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.
The spring Renaissance Festival came and went in April, and we got LOTS of compliments on our costumes! As promised, here is a picture of us all in our finery:
And did I mention that Kate and I had matching outfits? We were busy that day! Part of the time was spent handing out prizes from the musketeer's treasury. We were also in charge of reading the story during the Queen's Tea. The kids were enthralled! We read "The Knight and the Dragon" by Tomie DePaola.
My dearest hubs was also busy pulling triple duty as both Hearald for the Court and Executioner later in the afternoon, plus a Prince of dubious origin when the rest of the Royal Court was at the joust. He loved it all! We have found that elusive thing all couples desire: an activity we like doing together for fun.
And, lest I forget! L looked great in her purple gown. So good, in fact, that I'm doing an Anne Boleyn style dress for her this fall out of green silk. More blog posts to come on that for sure!
And you should see LOTS more from me in the future too. In October Kate and I have a bachelorette TEA party to host. I've already made a miniature music box for that. I just need to get the photos uploaded.... In addition Kate is doing our fall Ren Faire dresses, I have a skeleton of a plan of some pirate/steampunk/renaissance inspired costumes to wear to the KC Ren Fest, new skirt material to make over the Italian dresses from several years ago, a Renaissance princess teddy bear to make for some friends who just had a baby, brown pants to make for the hubby's new fall outfit, plus his black and brown doublets to re-line. Instead of making them reversible I'm just lining each with something more lightweight. I'd say that's enough to keep me busy!
The Latin saying goes, "vestis virum reddit," or clothes make the man. But I've found with Renaissance costumes the hat makes the dress. You can tell the serious reinactors from the ones who just like swishy skirts by whether they have a hat to complete the outfit. And boy, howdy, are there plenty of hat styles to choose from! In weeding my library last year I came across an older copy of this book: The Mode in Hats and Headdresses by R. Turner Wilcox, published in 1946.
Of course I replaced my library's copy with a new version and snagged the old. It has plenty of black and white drawings from all different times and cultures and is a really good overview. But I was looking for more, namely actual patterns and instructions. Through some good 'ole internet searching I found a blog by a Swedish tailor/reinactor named Catherine with instructions for the German utilitarian headwear called a wulsthaube. You can see this headpiece worn by almost all classes and regions of German Renaissance ladies in paintings and drawings. However, very few examples survived, and certainly none that would tell us modern costumers how best to recreate one. Possibly, women with long hair braided and pinned it into this shape, but the "fake hair piece" is called a wulst. The fabric it's attached to is called an unterhauben, and the whole thing together is a wulsthaube. There. German language lesson (almost) over. The veil worn over it is called a steuchlein, and is sometimes embroidered, sometimes long, sometimes stitched with beads, and sometimes very short.
So, I cheated. The wulst historically was likely shaped with reeds, and instructions online recommended a tube with stuffing. I found a styrofoam wreath form at JoAnn's and seized the opportunity. Cut in half, tapered at the edges, and wrapped with quilt batting and fabric strips and it was the perfect shape! Honestly, it only took about an evening to put together and will be GREAT with Kate's costume. I can still wear the steuchlein under the black hat for my outfits, and it really does complete the costume. I promise I'll get completed pictures soon!
And for those wondering - I have short hair and this headpiece ties on with as much security as any modern working women's bandanna. Costume success!
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!