A new hat for an old dress
“Some hats can only be worn if you're willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you're only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”
― Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys
There's nothing like a new accessory to liven up an old outfit, and at The Great Plains Renaissance Festival this fall we planned to wear an old favorite - our Always Winter Never Christmas dresses. These dresses have an Italian/Venetian influence, and we've struggled since the beginning to find some kind of head-wear to go with the dresses.
As the September dates of the festival almost always bring the heat of the last gasp of summer saying "and another thing!" before Kansas's brief fall sets in, this was also an excuse to make a head piece that was a little lighter than the winter turbans. After consulting a few reference pictures, I sketched a design (spoiler - the design evolved before the project was done).
Historically, these hats would have been stuffed with wool or reed, but I opted for cushion foam, both because it's easier to use, and because it's what I had on hand. I used E6000 glue to glue the pieces to wide headbands, and then the leftover linen from H's Viking tunic to cover the foam. It was easier to sew the linen closed on the underside of the headband than glue it.
A post-script! We were surprised with the honor of receiving titles! We are now Barron and Baronesses of the court. What this means in practical terms is that we're allowed to wear a tiara/circlet (as long as it doesn't outshine our betters on the court), we can be addressed as Lord or Lady, and we can officially represent the crown by occupying the thrones while the Royals are out shopping or attending a joust.
Of course Rachel just happened to have ordered some tiaras direct from a Chinese distributor. They came broken, but she had pieced enough of them back into two tiaras to go with our outfits, just in case.
I can't seem to help myself. Even with dresses that are already designed and done I want to tweak them. The mind of a creative person is never at rest, I guess. The September Great Plains Renaissance Festival will be my first with a baby in tow, so I knew I didn't have time for a whole new outfit for myself, but I wanted to make a few hat updates FOR LEGITIMATE REASONS, I promise!
Kate and I decided on the Always Winter Never Christmas dresses and the Falling Leaves dresses for the fall time - the colors seemed to be begging for it. And while I LOVED the hats I made for the Always Winter dresses, wearing a stuffed tube around my head got hot quickly. After looking at paintings and with some linen Kate found on sale, we decided on a simple wrapped style with a feather pin for an accent.
The other dresses we reserved for fall have some seriously awesome hats. They are my favorite out of the 5 I've attempted to sew or worn with outfits. The research was great, and before this we'd been wearing the steuchleins from under the hats for our green dresses. It was fine, but no where else did our outfits have white fabric.
On top of that I had attempted to purchase yet another vintage silk sari in a neutral color to use for another project. The neutral beige this time turned out much darker than I anticipated, and the finish of the fabric was thicker and smoother than I wanted.
There was more than enough for Kate and I, and adding the ties to the rectangle of fabric was easy too. It's a small addition, but to me it makes a big difference.
Always Winter Never Christmas
Serious rennies are a hardy bunch. Short of active tornado or blizzard warnings, we are out there - rain, shine, or in this case, snow!
We had been keeping an eye on the forecast for the spring faire. We knew it was going to be a cold, damp one. A couple of weekends before the Great Plains Renaissance Festival, the Little Apple Renaissance Festival was scheduled in Manhattan, KS. A perfect dry run for a few cold-weather modifications we'd made to our very first matching renaissance dresses.
The faux-turbans covered our ears well enough, and we found beautifully soft cashmere pashminas to match for our necks. But even with long underwear and the scarfs, we needed more.
Luckily, I still had a couple yards of the upholstery fabric we'd used for the bodices. And frankly, I'm not sure what else I would have used it on.
To add a little extra width, and also to have something soft and warm around the face (instead of the stiff, scratchy upholstery fabric), I bought some faux mink fur for a shawl collar and front opening. We trimmed the short capes in tassel fringe to match the dresses. They fit close and snug around the shoulders, and were really about as warm as a modern wool coat would have been.
The Little Apple Renaissance Festival ended up being rescheduled due to blizzard conditions, but not before we'd gotten all dressed up with no where to go. So, we took advantage of the wind-blocking and aesthetic properties of a mausoleum in the cemetery in Beloit, KS for a short photo shoot.
At the Great Plains Renaissance Festival a couple of weeks later, the weather wasn't quite as blizzard-like, but was still cold enough to warrant the use of the capes, and damp enough that our skirts were wet half-way up by the end of the day, and just about "an inch-deep in mud", to quote Jane Austen.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!