Yesterday was the annual Fall feast here in the Mists, Boar’s Hunt. I love this event… It’s very laid back, fun, and takes place at one of my favorite sites, Camp Herms in El Cerrito. I managed to finish my blue wool gown before leaving for the feast, owing to a week’s worth of distractions that made it impossible to finish until the last possible minute. I still have to line the sleeves, but otherwise, the dress is complete.
It was my first time wearing a wimple, too! And contrary to my belief, I neither looked nor felt frumpy in it. In fact, the amount of compliments I got with this outfit was more than I’ve gotten in years with any other outfit. I had people coming up to me saying how flattering/pretty/attractive the style was, and apparently a wimple and veil are a total guy magnet, because loads of gents made a point of saying “Heyyyyy girl,” if you know what I mean. ;) Never would have thought it would be so… attention grabbing… considering I’m so covered.
Anyway, here’s some pics taken by Trystan. Not much to say about the dress other than, well, it worked out about the way I expected it to. Now to finish the blue silk taffeta bliaut for 12th Night!
There’s a reason my tagline is “Historical Personality Disorder,” my friends. I cycle through so many different historical periods, and I am hitting that point where I’m starting to feel disoriented by it all!
Two dear friends of mine are going to be stepping up as the next King & Queen of the West and I got myself tangled up in court duties as a result, and OF COURSE, they’re doing a 9th-12th c. reign and, OF COURSE, I have nothing to wear in that era. So, I had to go and start researching the heck out of clothing from that period, and I finally settled on 12th Century. Which means I’ve been in a tunic-making frenzy for the last several weeks. Now, I realize most of my readers couldn’t care less about anything pre-1400 but I’m kind of excited about the prospect of reaching deeper into the past than I typically do and brushing up my rectangular construction skills. And I’m learning that there’s a lot of fabulousness to be had on the other side of 1400! Bliauts for one thing… Though they’re 12th century, I’m totally making one because I have wanted to for DECADES. Also, the Merovingians had some pretty awesome clothes for women… Knee-length tunics, baby!
The only problem is that until the entire outfit is finished and put together, it’s kinda boring to blog about. (“See this pile of linen? It’s going to be awesome, I promise!” “Check out this rectangular construction, baby!”)
I did snap some pics of my 12th Night bliaut, though:
The colors and the cross fleuries are mimicked from my newly changed SCA heraldic device. All of the stuff I’ve been doing in the SCA from Day One has been after the heraldic display era, so getting a chance to slather myself in my device is pretty awesome. :)
So that’s about where it all stands right now. I will have some updates soon on other stuff… But for now, I welcome my new Rectangular Construction palette cleansing obsession. I was starting to get bored with fitted construction to be honest!
I had hoped to make this outfit for France, but wound up running out of steam by the time we had to leave. However, since I a teaching a class on the history of Turqurie in Europe at Costume College, I decided I needed something to wear to show proof of concept. I ended up wearing this for the second half of the Gala, and was MUCH more comfortable, as you can probably tell by the huge grin on my face and the glass of champagne in my hand.
Since Francis apparently doesn’t believe anyone wants to read about his costuming, I’m going to include his outfit here with mine. He made his suit, and it is very lovely. The wig is by Kendra, and is also very lovely. Anyway, I keep telling him that he should add his costumes to his website, but he doesn’t believe me.
As for my outfit, this is the striped robe a la française that I actually already posted a bit about. But here’s some more pics of it! I’m still kind of ambivalent about it, for some reason… I think I need to rework the trimming a bit and see if that doesn’t help.
Cassidy has a very good write-up about the origin and fundamentals of the robe a Lévite, which you can read here. I also have a Pinterest board that’s dedicated to trying to identify portraits of women wearing the Lévite, as opposed to the fashion plates. The Lévite is one of those weird 18th century fashions that, if you believe the sheer number of them in fashion-plate form, was apparently hugely popular– however, there seem to be precious few portraits painted of women wearing them, and even fewer extant examples (according to my source, there *might* be one in an undisclosed collection in Europe, but she was unable to view it to confirm).
In other words, there’s not much known about how this style of gown was constructed, other than what can be sussed out from fashion plate images. It could have had either a seamed waist, meaning the bodice and skirt were two separate pieces stitched together, or a partially seamed waist (which is how I constructed mine — the back piece is separate from the skirt, but the fronts are cut in one, and have a bit of a tuck at the waist to fit the torso better). The main elements of the levite, which distinguishes it from the Turque (its close cousin) is it has long sleeves that reach to the wrist, with turn-back cuffs, as opposed to short sleeves with an undersleeve/separate bodice. The collar tended to be wider overall, and, this is the clincher, there was always a sash worn with it. The sash seems to be integral to the definition of the Lévite.
There’s evidence that this was a more relaxed style, and that women could opt to go without stays while wearing it. Certainly this uncorseted look is present in this particular portrait:
Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Portrait of a young lady, 1780.
Also, there’s this portrait of a woman nursing, which also appears to be a Lévite:
François-Guillaume Ménageot, A Lady, said to be Madame Danloux, nursing her Child in a Drawing Room, late 18th c.
I chose to wear mine over stays, which is just my preference, since I don’t always like the “casual” look on myself.
What I did like about this outfit was its versatility. I re-wore it a number of times in France, doing little things differently with it. One night I wore it over my chemise a la reine, which turned out to be rather flattering! When I attempt another Lévite I will play around with a different method of construction, since I was pretty much flying blind while patterning it. There’s not a lot of issues with the construction, but I think the next time around I’ll have a better idea of what I’m doing overall and it will make for a better gown. Still, I’m quite happy with it!
Based on the above fashion plate, this dress first took shape in March when I wore it to a Lumieres event at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. So, if it looks familiar, that’s why! At its first wearing, however, it lacked most of the accessories which made the whole outfit just that much more fabulous: Namely the hat and belt-thingy.
The belt a weird one to figure out, since there’s so little detail in the fashion plate to begin with. Also, I wasn’t totally certain that the inverted “V” shape at the front waist was actually a belt, or a kind of zone-front thing, and the ruffle at back was actually a differently colored peplum attached to the bodice (no idea if any of that makes sense). I decided to go with the belt idea, however, to avoid getting myself in over my head with patterning a funky bodice, and it turned out to look right, so I’m happy with the choice I made.
The “fringe” on the petticoat, gown skirt edges, and belt is actually gathered black silk netting. I could have opted for a fringe, but again, I decided that the netting would behave more appropriately when applied to the gown (for instance, fringe would have fallen down along the edges of the skirt rather than stick straight out, like in the drawing). Also, silk net is pretty inexpensive when you’re making little strips to gather.
After all was said and done, and the pictures were taken in France, I realized I had STILL forgotten one tiny detail: The narrow pink ribbon around the waist. SIGH. Well, it means I need to wear it one more time to get it right!
Ok! My guilt over letting this blog languish for so long has finally overridden my inertia about doing anything about it. I am for real, for sure, for honest-to-goodness-reals updating everything I’ve been neglecting to update since May. All those outfits I took to France? Stay tuned! Costume College recap? Comin’ atcha! Gatsby photos? Prepare yourself! Much Ado About Sebastapol Faire? RIGHT HERE.
But first, I should probably get this out of the way:
Yes, the costumer is engaged to the cordwainer.
Given the fact that these photos were taken at Lang’s in SF, it should go without saying that this was not a surprise for me. It actually was a decision reached by committee, with Kendra, on the drive down to Costume College last month. Yeah, because that’s how we roll. ;)
The ring is a mid-century design that I had picked out some weeks before. Of course once we were at Lang’s I had to try on all the rings, including the early 20th c. Tiffany diamond ring that fit like a glove and cost 1/4 of what our house cost. But in the end, the little emerald cut diamond set in a simple platinum band with two little baguette diamonds on either side won out. Also, because Francis wouldn’t let me sell his spleen for the Tiffany. Ah well.
And since I’ve had a few people ask, there’s no immediate plans for nuptials. We’re not in any big hurry. We already have the house, the cat, the medical plan domestic partnership, so it’s just a fun excuse to throw a party that we’ll get around to eventually.
So, with that out of the way… BRING ON THE COSTUMES!
I am so far behind… I owe updates about the costumes from France, and now I owe an update about Costume College!
But! Screw that! Let’s talk about next year’s Gala project! Because it’s Kendra’s fault, and I want an OVER THE TOP gown for next year!
I’m making this bad boy right here:
Already have the blue taffeta… Just need to find the pale lavender for the petticoat. And I’m crazy, but I’m thinking about embroidering those garlands…
I feel like I should make this into one of those cutesy tutorials you find on Pinterest and those better-than-thou lifestyle blogs. “Make your basement into a speakeasy in these simple steps!”
- Buy house with a basement large enough to accommodate tons of people;
- Make sure it has at least 7 foot ceilings, so said people can stand up;
- Spend several days frantically cleaning all of your sewing crap up (refer to picture);
- Buy ALL THE BOOZE;
- Hire someone to mix it into cocktail form;
- Unleash your friends on the poor, unsuspecting bartender;
Enjoy we did. Francis really took on the mission and in typical Francis fashion (eg. MAKE ALL THE THINGS FABULOUS) really hit it out of the park. He installed lighting, made a bar, created the whole atmosphere almost singlehandedly. That’s why I love this guy… He makes crazy stuff like this happen. I had people coming up to me all night telling me that this was better than Singlebarrel, which is our local speakeasy cocktail lounge here in San Jose. That’s pretty high praise, let me tell ya!
Anyway, here are more of Laurie’s photos, which show a lot of the action in the speakeasy.
Oh yeah, and a note about the “costumes.” We had a 1920s theme, yes, but many people lacked suitable attire, or were a little uneasy about the silhouette (myself included), so we were very relaxed about the dress code. Earlier in the evening I was wearing a little 1920s esque dress, but it was a bit too small and not in the least bit figure flattering, so I changed into one of my 1960s-style cocktail dresses. However, since the speakeasy was such a success, and we will very likely be rolling it out again in the future, I’m suddenly very inspired to find a suitable 1920s-style cocktail dress. You can check out some of the ideas I’ve collected from around the web on my Speakeasy Pinterest board!