Quote from D. Gackenbach

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bad Garb part II

Work in progress on the "purple princess" dress.  I will be gathering the bottom section of the sleeves, adding the back closure (approximately 50 eyelets), then the bottom hem, and voilá a dress fit for a time-traveling-multi-cultural-LARP-princess!

When Bad Garb Happens to Good People

It is amazing how a project can take on a life of it's own.  In a recent post I mentioned the initial idea for my embroidered bodice was basically a medieval bra.  I honestly had something like an Ace bandage in mind when I first started.  Well the bodice became something entirely different, and as I have already mentioned became an object that I am scorning as I make it.  I keep thinking, "this is sooooo much work for something I will be embarrassed to wear in public."  Well instead of finding a way to make this project better, I have actually found a way to make it even less period and more time consuming! What is wrong with me? 

Now don't get me wrong, this is a fabulous looking project, I am in love with the way it is turning out on some levels, however I am now at a point where I have literally thought to myself, "you might as well just be a LARPer!"  No offense to the LARPing community, I just don't have what it takes to play like that, I lack imagination.  But this "garb" is fit for a fairy princess.  I don't know what is happening but I don't seem to be able to stop the process at this point.

So anyway,  I found some nice neutral woven fabric the other day for $2.99 at a craft store.  I decided to dye it with some purple RIT I had lying around to see if it would work for the simple dress I imagined wearing under this embroidered bodice.  I also threw some of the fabric I used for the bodice into the dye bath because I knew I wouldn't have quite enough for a long sleeved dress without it.  The fabric took the dye beautifully and I ended up with a really nice light purple for the main garment and a lavender to trim it with.  Next I took a quick look at some kirtle patterns, including Mistress Cori's great tutorial.  I laid everything out, cut the pattern, screwed up, redid, and ended up with a nicely fitted, less than perfect purple kirtle.  I used the lavender to make a yoke and then used a combination of the two fabrics to make nice long sleeves.

I've been wanting to try an insertion stitch join so I did that on the sleeves and then I used some embroidery stitches to attach/decorate the yoke.  I have spent roughly 12 hours on this dress in the past two days.  It looks amazing, but the problem is the complete and utter lack of historical accuracy.  This outfit will be a mish-mash of centuries and cultures.  I am filled with costume shame, and yet it is so pretty I know I will have to wear it **sigh**  Who picked this hobby?  Ah well, I'll take some more pictures when it is all completed.  Then maybe we can LARP together.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blacksploitation Barbie...

Today I am sharing a deep, dark, hidden secret- I still like to play dress-up!  What?  You already knew that about me?  Oh, well... I bet you didn't know that sometimes I give my outfits names.  Like today's ensemble, I called it "Blacksploitation Barbie," but it could have also been named after whatever version of Better Homes and Gardens was aimed at the black hostess of the '70s.  I rocked my favorite mini mumu with denim short shorts, and lots of accessories.  Since I shaved my head I feel like I can really get away with some fierce/fun looks including lots of make-up and bling.  Sadly I had nowhere to go today, but I looked fabulous while I sat around my yard and painted my nails.

More importantly, I have made it to the half way mark on my embroidered bodice!  Next step embroider the straps with a border, this is simple and will give me a much needed break from the main design.  I will need to pick up some more floss, I am running low on a couple of the colors already.  Then I will trace the completed half of the design and transfer a mirror image onto the other half of the bodice and embroider that too.  I think this will be done in about two weeks, then I can make the dress to go under it!  I am trying to decide between purple and green for the dress, right now I am leaning toward purple, but I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Restless Rhymes With Rainy...

Rasberries!  I am having a twitchy, itchy, restless kind of day.  It is still raining and I can't get outside to wiggle.  I think it is time to bust out my hula hoop and have a private dance party, yep, I said it.  **sigh**  But first- I made this great top in an attempt to feel productive.

You can find the tutorial over at Her New Leaf, a fun blog about DIY and such.  It is super simple, but I will let you read the tutorial and see for yourself.  The only changes I made were to cut the neck out of a long sleeved T-shirt and cut smaller slits, then I used the described technique, and finally made a little bow out of a strip of the leftover neck and sewed that on over the beginning hole.  

Thanks to my recent stint in retail I have some icky "work clothes" and I do use that term very loosely, these are horrid retail slave appropriate, not for an actual job (sorry retail slaves).   Instead of disposing of these sad little mishappen soldiers I would like to repurpose them.  I actually have two more shirts just like this one but in green and black to spruce up later, and I am taking suggestions.  Have you done any great T-shirt makeovers?  I have lots of very rock'n'roll ones with fringe and ties and such, but I could use some more lady-like options like this.

Now, for some hula hooping

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another "Recipe" and Embroidery Progress

Tonight I made the most divine chili and cornbread.  Chili is one of the best ways to use up random pantry items in a tasty, economical supper.  I always make my chili a little bit different, it depends what I have on hand, but there are a few things it MUST contain.  First you need a good chili seasoning, I personally like to keep Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit in the pantry at all times, it tastes great and comes with the seasonings, masa flour, salt, and chili powder packaged individually so you can play with your proportions.  I am a meat eater, so I need a beast in my chili.  I've tried ground beef, turkey, chicken, sausages, and bacon.  And finally there must be some good veg in there to balance things out, I've put just about any vegetable you can think of in chili at some point, but I really like peppers, corn, onions, and beans, I just mix them up with whatever else I have around and omit what I don't. 

So the "recipe" part: Tonight I used chorizo, quinoa, chocolate, flax, green bell pepper, onion, canned tomatoes with green chiles, and kale.  Have I mentioned I am from California?  This was an amazing combination!  It was similar to a molé sauce (I added some sugar to make it nice and sweet) with a complex smoky flavor because I got distracted by the spring rain when I went outside to pick the kale and burned the chorizo a bit...  ahem.  I also made a kellerweiss hefeweizen cornbread (just substitute the beer for milk in Jiffy cornbread).  This was so tasty I don't know if I will ever make normal cornbread again.  Gotta love the folks over at Sierra Nevada for making this spicy gem of a beer (thank you Scott your beer is delicious).  I mixed up a double batch of this bread and baked it at 325 for 30 minutes in a loaf pan covered in foil, then I removed the foil and cooked it at 350 for 15 more minutes.  Unfortunately this wasn't quite enough, it was perfectly golden around the edges but still moist in the center.  Luckily there is a great trick for this- just take the bread out of the loaf pan and microwave it for one minute.  It will cook the center without the risk of burnt edges you get with the conventional oven.

Okay, enough about dinner let's see the embroidery progress

Tada! Now I'm off to bed, good night.

Yummy Treats for Rainy Days

I am suffering through the third straight day of rain and cloudy grey skies.  I was all ready for warm weather.  I already got sun burned from trying too hard to photosynthesize, I was a plant in my last life and I still try to live on light and water when the opportunity presents.  Well I was premature, and now I have to deal with the weather change funk, I don't mind the rain, but I do mind when it just shows up unannounced to rain on my parade.  Yeah, maybe I should actually look at the weather forecast in the future so I won't be taken unawares, but that would involve effort on my part, so...

At least the cold days bring me back into the kitchen.  I have made some very tasty things in recent days including a nice lemon rosemary chicken with ginger coconut lentils on Sunday and a butternut squash soup with apples and pink jasmine rice last night.  I was also in the mood for something sweet yesterday so I made a batch of sunflower seed brittle.  It turned out delicious!  I used Martha Stewart's Nut Brittle recipe but substituted 2 cups of roasted salted sunflower seeds for the nuts.  This is super quick and easy because you make it up in the microwave.  My 9-year-old son won't usually eat sunflowers seeds and he gave this a thumbs up.

Rainy days are also perfect for a cup of tea and I have been meaning to share with you about a tea I picked up recently.  When I attended my first SCA event a few weeks back I did a little shopping and my favorite items all came from one merchant, sadly I cannot remember the name to save my life.  I checked the merchant list, and I think it may have been the Domestic Goddess, but I can't be sure (I even found a picture of her shop in the background of one of my photos, but I can't see a name).  Sorry to the lovely purveyor of the shop for my lame endorsement here, but I'll do better the next time I see her for sure.  Anyway she had wonderful prices and a fun assortment of items including jewelery, crystals, treats, and teas.  I picked up this neat Chinese black tea stored in a dried mandarin for $1.50!  It is delicious and fun to use.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Little By Little

I am working away on my embroidered bodice.  Here is a snapshot of my progress, hopefully nobody will ever look this close while I am wearing it, and I can get away with the sloppy stitches!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Idle Hands

I don't like to have idle hands, I like to be busy, it keeps me moving forward.  That being said, I started a little bodice project a couple of days ago.  When I tried on my red saya encordada for the first time it dawned on me that my bosom needed a little lift (you've all been there, don't judge).  Well there is really no proof of a medieval bra, so I thought maybe I could come up with something "medievally plausible" (and yes I made that term up, but I can't make everything historically accurate this early in my SCA life so I need to cheat sometimes).  Well I have plenty of corset patterns lying around, but I decided to draft something super simple, almost like the breast wraps used in ancient times, no boning, just tightly fitted...

That idea turned into something completely different within a day.  I have some really great embroidery patterns I've collected from the available internet resources (see the links provided over at Honor Before Victory, they are amazing).  There was one in particular that caught my eye, a pattern of peas on the vine complete with flowers and tendrils.  It reminded me of spring, and Mendelian genetics, and gardening, I just fell in love with it.  Well fast forward back to this little bodice, I thought it would be pretty with the embroidery on it.  And it will certainly keep my hands busy for the next week or two.

This embroidery is from a period pattern, but I am not using period material and the actual bodice isn't period either, so I guess this will have to be a fantasy item.  I will be worried about "peer fear" if I wear it in public at a SCA event, but I might just wear it anyway, who knows?  Would you point and whisper if you saw this coming your way?

please note the bodice is upside down in these pics

If you are interested in my process here is a little info for you.  The bodice is just made of cotton canvas I had lying around, it used to be a cheap slip cover for my couch.  The eyelets are all done in my cheater method of metal eyelet under hand sewn embroidery floss.  All the floss is modern cotton.  I adapted the design from Modelbuch aller art Nehewercks und Stickens, George Gilbers reprint of the 1527 book, page 41.  In these pictures I have not yet drawn on the second half of the design, it will be a mirror image of what I have already done, and I will add in tendrils on both sides where they look appropriate once I get going.  I just free handed the vines based on the source image, and created the border with a tailor's tape to keep the scale even.  The shoulder straps are not pictured, but they are made of the same canvas and will simply lace into the eyelets at the top.  I can see wearing this over a light purple or maybe green kirtle, it wouldn't be accurate, but it would be very pretty.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More 13th Century Spanish Garb

Well it took me an extra couple of days to snap some pictures (and they are not very good ones) of my new garb.  I wanted to wear these items at May Crown this weekend, but we are staying home, I am making a sad face right now... 

Oh well, that is life, perhaps I will get my husband and son into their new garb at some point between my husband's overtime shifts this weekend so I can get some pictures of them too.  I made each of them a spiffy new tunic, we are calling them "court garb" because they are fancy compared to the first simple tunics I made them last month.  But just in case I don't get a photo-op here are a couple of old pics of the pieces before they were completed.

My son's tunic WIP

My hubby's tunic WIP

My new outfit was intended to be fancy like theirs, but somewhere along the way it turned out sort of plain.  I think it was my choice of trim, I had some neutral colored felt in my stash and I was being cheap and lazy so I used it to do the edges.  I was fully intending to cut it down and cover it with woven trim, but I didn't get around to weaving any, maybe I still will, we shall see.  For now it is totally wearable as is. 

My outfit was inspired by the musicians fringed pellote pictured above (I found this image over at Jessamyn's Closet).  Clothing seemed pretty unisex during this period, so I figured I could get away with this for myself, and although it turned out a little shorter than I wanted, it is actually just like the one in this image.  The buttons are all hand sewn from scrap fabric, I embroidered the neckline of the fringed pellote, and I even hand sewed the 48 eyelets (well with my cheater method of setting metal eyelets first and then covering them with embroidery floss) at the back of the underdress.  I think my favorite part is actually the armpit gores, I made them in the red linen so they pop next to the "brocade."  The head covering in these pics is a black silk scarf I picked up for $2 at the Fremont Market, I think I like it better than a white head linen, but I may try out my veils just to be sure.

I have to admit I like this outfit, but I am not 100% happy with it, mostly because I couldn't get a large enough piece of linen.  I am tall, nearly 6' and I don't like the length of the saya on me, it was supposed to be a full 6" longer, it should pool at my feet and really show up under the fringed hem of the outer dress.  I bought what the fabric store had left of this linen and it was not even two full yards, I guess all things considered it turned out decent and I shouldn't complain, but I will anyway, 'cause that is how I roll!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Don't Panic

This afternoon I decided I had better get going on my new saya encordada for camping next weekend... What about last minute? No, that would be whatever I decide to do on Friday morning.  Anyway, I was zipping along, finished up the layout, cutting, gores, and neckline adjustments, and then, just as I was slipping out of the dress after fitting it one last time, I realized my shirt was pink! Gah! 

I bought a yummy deep scarlet linen blend to make the dress and it was bleeding all over my shirt when I put it on. Lame, so lame.  Well my camisa is beautiful white cotton, I will NOT be wearing it under this dress.  I decided to go back to the drawing board, at least mentally, and added long sleeves to the dress, turning it into a hodgepodge, something between a saya encordada with sleeves and a brial I guess.  Well whatever it is my little franken-dress will have to do.  I will snap some pictures tomorrow, but for now I need to go back to making the buttons for the sleeves.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Crack Heads Are People Too...

So it is a beautiful, sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest.  I am avoiding chores so I decided to walk down the street to peek inside a new antique store and grab an iced tea from the corner drugstore.  On the way I passed some people hanging outside their house smoking, chatting, and generally enjoying the sun.  They inquired as to my destination, so I offered the antique store bit, just to be polite, and quickly went on my way.  "There goes a classy lady," I heard one of them say to the other, "she's going antiquing."

Now don't get me wrong I am not adverse to a chat with a stranger.  Just last weekend I got some wonderful gardening tips from a couple I stopped to chat with outside their home in Fremont.  But in my neighborhood you get the occasional "crack head," and I try to avoid them.  I have a bit of a curse when it comes to attracting attention from crazies, especially the homeless ones, so I just try to be friendly and keep moving. 

Well  I made it to the little shop, it was nothing special, though I will probably go back and buy a Thai tiffen set I found for $17.  I popped into the drugstore and grabbed an iced tea, and I headed home.  As I walked I realized I either had to pass the same house with the crazies, or go a different route.  I decided to be polite I should walk back past them, they could see me coming and it just seemed rude to turn down a different street. 

I ended up trapped in conversation with a delusional butch lesbian, a drunk, and one seemingly normal guy who just wants to move out of Washington (I am sure he is on something too, just not right now).  After about 5 minutes, and an invitation to visit the woman's house on Whidbey Island for some "crabs and butter clams," I finally got my out when the guy who actually lives in this house came cruising up with his rolling trash can full of other people's recycling (Friday is garbage day in my 'hood).  This man I have had the pleasure of meeting many times before, he is an older Native American gentleman with a very serious drinking problem, he is sweet, but he makes me sad.  As everyone started their hellos I said my goodbyes and walked away with my new friend Heidi shouting out her fondest farewells.  Yeah bitch I am cool with you too...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Funky, But Not in the Good James Brown Way

Blah, yeah you read that right, blah, or bleh, or possibly blue?  I am in a major funk.  I had a wonderful weekend, and then sometime last night I just sank into this horrible bog of self-pity alternating with self-loathing.  You know the mental quicksand drill?  You say to yourself, "oh no, I just stepped in it, I feel so sad, I better struggle to get out!" and then that crappy voice you shouldn't listen to says, "stop struggling and sink to your doom, you suck anyway!" 

How rude!  I will not stand for it, I am rad. 

I had a productive day, I cleaned all kinds of messes, cooked meals, pinned and sewed and embroidered some stuff, and played some games.  Hell, I even sent off a job application!  Take that depression (karate chop)!!!  Now I am going to take a shower (better late than never, don't judge), pour myself and my gentleman caller a glass of wine, and put in a funny movie.  Tomorrow is a new day, and I will be ready to face it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Lovely Weekend

Glorious weather in the Pacific North West

Well we got a beautiful weekend this time around, I am so thankful.  Today continues to be gorgeous, but I have chores piled up from the last couple of beautiful days, so I will try to get outside when I can. 

Just a glimpse of my friends garden...

Saturday evening I got to play Medieval dress up and visit a wonderful homestead out Tulalip Res way.  There were lovely people, some neat activities, and a horse, two goats, and a coop full of hens (plus one rat skulking out of the hen house).  I want to thank my sweet new friend Isabel of Oxenford for taking me to this event, and also a big thank you to the Baron and Baroness of Aquaterra for all the information they shared with me. 

Sunday was loads of fun with a trip to visit friends in Seattle (the pictures above were taken on my friend's property in Lake Forest).  Plenty of sun, drinks, and the Fremont Market, followed by snacks from the food trucks lined up for the Mobile Food Rodeo.  Next time, I bring a bigger stomach! When you visit Fremont be sure to try the Guinness Float at The Red Door too, yummy!

Lines were long at the Rodeo, but the food was worth the wait

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Allergic to Life

photo by Alex Valavanis

My hubby claims I am allergic to life.  I think this may be one of the most horrible things I have ever heard.  He didn't say it to make me sad, he was just kidding, but I can't get it out of my head.  What a depressing thought!

I am allergic to MANY things, I have never even bothered with one of those fancy tests to tell you what causes the allergies because I suffer from so many I can't imagine it making any difference in my quality of life.  I have tried just about every over-the-counter allergy remedy and even a couple of prescriptions over the years, but nothing really seems to work well enough to warrant the side effects.  

The hubby wants me to go in for the fancy test.  He has said this more than once lately, but I think I cope.  His comment about being allergic to life really has me thinking though...  Do I really cope, and is coping even enough?  I have good days and bad days.  Since we moved to the Pacific Northwest my bad days seem to be outnumbering my good ones.  I "know" I am allergic to pine pollens, and we have a couple of pine trees here in the Evergreen State.  But I think I may have some issues with mold that I never noticed living in drier climes.  I spent pretty much all fall and winter in a state of allergic reaction, I even got pneumonia, that was rad. 

And now the much awaited splendor of spring has me right back in the lurch, I have a problem with grass, especially when people mow it.  In my neighborhood that is every sunny day (luckily the sun comes and goes around here).  Add the high pollen count to the grass and I am wasting whole days unable to breathe and/or function normally.  Maybe it is time for a little professional help.  Is there anybody out there with a good allergy prescription story?  Please do tell, I want to know there is hope of a sniffle free life without becoming a zombie.  You don't have to tell me exactly what you take, I am just curious about general effectiveness and side effects from the patients point of view.