Monday, October 25, 2010

Reformation Faire costumes

Here are our outfits from the Reformation Faire! They turned out pretty "costume-y" but it was fun to be dressed up.

Our medieval family

Douglas was supposed to be a 14th century Oxford scholar (although he says everyone thought he was a monk). I had asked my mother-in-law to dig out his graduation gown, which she was unable to find -- but she did find his grandfather's robe. It was a little too short and didn't fasten all the way down the front, so I made him a long, sleeveless gown of cheap black suiting to wear under it. The hood is of black linen/rayon blend and I based it off a drawing in The Medieval Tailor's Assistant by Sarah Thursfield. When he wears it over his head, he looks like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. Soooo funny.

I made my sleeveless surcote by following instructions on The Medieval Tailor. I ended up using a pale blueish-grey pique knit in my stash for the faux kirtle. The fabric was given to me (free!!) and I wasn't going to use it for anything else. In the end, the knit ended up being a boon since I didn't have a pattern (the stretch is forgiving). Oh, and did I mention this outfit is nursing friendly? I cut two slits slightly off center in the underdress, which were hidden by the surcote unless I pulled it aside to nurse. I realized after I made the costume that the colors are kind of reminiscent of an outfit worn by Eowyn in The Two Towers. I honestly wasn't trying to copy movie costumes; it just happened! ;)

Clapping to the music
[Douglas helping Edmund to clap along to the lively music of Charlie Zahm.]

Edmund's baby dress is made out of the same linen as my surcote. I dyed it indigo, hoping for a dark blue, but I got more of a greyish blue that blends in with his surcote. His surcote is made out of an old skirt I made in high school that no longer fits me. I just based his outfit off of a drawing in The Medieval Tailor's Assistant. I wanted to make him a hood or coif but I ran out of time. He was probably happier without, anyway.

Lord and Lady (with grandson)
[This is the best full-length photo we took! How remiss!]

My parents also came and got into the spirit by dressing up. Dad wore his Tudor-style costume from madrigals group in college. Mom made herself a dress from a pattern she's had since the '80s. If I remember correctly, it is supposed to be a 15th century European noblewoman's dress. Mom sacrificed her eyesight for authenticity and went without her glasses for most of the day. If her eyesight is as bad as mine, I have no idea how she did this without running into a wall.

We really enjoyed the weekend -- great lectures, great music, great dancing, great worship, great fellowship... you get the idea. I also had great fun meeting and chatting with Karen and Lily, two friends from the Sense & Sensibility historical sewing board. Their entire family had the best costumes, which perhaps they will post photos of on their family blog? We shall see. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fauré, Pavane Op. 50

(Edmund and I have been listening to Douglas' Fauré CDs lately.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October morning

Foggy morning

For my (sporadic) daily constitutional, I like to walk along the country road that heads north from our apartment. I carry Edmund with me in a front-pack or more recently, a backpack (front or back, he is still a heavy load). The traffic is reasonably sparse and there is a lot of beauty to be admired along the way.

Frosted grass

Melting frost on the grass.

Autumn trees

Vibrant, colorful trees.

Standing stones

Long shadows from an early-morning sun.

Autumn leaves

Reflections in the creek.

Purple asters

I love seeing what wildflowers are blooming at different times of the year. Right now we have purple and white asters, goldenrod, and once in a while, the last of the Queen Anne's lace.

(As an aside, I am always reading about Michaelmas daisies in my books, and I finally looked them up. Turns out it's the British name for asters.)

Autumn tree

Edmund's favorite part of the walk is when we pass the dogs. You can see one waiting for us in the background. I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it looks gorgeous right now. It has no leaves, but retains vibrant red-orange fruit of some kind (about the size of crabapples). Any clues?


"He hath made every thing beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." --Ecclesiastes 3:11

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Silk flower pin

I made this rosette pin from a leftover scrap of fabric from my sister-in-law's 1910s tea gown. Unlike the rosette on the gown, I left the raw edges facing out for a bit of texture. This crushed velvet ribbon that I've been hoarding in my stash was just right for a leaf. I could easily see a cluster of these decorating the neckline of a thrifted sweater or top... I'll be keeping my eye out for just the right specimen.

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!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two years

Douglas and I celebrated our second anniversary on October 4th. The weather was much like our wedding day -- sunny but not hot, beautiful cloudy skies, trees just beginning to turn. Even though October was not our first choice, I am so glad now that we did get married then. This time of year will be forever special to me now. In honor of the day, here are a few of my favorite wedding shots I haven't shared before:

the church

The church was beautiful that day.

13th century stone

"13th century stone from All Saints Church at Sutton Benger, Wiltshire, England" - in the courtyard of the church. Douglas' aunt was delighted to find this as she has traced a line of their ancestry back to Wiltshire.

blushing bride

My bouquet was made up of pale pink roses, white ranunculus, Queen Anne's lace, and English ivy in a silver tussie-mussie holder.

solemnization of matrimony

We said our vows and were married...

getaway car

...And God has given us two wonderful years together since.

(All photos by Melenbacker Photography.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bread-baking saga, part deux

Homemade bread

Since I last posted about bread-baking, my dear friend Robin gave me some freshly ground wheat flour from her hand mill. First I tried a 100% whole wheat dough, with blackstrap molasses, so it was quite dark and hearty. Next I tried half white bread flour, half whole wheat flour (pictured here, with homemade grape jelly, also from Robin!). They cut thickly so a slice of bread is a delicious accompaniment to a bowl of warm soup -- perfect for these beautiful autumn days.

(Ironically, Robin and her daughters have been eating gluten-free for the past several months, and are feeling much the better for it. If you are in the gluten-free boat, her blog has some tempting recipes for you!)