look more appropriate. I was so happy while I was busy gluing everything and painting -- it wasn't until afterwards that I looked at these things and thought : Bottlecaps. It looks like I've put bottlecaps on my belt.

I found some filigree bits in the scrapbooking section at the craft store as well, and they will fill the interstices between the doodads, and also hopefully help with the illusion of medieval metal-mongery.

It'll look great when I'm done, I just know it. It's just going through an awkward phase right now. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I'm Sew Tents!

Camp, sweet camp.
We have a reliable old pop-up for camping or in the back yard to provide an extra shady spot to hang out. A few months back, I got a bolt of cotton fabric for $10 on an online auction thinking it would be the prefect thing to make side walls.  And I was right in so many ways!

 Not only is it a nice color and weight, it is the perfect width so that two full panels of it completely cover one side. I cut six seven-foot lengths to be the sides, and then cut three strips to make a kind of oversized bias tape to bind the tops. I put two panels together, overlapping them in the middle by about six inches, and pinned them to the top binding. All I need to do is two rows of stitching up top and a hem on the bottom. Then I'll pop some grommets into the top so we can hang the panels with laces or cable ties. I'll put three ties down the middle so we can tie them shut or tie them back, as we choose.

Best part? There's enough fabric left for me to make that steampunk work skirt I was talking about a few posts back. And perhaps a matching vest!

Here's Bosco, being a typical helpful cat.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Finding belt fittings

I know there are many fine folks out there who make beautiful fittings for belts. I am aware of the research and talent they put into their work, and I've seen the lovely results. Unfortunately, I can't afford to spend the entirely reasonable amount that their work commands. If I were heavily involved in reenactment it would be another story, but as I only wear these outfits to suit myself once or twice a year, there's no way to justify the expense. However, I do still want to make my stuff look as suitable as possible. That's when the creativity bursts into full flame.

So, belt fittings. I went to one of my favorite little hideaways, a shop called Fun Junk . Nancy, the owner, always has dishes full of odds and ends and pieces and parts on some tables in the front of the shop and I just knew I'd find something workable there.

I wasn't disappointed. For five bucks I got a handful of these cog/gear things.  They're thin steel an inch across and I think they look rather sun-like. I cleaned them with some degreaser and brushed on some antique-gold Rub-n-Buff to make them a little more visually impressive. I'm going to play around with them, some gold metallic thread, and some pearl beads I have and see if I can come up with something that looks right to me.

The buckle and the tip end are another matter. Still have to figure out something for that. The obvious answer is taking up metalcraft myself, and I have considered it -- but doggone it, I can't do everything. There just isn't time. Or room in the garage. Plus, Dave gets nervous when I work with fire.

More pics of belt progress and perhaps a final decision on those sleeves for the new blue, coming up. Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oh, who can wait?

I was so taken with my exciting plan for my new belt that I pulled out some velvet and linen "just to see how it looked". Famous last words, am I right? Next thing you know I have the ironing board and scissors out.

I cut a two inch wide band of each, about eight feet long. I want to have lots of room to work with, and I'll adjust the length later on in the project.  I pressed in a deep hem, basically making two long strips of linen and velvet bias tape. I wanted the extra layers to add body and weight to the belt so it would drape right and stand up to the weight of whatever ornaments I find to put on it.

Putting the seams to the inside, I whip-stitched the length of both sides, being very careful of tension so that there wouldn't be any wrinkling or twisting. And here's the result so far.

I am very pleased with it! I think it's going to turn out very nicely, once I've added some frippery to it. I have ideas concerning some metallic thread and beads, and I'm keeping my eye out for adornments in all my usual places. Yes, thrift stores. Of course!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Real quick!

Here's a pic of the new blue so far. It looks almost exactly like my other ones. Sleeves and lacing eyelets are forthcoming. Look at that gorgeous color!

Belts. I mean, girdles.

I know, I know -- women wore girdles, not belts, but the word makes me giggle every time. In the interest of keeping a straight face, all the encircling straps of the waistline are belts to me. Call it a strike for equality. And so, belts.

I have two belts. One is the popular leather ring belt that every medieval-hobbyist has worn at one time or another. It is functional and reasonably attractive and performs its duties sufficiently, but it's a bit plain and everyone has one like it, for good or ill. The other was featured about two years ago on this blog and is made from a broken rein and twisted wool. I like it but it needs to be retied often and the metal doohickeys I put on it always snag on things.

Time for something new, yes?

I got some leather the other day and was thinking I could cut a belt from it. Maybe I could punch an openwork design in it with my leather hole punch, or get some pewter decorations to attach. As I wanted something decorative -- a bit pretty, if you will -- I clicked around on the internet museum sites to see what I could find in the way of extant inspiration.

I could not find a single openwork belt design. Shoes, yes, plenty, but no belts. Either I'm not looking in the right places, or they weren't prevalent -- at least not enough for any to ever find their way into a museum. Bit of a disappointment, really. Ah, well.

Then I found this belt from the Musee National du Moyen Age, Clunny. Is that velvet? Yes, I think it is! And look at the shiny!

(Sorry it's in two bits, but that's how the pictures were on the site.)

This is a bit more fancy than I was thinking, and the big round bits stick out a fair way so I know they'd be catching on things and scratching chairs and getting dented and causing no end of nuisance to me. But I do like that velvet idea. It looks like it's on a even-weave linen backing, and would certainly be easy enough to make. Another nice feature is that I can cut it all in one piece, whereas with the leather I have, I would have had to join up two or three pieces to make the length I want. 

Once I get the blue dress done, probably over the weekend, I'll start work on my new belt. Between now and then, I can put my mind to where I can find decorative pieces to finish it properly. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Blue, part Two

Gave it a test try on, and wasn't pleased with the fit over the hips. Why do I never seem to remember that the gores I always want to leave out are important for that area of fit? Well, no matter. I'm adding two side gores in the spirit of an extant Herjolfenes garment that I hope will give me the ease I need in a manner consistent with the period. I'm just glad that I had enough of this fabric to do this extra cutting. 

I'm not doing the front and back inserts, because I've already cut that part of the skirt generously, but my side gore inserts look very much like the the ones shown here. Oh, and look at that -- a long sleeve with buttons. No thank you! I'm thinking I'll just do a long plain sleeve. Or something. Stay tuned for me to whimsically change my mind on that, too! 

It's called the creative process, people! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Blue, with Sleeve Questions

What possessed me last night? Perhaps I just missed the feeling of wool passing through my hands, after so much leather and linen work. For whatever reason, I suddenly found myself taking a five-yard swath of lightweight blue wool from my stash, and cutting out my basic dress pattern.

Actually, my basic pattern is just for a fitted bodice. I cut my skirt fullness however the amount of fabric or my personal whim dictates. This one doesn't have any gores. I've just cut a trapezoid shape onto the bottom of the bodice pattern to create fullness. My bottom hem circumference should be about 225", which I think should be plenty generous. 

The bodice is lined with some scraps of peach-colored linen that used to be a tablecloth. It has a few dime-sized drips of something (gravy?) on it that left a stain, so I got it for a dollar and I figure no one will see those blots but me, since they're inside. I handstitched, turned, and pressed the four bodice linings during the Game of Thrones season finale. 

Once I hem all four pieces, it's quick work to seam them together. The lacing eyelets on the front will probably take an evening's worth of grinding. Then the hem and I'm done except for the sleeves. 

Sleeves! I was meaning this to be a between-season sort of dress, good for those days when it's a bit brisk but not cold, or a bit warm but not hot, so I was thinking that elbow-length sleeves would be nice. I've seen linen underdresses with shorter sleeves -- made one myself, in the case of my parti-colored linen dress. But I can't remember seeing a wool dress with anything but long sleeves, usually with massive amounts of buttons. I've seen shorter sleeves with tippets, but only on cotehardies that are worn over other dresses.  I even Googled "14th century dress sleeves" and looked at all the images that were from respectable sources. 

As I wear my linen smock under everything, it's not like my naked arms will be exposed, but is there any historical allowance for elbow-length, tippetless sleeves on a wool dress? Or should I just bow to convention and do long sleeves, or make ones with tippets? Advice, please! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Does this steam make me look fat?

I'm coming up with ideas in my head for a new steampunk ensemble. I got some new leather the other day that I'd like to make into suspenders of some sort, with a belt and pockets, and I'm going to re-purpose some caramel-colored duck cloth canvas into a skirt. With boots, a work shirt, and a cap, it'll be a cute adventure-mechanic sort of look, I hope.

Scribbly handwriting is just part of my creative process.

I've been clicking around the internet looking at pictures for inspiration and I've met up with a few problems. It's hard for me to determine if something I like will look good on me because I have a very skewed internal picture of myself. For one thing, I think I'm much younger than I actually am. Costume events are a young person's game, it seems, and at 47 I don't want to make myself ridiculous. The other thing is that there's about three inches in variation throughout my hips/waist/bust so I rather resemble a tree trunk. The steampunk trope of corsetry seems to be the answer here, but I have learned to my regret that putting a corset on me just makes my thick middle look more fancy, rather than creating a waistline.

Click back and see my purple and gold equestrienne outfit, and you'll see that I managed to look very steam-y without a corset or goggles (amazing!).  A jacket with a peplum can do wonders for creating the illusion of a figure.  But I'm struggling to work out a way to wear a shirt/skirt combo that looks hardworking and not too fussy, but doesn't make me look like a big fat load, either.

I'll keep thinking on it, and let you know what I come up with.  If you have any suggestions, I'd love to read them in the comments! Thanks!