Tuesday, May 8, 2018

And Now for Something Completely Different: a Sonnet for a Scroll

Some of the best courtesans in the Italian Renaissance were poets. Tulia d'Argona and Veronica Franco for instance. 

And while I've dabbled at the Ottava Rima I am not known as a poet. I like to think I'm good with words though, and when Honig asked me to write words on a Maunche (kingdom level arts and sciences award for the East) scroll she was illuminating for Lady Olivia Baker. 

Olivia and I started around the same time in the SCA and we would see each other across events, her in something ridiculously elaborate and Elizabethan, and myself in something ridiculously elaborate and Italian and we'd give each other the head nod of "the fancy person in my soul recognizes the fancy person in your soul" and go on our way.  But it was always inspiring to see her so for the first scroll I would be composing I wanted it to be special. 

I took a week and a lot of rhyming dictionary time and composed this sonnet: 

“Now comes before the royal Tyger throne,

To heart's and eye's delight, visage aglow:

Lily, gilded, petals resplendent shown.

That every tongue says beauty should look so.

Out of the ancient's painting she hath stepped.

With needle, thread, how fabrics are beguiled,

Also in song and sumptuous fare adept,

And thus the painted banquet she hath styled;

Not from the stars do we such judgment pluck;

Her passion fierce: our Eastern lands are blest.

Her toiled research bears these fruits, not luck.

We now with care perform order’s behest:

The lady's proud livery, so gazed on now.

Accolade rightly earned, Maunches avow.

And so do we, Tsar Ivan and Tsaritsa Matilde, induct our subject Olivia Baker into the Order of the Maunche on this feast day of St. Scholastica, February 10, A.S. 52 at our King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences and Bardic Champions in the Crown Province of Ostgardr.

She loved it, which is the most important part.  And Rowen, Baron of Bhakail and longtime kingdom herald told me I did a great job.  Which really meant something to me. I borrowed heavily from Shakespeare himself and his sonnets. See below for phrases I stole or modified to work:


“Awakes my heart to heart's and eye's delight.”



“That every tongue says beauty should look so.”



“And to the painted banquet bids my heart;”



“Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck;

And yet methinks I have astronomy,

But not to tell of good or evil luck,”

Blest and behest are rhymed in Cymbeline


From Cymbeline: Act V, scene IV:

“His radiant root. Away! and, to be blest,

Let us with care perform his great behest.”



“Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,”

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Being the King's (and the Queen's) Mistress - of the Wardrobe - In Progress

Their Royal Majesties East: Brennan and Caoilfhionn
Photo by Lindsay Nery

There is a book out there that talks about the five "Love Languages" and how you show your love to others. My way of showing others love is sewing for them. True love is appliqueing circles. (Xavier... Antonii...)

Two people I love in the East are Brennan mac Fearghus and Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolain. 

Last fall, at the same Crown Tourney where I became an apprentice, Brennan became our Prince again, and Caoilfhionn our Princess. 

And my Laurel became their Chief of Staff. 

And I was asked to become their Mistress of the Wardrobe. (insert nervous but excited squeeing here)

I knew what the job entailed, having recently watched Zippy and Leda do it for Honig and Ioannes, and my friend Ty doing the job for Ivan and Matilde. 

And then they threw me a curveball. 

They want Byzantine. 


I don't know anything about Byzantine other than most of it looks like blingy boxes or that thing Tom Brady wears on the sidelines to keep warm. 
Image result for tom brady sideline coat
You're still the Greatest of All Time in my eyes Tom.
(Go Pats!)
But. I was promised research help and support from Hypatissa Anna Dokeianina Syrakousina, and she doesn't look like she's wearing blingy boxes, so let's do this. 

I'm going to talk in this post specifically about their Coronation Garments, but I have made other Byzantine for them as well. 

The first thing Anna sent me was a list of words. Words that made ABSOLUTELY no sense to me but with a little research and her page she put together for East Kingdom Coronation, I was able to start down the path. 

We needed a "Khlamys" style outfit for each, including the outer divestesion (almost a dalmatica, but with poofy poofy sleeves gathered into a cuff, the under kamision, two ceremonial cloaks, and a collar for her Highness often called a super humeral. 


Clearly, the only fiber that would do for these outfits would be silk. And Tyrian Purple silk at that.

We ordered fabric from SilkBaron.com with the absolute perfect shade. (This site is danger incarnate, I'm so in love) I consulted Brennan on if he was on board with the plan, but I was still terrified to open the package once it came. 

OMG it's so BRIGHT!

I also had in my stash 4 yards of a burnt orange pearled silk I'd gotten at Fabric Place Basement for $5 a yard. Yeah. $5. This fabric made up the majority of the embellishment fabric. 

I also cheated. I admit it. I cheated. I ordered a sari/saree from Amazon which had roundels already woven into it in the right color. The trick for this is to search for "banarasi" sarees, this will have the woven embellishment you're looking for. Now, this is "Art Silk" which is ARTifcial SILK aka Polyester, but I'm using it for the embellishments on the garment. 

I needed fabric as well for the collar, and found a gorgeous gold jacquard silk remnant at Artee's, a high end home decor fabric store in Hudson, MA. Instead of close to $100/yard it was $12. Sold. SOLD. It was one of those situations where you start to suspect the other shoppers of nefariously plotting to take your find. Yeah, there weren't any other shoppers in the remnants really that day, and they could have cared less about my gold fabric. 

For the under tunics, I got lightweight white linen for hers from JoAnn's, and the heavier weight for his. I also had some burnt orange cotton in my stash to make his pants. 

I cut the roundels out of the saree fabric and found they had a perfect pattern already on them to pearl. After cutting I serged the edges of the roundels. If you go back to Xavier's Pelican Hood post, I did that there as well, the serged edge gives you something to push against as you are appliquing the item down and I find makes it much easier to do. 

There were two Roundels on each shoulder, on the fronts and backs of each divestesion, and the under tunics. 

Serging the edges of the Roundels

One Roundel Pearled - Ah-Ah-Ah!
Only 11 more to go!

Whip Stitched onto the TYRIAN fabric, this is how the extant embellishments were applied.

Jewelry Finding from Michael's Completes the embellishement

They were also on the linen under tunics, but I did not pearl the backs of the under garments following the "Don't Pearl Your Butt" rule of Byzantine Garb

I also cut up the remainder of the saree embellishment and made trim which was used extensively throughout the garments. 

Saree Trim

Trim added to either side of the center embellishment for her divestation

Whip stitching the center embellishment on her divestation on

I made all the outfits in this picture!
Photo by Lindsay Nery

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Well-Dressed Man

Gentle Reader, bear with me, I will make this a full-fledged tutorial once I make a second one of these garments and it's not the weeks before Birka and my mom nearly dying.

So let's talk about Þóðrekr ógæfa or as we call him around House Strangewayes: Tho. 

Tho is my best male friend and the premier model of a line I call "Not TogetherWear". Which is all the garb I end up sewing for the men in my circle and yet, we're not in a relationship. 

I have to keep reminding him to tell women he's not with someone, he's just loved a lot by his friends. 

Usually he wants Viking, around the 10th century, tunics and pants. His entire persona choice was based on what eras wore his definition of pants. I've mostly taught him how to assemble clothes, but the pretty embellishment is still the Fortune Dept. 

Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but I've noticed that there's a huge amount of early period "Viking" tunics out there on guys. It's the SCA equivalent of the sweatshirt, it's easy, it's comfy, and looks presentable. 

But what if guys were shown alternatives of what they *could* be if they just went off the beaten path a little? Thus begins the Henrician Tudor experiment. 

Actually, to be perfectly honest it started with the Queen's Challenge being "Beast of the East" and the joke of an Eastern Tyger Codpiece. ANYWAY....

I did a bunch of research. I took a lot fo screen caps of Wolf Hall and Damian Lewis, re-read The Tudor Tailor, and decided that while I could do something later, Tho was more suited to the early Tudor of young Henry the 8th.  And before you get on me about using "Hollywood" production as a resource, this was the BBC, and these pieces were meticulously researched and constructed. 

Let's all look at Damian Lewis - shall we?

The Yellow Peril

Gingers aren't even my thing, but damn. 

Who doesn't love a man in a slashed leather doublet?

I lucked into some fabulous blue linen and the Rocky Hill, CT Affordable Fabrics (everything is $2.99 and my yankee heart soars) and we had a plan. 

I drafted the pattern one sewing weekend off of his body. The only fitted part is the vest-like portion of the overpiece, the rest of the it is a very long peplum (it's a skirt) which I cut out of a long strip, hemmed and box pleated into the bottom of the vest portion. The front is closed with hooks and eyes. 

You'll notice I offset the shoulder so it didn't run exactly along the top of the shoulder for a more period seam

This step involved a lot of me drawing on Tho and him trusting I wasn't going to cut him. 

The original intent was to have an under doublet of gold but life, liberty, and the pursuit of sleep led there to only being a basic shirt. So he's downgraded to merchant class. The pants I could have made, but again, life, were ladies leggings ordered off Amazon. The hat Tho is a basic flat cap that he ordered off Etsy.

So it's a very attainable outfit for a person with a modicum of sewing skills, or bribing skills, to achieve.

The finished product:

Very proud of the finished product, if yet again, he can't wear a belt at the right height.
The clear cord you see from the belt is his insulin pump
Wearing the belt at the correct height.

He was complimented on it quite a bit, and some woman at Gulf Wars offered to make him another set since he looks so good in it. 

I'd say overall - a success. 

And as for the Tyger Codpiece, you had to be at the fashion show at Birka to see that marvel. It got quite the response. 

A Green Belt?

My Apprentice Brooch - Mistress Elizabeth's arms (which are amazingly close to my own)

This past fall someone messaged me and said "I think we should talk about our relationship"

Which is a terrifying sentence for most people and honestly, it terrified me a little. Except in this case it was Mistress Elizabeth Lovell and she wanted to talk about my becoming her apprentice. 

We did have a long talk. And I had a talk with my Pelican. And I had a talk with her current apprentices. 

There was some soul searching. I'm (unsurprisingly) headstrong and have a lot of obligations to House Strangewayes, Quintavia, the East, the Knowne World Courtesans, etc. 

Did I want a Laurel? Yes, I must admit I did. 

Do I want THIS Laurel? Yes, I admire Elizabeth's art as much as I admire her way with people. She is the biggest cheerleader for her apprentices and those around her. I love her honesty and her positivity, and her willingness to stand up and say - no, actually, this isn't right. 

Thus, at Crown Tournament last October, I stood with my Pelican at my side surrounded by friends and soon-to-be sisters and made my promises to her. 

I have yet to regret it for even half a second. 

They talk in polyamorous relationships about love being multiplied not divided. My love for my House, my Shire, the East, etc has only been multiplied. I have a wider circle of encouragement and support than I did. People I can truly confide in and who would, if asked, help hide the bodies. Plus, in my apprentice sisters, I get to know some wonderfully talented and wickedly funny women as well. 

She's going to make me enter an A&S competition though, a real one, that's a little terrifying.

I made a new dress for the occasion too. I also made an overdress but the day was warm enough without it. I used Kass McGann's Reconstructing History Cotehardie pattern and some beautiful lavender jacquard with little diamonds throughout. The hood is fleece, because I have a wool allergy, and is from Cyntia Virtue's Hood with liripipe pattern. It is exactly long enough to keep the decolletage warm.

Did you really get pinned?