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Hello everyone, hope you are all ok, another dull and damp day here in Yorkshire but a great excuse to sit in and do some stitching – not that I really ever need an excuse!

I did take Ted the dog out for a walk yesterday, only 20 minutes as by then we were both soaked to the skin, lovely August weather.

I am about to start on a very special project, details of which I can’t reveal fully until it is done but will keep you updated of progress here and if you could channel your good wishes for its success that would be greatly appreciated.

Like most women of my generation I learnt to sew at school though I was not keen at all, mainly due to a very stern sewing mistress and an overemphasis on procedure rather than creativity.

I seem to remember an awful lot of tailors chalk and tacking and don’t think I actually ever finished my final garments, which were a striped brown and cream blouse and brown cord skirt.

I loved the cookery classes, that seemed to me to be much more creative and I went on to take both an O and A level in that subject.

I still love cooking and even living on my own for most of the year really enjoy experimenting with new recipes.

My grandmother sewed and made most of our clothes when we were children, my sister and I were mostly dressed in identical outfits, sorry no photo evidence available as I do remember some cute poncho and kilt sets and her making me hotpants at one point!

It would have been something similar to this – currently available at this link eBay vintage poncho if you fancy it.

Vintage poncho

I did lots of altering during my later teens and twenties, mainly dying and refurbishing of charity shop clothes being was a huge fan then, as I am now, of a bargain for a good cause.

I was very fond of buying plain black pumps, the sort you wear for PE in school, and sewing bows and beads on to them when I was a poor student, then you could have a lovely pair of customised footwear for £2.

However I didn’t really do much actual garment making until we started re-enactment, apart from the Christmas that I made whole wardrobe of outfits for Ellie’s Barbie doll :-)

I don’t still have that pattern, (do still have the knitting pattern book with the ski outfits for Barbie in), but they were something like this gorgeous collection of gowns available from here – Barbie pattern . And while searching I found this Pinterest board with lots of links for free Barbie doll clothes patterns.

Barbie patterns

Having the whole family to clothe for events and children growing quickly meant that I learnt to follow patterns again and think I have done an ok job at what I have made. Here are some of my completions from the last few years.

chaperon - front

chaperon - back

ellie-pink-dress

ellie - turquoise dress

jake-ashby

jamie-new-shirt

shirt-neck-detail

Two of the outfits I am most impressed with myself for making are two of my ladies outfits complete with head dresses. I don’t wear these much any more but did enjoy making them.

black surcoat and torque

yellow-dress-and-torque

The fit is not brilliant in some cases but people are generally impressed that we make our own kit.

Lately I have mainly made men’s kit, shirts, hose and brais, they are so much easier than ladies’ outfits ;-) and have invented my own patterns for those by drawing round existing garments like t-shirts and trousers and altering them to suit period clothing. I am pleased with what I have done and the recipients are happy so feel confident with that type of sewing.

Then there was the challenge of the checkerboard surcoat this season, I was very happy with the result of that and so was Jamie.

Jamie's surcoat

This new challenge is to make a wedding outfit for my brother’s partner Amanda. They are getting married in October on his 50th birthday after 25 years together which is brilliant :-)

She has asked me to make her a jacket, part of the ceremony is outdoors so she will probably be wearing a cloak as well for that.

Final details are not decided but we are meeting up to do that this week and go fabric shopping next week. It will be something Victorian inspired in a nice silk or brocade.

I am a bit nervous but very pleased that she has asked me, she said she would rather have something made by me as I understand what it is she wants and likes the fact that it will be made with love, even if it may not be the most perfect garment in the world!

This will count as the fulfilment of number 9 on the Sewing Bucket List – a project from a printed pattern.

So far I have only done number 2 – something for him, (lots of those with all of the kit I have made), number 14 – something with applique or embroidery, I am counting all those linen and Liberty pincushions as the hexagons are appliqued to the linen and part completed number 4 – a quilt or blanket for charity which will be the final result of the Quilt Block of the month that I am so far behind on!

So will be doing regular progress reports for you on the outfit.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone and welcome to Yorkshire where I am pleased to tell you that time travel has indeed become possible!

We have whizzed through what was left of summer and have gone straight to November where the swideways misty rain is in full force. Hopefully the time travel will work the other way and we might get back to those few days in June that were sunny at some point.

We had a good weekend at Peveril Castle , we learnt from experience last year that taking all of your camping kit up the hill to the castle along with all the armour and weapons the boys feel they need, (and spares just in case), leads to some hot and bothered knights and ladies.

You can see from this picture just how high it is – a stunning location to do a show in.

Peveril castle

So we booked a campsite to stay at in the valley and so had a very pleasant two nights with food and drinks at the local hostelry and showers – a real luxury as we are normally on a quick freshen up with a bowl of water and a babywipe!

Saturday was perfect weather, the boys had set up on Friday night so we had a very lovely morning sat in the shade at the bottom of the castle doing our head dress talks then took a slow walk up for the afternoon tournament.

The view was spectacular as these pictures show – I think this is one of my all time favourite re-enactment pictures, really stunning!

Peveril - helms - small

The ladies looked beautiful as always, this is Ellie and Sadie, one of our newest members. The pictures were taken by one of the staff member’s mother who very kindly posted them on Facebook.

Peveril - ladies 2-small

Peveril - ladies 1-small

We also had a friend with us doing some posed shots, here we all are in the lovely Saturday sunshine!

Peveril - group - small

And I love this one of Ellie, Sadie and I – that backdrop is stunning, we are so very lucky being able to go to such lovely places.

Peveril - ladies and nun -small

Saturday night we discussed plans for Sunday in the pub, the forecast was bad so we spent the first hour of Sunday taking all of the equipment down from the castle in relays, in the brilliant sunshine which made us wonder if the rain would be arriving but it did by midday :-(

The afternoon was spent with all of us huddled under the porch at the back of the visitor centre trying not to leap on the brave people that came out that day and get them to try on head dresses and do some sword training.

It was a pity that we could not have done the full show but this is England and we have had a particularly rainy season this year, all of the events have been a bit wet at some point and I am still drying out tents from a couple of weeks ago as we have not had the sun during the week either.

Much as I love re-enactment I am very happy to have the next few weekends at home so can concentrate on some of the stuff for Sarah’s stall at Yarndale, the linen and Liberty pincushions are looking really cute so I am now working on matching needlebooks. Will post some pictures of finished items at the weekend.

Thanks very much for visiting and see you soon.

We have just had a fantastic weekend at Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, camped not only with our group but also with friends from the Falchion re-enactment group so have had a great time with lovely boys to keep us company and make us laugh.

There was also some splendid new kit to show off. Paul had painted the most detailed surcoat for his 15th century armour, here he is in camp and walking onto battle with myself and James who were watercarrying.

Tewks - Paul's surcoat

Tewks 2015 - battle walk on

Jamie has recently taken delivery of a new set of armour and a brigandine from Armour Services Historical, this is so beautiful and I love the rivet patterns on the brig.

Tewks - new kit

Tewks - Jamie new armour 2

Tewks - Jamie new armour 3

Tewks - Jamie new armour 4

I was able to deliver the brais and shirts I had been making to their new owners and have lots of other people asking for kit so have a busy few months planned.

However I have got a poorly wrist at the moment, think it is carpal tunnel problems so am on light duties only and cannot knit at all :-(

I am going to be working on the quilted ornaments this weekend as that does not involve much wrist movement and hopefully with a bit of rest and some wearing of my support splint should be back to normal soon!

Sharon and I had a lovely time in Spain, it was very hot – up to 40 degrees – so we spent most of our time in the shade but she got lots of sample knitting done for Sarah and really enjoyed the visits we did, will post some pictures this weekend.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

We had a great time at Ashby de la Zouche and amazingly apart from light drizzle on Sunday it didn’t rain! This was Sunday evening before we sat round the campfire – just beautiful.

Ashby May 2015

Ashby May 2015 Castle in sun 2

Ashby May 2015 Castle in sun 3

Jamie’s new surcoat was finished just in time on Friday – it took a lot longer than expected because of the lining which I had to do 3 times before I got it right. At least I have learnt from the experience and will not attempt to machine sew one in next time as it is too bulky.

I have had lots of compliments on it and a couple of requests for others so will be making more. I am going to update my, ‘Making a surcoat page’, when I get chance as I know that always gets lots of visitors.

I was especially pleased that not only did the individual squares match up the front and back did as well and the part squares at either side.

Ashby May 2015 Jamie 2

Ashby May 2015 Jamie 3

Ashby May 2015 Jamie 4

The boys did some action shots for me as well.

Ashby May 2015 Luke and Jamie 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke and Jamie 2

Ashby May 2015 Luke and Jamie 3

It never ceases to amaze me the attention to detail that the boys in our medieval group pay to their kit, even though they know it will get battered and worn they spend so much effort making it look lovely, they are real works of art.

Here are some more pictures of Luke with his new brigandine or coat of plates, behind the leather are metal plates for protection.

Ashby May 2015 Luke brig detail 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke detail 3

Ashby May 2015 Luke brig detail 2

Ashby May 2015 Luke brig detail 3

I love the decorated rivets and am going to try to get some of these for a belt for Ellen.

Ashby May 2015 Luke detail 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke detail 2

Ashby May 2015 Luke 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke with sword

Here is Shane’s beautiful arm armour and our King – Edward the second (or Clive in real life) whose costumes are always amazing, he has a new crowned helmet for this season which is very impressive.

Ashby May 2015 Shane detail

Ashby May 2015 King 1

Ashby May 2015 King detail 1

Ashby May 2015 King detail 2

Ashby May 2015 King detail 3

This week’s task is to make a shirt before the event next weekend – should be a simple job and at least I do have a very long car journey to finish the hand stitching!

Have fun and see you all again soon, thanks for visiting.

Well I hope that you all had a lovely weekend as we had an excellent time at our first show of the year at Bolsover Castle. The sun shone almost all the time apart from a very heaver shower on Saturday, luckily just as our slot finished, which allowed us to test the new waterproofing on the awning :-)

We were there doing a St George’s event with a number of other groups including the wonderful Atkinson’s Action Horses who we have seen before a couple of year’s ago doing their dressage display at Bolsover.

William Cavendish who built the castle was a very keen horseman and the riding stables have been restored and are used for a display of 17th century horsemanship by the group.

This weekend the group were displaying combat training and stunt riding and there were some brilliant flips and rides alongside the horse either horizontal or vertical while still holding on and the incredible riding of two horses at once.

They do stunt work for lots of TV shows and films and we saw the horse that has been used in Poldark which was very exciting! Go and have a look at their web site to see pictures of the stunts.

As well as all that there was us with the usual weapons and armour talks, head dress talks  and combat , this time with a difference as it was with dragons!

Sadly not Game of Thones standards but two of our members Jamie and Trevor did a brilliant job dressing in dragon costumes to thrill the crowd.

It was also an outing for the new costume we have been working on. I can’t take credit for Jamie’s new outfit apart from the material which I gave him as the gown was made by Jackie from Cloaked and Daggered   and he looks very lovely in it. Here he is on the left of this picture with Luke.

Bolsover St George

Bolsover St Gerge 2

And here are James, Trevor and Richard – looking not quite so fine and dandy but very happy in their peasants’ outfits.

Bolsover St Gerge 3

Ellie I can take some credit for, she has had this gown and coat for a number of years, we bought it from a friend who had it made by the genius that is Kat from Kats Hats. Ellie had outgrown the gown so I altered it, removing two of the coat panels to make new sleeves.

Bolsover St George - Ellie

Bolsover St Gerge 5

Bolsover St Gerge 6

Bolsover St Gerge 7
I am planning to make a matching torque head dress similar to the black one that she is wearing in the picture which was one of my earliest makes.

She had many compliments on the outfit and had her picture taken with lots of children who wanted to be with the ‘princess’! It is lovely to wear being made of silk velvet which is a very fine material and looks beautiful on her.

So back to reality this week with the start of teaching term and a few weekends at home to make more kit!
Take care and thanks as always for visiting.

As re-enactors we spend a lot of time trying to be as authentic as we can when it comes to costume, most of it we make ourselves and so we visit churches to see effigies, look at manuscripts and illustrated bibles to try and get clues about things.

The best source is always a portrait but sadly those are very rare for the early 1300s which is the era we do most of the time.

The Tudor period is luckily a different situation as it was very fashionable to have your portrait painted so there are lots of lovely examples and Mum and I really enjoyed the paintings saw at Frederiksborg Castle.

Although I don’t make Tudor costume myself my lovely friend Kat does and Ellie has her costumed volunteers at Hardwick Hall so I still like to look at these and take pictures for them to use.

One day when I have more time I would love to re-enact this period if only for the blackwork I can wear so all of this research will come in useful.

Just look at these wonderful examples of beaded headwear, lace and jewellery. All of these ladies lived from the mid 1500s to mid 1600s and are members or relatives of the Danish Royal family at that time.

Copenhagen Costume

Copenhagen Costume 11

Copenhagen Costume 12

Copenhagen Costume 13

Copenhagen Costume 14

Copenhagen Costume 15

Copenhagen Costume 16

Copenhagen Costume 17

Copenhagen Costume 18

What really struck me was just how similar the fashions were to our Tudor and Elizabethan fashions of the time, I had not expected there to be so much similarity across Europe in dress.

We were also very impressed with the way that costume had been used in the interpretation for the children. The whole of the old wine cellar was devoted to an exhibition of the life of Christian 4th of Denmark who was born in 1577 at Frederiksborg Castle.

The best thing about the exhibition was that portraits of the young prince and his family had been used to recreate costume that children could try on.

They were elaborate and very authentic reproductions from the front with splits and ties at the back which would be easy to try on but also in a range of sizes so every child could try on something.

There were boys’ as well as girls’ costume, plus mini armour and a photo area with drapes to make it look like a portrait background.

Copenhagen Costume

Copenhagen Costume 2

Copenhagen Costume 3

Copenhagen Costume 4

Copenhagen Costume 5

Copenhagen Costume 6

Copenhagen Costume 7

This one was our favourite – the portrait at the back shows the King’s family and there are four dresses to try on with head dresses as there were three daughters in the portrait.

This is a photo of the painting from the National Museum of Denmark’s website.

Christian's family

Copenhagen Costume 8

Genius idea and there were lots of children enjoying the displays which also included food displays and an area where they could practise writing with a quill pen and colour pictures of costume.

I showed all of this to Ellie as inspiration for her interpretation as although I have seen costume in properties I have visited in the UK nothing has been done on this scale.

We have our first re-enactment event of the season this weekend at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire  so if you are in the area please come and say hello.

There is plenty to see and do and there may well be dragons involved at some point as the theme for the weekend is the celebration of St George’s Day. It has been beautiful weather here this week so we hope it will continue for the weekend :-)

Have a good weekend whatever you do and thanks for visiting.

Hello again

We (as in Ellie, Kerry, Sadie and I) promised ourselves at the end of last season in September that we would not spend the winter as we usually do talking about all of the things we were going to make but meet up more regularly to make things.

So we met again this weekend at my house for a second sewing weekend. This also included a little evening out to introduce Sadie to the delights of Marsden.

I am exempt from having to make any large things as I am hostess so I feed and provide equipment and guidance if needed while the others get on with their stuff.

It was a very successful weekend with Kerry finishing two linings to go under her corset , working on a pair of cuffs for her gloves for next season and revising a dress.

Ellie and Sadie both made shifts which were nearly finished by yesterday evening apart from the hand finishing of the seams. Here Ellie is hard at work and later modelling her creation (excuse the lack of light – winter in Yorkshire!)

Sewing day Nov -Ellie

Sewing day Nov -Ellie 2

She has had her hair cut short which looks very lovely and donated the hair to a children’s cancer charity for making wigs for kids undergoing chemotherapy.

Sadie was using her machine for the first time and it all went very well!

Sewing day Nov -Sadie

Since we do so much work for English Heritage ( who have very strict guidelines on costume) we machine sew main seams then fold the seam allowance over and ‘stab stitch’ through to neaten the seams.

This also hides the overlocking on the edge of the material. I usually then oversew the seams, both to cover up the machining and to provide extra strength.

Some of the garments like shifts and hose and brais (the men’s undergarments) get a lot of wear and tear, particularly when worn under armour and this helps strengthen the seams. All hems are handstitched.

I did manage to finish a couple of things – hexis of course! Here are two of my latest Christmas ornaments using a slightly bigger hexi and making two hexi flowers which are sewn together.

Sewing day Nov - hexi ornie

 

Sewing day Nov -ornie 2

The flower for the backing is plain fabric with a patterned centre square.

This is a great way of using up little scraps from my Christmas fabric stash. Some of the fabric that I am using now I have had for years and am getting to the end of it so this is a very economical method as well as being very enjoyable :-)

I am also making good progress with all of my hand-made gifts (though there will no doubt be a mad dash as usual at the end – luckily some don’t have to be finished until the 29th when I go to Spain!).

Below are the finished pincushion and needlebook. The scissor keep to finish the set is almost done, just needs the buttons and cord added.

Sewing day Nov -needlebook

Sewing day Nov -needlebook 2

Of course the great excitement later this week is the visit to Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show! I have set myself quite a strict budget which I intend to spend on charm packs and buttons.

There may just be some pictures of fabric in my next post :-)

Meanwhile stay happy and thanks for visiting.

Well this is unbelievably my 400th post so I thought I would celebrate by inviting you to like this post and I will pick a winner who will receive their choice of handmade small from anything they have seen on my site.

It could be a pincushion, brooch, scissor keep, needlebook, Christmas ornament, pouch, compact case, phone or kindle case etc. Please click like and then I will choose one person and contact them and ask what sort of fabric colours you would like for the gift. I will pick a winner in 2 weeks – on Sunday 5th Oct.

We have had a busy weekend sewing – Jamie, Ellie and Kerry have been here and we have been making shifts and coifs for the girls and a tabard to go over Jamie’s new armour (due next year).

Sewing weekend - Jamie tabard

Sewing weekend - Jamie tabard 2

This is a work in progress but you get the general idea, it is made of wool and will be lined with red linen.

It won’t have the pleat in as we were just working on length. This picture shows Jamie hard at work making the pattern for the dagging on the white part of the tabard which involved drawing round a wineglass!

Sewing weekend -Jamie cutting

Kerry had also made a new head-dress – a coronet, she is very talented and creates the most wonderful stuff out of very everyday materials and ‘found’ jewellery.

Sewing weekend - Kerry coronet

Sewing weekend - Kerry coronet

ewing weekend - Elle pinning

I have been making more flower brooches –  the one below from a charity shop broderie anglaise skirt that I have also used for phone covers etc. and these other ones from stash fabric.

Sewing weekend - brooches

Sewing weekend - brooches

Ellie brought me a present as well – the best sort – vintage fabric, look at this beautiful lace that someone had given her to go to a good home! I think I shall add it to the things I am going to use for the bee quilt inspired cushion I mentioned a couple of posts ago.

Sewing weekend - lace from Ellie

Term starts next week and I have a submission due for my doctorate (which I have written but may need more work) so I am going to be doing very little else but work for the next few weeks.

I have saved lots of the lovely National Trust textile pictures to post about while production slows down here at Maison Ryan ;-)

Thanks as always for visiting and don’t forget to click like!

Well we had a brilliant weekend away at the Mortimer’s Cross event at Hampton Court Castle.

I knew it was going to be a fab weekend when after a very pleasant train journey spent sewing more flower brooches I ended up pitching my little tent in a field with this view and settling down to a cold cider and my last evening meal in the open air for this year. A lovely end to a busy week.

Hampton Court camping

Hampton Court 2-camping

The weather was perfect and so I had a wander round the gardens on Saturday in between the two battles.

Hampton Court  -gardens

Hampton Court 4 -gardens

Hampton Court 5-gardens

Hampton Court 6-gardens

Hampton Court 7-gardens

Hampton Court 8-gardens

We then had a tour of the castle before tea (contemplating how we would redecorate if we bought it as it is currently up for sale at only £9 million).

Hampton Court  - castle

Hampton Court 10-castle

This is my new friend Angela who I first met at the Caldicot event.

Hampton Court 11- castle

I would keep these fabulous light fittings, they reminded me of the William Burges designs at Cardiff Castle.

Hampton Court 12- castle

Hampton Court 13- castle

Hampton Court 14- castle

Hampton Court 15- castle

Hampton Court 16- castle

There were two bands on Saturday night including a wonderful Celidh band with an excellent fiddle player so we danced lots and stayed up far too late really ;-)

Sunday was more of the same, the weather held and the two battles that day were even better, everyone making the most of the last event.

Hampton Court battle

Hampton Court battle 2

Standing on the field with the guns going off and arrows raining down I couldn’t have been happier. Such a lovely time and an excellent way to end a very good season.

You can tell how happy I am in this picture as it looks like I am dancing with these two friends in armour. Thanks to Pat for the battle photos, he did a brilliant job as always of capturing the action for us.

Hampton Court battle 3

This has to be my fave picture of the season, another one of Pat’s photos – a friend captioned this as ‘now we know that gunners have hearts!’

Hampton Court battle 4 - guns

Looking forward to our first off-season kit making weekend, the Sisters Kerry and Ellie plus friend Jamie will be here.There will be linen everywhere and hopefully completed shifts at the end of it!

Meanwhile there are more brooches and Christmas ornaments to be made, what would life be without fabric and wool?

Thanks for visiting and look out for the next post which will be a very special one as it my 400th so I will be having a little giveaway!

Hello everyone

Am having a lovely relaxing Sunday making more brooches so thought I would show you the product of my labours. Yesterday I had a busy day, housework and general fettling and a very nice (if a little damp) walk with Ted, my friend’s dog.

We went picking blackberries, I am of course better than Ted at this as he doesn’t have opposable thumbs but he is very friendly companion and I am now getting to chat with lots of the dog owners of my village!

The blackberries went into the first of this season’s crumbles with some mango and plums from my fruit and veg box delivery that I get weekly from the local deli and very delicious it is too.

Here are two more brooches. I have adapted the design to use 6 petals so that I can have different colour combinations.

Brooches and beads 3

Brooches and beads 4

This one above is made from some of the fabric I bought from the quilt shop in Hebden Bridge, the darker fabric is part of the Downton Abbey range and is the Dowager’s Paisley in Purple.

The cream one I don’t have a name for, it has a very pretty print on the background so I am making two more of these as Xmas pressies as I think they work well together. Cotton Patch  has a good range of Downtown Abbey fabrics in metre lengths or fat quarters and charm packs.

Brooches and beads 5

This one is made with Liberty Tana Lawn in Mark Paisley, the teal and blue colourway and is the fabric that came with my brooch kit from Teazle. This online fabric site Alice Caroline has lots of Tana Lawn in different sized pieces.

Last weekend I met a very nice lady at Caldicot called Helen who makes the most gorgeous beaded jewellery. I bought these two beautiful designs from her, I think they look just as good on the back as the front and think they would look great on a medieval pouch or head-dress.

Brooches and beads

Brooches and beads 2

Her design company is called Bristol Beadery  and she has an Etsy shop where she also sells lots of bracelets etc. Lovely ideas for presents.

I have just discovered the joys of Netflix on my laptop ( a little late I know ) but have been watching back to back episodes of my favourite Supernatural series.

I had just finished Season 8 yesterday when Netflix suggested that I might like to watch Orange is the New Black and I am now hooked, fantastic series and one I can very much relate to as every year I have trainee teachers who work in prisons.

So I will be mainly on the sofa for the rest of the day surrounded by my craft materials and essential tea of course.

Brooches and beads 6

My daughter Ellie has a blog about her work for the National Trust called a View from my Attic – maybe I should call mine a view from my sofa since I do spend a lot of time here crafting ;-)

A little note about links in my blog, I am not sponsored or paid in any way for the links that I put, just that lots of times people have asked me where I get things that I use so I always put links in to sources for material and patterns etc to help others find stuff.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend and thanks for visiting.

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