Eyelet template

On my kirtles I follow Festive Attyre’s “The Zen of Spiral Lacing” guide for spiral lacing hole placement. To do that I created a quick-and-dirty template which makes marking eyelets much easier.

This is an index card which is marked in 3/4″ increments except at the end which is 1/2 that. Above these marks, 1/4″ from the edge of the card I punched holes in the card. This makes marking of eyelets much easier than trying to mark with a simple ruler.

The top awl is a commercial awl I bought from JoAnne’s. It’s nice.. but it make TINY eyelets. I suppose if I’d had a good aiglet on the laces this wouldn’t be an issue.. but I didn’t have a good aiglet and it was an issue. So my husband, who loves me very much, jimmy’d around in the garage and came up with a bigger awl for me to use to make eyelets. The new awl is a large diameter screwdriver which he ground down to a point. The eyelets on the new dress are HUGE in comparison to the old.

In pursuit of a better kirtle

Hannah Brown worsted wool sleeveless waisted kirtle started January 17, 2016. Finished March 5, 2016.

I lost 10 lbs, gained 60 lbs, had a baby, lost 60 lbs and refit my bodice. I’ve had time since the last time I made a fitted kirtle to consider my construction methods and design choices and to make some new choices based on new information.**


breastbandSmock – The first layer of linen worn against the body. Often called a shirt, shert, hemd or chemise.

Kirtle – (kirtle, cotehardie, cote, gothic fitted dress, whatever you want to call it) The support layer. A dress worn over the smock. It supports and shapes the breasts. In middle/lower class this may be the only dress worn. The type of kirtle described here is appropriate for the late 15th/early 16th century (eg. 1480s-1540s possibly earlier/later). This is later (1540s and later) sometimes referred to as the petticoat.

Gown – The fancy dress worn over the kirtle. Made of expensive fabrics and sometimes fur lined.

Breast Band – (outlined in dotted lines in image to the left) In the kirtle the breasts are kept up by having the pattern tightly fitted to the body. There is a band about 2-3 inches wide which runs below the breasts on the rib cage. If this band is nice and tight and on-grain it’s impossible for the breasts to “droop”. Above the band the breasts are shaped by the space available in the pattern and the tautness of the fabric both from the side seam and from the shoulder seam. Below the band the pattern should at most skim the the body. I do not recommend shaping the body below the breast band.

Continue reading In pursuit of a better kirtle

Laurel offer

At West Kingdom October Crown, on October 3, 2015 directly after my apprenticing to Master Leo Diogenese, while the ink was still wet on our fealty contract, Their Majesties of the West, Miles Fitzraulf and Ariela Bar Leila invited me to join the Order of the Laurel. By the gracious permission of Their Majesties and Their Highnesses I will be having my Laurel ceremony at West Kingdom Golden Beltane at Their Highnesses, Mark and Patricia’s stepping down, April 30/May 1, 2016.

I would have mentioned it sooner.. but we also bought a house that weekend and I got busy busy busy with packing, moving, unpacking, Thanksgiving, Christmas and finally 12th night.

Now that that’s over with.. back to the sewing.

Things which are oddly similar


Things which are oddly similar:
Huve AKA “St. Brigitta cap” 6th-12th century (upper left)
Two-Tailed cap 14th-15th century (upper right)
Tudor coif 15th-16th century (lower left)
Elizabethan cap 15th-17th century (lower right) from http://www.extremecostuming.com/articlesii/howtowearthecoif.html

This caught my eye a while ago. It seems obvious when you put the images side-by-side.

Whole Grains

I’m on a kick.. and for once it’s a cooking kick, not a sewing kick. So bear with me.

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January 2011, recommend that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains – that’s at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains. Even children need 2 to 3 servings or more.
Where a serving of whole grain is defined as any of the following:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
  • 1 ounce uncooked whole grain pasta, brown rice or other grain
  • 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin
  • 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal
  • 16 grams of whole grain ingredients (ie, in crackers)

Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.

This definition means that 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present to qualify as a whole grain.

Oilseeds and legumes (such as flax, chia, sunflower seeds, soy, chickpeas, etc.) are not considered whole grains by the WGC, the AACC International, or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

I need to get more whole grains. I’ve known this for a while.. I keep hearing “you should eat more whole grain” so we switched to a whole grain bread and use brown rice instead of white rice. But I suspected that wasn’t enough to actually get the 3-5 servings they recommend. Then, a few months ago I bought lunch at a nearby cafe and they had a whole grain salad (Farro with goat cheese and almonds). It was super lovely fantastic. So for the last few months I’ve been experimenting with different grains and different salad recipes (recipes blogged on one of my other blogs under Whole Grain Salads). These salads make a light and filling dinner and even better, work well as lunch for a few days after.

In experimenting with the salads it occurred to me that I don’t really know what I’m doing. I don’t now a whole grain from a stealthed pasta (couscous is NOT a whole grain). I didn’t know that Farro, rather than being a unique species of whole grain, is yet another species of wheat… or that Bulgur, is a form of any wheat, not a special whole grain. So I started to dig.. and lucky you, I like to document what I find so I don’t forget it. So I’m blogging my findings.

This is tangentially related to SCA things since I’m looking at these grains and salads to come up with reasonable period choices for foods. One of my goals is to come up with a plausible salad which could be made a home, and would store in a cooler for a few days (ie, not meat, no diary, nothing that would easily spoil). I’m close.

Continue reading Whole Grains

Largess ideas for men

Duct tape, athletic wrapping tape (Ie for tennis racket handles, good for swords), rattan, roll of the good closed cell foam, haversacks/pilgrim scripts, jewelery (thorshammers, rings, etc), belt tips/buckles/mounts, pilgrim badges, coifs, pillbox hats, fuzzy hats, knives, knife/fork eating sets, napkins, dice, rules for games and game pieces(fox and hen, hafnl, etc), flint and steel, whet stone, pennanular, yards of fabric (wool/linen), hood, …

Sylvie's Secret Feast Plan

The Plan:

This is the skeleton of the plan when I start. To this plan I can add or remove courses and/or dishes. I can move dishes between courses as appropriate. This is only the plan.

Day board(served at 10-12):

Meat soup and/or Vegetarian soup
“bread” for dipping
butter or spread to put on the “bread”


First service (Fill your hunger. Satisfy the feaster.)
Vegetarian dish
Non meat protein (egg, cheese, milk)
Meat dish(smoked meat? Sausage or Chicken)
1-2 Sauce (mustard, or sauces)
This should have large amounts of inexpensive foods. Fill the hunger of the feaster. This is a good place to serve your soup which usually requires few cheap ingredients to make a large amount. Chicken and pork and cheaper cuts of meat may be served here. Also keep in mind any vegetarian diners and offer both a vegetarian dish and possibly a non-meat protein. These can be combined(egg/cheese/spinach tart).
Second service (Interesting dishes with great flavors.)
Meat dish
vegetarian dish
2-3 other small dishes
Filling grain dish(rice, frumenty, bulgar wheat)
This is where you should include your more expensive, or more experimental foods. Things that you want to prepare but you don’t expect the diner to eat much of it (aspic, eel, venison). As an ending you should also include a “filling grain dish” for those diners who have a “hollow leg” and just need something to fill up on.
Third service(Little things to finish.)
Sweet “dessert”
Possibly a drink
This is the closing service. If you’ve properly portioned out your feast, not much of these will actually get eaten. This is the “dessert” course. Modernly we appreciate a sweet something to close.

Consider your dishes. When you serve a course how are you going to send it out? Separate dishes for each thing? A common plate with portions of each dish? Do you have enough serving dishes/spoons to do it that way?

If you’re accommodating vegetarians make sure you can keep the meat juice out of the vegetables (and/or check with known vegetarians and possibly send out separate plates for them).

Make sure you don’t have a coures/feast that is dominated by a single note. IE, the vinegar feast or the “varied piles of grey vaguely meat goo” Aim for variety in textures and flavors. Although you can have chords of flavor throughout the feast make sure those chords aren’t in -every- dish. Ie, a feast with notes of apple cider vinegar and cinnamon in serveral dishs “hangs” together as a complimentary feast.. but don’t have those notes in EVERY dish or it just become boring (and inedible if for example you have someone who is allergic to cinnamon).

I recommend against serving more than one soup in a course. In most cases diners only have a single bowl for the soup. The dayboard is an exception. Since those soups usually go out on a table and the diners self serve and can try each of the different soups and take as much or as little as they deem fit.

After you have written out your feast handout which lists each dish and all of the ingredients in that dish, DO NOT CHANGE ingredients without announcing the change. At one feast I cooked I decided at the last minute to add apple slices (which I had left over from the previous course) into a dish in the second course. Later that evening a diner came to me and told me she had taken one bite of the dish, noticed it had an apple in it and immediately spit it out. It turns out she was allergic to apples and if she hadn’t noticed discrepancy it could have been a potentially fatal error.

If a dish isn’t good, don’t send it out. This can be if it’s not cooked enough, over cooked, too much salt, etc. If you wouldn’t eat it, why would you inflict it on your feasters. Fix it if you can.. undercooked food can cook for longer and become part of the next course… otherwise throw it away.

Unless contacted I normally try and accommodate lacto-ovo vegetarians. That is, those who eat milk, eggs, butter but don’t eat actual meat products.

Some “our furry friends” vegetarians will not eat ANY animal based products. This includes milk, eggs, butter, rennet, etc. Beware that most commercially made cheese uses animal-based rennet. Beware of vegetable based soups that use commercial veggie stocks with a meat based thickener.

Rob Peter to feed Paul: halving feast costs http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/recipes/rprf.sca.feasts.html

Supportive Fitted Under Kirtle

Just a reminder that I have no evidence that this is a “period” practice in ~15th century France (Yes, yes, I know about the Lengberg bra but that’s in Germany/Austria/Bohemia.. not France/Brittany/Netherlands). I just know that I want more support than my current kirtles are giving me and the quickest/easiest fix is to make a small undergarment to do the heavy lifting.

The shape of the under kirtle is based on my most recent adjusted fitting for a 4-panel kirtle. The under kirtle will only extend down to the bottom of the breast band. Unlike my normal kirtle pattern the under kirtle will lace up the sides (I didn’t want the laces to match up between the under kirtle and the kirtle). For the under kirtle I eliminated the center front seam and made the front as a single piece. I probably should have made the back as a single piece but I wanted to be sure to keep the breast band on the straight grain and my back piece doesn’t lend itself easily to that in a single panel. So instead I’ve left the seam in the center back panel.

The under kirtle is made with two layers of linen (because two seems more supportive than one). The eyelets will be pierced through the sides and the seam allowance at the sides (ie, I’m not using a reinforcement strip).

I tried on my V3 mockup and then put my blue kirtle on over the mockup and had my husband mark the neckline in the back. Then I cut the mockup so that the under kirtle will not show under my existing kirtles. This will work for the underkirtle but I think I’ll have to go back and re-do the neckline on the mockup for a V4. The new pattern with the old neckline is just too narrow in the back.

– (done) Cut out two front pieces with no center seam
– (done) Cut out four half back pieces
– (done) Stitch together back pieces to end up with two back pieces with a center seam.
– (done) Connect front to back at sleeve top for outer and inner layers.
– (done) Put right side’s together and then sew around the outer edge connecting front to front and back to back.
– (done) Flip garment right-side-out through the neck opening.
– (done) Nip corners of neck opening and fold seam allowance to inside the garment.
– (done) Hand stitch neck opening.
– (done) Add Eyelets to sides (20 eyelets per side, 40 eyelets total).
– (done-ish) Add sleeves and skirt so that the under kirtle can be worn in place of my current chemise. (stretch goal)

Finished the last eyelet at midnight, 4 days before the event where I plan to wear the garment. I wore the under kirtle around the house for a few minutes and then put on my blue kirtle over the under kirtle. This will work. The under kirtle feels only slightly more restrictive than my normal bra. I’ll wear it on Saturday and confirm that I can tolerate wearing it for a full day.

Since I have 4 days I plan to go ahead and add the sleeves and skirt onto this in lighter weight linen. I like the idea of being able to swap this out for my normal chemise.

[post-mortem: I first wore the garment on 2/14/2015 at the West Coast Culinary Symposium]
I only had time to add the sleeves before the first wearing.. but after that wearing I’ve decided to remove the sleeves and I never did add a skirt.

I wore this garment all day on Saturday and Sunday for the West Coast Culinary Symposium.

On the plus side this kept my girls perky all day and not once did I notice any droop.
On the minus side: I found the left strap was pulling uncomfortably on my shoulder (I have a shoulder impingement which makes the shoulder painful occasionally but this strap made it painful all the time). Also I found that as I moved around through the day (sitting and standing) the lace on the sides also moved. Occasionally this pinched me horribly. I think this happened because the lace was against bare skin. In future I’ll wear this with a chemise and hopefully this will fix the issue.

– (done) The left shoulder strap currently uses 1/2″ seam allowance. I’ll change this to 1/4″ seam allowance giving my shoulder another 1/2″ of movement.
– (done) Remove the sleeves which I’d sewn into the garment and will instead wear this with a chemise.

[second post-mortem: I wore this garment for the second time on 2/21/2015 at the Northern Wolf Tournament]
The tweaks to the shoulder seam fixed the pulling on my shoulder and wearing a chemise under the garment fixed the pinching. I view this as a fantastic success.

[third post-mortem: I wore this all day on Saturday and Sunday at Beltane 5/1/2015]
Towards the end of Beltane weekend I noticed that the underkirtle was pulling and poking me uncomfortably. First because the lace is under the arm the top of the lace has a knot which pokes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that other then resolve that I won’t do side lacing again. I also noticed that the armscye was cutting me uncomfortably across the back of the arm. I think this is cut a smidge high and I’ll recut any followups and give the back of my arm another 1/4″ – 1/2″ wiggle room.

That said the underkirtle was supportive all day. In fact I ended up briefly wearing the underkirle under a t-shirt and I was amazed at what a different shape the underkirtle gives from my normal brassiere.

Making a kirtle to wear under my kirtles

Lengberg_bra_600_years_570I’m faced once again with shrinking out of my fitted kirtle (I know, rough problem to have). This means I again need to re-fit my bodice pattern and make new clothes. I hate that. I mean I have four workable if slightly big dresses which I would like to continue to wear and making all new clothes is a pain.

After thrashing about this for a while and reading a few threads in the Age of the Cotehardie Facebook group I’ve decided instead to make a Lendberg bra dress. That way the .. ahem heavy lifting will be handled by an under garment and I can continue to wear the dresses I have for a while longer. That said.. I recognize that I’m trying to recreate late 15th century French fashions.. and the bras are German/Austrian/Bohemian. I’m fundamentally ok with that. Honestly I’m just looking for something to extend the life of my current dresses while I’m shrinking out of them… though I may be tempted to use this as a support layer going forward.

[Edited to add: Yeah, ok I decided to make a Lengberg bra and I said I was ok with it.. but the more I worked on it the less happy I was with the decision. I finally decided instead to just tackle a whole new fitting and make a kirtle to go under my kirtles. I hate fitting a new kirtle. It takes a long time and is just less zen than straight up sewing. Regardless I finally figured out that’s what I needed to do and I just did it. I did -start- with a duct tape pattern.. but that was not the end of it.]

Since the last time I made a fitted bodice I’ve read a couple of very good articles and plan to try to incorporate those lessons into this fitting.

I use the same pattern for both my German garb and my 15th century kirtles. It makes sense to me as I remain the same shape. The difference is that the 15th century kirtle is fitted to my natural waist (about belly-button level) while the German bodice ends at the bottom of my ribs (about 2 inches above my natural waist).

Problems with previous pattern:
– I believe that I again fitted the pattern with me standing at attention with my shoulders thrown back. This means the dresses made with the pattern were comfortable as long as I was standing upright, but if I slouched or laid down I got a pain in my back in between my shoulder blades from the way the fabric pulled on my body. I want to pay special attention this time to see if I can eliminate this issue.
– The last dress was supportive but I could still wriggle into/out of the dress. I think this is because the under-bust breast band wasn’t actually as tight as it should be. I plan to bring this in. This should have the side effect of making a lace mandatory.
– I believe the armseye on the last pattern was too big. On this one I want to fit closer to the arm and eliminate some of the excess fabric the pattern was forcing me to add into the top of the sleeve.
– I am still dearly in love with short-sleeved kirtles with pin on sleeves. That said, since my son is still in my arms and carried quite a bit I can’t use pin on sleeves for fear of poking/scratching him. This time I may do a full length fitted sleeve. That said, I still want to be able to push the sleeve up to my elbows in case I need to wash dishes.

For this fitting I’m using a zipper on the center front seam to make it easier to get into/out of the dress for iterating on the fitting. This has been super great since it’s nice and fast. The only wrinkle is that the zipper takes up a different amount of seam allowance than the final lace placket will. I’ll need to take that into account when I cut out the final dress. I -think- I just need to add 1/2 seam allowance to the center front seam and I’ll be good.

Continue reading Making a kirtle to wear under my kirtles

Erik’s Waffenrock

erik_waffePlanning began December 9, 2014.
Outfit first worn January 3, 2015.


While working on the outfits for Coenwulf, Katla and Kolskegg I was repeatedly struck by how very cute it would be if I dressed my son, Erik (13 months), in a waffenrock. Especially if he were walking. As fate would have it, Erik started walking about 3 days after his first birthday November 19, 2014. As soon as that happened I knew that I would have to make him a waffenrock that matched his daddy’s waffenrock for 12th night.
Continue reading Erik’s Waffenrock