There’s a lot more to textiles than sewing costumes. If you do sew, some people may assume you dabble in or are proficient in any type of textile art: beading, embroidery, weaving, crochet, etc. Each of those things is it’s own unique and specific art and only some people are masters.

Here’s a beautiful map of Pakistan done in each area’s most famous technique:

Pakistan embroidery map 2017

Pakistan embroidery map from Generation

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     A. and I have been quite remiss in posting here. For that we apologize. It’s not that we haven’t been working on projects. We have had quite a few, but remembering to sit down and type or take pictures of the project in progress…. well I at least have a hard time taking the pictures. That being said…. Let’s continue.

 

The Bright Blue Shirt

     In the last 5 years ,we Peasants have acquired new guild members, some of them have never been to a Renaissance Faire. In the past we just made costumes for them. They do not always stay. We are not horribly expensive, and we try to work with in a budget, but were not cheep either. This year, we decided to loan costume pieces so they could do a faire in costume, and decide if faire was for them.

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The original color of the shirt.

     A and I have been a part of our Renaissance Guild for a long time. Our costumes have evolved over time, and as we have aged We keep the costume pieces and our shape and sizes have also. We’ve also had other members donate costumes. On a few occasions we’ve also had random faire folk contribute to our collection. Shirts, jerkins, trews, smocks, skirts, and bodices. Some of these pieces aren’t quite accurate in color, or style.

     J. is one of these new members. He had never been to a faire before, but another member had brought him in as an applicant. He was quite excited about joining, but needed a costume ASAP. (Our home faire was coming up quick.) A and I needed to put a costume together quickly. We have a very small collection of pieces for men. We found a a pair of trews, or pants. We found a jerkin or vest. The only shirt that we had that would fit him was a very bright, electric blue. This blue was so bright we didn’t think it could be achieved with natural dyes that would have been affordable for an English Peasant.

We had to change it…

     A. took the first leg of this journey, but kept me updated by text throughout the process. Some

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Results of not having enough RIT Color Remover or too much water.

of these including pictures.

     Using RIT Color Remover, she tried to remove some of the color. This worked, but not as one might expect. After 15 minutes in the bath it be came a “dark ? mud? color”. 45 minutes later, it was a medium chocolate “hot Cocoa” color. She then washed it in a regular wash cycle.

     We discussed options. Run it through another cycle with the dye remover, leave it out in the sun to see what would happen, or bleaching it, as a last result. A. then decided the color was not going to get any lighter, and was going to leave it be. After washing it in a regular wash cycle, she found the color removal was inconsistent. Some of the cotton fabric was a brownish color, and other areas were still a bright blue. The polyester thread was still the same vibrant blue was originally.

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10 minutes into dye removal attempt #2

     A., re-read the directions and realized she should have used 2 packets instead of the one. She decided to run it through another cycle of RIT Color Removal, this time using less water, and agitating herself instead of letting the washing machine do it. 15 minutes into the dye removal bath, she sent me a picture . It was a beautiful rust color. She left it in the bath for the recommended 30 minutes, then washed it.

     A., later sent me this photo, stating that it wasn’t as bright in

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The shirt was still wet, and not as dark in person.

person, but the color was consistent. As you might see in the picture, the thread used to stitch it together was still bright blue.

     Once again we discussed options. The polyester thread was still that unnaturally, bright blue. We didn’t like it. Even if it is just the top stitching, that blue had to go.

     I went to A’s house the following weekend, to pick up the the shirt and work on other projects. We discussed the options for dying the thread. I had already had two packets of iDye Poly, one in green and one in gunmetal. We decided to go with the Gunmetal, but I couldn’t find it, when I got home.

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This was not what I expected.

I went with the green.

     Polyester, being a synthetic, petroleum based fiber, requires the stove top method, as the heat needed for the dye to penetrate, cannot be reached or maintained in the washing machine.

     I armed myself with a Tamale pot filled with hot water, a wood spoon and a packet of iDye Poly green dye and prepared for a hot hour in the kitchen.

     This was supposed to be a 2 hour project, from the time the water began to boil to the washing and drying of the garment. Chemistry, however, had other plans…

     The dying part went well enough. The fabric of the shirt

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First wash after Poly Dye.

got really

dark, but since the fabric was 100% cotton, I figured most of the dye would wash out. It was a dye for synthetic fibers, and the goal was to dye the top stitching threads.

     For an hour I stood in the kitchen, on a hot day, stirring the pot. When the time was up I dumped some of the liquid out of the pot and carried it out to the washing machine. I ran the shirt through a cold

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At least the top stitching is green.

rinse cycle, and once again chemistry threw me a curve ball… The shirt was now a navy blue so dark it was almost a purple/black. This was not acceptable for a peasant. The color of the time period we portray, would have been too costly to produce.

     I ran is through a hot water wash cycle, hoping some of the color would bleed out. The color

lightened, but was still to dark to be worn by a peasant. The goal for dying the top stitching worked perfectly, though. Its a beautiful green.

     I went back to the washing machine, hot water and Oxi Clean. Half an hour in, I got impatient, I added a capful of bleach, and waited 2 or 3 hours more. Finally, I had a shirt I could hand over to a peasant. This “2 hour project” lasted an entire day.

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Finally!! Its an acceptable color.

Here’s another item I made this year, but failed to blog about.

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Finished dress front

This dress started with the fabric. I bought a three yard remnant with vague ideas of making a dress from it. When it came down to actually making it I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough fabric. Color blocking seemed the obvious solution. I went with a lighter shade from the print to keep it lighter for the late summer wedding I’d wear it to.

I wanted a fuller skirt, but longer than any pattern I had. I settled on an original 40s dress bodice and a reproduction ’61 dress skirt, lengthened. The bodice had a back zip and the skirt a size zip, so I’d move the skirt’s to the side and still managed to put pockets in. Every skirt needs pockets. I did a mock up in a flimsy, ghastly, mustard cotton and it looked like things were going about to plan. Then things went wrong.

The 40s bodice had an obvious spot to color block, the yoke and collar were one piece, so I’d do that and the bottom 1/3 of the skirt in the solid light blue. What I didn’t realize, even after the mock up, was that the way the arm holes of the bodice were cut, which allows for quick construction and was fairly shape confirming in wimpy cotton, would be stiff and look at least one size too large when made in two layers sturdier fabric. It was almost done and I hated it. Hated it. It was frumpy on me and the extra fabric under the arms didn’t help.

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Original 40s dress bodice

What I should have done was cut the yoke in the print and done the fold over collar portion in the light blue. Then I would have merely been disappointed with the arm hole fit.

It was one day before the wedding and I couldn’t wear it the way it was. Thereafter ensured a flurry of seam ripping to get the maximum possible fabric (ripping all of the top stitching so I could iron out every millimeter of the main torso pieces) and fiddling, this way and that, with what I had left. The pockets has taken up too much fabric because I tried to hang them from the waist seam inside. Ultimately this wouldn’t work and I’d cut them way back, thereby waisting a bunch of the print fabric. Grrr. I had absolutely nothing extra and no pieces that would cover the length of my torso, front and back.

So it would be a yoke after all. But how would I make the color blocking tie in? I tried several patterns in my stash and nothing quite worked. The 40s pattern was too shapeless, meaning that no other arm hole would work with the way the fabric had been cut.

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The only solution was an entirely new bodice. I didn’t have a plain basic bodice pattern in my size. I had to make one, fitting it with my husband’s assistance (which mostly involved him taking pics so I could see what was going on). I turned the bottom half of the originally cut bodice sideways and with one decently sized scrap came up with a single piece full front piece.

While trying to get the mock-up on I simply cut a slit down the back, from the neck hole, thinking I’d decide on the neck shape once it was on me. That’s when the ah-ha moment happened. The slit could stay, faced with the light blue to match the skirt’s color blocking.

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From there it was just a matter of binding the arm holes, stitching down the lining inside the yoke, attaching the bodice and skirt, putting in the zip, trimming off three inches of the bottom of the skirt (because the length of the 40s skirt really looked so much better in sturdy cotton) and hemming. Oh, and make a narrow self-fabric belt.

Finished just in time, I wore it with a full tulle underskirt and self painted, fabulous, blue heels, but those are another post.

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Finished dress back

I’m not entirely sure what makes this design Japanese. Perhaps the clean lines and simplicity?

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This particular bag (version two) was made as a gift with fabric form the stash that was originally used to make a very cute mid-sized purse, also a gift. I don’t think the photo quite does the fabric justice. It’s a fall colored batik, with a little bit of maroon, or possibly burgundy. I’ve lined it with a simple, small, floral done in maybe four shades of cream.

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The bag is fairly small, but a great size for grabbing a few things to go, lunch, or a skein of yarn for a project. The longer strap can be hung on the wrist with the yarn end sticking out so the skein can be kept in check (and away from naughty felines) while you work.

Here are a few more I’ve made recently.
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They’re also reversible.
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Here’s version one, which I decided I dislike making. Putting on the round bottoms is too fiddly.
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No felt on the back of this one. Haven’t decided if I like it on the hat with the existing bow or not.

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Here’s a smaller one with loops that are one and a half times the ribbon width.

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I found the felt, so this one has a slightly smaller round of felt on the back that I can use to anchor the loops.

Here’s another cockade, this one is probably a more typical specimen.

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It’s made with 1″ grosgrain ribbon and loops that are 2″. I’ve used a little over 52″. It turned out about 4 1/2″.  The loops are stitched onto a round piece of cotton batting. It’s pretty ugly, so you don’t get too see that part. Ideally I would have attached it to a similar or complementary color piece of felt, but I couldn’t find any around.