Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pelicans and Great Northeastern War - Mistress Deirdre de Planchette

Years ago, a friend was making a Pelican cloak for someone, and the full elevation outfit, and vending GNE and time was running out for it to be finished, so I spent a dreary overcast Saturday morning sewing down trim and adding the little garnet blood droplets to the Pelican cloak to be presented to Master Peter the Red.

I didn't know Peter then, I knew his wife a little, but I knew of his reputation in the archery community as a teacher and master of his craft. Since then, Peter has become my friend and I was reminded of that overcast Saturday as I sat this past year in my encampment finishing a dress for another Pelican-to-be.

Mistress Deirdre de Planchette with their Majesties Omega and Etheldreda
Great Northeastern War 2015

Let me tell you about Deirdre. Lady Deirdre de Planchette was the Exchequer of the Barony of Stonemarche for a LOOOOOOOOONG time. Which means she's been the person getting the 2,000 SCAdian cats who attend Birka swiftly, accurately, and efficiently through gate each year. (The folks from Pennsic Troll came up to Stonemarche and modeled Pennsic's system after hers)

And you never see her. She sits in the back room counting, sorting paperwork, making sure everything one else has breaks and has everything they need. Not to mention being responsible for the funds it takes to run such an event, and all the other events held in Stonemarche.

She has given to the Society in more ways, fostering newcomers, fostering the arts, and never seeking attention to herself, just doing and doing well.

So when the call went out from her daughter to help out with Deirdre's vigil and Pelican ceremony my household wanted to help. So Simona bat Leon and I volunteered to make her dress.

Deirdre's colors are blue and red so a bliaut was born: baby blue summer weight wool with red silk dupioni lined sleeves, red silk neckline yoke and trim. Lady Anastasia of the Oaks made the most gorgeous red and white silk trim for the dress and belt. (I kept petting it, it was so soft).

A quietly elegant dress for a quietly elegant lady.

I used a variation on this bliaut pattern by Adrienne Dandy. The pattern is simple but striking and I wanted the fabric to speak for itself.

We cut the fabric out on the Camelot Common House pool table (I'm sure that's why they got that thing, for fabric cutting). The edges are all serged inside and the lower sleeve is entirely lined in the red silk.

Isn't she lovely folks?
Full length shot of the dress with my lovely assistant Simona bat Leon
A shot of the silk trim being applied
The trim was terrifying to cut, as I know how hard Anastasia worked on it. But it looks so magnificent on the red silk backdrop. The trick is sewing across the trim first in two parallel lines and cutting between them.

Ok maybe not Doom
Simona and the sleeve - what ironing! And she's a serging machine!
The sleeve is in two parts, the top portion is a trapezoid for the upper arm and I sewed down a strip of silk there at the top edge of the arm band then folded it back over the sewn edge, applied the trim and zig-zagged down the part that would be in the selvedge attached to the lower fuller sleeve.
 At some point I will do a keyhole neckline tutorial. Today is not that day, I'm sorry darlings.

The silk facing applied to the neckhole
Handsewing down the neckline facing
Adding a little hint of embroidery around the edges to pull in the red and white of the trim
 The embellishment was done by backstitching in red using 3 strands of embroidery floss around the edges and whip stitching white around those back stitches, just like I did with the bow on my Viking Sailor Moon dress. I'm a novice at embroidery and am a bit of a one trick pony right now.

Simona and I presented the dress to Deirdre during her vigil during Saturday of the war. (Once we were done hemming it in camp...)

The evening court (there were like 5 courts at the three day war) they inducted her as a Pelican. The bycocket was made by her daughter Kiaya based on Agnolo Gaddi's fresco of the Legend of the True Cross in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence circa 1380. It's her first bycocket!
You have to look hard for her - for a while I was calling her "St Helena Not Appearing in this Fresco"

Deirdre and Baroness Megan Laine, first Baroness Stonemarche

You may now greet your order - shot of the back of the dress

The scroll was a happy accident - it features what looks like the dress - but no one had seen it yet! The choice for light blue wool was made very late in the game due to fabric availablity. Mistress Eleanore did a fabulous job on it. 

Illumination by Lady Eleanore MacCarthaigh
I'm very pleased with this project and of the inclusion of this lovely lady into the Order of the Pelican.

Oh, and while we were in court - two rapscallions named Juan Lazaro Ramirez Xavier and Maria Pagani were given writs to go on vigil for inclusion in the Order of the Pelican themselves... so guess who got to make more Pelican regalia? Simona and I!

But that's for another post tentatively titled - Love is Appliqueing Circles

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Scandelously Practical: Italian Drawers - Class Handout

This is the handout for my most recent version of this class taught at Pennsic 44.

I had never taught before at Pennsic and was very nervous. Then I kept watching people show up for my class... and got even more nervous. Laurel wreaths.... terrifying laurel wreaths were adorning (turned out to be LOVELY) people attending MY CLASS.

It was a packed house and both sessions I taught this had at least one male in the room (you go guys!). I've had some discussions on drawers with people both in class and out and will be updating and further researching as well.

And yes, Lady Urtatim, I took out the word Turkish.

Scandalously Practical: 
Italian Drawers


Lady Fortune St. Keyne
Shire of Quintavia, East Kingdom
Saint Fortune @ gmail.com

Flip Up SKIRT!

Venetian Courtesan Diversarum Nationum Habitus (Padua, 1589) by Pietro Bertelli,
According to Cesare Vecellio in his Clothing of the World (c.1590) once dress styles were more influenced by Spanish fashion and the skirts came out further from the body through the use of stiffened petticoats or farthingales (verdugado), the trend of wearing linen or silk drawers began.
How precisely this developed is unknown, but courtesans were known for adopting Islamic styles and men’s-styles. An extant example are patterned after men’s style breeches, embroidered with mottos such as “voglio il core” or “I want the heart”.
Drawers, also called calze or brache, quickly caught on for the more respectable ladies. In Mode a Firenze it is mentioned that Eleanor of Toledo (1522 –1562) possessed a pair of drawers in red silk taffeta, and Maria de' Medici (1573 –1642) had many pairs were made up in splendid gold brocade as the new Queen of France (1610). Englishman Fynes Moryson observed in his travels in Europe (May 1591 to May 1595) that “city” virgins and gentlewomen of many places wear silk and linen “breeches” under their skirts, published in his Itinerary (1617). By 1625 according to Mary Laven's Virgins of Venice nuns were wearing drawers.
Since the origins are murky I’ve looked into what very bare evidence of Ottoman and other Near/Middle Eastern undergarments for women were. The pants worn under clothing have many names: Shalwar,  salwar, or Sarwal/Serouel all are similar in cut and seem to have evolved into drawers, as evidenced by the wide stance. Often these were of thin fabric for women and white, but no slit that we know of. These are believed to have been linen or cotton and are depicted as being very light or sheer.
The extant examples included here are from the early 1600s, so we can only speculate on earlier uses of these garments. However, if study of period costume has taught me one thing: our ancestors were far cleverer than we give them credit for. 
An Indelicate Conversation about Delicate Underthings –

Now, let’s talk about why you should wear them: because most people have thighs that touch. Drawers, especially split drawers are a more porta-privvy friendly option to bike shorts and they can be made of natural fibers.

Personally, I have one pair for every day of an event. Since, you know, they are underwear!

Period Drawers –

·         Wide stance, much wider than modern pants (see extant)

·         Gathered into a thin waistband with a tie through eyelets, descriptions of Spanish drawers list the ties and agelets separately

·         Either gathered into a cuff at the bottom or embroidered with bobbin lace

·         Embroidery is both monochrome and polychrome

·         Decoration on the slit (seems impractical…)


How I Do It – (aka I’m going to an event this weekend, let’s not kid ourselves here)


Meet your new friend, the Pajama Pants pattern!

You need an easy, no frills, pajama pant pattern. No pockets, not for stretch fabric

·         Butterick B5829

o   Includes a pattern for cloth slippers (period looking for shoes!)

·         McCall’s M2476

·         McCall’s M6252 

·         Simplicity 5314 (plus size)

Yardage: I usually purchase 3 yards of fabric, but I am a bigger girl, am tall and a lot of that height is leg. I use the leftover to make a simple fabric pouch to tuck the dirty pair in once worn and toss that pouch into my garb bin.

Cut out the pattern at least one size larger than you would normally wear, you want a little room, but these aren’t harem pants, don’t go crazy.

Measure from your waist to about your knees, or a few inches longer, add 2 inches to this measurement and fold up the pants pattern at this measurement (measuring on the pattern from the markings for the waistband.

Ignore the layout on how to cut them out on fabric. Be a rebel!


Line up the inner thigh portion with the fold, this is important. You don’t want a seam here, it’s not a terrible thing, but it will improve the experience. Add a couple inches to the top (dashed lines), this is for adjustment later.

Cut out the two legs, You’ll have two pieces with a U shape in the middle. Finish the U shape first, either with a strip of bias tape or by folding over the center.

Sew each leg to itself along the long side. You’ll end up with two tubes.

Now, the goofy step! You’re going to put them on without the waistband.

Cut a strip of elastic so it’s comfortable for your waist. I recommend non-roll elastic. Put on your two leg tubes, put the elastic around your waist over the tubes and safety pin, and adjust at will! You will likely end up with more excess at the front than the back. Go through the rhythms of daily life, walk, sit, squat, make sure it doesn’t pull overmuch. Leave the crotch loose, not tight up against the body, but not to your knees, both situations will leave you uncomfortable.

Once the waist is adjusted, mark with chalk and cut off the excess. Leave 3 inches or so to fold over to create a casing to house the elastic, this depends on the width of your elastic, I usually use 1-1 ½ inch wide. I always recommend using elastic as a backup for drawstring pants. No one needs the drawstring to fail say, when running to court.

There are two ways you can do this next step,  you can either have each leg be independent on the elastic waistband –or– stitch together the first 4 inches  at the center front and at the center back, do a tight zigzag at the split to reinforce this spot. Add two button holes or thread eyelets to run your drawstring through.

Double check the bottom measurement and adjust and finish the cuffs. Add the drawstring and elastic Add bobbin lace for fun. Embroider the cuffs. Write cheeky sayings!

Now, if you’re more advanced at pattern drafting…

Lay out your pieces (or just draft pant legs) with a wider stance to mimic extant garments. (That’s the goal eventually right?)


And if you really want to go crazy –

A pattern for salwar from Master Rashid of the East:

Pattern my Master Rashid for Salwar from Dar Anahita:

Extant Drawers (also called Calze or Brache)


1.    Museo del Tessuto, Prato c. 1630
Extant Drawers 1: "I Want The Heart"

Embroidered with words and a double eagle blue on white linen and the bottom of the leg bound

·         Linen breeches embroidered with the words 'voglio il core' (I want the heart) in double running stitch in blue linen thread

·         The leg is bound with a blue ribbon (probably linen) and the opening is on the inside leg

2.    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Accession Number: 10.124.4
Due to the slit stopping halfway down, could have been mens (or a helpful later "fix")

Detail of the polychrome and metallic embroidery

·         Linen drawers with embroidered border in silver and silver-gilt

·         At the bottom of the legs bobbin lace worked in metal threads and two different brown silks

·         Embroidered opening from waistband to crotch

3.    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York c.1600

Accession Number: 10.124.3
If you are looking for these, the Met calls them "trousers", because that makes sense to them....

Detail of the embroidery

·         This pair is marked as being "possibly for a man"

·         Linen drawers embroidered with polychrome and metal threads, some of which are missing, showing the original ink used to mark the pattern

·         Polychrome bobbin lace at the bottom of the leg opening

·         Drawstring waist, missing the cord




Extant Drawers:


Pattern my Master Rashid for Salwar from Dar Anahita:

Middle Eastern Garb:

Persian Underwear by Baroness Rozalynd of Thornabee on Tees:

Turkish Garb Overview by Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina:

Maghribi Women's Costume (Spain to Tunisia) by Urtatim bint 'abd al-Karim al-hakim al-Fassi        


Pattern from a Civil War re-enactor:

Additional :

Article on Courtesans and their clothing quoting Margaret F. Rosenthal: