Finally Elsa

After a lot of time I finally have the perfect chiffon for my Elsa gown, and apparently this particular brand sells out super fast. I can see why. It’s super soft and sheer and is ideal for both gathering and draping, and it has none of the sheen that you get in some chiffon, so, I get it. I have just enough if I can handle a fair bit of top and tailing of gores, and you know, that is easily in my wheelhouse, it’s the planning to do so. I might need to split the sleeve capes like I did my ice cape, but again, I’ve done that before.

It’s sheer enough but as soon as I dip dye the hem it will do exactly what happens in the film. It will make the hem seem to get more sheer. So yes, this is a really amazing fabric to be able to do all of that.

So this means that I can start the sleeve capes while figuring out how much charmeuse for the lining and exactly how to cut the sequin fabric. I think I’m going to do a slightly unexpected cut. Basically darting the sequins at each point so that I can shape over my hips and wind up with a fuller hem. There are a few strange things going on in the skirt because they went even further in making her gown as unattached to reality as possible. Knit fabrics do a lot of work in interpreting animation but this possibly goes even further and could only be made real with a machine that could knit or crochet the piece in one.

But I need a fun and beautiful project as it’s getting more and more difficult to do anything and it’s genuinely not something I can just get over myself. It’s not a personal issue, it’s an accessibility one.

Today might be the last relatively risk free travel I did locally, as unfortunately neither the flu nor CV vaccine will be available for me for several months, and it’s absolutely a life and death situation. My permanent cough from my last round of flu cannot be Dxed as anything until I get a CT and I can’t get a CT because nothing shows on an xray. And I am seriously looking at how much they cost. Okay. It’s the cost of a mid range laptop. Which I desperately need.

But I also really need to have Dx of this bronchitis as it is limiting my life. Okay. Tomorow. Tomorrow I call my Rheumy nurse, and GP. I will have to go through the respiratory clinic meaning a nose swab but I really need this current activity of cough to settle to be allowed a vaccine when it does become available.

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I have finally started to get some lesser known information out there. Over the last few years I have found the gap between what I know, and what everyone else knows has lead to me simply not being able to be able to explain choices I made in my clothing even when I had a number of resources with me. So, here are links to all my info, along with when I published or will publish 🙂

|| Anne of Cleves ||

  • The Holbein portraits (to publish, it’s the last piece before I explain The Hat)
  • The Bruyn portrait (this is the Bernal/Rosenbach portrait, there are many details no one in England would have known about at the time, and only really becomes obvious when you look for the influence on fashion caused by influence of political aspirations and clashes.)
  • Copies of the Bruyn portrait (and why they are copies, because they are obviously so once you know why the Bernal/Rosenbach portrait is the original.)
  • Tryptichon (a good colour image was only just digitised last year, details now viewable confirm the Bernal/Rosenbach portrait and the depicitions of dress in the Codice de trajes as it supports the distinction between nobility and citizens as dictated by sumptuary laws.)
  • Contested images (to publish, it really only makes sense once you know what to expect.)
  • Mislabeled (this is just so weird. Any painting labeled Anna Regina was assumed to be Anne Boleyn, but then later Anne of Cleves.)
  • Will the real Stickelchen Please Stand up? (to publish, I still have some transcribing and a lot of image editing to do, this is about The Hat.)
  • A bon fin? (already published on my site, editing it for my new one.)
  • Hall’s Chronicles (published ages ago, but now separate from the next two pages.)
  • Wriothesley Chronicle (to publish)
  • Letters And Papers (getting huge so will need to be published in chapters.)
  • wedding negotiations (published a while back, but it’s interesting to read anyway.)

|| Clothing of the North Rhine ||

  • All images sorted by date (published ages ago, got a few to cite still and a handful of newly digitised images.)
    • der Adel (nobility) (these are the ones I need to cite and tag, tags are so hard for these due to how different clothing was and don’t match the records for citizens.)
    • die bugerin (citizens) (will be sorted by decade as atm you need to start at the start and while context is great it can be a barrier.)
  • Codice de trajes
    • Gelderland (just published and it’s really nifty!)
    • Julich (just published, even niftier!)
    • Koeln (just published, less nifty except to support how reasonable the attempt was made for the other two.)

All the rest were published ages ago, and show how hard it is to find more specific records for 1500-1550 of the nobility. Most records were dispersed in at least two waves.

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Anne of Cleves progress

Well, it always happens. I hoped I would have finished by now but I found three new sources, this is great! But it complicates the order I publish my work in to make sure they are viewed in context.

But also not every CMS is happy with multiple galleries on one page. Made even more complicated by plugins that work in the UI and can’t load due to the already mentioned issues of multiple galleries. Luckily there have been natural break points to separate the information. But it’s a little nerve wracking hoping like heck you can copy and paste the information before the tab crashes.

My symposium talk and a really important SCA talk both rely on everyone being on the same page (hah!) as me, so I know this is worth it. The problem is that my RA and fibro require a lot of additional support even while I’m mostly copying and pasting information. That can sometimes be even more of a problem if the difference between time able to edit and time needed to recover get wider. T

I also need to find a style guide that works. And that works with my CMS as it is now, and in the future. To that end I’ve started taking caption off images in galleries and using the handy a) b) c)’s in captions below to match how captions work in images.

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Sometimes you just need a smashing lamp

But my PC and printer are working (finally) to let me get OCR scans of works I’m trying to translate. And my Anne of Cleves research is finally making sense. And all the rest of my renaissance costume research is now fitting around that. It is a bit weird yes. But the Spanish manuals and Hungarian garments all work together to get a really vibrant picture of fashion. And it really is fashion. I’m not sure why we persist in thinking it is an 18thC phenomenon at the earliest. I can date a portrait to a few years based on fit and accessories, and these were very much about the interection between personality and alliances.

But I’m so excited. I have had to just stop looking for the bias that has affected everything about her life, as it just got to the point of being depressing. So my focus is back to her portraits. To be fair that is a bit overwhelming too, as I do find myself trying to back track several years of connections made even with other Norther Renaiassance clothing focused people.

But that has also been exciting, I want everyone to be able to launch their own research without having to redo or relearn what seems to have been lost.

So. Time to rest. make some notes, and not worry about my PC and printer because I absolutely wanted to throw my printer onto the deck and smash it. But e-cycling is a much more responsible response *if* I have to delete and reinstall my printer Just Because.

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like swimming upstream

Life with chronic pain and fatigue is complicated. Especially when that interferes with day to day activities. I had a bit of a wake up call recently as I tend to not think about where in the disability spectrum I reside. But it turns out I fit this “more-disabled women – defined as having their day-to-day activities “limited a lot” by their health.”

I mean. I know that is my situation. But it still is a bit confronting.

I have to limit slightly more than I want to as well, because there is usually a sharp drop if I meet a limit rather than avoid it.

I can still be happy and optimistic about other parts of my life. I enjoy music, and shows even if I have to keep part of me from remembering that I was supposed to have a career in performing. I can still enjoy art I created years ago even if I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make anything from this point on.

And I have to be honest, I’m now a few years down a path of increasing difficulty with even small projects.

Today I edited a blog post to republish on my new site. It is an important one for my Anne of Cleves research.

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Actual progress

I have managed to transfer my Anne of Cleves sleeve mock up! It took a bit longer than expected as a certain spotty cat thought that a single layer of paper was a better litter tray than the litter tray. Sadly my copy of Mary Saaler’s book on Anne was caught up in it- it was out because I wanted to reference the sleeves easily.

But the pattern has been replaced, and I am super happy with it. Really happy. It will be going into my pattern book.

This is obviously quite a small achievement but we have had a fair amount of stress the last three weeks which culminated in a nationwide alert for a Tsunami (the surge did arrive but was more of a marine disturbance.) The earthquake that trigger it was off shore at Rangitāhua (Kermadec Ilands, and luckily no one was there at the time) but there have been a rolling series of quakes and aftershocks alone the fault line. I’m far enough away to not feel them but other people who live closer or on it are.

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I am one of those people that really struggles with the smell and taste of coriander. What a lot of people don’t understand is that is is not a choice for many of us, it is mostly down to the receptors in our noses (and mouth I think.) But worse, it means that many detergents and perfumes are also overwhelming to us, over and above what most people experience*.

So when something smells or tastes of soap to me? It is not what most people experience as soapy taste or smell. I have to use something like mint and/or eucalyptus oil to act a bit like mouthwash for my nasal passages (side note it has made me really wonder what smelling salts actually were for!**) But it also means I am so frustrated about missing out on the joy of coriander and what it does to the balance of a dish, so that I have really tried to understand the context.

As someone who has to do a cost/benefit analysis of every moment of every day, I like to make sure I have a good stash of spices and herbs. There are times when fibro makes textures or flavours overwhelming, so I like to have some very bland protein (tofu, egg whites, chicken) that is very fast to cook, that can then also be made more interesting at other times by spices.

For umami I have a few kinds of soy sauce as well as maggi seasoning, for heat I have sirracha, and then spice pastes or powder mixes and then also individual spices and herbs.

But fresh coriander? It will never not fill all my nasal spaces with the sensation of being submerged in dishwashing soap. But I keep trying to understand it so that I can recreate my favourite dishes with something that comes close to what most people experience.

Most people experience the citrus notes, and that was a bit of a revelation! Sometimes citrus peel is also overwhelming in the soapy sensation, but I do still experience the citrus notes enough that it helps to understand the role of fresh coriander.

I think I can use lemon peel (not pith, not juice) with dried coriander to get closer to the experience of most people. I have tried a few times and oh wow, so delicious.

But this also explains why I love the smell of lavender and roses! A lot of people hate them as they smell of perfume. But perfume to me is overwhelmingly of the soapy parts. So fresh lavender and fresh roses are a delight. Perfumes that are supposedly lavender and rose to me are soapy. And that probably means that people who are more immune to the soapy smells associate the experience with the floral notes.

Anyway, I’m currently sipping some Earl Grey tea with some lavender in a tea infuser and wondering what that experience is to most people. This is an attempt at recreating an Imperial Grey tea from a few years ago. I hoarded as many as I thought was reasonable but am now really missing that hug in a mug it offered. I do wonder if my tea fiend friends would like this as well. I know most of us love a specific cinnamon blend, but now I am asking myself if we experience that in the same way?

*There are other social factors, but I have genuinely tried so many ways and still am stuck. This is definitely made worse in a fibro flare, to the point even avocados wind up a truly negative experience.

**There are times I need to use these very volatile scents for sinus pain. It is usually due to inflammation of nasal passages (sinuses are connected via very fine channels, and the ends that start in nasal passages can be clogged with mucous or inflammation) and so it makes me really ask if people in the past used smelling salts for the same reason! We think of them in terms of rich white ladies who can’t handle reality, but what if it’s purely somatic?

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I finally have several patterns from manuals and extant garments in a format and folder to add to my pattern book. All require my own work to turn them into the actual shapes as would be marked out before fitting. I also need to find a way to help people use these patterns, I already call my entire system The Modular Frock but it still doesn’t quite convey just how differently we approach the entire process compared to a busy workshop with many people working on any part at a time.

But it is very exciting as the garments do absolutely match the patterns. And so that means some garments we do have in poor condition could probably be reversed engineered still, and that some garments that are extant could reflect missing patterns.

This will mean I need to be rigorous in citing within my book, and not simply copying either. So far my patterns compliment Alcega and Burguen (a rather more extensive book that is very easy to read) sleeves, simple bodices, skirts all match my own patterns almost exactly. My skirts include extra length for turnings, I use a hand width so that once the hem is turned there is a lot of room at the waist for length adjustments (whoops I forgot my shoes for instance) and to both resize the waist and to shift pleats to wherever is desired.

So right now I need to turn my basic bodice into the all in one bodices of Schuster and Kisszeben books. It will look a bit different as my book starts with the shapes, and then will explain layout for piecing etc. The Schuster one in particular does a kind of piecing that we would find unacceptable today.

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a new project

*Galinda ting*

No but I have used all kinds of drafting systems over the years, only to find my draped pieces universaly work out better. Not just to a modern eye, but I get a much closer fit to the originals. Whether on me or laid flat.

So drafting systems need a lot of work to do what they promise.

Do yourself a favour and grab both the high res and lo res copies of this book. One for a little reader, and one for full monitor zoom.

Cutting a Fashionable Fit: Dressmakers’ Drafting Systems in the United States
Kidwell, Claudia B.
Date: 1979

And if you are still sure drafting works this little nugget my help “In the last quarter of the 19th century, hundreds of drafting systems were invented to help the professional dressmaker cut the complex patterns of the fashionable dress of the period.”


I love collecting them in part to match patterns of extant garments to work out how well they were used the time.

And there are some books that I look at and just sigh in bliss because I can tell from one page just how well the test pattern and the approach will work in general.

I really want to do this a series- one mannequin all the systems. Because you should not have to rely on be the idealised body type for a system to work..

But I also collect all the patents of the pattern tools (one even in 2004!) So I’m pondering if I could make one.

There are some rules in the tailor manuals after all (actually, all rules, not much freedom.)

I think I can do this. But I think my blend of drape and draft works well.

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I’ve been trying to accept that the stress right now has a direct impact on what I can do. I had a few days where I could Do and it was great.

The problem is that stretches between good days is getting longer. While not as full of days where the kind of pain I experience requires a warning (no really, it’s like being in a horror) it is now harder to treat.

What that means is that any progress I make in good days can be undone in days between. I can ruin progress, but I also have to repeat steps in future good days that I have done in previous good days.

I’m not sure if that makes sense. If I can only sew a single seam in a day I still have to prepare for that. So the fabric may need pressing, the sewing machine threaded, or my thread and tools tidied.

I am now in a bit of a loop of more effort spent on readiness and tidying than on progress. To the point I’m also in that habit and defaulting to it as a kind of calming therapy, but not very well.

I can’t even figure out ways to leave notes for myself. But I think I might even have sorted that out.

For now I need to recognise that while I am struggling to even write notes I have actually done a lot for my two big projects. That projects on hold are taking much longer to get back to, but they are happening.

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