The Five Labors of Finn and the sparkly thing I made

This year for our Tir Y Don Baronial Birthday and Baronial Investiture there was a little competition known as the “Five Labors of Finn”. Finn, our Baronial Mascot is a Red Dolphin. The competition ran with the premise that our mascot met a mermaid while swimming in the ocean and fell in love instantly. In order to woo her, he gathered up things he thought a mermaid would like and brought them to us to make something as he doesn’t have hands. Those things were divided up and sold in $5.00 baggies so that we could raise funds and have a fun competition.

It took me the better part of 2 months to work on this in little bits. All of it is hand sewn onto scrap upholstery fabric given to me by a friend who was cleaning out her garage.

I only needed to use 5 of the items provided, and create a document detailing which items were used and how, and the important part the historical inspiration for the item I created. This competition isn’t based in our usual Arts & Sciences category of needing historically accurate documentation, it is after all a dolphin falling in love with a mermaid. From start to finish I knew I wanted to make something that would have a practical use, but was as sparkly as a mermaids tail. So…A bag it was. Inside the baggie was different wool yards in bright colors, wood beads, Atlantian coins, and a few gold chains. I used it all, and added more of my own flotsam and jetsam. To read the full documentation of my journey to a lovely Bag you can download the PDF here. Raised Figure Embroidery for the Five Labors of Finn

setting the scenes with seaweed borders


Where to learn the Techniques

Raised Figures

Mastering the Art of Embroidery by Sophie Long

Sophie’s book contains a dozen techniques for the embellishment of textiles ranging from Crewel to Smocking. Each technique has samples in full-color glossy photographs and well-done drawings in step by step sequence to give you a good start.  The relevant section of the book for this documentation is the chapter on Stump-work. I found the usual needle lace, detached and raised surface stitches, but the really important part is the Figures primer. In the Figures primer, you find step by step instructions on how to do the raised figures that are the underpinnings of raised figure embroideries. She covers the body, face, hair, and hands.

Raised Embroidery: A practical guide to decorative stumpwork by Barbara and Roy Hirst

In this book, Barbara and Roy Hirst guide you along the path of stumpwork embroidery with some history of the craft, pictorial examples and step by step instructions on the various techniques that make stumpwork such an art-form.

The Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery by Jane Nicholas

Jane Nicholas is touted to be the best in her work and you can clearly see it in the examples she created to teach this technique. The title of her book is rather misleading, however as her book only covers the plants, animals, and insects but not the human figures that are often the central technique that people have come to know as stumpwork. The beautiful Elizabethan Figures that are central to her original piece are not covered in this book. It will, however, teach you the varied techniques needed to create the natural world in the background of your figures. She also helps you use those techniques in a variety of craft projects to beautify your home and needlework basket.

Stumpwork Seasons by Kay &Michael Dennis

Kay and Michael Dennis give you a really good start to finish guide to stumpwork through the seasons. They start you off with all tools, materials, and threads needed to do the lovely projects pictured in the pages. Besides the stitches and techniques for the surface embroidery, they guide you to staining or painting the backgrounds to give a more natural and realistic looks to your work. A good book for those that need color pictures to guide step by step.

Close up of the Mermaid Raised Figure. No Hair yet.

The Mermaid tacked down. Still no hair yet.

Tube Coral beginning the surround of the pearl beds.

Finn and his mermaid. Still no hair yet.

The Mermaid sitting pretty on her sandy mound..Yay! She has a full head of hair!

Pearl bed filled in with pearls, shells and lacy corals.

A closer look at the Mermaid.

The Finished Bag, Hoard Side View.

The Finished Bag Mermaid side View.

The Finished Bag Pearl Bed View.


Persona Pentathlon Atlantia A&S Festival 2018

When you’re creative, but uber lazy like I am, it takes a real hard push to finish research, writing, and making things for a competition. I have jumped off the deck with the crazy, and entered myself into my Kingdom’s Arts & Sciences competition. Mainly the Persona Pentathlon.
First Item on my list of to do’s was my Bruise Juice Project. A research paper on Medieval Herbcraft, mainly about the herbs I use in a concoction called bruise cream, tools and herbs used to make it, and whether or not a medieval woman would have been able to learn about the simple herbs, and how to use them. It is finished and emailed off to the judges.
Second is making a few jars of the bruise cream using the juice, and other ingredients and how we can still make creams and salves today the same way they were made in the middle ages. I have gotten the Documentation typed up and Printed and two little jars of the cream made from the oil.
Third up on the list is a 14th century alms purse Pattern and how I couldn’t find a commercial pattern for the trapezoidal dome topped alms purse, so with the tidbits of measurements from museums I drafted one, and then had to change it to look more in keeping with the extant items it was being drafted from. All of the Documentation is written up and Printed and the Photography is done, and the little pouches made.
Fourth on the list is a 14th century studded girdle belt Blank. The little belt is made, documentation is written and printed and all photography finished and printed as well.  Fifth and finally are the loose leaves (pages) of a cordiform bestiary. March third is coming up, and I have just a few pages of the bestiary pages left to paint and the documentation all written up and printed.  When I am done with the competition I will be posting all of the documentation and patterns here in pdf format for easy downloading.

Wish me luck? I truly think I’m gonna need it.

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.