CoBloWriMo ’17 Day 2 – Current Projects

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This will be a quick post; in a shocking turn of events, I'm not actually working on very much right now! At least not in the way of sewing – my big effort this year has been learning to play the lute. Everyone who talks to me on a regular basis has heard me go on and on about it endlessly, and my poor housemates have had to deal with living with a beginning musician. I've done a lot of vocal music in my life, but never really any instrumental music, so this has been a VERY new experience for me. I'm currently learning out of a book, but I'm hoping in the next few months to find an actual human to learn from.

I chose the lute because it was a popular instrument in several of the periods that I'm interested in – my lute is a renaissance lute, good for late 16th and early 17th century music, and lute music continued to be popular through the 17th and 18th centuries as well (though the form of the lute changes a bit – more strings, weird necks, etc). I also chose it because it will be good to accompany myself singing. AND, best of all, there are lots of period images of women of all different social situations playing lutes.

(This is my lute outfit goal – totally doable with my red kirtle, I think!)

My actual current sewing project is making myself a lute strap. It's so uninteresting to look at unfinished that I won't even bother posting a picture of it (it's literally a strip of green silk that I've been hemming my hand for AGES), but what IS interesting is some of the images that I've been looking at for research. Most of them I didn't even have to find myself – someone on the internet has ALREADY put together a page of images of 17th and 18th century lute straps. Apparently there's lots of uncertainty about how some of these straps work – how long they were, how they were attached, etc. There's evidence for both a long strap worn over the shoulder like a modern guitar strap and a shorter tight strap made of stretchy animal gut (like what instrument strings were made of historically) that could be looped over a waistcoat button or pinned to the front of a lady's gown. I'm going for the former, since the materials are more easily accessible (and I like the look of the giant bows on the bottom of the lute!).


The strap I'm working on is olive green silk, so it will probably look very similar to this one.

That's what I'm working on right now! My other current project is a new smock for my Elizabethan outfit, which I'm hoping to finish in time for my trip to the New York Renaissance Faire in a few weeks.

Until next time!

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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 🙂


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!