On Wednesday, August 7th at Atlantian Great Court at Pennsic 48 I was made a Court Baroness. So, that’s cool.
Anyone who has ever asked me why I joined the SCA has received the same answer – I like to play dress up. And the exciting thing about playing dress up as a Court Baroness is that now I get to wear a fancy hat 🙂
Since Pennsic, I’ve commissioned two additional coronets and one diadem. Yes, I am extra.
My diadem was commissioned for Rip Rap War – an event held every September in the Kingdom of Atlantia. I typically wear a lot of Roman garb in the Summer due to the warmer climate of this Kingdom and so I needed a diadem to match.
This brass diadem was made by Lord Cataldo Querini and features amethyst stones and seven pointed stars to match my heraldry.
My second coronet was made by Mistress Michel Almond de Champagne. It is a field coronet made from leather, wood, silver leaf, rabbit glue, pigment and clear coat. The total weight is under 13 ounces, which makes it perfect to wear outdoors over head coverings and hats.
My third coronet was inspired by the funeral crown of Queen Agnes of Antioch, first wife of Béla III (1172-96), and was also made by Lord Cataldo Querini.
I’m very pleased with my coronet collection so far – they are all distinct in their makes and styles. I do have plans to commission one more in the near future, about which I am very excited! Pictures will be posted here once the coronet is completed 🙂
On January 2nd – 322 days ago – I wrote a post outlining goals for the year of 2019. I opted to try a new goal setting format this year, breaking my goals down into three categories: things to do for myself, things to do for others, and new things to try – an activity to break me out of my comfort zone.
The year isn’t *quite* over, but since I won’t be attending any more garbed events until January I think now is a good time for a recap!
❌Work to complete unfinished embroidery and sewing projects. Completing small tasks will give me a sense of achievement and motivate me to continue working on A&S projects. ✅Acknowledge that in the past, deadlines that were set to complete new garb were a source of stress. Plan future deadlines more carefully and/or commission or buy garb when possible in order to relieve that stress. Sometimes time is worth more than money. ❌Continue to update my blog with projects and event recaps.
✅Volunteer to help in the kitchen, serve, and/or wash dishes for any feast I attend. ✅Support my Peer, Her Highness Adelhait, & His Highness Christoph during their Reign as needed – retaining, donating largesse, etc. ✅Organize Pennsic Newcomers University Track & Newcomers Point
New to Me
❌ Make progress on learning to play a plucked/string instrument. ❌ Perform said instrument and/or sing at a bardic circle. ❌ Enter an A&S competition using a new skill. New skill still TBD.
In reflecting upon the goals that I was able to accomplish this year versus the goals that I was unable to accomplish, I can see that I fell victim to one of the classic blunders. While I didn’t get involved in a land war in Asia, I did underestimate the amount of time and effort that is required to support a Reign.
From the time that Duchess Adelhait and Duke Christoph stepped up as Their Royal Highnesses of Atlantia last November until the time they stepped down as King and Queen this past October, I attended 25 events. That list of events includes both Gulf Wars and Pennsic, which totaled three weeks of time. It’s also important to note that the majority of these events were not day trips, rather entire weekends – Friday through Sunday.
The effort required to attend this many events left me exhausted during the week. That exhaustion led me to spend my time resting and recovering, rather than working to complete embroidery projects or learning a new skill as I had intended at the start of this year.
It also does not escape my notice that while I was able to accomplish all of the goals assigned to the category of “For Others”, I was only able to accomplish one of the goals assigned to the categories for myself.
Despite that disparity between the categories, I learned a lot from this exercise. I gained a new perspective on the timing and effort of goals – “big” goals versus “small” goals – and I was able to recognize in myself the tendency to prioritize the needs of others over my own.
And so my goals for next year – 2020 – will focus on balance.
Stay tuned for a blog post in January with my goals for the next calendar year 🙂
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!