personal time

I need a hobby. I used to have one when I started this blog in 2007, but it has since become a job. My other hobby, the SCA, requires so much work and causes so much stress that it should be a job. I feel like I have nothing that is just for me any longer. What do I spend my free time doing? Who am I kidding? I have no free time. I don’t want to knit even for myself because I am knitting all the time. So yes, for those of you who are curious, turning it into a business sucks all the fun out of it.

I find myself turning towards sewing. All my SCA clothing is made by me, so why can’t I make normal clothes for every day? I love fabric, but one only needs so many dresses for a “hobby”, so I thought that making modern clothes would be a good direction in which to expand.

I started a feeble Pinterest board to keep track of various patterns and tutorials, but so far I have only attempted a Simplicity that failed miserably. If anyone can mess up an “easy” Simplicity pattern (it was actually designated as “easy”), it would be me. And of course that episode has discouraged me from trying anything else. One of my main problems is my body. It’s short and lumpy and none of the patterns are designed for short people. Yes, of course I know you can adjust and shorten them, but guess what?! That sucks.

For my birthday, which was yesterday, I received The Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman. It looks cool, not too complicated. Maybe I will try again with a pattern that isn’t so stressful. But it probably won’t work. And then I’ll end up with a pile of shredded fabric. You can reknit yarn, but fabric isn’t so forgiving!



Back to that fabric…

olive "helping"
Olive decided to help keep the fabric on the table.

Apparently I have made an unconscious decision that I don’t have any need for new garb. It’s been about three years since I added any new dresses to my wardrobe. I think I’m afraid to cut into my fabric. I have so many beautiful pieces that I don’t want to ruin. Either I’ll destroy it by turning it into something hideous or something that doesn’t fit.

chatty face
The last time I sewed for me, July 2009.

But I have been busy making new tunics for my husband, the Honorable Lord Rickard de Als. His style and size has changed a bit recently, so I wanted to get him some nice new outfits before Pennsic. We decided on the longer length tunics of the 12th/13th century. So far I managed to get an undertunic and an overtunic completed. They are basically the same thing except that the undertunic has tight sleeves and the overtunic has fuller sleeves. Also the necklines are different, but that may have been my own creative license.

finished tunics
Green overtunic and orange undertunic.

The overtunic is finished, but I haven’t finished the hem of the undertunic. I did all of the edges by hand. I’ve started doing more handsewing lately since I learned the rolled hem technique. Good photos here. I still sew all the long inside seams on the machine, but I do the neckline, cuffs, and hem by hand. It’s so thrilling! And it doesn’t take too long once you get the hang of it. Plus it has a more authentic look. Perhaps someday I’ll actually do an entire garment by hand. Someday.

handsewn neckholes
Rolled hem at the neck.

I can’t talk right now, I’m sewing.

All year I’ve been saying to myself: Gwen, you have lots of fabric. Why don’t you make something? Now’s the time!

Instead of doing it in January, however, I’ve decided to wait until one week before Pennsic. I’ve gotten two dresses put together though, so I consider that not too shabby.

Both dresses/tunics are blue and of the same style, which is a mid-calf length overdress. I would wear a full-length dress underneath in addition to a chemise. In the photos I am not wearing a chemise. These dresses are super easy to make. I have one piece for the body; one piece each for the sleeves (nearly square); I take two rectangles cut in half diagonally for the gores; and another rectangle to do the facing around the neck hole. Usually I make the body wide enough that I don’t bother with gussets because I’m not good at putting them in.

chatty face


Excited for Pennsic!

countdown to time travel

With Pennsic quickly approaching – 36 days/2 hours/45 minutes/8 seconds – my priorities are shifting, which is why I shared that tunic a few days ago. I’m thinking not so much about knitting and craft sales as I am about fixing wayward garb and filling my wardrobe with hot weather friendly garments. Lately I’ve been heading in a slightly new direction or at least a more tailored look. I saw an illustration in a program of a woman standing at a cooking fire. She was wearing clothes very similar to what I like to wear, except she looked better.

Usually I wear large baggy dresses because it’s easier than making things fitted. However, it isn’t very flattering to my figure. Also, the fabric shifts around a lot and I’m always fidgeting with it. The veil I’ve been wearing is a rectangle – actually called a headrail. It constantly falls off the back of my head and the tails are always falling over my shoulders into whatever I’m working on.

Using the illustration as a guide, I made a new dress that laces in the back to make it more fitted. I also made a new two-part veil, one part being a tube that gets tucked under my chin and one part being a circle that pins to the top of my head. It might actually stay on this time! I’m quite excited to try it out in a few weeks. I’m hoping to get at least one more fitted gown finished before Pennsic, but I also need to sew a few more sleeveless dresses and overdresses so I won’t die of the heat.

Lady Genevieve
Lady Genevieve at Squire’s Castle, March 2007.

a new fiber art

Sewing counts as a fiber art, right?

This weekend I attended Northern Oaken War Maneuvers and had a great time. Several friends camped with us, which made it even better. I shopped around, took a class, relaxed, got very sticky and stinky. Saturday night we had a terrific potluck feast in camp: chicken and lamb kabobs, couscous, cheese, fruit, veggies, bread, and cookies. We sat under the trees and enjoyed the sounds of a hammer dulcimer played by a fellow camper.

In my free time I hand-stitched some trim onto one of Rich’s tunics. I’d made the tunic last year some time (using a sewing machine), and after washing, the yellow fabric around the neckline began fraying. How embarrassing! I could not let him wear it until I had fixed the mistakes. So, at War Practice I bought some trim to cover up the edges of the yellow. I’d never sewed trim in a circle like that, so it was exciting. I’m very pleased with the way it turned out. Now I want trim on all my dresses!

new trim on neckline
Rickard’s tunic. Keyhole neck with new trim.

And one more thing… last weekend Thomas crawled into the window of car. He does that sometimes. I spotted him hunkered down on the floor, asleep under the peddles. He didn’t seem to mind a photo-shoot, although he woke up eventually. Someday I’m going to drive away without knowing he’s there!

thomas in my car