“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 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.
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.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!