Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The golden cap -preparing the fabric

 So the major challenge in my quest to recreate the specific look of Kristina Gyllenstierna from the 1516 altarpiece in Västerås is to figure out her headpiece.

I have crawled the the web and literature to find anything similar. The only other examples are two tomb monuments, made from the same unknown master as this sculpture. As mentioned in my earlier post I have decided to go for a standard wulsthaube to get the shape of the headwear, even if it's going to be a bit smaller than this really big headpiece. One day I would like to work with worbla or foam to make an exact replica, but that wouldn't exactly be even close to historically accurate.

Then I found this altarpiece from 1506 by Lucas Cranach
Altarpiece with the Martyrdom of St Catharine: St Dorothea, St Agnes, St Kunigunde [left wing, recto]

1506, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

The woman to the left has a headpiece that from a distance gives off a very simlar appearance to the headpiece of Kristina Gyllenstierna. This is also the time when I want to scream at my 12-year old self to take note of all the details when you see a painting. I'm pretty sure that I must have seen the original when the family passed Dresden and spent several ours at the art museum. Thankfully though the wonderful Digital Cranach archive  has scans in HD, which lets you really zoom in on the paintings.

It's obvious that the decorations come from gold embroidery, and that is the reason why I have spent quite some time this year practising gold embroidery, and now I'm waiting for my material to arrive. Under all the embroidery there are the diamonds made up from dots though. They continue under the embroidery so they must on the fabric itself. I couldn't find any fabric with that pattern, so I would have to do it myself. After having totally overthought it, I had plans to basically build a full printing set up, I realised that the easiest way of doing a fairly similar pattern would be with a marker pen.

I started out with testing a few pens on a piece of linen. After having bought and tried several pens that were marked as metallic gold I was really disappointed. They looked like rusted brass, and the dots were just black and dirty. So I decided to go wtih a regular marker pen in gold colour instead of metallic gold. This is of course not an historically accurate way of making the dots, but here I think the end result is more important thant the technique. For a more accurate way I could probably have found some kind of gold paint and used a stencil or something.

I continued to test the pen on the fabric to figure out a good size for the diamonds. In the end I thought that diamonds that were 4 cm wide and 5 cm high looked the best.

I then marked the whole fabric with lines and dots 4 and 5 cm apart, so that I got a grid. I used a frixion pen so that I could easily erase the lines and dots, but had painted the shape of the hood pattern with a non-frixion pen so that wouldn't be disappear.

For each diamond I marked out the top, bottom and side centers.

I started with marking out the dots on the side center, and then I simply freehanded the other dots. This makes each diamond a bit unique, and I don't mind that. They are not totally similar in the painting either.

It was a matter of marking and painting, marking and painting. In all it took med around 1,5 hours to finish it all.

And here is the final result - linen fabric with diamonds built up from gold dots.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

A linen cap to go over the wulsthaube

 Over the wulsthaube I want to make a goldembroidered cap. Since it's going to be embroidered I can't make it with a veil that I just wrap around the wulst.

Marlein has made this kind of cap, and she also has good documentation on that these kind of caps existed. Now I did try to follow her instructions but I didn't quite understand them, but thankfully I have asked her about some of the steps. A big difference for me though is that the headwear that I want to copy has a very distinct angle of the cap down at the cheek.

I can't just make the front edge continue all the way back to the neck and fasten it there, it needs to keep its position by itself. In thatway it's more similar to the 18th century caps that I've done a few of, but unlike them I didn't want to construct the cap from several parts. I wanted the cap to be just one piece of fabric.

I started draping just a rectangular piece of fabric over the wulst. I like working with rectangular pieces as much as possible, since from what I've seen people back in history tried to avoid cutting a fabric to shape as much as possible. It was impossible to get that angle at the cheek without cutting it though.

This was the starting point after a first evening of draping. The front tha goes around the face is smaller than the back that goes over the wulst. I stll had a problem with too much fabric at the bottom side though. I tried to cut away piece by piece, but in the end I cut too much and had to start over with a new test fabric.

In the end I got quite far away from a rectangular piece. The front edge also had to be curved, to lie flat around the face. Now I had a working pattern, so I cut out the linen that I would use for the cap.

And then I realised that it would have been easier to just mark the pattern, but keep the fabric square until I had done all the embroidery. Sometimes I don't think things through. I decided to go ahead and finish this cap anway. It would be a good test article, and it's always good to have another cap, after all there is a lot more use for a plain linen cap than a goldembroidered one.

The front of the cap is lined with a piece of heavy cotton, since it was supposed to have embroidery in ot it was needed for stabilization. The pieces are joined at the front edge, but the cotton lining is just hemmed and loose in the back. The short sides of the cap, that meet at the neck, ar then sewn together. Now you have a kind of fabric tube that you can put over the wulsthaube.

Then it's a matter of pleating the fabric into the back so that it looks nice and even, pin all the pleats into place.

There will be a bit of a tail hanging down, this can be cut off when you are finished.

Sew the pleats into place when you are happy.

Then I took the bottom of the tube, where I had the center seam, and folded that piece up over the fabric to cover the end of the pleats. My suggestion is to take the cap off the wulsthaube at this stage. I didn't and I manged to sew the cap to the wulsthaube and had to rip it up and redo it.

Now here is where I'm a bit disappointed. I felt that the fabric going over the top of the wulst was too short, so I had to make that rectangular piece reach up higher than I wanted to cover the edge of the fabric in the middle. For my next cap I'm going to make the top longer, but not the sides, so that I can avoid this. I also want my cap to go fairly far down the neck, since I have a lot of hair that I need to hide properly. To keep the cap in position I have added two pieces of linen tape, that are sewed on just where at the back end of the lining piece. I did this since I didn't want any visible lacing holes or ribbons. The tape can be tied and tucked under the cap as well. 

This is the side view of the cap. I can have the fabric be a bit tighter just at the top of the wulst, but otherwise I really like it.

And this is what it looks like turned inside out.

Now I have cut out the linen, but kept it as a square, for my fancy cap. Unfortunately I didn't have any more cotton canvas to use as lining, so I'm going to try with just a heavier linen. I am waiting for my goldwork supplies to arrive. They are the first time with this project that I have suffered COVID19-related delays. The seller has been upfront with the delays though and my package has been shipped, so I can only hope that it arrives in the coming week.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

A smaller German renaissance hood (wulsthaube)

 Back in the summer I did my monster of wulsthaube but already the day after I decided that I needed a smaller and lighter one. Now I finally write together the post about that smaller, but more comfortable hood.

I started out with a piece of cane again, but not a full circle this time,

I wrapped the cane in poly batting. For a more accurate version I would use cotton batting, but I only had poly batting at home.

I finished by encasing the cane and batting in a piece of linen. It's not wrapped, it's more of a casing.

To mae the cane keep a more rounded shape I added a piece of cotton tape at the bottom.

The rest of the wulsthaube was made in the same way as the larger one, from a rectangular piece of linen that was folded over the wulst and pleated in the back. I'm not too careful about getting it totally symmetrical since it's never going to be visible anyway.

This is the hood turned inside out to show what it looks like on the inside.

From the front, but it has sunk down on my headblock, it doesn't go that far down in the face when I wear it.

And this is what it looks like from the side.

I wore this smaller and lighter cap for our July feast with the guild.

Even if it's my smallest wulsthaube it definitely gives quite a big bulge over the head, so after having seen the photos from that I decided that this would be the wulsthaube that I would use for the cap with gold embroidery that I'm going to do for the 1520's court gown project.

Friday, 11 September 2020

The 1520's court gown is done (almost)

  With the guard on the neckline and the sleeves tied on, the gown is now finished. I still need to hem it, but I'm waiting for fabric that I can use as a hemguard. I also haven't finalized the length of the ties on the arms, I will have to do that when I wear the gown with the proper shift under it, so that I see that the shifts shows through, but not too much or too little. I have also ordered some gold cord caps to put on the end of the ties. The Cranach painting that I'm using for inspiration has round gold beads, but that was hard to find so I will settle for more oblong caps and be on the lookout for round beads of the right size.

The guard around the neckline was made in two parts, the rounded parts around the neck and the straight part down the center front. This is something you see on quite a lot of painting, where there is a visible line between the neck and center front pieces. 

The center front guards are simple rectangles. I pressed all the sides down, but I didn't hem them. I simply caught both the hem and the main guard when I sewed them on. They are sewed on with black silk, in fact a thin yarn since I didn't have silk thread in black.

The neckline guard is made of two strips of the same fabric that I sewed together at the top. I then pressed the bottom of the guard up and sewed it on, like you would sew on a bias tape.

It was fiddly to get the neckline border in the right spot, this was due to me wanting to raise the neckline. If I had just wanted it to be edge to edge with the main bodice I would probably just have made the guard in one layer of fabric, and it would have been easier to align it. Now I pinned it one while it was on my dressform to get it right.

Now it's on to the rest of the outfit. I am waiting for supplies for the gold embroidered hood, and lining for the cape that will go over it all. While I'm waiting I couldn't help myself but I have started to embroider a border that I want to use for a new shift as well. I have a deadline though in that I want to have everything finished by the end of October, since there is a possibility that I can make a photoshoot with it.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Trying on the 1520s gown

After my latest post about the 1520s court gown I reattached the lacing strips. Now I sewed them on a couple of cm further in on the bodice, so that they won't be visible when the gown is laced shut. I sewed through both the lining and the outer fabric, so the stitches are visible, but they are going to be hidden under the guards later. I got some wrinkling at the front of the bodice, but I decided to not fret about it, since once again I am going to hide it under the guards.

I also redid the pleating at the front opening. I was not happy with th gaping that was there on this photo.

On the photo above I had finished the edge with what can be most easily descibed as a box pleat, with the edge of the fabric tucked under the pleat. I thought that the extra fabric would create a fold that hid the gap. I ripped it up and instead I changed the pleats so that the edges simply met flesh with each other. I will try to wear it like this, but I might add some lacing on the inside to guarantee that it won't open up to show my underkirtle.

Then it was time to finally try it on and lace it shut on myself. I just love the folds of the skirt and how it pools around my feet, even if I know that I will have to be practical and shorten it so that I can walk while wearing it.

I'm not wearing my underkirtle under it, or a proper shift. I'm hoping that those will add a bit of extra volume around the hips to give a bit more of an hourglass shape. For lacing I used a lucet cord that I have made earlier. I want to switch it to a fingerloop braided cord instead, but it was good to try how long the cord needs to be, my arms are long enough to make the length I need.

Now it's on to the guards. I want a really deep guard, but I also want to raise the neckline a bit. I think it's a bit too deep, so my plan is to let guard peak up a bit over the edge of the bodice.

It's always tricky to make a curved piece fit right, so I simply put the gown on my dressform and draped a piece of fabric over it, then I drew a line where I could feel the edge of the bodice, and another line where I wanted the edge of the neckline to be.

I cut it out and this is the first draft of a pattern for the guard. Now it's on to fine tune it and cut it out in the brocade that I'm using for the guard.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Fingerloop braiding

 Over the summer I have realized that the most correct cord for me to use on my 16th century gowns should be made by fingerloop braiding. Lucet cors had gone out of fashion by that time. I have tried to follow instructions on fingerloop braiding, but I hadn't understood them. Then I found this video about an easier way of doing fingerloop braiding, and it really was easy.

I think I picked up the movement of the fingers within just a few turns, and then I could do it while watching stuff on the computer.

I worked in my kitchen. My kitchen table turned out to be perfect to create the loops around it's ending, and I could tie the loops to my kitchen aid. I could also put the loops down on the table, and then continue to pick them up later. The little metal thingies were used when I stopped overnight and I wanted to make it easier to keep the loops apart.

Now one thing I noticed straight away is that fingerloop braiding hurts my shoulders. I get this after a while when doing lucet cords as well, but then only in one shoulder. Fingerloop braiding is slow and I would not be able to do it all in one go, due to the shoulder pain.

For this test cord I used heavy linen thread. It wore out and one of the loops broke. Thankfully it broke at the top of the loop, so when I tied it together the knot didn't end up in the middle of the braid. The knot made this loop shorter than the others, and it turned a bit fiddlier to work after that. The video tutorial had the same problem, so you can see how she worked it out.

I continued, but after a while the knot on the broken loop broke as well, and since this was a test cord I didn't feel like continuing. So this is the finished fingerloop braid. To finish it I took the bows and tied them into a simple overhand knot.

So my impressions of fingerloop braiding compared to lucet cord.

It was easier to pick up this method of fingerbraiding than it was for me to learn to lucet. The finished fingerbraid cord is very strong and stiff, while lucet gives a cord that is much springier. 

It is possible to do a very long lucet cord, while the fingerloop braid is restricted to how far you can stretch your arms out to tighten then braid. If you have a friend that can help you it is possible to make longer cords. I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of medieval manuscripts that show fingerbraiding show two people working together.

When doing lucet cord it's possible to bring it with you, I've been working my lucet while watching sports and listening to lectures, while the fingerloop braid needs a fixed spot when you work it.

With fingerloop braiding it's possible to work with colours and different techniques to make beautiful patterns, and even eyelets, while with lucet you are basically stuck with just one piece of string.

This very thin cord that I made is thin enough that I think there would be a risk for it to cut into the fabric if I used it to lace my gowns and kirtles. I need to find a yarn or thread that is a bit thicker than my linen thread, and I need to find a friend that can help me make a really long cord for the lacing, but I definitely think if I get those then I rather use fingerloop braiding than lucet for my cords.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Star Wars Celebration in the back mirror

 When this year started my plan was to spend this week in Anaheim and having fun at Star Wars Celebration. This headline of this blog is that it's about Star Wars and historical costuming, and this year I have hardly posted anything Star Wars. There is a simple reason. With everything being cancelled I have realised that for my cosplay projects I really need an event to make them, while it's easier to keep me motivated with historical projects even if I don't have anything particular planned for them.

Anyway I feel like a bit of retrospective, so here are my favorite Celebration photos that I have found here on the blog, I haven't found any from C3 in 2005 and C4 or CE in 2007, they were saved on photobucket and have been lost from the web.

My cancan trooper from 2010 and 2012 is the biggest success I've ever had with a costume at a Celebration.

2013 in Essen, and the joy of finding another A-wing pilot. 

The tusen ladies are also from Essen, I actually sold my headpiece on the convention, but still haven't built my new one.

Anaheim 2015, and I finally made my dream gold handmaiden costume

A wonderful part of Celebrations is to team up with people who costume the same costume as you.

London 2016 was my first Running of the Hoods, and I was made a meme

Celebration is mostly about hanging out with friends though

My Tudor Leia made me have a bit more fun with costuming and doing cross-overs insted of perfect screen accurate things.

Orlando 2017, and the fun thing is last time in Chicago me and Holly recognized each other by our hair colours!

Me and Ryan had matching moustaches for the Running of the Hood

It's something special to gather so many SW fans in one place. Nowadays I feel that the huge group photos are a bit too much of a hazzle and I only do them if they don't clash with anything else.

The Cloud Riders group in Chicago 2019. I really should finish up my Enfys Nest costume, and seeing this photo inspired me for it.
This is probably the biggest Nordic Garrison group photo we have managed on a US Celebration

As much as I love my NG/NB people it's even more fun to meet up with the people you only meet at a Celebration, like Jenna (Song of Amazon)

It is fun looking back at all these photos. I also see my own costuming journey, where I think I have moved on a bit from making a new costume for every Celebration, and more doing my own thing. Still with two years to go until the next Celebration I will probably come up with something new to wear. It's also a fact that I have gained so much weight that I can't use many of the costumes that I'm wearing in the photos above.

Me and David, my convention travel partner since 2004 was at our classiest at the 501st party in Anaheim 2015. He said he was going to bring his top hat - well I didn't want to feel underdressed

Here are links to my Celebration reports that I've posted on this blog