During the summer months Roman garb becomes quite popular in Atlantia, where temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees. Typically made from natural-fiber fabrics like linen, silk, and light weight wool, these loose fitting garments are quite effective in keeping the wearer from becoming overheated.
Roman women, or matrons, wear three layers. The first layer is the tunica, made from a light-weight linen. This layer sits closest to the skin and linen is a natural choice for helping to wick sweat from the body and keep it cool. The second layer is the stola. This layer can be made from a slightly heavier linen than the tunica, silk, or a light-weight wool. I always make my stola from patterned silk. The final layer is the palla. The palla is usually 6-8 feet long and is worn draped around the body and as a head covering. My palla is made from wool gauze.
Roman garb is incredibly simple in its patterning and construction. Both the tunica and the stola consist of two rectangles of fabric, cut to the length of the wearer from shoulder to floor, sewn up the sides. The width of the fabric can vary greatly, but must be at least as wide as the wearer’s hips. These garments can then be pinned and fitted to create a variety of styles, using a type of pin called a fibula. The palla is simply a rectangle of fabric with the edges hemmed.
Within the last year I have grown quite fond of the Landsknecht and Kampfrau style of garb. In April of 2018, an event with a German theme – Night on the Rhine – was held in the nearby Barony of Lochmere. I decided to dress with the theme and make myself a Kampfrau dress, gollar, and wulsthaube.
For the dress, I used a pattern that I already owned and was previously used for a 16th Century Italian gown. I simply extended the waistline so that it would come several inches lower, ending at my true waist as opposed to just below my bust.
I then added guards to the bust and the skirt, which was then attached to the bust using rolled pleats.
Lady Margaret Lad is a 14th Century English Noblewoman. I would consider her to be my primary persona, though I often wear clothing from other countries and time periods.
When dressing as a 14th Century Englishwoman, I generally wear a front lacing cotehardie or gothic fitted dress (GFD for short); a belt, of which I have several styles; knee-high socks or stockings with garters; ankle high boots in the 14th century style; and a head covering of some sort.
I also have a variety of accessories that I like to wear. Accessories can really enhance the overall look of garb and are usually come at a nominal investment – I highly recommend them! Typically, I wear a variety of rings that are reproductions of pieces found in the 13th-14th centuries. I also have several annular and penannular brooches that I wear pinned to the chest/shoulder area of my gowns. For my belt, I like to wear a rosary or paternoster, which are found worn in illuminated manuscripts of that time period. I also have several bags that I carry so that I can hide my modern necessities 🙂
In regards to the picture above, I do want to note that tucking the ends of a dress into a belt in such a way is NOT a period fashion. Typically the dress is pulled up from the waist, with the excess fabric hanging over the belt. The next time I wear my dress in such a way, I will take a photograph to post here as an example.
Patterning a GFD
The gothic fitted dress is typically meant to be self supporting, which means that the wearer does not need any type of supportive undergarments for the top half of the dress. In order to achieve this look, patterns need to be custom-fitted to the individual. I have had the great fortune to attend several workshops in Northern Atlantia where custom fittings have taken place, and the principles of which have also been taught, by Dame Emma West and Mistress Drea di’ Pellegrini. As a result, I not only have my own custom pattern for this style of dress, but I can fit others as well.
I have offered fittings in the past at events and hope to do so again in the future.
In the meantime, here are a list of resources for patterning and making a gothic fitted dress that may be helpful:
Embroidery is one of my favorite A&S activities within the Society and I honestly wish that I had more time to commit to making and finishing projects. I have many half-completed projects and ideas for others – I only hope that I live long enough to see them through!
An Embroidered Pillow in Black & Gold
This pillow was embroidered based on my interpretation of a period style found in 15th century Spain.
The style of embroidery is a counted blackwork, though gold floss was used. Blackwork is typically seen on garments in England from the time of Henry VIII, however the term “Spanish work” was also applied to this same style. The belief became that Catherine of Aragon brought blackwork garments with her from Spain to England. The pattern created for this pillow was inspired by a portrait, believed to be of Catherine of Aragon herself, painted by the Spanish artist Juan de Flandes in approximately 1496.
For the pillow’s materials, I used Zweigart brand Belfast 32 count 100% linen and Au Ver A Soie brand silk embroidery floss for the pillow’s exterior case. The body of the pillow consists of a linen interior case stuffed with goose down. The case of the pillow was then sewn closed using a whip stitch in a cotton thread.
This was my first entry in an A&S competition. The embroidered design on this pillow was my second project to use blackwork or any kind of counted thread embroidery. I was very pleased with how it turned out and I’m proud to say that it won the Best Novice in the A&S competition at the Spanish Inquisition – Torquemada’s Trans-Iberian Tour event on January 21, 2017.
After winning the Best Novice entry, I was honored to be selected as the Baronial A&S Champion for the Barony of Ponte Alto. I then entered the pillow again at the Baronial A&S Champions competition at Kingdom A&S Festival in 2017.
A Blackwork Napkin
I first learned the technique of blackwork during an Atlantian University, at a class taught by Lord Robert Shockley of Avonsford. I immediately fell in love with counted thread embroidery, as it appealed to my love of symmetry and evenness. My first blackwork project – a gift for a friend that has yet to be gifted! – was a napkin with a hem-stitched edge and blackwork motifs decorating its corners. I still have additional motifs that I would like to add, so – for now – it remains in progress.
I love to hem stitch the edges of any embroidery project the requires a clean finish. This is one of my favorite embroidery techniques and I find it to be particularly calming & meditative due to its simplicity.
Another of my favorite counted thread techniques is brickstitch. I learned this technique for a project that was never completed and, most likely, never will be. But I do hope to start a new project in order to practice this technique some more – I’m thinking, a German pouch? To be determined!
One of my first, big embroidery projects was to make a simple dress with very elaborate embroidery – inspired by the Norman garb of the 12th Century.
My version of this garb was much simplified – made with Appleton’s crewel wool on linen, in a combination of chain and stem stitch. I also used a blanket stitch around the border of the neck and sleeves.
To transfer the design to the linen, I traced the motif onto Strathmore Tracing Paper and darkened the lines with a black sharpie. I then taped the paper with the outlined design to a window on a sunny day, then taped the linen over top of the paper. The light shining through the window allowed me to see the black lines on the paper through the light green linen, and then, in turn, trace those lines onto the linen with the Wrights 8823005 Water Soluble Marking Pen in blue. I find this pen to be wonderful for embroidery projects as the markings disappear as soon as you add water.
Another unfinished project! I began recreating the Large Masks motif from the burial at Bjerringhøj, in Mammen parish, Middelsom herred, in northern Denmark. The finished product was meant to be an embroidered bank for a Viking hat, but it never quite made it that far.
The embroidery was done with Au Ver A Soie brand silk embroidery floss on inherited fabric – I was told it was a silk blend, but that may or may not be correct.
I traced the technical drawing (above) on to the fabric using a light box.
A Lady’s Favor
A quick project, gifted to a fighter as a favor for a heavy tournament in early 2017. The motif is my first badge registered with the Society: Argent, a tree blasted sable and in chief a mullet of seven points purpure.
I traced the design using my computer screen – haha! Like I said, it was done quickly 🙂
The embroidery was done in satin stitch with DMC floss on white linen.
The edge of the linen was finished with a machine. Since it was meant to be worn on the fighting field, I didn’t want to spend too much time fancying up something that was likely to end up torn and dirty!
I have a tendency to dabble in a variety of A&S activities within the SCA and leather working is one of those areas. As an archer, I’ve found a need to work with leather in order to make quivers, bracers, and other shooting accessories. Luckily, I have friends like Lord Stephan Grimm and Baron Colum Maxwell in the Barony of Stierbach who, not only have all the tools needed to work with leather, but are willing & able to teach!
This project was completed in one weekend spent at Baron Colum’s house. I picked out an empty glass container and His Excellency then showed me how to shape the leather to the vessel. I then embellished the leather with stamping, carving, and painting techniques in order to personalize it. This was my first leather working project and I’m very proud of how it turned out.
A Quiver for Pennsic
For my first Pennsic, I needed a quiver! Up until that point I had been borrowing quivers or using ground quivers while I shot, but I knew that was not sustainable. In the summer of 2015, Lord Cameron de Grey held a quiver making workshop at his home and I was able to make a very basic back quiver.
My back quiver has seen quite a bit of use since my first Pennsic in 2015 and I’m ready to make a new one, in addition to a new crossbow quiver. Progress pictures to be posted here!
There is a saying within the archery community of the Society: “Don’t get attached to your ammo!” And there is good reason for that. If you shoot on a consistent basis, then the probability of breaking and/or losing your arrows is quite high. The best way to curb the cost of replacement ammunition – with the exception of never missing the target – is to make your own arrows.
While I did purchase my very first dozen arrows, as I became more involved in archery I knew that I would eventually make my own. The first set of arrows I made were never meant to be shot – they were award arrows that I made and gifted to the best shooters at Spring Coronation 2016. I was the Marshal in Charge of Target Archery for that event and one of my favorite parts of this job is coming up with prizes to give my archers.
After making the award arrows, I set to the task of making a set of my own. These ones would be shot 🙂
I will continue to make my own arrows and arrows for others – either as prizes or as gifts – and post them here. Arrow making can be an art of its own. And receiving a beautiful, well made arrow can be a true gift.
I’ve always had a passion for music. Who doesn’t, really? My parents encouraged me to learn to play instruments and sing at an early age. In the mundane world I have played the violin, the guitar, the clarinet, and the saxophone… though the flute has always been my one true love. I started playing the flute at the age of eight and played through college, till the age of 21.
Despite the way my youth revolved around music, finding a way to incorporate this love within the SCA has been a challenge. I’ve attempted to learn music on more period instruments, though it’s been to little success. I always resolve to try harder and make more time to practice… alas.
I’ve had more musical success in the Society with singing, choir specifically. I’ve been a part of two choir ensembles in Northern Atlantia: The Ponte Alto Singers – our Baronial group – and Laydes Fayre – an interbarional women’s choir.
Ponte Alto Singers Performances
Chalice of the Sun God 2015
Ponte Alto Investiture 2016
A Service of Advent Lessons & Carols (Columbia Baptist Church) 2016
Tournament of Love & Beauty 2017
Yule on the Bridge 2017
Laydes Fayre Performances
Night on the Town 2016
Battle on the Bay 2016
Holiday Faire 2016
Spanish Inquisition 2017
Love & Beauty 2017
Night on the Town 2017
Battle on the Bay 2017
Midwinter’s Feast 2018
Night on the Town 2018
Battle on the Bay 2018
Laydes Fayre 20th Anniversary Concert 2018
Sadly, I have lost the ability to commit to singing with either of these groups for the moment. For now I will sing on my own or at events, when the moment is right. And maybe one day I will finally master a new instrument…