Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pompeian Dress...

Wall Painting: Figure of a girl

So I've been wanting an aqua Roman dress thanks to the lovely ladies depicted in various wall paintings of Pompeii in the book my lovely Wifey sent me about a month ago.  The book is titled Pompeii AD 79 Pompeii and the Exhibition: Volume I.  It's copyright 1978 by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and was, obviously, intended to accompany an exhibit of Pompeian artifacts in the 70's.  The book includes a large variety of wall paintings, discusses the different styles of wall painting, architecture, history, entertainment and various aspects of Roman life that I haven't really read much of.

I'm interested in the pretty pictures.

That's what I look for in any book on history, the pretty pictures.  I minored in Art History, but that's really just so I could look at the pictures and create costumes.  I noticed aqua was a rather common color in the wall paintings for women's dresses.  And as I mentioned before I just happened to have a large piece of pretty textured aqua cotton.  So now I have to figure out what exactly I'm supposed to be making.

Wall Painting: Theseus, slayer of the Minotaur
The dresses are obviously pretty simple.  The common belief is that all these garments are constructed from simple rectangles, front and back.  I dislike the way two rectangles of the same size drape in the back, because it allows the back neckline to be as deep as the front.  Such a large neckline can cause the shoulders to slip off, like the woman in aqua in the painting of Theseus.

If they are both rather shallow, like the above figure of a girl or the woman in aqua in the painting of Europa, you don't have to worry about slippage, but I like having a deeper neckline, as I have a weird twitchiness about things touching my neck.  I don't think it's completely inappropriate, though I do like them deeper than most period imagery.  (thus the Creative part of my hobby)

Wall Painting: Europa riding the Bull
So I'm trying to decide what I want the dress to look like.  The figure of a girl is a high necked, sleeveless dress.  Due to the damage of image, it's hard to tell if the dress is belted or not.  She's thought to be engaged in some kind of religious ceremony, but it's unclear what her marital status would be.

The woman in aqua in the Theseus painting has a deep necked, sleeved dress. Her sleeves appear to have been made from a separate rectangle sewn into her garment. The little boy in front of her certainly has separate sleeves.  The alternative to separate sleeves is to make the shoulder seam extend down the arm to the elbow and create a draped sleeve by belting the garment at the waist. Her arm obscures any belt she might be wearing.  It's interesting to note that the women on the right are supposed to be future victims of the Minotaur, and would all be virgins, and thus unmarried women.

The woman in aqua in the Europa painting (not Europa, I'm not that daring!) wears a high necked dress, unbelted, that drapes into sleeves.  She also has a teal colored wrap over her right arm.  The three ladies are handmaidens to Europa, daughter of the King of Phoenicia.  (also, how luscious is that purple color on the handmaid fondling the bull?)

Wall Painting: Pan and the Nymphs
The women in the painting of Pan are supposed to represent  nymphs.  The aqua garment of the woman on the right isn't a dress, but a wrap called a palla.  I love the darker colored borders on the palla, which reminds me of the borders on a sari.  It's an excellent excuse for me to keep wearing saris as a palla!

So what do I want out of this dress?  I think I'd like to do a simple one layer dress that I don't have to wear a tunica under.  A single layer is supposed to indicate that I'm not married, which I'm not, but my persona is, but I want the comfort and ease of a single layer for the summer.  That means I don't want to put in separate sleeves, because I would reduce my layering abilities.   The draped sleeve dress in Greece is called an Ionic chiton.  I can layer the Ionic over a tunica, or I can layer a stola over the Ionic in the future.

I think I want to do a single width of the fabric in the back and add more than one panel to the front in order to get the draped cowl style neck.  I'll make it longer than my shoulder to floor, so that when I belt it, it'll blouse a bit.  It should end up with elbow length "sleeves" and I can wrap a sari around it for a palla.

I should get to work then, now that I've worked out what I want it to look like!

Påsbyxor Progress...

Well, I still can't pronounce the proper Swedish name of this style of pants, but they're close enough to done that  Himself should be able to wear them without too much trouble.  The only thing I haven't done is the belt loops, but when he tried them on yesterday, it seemed like they fit without a belt.  Of course he doesn't have much in the way of hips or a butt, so we'll see.

I tried searching for info on the proper pronunciation, and found interesting info on a forum.  Apparently this style is Viking Rus, and is mostly only Swedish, not Norse or Danish, which is either very different or only a little different, depending on who's talking.  The flaws in my pants according to this forum: I made them out of linen/rayon, I did the calf piece, and possibly the way I did the waistband.  According to the guys on the forum, these would be knee length wool pants worn over straighter leg pants to keep snow off when wading through the snows of Russia.  They would be taken off when the man wearing them would go indoors...

I didn't have wool.

I had enough linen/rayon to make them.  I have enough wool to make leg wraps, though not really nice ones.  I don't really like the feeling of wool against my skin, so I'm not likely to put it against The Boy's skin either.  So I put in the calf pieces.

Somewhere, I found some description of the knee band having metal rings in them for the hook on the leg wraps to attach to.  It's an interesting theory, and if Himself likes the style, I might consider making some that would be more accurate.

For the Future, dependent on Himself's opinions:  Slim leg trousers made of linen following the same style of these minus the major width.  Woven leg wrappings in wool.  Someone on the forum called them wiklbander.  I might be able to get someone else to make them, since we don't have any kind of loom, and I don't know how to weave right now.  Of course some people might think of that as an excuse to learn.  Påsbyxor made of a thin wool with banded knees and a better researched waistband.  I'm still unlikely to sew things by hand, simple as these pants are, though I should get over that one day.

But for today, I call these pants done, and can take them off the To-Do List!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Prep for An Tir/West War...

So next weekend is An Tir West War, or A&W War, which has led me to the nickname Root-beer War.  It totally makes me want root beer floats.

Anyway, I'm working on a couple new items for The Boy and myself for next weekend. It's only a four day event, so I don't have the same dread/motivation/inspiration that I used to before Gulf Wars. The weather is a little more predictable here, and it's supposed to be gorgeous, warm during the day and chilly at night. (Of course now I've jinxed it!) I'm packing all the good things in my wardrobe, as usual, but there are a couple new things that I do have the fabric for, (curses on my continued unemployment).

New for this event are a pair of Viking Baggy Trousers properly known as Påsbyxor (don't ask me to pronounce that one!) The inspiration for these was the blog, Eva's Thoughts, where she made a gorgeous set for her hubby in a thin wool based on the pattern from  Historiska Världar. The Boy had a large chunk of dark navy linen/rayon which was supposed to be black, (there's a story there) which I happily cut up into the pattern yesterday. Her blog and linked photos on Picasa were immensely helpful in figuring out how to construct the pants, and why the parts went where they do. I threw them together ridiculously fast, the pleating of nearly three yards per leg taking more time than the actual sewing. The pattern is a little different than what I've made in the past, in that they don't have a drawstring, nor do they have a fly of any kind. They're designed to have belt loops and be just large enough to slip on, then belt in the last bit of the fullness of the waist. The only trouble I've run into is that I estimated the draped length of the leg while Himself was napping, and I overestimated by at least 6 inches, which was extremely frustrating last night as I didn't realize it until after I'd sewn it all together. So the pleating around the knees, about 85-90 inches down to 17" that took two hours to get done, all had to be ripped out. As soon as I get off my butt, I'll repleat them and sew them back into the calf pieces.  

I'll need to figure out some kind of winnegas, the woolen leg wraps, to cover the calf piece. I think I've got some pretty brown wool scraps that'll do for now, but I'd really love something

patterned in the future. I mean, even if it isn't Himself's period, I should at least make the outfit awesome anyway, right? Eventually I'll scan my doodle plans, or perhaps sketch out a new, clean version, and post the "pattern" for the pants, with the measurements that I used, since Eva's are in centimeters and don't include the measurements for every dimension, which forced me to be resourceful and figure stuff out for myself.

I'm working on a new Roman dress, though I haven't decided on a style yet. The Wifey sent me a lovely book about Pompeii a little while back when she sent me the fabric for the hat she commissioned. I noticed a trend among the ladies of Pompeian murals for aqua dresses, and promptly decided I must have one! While sifting through the fabric for a friend a while back I found a lovely aqua cotton shirting that has an interesting texture from Jo-Ann's that was originally purchased for a friend. I need to go back through the book to see if that helps me decide what style I want to make it in, though I'm thinking gathered shoulders is probably the easiest.  I eventually want a banded style, but I think I need a thinner fabric for it.  A voile perhaps.

I'm also assisting our friend Elena with a set of Romans for the war, and since she's been roped into being Waterbearer-in-charge I'll probably be spending a decent amount of time carrying water for fighters. Ah well, it'll keep me busy.

I'm planning a new internet project that'll need to take photos of at war.  I want to create a couple pages of Medieval hairstyle tutorials, with step by step photos on how to accomplish simple styles that are appropriate to various periods.  I've been really interested in the various Roman and Greek hairstyle archaeology that I've been coming across lately, and would like to educate more people in how easy it is to do some medieval hairstyles, and I think this might help.  I know I haven't found anything worth looking at when I Google "Medieval hairstyle" and it gives me a little thrill to think that something I'm doing might pop up on a search.  Of course I don't know anything about websites, but I'll get to that once I've got the tutorial figured out.

I've rambled long enough, time to post this silly thing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thinking of future Hair things...

I'm tossing around the idea of doing a Long Hair Roundtable for an indoor event sometime in the future.  Kind of like a cross between a class and social, more like a panel, I want to see if I can't get several people committed to helping me with it, as far as conversation goes.  I'm currently thinking of it being open to everyone, with those that have longer hair being of higher authority.  It would hopefully be a question and answer session, with people learning about modern hair care, methods for styling and arranging that are good for hair, and tips on how to grow out one's hair.

I hope to do some research on period hair care and products, because I'm thinking hair may have to be my "thing" up here.  I'd like to turn that research into an A&S project for future events.  And at some point in the future I probably ought to teach a french braiding class, regardless of whether or not it's period.  So many people want to know how, and it does look nicer than throwing it into a ponytail at events.

I'm not sure why I keep coming up with ideas for classes and teaching.  I'm not a good public speaker and don't really like to be the center of attention, but I want my words to carry some authority, and evidently teaching gives one automatic authority.  I've come out of my shell enough to want to be "Someone Important," and now I have to find a way of making myself thus.

I'm finding more people's pictures of Roman busts, and some of them are smart enough to get photos of the backside of the head too.  So I'm adding to my list of hairstyles that I can do at events, if only I can find enough Roman women to braid.  I've decided to pimp out Roman as often as I can, cause it is so totally more awesome than other periods.  Aw yeah.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ancestors weren't dumb instance #347...

I haven't really been keeping track, but it's fun to randomly number things...

So I taught my class on basic braided styles for SCA periods, and I mentioned that hairpins aren't period, the proper method would be to sew the hair, either to tie off the braid or to arrange it in the various styles.  This was suggested to me through a Youtube video by Janet Stephens for a specific Roman Hairstyle, which then suggested for further reading an article of hers called "On (hair)Pins and Needles," which gave further information about Roman hairstyling.  This idea should be obvious, but requires a little mental rebooting to wrap your mind around it.  Hair taping is something I've done before, completely without pins, but sewing with a thread that matches the hair hadn't occurred to me as an alternative to pins.  Last weekend I got to try sewing hair for several styles, and of course I didn't get any pictures, but I can at least describe the styles and why the sewing worked so well.

Bust of Marie de France (1327–41)

First style I sewed that day was a 14th century Templers style, also known as the puppy dog ears.  It's the one that has the two braids on either side of the face,  that are folded up once they get to chin length.  Idonia was the recipient of this style, and her hair is no longer than waist length.  I believe that this is long enough if you can get the braids started in the correct place on the head.  If the hair was longer, thigh or longer, the braids could be crossed behind and then brought up to the temples.  As it was I eventually got the braids started in the right place, braided down as far as I could and ended up with tails about 5-6" long.  I folded the braid about in half, which made it fall from temple to chin.  I took the sewing thread and sewed the braid in half, tucking the tails against the face, which I believe to be an appropriate recreation of this image. The original bust most likely had an elaborate crown that would attach to it.  The tails ended up tickling her and getting in the way, so Idonia tucked them back, and the sewn braids stayed put longer than she really wanted, so she had to have a friend pick out the threads.  The braids ended up being piled on her head, but the style lasted for at least a day.

The second head I sewed last weekend was for Aoife.  Her hair is much shorter, just past shoulder, and a bit finer.  She only wanted the front part pulled back in regular braids, not french, and then pinned in a bun.  The pins just weren't working, partially from the short hair, and partially from the style of braid.  I got fed up with the pins not cooperating and sewed her bun in place.  It stayed through Saturday, and she had me take it down on Sunday.

The last, and most squee worthy, was Isadora.  She doesn't play very often, but she's working on a Greek persona.  I'm going to try to get her to come over to the Roman side.  Since I had a braiding booth set up for merchanting on Saturday, and no one was coming by, she decided to try to drum me up a little business.  And for that kindness, she got a gorgeous Roman style based on these images.  Her hair was shortish for these styles, past the shoulder but not past the shoulder blade.  She got cornrows, though fewer than these images.  She had six across the front of her head, and six across the bottom.  The dozen little braids were then sewn together however I could get them arranged neatly with the tails tucked in to create the open centered, voluminous buns like the Roman busts.  I couldn't get all the braids to twist the same directions, but they all curled nicely in the end.  I last saw her on Monday, and the style was still secure, if a bit fuzzy.  I'm looking forward to the day I convert more people to Roman garb, and can do these styles on more people, though they do take a good long amount of time to arrange.