Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Quintavia Defender Cloaks

I live in a Shire.

Specifically the Shire of Quintavia in the Central Region of the East Kingdom in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

We're a freakin' huge Shire. We have over 175 paid members within our borders. We cover the entire center of Massachusetts, and we are surrounded by baronies. 
The towns and cities which are encompassed by the Shire of Quintavia SCA Inc
The Shire of Quintavia, SCA East Kingdom

But we are not a barony. We don't have the Baron and Baroness to have Champions but our people are no less worthy of tournaments and accolates for their skill, so it was decided in 2014 we would have Defenders. So we had a little tourney event in July and I volunteered to make the regalia. 

And because I can't do things small I made half circle cloaks in thirds with the chevrons in green and white like our heraldry with appliqued on in gold wool felt crossed symbols of that aspect of Defense.

Shire of Quintavia SCA Inc Heraldry
Quintavia's Heraldry

Which was all well and good but we were doing five: one each for Archery, Arts and Sciences, Fencing, Heavy List, and Thrown Weapons.

I got the outer skins done by the event but not the lining for the event, showed off the half progress and got swept up into the summer event season. Then in late August 2014 we had a fencing competition so I finished out the fencing one (after Pennsic in the midst of moving to at that time I didn't know where too...) and then the person who won left before it could be presented.

So I packed them up in a box and put them in storage. Then this year I took them out for the small task of lining and adding cords and realized somehow they had gotten damp and the white was hopelessly mildewed and the felt applique were ruined as well....

There are no tears in sewing!

So two weeks before the event I got to basically remake them. I am very proud that all my points line up. That is a skill I learned from my dear departed Great Aunt Mary and quilting.

Unfortunately this year the event was opposite Palio di Stonemarche and I had obligations to Contrada Ferrari so I couldn't go to the much bigger now St Jean Baptiste Tourney and day event.

So I finished up the new outer skins, embroidered the symbols and packed them off to my friend Rachel's house to be lined and have ties put in. I've never actually seen the finished ones. But here are the pictures I took of them in progress:

Look at those points! So well lined up!
The Archery Quintavia Defender Half Cloak


The Arts and Sciences Defender Half Cloak

The Heavy List Quintavia Defender Half Cloak
The Thrown Weapons Quintavia Half Cloak

I am very proud of the design and hope to someday win back the right to wear the Arts and Sciences cloak. We shall see...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

More Pelicans! A Hood for his most excellent Excellency Xavier

This time I created a hood for Master Juan Lazaro Ramirez Xavier- former Baron of Stonemarche and my SCA big brother.

Xavier, as he's known, with his beautiful wife Maria were brought before the king at Great Northeastern War and given writs to contemplate joining the Order of the Pelican.

I would not be in the SCA without Xavier.

My household, House Strangewayes, would not exist without Xavier.

It was Xavier and Maria's wedding that a young Mistress Iulia Agricola (formerly Elinor Strangewayes) attended which hooked her, then her childhood friend Simona, and then Simona's work friend me on the SCA. And it's been encouragement and support for us and a legion of other newcomers that he and Maria undertook during their decade as Baron and Baroness Stonemarche.

You know those posts I have about Palio? Palio is his idea. His baby. They also established the newcomer tour at Birka. They first introduced me to Sir Kyppen's YouTube videos on being a chatelaine by holding a class about these videos at Harper's Retreat.

So needless to say we wanted to give back. Stonemarche is the home of our hearts, and a huge reason for that is Xavier and Maria's work as Baron and Baronessa.

So on to the project! He wanted a hood, as he overheats easily, instead of a full cloak and cap of maintenance. We also had a two week window due to Pennsic. So I sent him a sketch of what I was thinking:

Red linen hood, with gold silk lining and red jewels and embroidered pelicans.

how hard can it be?
A simple hood with red cabochons for the blood drops around the hem and two embroidered pelican roundels

We made a few modifications, he was worried that the red jewels would not stand out against the red linen so he suggested gold balls behind the jewels as gold balls are part of his heraldry.

Pennsic gave me a chance to shop for materials. The gold silk which was too heavy to line the hood was perfect for the gold silk Pelican giornea which Lady Simona bat Leon was making for Maria from the lovely new fabric and notions vendor in Poison Pen Press's old spot. Booth 63 I believe. Instead I got the silk at home at Sewfisticated and Xavier ordered the red linen from fabric-store.com.
The things that make this hood are the jewels, which I got at Cabochons on Bow Street #19. Run by the amazing (Mistress, Countess, all around awesomeness) Arastorm the Golden and her daughters Willow and Kat. They had not just teardrop jewels, but I could pick from red faceted jewels or red cabochons! They came with the fittings and Willow gave me a crash course in sewing them on. Plus, they are from Stonemarche!


I copied a hood that he already had which was made based on Cynthia Virtue's hood pattern. The one he had the buttons were sewn on the very edge and the buttonholes handsewn through both layers.

I basically cut the same shapes for the outside as the lining. On the lining squared off the back of the hood instead of making a tail. The only thing that wasn't fully lined was the liripipe (the long tail) which we measured at 41" long on him, to give just the right amount of drape when the tail is tucked into his belt. So I cut a 4 1/2 inch wide by 42" strip for the liripipe. More on the liripipe later.

The hardest part of this were the appliques. The thing that made the hood though, were the appliques.

I first cut out a template out of a folder for the heavier paper weight the finished size of my circles. I then cut out ten circles with a quarter of an inch seam allowance around the edges. I then proceeded to use ALL THE STEAM! I wet down the circle, placed the template in the center and folded up the steam allowance carefully and ironed it down around the edges. (Pictures forthcoming) I take this technique from quilting circles.

The first one I serged around in red, but there were two difficulties in that. First, serging tiny circles is a maddening task, and second, the serging didn't do what I wanted it to, which was give me an even guide to hand sew against. Instead, it betrayed me and showed in an ugly manner around the ironed edge. So I banished that circle and cut a new one.

One little, two little, three little circles... Balls!
The finished ironed silk circles
Then I added the findings, snussled the jewels into them, and played around more with placement.
More spaced out. Less work. I felt it didn't look right.

More circles! This is the right look!
Then I got to hand sew around the wee little balls.
Here are the mistakes I made doing this:
  1. I should have sewed the gores in first, but I was intimidated to do that, so I procrastinated.
  2. I didn't use silk pins so I then had the smooth out the silk from the fat quilter's pins I used.
  3. I agreed to applique circles in the first place.
Finished sewing on the circle! Now to embellish
How it looked from the back... at first.

The finished applique
After the stitching around it, I did a back stitch in gold and whipped around it in white.

Due to the different fabrics they sort of "puffed" when I finished them. So I put a circle of red wool felt (left over from Viking Sailor Moon) behind it to keep the convex shape and give more of a "ball" look to the appliques.

A note on the motivational cocktail:
It's a motivational cocktail! A Fortune must while sewing!
Syele von Heidelberg made me an awesome boozy milkshake from vanilla ice cream, cocoa and cookie butter from Trader Joe's and vodka! And it had a cool straw!

I sew (on a deadline) better when a little buzzed, it gets me over some of my hesitations and have Brilliant Ideas (tm)! (I once came back tipsy from a Halloween party, drafted and made a Venetian gown and wore it to Crown Tourney the next morning. I looked FABULOUS)

In this case I had a Brilliant Idea (tm) about the liripipe. Xavier, for all his noble qualities also has a great sense of fun and whimsy. So I was determined to hid the squeaker from a squeaky toy in the tip of the liripipe.

Which of course meant I got to go to Wal-Mart and look like a lunatic squeaking various items in the pet toy aisle to find the right pitch of squeak.

Turns out - squeaky toys are harder to open than you'd think.

The way my mother's 8 lbs Malte-Poo goes through them I figured no problem, this thing will give up it's squeaker easy. NOPE. I had to eventually stab it to death.

Brilliant Idea (tm)
Squeaky squeaky murder

Back to assembly!

I have done these hoods before - but every time I get intimidated by the gores, look up Alysaundre's Perfectly Pointed Gore Technique and wonder why I get intimidated by the gores. They came out perfectly, no having to rip out and try again on any of the four gores.

I stitched the long liripipe strip to the outer hood, folded everything and ironed it, sketched a half moon shape at the tip and stitched up the liripipe and down the center back.

I stitched the tip of the back of the hood together, left a generous 6 inch space and then stitched down the back of the neck as well. I then matched them both up and stitcked around the edge of the hood and around the cape edge. This uses a lot of pins, but worked out really well. Then I pulled it right side out through the slit and sewed that up by hand. Now it's more ironing, because linen NEEDS to be ironed and silk takes so beautifully to an iron.

It came to the night before and I sewed on the buttons which I'd found at a local Jo-Ann's which looked like period metal buttons. The young lady at the checkout also let me use every coupon they had going so it cost me about $5 for $20 worth of buttons. I stitched them to the edge of the fabric about every inch, tightening to ever 3/4 of an inch around the curve of the neck.

The intention was to do handsewn buttonholes through the fabric. But... that looked terrible and I was doing it on site the date of the event. For some reason the silk and linen did not want to cooperate and it looked like a small rodent had chewed a hold through the garb.

So I changed tactics. I had three hours, and I had seen a technique for turkish garb making thick thread loops and doing a buttonhole stitch around it. This site calls it the buttonhole bar stitch.
From rocksea.org Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials
Instead of doing it here in the middle of the fabric I did it on the very edge with red embroidery floss and when done correctly the loops don't even twist!

I was able to get the loops done in plenty of time for court and they looked fabulous!

The below photos are from Lady Estefania del Bosque who did a magnificent job photographing the day.

I LOVE Marias face here
Her Majesty places the hood around his shoulders

Xavier, His Majesty Omega, and Her Majesty Ethedreda

Xavier, Maria (and her gorgeous gold giornea), His Majesty Omega and her Majesty Etheldreda
Master Juan Lazaro Ramirez Xavier
Here you can see the one handbound buttonhole I managed to finish. The Pelican embroidery did not make it to the event, but will be added later.

I didn't tell him ahead of time about the squeaker. I told a couple other people, but not him. So after he was done with court some rapscallion squeaked him. It was huge hit.

More about the event:

It was a beautiful day at King's and Queen's Equestrian.

Inspired by Pennsic my cohort Lady Bianca Anguisola and I made a big effort to have as much of a period pavilion as possible.

Isn't she just lovely folks?
We borrowed the tent from a friend of Simona's and brought our wood tables, wood benches and period servingware. We served a simple but period lunch and had some great fellowship.

And aside from the vigils we were the place to be
It helps to have a war kitten!
Zeus (the cat) and Munchkin (the dog) were great entertainment

Lady Este offered to do a photoshoot with us so... we couldn't resist.

Some of House Strangewayes: Lady Lysken die Waeyer, Lady Cecily Wyndham, Lady Elvira Ballesteros, Myself- Lady Fortune St Keyne, and Lady Bianca Anguisola

Things quickly escalated...

Drama Queens

The Hills are Alliiiiiiiiiiive!!!!!!!!


As you can see, my household are a super serious bunch.
My dress is based off several portraits in the 1520s made for Pennsic out of some wonderfully soft lurex striped fabric from Jo-Ann's and the lower sleeves are out of velvet. The camicia is from my Birka dress for the Queen's Celestial Challenge - which reminds me I need to do a post on that dress. Bianca has a 1550s back side lace gown and her dramatic walking veil. Elvira is in a 1530s gown which is scandelously under dressed without sleeves (the hussy!). Cecilly is in a similar dress out of gold key because she wanted to be in on the Italian flavor of the day and Lysken, who has to be different, is in a Roman outfit, while technically still Italian from several hundred years in the past.
A wonderful day all the way around!