“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.
Before the Great Plains Renaissance festival every fall and spring, the volunteers of the royal court get together for a series of meetings. Earlier in the summer at one such meeting the sorry state of the court pennants was brought up. One neat suggestion was floated that anyone who wanted to provide their own pennant could do so. My brain cells were activated!
Pennants are the flag version of a coat of arms that would appear on a surcoat or building denoting the family, royal or just high born. I researched my maiden name and kinda liked the design.
I researched my married last name and didn't so much like what I found, as the familial image was of a wild boar. No way to romanticize that. I went with my mother-in-law's maiden name instead.
And by special request from my husband the third pennant was to be a stylized wrestling mat.
With the maximum dimensions I sketched them out as above and checked color combinations. After some rough calculations I also had the approximate yardage for each color.
I found an online store that sold lightweight outdoor decorating fabric. It had good prices and everything I'd need except the blue fabric. Time to go with the alternate colors for the second pennant!
While sketching I made sure to start with a scale outline and fudged my original pencil drawings to standardize the measurements. This made blowing up each sketch simply a matter of following the measurements I'd already made.
Sadly I didn't take any pictures of the sewing process, but I can describe it here in case you're trying to make your own pennant.
I made a copy of each flag. One was kept as a master copy, the other cut apart for pattern making. I only cut a 1/4" to 1/8" seam allowance around each piece. Then overlap each piece by the seam allowance, pin, baste, and zig-zag to finish the edges. Cut away any overlap on the back.
I really was tempted to cut out each cross by hand and zig zag them on the above flag, but decided I'd try acrylic paint first. Thank goodness the paint worked so well. I wasn't looking forward to that much topstitching.
The lines in the middle of these crescents are zig zags, however. I like the way the alternate colors turned out too! I don't have pictures of the third pennant, but I promise it exists! Each flag was finished with two grommets at the top to thread rope to a pole.
I'll also have to wait until the next Faire to take a photo of the new penants in actions. They're easy enough to make I may supply the court with more in the coming Fairs.
I tell myself: you do not need a new outfit each year. And yet, I'll attend 5 - 6 days of Renaissance festivals each year, so whatever I make will be worn. And technically these outfits aren't all new this year; I started the pants at least 5 years ago. It just took that much longer to find matching materials and patterns for the rest of the outfit. Click through the slides to see how it was put together.
Here are the patterns used. Click on the pictures to go to the Simplicity website to see the front of the pattern envelopes. I didn't have a pattern for the underskirt; it was two pieces of fabric, gathered at the waist, each with a curved hem and attached ruffle. The corsets were custom made from the pattern on the Elizabethan Corset Generator.
In past years when attending the KC Ren Fest we've either stayed with friends or found a great deal at a hotel nearby. This year the great deal was actually in Topeka, about an hour away. We stayed at the Senate Luxury Suites in a two bedroom unit. Of course we were sewing late into the night getting buttons on everything.
And here is the infamous matching trio at the KC Ren Fest! Hubs is sporting turkey leg stains on his shirt already.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!