"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Equestrian Costume Project

My husband and I play within an organization called the SCA, which stands for Society for Creative Anachronism. It is a world-wide society, which holds events based on the medieval world between 600 AD and 1601AD. It also promotes research into all aspects of that time period, and members work to create a "persona" that might have lived in the time frame they choose...say 1400 Italian or 1500 Elizabethan. But it also includes Greek, Russian, Viking, Turkish, and even Japanese personas. It just depends on what you are interested in.

I joined the SCA back in the early 80s, played for ten years, then bailed out, moved to Oregon (I lived in Southern California), then rejoined about three years ago. Before I left California, I had done mostly the equestrian games, which attempt to recreate the tactics used to practice for war. I'm not going to go into detail about that, but it can include everything from whacking fake heads on poles (behead the enemy) to mounted archery, which is my favorite.

All the costumes my husband and I currently have are ones I made back in the 80s. They still fit, and still look nice, but....I'm tired of them. I want to make us both some new things, starting with equestrian garb. We do mounted archery outside the SCA, but sometimes those folks, depending on the event, also wear some kind of costume, usually of a Mongolian or Turkish origin since that is the birthplace of mounted archery. So, for about the last year I have been trolling the Internet, especially Pinterest, looking for a Turkish costume that would be rider-friendly. I ride an Arabian/saddlebred cross mare, so putting her, or me, in a heavy "warhorse" type costume wouldn't look right.

I figured I would be trolling along, looking at costumes, the right one would pop up, and I'd have a "That's it!" moment. I came close a few times, but when I saw this tunic, the "ding, ding, ding, That's it!" moment struck.

So, here it is, fresh off of Pinterest. I will make modifications to it, like change the color (green, black and gold), shorten it to mid-calf length, and split the back up to about my tail bone to make it more horse-friendly. And it won't be quite as ornate as this tunic, as it needs to be washable. I even have a pattern I made, again back in the 80s, for a very early period Viking coat (I made it for a male friend), which is surprisingly similar in shape and construction—it's not as pinched in at the waist and there are no sleeve gussets. But it won't take much to convert it to this tunic. Then I will make a matching saddle cloth and breast collar for my horse.

It's going to be weird getting back into SCA-type costuming, since the only costuming I have done in the last five years has been pirate garb for when we do pirate reenacting (yes, we do, and have a ton of fun doing it, with a great gang of friends).

So, let the hunt for fabric and trim begin!

Monday, April 8, 2013

ETT — A Few Process Photos & Comments

Okay, these are probably the last photos of the ETT I will post. I think it has arrived at that "enough is enough" point. LOL Here are a few process photos, and some explanations of why I did what I did, and what I would do differently.

So, this is what I started with. One teal-blue White Stag T-shirt, and a $2.99 Goodwill find baby doll dress that was too small for me.

This is the finished tunic (the sun came out long enough for me to get this photo!)

Right off, the first thing I would change is the bodice. It ended up too wide. I had left it on the wide side so I could wear the tunic over other T-shirts, but it ended up looking a bit too baggy, and needs tightening up for a better fit. Also, I am still debating whether to add some kind of design to the front. Now that I look at it, that is a pretty big expanse of blue. The reason I left it undecorated, is that I wear a lot of my own jewelry, and don't like it when the clothes and the jewelry fight each other for attention.

Here is the skirt, cut off of the baby doll dress yoke. I cut it above the seam that attached it to the yoke, mainly because I was afraid if I cut below the seam, the thing would stretch out and I would have to re-gather it up with straight stitches, which I didn't want to mess with if I didn't have to. As it turned out, the skirt ended up a bit smaller than the top of the tunic, so as I pinned it on, I had to stretch the seam, and in some places actually break the threads. Bottom line, it took a lot of futzing around to get the skirt on the tunic top. I sewed the skirt on to the tunic with a double row of chain stitch about an inch or so below the seam, then when finished, I VERY CAREFULLY cut the seam off.

The skirt pinned to the yoke of the tunic. As stated...lots of futzing to get it to fit. There are about two inches of blue tunic behind and below that pinned seam, which gave me lots of space to add the double row of chain stitch. Also I figured it would help keep the skirt hanging correctly, and help prevent the skirt from rolling under if there was only an inch or so of tunic behind the chain stitches.

And here is the finished skirt...attached with the double row of chain stitch, the old seam trimmed away, and then the chain stitch beaded. I also trimmed about three inches from the length of the skirt, as it hit right at my knees. I didn't want a dress, I wanted a tunic to wear with jeans.

And the final photo, showing the fit and length (the front and back are exactly the same, so even though you don't see the front of the piece, you're not missing anything...except me going without a bra. NOT pretty and NOT for posting on the internet!). It also shows how the tunic would fit better if the top part was adjusted to be not so wide. I think it would eliminate those loose fabric folds you can see, right above where the skirt attaches to the bodice.

Oh, only one last thing to add to the tunic. From now on I am putting my own clothing labels inside each piece. Just a small section of fabric with the same cartouche design using my initials that I use on my drawings and paintings, and then the year. For now I use a brown calligraphy-point Sharpi, but eventually I would like to make either a rubber stamp or a stencil for the label. 

Now that this tunic is done, would I make another one? Yes, with a few adjustments. However, I will wear this one, as it is comfy and looks okay over T-shirts...and because I spent flipping FOREVER sewing on all those little beads! LOL

Sunday, April 7, 2013

ETT — Finished

Here is the finished Empire Tank-Tunic. Mega apologies for the quality of the photos. It has been raining for days and days, and trying to take pictures inside my house is a big pain in the butt.Just not enough light.

So, here is the best I could do.

I only posted a back view to give an idea of the length and fit because....well, to be honest, before taking these photos I was already in sweats and done for the day, and was too lazy to put my bra back on. When I saw the front view shots, I went, "No fricken way am I posting those!" LOL This was taken out on our deck, and you can see it is still raining. I will post better front views later, but this is for Zom, who was wanting to see how this piece came out.

The skirt was sewn to the bodice with a double row of chain stitch. The bead colors are gun-metal gray and copper brown. I wanted to get away from always having the beads match the colors of the garment, and I took hints from some vintage clothing photos I saw on Pinterest. Only thing I would change on this piece, is I would make the bodice a bit smaller under the breasts. I left it a bit baggy, since I wanted to be able to wear shirts under it, like in the picture, but it's just a tad too wide and would look better tightened up.

So, that's it. The Empire Tank-Tunic. I will get better full length photos of the front of the piece when I can, and I have a few more "in process" photos that I would like to share as well.

And again, sincere apologies for the lousy light in the photos.