CoBloWriMo ’17 Day 1 – Introduce Yourself

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Hello, gentle readers!  It’s been a pretty crazy year, in which I have neglected my blog, but now that CoBloWriMo has rolled around again, I’m going to take this opportunity to start writing again.  To all newcomers, welcome!  To old friends, welcome back!

I’m super late to this party, but I’ve been trying to draw more recently so here is my take on that Meet the Artist meme that was going around on tumblr and twitter a few months ago

So here’s a brief introduction: Hi!  My name is Mem.  I’m 25 years old.  I’ve been sewing for ten years.  I went to undergrad for costume design and grad school for fashion history.  I currently work at Plimoth Plantation as a living history educator, where I get to portray a real person from history and demonstrate early 17th century daily life activities to the general public.  I’ve also worked at Colonial Williamsburg and the New York Renaissance Faire.  I mostly sew for myself, and I mostly make historical clothes (though I do every once in a while go through phases of making wallets and iPad cases and stuff like that too).  I also knit, crochet, spin, and embroider, and I love trying out new crafts.  My most favourite historical activity other than sewing is dancing and music; I love singing at events and going to balls (I haven’t been to any since I moved to Massachusetts, but I’m hoping to remedy that before the end of the year!).

I’m looking forward to getting back into writing this month, and getting to know my fellow CoBlers!  More to come soon!

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CoBloWriMo 12 – Embellishments Conference, Day 2

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Another fun filled day of new techniques from the past!

This morning, we started with a bobbin lace demonstration by Plimoth interpreter Kate Moore.  


She even set up a basic pattern and let us each try out a few basic stitches!  I was super psyched about this because lacemaking is the next craft on my list! And I actually really enjoyed trying it out, which was good to know.  So…new craft hopefully coming soon!  Yay!

After that, we had some time to work on our samplers before lunch.  Here’s the embroidery squad!

Bonus Dan judging us


During lunch, a lovely woman named Kim taught some of us how to do the plaited braid stitch, a super fancyface goldwork stitch that’s really common in 17th century embroidery for doing all of the beautiful scrollwork, stems, etc.  Her method of teaching it was pretty brilliant – instead of trying to get a bunch of beginners to do an intricate stitch really tiny and waste nice materials, she taught us on plastic canvas using big gold cord!  It was so much easier to see, and helped us understand how the whole stitch goes together.


I’m definitely going to have to give this stitch another shot tonight to see if I actually absorbed it!

In the afternoon we got a tour of the wardrobe department!  We saw a bunch of the embroidered pieces they have in their stock, and some other fun stuff – including a scrapbook of photos of the Plantation in the 70s!

I liked this guy because he’s fab

BABY PILGRIM!!

This hilarious electric celery doublet was apparently built for someone portraying a gentleman who went off course sailing to Virginia and ended up in Plymouth. I love the idea of a fop pilgrim.


We also got to hang out with the Plimoth Jacket some more, and get some photos up close and personal!


Our last workshop of the afternoon was making buttons with Dan Rosen.  We learned how to make one very common style of thread wrapped button with many variations, and a more decorative style of button that’s covered with a basket weave pattern.

These are Dan’s sample buttons

These are my buttons! They came out ok! Especially the woven one.


Overall, it was a fantastic weekend.  I learned a bunch of new techniques, made some awesome new friends, and rekindled my love of embroidery that’s kind of fallen by the wayside while I’ve been in school.  I’m looking forward to finishing my Plimoth Jacket sampler, and I’m already thinking about my next embroidery project (and the next one…and the next one…) – I found a pattern in a 1608 book of Celtic knot work…that’s made of snakes!  I’m thinking a coif ūüôā


This week, though, I have to get my summer project started – I’m building a gown for a new Guilde of St George member who will be portraying Blanche Parry. Stay tuned!

CoBloWriMo 11 – Embellishments Conference, Day 1

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Today was the first day of Plimoth Plantation’s Embellishing 17th Century Dress conference, AKA a weekend of historical embroidery! ¬†It’s always fun to sit in a room full of people just as nerdy as you are.

Our project for the weekend is a sampler of 17th century stitches in the form of common motifs taken from period sources. ¬†I’m working on a motif that was used on the “Plimoth Jacket”, a beautiful reproduction embroidered waistcoat they made at Plimoth in the late 2000s.

I ran out in the middle of an embroidery session for an interview so I didn’t actually get too much done, but it already looks a lot nicer than the last time I attempted detached buttonhole stitch!

We also had some very interesting sessions with other specialists from around the museum. ¬†First, we met with Mark the blacksmith to talk about making spangles – silver gilt metal sequins! ¬†He made the reproduction spangles for the Plimoth jacket; they’re punched out of silver wire that has been plated with gold and flattened out, and they’re less than 1/4″ across.

The little bag is holding the bits that were punched out of the holes in the spangles; they’re 1/16″ across.

After we talked to Mark, we heard from Talia the Wampanoag wardrobe specialist about Wampanoag garments.

Talia showing us a warrior headdress

Beautiful quill work

Apparently the purple colour of the wampum belts represents healing


In the evening we had a lovely cocktail hour, featuring a viewing of the Plimoth Jacket. ¬†Apparently this was the second time ever that it’s been on a person! ¬†The jacket is gorgeous, and they lit the room with candlelight in order to show off the full effect of the embroidery and spangles.


The first day of the conference was absolutely lovely. ¬†I’ve made a bunch of new friends, including fellow CoBler Carrie, who worked on the Plimoth Jacket! ¬†I’m super psyched for tomorrow – especially for the lacemaking demonstration! ¬†For this evening, though, I’ve got a date with pizza, embroidery, and the jacuzzi tub at my Airbnb. ¬†Good night for now!