Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Artemisia Disney Garb Challenge

I am a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) which in a nutshell is a hobby where we re-create the middle ages. The SCA is found all around the world and is broken up into areas by number of participants. I live in the Province of Arrow's Flight, consisting of several cities, which is a part of the Kingdom of Artemisia consisting of several states. I hope that all makes sense ;)

There are all sorts of fun things in the SCA, making and fighting in armor, archery, jousting, camping out in medieval style canvas pavilions and much more. One of my favorite aspects is making and wearing medieval clothing which we call garb. (and I really love seeing little kids all dressed up in the medieval garb, so cute!) Ahem :) Everyone dresses up at the events we have and some people really enjoy researching and making garb that's as accurate or as we say "period" as it can be. This can mean making the clothing out of wool or linen, sometimes sewing it by hand or adding hand done embellishment such as embroidery. The SCA covers from 600 A.D. to 1600 A.D. with most people focusing on the European area but people are free to also explore and recreate other areas of the world also so sometimes there's a Japanese Samari out on the battlefield among the Vikings and Saxons.

A friend of mine, known in the SCA as Praxilla Taurinae (Some people pick out a "persona" name, a more medieval name, to go by) saw that the Kingdom of Atlantian had done a really fun challenge -
A Historically Accurate Animated Disney Princess/Character Prax thought it looked like a lot of fun so she issued the same challenge to our kingdom. "Tinkerbell the Viking, Malificent in Burgundian, Landsknecht Pinnochio! We're putting together a challenge to make gorgeous historical garb inspired by Disney character concepts. Not fierce competition, just a chance to have some fun and make that outfit your inner princess/hero/villain has always dreamed about." Another big influence for this idea is the amazing artwork of Historical Princesses byShoomlah on deviantART. 

So, a few events were set up as deadlines for people to show up and show off. A lot of fun ideas were put out by people and I considered doing Maid Marian from Robin Hood since I've always liked her outfit but to me that was almost too easy and predictable. One of my favorite characters is Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. I mentioned on the facebook group for the challenge that I was considering her but wasn't sure how I would make it medieval and someone suggested Viking. It took just a few moments for me to visualize this and my mind was off with all sorts of ideas. 

The biggest issue is the challenge was set up in April but the event to show it at was not until November. There were many events in between including a week long camping event and my two kids had outgrown most of their medieval garb so I had multiple sewing projects already lined up. However that didn't mean I couldn't take a little time and make an inspirational pinterest board just for the challenge. I love finding stuff online, especially obscure fun stuff, so pinterest has been perfect for that.  From some of these images I pinned, I made what the costume design world calls a vision board (college degree in theatre put to use!) I printed it off and had it by me for a lot of the process which was so helpful rather than constantly having to go back to the computer screen
Vision Board - Inspiring images and ideas

I have made a lot of garb over the years (maybe one of these days I'll do a bunch of photos of the various garb) but I haven't bothered a lot with being period accurate. For one thing when I started in the SCA I was a poor college student and a newlywed so I hit the $1-$2 per yard fabric at Wal-Mart and was happy for it. But for this challenge I thought I'd really go for a more accurate design and give it a whirl and use linen fabric rather than the unknown most likely polyester blends I've used before. 

I've done a lot of research on Viking clothing since at one point I wanted to enter one of the competitions in the SCA and thought Viking would be the easiest. I soon learned that it's quite the opposite.  If you were to recreate a dress from the Civil War, there are many amazing photos of dresses from that time with close ups of the details and even reproductions of the fabric, you could even go to a museum and see a dress in person. For Vikings however, there is a small handful of fabric scraps that archeologist have found along with a few stone carvings and small metal pendants of Valkyrie. That's all we have to go off of for what these people wore. So there are a lot of various thoughts and ideas out there. I was surprised since a lot of people in my SCA Kingdom did Viking and it all seemed to be fairly similar in cut and style. So as I did research and discovered for myself the many different interpretations at first I was a bit frustrated but then I realized that it gave me a lot of freedom to come up with some of my own ideas and work with what I wanted to do. It also meant that there wasn't a lot of "wrong" ways to do Viking. I've found all the various interpretations and ideas intriguing and on my pinterest Viking board I try to find unique and different examples of garb people have made.

While there are many different ideas of exactly how the items were made, it's pretty consistent that Viking women wore a dress with another pinafore garment on top. There are many different names for both of these garments, I was most accustomed to underdress and apron dress, but finding out some of the other names such as traegerrock in German helped with research. Google translate also helped a lot since a lot of sites I looked at were in other languages. I've done a lot of research in Hedeby, also called Haithabu, which was a Viking town located in current day northern Germany. The fragments of clothing from this area are some of the largest we have and lend themselves to a more fitted style for both the underdress and the apron dress which I felt would work best for the Sally design.

My basic concept was to use linen for the underdress and decorate the seams with embroidery that looked like the stitching holding Sally together, which conveniently was a practice done by the Vikings. They would use a couple of different embroidery methods to decorate their clothing as well as a way of finishing the seams. I drew out a sketch of how the underdress would be:

For the apron dress, with help from Praks, I found the Pskov apron dress which has fragments that were  multiple "patches" of different colors. Plus, to get some of the designs that are shown in Sally's patchwork dress I wanted to do some embroidery and I thought it would make sense for someone to keep the best pieces of nicely embroidered clothing and then put them all together for a patchwork garment thus saving the embroidery. I also would utilize tartan pattern fabric as woven patterns were used by Vikings. I made a sketch of this and then I did a color version of the whole outfit:

I wanted to do a cat embroidery to go along with how Sally is petting the black cat in the movie. I also wanted to do Viking beads that looked like bones and Jack Skellington heads. Vikings made beads out of glass and hung them between the metal broaches. I found these great vintage clay skeleton beads and they inspired me. Vikings would also hang a lot of other things from their broaches such as needle cases, scissors and other decorations. I wanted to hang a spoon with holes to represent the spoon Sally uses in the movie and a needle case as Sally has to sew herself together now and then. I also thought it would be great to have some jars like the ones Sally uses in the movie.  Most of the women I have seen do Viking wear a small kerchief, coif, or scarf type headcovering but the Viking Answer Lady also mentions some bigger scarfs that have been found that could have been used as well. So I decided to use a large red scarf on my head to represent Sally's hair as this would give a Viking look and also a nice flat type look that would match Sally's hair and length.

Someday I would love to make broaches with a butterfly on them. I got the idea for this from the scene where Sally gives Jack a bottle and when he opens it smoke comes out like a butterfly. This is why I had the celtic butterflies in my vision board.

Then I set aside the project while I did a bunch of other things. When October hit I was crazy with Halloween (my favorite holiday) but at a weekly SCA meeting I pulled all the Sally stuff out to get started.  To make the apron dress, I took my measurements and made a paper pattern but I wanted to make sure it was exactly the way I wanted it before I cut it into patchwork pieces so I felt it was best to make a mockup. I made the paper pattern at the SCA meeting using duct tape to put it together (duct tape is an SCA members best friend) ;)

A lot of the patchwork pieces were from scraps in my stash but there were some pieces I had to go out and buy such as the black fabric. I tried to use a lot of linen and more natural fabric but I also wanted to get the colors that matched. In looking at my design and the inspiration I realized that I had that big pink section but Sally's dress was striped. I found some purple linen in my stash and I had bought some purple corduroy and I liked the way they looked together so I decided to do that in place of the large pink section.  I laid all the fabric out to try and get a concept of how things would look together, although the picture just kind of looks like a pile of fabric on the floor LOL.

I made the mockup and discovered the paper pattern was way to big and so I put the mock up on inside out and took it in.  When I was happy with the fit of the mock up, I laid it out and drew out the patchwork pieces with a pencil. I numbered each piece and drew a diagram to know how the numbers would go together - I'm very glad I thought of that before hand as I had to lay all the pieces out a couple of times to make sure things were going the right way.

I then had to wait until after Halloween to get back to this project - which meant I had 1 week to get everything done.

I cut up the mockup and traced these pieces onto the various fabric pieces I had making sure to cut out seam allowances around each pattern piece. Thankfully when I got all the pieces sewn together it actually came out really nice! I was really happy with how it came out so I got some pictures as soon as it was sewn hence why I look a bit disheveled, I had been sewing for a few hours.

For the underdress I bought white linen and some Dylon china blue fabric dye. I hadn't ever used Dylon before but it was as easy as RIT dye. I used two packets but it was a lot of linen so the color came out as a pale blue but that worked well to match Sally's skin tone. (I dyed the fabric before Halloween thankfully)

When the apron dress was done I started on the uner dress. I made the under dress by using another dress I had that fit as a pattern. I was glad to do a set in sleeve so it would fit nicely but I found out when I sewed up the dress that it was rather large so I had to take in the center front and center back but it came out fitting very nicely at the end. I did a blanket stitch along the neckline and an arrow stitch with a stem stitch along the seams, well I did a bit of stitching, not all of it as I ran out of time but this made it so I had more of a scattered stitching look which matched Sally better anyway.

I then proceeded to stay up nice and late after getting the under dress done to make the beads - since the event was the next day. But it all worked out great and I even had enough of the sculpey to make all the beads and a jar! I carved the Jack faces and when everything was cool from the oven I painted them. The jar was a bit too small to do the Deadly Nightshade label but Worms Wart fit and I was happy with that. I put a small screw with an eye hook at the top in the jar so I could hang it. We had a horn spoon that we had used in hot cocoa finding that it hadn't been sealed very well so it was all cracked up and not useable - for food that is. But it was perfect for my Sally spoon! My husband put masking tape on both sides of the spoon and drilled some holes in it. (The masking tape helps it to not crack)

The morning of the event I strung up my beads on some wire and got all dressed up! I didn't have time to do the embroidery like I had planned but I'm still very happy with how it turned out!
In the movie Sally is sewing herself up. I had some time and wanted to add some more stitching since I only had some around my neck and down the center front. I thought it fit the character perfectly. :)

I love it!
Overall this was a wonderful challenge and I had a great time with it. I love how all the little details came together and I think the outfit fits both Viking and Sally. I got a lot of compliments too! This was a great way to be inspired for garb and I'm so happy I got mine done! It's so comfortable I'll probably wear it often too. :D

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