more tidying, I know…

I managed to get my research projects folders together and now I have a great new lead for more hat stuff. And I spotted all my scaled Alcega and Burguen patterns.

I have both Alcega books- the reprint of the later and the download of the original. I recommend getting both. I prefer the portrait format of the second book but the long landscape of the first does take me out of my modern expectations and so I found it helpful.

I also have Freyl- it’s very basic compared to Alcega but I again recommend it for context.

Burguen is perhaps my favourite. The proportions are quite different but it includes more examples of garments not well represented in Alcega.

And I finally got my copy of Anduxar put back in correct order. I prefer how I put it together because it’s a hot mess as it is. It has amazing patterns but they are not ordered in a way that helps anyone.

But I am going to use the patterns I scaled in my own cutting book because apparently I also scaled a few of the Austrian patterns and now I’m like… hang it. I’m going to scale All The Patterns. They will be to my proportions which means I’m going to want to try and test patterns on other people this year.

I do believe that the way I cut and construct does scale well, but I really need a lot of help in

spam is getting mean

Wow. So I think we know of the phenomenon of the hate click. Tradtional and social media sort perpetuates this because it’s been shown we tend to be more likely to respond to negativity than positivity. While a lovely story may generate likes and shares it’s likely to not have as many comments as a negative post.

And as with anything that generates interest and engagement it’s going to be exploited.

And thus we have this list of spam. Passive aggressive spam.

So while many people reading this won’t have to worry about getting spam through a website it is why many sites no longer allow comments at all. But this is also important to know while navigating social media that scammers are going to use the same techniques.

On change

Okay this post is brought to you while I’m resting and recovering from fibro and rheumatoid flare ups and also nomming on raw garlic in my ice-cream.


I am one of those people who have a genetic deficiency for coriander. Sorry yes, it is not a sign of being more attuned to flavour. We literally do not naturaly taste the flavinoids that make it so yummy to others.

So to visualise think of the yummy subtle citrus taste as A and the soapy taste as B. People with the optimum ability to process this stuff taste more A through more receptors for A. People like me do not have enough but we do have some. But it means we experience more of B.

Once I found out that it’s not just an intensity thing but that I was missing out on the yummy stuff I dedicated a lot of time to find it.

And I did. For me I focused on the citrus flavour. I could sort of find it when I smelled the stuff so I was determined to try and do justice to a range of culinary and cultural experiences I was missing out on.

So, I started with dried seeds which I love. Then tested dried leaves. I really love. And I basically got a big bunch of very fresh leaves and sniffed deep.

I found the soap fast. But I got something that reminded me of basil. I still struggled. But I was on the right track.

I tested for physical responses to the fresh leaves. I get a bit itchy but that lessened.

I tried cooking it down like a kale. Treat it like a vege and it does different things.

I tried finely sliced fresh on to of a spicy gravy.

I can now appreciate the stuff.

So back to my raw garlic in my ice cream. The best of the side benefits has been an even wider palette. Or a palate that can appreciate surprises.

Side note I was eating Indonesian inspired food for a long time as a kid, ditto Lebanese. We were really encouraged to be interested in spice!

My coriander issue was not due to a lack of experience it’s just insufficient receptors.

While at nerd camp my darling A. was going to waste some of her wine to rinse the last of my Turkish coffee from my vessel (I can’t drink the water on site.)

So I tried the mix. It worked. The wine was a lovely sweet and f up lol bodied Gris and I know they have really lovely notes including banana and chocolate. I was hoping for the chocolate and I was lucky.

It’s why I like stout complexities.

Still I did not expect to ever find raw garlic in my hokey pokey ice-cream as really interesting and a lesson on finding what does blend even when dominant notes over power.

The cold was fine, the cream was a good match and even the burnt sugar of the hokey pokey.

But, that is exactly what my efforts to relearn how to appreciate coriander is all about.

It’s had an effect well beyond the single issue.

A&S and feedback

So, obviously after a week of historic nerd camp I got to be involved in a lot of sitting and crafting sessions.

I also got to hear a few oft repeated phrases and with my “detective” hat on I have started to ponder ways in which we inadvertently discourage someone from their passion.

So the one that perhaps was most pertinent to me was “it’s an SCA event of course people are sewing.”

Well… yes? Because our craft and art is sewing so we.. do.. it.. at.. events..”

But what was implied was that sewing at events is all about last minute prep. It’s a means to an end, not something some people actually enjoy and also learn from.

I mean sure a lot of my sewing was finishing work. But it’s also something I planned for and had sorted by type of work so that I could just sit and sew and also hold conversations because the kind of sewing is what I can do while chatting. And that the stuff that required too much space I was able to do while.. not very well.

Most of my sewing is now practiced under some specific conditions. I have to have several hours of TV I can listen to. Not watch, but listen to. Mostly that means something I have enjoyed before so that I can use it as both a time management system and something I still use to engage different parts of my brain. But it also means some other parts of my brain calm the fork down which allows for that different kind of processing.

The other wasn’t so much at the event but some general advice to frame criticism in a way that it is bookended with compliments.

I can’t do that. It means an artificial balance that may not reflect reality but also if it is expected then those who will hear criticism will hear that as being SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN THESE TWO NICE THINGS! And those who don’t hear criticism will not maybe respond to a hint.

That said, I choose positivity. Always.

I am very far along my journey of expressing myself through my craft and art. A long way. It means I have a pretty good buffer against deliberately cruel comments, a reasonable buffer against unintended negative comments, and yet I still do struggle with them.

So I never ever tell anyone what to do. I ask, repeatedly, “what do you want?”

Because that changes. Sometimes very slowly sometimes you find something that gives you a boost, sometimes you’ll get an amazing revelation that means you leap frog over the time you think you were going to need.

But what we want should be what drives what we do. We do have needs to take into consideration, but when it comes to the thing that gives you joy I think you can be a bit selfish here.

If you are really happy with what you do, why change? It has to be because you want to change.

Me? I have found my role as investigator and constant “but why?” questioner. Every single fact I know gets inspected. Even the things I like and am comfortable with.

I basically apply the scientific principles of testing until I get through the noise, get reproducible results and if I don’t then I act as if I have unlimited funding and no conflicts and yes, prove my theory wrong.

Right now I have been able to properly review the information I was not able to access easily on site at nerd camp. And I have tried breaking my theory, and I keep coming back to the fact that it is a better fit.

But as I am not a peer reviewed scientist or historian I have a heck of a lot more work to do to show my methods, and also present it in a way that allows future investigators to test and prove my theory right or wrong. Right now I just need a little confirmation. The Moritz gown I am now 99.9% certain has the velvet cut on the bias. But I’d love to be able to go there and, with supervision, get the photos every few cm needed to prove the grain does what it seems to do. It will need a lot of processing power to do what I think is needed to prove that this is the actual cutting versus what could be shallow curves. But I do think the visual evidence is compelling as it is.


I never give critical feedback in the form people expect. I ask questions. And I do not expect answers immediately. The point of asking questions is that the other person can find out what they want, and what they don’t know what they want.

My very best teachers inspired curiosity, they encouraged absorbing all the information I could, understanding and recognising the work of the (usually) scientists who had gone before but to have room for questioning for when I had a wider and deeper understanding of our current knowledge.

The teachers who pre-determined what I was failing in generally were not very good at giving feedback anyway. So even if they took up the “say something positive, then negative, then positive again” would have made the positive seem patroning.

So here are my general but heartfelt, and backed up with experience, good points” you are actually making” or “does it make you proud, because it should; this didn’t exist, now it does, because of you” “okay it sucks to not be able to physically make the things, but you are thinking about them, amd we as people, as humans, grow because of people who consider possibilities.”

I do not give advice but I do try to offer connections. I try to have a backlog of information that seems appropriate to what it is someone else wants to do.

I do need people to come back to me to ask for those links as I do still have imposter syndrome and that manifests as “why would they remember me?” “and but what if they are busy?”

So. Trying to be better at that.


There has been a slight change in my left wrist and it has caused a little localised inflammation between radius and thumb which probably needs a steroid injection.

So it can be hard to explain why we are so aggressive with therapy when the results don’t seem as positive.

On the pain scale I think I’m about a 5. I vary between numbers and as we are talking every joint in my body and how they work with the disease and how I use them that’s a given.

I’m sure it sounds either untrue or middling but…

But I would be well over 11 for about half the year.

It’s not so much about being grateful for a glass half empty, it’s about knowing how much work goes into getting me to this point. And it means decisions I make every day have an impact, even small.

I get to really appreciate exactly what I have actual control of in my life.

And also how much this wrist difficulty winds up leaving me not able to read and write and make things. Thus if I have the injection I will be better able to recover more quickly.

lemberg updates

This is probably the last thing I need to do- a new post uncategorised- but I did indeed wear my Lemberg inspired garments though I didn’t manage to finish my Poysdorf inspired shirts.

So the Lemberg shirts allowed me to be the most comfortable at rest in a long time. It was very hot at the site and my nightshirt (which I use as a stunt shirt) was just a layer too much. It is anyway because the Fibro and Rheumatoid Disease and broken rib all mean anything that adds bulk to my torso to then squish into a laced dress is just too much.

And my shirts have never been excessive.

But the Lemberg shirts essentially acted as a very lightweight garment to protect my garments from me and while I didn’t quite manage to get my short shirts done I did get to test a few ideas.

I am probably going to reduce the fullness of the body of one of my shirts. This is after test driving a kleyr (“kleer” from collier and can be an under and outer garment, it is all on what fabrics were used) tied to mauwen (sleeves, sometimes part of a garment, sometimes an accessory and sometimes made from linen!) and finding it a very comfortable arrangement as opposed to tying the sleeves to my Lemberg shirt.

So yes. The shirt I made looked a lot like the reconstruction in that it is a little too long through the torso and the bust cups were not entirely made to fit me.

I suspect I need to shorten the torso to make it actually supportive, but it was also really adaptive, especially having the CF top not made in one. While I was wandering around just in my linens the top edge sat right up into my armscye area, and once dressed I could arrange the edge to meet in the middle or overlap so as to make a perfectly flat inner neckline.

So I do have two of these and I may look into some more transcribing and translating to work out what region specific garments might have looked liked. I know there were linen and fustian inner garments.

But I do need a lot more kleyr and mauwen to actually call what I have a wardrobe.

I also am remaking the bodice of my red linen dress to try and make it a bit earlier.

My Boo

This is a hard time of the year. Three years ago today I found out Mr Boo had cancer and we had maybe days. I’m not going to lie, it has taken a long time to deal with the guilt of failing him on top of other expected elements of grief.

Counseling really isn’t something people think of for a pet, but I now wish I had asked for some as it was so much worse than I had ever experienced.
I’m trying to do justice to his life as he really was an amazing cat.

He was abandoned as a kitten. And he was abandoned at a very early age, he was certainly not of an age kittens are adopted at.

He was also deaf. So I had to learn along with him how to signal to each other, I also had to teach him to purr, how to knead, and just in general our bond of trust was pretty profound.

And I also had to come up with a name for him, he was never going to hear it so his name actually was a very specific head waggle, a series of stomps on the ground on occasion, and then his legal name was Bolero.

Not after the Ravel version, from Moulin Rouge. It was on TV in the first few days he was with me and it seemed very apropo for the tiny little bundle of very determined little scrapper who had a very set idea of what he was going to do.

Here he is warming himself on some clay I had cleaned by heating and straining and left to cool on the kitchen floor in greaseproof paper.

While sewing silk.

Certain that the plastic bag held secrets.

Finally accepting baby Mordin was not actually a monster.

And my last project with him was Elsa while he was recovering from surgery for skin cancer. So yes Elsa has a lot of emotion for me.

on bias cut

Bias cut is when the cut of a garment lies 45 degrees across the fabric. This basically realigns the stretch of the bias to be vertical and horizontal rather than diagonally. It doesn’t create stretch it realigns it.

Fabric has been woven for thousands of years. And this property is found to varying degrees in woven textiles. Different weaves and treatments and fibres all interplay to create the stretch of the bias. In fact there is a nifty paper that tries to predict stretch on the bias and I’m not entirely sure they were able to really accurately do so. But this really just reminds us that fabric is a really interesting medium to work with and we need to be able to appreciate it on many many levels.

So bias has been known from the start. And for many centuries bias cut hose were the way to go to get a comfy fit that allowed for a lot of movement.

Much sewing advice to baste and to ease darts is a direct result of controlling the stretch of fabric- you need to know it is there to control it.

My own pattern block uses the grain to anchor my bodices to the waist, across the back, up the back, over the shoulders, down the side front leaving the upper chest to be fitted using the property of bias to smooth over many varieties of curve. A CF with an S curve is subtly making use of the stretch of the bias. It’s not just about the extra fabric in the front.

Understanding the grain and the stretch and how to use it and how to prevent it has been in the back pocket of tailors for centuries if not millenia.

I hear it repeated that bias cut is expensive and wasteful. But it’s really not. Yes for a one off garment it can be- but there are a lot of exceptions such as heavily ruffled gowns.

But we tend to, as modern historical costumers, think of our own production of garments not the reality of a tailor in trade.

A customer would go to the tailor, the tailor would then give them the cost of making and also count the yardage of fabric needed and the customer would then have to buy and bring back. Then the pattern marked and what ever needed to be sent to be embroidered/garnished was sent away, and then the garment cut and sewn up.

Below we can see the concept of putting smaller pieces into larger frames, saving waste of precious fabric while wasting/reusing less costly.

embroiderers frames
embroiderers frames https://thomasguild.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-thomasteppich-project-embroidery.html
fig 9
fig 9
The Project Gutenberg eBook, Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving, by Grace Christie http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20386/20386-h/20386-h.htm#CHAPTER_II
Brodeuse (Boukhara, Ouzbékistan)
Jean-Pierre Dalbéra; Embroidery (Bukhara, Uzbekistan), Flickr
” La broderie d’or a atteint son apogée à Boukhara au 19ème siècle. 
Les brodeurs d’or travaillaient essentiellement pour l’Emir et son entourage. 
Depuis l’Indépendance, cet art de la broderie par exemple sur manteau (Chapan) pour homme ou femme, comme le montre la photo, est à nouveau pratiqué. “

And lining linen simply is not the same precious resource as either linen for embroidery/body nor the same as the shell fabric.

Once you have a length of fabric that is used for multiple projects (such as a bulk lot of lining materials) that is when it suddenly is no longer wasteful to cut on the bias. And you can get more facing lengths in strips on the bias than cutting curves.

I am not saying this was done or common, but the idea of it being an economic waste doesn’t fit the reality of running a workshop dedicated to producing many garments at a time.

I am trying to translate some of the restoration of the Moritz von Saschen ensemble, (Das Prunkkleid des Kurfürsten Moritz von Sachsen (1521-1553) in der Dresdner Rüstkammer : Dokumentation, Restaurierung, Konservierung Author: Bettina Niekamp; Agnieszka Woś Jucker
Publisher: Riggisberg : Abegg-Stiftung, 2008.
Series: Riggisberger Berichte, 16.)

But I have been able to confirm the velvet of his paned hose were cut on the bias (including the fitted section around his hips.) And with that as a visual reference is does seem like much of the velvet on his schaube is also on the bias.

The cutting diagrams of the schaube do not unfortunately indicate the grain of the velvet but do indicate diagonal joins and when we see them in situ we can see the grain goes in the same direction each side- classic signs of bias.

And comparing the angles of the diagonal joins reveals a lot of consistency and most are nearly perfectly 45 degrees to the edges.


As with all extant garments creative piecing is evident and there are definitely small sections where the join is not perfectly matched.

So what would be the advantages of the velvet being on the diagonal?

  • it causes the pile of the velvet to be in the same direction right around the hem of the circle cut schaube, and if used elsewhere will also cause the grain to be the same on other elements. While it’s easier to see this on the sleeve and collar above it is easy to replicate in any fabric that shows the grain.
  • It also is somewhat less wasteful of velvet cut in concentric circles to match the hem. In my case I chose to shape the curves due to the depth of my guarding- it would not have been easy to get the very wide strips to lay flat which is possible with narrow stips of bias.

So. I am still working my way through the book and looking for more information. But it certainly is suggestive. But if I’m right I’m going to have to take a moment (well many) to think about the implications for a circular cut skirt/bases/schaube in a piled fabric.

gold beyond material cost

Ahah! I’m following a line of thought in regards to the use of gold in Cologne and it appears I may be correct:

“The new valuation of craft, by contrast, implied a higher evaluation of how materials were transformed. Peter Martyr in 1521 thus praised the artistry of the people of Yucatan and Mexico by writing to his humanist friends: “I wonder not at all the gold and gemstones, but at the skill and workmanship which far exceeds the value of the materials. I am amazed.”

Renaissance Dress, Cultures of Making and the Period Eye, Ulinka Rublack, Cambridge University, 2016

The whole lecture is fascinating but this part here is very much what I have been seeing in the portraits of women of Cologne. It’s not just that gold was prized, it was also the craft that turned it into art. So it wasn’t enough to have gold it was important that it be worked in many ways, each requiring a different set of skills.

But I’m not just seeing this, I am also reading about the value of various items based on how they were recorded, and it shows a very similar pattern. In fact at least one garment has the pattern worked in pearls recorded which also then reflect the patterns in the Quentel Kunstlichbuch in particular.

I’m not just looking into the evidence as depicted in written and pictorial information but also understanding the mediums used so I am also reading about how gold was painted in art.

Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art; Gold-Brocaded Velvets in Paintings by Cornelis Engebrechtsz; by Esther van Duijn, Jessica Roeders

And until I am able to get my hands on a copy of his book I’ve also been reading Figured Riches: The Value of Gold Brocades in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Painting; Rembrandt Duits; Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes; Vol. 62 (1999), pp. 60-92 (33 pages); Published by: The Warburg Institute

so much work

I have exactly too much information that is not general knowledge which meant I was not really able to explain why I do the stuff I do. I thought my frock straight from the title page of Quentel (or more commonly Il Burato) was something that lots of people would already know about. But apparently not.

modelbuch2- lady seated at large loom wearing a gown with long sleeves with a vertical slit from bicep to below elbow to let her arms free to work
modelbuch3- three women working, the first embroidering with a frame, the second apparently stitching on a loose piece of fabric, the last weaving on a small table top loom. All wearing fitted sleeves pinned to the outside of their sleeves with small curved tabs at the top of the outersleeve.
modelbuch1- a woman weaving on a large table top loom she is wearing fitted sleeves pinned to her gown with a deep turned back cuff that tapers to the wrist to create a half circle.

These images in particular show the Lowlands engineering on clothing used in this region which relies on a lot of pinning or ties but with the particular aesthetics of the region.

The other very useful piece of information from these is how important narrow goods weaving was to this region. It’s the dominant form of decoration as it is used on the forehead piece of the headdress, occasionally on the body of the headgear, but also as belts, and finally reasonably frequently on the chest piece that shows through the neckline of the gowns. It is also used extremely frequently on linen items around the neck.

On the other hand embroidery is not very common. It is most commonly found as whitework on forehead bands under the linen type of headddress, and can sometimes be seen as a very narrow edging on linen items worn around the neck. It can be seen as a second band behind the woven gold forehead band and in these instances are nearly always gold. The standout exception is on a belt that appears to be woven with a polychrome embroidery worked over that.

So I need to get my reference images imported here. Also if anyone knows how to make an ipad show images in any other order than date I’d love to know. I keep being told it’s being sorted by meta data but I also know meta data is not just date and time so there has to be someway to sort them.

I also need to thus spend a couple of days tidying my media files and putting meta date into them. I think I have a cunning plan for working around the limitations of WP.