Frog and Toad, Anne and Diana, Laverne and Shirley...I think a lot of us have that one friend that you find you can't say "no" to; the one that's always leading you into adventures. So of course when my bestie "H" said she had an idea for a viking costume and could I help, I wasn't about to refuse her.
For once, I can't rightly say this was "my" project. In this case, I am playing atelier for my friend's designs, and for once it was nice to be along for the ride instead of in the driver's seat.
=The main inspiration for this design is a character from the TV show Vikings. H found a pattern in McCall's new cosplay line of patterns that had the basic elements that she wanted, and forwarded me a screenshot of the character that inspired her. We worked together to pick fabrics that would be appropriate for wearing all day outside at a renaissance festival, and also gave a nod to historical accuracy. She had already sourced a chemise style top and appropriate leggings, had been working on crafting a wide leather belt/cincher for her waist and bracers for her wrists, and made weaponry that would pass festival security. Where my work was needed was for an over-tunic and open-fronted skirt.
We settled on a beautiful buff/tan linen for the tunic and a medium dark blue linen for the skirt that would provide enough body yet also drape well for dramatic flourishes. I also added in some faux suede to make trim, as a nod to the abundance of leather in viking costume. For once, I had a commercial pattern to follow that only needed a few tweaks to fit her size. The other change I made to the pattern was to use a thin cotton voile as lining for the top, rather than using the same fabric for both front and lining fabric as suggested by the pattern. One layer of linen still had enough body to give the garments shape, and the thin cotton lining allowed the top to breathe.
As this wasn't fully my project, I didn't take as many pictures. But I will note a few features that aren't immediately visible. The outer edges of the tunic and skirt are trimmed in the faux suede that is sewn on much like bias tape, but only folded on the outside edge. Sewing through more than three layers of faux suede would have been nearly impossible for my little machine.
While the tunic is lined, the skirt is not, so I used french seams for the skirt, knowing they would be fully visible as the skirt is open in front. The tunic laces up the sides with grommets, the skirt laces together at the front waistband with grommets, and I put studs at the inner neckline corners for reinforcement at the stress point. Thanks to procrastination, I was putting in the grommets and studs the night before the fair.
The costume came together beautifully. H wasn't interested in taking pictures (and after all, this isn't her online blog!), but she made quite the sight at the festival.
This was also the festival that saw the debut of our pirate costumes, so we made quite a band of marauders going though the festival. I do hope we can all get together and get more mileage out of these costumes and characters.
The Blue Bees First Flight
Debuting new garb at a festival is always frought with what-ifs. Is the length ok? Will the bodice ride up or down? What about the weight of the garment? After repeatedly stressing over how hot we were going to be in our new multi-layer linen dresses, the weather turned out cool enough to warrant extra layers. And the fit of the dress turned out just fine.
But, everyone agreed we turned out looking awesome!
(Kate here) I was actually a little sorry we ended up wearing the full outfit all day. I hope in following years, we get to show off the dresses underneath more. And, while the dresses were great, I have to add that we seemed to have found the limit of our cheap hoop skirts. Both of us were popping hoops by the end.
For Ryan's new doublet, I literally traced over his most recent one - the green and brown doublet from the fall before - and added a few inches where necessary. The diagonal design comes from a costumed festival goer we had encountered in KC the season before, but the pants are being re used from another outfit.
I know, I know. I should have taken progress pictures of Ryan's doublet and the baby outfit. I ran out of time/inspiration.
Ryan's sleeves were from an earlier pattern as well, and I just replaced the centers with strips of ribbon. The underarm is still out of blue linen. The whole doublet is lined in the same stuff as the frock coat. And I ordered buttons to cover with blue linen, which Ryan thought was very close to magic.
The baby shift is secretly traced from a button up shirt I had for Easter, which will be in a few weeks. Almost every other baby shirt I could have traced was knit, which wouldn't do well if there was a sudden growth spurt. And in learning a lesson from my last baby outfit, I made knit side vents, which turned out to be unnecessary in this case.
(Kate again) We always seem to add things to our garb from the faire. This time, I found blue leather rabbit-trimmed fingerless gloves, and Rachel found tan velvet pouches that we strung from our bodice lacing. Perfect for hiding those modern things that you want to keep hidden but close to you, like a cell phone and wallet. Most importantly for tired feet, we added walking sticks. You'll have to imagine all these things until we can get a good picture up that includes these!
As a whole, the ensemble was a hit at the Festival! We ended up wearing the costumes both days, instead of switching out like we planned. I truly do not have any new outfits for myself planned for the Wichita Ren Fest this fall, but if time opens up this summer I may finish some costumes that have portions that have literally been in the making for around for 15 years.
Blue Bee Final
We're so close to being done (or as done as these things ever are) with the Blue Bee dresses!
We've also come to the thing that I have been dreading the most - hats. In the past, hats have been Rachel's thing, so it was kinda my turn now. We looked at so many pictures of hats, but mostly took our inspiration from hats like these:
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to start with a proper buckram frame from a milinry supply store. In the past, we've managed to make head pieces with what we already had, but for the crisp lines of the kinds of hats we'd been looking at, I knew the expense of a buckram hat frame would be worth it.
From there, making the pattern to cover the frame is not unlike making an upholstery pattern, just in miniature. I turned the hat upside down and carefully traced around the top edge, then went back and added seam allowance. For the sides, I found the dress trim to be almost perfect in width. I trimmed off the gold edges of the trim, then cut lining pieces for the top and sides out of the cream dupioni silk lining of the coat.
With the outer pieces sewn together, I whip stitched/basted the edges down, just covering the metal hat band in the bottom of the buckram frame and hiding most of my stitches in the edges of the gold trim on the outside. I didn't have to worry about it being too pretty inside, as it would be covered by the lining.
Being a Renaissance hat, I added a large grey ostrich feather from Rachel. I had been making the coif and hat at the same time, so you can see it here on Ms. Foame with the plain coif. I ended up covering the end of the feather with a large button made of blue linen and a tree-of-life charm, but alas I didn't get a good picture of it here.
One more thing was definitely needed to secure the hats - a hat pin. I searched online to see if there were ones I could purchase - and there were. Except they were art pieces, or set with precious gems, or antiques. So, kind of at the last minute, I ordered supplies to make my own. Plus - hey another place to have a bee! I used glass beads in blue and yellow, a bee charm, and bits and pieces left over from other jewelry projects, all secured with E6000 glue. I also added a little chain swag to the side of the hat, just for that little bit of extra oomph.
The pin up close. I think it turned out great!
Full disclosure - I put this on Ms. Foame after the faire to take a picture to add to the bottom of this post. The day of the faire, the court asked us to bling out our garb as much as possible, so Rachel and I threw on our tiaras from our green German dresses. And although I wouldn't have come up with it on my own, I do think it's just the right amount of theatricality. I can't wait for you to see the whole show that is the Blue Bee Dress all together in the next post!
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!