Plundering My Own Fabric Horde

So, how are things going with my writing and sewing projects? Well, despite the slow start, they’re going surprisingly well. I’ve made it a point to dedicate one hour each night to each project (I even have time to get in an hour of Sims, too!), and that’s keeping me well on track. I’m also getting 45-60 minutes of writing in at lunch every day, and between the two sessions, I’ve been more than making my daily word counts. I’m still hopeful that I will have my story done by the end of November.

I have to admit that I feel like an old pro tackling NaNo. I’ve conquered it three times (and failed it once), and I’ve had a lot of practice writing in between years. Working on a story that’s already somewhat plotted, I can write 800-1,200 words in an hour. Once, 1,667 words a day seemed like a monumental task, but now I can toss that out in my spare time without thinking anything about it. The old adage about things getting easier the more you practice applies to writing as well.

(And if it’s true that everyone has a million words of crap in them, I’m getting close to reaching that goal as well! My fanfic is over 300,000 words, and each of my books come in at 100,000 to nearly 200,000 words each (pre-edit). Not even counting blog posts, I think I’ve probably hit that goal. So maybe everything I write from now on will be gold! LOL)

As requested, here are some pictures of my sewing project. These are the pants.


I put a boot on one leg so you can see how it’s supposed to blouse over the top of the boot.


A close up. Pleating the leg to the cuff was a bitch, but it looks fab!

The fabric is a light sage-green flannel that is so nice and soft. And because these pants are so loose (I have them pinned tightly to my dummy; they’ll be even looser on my husband), they should be really comfortable to wear all day.

I ended up changing my mind about the color scheme when I found this fabric in the back of my closet. I’m still going to use the dark green linsey-woolsey for the coat (it will contrast nicely with these light pants), but I’m going to use some more found fabric–a dark gold cotton twill–for the tunic. It’s not as colorful as I initially wanted, but it pairs well and I already had all of it. (And someone gave me the gold fabric, so it didn’t even cost anything.) I’m going to do some quickie embroidery on the tunic for a little splash of color, then there will be the fox fur on the coat.


A reminder of what I’m aiming for.

A-Viking We Will Go

I am about to have a very busy November (so what else is new?)

I’ve decided that I am once again going to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). This is what produced my first and second books, as well as a redraft and work on the sequel to Acceptance.

This year, I’m going to use it to finish up my fan fiction so I can get that off my plate and move back to my books. Writing the fanfic was fun while I was in the midst of moving and didn’t have the time to work on my regular stuff, but now that we’re settled, I need to get back to my serious work.

(I’m also going to count any work I do on my blog towards NaNo, since I also need to revive that and get back in the habit of posting regularly.)

So, task number one: write 50,000 words in November. That should be enough to complete my story so I can move on to new things in the new year.

(Have I mentioned that I have an idea for a new romance novel? I’ve already got a basic plot planned and the time and place set. Ideally, I will get Flames of Prague published sometime next year and I will write the new book—tentatively called The Siege of Orléans—during next year’s NaNo.)

My second task for November is to make my husband a Viking outfit. A good friend of ours in the SCA recently lost his 7-year battle with cancer, and his wife is preparing a Viking memorial and sendoff for him and has asked that people come dressed. Despite the fact that we have a closet full of medieval clothes, my husband has nothing which is Viking-era. In fact, we almost never deviate from the 14th century. The exceptions are my husband’s Elizabethan, which he wore to a friend’s Renaissance-themed Laurel elevation, and a Saxon outfit that I made for myself on a whim.

Since the Saxons were repeatedly invaded by the Vikings—and a settlement of Vikings ended up living alongside the Saxons in England—my outfit will work. So that leaves me just making something for my husband.

What’s kind of odd about my husband not having anything Viking or Viking-era is the fact that “early-period” clothing is very commonly worn in the SCA. The T-tunic style is generally considered easy to make (although, for some strange reason, I’ve not found that to be true for me), you don’t need a pattern—measurements will do, both men’s and women’s styles typically take less fabric than most other options, and both wear better in the summer in the South than later-period clothing (that’s because Vikings roamed prior to the mini Ice-Age setting in, so summers in Europe were as warm or even warmer than they are now, and people all over dressed lighter than they did in later centuries).

So, needless to say, Viking wear is popular (even before the television show came out).

But I wanted to make something different—something you don’t see a lot of—while staying true to the theme of the memorial.

Swedish Viking While researching men’s Viking-era clothing, I came across this new interpretation of pre-Christian Viking-wear by Annika Larsson, based on digs in Sweden and Russia.

We knew, of course, that the Vikings traded/raided quite far into Russia for a few hundred years, but it’s obvious that they brought back some Russian clothing styles as well—although this style was probably local to Sweden. As we like to say in the SCA, “Viking” isn’t a people, it’s an occupation. And Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Gotlanders, and Finns—i.e. Norse people—went viking separately and quite possibly collectively. So, while there was a lot of trade and communication back and forth between them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your Swedish Viking is wearing the same things as your Danish one.

Unfortunately, my husband didn’t like this style; he said it looked too much like an apron in the front.

eastern_vikingUndeterred in my quest for unique Viking wear, however, I continued to scour the internet until I came across yet more Swedish coats—this time, sans apron.

b043a7eb84bb60dccc9912af58aa8196This style met with his approval; we both like the horizontal bands across the chest. It’s also versatile. Late November in Tennessee can be cold or it might be decent–bordering on warm. We’ll be in a hall most of the day, which is climate controlled (and therefore warm), but may be outside after dark, when it might be cold. He can take the coat off if he gets too warm and put it on if it gets cold outside.

The coat will be a dark green linsey-woolsey and I’ve decided that the undertunic will be blue. The question now is what color I will use for the coat trim and the undertunic embroidery. I plan on trimming the coat with fox fur—including that shoulder piece from the red outfit—and make a matching hat. The fur is orangey-brown, so I’m thinking that red will clash with it (although I wanted to do red embroidery on the blue undertunic; I may end up not putting fox around the bottom of the coat so it doesn’t directly clash). I was thinking yellow for the trim on the green coat, but I’ll have to see what matches the fur.

Think it will look weird if I carry a somewhat mangey-looking old fox fur coat into Jo-Ann’s to compare fabric to it?


Late 14th/Early 15th Century Costuming

Yesterday, I snarked on the costumes on romance covers. I have no idea if the clothing described in those books is accurate (it’s quite possible that it is; its my understanding that authors have limited say when it comes to their covers), but you can be sure that it’s correct in my book. I sat with a book of Bohemian costume on my lap while I wrote. I only switched it up for a book on 14th-15th century armor.

This image is from Medieval Costume, Armour, and Weapons and is the book I used as my primary reference because all of the figures are from Bohemian art.

This is close to the style of Jakub’s cotehardie (described below). Jakub’s hood is not dagged–just embroidered–and the fabric is not brocade, but embroidered around the hem. (The descriptions of the embroidery are based on descriptions in “Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince.”)

Description of Jakub’s best outfit in 1388:

Jakub held up the rich-blue cotehardie, admiring it in the light of the fire. It had been one he had looted—he seemed to remember that it had come from France, where he had been working as a hired knight for the King of England years before. It was an older style and not as short as was currently popular, but he didn’t care; he thought young men were wearing their cotes entirely too short anyways.

Besides, who would want to trim away the very best part of the garment? Along its bottom edge were scenes embroidered in silver thread of a party hunting a doe through a forest. And in the trees hung silver-gilt charms shaped like acorns which dangled and shimmered in the light. Even the buttons up the front—and it had more than twenty—were silver-gilt and shaped like acorns. It had a matching hood in a bright red wool, and around its cape were, appropriately, two boars feasting on the acorns from a single tree.

Jakub quickly dressed in a clean linen undershirt, braies, and linen doublet. Then he pulled on red wool stockings—new, but dyed to closely match the red of the hood—and tied them to his braies. Then he put on his blue cotehardie, hood, and a narrow black belt studded with pewter oak leaves.

This resembles Samuel’s houpplande, with the exception that Samuel’s sleeves are scalloped.

Samuel’s wedding outfit in 1408:

Over a clean linen shirt and braies, he put on a black linen doublet. His gold linen hosen were the new style—joined—and they tied to the bottom of his doublet, not to his braies, the way the old, separate hosen did. Over everything he wore his best summer gown—one that he had made at court in the latest fashion.

It was a vibrant green silk brocade with a pattern of gold vines and leaves. It fastened with hooks and eyes all the way up to his neck. Its high collar flared around his neck, but the front folded down, just revealing his doublet’s black collar underneath.

The gown was pleated at the waist and flared into a short skirt which barely covered his crotch. When he held his arms out, the bell-shaped sleeves were actually longer than the skirt, with their tips coming down to mid-thigh. Their edges were dagged in deep scallops and they were lined in gold silk which matched the leaves in the brocade.

Samuel’s hat looks like this. And this longer-style houpplande resembles what Jakub is wearing in 1408.

Samuel put on his hat—a stuffed roll made of the same green and gold brocade fabric, with a long, fanning tail in gold which laid across one shoulder. Its end was scalloped to match his sleeves.

Jonátan fastened Samuel’s sword belt around his waist, then knelt in the floor, putting the gilt spurs on Samuel’s black leather shoes. The leather was cut in patterns like flowers and allowed his gold stockings to show through. The toes were pointed, but not much; Samuel had never cared to wear the excessively long-toed shoes which were currently popular. He didn’t like tripping and making a fool of himself.

A description of Michala’s 1408 wedding dress:

Michala’s dress is based on this one worn by a re-enactor at the Tower of London in 2008.

Samuel was surprised by her dress; it looked quite expensive. It was a gold brocade silk trimmed in black velvet. She had on a black velvet henin—one of the modest ones that was less than a foot tall and flat on top—and pinned to it was a sheer silk veil, folded back so her face could be seen. Even if she didn’t bring a dowry with her, her parents had not let her come into marriage with her richer cousin looking like a poor relation.

All this being said, though, even I must resort to costuming inaccuracies on my book cover (and that irritates me to no end–although I can at least avoid the half-naked men with 6-pack abs). Unfortunately, I can’t draw, and I can’t find anything that’s historically accurate and at least somewhat romantic-looking. So I’m left to resort to my fall back: Pre-Raphaelite art, which is romantic and somewhat medieval, but doesn’t involve ripped bodices and ripped abs.

Although, if I could get Jeremy Irons to portray Jakub on the front cover (Jakub’s physical appearance is actually based on him), I would not say no. (And I’d make him a really beautiful cotehardie to wear while modeling.)

(If you’re fascinated by medieval clothing, I have a lot of pictures from our trip to England in 2008, plus comments/speculation on an old website. Maybe one day I’ll have the time to transfer all of that info onto my new personal website so I can eliminate the annoying pop-up ads. I also have plans to experiment making some of the odder clothing shown on the Beauchamp tomb, so I’ll also have updates.)