Apologies and progress-ish

WP has changed source code making all my galleries broken! But it is for a good reason. This brings all the image elements in line with W3 accessibility. I’ve used a bit of CSS to help while I figure out what to change in my child theme if the theme creator has abandoned updates.

I’ve had a few pings recently about my main focus(es) of research which means I have opportunities to consolidate it all around specific themes. I’m not going to lie though, my focus is shattered.


I’ve tried to rewrite my paper to publish it properly but I admit this lack of focus means I’ve been tidying and forgetting my criteria for said tidying when it comes to my physical and research topics.

Add in some very difficult health issues (whole limb numbness and petechiae on my feet that are getting worse) and it’s pretty difficult to dedicate time each day.

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Overdue updates

I have a huge project of giving back to work on, because community bonds are not always public. And I have some huge thanks to give my SCA, Lochac, Ildhafn family. It’s so emotional I’ve asked for it to be private until I can do true justice to these incredible gifts.

I’ve been sharing progress of projects on Instagram as there is another conflict between my phone and PC to import images. But I have finally really started to get in some Doing every day.

A little bit of jewellery work

a little bit of documentation of the jewellery

and now my Marie Antoinette stays, which are possibly my nicest support layer ever.

And taking a pattern from my Elsa Ice Gown in case I decide I can use the same pattern as a support for my Epilogue gown. Feel free to use this as inspiration, it uses the super handy double seam/dart of Victorian patterning with the classic modern “princess” type seam.

As for my epilogue gown… The support layers are going to be so important that I’m testing all options. From my 1920s style stays with modern Super Powermesh to my Marie Antoinette stays.
My 1920s stays unfortunately were unrecoverable after the lacing grommets rusted badly. The side lacing though would help so much with keeping the shell supported somewhat invisibly.

And for the shell layers I am so very keen on my mid 20thC inspired darting to keep the neckline entirely on the grain, and trying to use fairly precise, graphed, points for the sparkling layers.

I started with 5cm wide base points, but then moved to 4cm and I think that works better.

I’ve felt like I’ve been in a bit of a slump, but really this is a lot to be proud of I think. I’ve been working on my research in the background including drafting patterns of extant garments.

I think if I take my usual 3hr break now (yes, my fibro controls this time of day no matter what I throw at it) having posted all of this? I think I can come back to my work feeling positive.

Thank you to everyone out there who respond and support me. I value every positive or quizzical response so very much.

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Tidying is finally paying off

Oh boy has it been a really difficult “few” years (since 2017) but finally some of the distraction and self soothing techniques in which I tidy whenever I need to (including midnight) is paying off. Yesterday and today I was able to cut 40m of boning to fit my effigy stays and my bobbinet 19thC gusseted stays, and finally my coutil and bobbinet corset. There is maybe 10m left.

My effigy stays are a super smooth linen satin, I have some C1700 stays cut from as well as my 16thC meider/seelgin. My 1700s stays needed straps and an extra section in the back with that classic curved panel that acts a bit like a very small gusset over the side back of the hips.

My 1700 stays have already been stitched but I’m hoping I can stitch between panels for some 3mm boning I really want to use for even more accurate boning density. It is a bit of a tough ask for that though. 7mm into two 3mm channels? Sounds feasible but the boning pushes on the fabric so you really need a good 4mm per channel. I’ll use a long machine stitch to test a panel and from there I should be able to decide if it’s okay. I might be able to de-stitch the panels and re-stitch them if the payoff is what I hope it is.

Tidying meant I had only two places to look for the already cut straps and for enough of the linen to make those built in gusset panels.

Fatigue and pain and recurrent chest infections mean this is still taking far too long, but I’m able to catch up quite quickly if I can trust past me to have tidied efficiently.

My effigy stays are fully boned. So that means every 7mm there is a line of stitching and between every single line of stitching is a piece of boning. This is the only kind of stays in which the advice to alternate the curve of boning (from being stored in rolls) really pays off immediately.

My 19thC style stays with gaps between boning work better with the curve always pushing away at the waist, curling in at the upper and lower edges. I’ll try and get photos of all this today.

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Over and under sharing at the same time

“I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding.”

In the last few years I’ve had some truly, to me, strange feedback that I’m not doing enough to teach people how to do what I do.

And I’m just.

Have you met me?

I’m an over-sharer for the equivalent of an entire generation, and somehow this accusation has persisted. I’ve been told to my face and behind my back and I just can’t understand how it’s possible to believe.

That’s how rumour works though right?

Get a lie in before truth can get its boots on?

It’s just weird to me because if I’m told a statement to believe I am immediately suspicious and will do some basic research.


This year has been more difficult than ever to share than before. Absolutely.

My PC software no longer imports from my phone easily. For more than a year, but I kept expecting that issue to be patched but nope. Apparently this is now a feature to have to import and then sort by date and month. I had 9K images by the end. I still have to work out if the files have the correct time and date because that too has changed before I delete from my phone.

However, I never have and never will hide how I do things.

Mostly because everything I make is really about how they are made.

Always has been.

Understanding how materials are turned into art is as or more important to me than the art.

I think it comes from taking art for 5th Form Certificate and having no technical training. I didn’t understand how we were expected to understand how reactionary and revolutionary contemporary artists are if we didn’t know what they were reacting to and rejecting.

I wasn’t able to take this up at university either as design was it. I thought, yeah I can design anything but if it’s meant to be created then surely I should have a much deeper understanding of those processes?

For example my patterning database means I can spot a modern costume over an extant almost immediately. And it has everything to do with the idea that modern draping and drafting is peak evolution so obviously you can use it for pre 21st century patterning.


We drape top down while so much pre-1900s is waist up and hem to waist. It’s so freeing to do that too! If the expectation is neck to waist, then waist to neck is unexpected, disruptive. And the same is true for waist-hem reversal.

What makes my costuming interesting is entirely in using these techniques not in hiding what I do.

But yes, because I learned a heck of a lot as a child I wanted to explore all of this at an early age so there are a number of steps of learning between me and most of my peers.

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Burden has lifted

I’m now feeing quite free. It was very hard at first. But really I’m just back to where I have always been: reaching out from home to share to the world.

I’ve put projects on hold that didn’t allow me to participate locally. But I started this journey by making what I love and to just make then find a reason to wear them. Photoshoot in our back yard? Sure.

The problem is when I’m in one genre I’m unconsciously being judged by how much I do in other genres so my work is less appreciated. My peers regularly tell me to use a technique I do know about, and have known for decades. When I deviate and share that? It’s for other disabled people who also can’t use the standard technique. Abled people might find it useful too, but I’m giving an option and explaining why.

My hands are constantly giving feedback to my brain. It’s pain, of a few flavours, there is fizzing neural stuff, there is neuropathy, the sensation of air on my hands is fuzzy, I get pain and tingles when any part of my hand touches an edge or say my nails.

I need feedback of these tools to override the noise and lack of noise.

I’ve been experimenting how to do this for 20 years. So if I’ve got an adaptation, it’s been well tested.

I don’t share this because I’m angry, or to point fingers, but to hopefully just make a little change- pause before telling someone how to use a traditional technique and ask what you are missing or assuming. I’ve also absorbed some incredible traditional techniques from cultures that are not my own and they help me in my journey which is to ask why a technique became traditional and what the properties/advantages and disadvantages they offer.

And to be honest I’m not sure anyone does what I do, though not lately due to stress and health. Who knows how to make a suit of armour out of wet formed leather? And make yard tall SFX pieces? And uses 16thC pattern manuals as they were used, and 19thC dressmaking books as they were (hint both use very different fit and construction order, and very different intensities of effort- less precision in skirts for instance)? And sculpts at a small and large scale? And so on?

To help me with what feels so overwhelming in terms of projects I’m also making a 1/4 doll to drape on, especially for those that I really want to make but, you know, use >20m of fabric.

The very first will be Maleficent and Freya. Maleficent might actually be on my tiny artists mannequin as the original looks like it was about 40m. Wing testing though should be at 1/4 to avoid tiny errors becoming massive errors.

Freya will be first as a calico piece then paper to create the repeats. I have some otherwise perfect shot organza but it’s hot pink and blue (I think) so is lurking with my Bubble Gown inspired frock as an under layer.

This has to be made at 1/4 scale due to the sheer weight. I might wind up really mixing up these different solutions that have been around since the 1620s. Shoot. I want to make one of these so badly. To use the Leloir pattern and the information about how it was restored.

But as we don’t have extant items for them, I need to look to extant garments where we do: Robes de cour.

And then Robes de Style.

But then there is the Clover gown series, and all those fantastic movie costumes.

And all those incredible tulle gowns by Molly Goddard

As to my doll/form I’m using existing doll making patterns as a guide, because none really do what I need. But I have been inspired by particular artists so I need to sort that info for sharing.

She’ll be ball jointed with wooden beads, I just worked out what sizes I need so I’ve also just ordered beads big enough.

And I’ve been in my studio twice this week in a positive frame of mind so that’s been good.

Really good actually.

There is so much sadness that my Boo is no longer with me, as he kept me company. But I can’t stop doing what I love, but more than that I can’t stop doing what we loved doing together. I might have to bring some reminder of him with me when I go.

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I am making stuff

But it’s also a fantastic IG prompt month so I’ve been back in my files of progress of my costumes as well as essentially pressing, pressing pressing my fabric for my 1530s Spanish/Portugese court dress. The weight of the fabric is at the point I need to hang the skirt panels.

The good news is my fabric is cut as a section of a circle and all the work to line up the wefts has stabilised enough to be able to keep it folded up along the radial lines.

The hem is now even and the entire piece is now stretched so I have heaps of wiggle room to carefully restitch seams cut through and to baste through the joins.

I’m also working on my “bentgin” which is a wide very decorated necklace. Some match other jewelled pieces worn, some are statement pieces alone.

The thistle is a common motif in embroidery at the time so I found it interesting to find it in smithed work as well. The little ring of pearls are because the original used a very dense ring of fine wire with little bobbles on the end. You can see the alternating flowers by looking close to her shoulders- pinks just like Anne of Cleves had.

I’ve already made a set of jewels for my version of her striped gown, so I need to put them together on my new “shiltgin.” The neckline is so rigid that it pulls the softer part of the fabric out from under the gown and my new piece should do that easily.

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Memetastic day

Just redraw this skirt, I said.

It’ll be easy, I said.

It’s already been reconstructed, I said.

I was able to get it to work eventually, but mostly through the ability to see the piecing. Which reminds me, I really need to do an article on the misuse of terms used to describe piecing. What’s great is that it’s simply a chapter in the book I’m already writing. So it’s likely I’ll be able to do each chapter like this online first because if the last few years have really brought home is that I want my ripples to last longer than me, not end before I do.

Wow, that went to a bleak place fast. But it is why it’s been so hard to decide what to focus on first.

The weight of why I need to do this feels so disproportionate to what I’m doing in the last processes of research. But it’s because I do have so much research for context.

And there I go again, about ready to write to publish a chapter and my mind started asking what style guide I’m going to use, what graphics program? It’s a bit of a mess I’m still untangling.

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Okay. I have finally decided on how to cut and how to line and what sleeves I want for my 1530s Spanish/Portuguese Court frock.

I’ve been sharing on instagram thanks to the new ability to use the browser version. So a bit of a summary. I’m trying to recreate a gown from one of the Nassau tapestries of Mencia de Mendoza. This cartoon is one of a very few depictions of these cloth of gold gowns that include the length of the over sleeves and even, maybe, a waist seam- or very small fold at the waist.

The portraits that include this kind of gown include Eleanora of Austria and her attendants and include more details around the neckline and higher. With two portraits of Mencia in non gold gowns there is quite a lot of information.

It’s just possible to see the hint of a trandazo in a few so that’s great. So bonnet, cofia, and tranzado. I love stacked headgear and with jewels there is even more fun.

The gown is probably a brial, there is a waist seam but the skirt is smooth. This suggests a cut with only a minimal amount of fabric through the waist and maybe a lot of fullness at the hem.

There are some hints in art that suggest a few different degrees of fit and length of the bodices.

I’m trying to work my way through some of Hispanic Costume at the same time.

I have some more references of portraits and the sleeves later. But I think I have enough to do another pattern theory test.


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Adding value

As we have the wonderful Hispanic Costume as well as many reenactors doing Spanish fashion of the first half of the 1500s I’ve been just neatly putting my research into folders but I think I may have picked up on something not really widely appreciated. The problem is in where and how to share that.

I also have to get the courage to cut my fabric full stop.

It’s pretty daunting to be honest.

And just like my Anne of Cleves research it’s about starting with what is out there, crediting where needed and then taking people on my journey which actually isn’t a single path.

So my two BIG folders are about Anne (language, people, portraits, other art forms, social activities, roles… it’s a lot) and tailoring (manuals, masterpiece works, extant garments, guild documents) overlap so much.

But gold brocade is very much a fabric that has very different properties so that the weft causes big soft folds across, and disagonal cuts make the edge very mobile vertically.

So I need a stabilising fabric and a lot of tacks and basting to keep it to the shape and size I want.

So I need to do one more test run of my pattern which might change.

So maybe a post on the evolution of this particular gown is in the making. Because it sort of skims through and around past research.

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Research and making help

I’ve been only really able to anything in small chunks of the day so research winds up dominating as it’s less demanding than making on my hands. But I’ve done enough to start writing up and I’m just meeting so many mental and physical barriers that I’m feeling so lost. Yet the pattern diagram immediately to my left is just so clear, so easy to use, that I’m feeling even worse for not managing to articulate that.

So I might just get my past patterning help back up, as it is, and maybe with some links to original resources.

I really want to explain the different between “French” and “American” systems in the 19thC as the French system is so good, so good, that I’m switched to it for my 19thC gowns.

It’s not yet 1pm but I desperately need, and have done for a few hours now, actual rest with some dermal patches- heat and diclofenac, on my back and hands.

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