Vigil at Golden Beltane

Be it known to all who should read this missive that Baroness Sylvie la chardonnière, a matron of the West Kingdom, woman-at-arts to Master Leo Diogenese, having been invited to become a Laurel of the realm by the late King Miles and Queen Ariela will sit vigil on Friday night, April 29, the feast day of Saint Catherine of Siena. With all humility she begs a boon of all that they should come and visit with her during this Vigil with private words of wisdom and well wishes for her to contemplate before her ceremony on Saturday during the court of King Marc and Queen Patricia.

How now Brown Gown?

Brown velvet gown started March 29, 2016. Finished April 23, 2016.

For my laurelling ceremony I want to wear a gown over my kirtle. I lucked upon a great deal on brown cotton velveteen at $3.20/yd. So I got 10 yards of it.

This is going to be a brown velvet gown with a center front opening which will be held closed with hook and eye at the bodice (open on the skirt). The gown will have a waist seam and very wide sleeves (which can be folded back). The sleeves and the skirt will be lined in black cotton velveteen. The neck and the hem will also be bound with black velveteen. For this dress I’m going to use stuffed box pleats as shown in “The Queen’s Servants” page 46.

The sleeves will be very wide but I want the seam to be at the underarm (lined up with the side seam) and end up at the bottom of sleeve drop at the wrist. For the sleeve, I want a very wide sleeve which can be worn down (to the back of my knuckles) or can be rolled up partially(~3-4 inches) or half way up the arm. When rolled back I want the rolled back portion to sit flat against the sleeve it’s rolled up against. When I was fitting the sleeve I found the if I used a basic flared sleeve the rolled back portion didn’t sit flat. To fix this I updated the sleeve to go straight after it flairs out enough for the depth of the sleeve I want (see pattern).

Originally I thought I’d do a train.. but I finally decided against it. Realistically the number of times I’d wear the gown with the train down is approaching one and it seems silly to spend time and effort developing a pattern for and then sewing a feature I’d never use.

Inspirational Images

Continue reading How now Brown Gown?

Early Tudor White Partlet

Partlet V2.  Closer.

Partlet V2. Closer.

Planning began February 10, 2015.
Accessory finished March 19, 2016.
V2 finished March 30, 2016.
V3 finished April 17, 2016.


I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at early Tudor (1488-1515) pictures from France and Brittany and I’ve noticed quite a few of them have something white at the neckline. I believe that to be a partlet (sometimes called a gollar). Most of the time I see this under the kirtle layer. Occasionally I see it over the kirtle. In images from France/Brittany I’ve only seen the white partlet under the gown (in some Italian images the white partlet can be seen over the outer gown). Occasionally I’ll see the black partlet worn over the gown.. but the black partlet will be a different accessory with its own post.

My son is 2 and I tend to pick him up and carry him quite a bit so although I believe it would be correct to attach the partlet with pins (though I do boggle at trying to do work with pins that will come out and/or poke you) I’m going to make mine with ties instead.

The plan:
I want to make a white linen partlet from two layers of light weight linen ( IL020).
I will setup my pattern to eliminate shoulder seams.
(v1) This will be sewn closed under the arms and tied closed at the center front.
(v2 & v3)This will tie under the arms and be sewn closed at the center front.
This style of partlet does not have a collar.
I’ll wear this over my chemise but under my kirtle.
Continue reading Early Tudor White Partlet

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

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