Category Archives: Accessories

Rubber-soled Turnshoe

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I have long considered the possibility of modifying Champagne Faire’s German Turnshoe kit into a 16th century Italian style. I finally bit the bullet and it arrived today. I was so excited that I promptly got to work and finished the first shoe about 12 hours later. I’m so happy with the results and would highly recommend this kit to others. While the German pattern is nice as is, it’s also fairly easy to modify the upper into other styles.

After I oohed and aaahed and posted pictures to Facebook of the contents, I traced the pattern as is onto Swedish Tracing Paper and pinned the pattern to the sole to test the fit and determine where I wanted to make changes. I made a couple test patterns before I was happy. I ended up making the one piece upper into three pieces to accomodate the straps. The final pattern was traced onto clear vinyl for durability and ease of use.

Swedish tracing paper is a patterning paper that is sewable, sort of similar to interfacing in consistency. It’s great for sewing a pattern to test fit or construction. I ordered mine from Amazon by searching for Swedish tracing paper. The brand I purchased is sold out at this time, but here’s a link anyway.

The kit calls for leather uppers, but I was too excited to order leather and wait for it, so I decided to use some gold silk dupioni leftover from my elevation gown. I fused iron-on interfacing to the silk for stability and traced the pattern onto the interfacing with a pencil. I sewed the side backs to the front and overcast the edges together, pressed towards the back of the shoe. I cut bias tape from the same fabric and bound the upper edge, then layered white soutache over the binding for decoration. The soutache and binding both helped stabilize the edge and straps, which was helpful. I used the awesome eyelet function on my Bernina 550 sewing machine to do the eyelets. 

At that point, I wasted several hours trying to decide how to decorate the shoes. Slashing or pinking are most common in portraiture of 16th century Italian shoes, but I lack any pinking tools and was waffling about using a straight blade knife to cut small slashes. Ultimately, I gave in and traced a 1/4″ grid on the wrong side of the uppers, charted the slashes, and used my trusty knife to cut the tiny slashes. 

There’s actually a mistake in the charting, but I duplicated it on the second shoe so they’d look the same and no one will ever notice. 

I overcast the bottom raw edge and pinned the upper to the sole all the way around. At the back, I marked where the seam needed to go, test fit repeatedly to be sure I wasn’t screwing anything up, unpinned half the shoe and sewed the back seam. I pressed the seam open and overcast the edges, then repinned everything. Finally, I switched to a zipper foot and carefully stitched the upper to the sole.

After I checked that everything was secure, I trimmed the excess from the sole and flipped it right side out. I thought I was going to rip something while turning it, but I didn’t. I grabbed a velvet ribbon and stitched it in half, threaded it through the eyelets and TA-DA! 

I trimmed a gel insole down to fit and inserted it for comfort. The pictures make it look like my foot is squished in there, but they’re really not. It’s so comfortable! Now it’s time to sew the second shoe…..

Revitalizing My Garb

It’s been a long summer battling depression and anxiety, but I have my mojo back! This week, I’ve gone crazy working to revitalize my garb for St. Eligius. It all started when I had to borrow the earring loops from my pearls for a vintage outfit. Then I had to look at paintings to decide on a new earring loop to mount the pearls on. This got me thinking about all sorts of accessories until my brain was ready to burst. I made a few trips to the crafts stores to find all the parts for my vision, but found all the things I wanted…but in silver, not gold. Cue the spray paint!

Gild all the things!

I removed the center of the medallion and pearls before spray painting, then used a wooden circle thingie to fill in the hole. I secured the wooden circle with glue and white fabric puff paint, then gilded the medallion again.

Making the medallion

I glued pearls back in the orignal spots, then added a ring of pearls over the puff paint. More puff paint was used to paint the center of the medallion.

Pearled and initial painting

I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I added more pearls around the outer perimeter.

More pearls!

After the paint dried, I added another coat for more puff, and filled in the background. Two or three more coats later, it’s finished.

Finished medallion

Finished chain and hair ornament

The hair ornament was made at the same time and features pearlescent nail polish over white puff paint for the giant pearl look. These will be worn along with my usual necklace and earrings. I replaced the medallion on the necklace with an oblong pearl, and added decorative eyepins and bead caps to my pearls before threading them onto these earring loops. The earring loops were inspired by the painting below.

Necklace and Earrings

Jacopo Zucchi, Portrait of a Lady, 1560s, Indianapolis Museum of Art

After I finished all the jewelry modifications, I decided to dye a length of white silk habotai for a gold veil. The first attempt was too yellow. I added some orange and then it was too orange. I used color remover and the new veil was again too yellow. I threw a lighter gold silk chiffon veil into the dye bath and that one came out perfect!

Veils next to gold cord embellishment

The chiffon veil was washed and hung to dry, while I gave the habotai veil another dye bath. This time, it came out close to perfect. Again, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I decided to add lace to the edges before sewing a comb onto the back to attach to my hair.

Finished veil

In addition to all this, I also sewed some new lacing rings onto my gown to tie the sleeves to, and repaired my petticoat hem. Hopefully the final look is as impactful as I envision it.

Pink Cotton Sottana

From April to June 2017, I participated in the 7th Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge, hosted by The Realm of Venus, one of the best Italian costuming resources on the web. My entries and the results can be found at the link above, but for reference, here’s photos from about the competition and the outfit I made. The competition required monthly progress updates, as well as a final update with the results of your entry.

I made a pair of white linen drawers based on the bara system and completely hand sewn. I wove the ties (my first weaving!) and flat felled the seams (also a first!).

Bara Tape

Drawers in progress

Finished drawers

The bodice is also based on the bara system, where I tried my best to interpret The Modern Maker‘s notes and drawings to design a bodice that fit well. I’m reasonably satisfied with the attempt, but it could be better.

Toile front

Toile back

Toile side

The bodice interlining was made up of a layer of cotton duck and heavy weight muslin, which was roll-pinned, then stitched together. The fashion fabric was basted to the outside, then folded inwards and stitched in place with a running stitch.

Close up of basting

Exterior sewn to interlining

The lining was basted, then the edges turned in and blind stitched in place. The bottom edge was left open to put in the hide glue “cardboard” insert.

Lining shoulder seam

Bodice front

Bodice back

Hide glue “cardboard”

Wool-covered “cardboard”

The skirt was gathered and attached, but there are no exciting pictures of the process. I also made an over skirt from some random polyester satin I had laying around. I made a pair of orange pockets lined in cashmere, also from stash fabric. The cashmere lining was the only fabric that looked good with the orange, but turns out to be a great place to warm my hands on cold days. Lastly, I threw together a pair of sleeves, with the intention of re-doing them later with proper trim additions.

Assembled gown

Over skirt

Pockets front

Pockets back


Pocket close-up

Pocket close-up

Sleeve interior

Sleeve exterior

The gown ended up being way too long, but I later added a tuck so I could wear it. We took quick pictures for the competition end at an event where it was bloody hot and sunny and I was quick to divest myself of this many layers. Later, we took a posed picture, but I forgot to iron the over skirt!

Gown front

Gown side

Gown back

Gown other side

Over skirt front

Over skirt back

Final photo