Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Scholehouse for the Needle Coif

Museum Number T.12-1948, Victoria and Albert Museum

A few years ago I posted some research on monochrome English embroidery. This was the kick off of a hand project I have been carrying around and working on periodically. In February of this year I finished my coif. This coif is made of the finest linen I could find and embroidered with silk died using period techniques which I purchased at Pennsic War. The extant examples were made from linen ground fabric and silk embroidery thread. Most of my embroidery was done using stem stitch  or satin stitch. The edge was treated with a long and short button hole stitch similar to that seen in some smocks and shirts of the time rather than with lace. 

My design was inspired by a Schole-House for the Needle, and two extent coifs. the design was transferred from paper to the coif using a period method of pattern transfer called prick and pounce. the little dots were then inked using a fabric safe pen.

I assembled the coif for wearing and then dressed my hair into a circle The coif drawstrings then are tied around these braids to create a poof seen in period art.

Related post:


Shoreleyker, Richard.

A schole-house for the needle: Produced from the original book printed in 1632 and now in the private collection of John and Elizabeth Mason. 

  • ISBN-10: 1872665721

Coif, Late 16th century. Accession number 64.101.1236, Metropolitan Museum of New York

Coif, 1570-1599. Museum number T.12-1948, Victoria and Albert Museum of London

Accession number 64.101.1236, Met Museum of Art, New York City

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Florentine Hairstyles in the mid 16th Century

Eleonora di Toledo had an iconic look which she altered very little during her lifetime. This statement applies to her hair styles as much as the iconic dress style she popularized in Tuscany. Through her life, Eleonora would wear a jeweled hair net over her hair. Her daughters and other members of the court can be seen without a net. Instead these ladies would have jewels or ribbons in their hair. This tutorial is to help you style your hair in the Florentine fashion of Eleonora's court. Let's begin!
Eleonora di Toledo by Bronzino. Currently at the National Gallery of Prague.
Painted shortly after her marriage to Duke Cosimo di Medici of Tuscany in 1539.

What you Need:
Needle and Thread
Hair Bodkin with 1/4 inch tape roughly 2 yards is plenty
Hair comb
Hair net

Elenonora di Toldedo by Bronzino in the Wallace Collection, London. 

How to:
Step 1. Comb out hair until smooth and part down center with your hair bodkin. Then twist bangs from your center part to above your ear. Use hair bodkin to assist taking portions and shaping twist. Secure twists behind your ears with needle and thread. Snip thread and repeat for other side. When finished these twists will frame the face.

Step 2. Braid tail of the twists into the remaining hair, and maintain your center part. Secure ends with needle and thread for each side.

Step 3. Position braids in a circle toward the back of your crown. Tuck braid tails under your braids

Step 4. Secure by sewing braids to the hair underneath  or using the hair bodkin and tape. I prefer tape as dark as my hair so I can reuse it for many years in this case. 

Step 5. Cover braids with  jeweled hairnet. I do not have one finished yet, but will post an update when that happens. 

Lady in Green by Alessandro Allori, 1560
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California  1940.75

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Basic Turn Shoes

Shoes from the Museum of London's collection.

Paper and pencil for patterning
fabric pencil
1 foot square of thick veggie tan leather for sole- Mine are made of buffalo since I found a scrap to experiment with
1 foot square of thinner leather for shoe upper- I used goat skin
hole punch
exacto knife and cutting mat
leather needles
waxed thread

Step 1
First step to any of  project is having your plan, and in the case of  these shoes that is a pattern. My first step was tracing my foot onto a piece of paper and then drawing the shape of my shoe around it. Many of my friends who have tried to make their own shoes had toes that pinched, so my first pair are meant to have a wide toe as is seen on the examples from the Mary Rose. For the vamp and heel pieces I mocked them up with craft felt and paper to ensure I had the right shape.

Step 2
Cut out pieces of shoes. Remember to make mirror of the shoe. Now is a great time to use punches or knives to apply any decorative slashing and punching. Each one of my shoes has 2 rows of small slashes. While wearing them I have learned that the more slashing or punch work you do the looser the vamp will fit. Be careful of overdoing it on a pattern that fit well before you slashed.

Step 3
Use clips to join upper pieces to sole and punch out holds for leather needles to go through. Stitch through shoes using 2 running stitches or a cordwaining stitch. Weave string into stitches. I placed the suede side to be walked on in hopes of better traction, remembering my ballet slippers as a child. Also like those slippers the suede is becoming shiny and slick from wear.

Step 4
Flip your shoe right side out. If leather is stiff, apply a little water with a damp sponge.

And there you have it! I am surprised it took me so long to try this relatively simple process. Go make some shoes and dance!I've had a lot of fun showing these off and now have plans for several other pairs with different bits of slashing or dyes.

Slashed Vamp from 16th century. Currently at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Works consulted
Gardiner, Julie, Before the Mast: Life and Death aboard the Mary Rose, Oxbow Books,  2013.
Grew, Francis and Margrethe de Neergaard, Shoes and Pattens, Museum of London Books; 2001.
Museum of London Image # 002264. 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Accession # 29.158.893
Metropolitan Museum of Art Accession # 29.158.477