Monday, May 13, 2019

Saalberg Shoe, Redux

A few months ago, I wrote a short post about a Roman leather shoe featured at the Saalburg Museum with a striking, openwork design. 

Today, through Instagram, I found the webpage of a leatherworker who has made a striking recreation of that shoe in red and yellow. Go and see it!  It's marvelous.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Royal Schiaparelli

Recently I found the video to the left, which talks about the discovery of a 1939 Schiaparelli gown worn by Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester.  Princess Alice was the wife of Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, who was the third son of George V of England and Queen Mary.  

The video points out a number of unusual elements of this gown (including the use of plastic imitation pearls in the embroidery and a very early plastic zipper) and includes a photograph depicting the gown in wear by Princess Alice.  It's short (about 3 minutes and 30 seconds) and a must-watch if you are interested in clothing of the 1930s.

Readers of this blog who are curious about Princess Alice may enjoy this article, which gives some background about her life.  You can find out more about her life from Wikipedia, here

Saturday, April 27, 2019

One Afternoon Tutorials--Many Hats

My last collection of one-afternoon tutorials was an assortment of how-tos for making different types of bags. Today's collection is all about headwear: caps, hats, and other forms of headwear.   

From time to time, I have posted headwear tutorials in the past. I have tried not to duplicate any tutorials (since you can look up my old posts simply by checking out the "one afternoon tutorials" tag). Apologies if I have duplicated  any of those tutorials here.  

As with my collection of bag tutorials, I have tried to list these tutorials in roughly chronological order for the item in question (i.e., tutorials for items earlier in history will be nearer the top on this list).  Also, (as is true of all the tutorials I mention in this blog), unless the description of the tutorial says otherwise, I have not tried these tutorials out!  Nor have I made any judgments about how historically accurate the products of these tutorials may be.  Research the items you want to make, and decide whether the tutorials reach a level of authenticity suitable to your objectives.  

On to the current list!
  • Scythian inspired hood.  This is the type of open hood, resembling a Phrygian hat, that appears in the art of the Scythians.  This tutorial gives double value, as it includes directions on how to felt wool fiber into cloth from which to make the hat.  Tutorial provided by Lara Baker-Olin on her blog, A Magyar Jurta.
  • Viking women's headwear.  On her blog, Jenn Culler includes an article about speculative but plausible Viking age women's headwear. Most of these are made with unsewn pieces of cloth worn as turbans, headscarves, or veils.  Find it here.  
  • Early Medieval coif.  A common piece of headwear for both men and women (often under other hats, hoods or veils) is the coif, a tie-on garment. From the Maille Is Riveting blog.  
  • Medieval "beanie."  The same page on Maille Is Riveting that has the coif directions also have directions for a kind of skull cap with a stem on the crown of the head, which often appears in medieval art.
  • "Coffee Filter" Hat.  This is a kind of pleated coronet with a chinstrap, often worn with a hairnet.  I do not know what this type of headwear was called during the Middle Ages, but today costumers also often call it a "coffee filter" hat.  Cynthia Virtue provides these directions for such a hat on her website.  
  • Open hood (15th c.).  Hoods like this one turn up on peasant and farmer women depicted in the Tres Riches Heures and other manuscripts of the same approximate date.  You can find Sidney Eileen's directions on how to make one here (though, unlike hers, most of these do not seem to have been embroidered).
  • "Butterfly" hat (15th c.). Cynthia Virtue also has a tutorial for a 15th c. "butterfly" hat.  You may know this hat by the term "hennin" (or henin).  The tutorial is here.  
  • French hood (English/French Ren).  This is the ornamented crescent with a veil hanging down its back that you see in the art of Henry VIII's day. The Elizabethan Costuming Page (which still lives, after all these years!) has a page about how to make one, with links to other relevant pages on the same site. I suggest you start your journey through them here. Note:  I used this tutorial to make a French hood once, long ago, and it was quite satisfactory except for the chinstrap (which may have been due to my misreading or misapplication of the directions).  
The next few tutorials all come from Genoveva's German Renaissance of Genoveva blog.  
  • Split-brim hat. Similar hats were worn in other countries during the period. The tutorial is here.
  • Platter hatThis hat is commonly associated with Landknechts, but women wore them too. Note: The directions are packaged as a PDF.  
  • Wulsthaube.  This hat looks like a smooth headwrap with a bulge at the back.  Directions are here
  • False braids.  False braids made from stuffed tubes of cloth were a common addition to certain German Renaissance hairstyles, and not all of them were made in the natural colors of hair!  Illustrated tutorial here.  
Now for more modern stuff:
  • Late Tudor hats. Directions for a Tudor-style flat cap and a high crowned hat can be found courtesy of Tammie Dupuis at the Renaissance Tailor site, here.  
  • 17th c. coifs. Late 16th-early 17th century women's coifs were worn with a tie-on kerchief or cloth underneath them.  The Marquis of Winchester's Regiment gives directions on how to make a set for yourself.
  • 18th century hat.  The Pragmatic Costumer shows you how to turn a modern, circular straw placement into a hat here.  Martha MacGyver's Imaginarium has a tutorial on making a similar hat from a modern straw hat; find it here.
  • Regency (1800s-1810s) poke bonnet.  Kelly of Tea in a Teacup has a lovely, detailed  tutorial with plenty of pictures about how to make a Regency poke bonnet from a straw hat; find her tutorial here.
  • U.S. Civil War (1860s) bonnet. From Kim Morton comes an illustrated tutorial on how to make a 1860s bonnet from a modern straw hat. You can find it here.  
  • Mid-Victorian day capSew Historically provides directions on how to make a pattern for such a cap, and how to assemble and hand-sew it here.
  • 1940s hairscarf.  Ever wonder how to duplicate Rosie the Riveter's headscarf?  Wonder no more. Retro Chick at Lipstick, Lettuce & Lycra shows you how in this video.  The accompanying blog post also provides some useful information.
Have fun!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Tenth Anniversary

A cape made from Madagascar Golden
Orb spider silk exhibited at London's
 Victoria and Albert Museum (June 2012).
(photo:  Cmglee, on Wikimedia Commons)..

Unsurprisingly (given my irregular habits), I missed the actual date, but on March 16, 2019, this blog was exactly 10 years old.

A decade is a long time.  In the 10 years since I started this blog, I've seen many costuming blogs fall by the wayside, lost to family obligations, changes in health, changes in priorities, and the rise of other forms of social media, such as Instagram and Facebook.  Other Internet communities of historical costumers, including the MedCos list and the Norsefolk and Norsefolk_2 mailing lists on Yahoo!, are defunct, and the h-costume list, though still technically active, sees very little activity now. 

On the other hand, Instagram and Facebook bear witness to the fact that there are more historical costumers, and more people interested in historical costuming, than ever.  I ended up as one of the moderators of the Reenactment clothing and textiles group on Facebook because they get so many applicants. In addition, I have become concerned that Google will get rid of Blogger, as they have decommissioned G+ and so many other interesting and useful products, and that I will have to migrate my blog to another platform to keep it alive.  But I still enjoy blogging, and am determined to continue to maintain an Internet presence through my blogs.

The last time I did an anniversary post, it was 2011.  In that post, I included a token link to an actual costume-related article (since an anniversary post is technically a "meta" post).  This link I found courtesy of Susan Baker Farmer on the Historic Tablet Weaving Group on Facebook. The article is about gene-modified bacteria that produce a spider silk so strong that space suits could be made from fabric woven out of it.  The technique used doesn't produce very much silk, and doesn't produce it efficiently, but if it can be modified to produce at industrial levels it will have created something valuable and new indeed.  Enjoy!

P.S.  The cape in the picture is made from spider silk, but not the kind reproduced with genetically-modified bacteria.  I added it for visual interest, and because it's an interesting garment in its own right.

Monday, April 1, 2019

A Really Meaty Item

In a previous year, I posted, on a certain day, about raw meat being made into clothing.  (Apologies because the original link from my April 1, 2012 post no longer works.  If I find the original post I was discussing, I will fix the link!)

This year, I found, to my surprise, a website that is actually selling a hoodie printed to look as though it is made from raw meat.  Kangaroo meat, to be precise.  The site is and you can find the "raw meat" hoodie here.  Sadly, it is being sold in men's sizes only.

Happy April Fool's Day!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Sea Silk

In the Mediterranean, there lives a type of clam called the noble pen shell, or pinna nobilis.  Its saliva, when it contacts sea water, solidifies as delicate strands called byssus, or sea silk. This BBC article discusses a Sardinian woman named Chiara Vigo who may be the last woman alive who knows how to harvest, spin, dye, and weave this precious fiber. 

Ms. Vigo does not sell her work, believing that byssus belongs to all humanity, but gives her creations away as gifts. Her daughter, who lives in Dublin, is the natural heir to this knowledge, but is torn about whether she is willing to dedicate her life to learning, preserving, and ultimately transmitting it.  

Do not miss this article.  The photographs and embedded video alone are worth viewing for those who love history and are fascinated by the history of textiles and clothing.  

Sunday, March 24, 2019

One Afternoon Tutorials--All the Bags

Today's collection of one afternoon tutorials has a built-in theme.  All of these tutorials are instructions for how to make various kinds of bags to carry things in.  Some of these can be very ornamental, while others are plaintly utilitarian.  I suspect that many of us would greatly value the opportunity to have a period-appropriate bag to wear and use with historical costume.

Some of these patterns, obviously, are simpler than others, and a few require special skills (such as knitting or crochet, and the ability to interpret knitting or crochet pattern notation), but most of them are simple enough to finish in a single long afternoon.

I've already provided a link to a good tutorial for the Viking age wood-framed bag elsewhere, but I'm going to list it again in this post along with all the other bag tutorials to make it easier for people to find it through my blog.  Although this list does not, and cannot, include tutorials for every type of bag ever made, it includes a significant cross-section of items that are not commonly written about or made by costumers or reenactors.  I have listed the tutorial for each type of bag in rough chronological order of when the original bags were made and used.  
  • Anglo-Saxon Ring Bag.  Another interesting bag type shows up in early Anglo-Saxon finds.  It's a cloth bag with a ring, big enough to admit a hand but smaller in diameter than the rest of the bag.  Such bags don't truly have a closure; the contents stay put because the bag is hung from a belt so it stays more or less upright in position, and because the ring is sized as small as possible to allow a hand, and the contents, to be inserted.  It has been theorized that they were used by well-to-do women to keep small sewing projects close at hand.  A similar design turns up in the late Middle Ages,* apparently to hold small game collected during a hunt.  This one comes from Brígiða Vadesbana's eponymous blog.  The tutorial may be found here.
  • Viking Wood-Framed Bag.  I've already tried out Kristine Risberg's tutorial for a wood framed bag; it works very well.  Wood frames have been found at several Viking sites, and reasonable reproductions can be found on Etsy and other places if you are not brave enough to make your own frames based upon photographs of original finds.  The bag I made using Kristine's tutorial may be seen here, and the tutorial itself is here.  
  • Medieval Trapezoidal Shoulder Bag.  Next come tutorials for a medieval bag with a trapezoidal shape and a shoulder strap.  These could be made as large as a modern messenger bag, but the period art shows them to be quite small, more the size of a small modern handbag.  Here are two different tutorials:  one by Coblaith, and one by Sabine Scholl.
  • Medieval Carry Sack.  Here is a tutorial for a medieval "carry sack" that looks like one of the "miser bags" from the Victorian era (see below) enlarged to military duffel bag size.  This tutorial was written by Peter on the blog of the reenactment group Albrechts Bössor; it may be found here.
  • Late Medieval Coin Pouch.   Cathrin of Katafalk shows how to make a no-sew leather coin pouch here.  The original purse was found by archaeologists in Bergen, Norway and dates to the late 13th-early 14th century CE.  (This tutorial inspired me to write today's all-bags post.)
  • Medieval Drawstring Purse, with Tassels.  This tutorial on how to make a type of textile drawstring bag commonly seen in artifacts and art in the late Middle Ages, may be found on Cathrin's Flickr, here.   
  • 18th C. "Ditty" Bag.  Here's a design sketch and instructions for an 18th century sailor's "ditty bag", the period term for a sailor's bag for carrying useful small items.  Tim Abbott provides these resources on his blog, "'Another Pair Not Fellows'; Adventures in Research and Reinterpreting the American Revolution".
  • Regency Reticule.  Drawstring purses were also fashionable during the Regency period (1800-1820s), when they were called reticules.  Here's a pattern for a cut-and-sewn reticule from DawnLuck's Photobucket account. For further guidance in reticule-making, here's an interesting article with useful, general advice on making cut-and-sewn reticules by Kelly at Tea in a Tea Cup.  Some reticules were crocheted, and AllaboutAmi has a pattern for a crocheted reticule
  • Metal-Framed Coin Purse.  Most people have seen, and many own, small purses with a metal frame at the top, and a kind of snapping clasp at the center.   Depending upon selection of frame and materials, this type of purse can be period for nearly any time from approximately the 18th century onward.  Such frames can be bought on line or in sewing and craft stores.  A tutorial for supplying the rest of the purse and uniting it with the frame may be found here.  
  • Miser Purse.  This is shaped like the Medieval carry sack mentioned above.  Like that bag, it has a relatively slender center containing the entry slit.  The contents are meant to be stored in both ends, and can be kept from falling out by pushing rings toward the contents.  They were commonly used as coin purses during the 1800s.  They were usually crocheted; it was unclear whether any were knitted.  Here's one tutorial for a crocheted purse, as well as a second one that is knitted, courtesy of Severina and Koshka the Cat, respectively.
  • 1940s Purse.  For those with more modern interests, here's a free pattern for a 1940s crocheted purse shaped like a conventional handbag, not like a miser's purse.  
Finally, the simplest kind of bag requires no sewing at all; it consists of a circle of leather, with holes evenly made about 1/4-1/2 inches from the edge, and a string or thong drawn through the holes to close it.  In case a tutorial for such an item is required, Martha Stewart has provided one here.  This idea is simple enough, both in design and construction, that such bags could well have been made as early as the Stone Age, and Martha's blog post shows that they are still being made for use today.

* From Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio, from late 14th century. This particular image was found on Exploring the Medieval Hunt.