Friday, October 8, 2010

Medieval sewing

Our little family will be attending a Reformation Faire later in the month, and I'm going to try to sew some costumes to get us in the spirit of the event. One of the men being highlighted this year is John Wycliffe, so we are going with 14th century costumes in his honor (and, truth be told, I figured it would be easier and cheaper than something from the Tudor era or later).

Figuring out what to make on a really tight budget has been a challenge. Although these are definitely costumes, I hated to go to all the time and effort to make a costume out of a cheap synthetic fabric, but period appropriate fabrics (linen, wool, silk) tend to be expensive. However, last Tuesday I accompanied Douglas up to the Big City so I could look for fabric while he had a choir rehearsal. At my last stop, Hancock Fabrics, lo and behold I found some light brown linen blend on "blowout sale" for just $2.95 a yard! The bolt didn't actually specify what the blend was, but I think it may be cotton -- at any rate, it really looks like real linen and the price can't be beat. I plan to use it to make myself a sleeveless surcote. Then I am going to make a faux kirtle to wear under it (saving myself the yardage of the skirt and just hand stitching it together at the hips -- that's the plan anyway; we'll see how it works!). I think I may have enough dark red wool left over from my swing dress to do this -- I have to find it first. :-P The end result should be something akin to this.

Edmund's costume should be easy; just a baby dress out of whatever period appropriate fabric scraps I can find. I am still figuring out exactly what I'll do for Douglas; plan A is to go for the look of a 14th century Oxford scholar (as Wycliffe was both fellow and master at Balliol College) and plan B is a tunic and hose. I'm rooting for plan A as it involves less sewing on my part. :-) Lord willing, I will share photos in a few weeks!


  1. That sounds like a lot of fun, I look forward to seeing the results. Will you get Douglas to grow a long Wycliffe-style beard? ;-)

  2. Sounds wonderful! I'd love to delve into some earlier eras of sewing, but just haven't had a good reason. I can't wait to see what you come up with!


  3. A Reformation Faire! These things don't tend to happen here in NZ, sadly. How we - our family has 6 daughters - would love to join in! We'll look forward to seeing your photos; happy sewing! Is it on October 31, by any chance?

  4. I've just noticed what you're reading: 'A City of Bells', is one of our favourites. (Actually pretty much anything by Elizabeth Goudge is a favourite). Last year, I reread 'Towers in the Mist' while I was visiting our daughter, who now lives in London, and who took me to Oxford! It was like a literary field trip!

  5. Splendid plan! I can't wait to see it. (I like the painting, too! Sweet.)

    I started a Medieval dress over two years ago and haven't finished it. It probably still fits, but I've decided to chuck it (teal taffeta in the 12th century??) and start a new one in the future.

    See you soon!

  6. We can't wait to see you there! Lily met you at the Ladies' Tea and the whole family will be at the Faire in costume

    Karen (the Mrs.)

  7. Rachel, Douglas' beard is pretty sparse so he'd look more beatnik than anything, LOL.

    Jill, the Faire is the weekend before Reformation Day -- not sure why it was scheduled that way, but perhaps the weather will be better! 'A City of Bells' is my first Elizabeth Goudge although I remember seeing her name on my parents' bookshelf growing up. Your trip sounds heavenly! I will have to check out 'Towers in the Mist' next!

    Karen, I am so glad you will be attending with your family! I will surely keep my eyes peeled for you!