In February, a local SCA group hosted an event called the Golden Seamstress Challenge. The challenge was to create a full outfit, skin to shell, in about 20 hours. I had a crazy idea and recruited other seamstresses enter this competition with ONLY HAND STITCHING. Machine sewing was totally allowed. I wanted to see if we could do it. WE DID.
We had a couple spots that weren’t properly sewn, and some touchups had to be made after the fact due to time running short, but we made an insertion work camicia, couched sleeves, and a full Florentine sottana in that amount of time. Drawers were made in advance, according to the challenge rules. Alas, we did not quite complete the challenge, as we did not have enough time for the petticoat. Nonetheless, I was amazed that we did so much in the time we had.
We had 6 team members: Condêssa Violante do Porto, THL Kataryn Mercer, Lady Katla of Viborg, Lady Olivia Baker, Ástríðr Músi, and Lady Cecelie Vogelgesangkin. (My pardons if any titles are incorrect, I was going by memory).
Violante sewed about 30 feet of insertion work on the camicia. That’s almost 10 yards, with stitches about an 1/8″ apart. It’s freaking amazing.
The bodice was a combined effort between myself and Olivia. Olivia was very quick to learn and follow the techniques that I briefly showed her, while we each worked on one side of the bodice. Then, while I was resting, she was able to finish the entire bodice!
Cecelie did ALL of the cutting of the bits and bobs. That means she cut all of the hem facing, trim and padding, stitched it all into strip, pressed each into shape and had it ready and waiting. This was a huge huge help, because it was yards upon yards of work and she did it all with a smile on her face.
The sleeves are white silk with couched gold cord, done by Olivia and Cecelie. They couched the rows of cord, finished the hem and wrists, and stitched the sleeves together (after all the other work they’d already done).
The skirt was a LOT of work, ably taken on by Katla and Ástríðr. The two of them chatted and cut, cut and sewed, and sewed some more. They cut out the sottana skirt panels, then stitched them all together, then stitched the trim, then stitched the hem, THEN stitched the facing. If these two hadn’t been so diligent and fast, we never would have finished. I can’t calculate how many yards of stitching they did, but it’s a lot.
Photos from Costume College 2017