2019 Historical Sew Monthly challenges

hand-sewing the folded grey wool exterior to the pink linen interior of the collapsible truncated hennin hat.

collapsible truncated hennin hat.

The challenges for the 2019 Historical Sew Monthly have been announced! I am excited to read about it but… also feel rather unsure about my participation, since in 2018 I didn’t get to many of the challenges at all. I made lots of things in 2018… (like the collapsible and packable truncated hennin to the left)  just not a lot that worked with the challenges at the timeframe of the challenges…

Still, each year I do a post with what I’m thinking of and what I’d like to do… so this year is no different. Perhaps it will help inspire me!  Continue reading

2018 Historical Sew Monthly Challenges

Historical Sew Monthly 2018 logo. Click to visit the Dreamstress site.

I started thinking about the 2018 Historical Sew Monthly challenges in early November when a friend of mine started a Stitch and Bitch group, with the hopes of having monthly garment-making challenges. The organizer hopes we’ll create documentation for a garment in one month, and then create the garment in the next month… with the goal of having 6 projects done and ready for an A&S competition by the end of the year.

I was up for the challenge… but honestly know that I can’t duplicate my efforts, so I wanted to tag-team this group with the Historical Sew Monthly challenges as well!

Continue reading

Italian Capsule

The next “Capsule Costume Collection” is a little complicated. I have two main outfits (and a few extra accessories and pieces) but only one of the outfits fits me right now…

1480s Italian Renaissance Capsule Costume Collection

My first Italian Renaissance pieces are well-made, as well researched as I’d like, and I like them, but they are too large for me now. I’m also really aware that these garments require a lot of storage space, and I only really get to wear them for indoor events here in Calgary. They are too bulky to travel with, and too fancy to take to events with a large outdoor contingent.

Current inventory

Too large items

  • Gold and red silk gown (skirt, bodice, detachable sleeves)
  • Black and gold overdress
Complete "celebration" Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk underdress with sleeves

Complete “celebration” Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk under dress with sleeves

Wearable items

  • Possibly the gold and red sleeves
  • Green silk gown (skirt, bodice, detachable sleeves)
  • Teal velvet overdress
  • Gold and red brocade overdress

Plus there are accessories like:

  • Gold belt
  • Copper and teal belt
  • Pockets – black and gold, blue, others
  • Pouches – red silk
  • Purse – purple velvet
  • Pearl necklaces
  • Coral necklace
  • Brooches for sleeves (multiple)
  • Netted coif headdress – black and gold
  • Padded roll headdress – gold with teal and red

Colour stories

I don’t really know if there’s a strong colour story. Obviously in the too-large items there’s a great gold/black/red story. In the current items I feel the story is less specific. If I were to add new garments, what would they go with? It’s easier to make overdresses than gowns, and they are much more visible… so I would get more impact from them. Still, I’m not sure if I want to stay in a blue-green colourway.

Based on the teal velvet overdress

I started by thinking of things to go with the teal velvet overdress – and my first thought was orange-red… not really a colour I want to wear. A bit stumped, I actually went online to see what kind of colour stories were out there with dark teal for inspiration.

Direct link from souce

Example one: 
This scheme matches the darker teal at the top which is similar to my overdress with a Mediterranean blue, an orange-peach, a fire-engine read, and a dark red/rust/burgundy…
I like how rich and luxurious this colour scheme is… and while I don’t think I’d do many large items with the orange-peach, I love the dark red.

Direct link from source

Example two:
This is a much more subtle colour story, with teal, dark purple, medium grey and pale grey. I don’t think that the greys would really work for me, but the dark purple would be pretty cool. Still, this time and place has a lot of consideration towards sumptuary law, and I think instead of spending a LOT of research on it to justify it, avoiding purple for large garments might be advisable.

Direct link from source

Example three:
With this one I’m torn. This IS the colourway of the copper and teal belt I made, and when I made it, I fell in love with this colour scheme. But I don’t want to wear orange. I think the ONLY way I could really make this work would be if I found some orange-shot-black copper silk for the underdress. (Shot silk so it really looks luxurious and metallic…) This scheme really relies on a LOT of orange, from pale peach to medium rust, with the teal as more of an accent. … Ok… I confess… I love this one a lot. I guess I need to hunt for copper silk.

Based on the apple-green silk under gown

Now it’s a LOT easier to make a few overdresses than to make more under gowns… so if I instead opt to make more overdresses – that would make more sense. So, once again I looked to colour schemes online to see what might look nice with that apple-green silk gown.

Direct link from source

Example one:
Well… This one has both the apple green, and the teal, which leaves me with lime greens, more pale greens, a light-forest green, and a pale mint. I’m not super inspired here, and I don’t think that this gives the rich, luxurious feel I want.

Even the teal is really washed out here – but boosting all of the colours up doesn’t really inspire me.


Direct link from source

Example two: 
Not much better. This one pairs the apple green with a super pale smoke-blue and a dark indigo. I like the indigo, but the scheme reminds me of a seaside cottage on the east coast, not the Italian Renaissance. The colours might be what I do see in paintings…. but they’re not what I ~feel~.


Direct link from source

Example three: 
This is… well… a BIT better. I like seeing the apple green with red and gold – it makes me feel somewhat more confident about teaming the silk gown with the work-in-progress gold and red brocade overdress… but honestly – I don’t love this either.

Direct link from source

Example four:

Well this is the last that actually sort of appealed to me, teaming the apple green with the teal once again. Hot pink, two shades of emerald/forest green, and a plum factor in here too.

I think that this has more of the luxurious feel I want – but I don’t want hot pink and green… I want to avoid that purple situation.. and that leaves me with teal and emerald to coordinate with the apple green. I don’t really think this is working out!

One last option….

Palette developed from ColorMunki for Italian Renaissance costume - teal, rich red, copper, and apple green

Palette developed from ColorMunki for Italian Renaissance costume

Well, it really seems that for the green silk gown, the best matches… are the colours I’ve already used. Copper, teal, and rich red to coordinate with the apple green. I visited the ColorMunki site to build a palette around this.

Final thoughts

Considering the amount of work that goes into making the under gowns… (all of that cording and hand-bound eyelets) I really feel that to build the wardrobe I WANT… is a lot more work than I really want to put into this right now. For the time being, I think I’ll opt out of designing more pieces for this “collection”. When I do, I might start with an entirely new colour palette, foregoing an attempt to mix and match with my existing pieces.

If you’re interested to see what other costume wardrobes I’ve looked at to incorporate the “Capsule Costume Collection” idea – click the tag.

You can also follow my page on Facebook, where I’ll share updates from this project, as well as interesting stories I find online around costuming, sewing, and crafting… along with lots of Viking Age stories too!

Ottoman Capsule

Lifting my hems to show off the Shalwar of my Ottoman Empire costume

Lifting my hems to show off the Shalwar of my Ottoman Empire costume

My Ottoman ‘wardrobe’ is a great contender to look at expanding piece-by-piece because it has many layers which can be worn interchangeably. This should work very well for an Ottoman Empire capsule wardrobe.

I only have one full outfit right now, but could easily duplicate pieces to expand the wardrobe.
The current wardrobe includes:

  • White linen underdress
  • Orange/pink silk block-printed vest
  • Hot pink linen block-printed coat
  • Navy pants
  • Bright blue and teal silk hat
  • Jewellery


The existing colourway for my Ottoman Empire costume wardrobe

The existing Ottoman wardrobe colourway

The only real colour story here is “bright”. I think that if I were to make new pieces in pink, blue, or orange, I’d be able to mingle in new pieces as long as the shades were not identical.

On the SCA Clothing & Culture Facebook page, one of the members identified that “the vast majority of clothes were solid coloured”, and that the most popular colours were red and blue. The poster also noted that there was a lot of green and yellow. Another note was that they preferred strong colours and lots of contrast. I won’t say that this is overwhelming evidence… but honestly since this is not my primary area of interest, I’m willing to run with that for the time being.

The colour palette was created from a site called ColorMunki. Of course, the colours aren’t 100%, because they were based on my memory and what I was seeing on my screen… and every screen is a bit different.

Potential new pieces

I feel like the fabric will really be what speaks to me in making new garments for this wardrobe. I feel like I will most likely focus on duplicating the coat and vest, rather than the (unseen generally) pants, or utilitarian underdress – though at some point the underdress will need replacing if for no other reason than fit and wear.

iPhone selfie in my Turkish Ottoman Empire costume

iPhone selfie in the completed outfit

I think I’ll keep an eye out for fabrics that speak to me for:

  • A bold/bright blue coat
  • A bold/bright blue/green vest
  • Possibly a green hat
  • A new white linen underdress

I’ll largely look for silks for the clothing and linen for the linings of the coat and vest. I’m also keen on more block-printing, but will likely go with higher-contrast colours than I’ve already used.

Going outside of this colourway, I would also consider a red coat block printed with yellow motifs… once the blue/green vest is already complete (because I don’t think it would work well with the orange one).

What’s next?

selfie in my Turkish Ottoman Empire costume

Completed Istanbul outfit

I’ll continue over the next few blog posts to look at other costume ‘wardrobes’. Stay tuned, or follow the “Capsule Costume Collection” tag to read more if you’re coming to my blog well after the original publication date.

You can also follow my page on Facebook, where I’ll share updates from this project, as well as interesting stories I find online around costuming, sewing, and crafting… along with lots of Viking Age stories too!