How to wear a veil and a wimple

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This is a tutorial for when you have long hair, but have that pesky bang that is long enough to braid in, but when braided in and your braids are doubled sticks out in the worst places.
You can of course use this when you have a shorter bangs than I do.

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Start with brushing your hair out and parting it. The part does not have to be super neat, as you are putting both a linen cap, veil and wimple over it.
But you still want it to be kind of even, so that your braids does not end up with braids that look different.

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Separate your bangs from your lengths.

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If you have a lot of hair like me, using all the hair in your braids can make them a bit to fat.
So I divide the lengths, two thirds for the braids and one third that will be put up in the back. You might want to try different ratios out, depending on how much hair you have.
If you have less of a mane you can skip this part and use all your hair in your braid.

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At this stage I put my bangs up, to make sure that they do not get into the braids.
If you have lots of flyaway hair you can either add some coconut oil in to your hair, or some kind of hair wax. I use a organic hair wax that smells slightly of oranges.
This will give you smoother and pretty looking braids.

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Now lets start the braiding, I do a simple three strand braid, making sure to pull the braid forward when braiding. If you braid them straight down, they will lay to far back on the side of your head.
You wan them to be placed right in front of your ears, because hearing seems to be unnecessary for a lady.
Secure the ends with a hair tie of your choice, I cheat and use small rubber bands.

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It is time to hide those bangs away. At the base of the braid, poke your fingers trough and use your finger to hook your bangs as if you were
crocheting.

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Pull your bangs trough making sure that the bangs are smooth and pretty.

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Secure the bangs in the back with a hairpin, making it look as if those bangs are smoothly braided into the braid.

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Rinse and repeat and do the same thing on the other side.
The look of absolute boredom is optional.

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I have put all the rest of the hair up in the back, first braiding it and then
pinning it up.

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Double your braid and fasten it using a big U-hairpin.
I have a fancy silver replica of the London findings.

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I usually put the hairpin in straight, this will make the braid look a bit crooked.
Then bend the braid so that it becomes straight again.

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Poke the ends of the braid in.

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At this point you can add whatever kind of headwear you want. as long as you cover the back of the head as you have used modern hairpins.
I will show you how I wear a frilled veil and wimple.
So lets start out with the linen cap.

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Centre the cap on your head and tighten it with the ties, crossing the ties in the nape of your neck, then pull them up and cross them again at the top of your head, and lay the loop around the back of your head.

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All secure and tight!

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I use a rectangular wimple with the measurements of 150*60 cm.
It is of a weight that matches the veil I am wearing and is hemmed at all sides with a small double folded hem.

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Centre it under your chin, making sure that the braids are on the outside.

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Pin the wimple with a needle at the back of your head.

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If you are short on reproduction pins, use a modern pin here, as this pin never will be seen. I some times also pin the wimple shut in the back with one pin, if it is a windy day.

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You can choose to wear the wimple on the outside of your dress or inside, this is a matter of personal choice. I usually wear it on the inside and secure the neckline with a few pins.
I pin them so that they are not visible from the outside.

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Now lest bring out the pretty reproduction pins as they will be visible.
I have these silver pins that are 4cm long. It is a length I like. If they are shorter than that I find them to have a tendency to slip out.

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I have a love for half circle veils, this one is 100cm long and 70cm wide.
Onto the straight edge, my small starched frills are attached.

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Centre the veil on your head.
Master the “looking in the mirror with pins in your moth“
super serious look.

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Put a pin at the top of your head, make sure to catch the linen cap.
You want the veil firmly attached to your head.

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Pin the veil at the sides as well. Now make sure to also catch the wimple.
If it is a windy day you can also put a pin at the back of your head, at the nape of your neck. Veils have a tendency to not behave in the wind and flip over into your eyes.

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And now you are done! Go forth and be fancy!

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Silk sideless surcoat

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Being a trial member of the 14th century re-enactment group Fraternis Militia Carnis I was invited to the carnival at the annular meeting. I decided to dress up as a popular medieval saint, Catherine of Alexandria. For this I needed some “fancy clothing”. So I decided to make a yellow silk sidless surcoat, something that also have a home in my “normal medieval wardrobe”.

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It is made in silk tafetta and is flat lined with a thin wool fabric to give the right drape of the fabric. I choose to machine wash the silk and wool before sewing, that was a good thing as I was spilled on after 30 minutes, meat on silk dress leaves a stain, but most came of after a go in the machine.

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I also made a front and back gusset even if all extant sidless surcoats are with only side gussets. But based on manuscripts the fullness seems sometime to also be in front of the sidless surcoat. But if you wish to make it without I would advice you to make the side gussets a bit wider in the hem.

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The whole dress is sewn by hand with running stitches with silk thread, back stitches are kind of unnecessary as there is no strain what so ever on the seams in this kind of dress. The seams are then sewn to the wool lining with not to big stitches.

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I finished the neckline with stab stitches and will probably do the armholes as well. I hemmed the neckline with a single fold, but the armholes with a small double folded hem, as you can see it when it is worn. The bottom hem is a wider single folded hem.

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This dress was made for me who is 176cm long, bust measurement 120cm, hip measurement 130cm.
The pattern is made in cm, click it to see a larger version.

sideless surcoat - pattern

Medieval textile belt purse

This type of textile bag with tassels can be found in manuscripts and pictures from the middle of the 13th century to the middle of the 16th century. This is the type of bag that women wore hanging from their belts in long ribbons and it was very often hidden by the over dress.

The look of the bag varies greatly, different kind and amount of tassels, colours and fabrics. The material of the edging and the materials in edging and tassels.

This bag I will show you is based on the simple three stranded flat braid. The look is very similar to the tablet woven edge but much simpler as you do not have to know card weaving to do it. Here is a extant bag with a similar braided edge.

The material of your bag decides how “fine” your bag is and it is possible to make the same kind of bag in silk and in wool, also embroidered bags can be found in the extant findings.

Start by cutting your fabric, I use a wool fabric for the outside that is 19,5*35,5 cm (7,7 * 14 inches) and the lining is a thin linen fabric that is 19,5 * 34,5 cm (7,7 * 13,6) note that the lining is shorter then the outside fabric, it should be so that the lining does not peak out at the top when finished. Seam allowances are included.

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Pin both the short sides, with the outside fabric and lining right sides together and sew them with a small running stitch with 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance.

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Press both seams open like this, you now have a tube of fabric. As you can see I have marked on both sides around the tube, 2cm (0,8 inch) from the edge.

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Now you want to press in the 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance on both sides around the tube. This is very easily done as you can simply fold the edge until the raw edge meets the 2cm (0,8 inch) markings, what you now have folded in and pressed is your 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance.

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Turn your fabric tube inside-out and put the wrong sides together, pressing the short sides flat and nice.

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Now it is time for the braiding. First you need to cut all the yarn you need, how much depend on the thickness of yam you are using. I use a medium/thin wool yarn. You will do two braids, one longer and one shorter. For my long I have 18 threads that are 2m (2.2yd) long. To my short braid I use 9 threads that are 1,5m (1,6yd) long.

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On one end, make a knot so that you have loops in the end.

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Cut the other side open.

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I use a door handle like this when I braid, to have something to braid against.

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You are going to make a simple three strand braid so part your yarn into three equal strands. As you can see you always strive to put the outer threads in the middle. And as you move the outer threads to the inside the threads that where on the inside ends up on the outside. Like this a braid is formed, yes trying to use words to describe braiding is really hard, that is why I made this neat illustration of how you do it!

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Start with the long 2m (2,2yd) threads and keep on braiding, as you braid the bottom will become tangled. So now and then make sure that the bottom is untangled, or you are going to have a mess of yarn in the end and a short short braid.

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Braid the 2m (2,2yd) long threads until your braid measures 1,2m (1,3 yd)(measure when relaxed) and make a knot.

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Trim the end roughly, the rest of the threads will be used for the tassels so save them.

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Now take the shorter treads and do the same thing, knot in the end, cut the other side open, divide in three and braid. But this time you braid the full length of the threads.

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Then cut the braid in half, unravel the ends a bit for tassels and make knots. there you have the two drawstrings for your purse.

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Now we make the tassels, cut a piece of yarn and tie it around the middle of one of the leftover ends from the long braid folded in half.

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Make a knot and pull the knot to the top of the tassel, so that you get this look.

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Make all three tassels, don’t trim the ends yet.

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Now we are back at the sewing, mark two lines at both the short edges, one that is 1 cm (0,4 inch) from the edge and then one that is 1,5cm (0,6 inch) from the first line.

NOTE

I got a question on what I was basing this type of drawstring on, an the simple and honest answer is that I did not look at the extant purses. I simply looked at manuscript pictures and did what felt right and what worked.
What I have found is two bags with the same type of drawstring, but the first a 10th century German relic bag is way out of my time span and the second one is also a German bag but from 1540 so it is a bit on he late side.
This was a stupid thing of me to do, because when I looked and asked around all the extant purses have simply the drawstring pulled trough the outer fabric and lining, no holes made and no eyelets sewn.

Like these extant purses show you.
14th century Sion
Mid 14th century France
1301-1400 Europe Here you can also see what looks like a linen lining.

But one should note that the extant purses have silk cords, and the shell fabric is almost always silk embroidered linen. For a purse like mine with wool strings and wool outer fabric I would suggest that one did sewn eyelets either with linen or silk thread to prolong the life of the drawstring and bag itself.

If you wish to do eyelets instead I would suggest to to them in two levels as this picture shows, as the braided wool cords are a bit on the thick side, or to do your braids a bit thinner. If you do eyelets you can also skip the part about skipping over the tunnel for the drawstring that will come further down, just sew the braid to the bag all the way to the top in stead.

END OF NOTE

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Stitch along the lines with small running stitches.

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Like this, on both short sides.

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Fold the bag in half, lining against lining. Short sides against short sides and pin along the edges.

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Take a longer piece of yarn and thread it on a needle. Knot the end of the yarn and starting from the inside of the bag, between the lining and outer fabric, pull the tread trough.

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We are now going to attach the long braid, that also is your carrying strap at the same time as we sew together the lining and outside fabric. Pull the needle right trough your braid like this.

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Make sure to catch both the lining and outer layers. Go straight trough the braid, and take a stitch right trough the bag, angle it slightly upward to the other side and pull the tread trough as far away from the first stitch as you choose.

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Sew like this along the length of the bag, stopping only at the channel for the drawstring that you stitched before, there go trough the layers. Then when you have passed the channel continue your sewing until you reach the top edge, there fasten the treads.
Do the exact same thing on the other side of the bag, before sewing the braid make sure that it is not twisted.

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Divide the bottom part of the bag in three and attach the tassels.

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Take one of your short braids and tread it trough one side of the channel with the help of a safety pin, go under the big braid and thread the braid trough the other channel as well.

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Like this!

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To the same thing with the other braid as well. Now you have a functional drawstring!

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Pull the bag shut and then trim the tassels all around. I like it when my tassels are bigger in the middle and gradually gets shorter to the sides, but that is just personal preference.

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Now it is done! Put it on your belt and feel happy! I have mine hanging from a purse hanger that I got at Historiska Fynd.

The brown Greenland gown.

I started to feel like it was about time to sew a new dress, after three years (or tree weeks as I only really worn it to medieval week) in my green gown I had so many things I wanted to do better. I did my green gown before I started tailoring school and when I was really new on medieval stuff. I decided on brown last summer, but did not buy any fabric, and then the yellow gained on the “most wanted dress list” as it felt like “everyone” was doing brown. In the end I did a small poll on my personal facebook, and everyone said yellow… And a small voice in my head said but, but, the brown, is so pretty.

That is how you choose colours ;) so I bought a lovely oak brown thin twill from Handelsgillet a thin ans shiny fabric perfect for summer, a lot thinner then my green dress. I got it home and steamed it and put it on the “to do shelf”.

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Next of was pattern, I knew I wanted to do a Greenland inspired gown, so I looked a lot on Greenland no. 38 for this dress. I love the slim panels in the sides that flare into a wide skirt, it is perfect for fitting on a large bust and “hides” hips in the fullness of the skirt. I tried my hands on the 38 in my green gown, but now I wanted to master it with my tailoring skills.
I choose to make it much more fitted then the original gown, as the trendy tight fitting dresses from the manuscripts. I also choose to have buttons in the sleeves as you can see in the London findings. As I wanted to make this so that I can wear it as a middle dress I choose to make it with lacing in the front in stead of buttons, also this is inspired by period art, in the shape of the grave effigy of Katherine, Countess of Warwick. She sports lots of tiny buttons on her sleeves and then spiral lacing in the front.

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Also I did not know when I made the green dress but the panels of the original 38 is actually cut slightly on bias. I wanted to see what difference it makes. For one it makes the cutting of the dress very fabric effective. You get a lot out of your fabric with not all that much waste but a great fullness of the skirt.

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A big bust is troublesome when fitting and it took me about six toilles before I felt that the fit was nice, as always it is hard fitting yourself, but I am happy with how the pattern turned out. Keeping the side panels slim as in the original felt important, is would have been a lot easier it they had been wider and more of princess seams, but then it would not have been the same dress.

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I basted together the whole dress to check the fit, I want to show you my stitches. I find that many people baste very small, this is my stitches. I make them smaller in the tight fitting areas, and then really big in the skirts. Don’t waste time on small basting, do small stitches where it matters in stead.

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After the fitting I started to sew the real seams, I do it like this. A ribbon is tied around my leg just over my knee, and then the fabric of the dress is pinned to the ribbon. As I sew the fabric is tight and it makes for quicker sewing and easier to make straight seams. I sew with backstitches where the dress is tight, until my hips, and from there I sew with running stitches in stead, with the occasional backstitch. Again, don’t waste your time with backstitches on such a wide skirt, it is unnecessary and only takes time.

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After sewing all seams I pressed them really well and then I felled the seams to one side using a filler thread. The filler treads can be found in the seams just as this on the Greenland finds. I sew down the wool filler thread with sewing silk.

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Where the buttonholes and lacing holes are I have reinforced with a linen strip.

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I choose to sew my buttonholes with a real buttonhole stitch with a knot in buttonhole silk, as you can see on the buttonholes of the London finds, it makes for durable buttonholes that are easier to do straight, even and also look very pretty. Also note the round buttonholes without thread bars in the end, just as a medieval buttonhole should look. Also my lacing holes are sewn in silk with buttonhole stitch.
Here you can see another thing inspired by the London findings, a thing silk edge weave, tone in tone silk to match the fabric of the dress. I used DeVere silk treads in the colour Cigar and thread thickness 36 and three cards that were threaded in all holes both as warp and weft, to weave was really boring actually. It was so slow, but I love the end result. Subtle but very nice and it makes the edge more durable.

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The backside looks alight, not as pretty as in the front but it is ok the buttons are 5 mm from the edge, and then the edge weaves comes and is 3mm wide. I should have put the even close to the edge, next time I might dare more.

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Then it was time to do buttons, tiny tiny buttons and in the end it became 31 on each arm, so a grand total of 62 buttons.

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So close that they almost touch.

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Here you can see the lacing holes and also the string that I made for the spiral lacing. I card weaved it in the same silk as the edge weave and it was even more boring. Six or eight cards threaded in all four holes with DeVere silk thickness 36.
What you can’t see is that all the edges are stab stitched, around the neckline, in the front and around the hem of the sleeve and buttonhole side. Just as in the Greenland findings. It makes the edge less prone to stretching and also keeps it very flat and nice.

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This is the result and I am very happy with it. It will fit better after some wear as always with wool the dress needs to “settle” on the body. After one sweaty day in Visby it was a lot better already.

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The wobbliness that you see here will most likely be gone after some wear, it is due to the side panels being on bias.

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The “prettyness” picture that shoes all that I love with this dress; tiny buttons, pretty buttonholes, edge weave in silk, side panels, lots of hips

Embroidered St. Birgittas cap

After having my old St. Brigitta’s cap for several years, and not really liking it that much. Well I like the cap itself as it is the best thing to pin your veils to, but it was a bit on the rough side with a bit to thick linen and also the band over the seam seemed like a good idea at the time but I don’t want it to show when wearing my frilled veils. Also the original cap have a lace embroidery over the head and in front on the band.

Making a new one is not that much work either, and the embroidery part was much easier than I thought.
I started by cutting the cap part out, in stead of sewing the back seam together I hemmed the two parts individually. Then I basted the cap to a thin cardboard that I had marked out some guide lines on to make it easier to embroider, the gap is 1cm wide and the markings are 0,5cm apart.
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I used this excellent guide for the embroidery for the interlaced herringbone stitch.
I recommend looking at the guide in stead of my pictures, it is very clear. My pictures was mostly to show the progress on facebook.
I used a silk buttonhole tread for my embroidery, it became very delicate and nice, the original cap was probably embroidered with linen thread.

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At the end where the slit in the cap will be I made a bar by making buttonhole stitches over a couple of treads.

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In the front I made a embroidery inspired by this picture on Medieval Silkwork.

And this is how it looks when finished.
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And also how it looks when worn with a frilled veil, and also here with some flax cornettes I made a while ago. I love how the lace embroidery is seen under the veil.

If you want to make your own St. Birgitta’s cap here is a tutorial with a pattern.

Different shapes of veils

I made this picture for a Swedish medieval sewing group on facebook that I am in and thought that I can just as well share it with you to.

The question was “how does different shaped veils look from behind”

And of course the shape differs depending on shape, size and draping of the veil, but here are some simple styles pinned to a St. Birgittas cap with measurements for the veils. My favourite is the half circle.

Veil shapes

My gray Charles de Blois dress

Some times you have this GREAT idea! Or at least you have this idea that you can not get out of your head. This dress is one of those ideas, the idea of making a Charles de Blois inspired dress. I mainly wanted to try to make the huge “grande asiette” sleeves, I was thinking that it would be perfect on me with big breasts, that the lines going across my breast would be a easy way of fitting it well.

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So I did as I always do when the pattern is tricky to draft, I made a toille of my basic block that is already fitted to me and simply drew the lines where I wanted the seams to be. I do this a lot, It is a quick way of getting a rough pattern to work from.

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Then it is simply to cut the toille up following the lines that you have drawn. Here is where the real work starts.

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There is a lot of adjusting and cutting, taping together, drawing stuff again. Thinking on what happens if I take some away from this piece, should I add to this piece. I sometimes call this post apocalyps patternmaking. When you have it on a paper, it is all clean lines and you can use the eraser to remove things, this is more gritty and makeshift, you do what you have to do to make it work. You can be a bit violent and cut stuff of, pin new bits on like a Frankenstein monster.

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I had this pattern drawing of “how it should look” based on pattern drawings found over the internet, my goal was to make the pieces look kind of like this.

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After several hours this is what I ended up with, it looks kind of like the pattern…

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Now it was time to sew it all together again, to see if it worked. And yes, with only minor tweaks this really could work.

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So it ended up as a dress, “the insane button dress”, due to the fact that I “needed” to make tiny buttons, a lot of tiny buttons. It is completely hand sewn with linen tread, seams felled with silk, buttonholes are also worked in silk. I like that is is a subtle mi parti and that is is gray and I love the tiny buttons, all 94 of them. And I should sew the last buttonholes and buttons, as it is “missing” seven buttons on each arm due to lack of time, but that is not noticeable.

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I have worn it ONCE. I do have some problems with it. I would like to have it more fitted in the front, It looks nice from the behind but from the front it looks kind loose around the bust and waist. It is also wrong in the fact that women did not wear this in the late 14th century. There are 15th century pictures of women with grande asiette cut on the back of the dress, but never in the front. So I have made a dress that I can not with confidence wear while re-enacting, that was kind of silly of me, especially doing 94 buttonholes on a dress I can not wear in really nice fabrics.

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I do have a solution for my “problem”, I can wear it under another dress, a short sleeved or a sideless surcote that have a wider middle part. I can take the “bumpyness” of the buttons in the front that will be visible on the overdress, it would be silly to let the dress just hand in the closet.