Hats make you professional!
It's my unproven theory that wearing a coordinating hat to a Renaissance festival immediately tags you as a professional, whether you are or not. I've found that they really do make a historical outfit complete.
In my previous post, I talked about the new skirts on the previously ruined Italian Dresses. Here they are in all their glory!
Yes, this is one photo of each of us. *sigh* You may insert your twin jokes here.
Anyway, you may notice the turban inspired hat. This is historically accurate! I had some of the most decorated parts of the overskirt silk left over, and decided to make matching hats.
The feathers you see in the full length photos near the top of the post were purchased about half way through the day, and they have a brooch pin on the quill end. Prepare to see them on other hats in the future!
The hats were fairly easy to make - I didn't even have a pattern - and the veils were tacked in place the night before. Kate and I seem to have to play our own fairy godmothers when it comes to beautiful gowns. ;)
And you can see in our hats I also sewed a line of beads at the top for decoration.
Here is our little party at the KC Ren Fest earlier this year - I'd say we make a cute trio! And in reference to the title of the post, we got asked for directions a couple of times. Also, there is a "live chess" game and must be a spot-the-character bingo game because we were asked about that as well.
So back in 2015, the first time I volunteered at the Great Plains Ren Fest I helped serve punch at the Queen's Tea. It was the traditional red color/flavor of Hawaiian Punch, served in little cups.
Of course, I tripped over a tent line and spilled several cups all down my dress. Everyone was horrified, but some sewing minded saint up above must have been looking out for me because it rinsed off my dress right away.
Since then there is a running joke about keeping me away from the punch served at the Queen's Tea. I'm not even allowed to serve the white grape juice we have now!
The stain repellent properties probably have to do with the fabric that was used, which was all upholstery grade and most likely had stain repellent built in. The skirt fabric was supposed to be drapery lining stuff, and it took forever to dye it properly. Even then the color turned out different in the daylight than in my kitchen.
These were Kate and I's first matching dresses, and we did actually get several uses out of them. (You can see a photo gallery here.) After three dusty, hot, day long events that I can remember. I thought it was probably time to carefully wash the dress. In the tub, with cold water and Woolite detergent.
I was fairly certain this would be a safe bet. I was very wrong. I chronicled the horror story in stages on Snapchat as it was happening. The instant I put the dress in the cold Woolite water the color from the skirt started leaching out into the tub.
It. Just. Wouldn't. Stop. So, I hung the dress to dry and hoped for the best. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe the color just got lifted, but then by some miracle redeposited on the fabric. Maybe Kate's skirt had faded to nearly the same color??? Sigh. Nope.
I tried taking a picture in natural light to show the worst of it, but my beagle, Polly decided she loooooved the new cover to "her footstool" in the living room. It took tempting her with a treat do get her to move.
Anyway, I found an angle in my basement florescent light that shows the worst of it. No getting around it, these skirts no longer matched in color.
I knew I wanted to use silk on these skirts, since it would go from very heavy drapery fabric to easier to wear and lightweight, breathable silk. The green dresses I made for the spring have spoiled me forever more on ever wearing heavy fabrics again.
It actually took 3 orders before I found two coordinating silk saris that would match the colors in the original bodices (which we were re-using). I would call the color I was looking for taupe, but the Indian sellers online disagree in their item descriptions. I'm not mad at having extra silk for future projects though!
I finally settled on two coordinating and beautifully woven silks.
Both were a little thin. As in, you could see the stripes on the hoop skirt fabric right through those silks.
I was in no mood to buy YET MORE fabric to correct my mistake, but fortunately the chemises we originally made for these dresses were full length, and had already been split once to allow for the fullness of the hoop skirts. (The hoop skirts had been made after the dresses.)
On to chopping and re-forming the chemises!
There was some discussion on how to use the silk saris. I wanted to use the decorated pallu if at all possible, and keep the front split. So, we talked about separate skirts, a fake front panel, or coordinating, but different skirts.
In the end to keep some fullness we went with identical double skirts. This took some math and geometry on my part to create the fullest skirts with not quite enough material.
Here are my notes for posterity (and because I'll likely loose them in my cluttered sewing room).
I find literally cutting and pasting in these situations immensely helpful. It was even to scale enough that I was able to take miniature measurements and scale them up to the fabric width!
The underskirts only had to flare out enough to not pull tight over the hoop skirts, but for the overskirts I wanted the front split to fall away starting from the top. That the back formed a little train is just a coincidence. (But Kate's backside looked cute when she was walking in it!)
I had hats planned for this too... So to see how the dresses PLUS hats turned out stay tuned for another post!
A Gift for a Young Princess
Last month a couple I recently met volunteering at the Great Plains Renaissance Festival had a baby girl. I haven't known this couple very long, but from what I gathered they had been trying for a baby for quite a while. They named their lovely new addition an equally beautiful name drawn from a sci-fi TV show, of course. ;)
They're also well-known among the festival regulars and are expecting the possibility of the presentation of a few gifts this fall. I wasn't planning on giving anything since we're not close friends, but then I remembered an "extra" teddy bear I had lying around.
A couple of years ago the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. started publicizing a charity program. Customers could buy a (slightly smaller than their flagship bear) unjointed soft bear and the company would donate a bear to their local police and first responder organizations to give to children in trauma situations. The bear is covered by their awesome lifetime repair/replacement policy, and is safe for all ages.
A great bear for a great cause, but mine was collecting dust.
Here's a screenshot from the website, with the t-shirt the bear comes dressed in.
The first thing to do was create a pattern for the dress. I had in mind a pink, one-of-a-kind version the company made last Valentine's Day for a charity auction. I saw it scrolling down my Facebook feed, saved it to Pinterest, and actually remembered it when it came time for this bear dress.
I had remembered from trying my hand at a dress for a stuffed elephant that the proportions for bears and elephants are different than (most) humans so I started with a paper pattern. However, this wasn't "squishy" enough, so I switched to fabric. After extra careful measuring, (you can tape more paper together, but fabric is a cut once sort of thing) I had a basic pattern basted together.
I decided to use silk, because this IS for a princess after all! The green silk came from scraps of Dupioni curtain material I have had since college days. After cutting out the dress there still more left for...something...someday. ;) I honestly don't remember when I got the white Dupioni silk, but it must have been in the last five years or so.
Anyway, I took apart the basted cotton dress for a pattern (with a few necessary changes) and it turned out pretty good! I only had to take apart one sleeve that I sewed wrong, which I count as a success. The inside skirt seams are just sewn down on the seam allowance, but the bodice is fully lined.
There was a LOT more trim to add, however. It took a couple of evenings in the easy chair with YouTube videos playing nearby, but I love how it turned out!
Not a bit of it was purchased. I have 3 grandmas' worth of ribbon, fabric, and notions scraps, including two boxes of partially used spools of thread. (A grandma's worth is a legit measure of sewing supplies, right?) It will be years before I even make a dent, but I love being able to use it on projects like this! I even got to sneak in some rick rack. I love that stuff, even though it can't be used in very many situations. Can you see it below on the dress?
Isn't the back adorable? A princess just has to have a train on her dress, and this one serves double duty to hide the back seam. I considered velcro closure, but went with a couple snaps. The hat is held on the bear's head with a thin string of elastic cord.
There is also a fully white underskirt with green trim (the same that's around her hat and at the bottom of the train) but that was a bit of a vanity addition. You can't see it in the pictures. It does add to the fullness of the skirt though.
I think the icing on the cake of this lovely gift is the box I found to put the bear in.
The library I work at recently purchased some replacement copies of classic books. It was cheaper to purchase a box set than individual titles in one case, and the awesome hardback set came in this very sturdy box, complete with two opening sides with magnetic closure and a window! Since the set was originally all adventure books I covered the somewhat masculine decorated box with wrapping paper. That just came from the dollar store, but the inside matched perfectly!
I wonder what this little bear's name will be eventually? I haven't named her yet. And I fully expect that if the bear is played with that she'll go back in her t-shirt or just go "bear naked." ;)
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!