So incrediably crap at blogging............


I really am incredibly rubbish at this whole maintaining an online presence thing..... I guess it comes down to the "spend all day at work on the computer, get home and want nothing to do with one" factor.


So what's been happening? Well, went to NZ again, this time for Midwinter (which was fabulous) and actually managed to take the husbondo for a bit of a holididleday as well. Drove around, saw some snow, pushed each other over in said snow, had a nice time. I wore the black Cranach frock, that has now had it's skirt fixed, and looks like a real dress, and (wait for it) even got some photos!!! I know! Even I'm amazed!

With the lovely Gillian (looking smashing in my hat....!!)

And from the back, in front of a rather charming fireplace.

On the costuming front - I've finished the beading!!!!!!! YAY!!! Now I just have to manage the hard bit - making the frock. Yikes. And I want to get all this done by the 1st September. Along with the Rowany banners that I am helping with, and the Festival organisational stuff that I'm doing. I've said it before - I need a job that gives me both more money and takes less time. 2 chances - bugger all and none.

Ah, c'est la vie.

Anyway, I'm not going to get this dress done chatting with you lot, so I'm off!

See you in another 2 months or so........

More frocky goodness, Part II

On to the actual sewing part.....

Work has currently stalled on the Beaded Frock of Instanity, because I am perilously close to having the beading finished. What I need to do now is start putting the bodice together, so that I can ensure that all the beading patterns match up properly.

So, I have been fixing some of the problems with the black and gold Cranach frock that I made last year. Here's a slightly blurry photo of me wearing said frock (that I nicked unashamedly from Miss D, because it's the only photo that I have of this dress. Sorry D)

Now, the bodice is pretty good. I'm really happy with the way it turned out - there are a couple of things that I would do differently, but overall it's turned out well. I'll go into some of the details about how I built it a bit later.

The skirt was a disaster, which is odd, because you'd think it would be the easy part. The problem stemmed from the fact that the dress is made from a really soft wool twill. I has a beautiful hand, and a lovely drape, but realistically speaking, was too soft and drapey for a renaissance frock. So over the past couple of weeks I took the skirt off and re-jigged the whole thing. Firstly, I lined the skirt with a ramie-cotton blend fabric, which has enough stiffness to add some body to the soft wool. It's essentially bag lined - the inner and outer layers of the skirt are sewed together at the waist, right sides together, and then flipped inside out. This also meant that I had a nice clean edge to attach to the bodice. Around the hem I have sewn a deep band of......ahem, stiffening fabric.....(I'mnotgoingtotellanyonethatit'stullebecausethen they'llknow) which has the two-fold benefit of kicking the hem out, and helping the pleats form the deep conical shapes that you tend to see in the Saxon gowns in Cranach's paintings. If I were to try a more period approch, I would lean towards canvas, or a woven horsehair braid, although it's possible that I wouldn't need a layer of stiffening, as the quality of the fabric used is likely to be quite different. As all fabric in our time period (600-1600AD) was hand woven - and this is one of those times when the word "always" can be used with impunity - the weave was tighter, and the fabric likely to have quite a different drape. One of these days I'll pull out some of the documentation I've got floating around that talks about the making of fabric, so that I can back up what I'm saying here, but that's a project for later.

Once the fabric was lined, I could re-attach it to the bodice. I used some thick, felty wool to pad out the pleats in the back, but I left this out (this time) in the front, because I didn't want too much bulk over my tummy. Now all that's left is to hem it, and sew on some guarding to match that on the bodice. That ought to be fun - there's over 10 linear metres in that hem, that's a lot of handsewing.......Sigh! I will post some photos once I have figured out why the flash on my camera isn't working.

More frocky goodness

Further to the post before Luke Skywalker (yes, it was terrible) I was talking about the picture of the chicky with the red insert in the front of her frock. Well, here she is!

And here is a close-up of her tummy

It's an interesting view - and you can see how it could be interpreted as an under-bodice stiffened with boning or reeds. I am loath to use the word corset here. When I think corset I think of it as being a much more rigid undergarment, used to shape the body, rather than moulding itself to the body's natural shape, and just smoothing everthing out a bit.

May the with you.

Sorry.........just couldn't resist!

A few thoughts on Saxon gown construction

When the beading on the BFoI (see previous post) is all finished, I will need to do the scary part, and start making the frock.....

So, some ideas on the actual construction. The question of the method for making one of these frocks seems to have been more hotly debated than the chicken or the egg. I have seen a number of these frocks which don't match some of the key features in the paintings, which has allowed me to see (without having to make a whole bunch of expensive mistakes myself) what they have been doing wrong.

Regardless of what method of construction you want to use, one thing is always apparent in the paintings. The stomacher/placket/white bit under the lacing in the front, is always (look at this rash use of the word always) flat and smooth.


This is one of the things that leads me to belive that this frock was NOT an open fronted dress that was worn over the top of a chemise. Part of my evidence for this comes from looking at this style of dress made by other costumers - often no boning or other stiffening has been used, and this panel has been open to the underwear layer. The effect of this, when the wearer sits or bends, is that the lacing all migrates to the point of least resistance, leaving it sort of bunched up. Also, on an unwise wearer, it can make ones stomach look like a trussed ham. Ew!
So, this could be a boned panel, which is a separate piece to the brustfleck (breastband) or the whole front could be one piece (there is some evidence that this could be the case - in at least one of the 472,863 versions of the suicide of Lucrecia - I'll have to come back and fix that spelling later - the whole front of her dress is folded down to bear her chest, and appears to be all one piece.)
I also have somewhere (and when I find it I will upload it) a picture that shows a woman in an open fronted gown in a similar style, that shows this open section as red. You can also see lines of what could be boning or cording. It's plausable that this is a corded or reed boned corset/underbodice that can be seen through the lacing on the front of the gown.

This was supposed to be a sewing blog.....

It occurred to me recently that the name of this blog would generally suggest that it's supposed to be about.......erm, well, garments. The last actual entry about clothing, however, was (hold on a moment while I check) oooohh, a really long time ago (hmm, you'd think I'd find something in the archives somewhere, wouldn't you?).

So, to fix that, and bring this blog back into the realms of actual costumey stuff, lets take a look at the frock I'm making. It's generally being known as the Beaded Frock of Insanity, but it hasn't driven me completely mad yet, so it may have to become the Beaded Frock of Moderate Foolishness.....

So this is the frock. Painting is by Lucas Cranach (the elder), The Virgin Glorified, 1520, or thereabouts. This is the only image I have found of this painting, so I don't know what colour it would be, although from viewing a great many other Cranach paintings, I would guess red and gold, or gold and black. The fabric I have, though, is teal, with a printed pattern in antique silver/gold. I dyed some white velveteen until I got as close to a complimentary teal as I could (and wasn't that a trial and a half). This velveteen is a brilliant backdrop for the pearl beading. The pearls are 3 and 3.5mm plastic ones from Photios Bros. I had intended to use glass ones, but the variety if sizes is very narrow, and they start getting really expensive really quickly. In period they most probably would have used seed pearls, although pearlised glass beads were available*. I started on the sleeve cuffs first, because once these bits were completed, I could make up the cuff. This could help serve as inspiration for the rest of it if I thought about giving the whole thing up as s bad joke.

Here's some of the beading in progress:
The velveteen guards are basted onto a plain weave white cotton, and the patterm was drawn on the back. I discovered, quite by accident, that if I used a fairly firm pressure when drawing out the pattern on the back of the velveteen, the design was kind of etched onto the front. This was perfect, and made it really easy for me to follow the pattern layout. The beads themselves are strung onto a linen thread (which will hopefully prove to be unbreakable) and then couched down. This means that the pattern was nice and straight, and didn't take anywhere near as long as sewing each individual bead down. That certainly would have been a short road to insanity......

Here are the rest of the cuff pieces.

And the completed items, sorry that the one that I'm actually wearing is a bit blurry - it's actually really hard to take of photo of your own arm.....

The bottom part of the upper sleeve is also completed, I'm now working on the guards for the bodice. Well, I would have been, except I'm now actually writin
g about it. Ah, procrastination!
*I don't really remember where this info came from. Like a great many things, I read it somewhere, and I also saw an SBS doco on the history of pearls which had info on pearlised glass beads. Unfortunately, "I remember seeing it somewhere" is not a good documentation tecnique. If I ever actually find some real info on this that I can use to back this statement up, you'll be the first to know.

Great moments in radio

Heard the funniest thing on the radio on the way home yesterday. Triple J and Triple M linked up to play, in similcast, 20 seconds each of 2 songs - one from a band that Andy from Hamish and Andy (Triple M) is in, the other, a "song" by Scott Dooles Dooley from the J's, titled "Angry Panda". The title is important, because it should give some indication as to the quality of the track.....

If you heard it, I hope you laughed as much as I did (it's a good thing I was stuck in heavy traffic, or I would have crashed into someone. My stomach muscles (such as they are) are still hurting). If you didn't, I'm not even going to bother....... totally a "had to be there" kind of joke.

I have since found that I wasn't paying attention properly, and it was in fact 2Day that the link happened with. At least I know that I had the Triple J part right!! Oh well, it was a hoot, whoever it was! I don't quite know how this post went up twice, either. Sorry, JD, for deleting your comment!

What I did on my holidays. Part 1

Festival of course!!!

So, we packed up the car on Wednesday night, so we'd be ready to go nice and early on the Thusday. Most of this was achieved, however, despite the dreadful hayfever that I was suffering. But that was ok, I'd be feeling better in the morning, wouldn't I?


It wasn't hayfever, it was the most dreadful headcold, which tightened it's grip on me as the day deepended. By mid-afternoon I was about as miserable as it was possible for a person to be. Oh, and then we discovered that the brand new air mattress that I had bought (Ashfield K-Mart, don't trust them, bunch of shifty bastards) had no plug, which would make it very difficult for it to remain inflated..... I have to say, there were many moments of dispondancy, and Festival was starting to look like it was going to be ghastly. We did, however, manage to buy a new air mattress in Yass, which was a start, and an early night (on the new, and surprisingly comfortable, air mattress - the one with the plug - not the crap one from Ashfield K-Mart) made everything seem much better the next day.

So, did I enjoy my Festival? Yes, very much so. On Friday I was feeling so much better I went out and made myself unwell again...... yes, the lure of the wine bar was too much for me, and I made some fairly substantial inroads on the road to being a drunken disaster. But that's OK, because I had at least enough of a grip on my sobriety to make a new friend. I spent many hours in conversation with Master Charles, probably because I had spent so much time in his fine establishment. I don't think that we solved any of the world's woes, but we sure laughed a lot. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to read a wanky wine review again without reliving some of the finer moments. Actually, the more I think of it, the more I realise that many of my fine times came from the wine bar - and not all from the bottle, either!!!

Saturday afternoon saw us back there, us being Meg and Snerg, DV, Helen, Scruffy, and for a brief visit, Charlie. After Charlie and I dashed of to go to court (to see Mark the Armourer be laurelled - although we had to sit through quite a lot of court before it happened), I came back to the wine bar....well, I was already half tanked, so I figured I might as well continue. Unfortunately, all of my friends seemed to have disappeared, but that was OK, because Manfred (from Mainly Medieval) kept me company.......if that's what you want to call it!! He seemed to take a great deal of delight in being icky and perverse, and making me squirm. We both had a lot of fun though! Somebody was continuing to ply me with alcohol (it might even have been me), because by the time I eventually stumbled up the hill to have some dinner I was fairly stonkered. This served as fodder for the inevitable ridicule to which I was subjected. Obviously I need some new friends.

Sunday night saw me sober, because I, refused to have 3 hangovers at one event. I had a really good chat with Asa and Portia (and another lady who's name I simply cannot remember). Asa now has be on her watch list for being a "hussy" who unashamedly appeared in public without a hat, in a place where members of the opposite sex were in attendance. According to her, I was lucky to make the 4 steps from the wine bar to the tavern without being "ravished". Hmm, I never knew the power of a hat!!

I spent a lot of time wandering about, talking to people that I don't normally see or socialise with. One thing I have come to realise is that the 2 years of doing Festival Merchant Co-ordinator has really given me the opportunity to come to know, and be known by, a whole new group of people. It's great! So, as a result I really don't spend a lot of time in my own campsite, or even talking to my own friends.... sorry guys.

Normally this would be the place where I would start inserting some of the photos that I took..... erm, I will be the first to admit - I'm crap. I didn't take a single photo until the Tuesday morning, and that was only because there was a really cool fog. Oh well, I will just have to preserve the good times in my memory (and given that a) my memory is garbage, and b) I spent a reasonable proportion of Festival in a mild alcoholic haze, I'm not terribly confidant that the preservation will be terribly successful. Good thing there will be another Festival next year to do it all again in!!!

It's all about me!

I've never actually done one of these memes before, so I pinched this one from Finn and thought I'd let you in on a few of my little secrets.

1. What is your occupation?
Administration, for the most part. I'm an estimator for a plumbing company, so I prepare quotes for the supply of bathroom and kitchen equipment for large projects (schools, sopping centres, blocks of flats, etc)

2. What color are your socks right now?
Nude. Which means none!! But I have a weakness for knee high black 'n' white stripeys....

3. What are you listening to right now?
The telly - I've got uber eye candy Supernatural on.

4. What was the last thing that you ate?
Chinese bbq pork and rice. Yum.

5. Can you drive a manual car?
YES! Having an automatic isn't really driving, it's just steering.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Er........dunno. Red, maybe.

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
Some guy from the electricity company.

8. How old are you today?

9. Favorite drink?
Alcoholic, or non? I drink a lot of orange cordial. I'm rather partial to a nice Sauvignon Blanc, and a James Squire's amber ale on a Friday night is sweet ambrosia, and a vodka cranberry is quite nice too.

10. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Sport........actaully watch sport.........I don't think so. There's litterally only one sport that I can stomach watching, and that's cricket (sad, isn't it - though not as sad competition fishing :-)

11. Have you ever dyed your hair?
Yep. Never actually managed to dye it bubble-gum pink, although I would really have liked to.

12. Pets?
Two kitties and one husband

13. Favorite food?
Thai curries, and baked custards.

14. What was the last movie you watched?
The Covenant. Kind of witchcraft type movie, except the witches are boys. Was pretty good, I enjoyed it.

15. Favorite day of the year?
Saturday. All of them.

16. What do you do to vent anger?
Rant and rave and wave my arms about. Blow it all off and then it's over.

17. What was your favorite toy as a child?
Puppy. He was a plush toy - I loved him so much I wore all of his fur off.

18. What is your favorite, autumn or spring?
Both. The reds and yellows of autumn and the bright fresh greens of spring. The temperatire is perfect........wish it could stay like that all year.

19. Hugs or kisses?
Hugs, and then kisses, then more hugs!!!

20. Vanilla ice cream or chocolate?

24. Living arrangements?
Married, no (actual) kids, athough a certain someone who acts like one a lot of the time. Home owner (well, most of it - the bank still owns some!)

25. When was the last time you cried?
At the ballet. Saw the Matthew Bourne production of Swan Lake. It was fabulous - and needless to say the heros died at the end, and I got all misty-eyed. (Misty-eyed? Sobbing, more like it)

26. What is on the floor of your closet?
Shoes, and more shoes. And occasionally the cat.

28. What did you do last night?
Watched some teev and sewed hooks and eyes on one of my new gollars.

29. Favorite smells?
Clean sheets, mown grass, rain on a hot day, onions frying in olive oil.

30. What inspires you?
Shiny!! Oh, hang on, that's distracts me......

31. What are you afraid of?
Falling - not so much heights, as the potential for falling from them and hurting myself.

32. Plain, cheese or with-the-lot hamburgers?
Cheese and pineapple. Please don't hate me.

33. Favorite dog breed?

34. How many years at your current job?
4 and a half years.

35. How many states have you lived in?
2. New South Wales and denial. Unless you can count London as a state......

36. Have you ever been on a motorcycle or driven machinery?
Yep, been on a bike a number of times, although never in the driver's (so to speak) seat.

37. Favorite TV show?
Got a few a the moment - Heroes tops the list, Supernatural and Grays Anatomy are both pretty good, too.

38. Favorite day of the week?
Saturday, again.

39. Is your house phone a cordless?
No, unfortunately. The cordless died and we haven't got around to replacing it yet.

40. Ten centimetres of snow, or 40 degrees C?
I think snow, but that's only because I haven't spent a lifetime shovelling it out of the driveway. I remember one of my flatmates when we were living in the UK saying that she cried the first time she saw snow, it was so beautiful. One of my other flatmates, a Canadian, said that he sometimes cries when he sees snow, but he really didn't mean it in quite the same way....

So excitement!

Well, in a really nerdy kind of way.....

I fianlly got my wireless router today (after weeks of buggerising about, none of which was my fault) and brought it home and plugged it all in. And guess what? It worked perfectly, first go. No arsing about with IP addresses or anything, just plug and go. Awesome.

How's about that, huh? So now I can actually use the internet in the living room, instead of being chained to the modem in the furtherest reaches of the land of Spar Oom. This is an accomplishment worthy of a little nerdy excitement, I reckon!

There's even a vague pissabolity that I might update my blog more often.......

Oh, and I have decided to face facts - I'm not going to get the pavilion finished in time for Festival. Most of the sewing for the roof is now done, but I still have to put the eyelets in for the ropes, rope it all up, make the tent poles, make the walls, and all of the little fiddly bits in between. Oh well, at least some good inroads have been made for next year!! I've been busily making gollars, though, so I should be nice and toasty. At least some pre-festival sewing is being done.

Weekend of culture

Went to see the ballet with JD on Saturday night. It left me speechless.

The ballet in question is Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. This is the one where the swans are male, rather than the traditional female swans. While it creates an interesting tension between the prince and the lead swan, it also gives the swans an added strength and menace, along with their grace. The result left me with my mouth hanging open....

The story, very briefly, is of a young prince who is pampered, but unloved. His mother is remarkably free with her affections to her footman, her driver, her dog walker....just about anyone who, er, takes her fancy, but she cannot show her son any love, even though he desperate for any sign of affection from her. He goes off to throw himself in the lake, and comes across the swan, falls in love, decides not to off himself after all.

A grand masque is thrown for the prince, to find him a wife. The swan turns up, in human form, makes out with all the chicks, and a bit of a tussle ensues with the prince (who apparently isn't quite ready to accept his one true love as a man, just as a swan). The tussle turns ugly, a girl gets shot. The prince finds himslef turfed into a mental ward, where the swan everntually rescues him. But all is not well!!

The other swans turn on our hero, who dies, and the prince, bereft of his only love, dies of a broken heart. The queen comes in to find her only son dead, and finally shows him the heart that she has been hiding (and could have saved his life), In a kind of background shot, the lights come on, showing the prince cradled in the wings of his swan, showing that they are together at last.

Cue the lights, to find me with tears pouring down my face. JD asks me if I'm OK....

"no" I reply in a small voice. Pathetic, really.

It really was a breathtaking show. The first half was filled with humour - almost a vaudville touch. And the second half, needless to say, was filled with tragedy.

Time keeps on slipping into the future....

I need a new job. One that offers me a large number of hours doing nothing (at a very high rate of remuneration), while allowing me full access to the internet.......

Yeah, right.

Although my web presence has been very slight lately, that's not because I'm crap (well it is, but you guys are my friends and will allow me the fiction that I'm not actually all that crap), but because I have been busy:

  • I ran 12th night. It was a lovely event, contrary to the whining by some stupid prats on the Lochac list. The weather was lovely, everyone was relaxed, there were lots of kids there, the sorbet was a great hit, and I didn't have to spend any time at all in a kitchen.
  • I finished the cuffs on the beaded dress of doom, and entered them into the WCoB comp, and won a prize! I am now working on the guard on the upper part of the sleeve. This is a bit scary, because it means that I am going to have to fit the bodice soon, so that I can work out the shape for the guard for that bit. Yikes, that sounds a bit too close to actually building the frock for my liking!!
  • All the tabs for the tent are sewn on! (I know, I barely belive it myself!). All that I need to do now for the roof part is sew it all together. I'm hoping to give that a burl on the weekend.
  • And, true to form, work has been incessantly busy. We don't seem to get much of a quiet period at all. It goes from "Oh my god I must get this project finished before xmas" to "Right-o, back to the grind, lets get on with it, chop, chop" with only a short period of rest and catch up with all the things I didn't get finished last year in between. Meh.
Sp there you go - that's pretty much a run down of January for you. At least I managed 2 whole posts this month....... (well, nearly. I wrote this post on the 31st, but then Blogger had one of it's many "I'm just going to go away now" moments, and I couldn't upload it)

Where does the time go??

Sigh. I did it again. Managed to go a whole month without blogging once.....

I do have a excuse - it's the silly season! Much too busy stuff. Right.

Yesterday was my first day back at work after the xmas break. I was so bored I was starting to think that serious injury was an attractive option, and contemplating whether hurling myself down the stairs would give me the desired effect. Sad, isn't it? Today was better though - I actually did some work!

Mind you, I didn't really do much with my holidays, either. I was full of plans - all manner of things were going to get done!!! Instead, a dose of the flu led to a lot of sitting on the couch reading a book, and not feeling up to much else. I did do something though, it wasn't all complete laziness!

I did some work on the cuffs for the dress of doom and dispair, and have in fact got one of them finished! Hooray! Now, if you can just imagine the rest of the dress in the brocaded* silk, with beaded guards in the green/teal really is going to take forever. Sigh.

I also cut out a bunch of tabs for the Tent That Never Was (but hopefully someday Will Be), but, fairly true to form for this wretched, wretched tent, haven't been sewn on yet. I've got until April - what do you think my chances are?

*of course, the silk is not actually brocaded. It is, in fact, a print. That's right, a print. But it looks like brocaded silk from a metre away, so who cares?