An Expanded thought on Medieval Pilgrimage

Lady Mevanou's Musings

Throughout man’s history with the Christian and Many other )religions, there have been pilgrimage sites visited where men and women have been martyred for the “cause”. Those sites are considered holy even to this day. Up and down the European coastline and along trade routes can be found little chapels or larger abbeys where pilgrims on this quest or that can go see the venerated remains of the martyred souls: who, though long dead allegedly work miracles for the faithful.

The burial sites of martyrs were the first destinations for pilgrimage in the Christian West, reports of healings contributed fame to such sites. In the 4th century, Rome became a major pilgrimage as it was considered Holy due to the tombs of the Apostles, martyrs, and the catacombs themselves where it is said that the followers of Christ would preach the word after his death.

In the early middle…

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Colors Oh My The Colors

The history of Embroidery, indeed any kind of embellishment upon garments is centuries old. This is not about that..but recreating the styles and techniques of Embroidery from the middle ages to the renaissance.  Designs we can come up with, but what about the colors? Do we use Wool, or silk? I don’t know about you, but when I price skeins of Wool Embroidery yarn I cringe, silk is only a bit more expensive, and that leaves us with Cotton Floss. We know that cotton embroidery floss is well into the more modern age when it comes to materials for embroidery, but it’s so much less expensive than wools and silks. I got bored one day and thought about the colors available back then, and while not so abundant as our modern color palette, they still had quite a selection. Digging through my seeming abundance of colors, some mine and some I inherited from my mum I looked for pictures of the colors and found one reference. Pinterest, blessed Pinterest!  for the Tudor Era Colors I found a lovely chart, created by(  July 4, 2012 by staceywng. and the rest of the colors for the Medieval List come from Rosalies Medieval Woman page..Amazing Resource for those starting out or needing a reference when doing some sort of research..(Remember, This project of mine got started because I was bored) ( Please Understand that I am in no way going to post pictures from their pages, even if I found them on Pinterest. Because this page here is just a starting point for any who would do deeper research I fully expect you to do your own research and citations, It was only a few minutes worth of time googling the names of medieval and renaissance colors. Pinterest is also a good place to start, don’t forget your local libraries.

I am going to go alphabetically with the names starting with the Medieval List and then bring in the Tudor List. Many of the colors will have salty names, like Bloody Flux a dirty red brown  and Puke a deep grey brown..but don’t be alarmed, they are not ugly colors, just differently named. In many instances the colors are simply named and it’s in the Tudor Era that the names get more creative and sometimes snarky sounding, such as Dead Spaniard (Slate grey). Where you see the same name from one era to another means usually that it is a very popular color. Please Note: These are the colors that I use which may not be correct in color or hue, but are what I can get close to color wise from the confines of my color stash. Where the names have remained the same I have kept the DMC colors the same for a bit of continuity.

Medieval Color Name DMC Cotton Floss Number
Aureole – Orange 741
Bristol Red-Red 606
Bloody Flux 816
Burnet-Brown 400
Carsey-yellow 973
Cendre/Cinder 535
Garance- madder-red 498
Goose-turd- yellow green 772
Gris-Grey 318
Grisart-Light Grey 415
Inde-Indigo Blue 3843
Maiden Hair-Bright Tan 728
Mezereon- Rose Purple 326
Milk and Water- Blue-ish White 3761
Popinjay-Blue Green 827
Puke-Dirty Grey Brown 840
Raw Flesh- Pinkish Orange 352
Russet-Dark Brown 300
Sheep Color- Natural Creamy White Ecru
Tawny-Dusky Orange Brown 722
Vert- Green 906
Violet- Purple 552


and now for the Tudor Color List.

Tudor Color Name DMC Cotton Floss Number
Apes Laugh 164
Beans Blue 518
Biskaye 823
Bottle Green 334
Bristol 606
Brown Bread 3772
Burnet 400
Cane Colour 437
Chimney Sweep 317
Dead Spaniard 452
Devil in the Head 700
Goose-turd 772
Loves Longing 3687
Lustie-Gallant 351
Maiden Hair 728
Maidens Blush 899
Merry Widow 973
Milk and Water 3761
Mortal  Sin- True Black 310
Ox Blood 814
Pansey 554
Pheasant 816
Puke 840
Purple 552
Raw Flesh 352
Russet 300
Scarlett 326
Sea Water 517
Soppes in Wine 355
Straw 782
Tawny 722
Turkey 898
Ultra Marine 311
Watchet 820
Whey 677
Yellow 743


St Birgitta, give me a new cap…or have me make it myself…

So this make it monday brings me to my need for keeping my fly away baba Yaga tresses under Control…also, it is February, and a new challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge..Yeah, I know, I am publishing this on March 1st…so what? There’s only 28 days of February in a non leap year…so I considered it a moment and took march first as the last day of there!

February’s challenge at the Historical Sew Fortnightly is thus: Re-Make, Re-Use, Re-Fashion – Sew something that pays homage to the historical idea of re-using, re-making and re-fashioning. Turn one thing into another. Re-fit or re-fashion an old gown into something you would wear again. Re-trim a hat for a new outfit, or re-shape a modern hat to be a historical hat. Re-purpose the fabric from an old garment (your own or a commercial one) into a new garment.

My Old garment is an old white linen sideless surcote with trim. Yeppers, the poor old thing had holes from catching on everything it came up against…fence? yep nice hole on the side…tree bark? oh triple yeah, good sized hole in the bum region… I tore it apart and have put it in the wash with dawn dish soap and ammonia to get rid of those stubborn horse arena stains and permanent ink fades from having a small child years ago think she needed to draw a daisy..good thing I caught her before she got too far…whewww…only a small black/grey stain now years later…

As the St. Birgitta’s cap is rather dainty It won’t take much fabric to make one, leaving me large hunks to eventually embroider something totally medieval on for a ladies sewing bag, or a set of “Pockets” to hide under a new surcote…yeah, yeah, I know..not 14th century period, but this is me not giving a rip…I have wide hips, so hiding things under the skirts won’t be a problem..

It got my pattern and instructions at:, which were not too hard to follow and had pictures. This lady has a lot of really good tutorials for the medieval lady’s needs..go take a look…

Once the linen was white again and smelled better too, I dried it on high to re-shrink it then Ironed out the smaller pieces so that it would make pinning the pattern and cutting out easier.

Now was the time to get the decision done about whether or not to hand sew the pieces or machine sew them, also came the decision to machine or hand embroider the brow band and center seam…hmmm…..This may take longer to deliberate upon…talking to myself again…sigh…Machine Sewn it is! Embroidery can come later.

So to get an idea of what this simple cap looks like I went out and found it on several websites…but if you do a google search on St. Birgitta’s Cap you’ll find it…

Pretty, eh what? hand sewn linen with hand embroidered lace insertion stitches down the center back seam and all around the border of the forehead strap…also what looks to be gathered and smocked at the back of the cap near the nape of the neck…nice.


Okay, Mine is not so pretty. It is of course good enough at first glance and I can embroider it later to make it purty…All machine sewn of course, I do plan on one day getting off mah duff and hand sewing a St. Birgitta’s Cap, but if you look at the close ups of the pin, I made that and squashed the head good and flat to lay against the cap nicely.

Should you want to join us or just observe the festivities, start here:


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 gold and silver paisley, with a dark lavender/gray under fabric for under-

tunic and 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!

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




Embroidery 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.


  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.



  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

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  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:
  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.



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 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..

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: ; 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: