Getting into the thick of things…Firsts and Lasts

At the Beginning, of the year, I joined a small group of intrepid seamstresses in a monthly challenge (fortnight). I found this group quite by accident looking for inspiration for historical costume and tutorials. Upon joining this group, I promptly set to work documenting what I was making for the January challenge of “Firsts and Lasts”.

January: Firsts & Lasts – Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

As my beloved needed new medieval garb, I forced him to brave the fabric store and purchase fabric for said garb. My beloved being of Byzantine persona, we looked for fabrics close enough, and I DO mean CLOSE ENOUGH to the textiles in museums…yeah..We found what could only be called the Hawaiian Prints of the Byzantine Era and went with it…Paisley, it was Paisley..black gold and silver paisley, with a dark lavender/gray under fabric for under-

tunic and pants..as getting my beloved into Hosen would have been nigh on impossible… Those were the firsts…but for this I chose Lasts..

His shoes…now the typical Byzantine shoe looks more like a woman’s shoe to modern male eyes and we could not make him sandals in January…nope…nope…nope.

So, I went with a combination of medieval and modern making him a pair of leather lace up slippers/short boots.

 

I and my beloved were going to go to the local 12th night festivities, at least until it dumped at least a foot of snow on the roads making it inadvisable for travel on the day of the event…So for now, they hang in the closet, awaiting the day that I can make him put them on and enjoy his day of getting out of the house medieval style.

 

To See more of the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges do go have a look see!

http://thedreamstress.com/the-historical-sew-monthly-2017/

Make it Monday in the 18th Century

Yeah, I know I am a 14th Century Blogger, but these buttons are so darned Purty!

18th Century Embroidered Buttons

And how to make them

by Tina M Comroe ©2016

Since the inception of clothing, there has been a need to close the garment. Whether it was a wrap, tunic, dress or apron, some type of toggle or button has been needed to keep the outside world from seeing more flesh than fashionable. Functional buttons with buttonholes for fastening or closing clothes as we know them, appeared first in Germany in the 13th century. They soon became widespread with the rise of snug-fitting garments in 13th- and 14th-century Europe. During the 18th century buttons could be found in many types of artistic medium: Glass, Mother of Pearl, Wood, Silver gilt, gold, brass, copper and my personal Favorite Embroidered to match the outfit. There are many a website or book and even articles that cover the history of buttons; This is NOT one of them. Everywhere I looked I found information on what the lovely embroidered buttons were made of after the fabric was embroidered or embellished..but not instructions on how to recreate them. To be fair, there are a great many who blogged about making the buttons, but had very few step by step from beginning to end instructions that I myself could follow. So I decided to create them using what I could find in my own home that was close enough to the materials used.

(When I asked a group of 18th Century Costumers if they would be interested in an article covering the how to aspect of button making it was a nearly Unanimous Yes (unanimous for me is more than 50 people)…So Here it is, my search and recovery of making 18th century Embroidered Buttons.)

 

What my buttons are made of:  Button Blank, Cardboard core, thread and Felt to pad the embroidery.button-parts

 

Why cardboard for the core? Well, it’s what I had laying around the house, and in at least one source (#3 in bibliography) states that cardboard was the core for the buttons on a fancy waistcoat.  At one point Capital Meats came by a few months back and sold us a freezer full of cheap meats..I kept the boxes as they were clean and would be nearly perfect for storing the dresses I make for dolls…well months later those boxes are still sitting on my wool covered folding table in the laundry room…so being of good sturdy cardboard I cut two of them apart and used them for button blanks and a button template.

You don’t need any special tools to make buttons, but having an essential tool like a button template sure does make the job faster.  To make a button template draw a circle the size of the button you want to make and add a circle around it equal to the inner circles radius. In this example the circle is 1.5 inches with a .75 radius or ¾ in. Add the ¾ inch around it. Draw the template onto cardboard, cut out the center circle and you now have your button template.121116_0417_MakeitMonda1.jpg

 

Choose the design for your button. You will see that I have provided six different Historical Buttons to recreate for those that don’t think they have the skills in drawing (they do, they just won’t believe in themselves..but I won’t quibble). To make these buttons you need only the basic skills of sewing and embroidering..there are no fancy shmancy stitches to fumble over and I have provided common pictures further along to show you how easy they really are. Okay, once you choose which button, on which fabric you are going to use it’s time to put the fabric into the hoop and carefully draw, pounce or just plain old free hand embroider the design onto the fabric.

However, I would suggest using  a very fine tear away stabilizer that would work just as well for tracing and embroidering, it’s designed to be used that way, made by Silky. Make it really Easy on yourself and use a sheet of it to trace your button designs and use the 18th century Chinese embroidery technique of embroidering the design down and tear the stabilizer away once done(#4 in the Bibliography). Remember to use your button template to trace the outer edge of the button leaving room between each button for cutting them out once they are embroidered.

Embroider the buttons using single strands of silk or cotton floss.  It was hard to match exactly the colors used on those historic buttons, but I got close enough using DMC brand cotton floss. With the numbers off of the floss packaging, it should be easier to find which colors the silk companies have that compare well.

Button Designs

121116_0417_MakeitMonda2.jpg

121116_0417_MakeitMonda3.jpg

 

Embroidery Stitches

121116_0417_MakeitMonda11.jpg

table-of-stitches

Okay, you have your buttons embroidered and your felt and button cores cut out, let’sbutton-parts get those buttons made.

Using your button template on the backside of your buttons center the embroidered area inside the template and trace around the outside edge with chalk. The examples in the pictures are done with ink to make it easier to see.

  1. Cut out the button blanks, and set them aside. Cut your button cores and felt rounds and for each button pair up a core and felt circle, stitch each pair together to stabilize the core.step-one

 

  1. Thread your needle and put a running stitch around the edge of the button blank ¼ inch from the edge, no need to turn the edges in, we’re not making yo-yo’s or Suffolk puffs.step-two

 

  1. Center a felt core felt side down to the back of the embroidered button blank.

step-three

  1. Pull the thread to gather the edges to the center, easing the raw edges together to close any gap. Use a square knot to secure the center.

step-four

 

  1. To make the button shank, create a thread bar by putting two loops over a shank bar aka a chopstick and use buttonhole stitches to create the bar. Secure the end with a good knot and you now have a button.

 

 

Pictures of the garments the Buttons came from

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Bibliography

  1. Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book: Wilson, Erica

Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1973

ISBN 10: 0684106558 / ISBN 13: 9780684106557

  1. Arts and Designs Needlework Glossary of terms, where i got the images for the stitches: https://www.artsanddesigns.com/glossary/A
  2. 18th Century Embroidery Techniques

Gail Marsh

Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, Feb 16, 2012

  1. Chinese Embroidery: Traditional Techniques

Josianne Bertin-Guest

Krause Publications, Jan 1, 2003

  1. Needlework School: A comprehensive guide to decorative embroidery by the Embroiderers Guild Practical Study Group. Chartwell Books, INC. 1984

 

Further Reading on Button History; please note that none of these pages cover the method of making the fabric buttons until the mid 19th century, overlooking entirely the fabric buttons of the 14th century and the embroidered buttons of the early through late 18th century. Good for Historians but not costumers with an eye to recreate the lovely embroidered buttons seen on many a fancy Waistcoat.

  1. http://www.antiquebuttons.nl/index_en.php?p0=history_of_buttons
  2. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/design/2012/06/button_history_a_visual_tour_of_button_design_through_the_ages_.html
  3. http://www.thebuttonmonger.com/content/A_history_of_buttonsv1.pdf

 

Finish It Friday

If you tuned in on Tuesday you saw the lovely tutorial for making a simple coptic notebook. (Yes, I know I am posting this on a Saturday, but Friday was soo busy with getting other things like, oh..IDK…Laundry…that it’s a day late..sorry.)

One or two of the tools were the awls and needles used in punching holes and pulling thread…well dear readers, my friday was busy with finishing up some tools for the job…I put myself to work fixing and making new awls. To small and two longer length. The pairs are a regular awl made from a sewing needle, and a leather awl from a glovers needle. the handles are just regular turned wood bits from a craft store. the two unstained ones are unfinished just for reference in the pictures. the finished pairs are inherited from my mom, who had them set up for bobbin lace..a skill I have never retained past the pillow making faze… They made great awl handles tho…the two long needles are what I use to stitch the gatherings together into a book…some say they are too long..but I find that the longer types are easier to get between the gatherings without pricking my fingers. I drilled the holes carefully with the teensy littlel drill bit that you can see sitting on the handles of the flat nose pliers in the first pictures. There isn’t any glue holding the awls in the wood, instead I used some of the many broken needles as pins driven in to hold them secure..that tiny pinprick of light is the pin in the second picture. I keep most of my needles in the hard cover needlebook which is under the awls and needles in the third picture, all of which are sitting on my leather pounding board…which is just a cutting board from home despot bolted to a hunk of wood to save the surface of whatever table I am at from being scratched. In the second picture you can see the new shiny clean side as I turned it over and rebolted it to the hunk of wood…after 10 years of being used as a leather working surface, it was high time to do so. Tools need not be utilitarian, beauty in a simple thing makes the world a tiny bit nicer..I like my tiny corner of the world…where I get to make beautiful things.

Tutorial Tuesday

As you may have noticed my dear readers I have two blogs. One for my ball jointed doll hobby and this one for my medieval lifestyle. I have implemented new titles for the work week to keep me on an even schedule for posting on both blogs, dear readers and today, is Tutorial Tuesday! The day of the week that I present to my readers a tutorial to aid them in their search for nearly authentic bjd, or medieval accessories.

Today I bring to you a lovely basic tutorial for making a hand bound book. The very first thing one should have besides a quill and pot of ink is a book to write their adventures in. The earliest books were bound using the Coptic Stitch, so named for the Coptic peoples of Egypt who put their knowledge in books rather than the old way of scrolls, so dear readers without further rambling, here is your tutorial:

A little heart shaped book

For a few years now, I have had a tiny little project sitting in a box waiting for me to finish gathering documentation for that far off moment that I put it on display at some Arts & Sciences event. A little heart shaped book, filled with chivalry, poetry and knightly ceremony and of course illuminations from beginning to end…I even have the blue velvet ready to be turned into the embroidered cover all cut out. I just have not had the gumption to get to work…Well, Today I am turning that around and making it my second priority just behind making doll clothes for sale on my site. There isn’t any excuse, I mean, writing is one of those things I absolutely love doing…but lately have found little joy in..so I will now be going from book to book, making copies of relevent pages and getting my documentation written up…then the writing of the makers diary for this little heart shaped book can happen…In the mean time, I must have patience, because if I rush this, or leave out a step someone judging it might catch me up…and that would be very embarrasing. I won’t go through the pain of a Kingdom A&S and leave myself open to what happened last time. That horror story is in the past…and no, I won’t repeat that experience for all the AOA’s in existance…Preparation is Key…and this time, not one stone will be un-turned, or a single book unread and put in the bibliography…My research will follow the required course and style for my new kingdom and my citations will be right where they should be. Start to finish.

No Good Deed goes Unpunished

Or they catch up with you even if you flee your kingdom for the next…
I move quite a lot, for many reasons I am not going to get into in this post..and because I move it is often that I miss out on the joys of being given awards in the Kingdom and Barony as I leave..Nope, No more, with the magical onset of the SCA becoming more and more digital and using social networks like Facebook one can no longer cut and run thinking that those you leave behind aren’t going to find you when you start to play again..and so it was with my former Barony. The Citadel of the Southern Pass is in the Kingdom of the Outlands, and that crazy bunch (I love you all!) got it in their heads to hunt me down and make sure I received the award that I had been recommended for…
So remember this, if you think you’re not appreciated, think again. Because if someone wants you to have that award, they will move the mountain to make sure the mail gets in on time! I am humbled(there’s that word again!) that they thought so highly of me, that they organized with my New Barony to make sure I got pulled up in court to receive it. So now the (former) Bar Wench has gotten recognition for her good works and misses those of her former Barony even more. My road in the SCA is getting longer and longer the more I play, and it all started in the Kingdom of An Tir in the Barony of Blatha An Oir, travels down to the Outlands and is now Currently in Atlantia in the Barony of Tir-Y-Don. The road may seem long, but as the Known World gets larger and larger, its also shrinking. We know many of the people, even if we have never met in person. Thank you Facebook…Thank you internet, and cellular technology…without you we would still be using the Post Office to send our award recommendations and hoping the dog doesn’t eat the mailman..

My Pelican resized

Opus Anglicanum: Design Spotlight

My PelicanEmbroidery Spotlight: Opus Anglicanum
The English led the way in opulent embroideries during the middle ages with a type of gold bedazzled work that those on the continent dubbed Opus Anglicanum: English Work. The English Work was done in such a way that the figures were not stiff on the surface of the materials, but seemed to flow with fluid grace. The tiny stitches followed the contours of the design, allowing the finished work an ease of movement not found in continental work. Opus Anglicanum was usually worked in three principle stitches; Split Stitch, Surface Couchwork and Underside Couchwork. Opus Anglicanum was in such high demand among the Elite of European Society that many merchants set up shop in London, where the necessary capital was available and which was the principal port through which the imported materials arrived.
The Pelican in Her Piety is my design spotlight to embroider, for future badges perhaps? I drew this in simple lines to make it easier for enlargement and embroidering.
We in the SCA use certain symbols for those who have earned a specific peerage: example, the Pelican in her Piety is such a symbol used to show the populace at large that this particular peer has earned theirs through service, often deemed above and beyond that of the average persona.
The self-sacrificial aspect of the pelican was reinforced by the widely read mediaeval bestiaries. The device of “a pelican in her piety” or “a pelican vulning (from Latin vulno to wound) herself” was used in heraldry. An older version of the myth is that the pelican used to kill its young then resurrect them with its blood, again analogous to the sacrifice of Jesus. Likewise a folktale from India says that a pelican killed her young by rough treatment but was then so contrite that she resurrected them with her own blood.
The myth that pelicans feed their young with their blood arose from the following habit, on which the whole superstructure of fable has been erected: They have a large bag attached to their under-bill. When the parent bird is about to feed its brood, it macerates small fish in this bag or pouch; then, pressing the bag against its breast, transfers the macerated food to the mouths of the young ones.

The instructions below are from a wonderful website Historical Needlework Resources:
http://medieval.webcon.net.au/index.html ; it is also where you will find the rest of the stitch diagrams and instructions for this wonderful historical embroidery style.
Split Stitch
A popular stitch used in Opus Anglicanum and Heraldic Embroidery. Used for very fine work, often only by means of a single strand of silk thread or was done using quite thick threads, such as wool. It was used for outlines and filling space. To Work Split Stitch – Bring the needle through at A and, following the line to be covered, take a small back stitch so that the needle comes up through the working thread, as shown in the diagram. Generally, it is easiest to work this as a two step stitch by making a small stitch, then bringing the needle up through the thread at the half way point. Surface Couching
To Work Surface Couching – Lay down the thread to be couched, and with another thread catch it down with small stitches worked over the top.

Underside Couching
To Work Underside Couching – In the embroidery technique of underside couching, thread (usually gold) is laid on the surface of the ground fabric, couching threads are then passed over it. As each couching stitch is worked over the gold thread, the needle is carefully re-inserted into the hole in the backing fabric that the needle created on the way out. The couching thread is pulled tight and a tiny loop of the gold thread from the surface drops through the hole in the backing fabric to the underside (thus giving the technique its name).
This creates a hinge in the gold thread, allowing the fabric to bend and giving it a great flexibility. Fabric worked with gold thread in underside couching has much more drape than fabric with surface couched gold, thus making it a much better technique for working objects which will be worn, such as ecclesiastical vestments.

To see wonderful medieval depictions of the Pelican in her Piety ; Elizabeth Braidwood’s Site is a must see:
http://donna.hrynkiw.net/sca/pelican/

Thank you!

When I started this blog in October of 2013 I did not expect to be visited so often and for one Article to be so popular. Writing a Medieval Letter was the Hardest article to do research for that I have ever done. The start of many more to follow. I want to thank all of you who have come to visit and view that Article, which has been viewed 2293 times and counting, so thank you Thank you for wanting to know and coming to learn.
MVRY.

War and its inevitable byproduct: a surplus of Veterans

What is a war?

War is defined as an active conflict that has claimed more than 1,000 lives. Has the world ever been at peace? My Answer? NO, not really. Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. Wars, we read about them, see them on the Television, in movies and Video/Online Games. We Romanticize it, write novels about it, but we often forget the Byproduct of such an Activity: Veterans. How many Veterans are we generating currently: Too Many!

Warning: Monolog moment:

In all of our years as a Nation, there have been only about 21 years of Peace, where we were not in conflict with anyone. Yep, gathered together our years of peace would see a child born, grow up and get to drinking age. I think that is the saddest thing we as a Nation can say. Our Military might has not gotten us Peace, but the continual fight for it, both foreign and domestic. Don’t take this the wrong way, (I know you will anyways) but my pride is not that we are at war, but at war for Freedom, not just ours but for the freedom we enjoy to be extended wherever it is not. At least that is the Ideal. For many we fight against They see our presence there as taking away their rights to kill those who are different religiously, doctrinally, or physically. We fight so that anyone, can wear, think, speak out against someone/something they believe is wrong. We go where freedom is at such a low level that we are willing to lose our lives to bring the level back up or even higher than before. I say We, because as a Nation it is not just our Troops that go to foreign soil and toil so selflessly. It is the Civilians that go forth to bring medical aid, build new homes, roads and bring commerce back into those places devastated by War. We all work, so that life gets better and peace and freedom belongs to all. Yeah, I am idealistic..get over it.

Okay…Monolog done…

Nope sorry…

At the beginning of 2003 there were 30 wars going on around the world. These included conflicts in Afghanistan, Algeria, Burundi, China, Colombia, the Congo, India, Indonesia, Israel, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. At How many of those were Our Armed Forces deployed? How many are still there?

There is a Question: How many wars has America still fighting in; with the numbers of Veterans rising in the past few years one should think instead that the numbers of conflicts should be falling…nope, rising higher than ever. According to Nick Turse in his article “How many Wars is the US Really fighting” The conflicts we currently have our military might split between is: 135 nations, and that’s only Special Ops. Look it up and read it here: http://www.thenation.com/article/how-many-wars-is-the-us-really-fighting/

Veterans are Everywhere: You find them at the VA, your local unions, going to college, homeless on the Streets, marching in parades on the National Holiday to Celebrate them..But How did they Become Veterans? The easiest answer is they were enlisted personnel that fought in many and any of the Military conflicts that our country often finds itself embroiled in, tangled up in or cleaning up after all across the globe. You might be related to one or more men and women who for the sake of our Freedoms, went into a recruitment station and signed up to keep our country, its constitution and the lives of its people safe; whether it was from the Communists, the Nazi’s or the Taliban. Or currently from the Evils of that newest Terror Group “Daesh” I refuse to give them the Name Isis, as they are not about the worship of an Ancient Egyptian Goddess, but rather the destruction of History in the name of an Extremist set of Ideals. Spreading Terror and Death, and they are recruiting either by force or by guile more people than ever before.

Back to our Veterans

What happens when they come home? Afterwards, when they are broken and no longer usable, it seems that many are doomed to be on the streets, without support: physical, mental, or emotional, and penniless. Why? We send them there and they come back to nothing. We the people, you know; the ones they go out there to defend, should be OUTRAGED by this. That our own people are coming home to hopelessness. Yes, there are a few good groups out there, working with donations to help heal our soldiers upon their return, but it’s really Not enough. Veterans should have housing and Living expense accounts set up, automatically upon returning home so that they cannot find themselves on the streets, sleeping in the park, scrounging for their next meal. They fought for us, so we should be fighting for them.  The VA is not enough, we see that every day with the waiting periods getting longer and longer, and scandals being published about misappropriation of funds being discovered and reported on. A veteran should be able to walk into any doctor’s office, have extended health insurance beyond the pittance they receive after being discharged from our Military. Not only those discharged live in poverty, but our current military personnel have families left behind while they are deployed that are currently on Welfare and receiving SNAP benefits because their military spouse is paid so low that a McDonald’s fry cook can honestly say they get paid better. This should not be the norm…but it is. There will be trolls of course..those that say that our military personnel should not be allowed to have spouses and family until they reach certain ranks…yeah, Fuck off.. (So not sorry, I will drop an “F” Bomb from time to time in my blogging, do get over it) Our Military Personnel have the same rights we do, to marry, have children and try for happiness…Who in the hell are we to deny them that? Who the Hell are we to think that it is okay for them to return to Nothing after doing So Much for Us?

Wednesday November 11, 2015 is Veterans Day..yes, all day. This is the Federal Holiday Celebrating our Veterans: Past, Present, and Future, because yes, there will be more. More people going into recruitment centers and saying;”Sign me up, I want to keep our Constitution, Nation and her Peoples Free from Terror and threats both Foreign and Domestic.”

To All our Veterans: Past, Present and Future; Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul. Thank you for being willing to die for my freedom, to protect both Country and Constitution. Thank you, for your Bravery and Dedication. Thank you for the Blood you have lost on Soils both foreign and domestic.

 

Bibliography

  1. What every person should know about war: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/books/chapters/0713-1st-hedges.html?pagewanted=all
  2. List of Wars the US has participated since the American Revolution: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States

End Note: I looked up all of my information on Google, it took me Five(5) minutes to come up with the information in this Article. If you think I missed something or forgot my patriotism somewhere, Think again. I wave my flag as proud as Any American. My Father, and Grandparents on both sides of my bloodline have fought for my freedom to state my opinions, write and protest against War. AS this is NOT a Doctoral Thesis being turned in for a grade, I reserve the right to only go so far in my documentation…You have eyeballs, and access to the internet? Do some of your own, write Petitions, Protest the Treatment of our Veterans. I do it my way, Please do it yours.

The Society for Creative Anachronism..A&S 50 Challenge

My A&S Fifty Challenge Pieces
MVRY Tina Comroe 2015
We who joined the A&S 50 Challenge for theSCA’s 50th year have been working hard on our pieces, and now that it is over I feel that I maybe did not get it done, but all is well, the Challenge I did was the Persona Challenge, to make and learn about what my persona would have used in her life.
I may not have finished it, but I sure gave it the ole college try: The most important thing is that lovely black covered book…why? Because within it is all of the stuff I researched about my persona: Where she was born, who her parents were, grandparents were, what she would have worn,what kind of games she would have played, hospitality, who was king, who was pope, and most especially her herbal lore, food lore(recipes for yummies), that in itself almost fills the book.. Below you see some of the entries in the book, her favorite pouch of hot flesh colored leather, her embroidered alms bag, her six board chest, two dolls, a leather ball stuffed with wool and leather scrap, her game of fox and hounds and a leather split mitten…Also not pictured are my shoes, fitted kirtle, sideless surcote, under kirtle and hosen and fur trimmed hood which I hand dyed the rabbit fur myself. Also not seen but enjoyed by many are the articles I have written and have the joy of being published in several newsletters and websites. I don’t really count the articles written here…although it makes my heart sing that my article on how to write a medieval letter has gotten so many views from so many different countries. Nope, I may not have finished the challenge but as I said, I did give it the ole college try…and that makes me quite proud of myself.

HNI_0028 HNI_0029 HNI_0030 HNI_0031 HNI_0034 HNI_0036 HNI_0037 HNI_0043 HNI_0053 HNI_0058 HNI_0059 HNI_0065 HNI_0070 HNI_0072