Since 2008 I have been baffled by a series of images known as The Cheese Girls. What they really are is a series of paintings of women and maidens from villages in the northern provinces of the Low Countries. When you come across these images online, they are usually on the smaller side and not very high quality.
After translating the inventory and reading Textiel in Context what I had seen in these paintings made a lot more sense. I interpret the layers on many of these women as:
Gathered smock that sits at the clavicle, though with straight ungathered sleeves.
Probable bouwen or petticote
side lacing kirtle (keurs) with elbow length short sleeves, variations here are possible.
Bodice with velvet trim – rijgslijf or overlijf. Again, variations are possible here.
Usually black apron
Belt that screams money – lots of findings.
By September I knew I wanted to make this for West Kingdom Twelfth Night which meant I had a fair amount of lead up time. Because I can’t prioritize very well, I ended up spending a good few months figuring out where to source the hardware because if I couldn’t source the hardware I wasn’t going to make the outfit. The bling is more than half the fun. But in my defense I had a bodice that I had cut out and started sewing in 2016 that was going to work for my kirtle so I didn’t think too much of how I spent my time. More on that later.
I ordered 10mm 18k gold vermeil closed jump rings on Etsy for the lacing rings on the overlijf.
I ended up ordering three variations of hooks from Armour and Castings and having them gold plated for the fasteners on the partlet. I figured I’d sort out which ones would work best when they arrived and sell the ones that did not. For the record, hook style eb22 ended up being what I used. When they arrived in late mid December I ripped open the package in the car and almost excitement puked. I also almost purchased belt fittings from them, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish the belt anyway and that was a lot of money.
But what about the sleeves? I ended up ordering Anglo Saxon Wrist Claps from Irene Davis on Etsy. I figured there would be somewhere in the bay area to get them plated, or I could take them to Reno since I was going for the holidays. Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive until after I had left. When I came home after Christmas, I could not find anywhere that would plate them. They were too large. Thankfully Laurie, an SCA jeweler in the bay area, saved my bacon and sent them out with some stuff she needed for Twelfth Night.
Sewing and braiding and and and. . .
In November I began in earnest. I started hand sewing the apron which I made out of a blue black wool suiting. I had red silk tassels I’d made a few years before for the apron ties, which I fingerloop braided out of black silk. The black hides many mistakes in the braiding.
I finished up my braids.
I finished the veil.
But what about the kirtle? I had a bodice that I had started working on in 2016 that was made out of madder red wool melton I bought at Mill End Fabrics in Reno for the kirtle. Clearly starting and not finishing projects is not unusual for me. I used a pattern my friend Laina draped for me in 2016, and I was lucky it still fit because even though I had been working out regularly I had gained some weight and not the muscular kind if you know what I mean.
Buuut I had to go waaaay back to 2007 for a sleeve pattern.
That wasn’t the only thing I had left until the last minute.
My calendar in the week leading up to the event. You can’t read it, but it was full of panic. ha. ha. ha. I hand finish everything so it leaves for less time than usual. I left for Reno on the 21st of December with a bodice that needed eyelets and a smock that needed its neck finished. I had fully intended to finish those things while I was visiting my family for Christmas, but family is not a low key thing (at least mine is not) so I did not. I came back from Reno on the 26th. Every day I said to myself “I should sew. I should sew.” I did not. To be fair, I also had a cat that hadn’t pooped in who knew how long and I was following her around the house hoping I wasn’t about to be saddled with an exorbitant vet bill.
On December 31st, I invited Flidais over to eat some of the cheese we made and to sew. I did not (I was extra tired and actually took a nap after our lunch). And then I just rotted on the couch.
On January 1st I thought “I should sew!” and I maybe did some eyelets.
On January 2nd my husband went back to work and I sewed. What I actually did was wake up, dig around for my old patterns, realize I had nothing to transfer patterns to, bounced to JoAnn fabrics for 6 yards of True Grid, transferred hecka patterns and added seam allowance to them, cut a few things out, went to bed.
On January 3rd I woke up to carnage.
Pepper(onia), first of her name, destroyer of paper had been there. I realized all was not lost and I got the scotch tape out. Actual damn that cat. “You can’t leave paper around a known paper addict” is now the joke of the year. I didn’t think she would destroy because it’s not actual paper, but I was wrong. Also I realized that yesterday I had totally goofed while ripping my partlet pattern off of an existing 10 year old doublet pattern.
I laid myself down on the floor, stared at the ceiling, dropped a few f-bombs wondering what I had done to myself with my procrastination and why I have been like this all my life. Seriously. In college I was that days before girl. My GPA reflected it. I was also like that in grad school, but grad school is shockingly easy and I had a 4.0 (for the first time in my life). Anyway, I cut out the sleeves, I drafted the skirt for my kirtle following Adelheit’s instructions, realized that I’m a chubster and when you’re fat it’s like ughhh and a 30 degree sweep was too much and I did not have enough fabric, ran back out to JoAnn’s, got more True Grid, patterned a 20 degree sweep, and I started machining everything together.
On Thursday I sewed basically all day until 1AM. I machined my partlet together, and was happy and got down to the handfinishing the rest of it all. Side note – silk is the worst. I’ve sewn with wool and linen for basically my whole SCA life. I’ve only ever made silk sleeves, and a doublet and hose for Roger with help from Vyncent and Tullia. Silk is terrible. The collar kept puckering, I was full of rage, I’ll probably sell off all the silk I own. Not into it. ANYWAY, the wool collar was set on the partlet with zero puckering. It was a Twelfth Night Miracle. I did not have to rip anything, re pin and sew it, and rip a seam again. Behold, the greasy haired seamstress. Also I had actually sewn my fingers raw.
On Friday I woke up at 8:30 and sewed until about 11:00, with some breaks for cleaning the kitchen and other stuff like cleaning the bathroom. I made a little superglue thimble that worked surprisingly well. I just applied superglue to my finger pads and kept on trucking. I ended the day with a smock neck that needed finishing, a kirtle sleeve that needed to be set, and the foresleeves that needed to have their seams pressed and turned under and finished as well as the Anglo Saxon wrist clasps from The Treasury attached (but those were with Laurie). The house elves/cats did not finish these for me.
On Saturday I woke up very disappointed in my critters around 6:30/6:45 and I finished those things up minus the smock neck. I got dressed, and went to Twelfth Night around 10:30 AM. I picked up my wrist clasps that had been gold plated and attached them to the sleeves, which were actually not beefy enough for them. I think I will finish the seams with some worsted wool tape to give them more body.
I talked myself hoarse at the artisan’s display, and ended my day with a very late dinner with Greg and Laura.
Here’s some of the few pictures of me at the event. NAILED IT. (except my foresleeves were too short somehow and I think I understand the mechanics of why even though the foresleeves and the kirtle sleeves were taken from the same pattern and the foresleeves ended 2″ above the kirtle sleeves).
And then I slept from like 12:30 until 10:20 AM.
(and never again. If I don’t have most of my outfit done by Christmas, I’ll call it. For real.)
I still have to make a belt that looks like money and finish the overbodice, as well as make a partlet with velvet trim on it. That’ll probably happen for Twelfth Night 2019 in An Tir.