A Golden Doublet for My Little Pirate

17 July 2011

A golden doublet!

The doublet for my son turned out VERY well, and I’m extremely pleased with it. The Simplicity pattern was just as good as the one I used for my Tudor gown — easy to understand directions, simple construction techniques, and a great looking (and well-put-together) garment when completed. I was able to use the tablet-woven band Alexander worked on on the front, and supplemented it with red grosgrain ribbon. I was also able to make it reversible, so Alexander can wear the red linen side out if he prefers. And, I while it is loose on him (he’ll be able to wear this for several years), I think it still looks pretty good. I did end up shortening the bottom by about 3-4″, however, as it was just much too long on him.

I also put in a special “kid-friendly” feature — a hidden pocket behind the front right peplum! In addition to loving pirates and gold, Alexander loves pockets. I’m going to hide a gold doubloon in there and see how long it takes him to find it.

A "hidden" pocket behind one of the peplums

I still need to finish the eyelets — I’m working on those now. I’ll take a photo of Alexander wearing his entire “pirate” outfit as soon as I get a chance. I’ll also try to take some better photos when it’s not so dark. Tomorrow will be a busy day with non-SCA stuff, so I may not get to my Garb-A-Day goal, but I guess that just means I’ll have to double up on another day.

Here’s the progress on the eyelets — they take a long time!

Double Doublets: Simplicity 4059 Pattern

16 July 2011

Alexander wants a gold vest for his pirate outfit, and Gregor needs something dressier than a tunic, so I’m making both of them doublets. This project predates my Garb-A-Day craziness, but I’ve decided to try to squeeze it in anyway. Yes, I am crazy, in case you’re wondering. Anyway, as I’ve never made a doublet before, and am even less familiar with male clothing than female, I’m using a commercial pattern — specifically Simplicity 4059. The pattern designer  (Andrea Schewe) is the same one who did the Tudor gown I made and absolutely love, and which has been determined to be reasonably historically accurate by “those who know.” And I really like how this doublet looks — it appears to be based on Tudor doublets, and the armless style is good for hot weather. I know I really should research it more, but I’ll save that for future projects — for now, I just need to get them clothed! Here’s a photo of the doublet from the pattern:

Doublet B from Simplicity 4059

Alexander’s doublet will be made of a gold 100% cotton canvas twill with red linen as a lining, and Gregor’s is a green striped cotton canvas (same fabric as my Tudor gown) with green broadcloth as the lining. I’ve already cut out all the pattern pieces for both. So tomorrow I’ll begin sewing Alexander’s doublet — with any luck, I can finish it within the day. I should also note that I’m actually making both doublets from the same set of patterns — size XS for Alexander and XL for Gregor. Alexander’s will likely be a little loose and a little long, but hey, he can grow into it, right? If it’s too big, maybe I’ll just make him a belt, or add a tie to the side that we can use to tighten the back.

Oh, and I plan to hand-sew the eyelets (rather than use grommets) to give the doublet a more historically-accurate look. For the trim on Alexander’s doublet, I want to use the Golden Path of Fire tablet-woven band that Alexander came up with and has been working on. Not sure what trim to use on Gregor’s doublet, however — maybe a silver cord?





Attack of the Drawstring Pants

16 July 2011

Today’s Garb-A-Day project is a pair of drawstring pants for Gregor. After looking at a lot of different methods to make these online, I settled on what appeared to be simple directions from DawnPages. I made the pants out of a simple brown twill, hemmed and French seamed it all. Then I tried them on. Now let me preface this by saying I am shorter and smaller than Gregor, but …. goodness, these pants are huge! I followed the directions, I swear I did. I even tapered the leg a bit. All I can do is hope they work better for Gregor. They are definitely very roomy! But I’m making him try these on before I make him any more!

“Do these pants make me look big?”

Fitted Breeches for My Pirate

15 July 2011

Little Boy Breeches

Today’s Garb-A-Day project is pants. So far I’ve made Alexander a pair of linen, fitted breeches to go with his Elizabethan shirt. They aren’t necessarily constructed in any historical manner — I doubt they will last that long knowing my kid anyway. I also made them exactly to his size, rather than a bit larger, as I didn’t want his pants falling down on him while he was playing! I think they look quite nice, though.

I got the directions on how to make these fitted breeches from Dawn’s Costume Guide — I simply used a pair of Alexander’s pants as a guide for the measurements. I used drawstrings for the waist and legs rather than buttons or snaps, just to give us more flexibility.

Oh … and Alexander likes them! And he’s already managed to get a grass stain on ’em. That’s my kid!

As for the other pair of pants I wanted to make today (for Gregor), I’m still waiting on a style and measurements. I think we’re leaning toward linen, full-length pants with a drawstring waist, such as those found at these links:


A Pirate Shirt for My Son (Shh… It’s Really an Elizabethan!)

15 July 2011

My 6-year-old announced yesterday that he’d like me to make him a pirate outfit to wear at Pennsic. I’d already explained to him on several occasions that pirates weren’t really what we were going for. Then he proceeded to show me a pirate fact book he has that shows that pirates were around in the time period that the SCA covers. Sure enough, he was right. Since he did “research” and is attempting to satisfy the “rules” of the SCA, I feel I should try to make him something a pirate would wear. Of course, his idea of what a pirate would wear (think Jack Sparrow) is different than what a pirate actually wore. But I just wasn’t sure what to make him that he’d like, that would be reasonably accurate, and wouldn’t be time-consuming to construct.

So I asked the helpful folks over at SCA-Garb and they came through with several ideas for me! The first idea is to make him an Elizabethan shirt, as they are similar to “poet” shirts that are commonly depicted on pirates in popular media. Plus, pirate captains were mostly nobles or gentlemen (how else could they afford a ship and crew?), and it’s likely captains during Elizabethan times work similar shirts. I looked about and found a web site that had a shirt pattern from The Museum of Costume, circa 1585-1600. Perfect! I adapted it to my son’s measurements and, with the approval of my son, went to work!

Alexander tries on the shirt

We did change two things from the pattern. For one, we didn’t do blackwork, but did use some gold thread around the collar and the shirt bottom. My son LOVES anything gold, and in his mind it goes along with being a pirate (gold, gold pieces, treasure, get it?). Sure, it’s not accurate, but who cares! Also, I put lacing at the top of the shirt to help it fit him better, as I’d made it larger than necessary so the shirt would be wearable for longer.

Actually, now that I think about it, I made two more changes — no drawstrings at the neck and wrists and no slits on the side. But other than all that, it’s the same as the pattern … including neckline gores! Those are a first for me.






Here’s what the shirt looks like now that it’s all done:

A shirt fit for a swashbuckler!


And here is a close-up look at the eyelets and collar:

Spiral lacing on the Elizabethan shirt

I can’t wait to show Alexander the finished shirt in the morning! Update: He loves the shirt .. and looks quite dashing in it!

And that completes today’s Garb-A-Day goal … yay!

Dragon Army Tunic for Gregor

14 July 2011

Gregor's new red tunic

In keeping with my Garb-A-Day project, I completed Gregor’s red tunic yesterday and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I used the Bochsten Man’s tunic for the pattern (customized to Gregor’s measurements, of course) in red, unlined linen. I added some of my tablet-woven trim around the neckline and wrists (what I call the “Dragon Army” trim, hence the name I’m giving to this tunic). I’m really impressed at how nice the trim looks on the red!

That was all nice, but I decided the tunic needed a little something extra, so I added the white band of guarding around the bottom. I think it’s going to look great on him! Red and white are his chosen colors — when he decides on a device, it will employ those colors. I can’t wait to take a picture of him actually wearing it!

Note: The tunic will drape much better on Gregor’s tall frame with broad shoulders. I just put it on my dressform so I could take a better picture of it (though I did turn it around so no curvy bits would show!)

Tablet-woven trim around the neck and wrists White guarding around the bottom

Garb-a-Day Project: Push for Pennsic!

12 July 2011

We now have exactly three weeks before we hope to depart for Pennsic. And between the three of us, we each have maybe 1-2 outfits appropriate for camping.

Whoooop! Whoooop! Whoooop! (those would be emergency sirens!)

It’s time to crackdown and make our garb! So I’m setting a goal for myself — one piece of garb a day for the next three weeks. I’ve even made myself a little schedule…

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Cauls x 2 Cotton Smock Tissue Linen Smock Red “Dragon Army” Tunic (G) White Linen Elizabethan Shirt (A) Fitted Breeches (A) Drawstring Pants (G)
Gold Doublet (A) Nothing! Full day of mundane stuff. Apron Green/Red Doublet (G) Blue Tunic (G) Tissue Linen Smock and White Shirt (G) No sewing — took a break and made benches
No sewing — took break and stained benches Red/Brown Kirtle + Hat Red Schlappe Hat Light Blue/Dark Blue Kirtle Tie-On Sleeves x2 and Partlet x2 Plum/Black Overdress (OR a Kirtle instead … still deciding) Tunic? Smock? Understuff?
Cloaks (maybe), hems Whatever else I didn’t finish DEPART FOR PENNSIC!

There we go…. if I meet my goal each day, I will have enough garb for the three of us for Pennsic! I think this is doable — I’ve done each of these things in one day before, and I certainly didn’t spend all day doing them (which is good, as I’ve got my day job to do, too!) If I am good, I will move a little ahead in my schedule and buy myself some extra time so I’m not sewing sleeves the night before we leave.

I must turn this stash into wearable garb!

Can I actually do it? Well, as I’m big on goals and rewards, here’s my plan. Each day I complete my goal, I’ll cross it out on the chart above and post about it on Facebook and/or here on my blog, to keep myself honest. And if I complete my goal, my reward is some truly awesome thing from a Pennsic merchant — not sure what I’d get yet, as I need to see what they are selling, but I’ll know when I see it.

I just placed a big order for linen from (theyir new doggie bags came out today — good discounts!)

So, here we go … today’s goal: a smock for me made of tissue linen (it’s already prewashed and ready for cutting).

Saline Celtic Festival: Demonstrating the Gentler Arts of the SCA

9 July 2011

Today my son and I attended the Saline Celtic Festival with other members of the Barony of Cynnabar. Our mission? To demonstrate many of the wonderful aspects and arts of living in the “current middle ages.” I’d been preparing to attend this event for much of the week, finishing off our camp chairs and my new Flemish Gown. I arrived early this morning to set up our chairs — which I’d just finished staining and gilding yesterday — and my large loom showing a tablet-woven band in progress. Here was our little corner of the Cynnabar tent:

Our gothic camp chairs and my large loom

The chairs were WONDERFUL! Easy to put together and take down, they looked great, they felt comfortable, and I received many comments on them. I’m really happy I made them! Oh, and I did make that “cupholder” for Alexander — you can sort of see it in the above photo.

Also “in action” today is my new Flemish Gown. It wore well, and I received many compliments on it. Nothing ripped or fell apart — always a bonus! Only problem is that I really should have lined the kirtle — it just felt too flimsy with one layer of linen. So I’ll be doing that, as I loved it otherwise, and it was a remarkably comfortable outfit. Alas, I was pretty hot in all those layers. If it gets that hot at Pennsic (it was 95°F today), I’ll probably have to wear just the chemise/smock and kirtle, or I’ll exhaust myself from heat early in the trip! Also, I need to make myself a caul (headscarf) to keep my hair up and off my neck — my hair was just making me feel hotter! But thank goodness for that old straw hat I had!

My new Flemish Gown was very comfortable!

I had a great time talking about, demonstrating, and teaching the tablet weaving. Even my son Alexander got in on the action and showed off his “Golden Path of Fire” band to others — in fact, a woman from one of the local news organizations took his photo and name while he was demonstrating his weaving. Maybe he’ll show up in an article or something! Update: Yes, indeed — a photo of both Alexander and I appeared in the article about the Celtic Festival on today! Here we are:

As we appear in's article!

Update 7/13/11: Turns out Alexander made the local news again! Here’s a video posted at — in it you can see Alexander with Alex the Blacksmyth (around 1:04). Cool!


My son in his red linen Bocksten tunic

Speaking of my son, he “bought” me this pretty, sterling silver ring. He spent all of his own spending money on it, and I made up the rest. It was completely his idea. He chose the heart because that’s always been an important symbol between he and I — we draw hearts on notes for each other all the time. He didn’t even know that the Claddaugh ring is traditionally given as a token of love, and that I’ve always wanted one. I haven’t worn rings in years, but I used to love them. I will always cherish this ring from him!

My Claddaugh ring from my son!

All in all, a great day! Notes for my next event …

  • Get my hair up and off my neck
  • Put a ribbon in my hat and tie it under my chin so it doesn’t blow off my head in a breeze
  • Don’t forget my keys when I go to pick up my car at the end of the day! (Oops!)

An Apple Green Kirtle (And, Pink is Period!)

5 July 2011

I love green!

I now have a very nice apple green kirtle that will serve as an underdress for my Flemish Gown. The kirtle went together well from the pattern I’d made. I decided not to line the underdress for now, as I’ll be wearing the overdress which will have two layers of linen plus the linen smock, and that seems like a lot. If I don’t feel too hot in four layers of linen this weekend, I’ll go ahead and line the underdress with more linen later. So I just need to finish the neckline, hem the bottom, and complete the hand-bound eyelet holes on the side (I decided to make this a side-lacing kirtle).

Once that is done (today, I hope), it’s time to move on to the overdress. It is supposed to be a darker green (Juniper from and a golden yellow. I’m just not so sure about the yellow with the green, however. So I think I’m going to switch colors from my palette and do the pink color with the green overdress and move the yellow over to the blue dress, so it’ll look more like the picture on the right.

New color scheme

I think the pinkish color goes better with the greens. And, yes indeed, pink is period. I used it on my first-ever SCA dress in the ’90s, then thought, “wait, would they have worn this color back then?” and decided no and didn’t wear it again. But since returning to the SCA, I’ve discovered that pink is very much period. I don’t know where I (and others) came up with the idea that pink wasn’t period. There are many, many plants that will make pink, or light red, dyes, so it makes no sense that it wouldn’t have been used. Perhaps it’s just that pink, especially a color like hot pink, seems very modern. Also, I think the word “pink” isn’t an ancient word, it’s usage as a noun dating back only to the 17th century — I’ll bet that’s why it seems modern. Thankfully, the color itself is period, because I happen to love pink. It’s my second favorite color after green!

So pink linen … yeah, don’t have any of that either. Guess I need to dye more linen. Rit makes two pinks … a petal pink and a rose pink. Rose is too much; so I think it’ll have to be petal pink. I may not dye it quite so much, though — I don’t want a bright pink! So I guess a trip to Joann’s is in store for me later today after work.

I’m lovin’ this dress so far!

My First Dye Job: Dying Linen Apple Green

4 July 2011

Today was my first foray into dying fabric, believe it or not. I’ve thought about it many times over the years, but never managed to find the motivation. But this time around, I needed a light green linen — you can’t get that color at Joann’s, and I couldn’t find the right shade of green at (Midori comes close,but it looks too “lime” yellow green, and Willow seemed a bit lighter than I wanted). I would have been willing to settle for the Willow linen, but … I need this dress done in 5 days and there’s just not time to get an order of linen shipped. So I got a bottle of RIT Apple Green dye from Joann’s and gave it a whirl. Directions say to mix half a bottle with three gallons of hot water and a cup of salt, and stir constantly — finding something to stir with that wouldn’t turn the same color as my dye or hurt my linen was a bit challenging, but I settled on a stainless steel spatula.

Supplies for Fabric Dyeing

I put the dye, salt, and water into a big tub. I used the hottest water I could get from the tap plus a pot of boiling water fresh off the stove. I also filled my bathtub a few inches full of hot water, hoping that would keep the water in the tub hot. Before I put in my linen, I washed it but did not dry it — I read that if the linen is wet when it goes into the dyebath, it is less likely to dye unevenly. Once the dyebath was ready, I put in the linen, trying not to bunch it up too much (again, something I’ve heard can cause splotchy dyeing).

The Dyebath

I stirred, or attempted to stir, the linen in the tub for 30 minutes. 3.5 yards of wet linen is not an easy thing to stir! So I half-stirred, half agitated the water … then every 5 minutes or so I took the linen out, let it fall flat, and put it back in the water. I was hoping that would unbunch/uncrease any folds of fabric so that, over the 30 minutes, the fabric would touch the dyebath relatively easily.

After 30 minutes, I took out the linen and rinsed it. I was supposed to rinse it until the water ran clear, but this proved hard to do, so I just did what I could. The next step called for me to wash it with detergent, so I just took it to the washer, added a little detergent, and washed it. Then I dried it in the dryer. I wanted maximum shrinkage before I began cutting and sewing, as I would like to be able to just machine wash and dry this dress in the future.

How did it turn out? See for yourself …

Apple Green Linen

It looks delicious … and just the color I wanted. The linen took the dye evenly and it all seemed to work great. Interestingly, I noticed that when I ironed the dyed linen, the color lightened just a bit, but darkened again when it cooled, though perhaps not quite as dark. I wonder if that will happen everytime, or just the first time.

Well, now the fabric is laid out and ready for cutting into my kirtle pieces!

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