Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Ridiculous Hat for Crown Tourney

The banker and his wife, detail
Marinus van Roejmerswealen
Keeping with the tradition I started last year, I decided that I needed a new silly hat for fall crown tourney this year. Something appropriately ridiculous, but that I might be able to re-wear more often than last year's effort. I had a portrait that had caught my eye months and months ago specifically because of the totally over the top headgear.I loved absolutely everything about this hat, especially that it appeared to be worn with a forehead cloth, which would cover my too short for accuracy hair. The fact that she is wearing it with a houpelande is even more perfect because it makes it a good combination with my houpelande and therefore perfect for my crown outfit, and more re-wearable as part of my dress uniform.

Related image
Anne of Cleves, 1539, Hans Holbein
The hat pictured in the Roejmerswealen painting appears to be brocade, with a black band (maybe velvet?) and a brown forehead cloth. I wasn't sure that forehead cloths were a THING for this era, but the portrait of anne of cleves, dated 1539, distinctly shows a forehead cloth. The Banker and his Wife is from between 1533 and 1545, in the same rough time period and geographical area fashion wise.

I started out by cutting butchers paper, pinning and taping it, and sticking it on my head, until I had a suitable shape. Although the whole hat has a rounded shape, it seemed like there was a distinct line at the top edge, where you could put a seam.  So I made it in two pieces, a curved front and a flat back.

A LOT of taping and pinning and cutting later, I had something I thought worked, so I pinned my veil over it to double check the shape with the veil on. (this was another project where I amused my sister with a succession of ridiculous pictures of me wearing paper hats.) I was having fits trying to get the shape of the horns right, when I realized that this probably would have been worn over a long braid coiled and taped at the back of the head. My hair is quite short right now and I was putting the back of the hat snug to my head. As soon as I allowed for the period hairstyle under the hat, the shape immediately went in the right direction.

Now it was time to make the hat form.  I traced my pattern onto the buckram with sharpie (I bought real actual buckram to use on this project, upgrading from my earlier use of heavy needlepoint canvas). I then cut it out with a very very scant seam allowance, and sewed the top seam. Which I then ironed to the back and steamed down over my sleeve board to force it to be a rounded slope rather than a sharp edge along the seam. I overlapped and whip stitched all the other seams, and added a small dart at the nape of the neck to get the bottom back to sit closer to my head.

I covered the whole thing with a layer of batting to soften out any edges and seams.

That done I had to decide what to cover it with.  I wanted something I could wear with my dress uniform, which meant either black, grey, or red and black. I decided on red and black squares, turned on their points, as a nod to the personal arms of the house brother I was acting as consort for. Therefore I cut 1 1/2 inch strips out of red and black silk (the red was a sari and had to be stabilized with tissue weight fusible interfacing) and began to sew.... Sew the strips together, cut them across into 1 1/2 inch strips, sew THOSE strips together... a lot of pinning and ironing and some considerable time later.... I had something that looked like I was trying to make a fabric checkers board...

With the fabric to cover the hat all made (and me praying I'd made enough) I started pinning it on. I wanted to mount it with the squares running diagonal as much as possible, so  I centered one set of diamonds on the center front, and straight down the back, and started smoothing and tucking from there.

And smoothing and tucking and pinning, and trimming off extra and sewing it on spots there wasn't enough, and STILL praying I had enough. I had enough, but only just, a tiny handful of scraps was all that was left over.

while I was doing this I was trying to think of how to make this hat just a LITTLE bit more ridiculous. because you know, covering it in 1" piecework squares just didn't seem like QUITE enough. I got lucky and found some teeny tiny stamped tin maltese crosses in a shop specializing in vintage millinery supplies on etsy. Each approximately a quarter inch square. I bought all of them that they had and hoped it'd be enough to cover the whole hat with some sort of pattern. I was able to cover the front side with every other black square, and had just four left. So I used them to pick out Joachim's arms on the back of the hat.

I did the last bits of this in the car on the way there, seven hours is a long drive and I like having handwork to keep me busy. However it also means that I'm further away from my tools and led me to a kind of funny oops. Getting the points tight was a bit of a struggle, involving lots of pins and muttering. I carefully pinned one corner, stitched it up, turned the hat over..... and realized I had sewn one of the pin heads into the corner! So there is the point of a pin sticking out of the fabric in the middle of the back. No way was I taking it out and redoing it! Now that I'm back home I plan on nipping that off with a pair of wire snips. (the pucker you see is the edge of a tuck easing the edge into the bottom curve.) (you can also see where I had to add a little piece onto the corner here and my square matching got a little wonky)

The last step was a black velvet band stitched down around the face edge. This hat actually doesn't have a wired edge at all, nor does it need it to keep its shape. the band is tight around the head and the friction of the velvet keeps the hat stuck to your coif/forehead cloth really efficiently.

Photo by Brenden Crane
I cut a largish forehead cloth out of brown linen (big enough to pin at the nape of my neck), close to the color of my hair and to the color of the painting. I actually dispensed with the coif for the day since I don't have enough hair to need to restrain it, and just pinned the forehead cloth around my head like a bandanna then put the hat on over it, and pinned the veil on. (I used my small rectangular silk organza veil with the beaded ends)  I can attest that this is light, comfortable, and WILL stay put through almost anything: including gale force winds.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

a quick favor

I've needed to design a more all purpose favor than the one I made for the Husbeast, which was effectively insanity on silk, for a while. Aside from showing support for your own particular fighter: there's a growing movement to have adults sponsor youth fighters in the youth tournaments. I think that's really wonderful, and I've meant to get involved a couple times, but not had time to design and make something. I've also thought a small favor worked in miniature as say, a bookmark, might make a very nice "your work is REALLY incredible" token for arts. But, again, I just haven't gotten to it. But I ended up standing in as consort for a friend at crown tournament, which typically involves the consort giving the fighter representing them a favor, and it seemed like a good opportunity to design something that could be made reasonably quickly in a number of mediums. That way when opportunity to use it came up, I could just transfer it to fabric and work it up however I wanted: embellished applique, bayuex stitch, or even just outlined in stem stitch if I was in a particular hurry. I also wanted something I could use any materials that I had lying around or struck my fancy on. A basic, all purpose design, that would remain clearly representative of me.

 I started with my arms, which are a mouse salient on a green field, and  added my household arms to it. It made a super cute design!

I used my heat transfer marker to transfer it to a piece of green silk (I've got a BUNCH of odd scraps of this delightful green that I dyed for something or other a thousand years ago lurking about. So it keeps popping up.) I put it over handkerchief linen to give it enough body to withstand the tension in the frame, and outlined everything in black DMC cotton with stem stitch. I filled the shield with red and more black (this is all DMC cotton, I'm trying to use up my stash) and worked the cross in herringbone. The herringbone worked really well, but I didn't quite get the hang of keeping the points even till I was on the top (which was the last one I did.) It's a little more wodgy than I'd generally like. I'm not sure if I'll do it again or not. I really like the look of it but not so much the unevenness.

Then onto the body in more split stitch with ecru. I marked the directions that I would follow with the stitching to give the body shape with a pen before I started.

Then just keep stitching! This is 4 strands of DMC floss, which working in this small of a design felt quite like cheating! I tend to fall into the trap of working everything at super tiny scale, even when a larger scale would serve my purposes just as well. With 4 strands this worked up relatively quickly, and the overall effect is very nice.

With the body filled, I mounted it onto some heavy black linen for the backing and belt loop. The silk is pretty flimsy, it seemed silly to use it for the back as well as the front. Lots of pinning and some hand stitching later....

One finished favor! 
I'm really pleased with it. I think it's cute, recognizable, and versatile.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Adventures in Indigo dying.

True Indigo: Indigofera tinctoria
Woad:  Isatis tinctoria
I've been playing with indigo again the last few weeks, getting ready to weave some viking fabric. I'm not an avid dyer. I'm more of a persistent dabbler. I am competent with acid dyes, and happy to use them if I can't get the color of fabric I want. I really enjoy natural dying, but haven't had as much time, or really the motivation to single mindedly investigate it. I tend to dye for a specific end result. I design a garment, research what colors it might have been in at that time and place in history, then find out what dyestuffs they were using in that time and culture, and try to use those if I can get them, and if they are reliable. There are some exceptions. Lichen dyes are not
sustainable, so  I tend to skip to something else for purple. I don't care to work with copper and tin salts with small children in the house, so prefer to use things I can mordant with iron and alum. Dying is one of the oldest crafts in existence, and if you don't care as much about replicating the method exactly, between finds of actual dye plants in archaeological contexts, and chemical testing of dyed cloth, there's a rich historical record. If you're dying to replicate something, it's fairly easy to pick materials, because there's thousands of years of preference to note which colors are light and wash fast, and which give the clearest, brightest colors. Of this historical dyes, indigo and woad are the only reliable source for good blues. As such they're a indispensable part of the natural dyers arsenal, but the process is kind of a lot of chemistry (and has a reputation for being finicky), which I think throws a lot of potential dyers off.

Most natural dyes form a chemical bond with the proteins in wool or silk either because the dystuff itself is rich in a substance that allows the color to bind to the protein (like the tannins in black walnuts), or by the intermediary intervention of a metal salt: alum, tin, copper, or iron. Indigo and Woad on the other hand make a mechanical bond with the fiber, which is why they work so well on cellulose fibers that many other dyes have trouble sticking to. You use a chemical process to shrink the dye molecule and force it out of suspension and into solution. Then you dip your material to be dyed. When you take it out, the oxygen reacts with the indigen, re enlarging the molecule and permanently tangling it in the fiber. The oxidation also turns the dye blue! The process is just really very different from other dye processes: from how you get the dye to a state where it will give a washfast color, to how you actually dye the material (no simmering here! the maximum that you dip the material is 5-10 minutes in a nearly exhausted pot. I've never gone more than five. You get darker colors by successive layers, not by longer processing.)

It's a little like magic really: You pull the skeins out of the dye bath looking like dirty yellow and as the dye drains off of them they turn brilliant blue. It makes me feel a little like an enchantress every time I do it!

Indigo and woad plants don't give up their color easily! You get the indigen out of the plant by a fermentation process. I don't do this part, because it's smelly, time consuming, and requires the ability to keep a big stinky vat at warm temperatures (so stinky that Queen Elizabeth banned the construction of woad dying within a certain radius of her residences). It's not impossible, but I'd rather save my time for something else, and buy the pre fermented powdered product. (Persistent Dabbler.) I've gotten this both from Dharma Trading (who also carries the chemicals you need, and provides great customer support if you run into trouble with your dye vat) and from The Yarn Tree, who sources theirs from a social enterprise in Bangledesh. The Yarn tree indigo didn't dissolve as completely (there were some gritty particles in the bottom of the dye bath), but did seem to give really good color.

This is the best reduction I've ever gotten. Probably it should
go a little more yellow, it's still got a tinge of green to it.
You can see the somewhat mettalic/blue slick on top of the
dye here. I've not completely gotten rid of that ever. I tend to
sort of sweep it off with a paper towel before dying.
 After you have your indigen extracted from your plant, or your powder mixed into your dye bath, you are not ready to dye. What you have is dye particles suspended  in water, what you NEED is dye particles in solution. Indigen is grumpy about going into solution. The process works best at a PH of about 10, which is usually achieved by the application of soda ash. I do this by weight, and then by watching the dye bath, but the clever well prepared dyer can also use ph test strips. Then you use Thioruea Dioxide, added a little bit at a time, with 15 minute waits between additions, to force the dye into solution. The process of forcing the dye into solution is called "reducing' the dye bath. When the dye bath is ready, it will be bright yellow or yellow green and translucent.

This all sounds like it should involve test tubes and lab coats and whatnot, but what it really means is mixing a teaspoon of Thiourea Dioxide into hot water in a mason jar. Bringing your dye bath up to 125-150 degrees F. Adding half the dissolved thiorea. Stirring GENTLY (because oxygen forces the dye back out of solution). Waiting fifteen minutes: checking the color of the dyebath, and repeating pretty much interminably. With or without supplementary and unflattering muttering about the dyepot and/or the life choices that led you to dye with indigo in the first place.

Once it finally reduces you can run test skeins (presoaked) to see how long you need to dip! Never more than 5 minutes in a fresh pot, if you leave it in too long the color won't tend to be wash fast but will "crack" and slough off, turning you blue every time you handle it. these little samples were 30 seconds, 1 minute, and 2 minutes. I ended up dying my first dip 3 minutes, and my second dip almost four, as the dye bath was starting to run down. You can REALLY see the blue oxidized skin over the dyebath here (this was foamy skin because I had let it get too close to boiling) I skim that off with a paper towel, because it's almost oily, and if you don't get rid of it, it coats the fibers on the way into the dyebath and they don't come into uniform contact  with the dye (learned THAT the hard way).

Then dye! It pays to be careful here, you want to stir as little as possible and allow as little dripping into the pot as possible. Basically anything that will introduce oxygen is to be avoided. I pull the skeins out, let them stream into the pot, with the tip of the skein basically touching the pot, then wring them out over a second pot, and hang them on a line to oxidize fully. When I'm totally done dying, I pour the oxidized dye from the pot I wrung the skeins into back into the indigo vat. I ALWAYS do the actual dying outside. (another thing I learned the hard way) because drips are basically unavoidable, particularly as you need to spread the wet skeins out to contact the oxygen, and the drips stain most things. (I'm typing with blue fingernails at the moment....) Also it smells like boiling rotting plants.

Spread out to oxidize! straight indigo, indigo overdyed over Weld, and the bright screaming yellow is weld. 
 Once your dye has oxidized it can be sent back in for another dip if you want darker results, or even a couple more dips. Then you have the normal post dye routine: rinse, wash with syntrhapol (I use the Dharma brand) to remove any un bonded dye (so your fabric doesn't turn you BLUE). then rinse till the water is clear, and I send it through the spin cycle to speed dying. A retayne soak can be used right after it comes off the pot, I've done it in the past. I didn't this time, I don't have enough data from using the dyed material to know if this is worth it yet.
Finished dye (mostly finished. I decided some of the indigo skeins were blotchy/lighter and sent them in for another dip. also that one noticeably yellow green skein got re-dipped)
Things I learned: you have to tie indigo skeins far more loosely than you do simmering type dyes. you're depending on rapid, even dye absorption into the fibers, and evidently ties that are loose enough for simmering dyes, are tight enough to leave light spots on indigo skeins.You can't throw the whole lot in at once like you can when you do simmering type dying. anything RESEMBLING crowding in the pot means that you get light spots. I ended up finding that two of these skeins at a time was just right. You don't want to stir in a way that folds in oxygen, but you do want to kind of, swish the skeins back and forth under the dye to make sure that the dye has penetrated the interior of the skeins. Keep some thiourea dioxide dissolved in water handy and watch the color of your dye bath if you're doing a lot of dying. if the color starts to go green? Add some thiorea, and wait ten minutes for it to settle. It's worth how much of a pain it is in consistency of color (the green means that dye is oxidizing and therefore becoming unavailable to bond with your fiber, so in addition to removing dye from the bath on the skeins, you're making some of it unavailable, so your vat start unexpectedly producing a much lighter shade.) . The good news is, even my blotchy skeins came out pretty well after another trip through the pot, so most problems are non fatal if you're erring on the side of light, rather than dark.

The best news is, once you've got your vat going once, it's more amicable to keeping going. you can store it in a sealed bucket, stir it every so often, and it will last for months! if it's getting light, add some more indigo powder mixed into water, and as it oxidizes you add more thiourea to reduce it.

This is just me fuddling through the process with the aid of the dharma dying tutorials, plus troubleshooting help from the dharma staff. there are entire books devoted to indigo dying (Dharma sells a couple that look interesting), and if you want to be more than a persistent dabbler, that's probably a good investment! 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Cheater stockings for the late period dandy

My poor Husbeast has been wearing an old pair of my leggings, pulled down over his feet,  as stockings for the last 18 months. To be fair I've been scrambling to get (and keep) him in linens, and get him enough suits made that he's not always wearing the same thing. Then there's been household uniform to make and keep up, and new fencing helmet trappings. Never a dull moment in clothing the husbeast. But I actually finished his "leisure" outfit for War of the Roses this year, and wanted him to have something comfortable to wear on his legs that wasn't so obviously out of place as lycra dancers leggings. I did a little research and consulted with the wonderful knitting laurel Angharad, who specializes in stockings. Really he needs good knit stockings of wool or silk (wool for regular wear, silk maybe for his court suit) and fancy garters. The stockings would extend up into the trunkhose and be secured there either possibly by being laced onto the leg bands (by eyelets in some of the trunkhose in patterns of fashion) or I suspect by the older method where they pointed onto the brais, or into the waistband of the trunkhose even (And thence to the doublet). the very short trunkhose would require quite long stockings, and some way of keeping them up. I don't see why the method that worked so admirably for cloth hose wouldn't work here as well.

More research later. For now I just need to cover his nether limbs in a seemly fashion for this season. (I took a class about calculating patterns for knit hose this summer, SUPER EXCITING, and I hope to knit him a proper pair over the winter)

I will note that cloth stockings were worn by the lower to middle classes still at the time when his persona was living by the sword. However I have a couple quibbles about those. the first being I think they would have been on the low class end of how I clothe him. which is good quality clothing with  few flashes of fancy: Things he might have picked up in his travels or as prizes/plunder. The other problem is his legs. When the Husbeast squats, his thigh goes from about 22 inches to about 27..... This has resulted in a lot of drama with the leg bands of his trunkhose, and I have my doubts about the ability of bias cut cloth to keep up with that kind of increase. My final decision was to make sewn stockings from machine knit material as a stopgap. Not, to be sure, accurate, but better by a long shot than what he has now. Especially if accessorized with good garters! I consulted the wonderful Dreamstress for method and pattern, since I remembered her doing it for the historical sew fortnightly. What she was doing was different, but gave me an idea of what the foot pattern should look like at least.  Then I simply cut a long rectangle of knit fabric I had lying about, had the husbeast stand on one end and hold the other, and started pinning. There was a lot of pinning. Then I basted all the pinned bits so he could get it off without stabbing himself, and had him hold the long leftover bit up so I could mark a point at the top that could be pointed onto either brais or the waistband of his trunkhose.  Having made a few pairs of cloth hose came in really handy here, because I had some idea of what the top edges should look like to be comfortable and practical.

I marked all the edges of the basting, took the stitches out, and voila: one 3d leg rendered into 2d. Now I had to make more decisions. I decided to make a scant quarter inch seam allowance, as I would be sewing these with either stepped zigzag, or the serger. I cut around the drawn lines at that distance, then transferred the pattern to paper. At the same time that i did this, I made the heel point symetrical, although I left the foot shaped left/right. I also chose to make the foot portion separate from the leg, rather than leaving a giant dart that would have to be trimmed off. this allows for more creative arrangement of the pattern onto fabric as well.
it's a weird looking pattern. The () is where the foot attaches to the calf. So left to right on the pattern you have: the heel flap, the bottom of the right foot, the top of the right foot, then the leg, with the pointy bit being the  part for pointing into his waistband. 
 With a good pattern in hand, I cut the second hose from  the same scrap knit, and sewed them up. i didn't have light thread in my serger, so I used a stepped zig zag on my standard machine, being careful to not stretch the fabric out as I sewed.   this is one area where I'm a strong proponent of lots of pins. I faced the top edge with knit, interfacing the point with handkerchief linen so it would hold up to pointing. I top stitched the edge with a zig zag, and the point with a straight stitch, and worked eyelets in the point. Voila, a stocking. Repeat and you have a pair!

With this kind of stockings, he needed garters, to keep them from continually sliding down the leg
and exerting a lot of pressure on the attachment point. The garters also keep the stocking sleek over the lower leg, adequately displaying the manly calf of the wearer. Well turned calves were MUCH in style, even to the extent that men sometimes resorted to padding to obtain a more pleasing proportion. Small projects like this are why I keep a silk scrap stash. I decided (somewhat uncharitably probably) that these garters were a gift from me, his beloved, and therefore should be in my colors. (right? Right?) I also HAPPENED to have a scrap of violent green silk lurking around..... Fortuitous really.   I sewed these by machine, then worked over the edges in whip stitch to firm them up a little and give them some grip.                                     

Instead of tassels I made a little yellow silk needle lace edging on these, not a lot, just a row of loops worked out of tight blanket stitch to give the end a little pop. it's not my best work ever, but not terrible for a first attempt. Even though these are silk satin, which would NOT be my first choice (slippery) they stay tied just fine. Of course I'd like to make him several more pairs (maybe one with those fabulous silver tassels??) it's actually a really effective way to work on needle lace, because it's a small enough bit that you don't make yourself crazy with frustration!

Of course I'm getting around to posting this four months later (that being the soonest I got a picture of him wearing them) which means that I can update with how these worked. I haven't gotten to the wool ones yet, but the cotton pair have been really sucessful. He points them to the waistband of his trunkhose, and they look about a thousand times better than the old spandex leggings, and are less hot since they don't come up over the waist. I'm still hoping to knit him  couple "proper" pairs, but for now, these are working out ok. He doesn't even seem to mind the violent green garters! (and yes, better shoes are on the wishlist for him. but getting anything in 14 EEEE is difficult. I think we're going to end up having to go full custom which is $$$$) 

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Queen's Gift

This spring I was infected with a case of helium hand, and voluneered to make the queens gift for my embroider's guild. The queens gift is given by the keepers of Athena's Thimble to each queen around the time she steps down, as a tribute to her and her service. I had a glorious and terrible idea for something the at the time princess might like, and therefore, under the influence of caffeine and terrible ideas, raised my hand.

I've long been inspired by this lovely bog dress: the original was woven in a contiguous tube and fastened at the shoulder by brooches. it looks a lot like a roman chiton, which frequently had decorative bands at both the folded hem and the bottom hem. I had the thought of adding wide embroidered bands at the hems. The queen's favor is based on a pictish rune stone, so there was a ready source of designs. I decided I wanted to showcase the wide variety of pictish beasties on the rune stones in the pattern, a wide trim at the bottom hem, and a narrower band across the breast featuring the princess's two tailed mermaids at the center front and back, and some celtic knotwork roses symbolizing her status as a lady of the rose.

First I had to choose a fabric and techniques. The original gown is in wool, and I wanted to use wool for this one, but light enough that she could wear it in the summer. I also wanted to use purple, which was a color reserved for royalty in ancient Ireland (according to ye ancient irish bard of incredible helpfulness, Aife, who was my adviser in all matters ancient ireland for this entire project, and saved me innumerable hours of research and dead ends. ) I decided on a summer weight, almost sheer wool and that I could dye to get the correct color. Although Lichen dying has been a long time interest of mine, a little research showed it to be problematic. Aside from the fact that lichen dyes are notoriously difficult to get light fast, there is the problem with sustainability. It's generally recommended that lichen dying only be used for small projects or samples, because harvesting destroys the plant, which does not regenerate. I decided that I could use acid dyes to achieve the color I wanted. The fabric, a white wool crepe, was donated by a very generous patron.

I decided to use mounted bands of embroidery, worked in wool on lightweight linen, both to make working the embroidery more portable and convenient, and to hide the messy backside of the work. The additional benefit is that HRH can transfer the bands to another garment if she should so wish.

Rune stones of all sorts have been a long time fascination of mine, so it was fun to have an excuse to look at a lot of them. I spent a very enjoyable afternoon stalking museum collections and saving images, I came up with a large number of different wonderful patterns and beasts. In fact the most difficult part was deciding which ones to leave off.

I drew my chosen desings on a long strip of butchers paper, 7.5 inches wide, by 96 inches long. I centered a rose with a celtic knot detail at the four quarters, and bracketed it with sea serpents front and back. Then positioned a pair of animals in each space. Some of the animals had to be slightly altered to fit the space, particularly the gryphon: who was squashed into a long narrow border space, and the merhorses: which were entwined vertically, not horizontally. I then drew on the back of the paper with a heat transfer marker. This was my first time using this method of transfer, and I'm very pleased with it for this kind of work, although the line is fairly fat, so it's not a one size fits all solution. Working with it is a lot like working with the metallic paint pens, where you shake to mix the ink, then depress the tip to start the flow. I found it had the same weakness as those pens, after a while of use the tip starts to dry up, or the ink to separate again, so you have to occasionally shake the pen up and re-depress the tip to keep the ink flowing well. After i did the first transfer, I could tell where the pen had gotten a little dry because it didn't transfer as darkly. I ended up gong over the lighter areas with my fine tip sharpie to get clearer lines. The second transfer I worked I watched to be sure the ink was going on thickly enough, and shook/re inked the tip as necessary, and got very even dark transfer lines.

 I had ordered silver thread for the detail work, and appleton's crewel wool for the bodies. I've used appleton's before and it's my favorite. very fine, very uniform. I worked the outlines in stem stitch in charcoal, which i thought would give a slightly softer look than true black, then mounted the embroidery in a hoop and started the long process of the bayuex stitch filling.

I started with the roses which I did not do in bayuex totally. I worked the edges in stem, as seen in small areas on the bayeux tapestry. Then filled the petals interior with satin stitch, and held it down with the silver metallic couched down with silk thread. I'm really liking working with better metallic thread. it's still a giant pain, but it's considerably less painful than the cheap stuff. This from Kyoto Embroidery is reasonably priced, and comes from japan in a lot of weights and colors.

Then I did the bracketing sea serpents, working the bellies in bayeux, and then filling the backs with satin and couching it down with a lattice.

Then it was on to the rest of the animals. First filling in the accent or shading areas, very small or wiggly areas with stem stitch, and blocks with more bayux (antlers are stem. colored areas are bayeux. the shading on the legs/belly was achieved by alternating threads of black and brown before couching over it with brown.

Then filling in the background color

Then repeat with the next animal.....

I had lots of help from his royal puttyness, in a supervisory and thread warming role......

Finally finished! 

With the hem done, I scoured the white wool crepe with dharma textile detergent (a synthrapol alternative) and got out my patent pending dying rig for large batches: a large steel garbage can, that I put on my big outdoor propane burner. I have an old shovel handle that's a perfect stirring device. I got lucky with this dye job: I was rushing, trying to watch the kids and work, and had a head cold when I did this. I made a paste with the dye powder and water, stirred in more water slowly, but neglected to strain this mixture into the dye pot. Just, dumped it in then added presoaked fabric. When I stirred? little clumps of dye all over the fabric. It hadn't all dissolved. I spent the next half an hour elbow deep in the scalding water, scrubbing little spots of undisolved dye so they'd dissolve in the hot water. Between that, and the glauber's salt I added to keep it level, amazingly the dye job is perfectly even. However, not at ALL the color I was expecting out of "purple haze." thankfully, while it's not Lichen purple, it is (as pointed out to me by BestLaurel when I panic messaged her) shoo in for tyrean purple, and very pretty. I called it a happy accident and went with it.

thankfully the bog dress is just a tube, so it's a matter of sewing rectangles together with a reversible seam (in this case flat felled). I felt rather badly for mounting this much work on a machine sewn dress, but at this point I was rapidly approaching deadline and slightly panicked, so I swallowed my scruples and moved on to mounting the hem. FirstI pinned the SNOT out of it, and machine sewed it to the bottom edge of the dress. Because my slate frame was occupied I did this on a round frame, and it DID allow the fabric to pucker a little. Lesson learned, next time just suck it up and take the other project off the slate frame (or you know, buy a second slate frame??) You just don't get as even of tension on larger projects on the circular cross stitch frames, and they don't grip evenly if you're expecting them to grip over bumpy areas (like previously embroidered figures).

then flip it up, and more pinning! Crepe is stupidly stretchy, and doesn't want to stay put)

I worked over the edges with couched silver thread. This thread comes in skeins, and I've found that toilet paper rolls, or better yet, sections of stiffer paper towel tubes, work great to wind them onto. It's big enough in diameter that the thread doesn't get kinks, and you can make a slit in the end to catch the thread, because metallic is SUPER springing and will basically leap off the roll. then I bound the top edge with a strip of blue, and sewed the edge of that down with couched silver.  At this point I called it done enough, because I wasn't sure if I started the mermaid on the top, I would be able to finish it before the event.

Front, the mermaid will be centered on the fold down portion, with a pair of
crescent moon and V rods. 



I was really pleased to be able to do this for the guild and for the queen! She really liked it as it was, but I did end up bringing it home to finish putting the mermaid on the front. 
The deputy guildmistress and I present the gift in court. Photo Credit Cataline la Broderesse

The best thing is having something you made make someone else happy!  (Photo credit Cataline La Broderesse)