Girdle Book Phone Case

I’m a part of a local embroidery group, the Keepers of Athena’s Thimble, though I don’t typically do much embroidery. I do rather enjoy openwork, however. As celebration for Athena’s Thimble 30th anniversary, some of the senior members have issued challenges for others to complete. I’m a sucker for a challenge, but I didn’t get around to what I had planned originally.

But recently, I bought the latest and greatest phone and remembered that I have long wanted a girdle book phone case to hide my phone at events. Since I am locked into this phone lease for the next two years, now is the perfect time to make one! It coincidentally lines up well with one of the challenges, listed below:

Elizabet Marshall’s Challenge: Documenting your steps.

Select a period embroidery of your preference. Design and execute either a copy or an embroidery in the same style.

The specific challenge is to document your process, from selecting the original embroidery, through all aspects of design and execution. I want to know how you chose your original piece (“I’ve always admired this” or “I need a cushion to take to events”, etc.), your steps in designing the piece (search clip art, trace the original, happen to be a decent artist and drew it, had an artist friend draw it), all materials considered (including the ones rejected, and why) and reasons for selecting the ones chosen. Good things to include would be any sampling/swatching done, original sketches during design phase, original drawing if you don’t draw directly to your fabric, photos of the piece in progress. The documentation does not need to be a formally written document; use a notebook and present that — the idea is to show your process. Your project notebook should have doodles, thoughts, taped-in swatches of fabrics and threads, etc.

So as I begin this project, I will attempt to document the entire thing, in real time (instead of my usual hindsight summary post).

I started with a collection of links I saved of openwork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I looked through about three before I saw the one I knew I would use. It was a “this is it” moment, so I looked no further. Unfortunately, the resolution isn’t great, so I put out a call to the other group members to see if anyone had a clearer image.


16th Century Italian Lace Fragment

In the meantime, I couldn’t stop my momentum. Though I can’t determine every stitch, I can tell that there is a base grid of what looks like woven bars with picots, so I graphed out the basic design on 1/4″ graph paper. I made some mistakes, but was able to correct them decently. However, after I finished the primary design, I decided I didn’t like the way the it looked at the edges. I took a break, then redid the graph with no mistakes and a much better design.


Left=Sucky, Right=Much Better

Since most of the work will be drawing the threads and wrapping the bars, I don’t need a better image just yet.

Now to figure out materials…

Eleonora di Toledo Mockup

Back in March, I made a true to life mockup of the Eleonora di Toledo bodice, from Patterns of Fashion. This reconstruction was for multiple reasons: I wanted to see exactly how the dress was made, how the skirts were pleated, and all the little details that you need to experience to see how it works. Also, I had noticed in the past that my measurements are pretty close to Eleonora’s and I was curious if it would fit me. And it did!

It’s not perfect, but at least I could put it on! My next step was to scale up the pattern for the skirt and construct it. I was particularly interested to see how the top of the skirt worked, ie the pleats and the angled waistline.

This thing was insanely long! Eleonora was definitely an inch or two taller than me, and/or was wearing heeled shoes. The train would still have been REALLY long.

I then took the skirt back off to make the modifications to the bodice. There were a million of them, starting with the center front. It was too long for my body, so lowered the neckline and took a couple different test shots to determine where I wanted to shorten the waistline to.

I went with the middle option, then it was on to narrowing the shoulder straps and solving the issue with the gap in the back. I redid the bodice a couple of times, adding another layer of muslin over the previous layers as each change required a new test cut.

Now that I had a bodice, I traced the pattern onto graph paper and began work on the skirt. I had the Eleonora di Toledo skirt pattern, but I wanted to cartridge pleat my skirt as seen in the “Red Pisa Gown”. The di Toledo skirt is designed for knife pleats, not cartridge pleats, but the best indication of the layout of the Pisa gown that I could get a hold of was from Katerina da Brescia’s article regarding Costume Colloquium held in Florence, Italy in 2008.

Red Pisa Dress Layout

Red Pisa Dress Layoutspent many an hour on the kitchen floor surrounded by pattern pieces on grid paper, markers and rulers before I finally figured out how to make everything work. It mostly involved guess work and shuffling pattern pieces around. I cut some the mockup skirt, cartridge pleated it to the bodice and thus had a finished mockup and custom pattern. I still had to make corrections to the pattern when I used the pattern later on.

Success! A custom pattern based on Eleonora di Toledo’s burial gown and the extant Pisa gown.


A few years ago, I took up woodcutting and block printing, but I don’t seem to have shared that here. I was inspired by Cesare Vecellio’s fashion woodcuts in Habiti Antichi et Moderni to make a personal token depicting Florentine fashion. Many artisans give out a token at A&S competitions and displays to encourage and reward work well done. Oftentimes, these are buttons, beads, cabochons or other small items. My favorites have the name attached so I can remember who inspired me to try harder.

My Laurel’s token is such a perfect representation of her and her art, that I wanted to come up with something that really related to mine. My mind kept coming back to the woodcuts and finally I mentioned it to my Laurel, who directed me to someone with experience in woodcutting.

My first token was based on Alessandro Allori’s Maria de Medici, approx 1555, located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. (‘’m not going to discuss whether or not Maria or Isabella are the true sitter, or if this is from the master himself or his studio.) I began by tracing the painting, then cleaning it up and re-drawing parts to better define the woodcut. I added a border, traced the drawing onto the block and began cutting. A test print enabled me to see where additional cutting was required, and the final token was cut to size. I wrote a personal note on the back of the token.


Maria de Medici


Line Drawing


Woodcut in Progress


Test Print



These tokens were first presented at St. Elegius 2014, while the token below was first used for St. Elegius 2015.

The second token was based on Allori’s Bianca Capello de Medici, at the Dallas Museum of Art. The same process was used as the above token, however details of the print were first machine printed on the back, before the image was printed.


Bianca Capello de Medici


Line Drawing


Tracing on Block



I also did a print this year for a friend’s elevation to Laurel. I traced & drew the image based on multiple photos in the same outfit. This was only my third carving and the first based on a photograph. I also tried coloring my first print, using watercolors applied thickly.






Cutting in Process


Final Print


As Gifted!

The Pet Fox Costume

For Halloween this year, I was plumb out of good ideas. Inspiration struck and I decided to be me (Kit). I searched the web for (kit) fox costumes and they were primarily what I imagine a fox hooker might look like.

Sexy Fox Costume

Sexy Fox Costume

Since this outfit was so cheap, I *did* order it, because I wanted to see if the tail was decent enough to be reused. It was not. Now I can say I own a sexy fox costume….

My vision of an awesome fox costume was a fitted onesie, with a glorious tail, to complement a leather fox mask I already owned (but had never worn).

In addition, it would need bling, because I’m like that. The tail would be worn like a fancy fur stole, elegantly draped over my arm.

To begin, I wandered the aisles of my local fabric store, looking for inspiration. I found a luscious white fur, the best faux fur I had ever seen in this store! I picked up a half yard, and a package or two of iDye Poly, with plans to dye it perfectly orange. I also found a nice, but too bright, orange cotton corduroy that I figured I could dye with the fur for a matching color.

Fast forward about 6 dye tests later, I ended up with a tolerable enough orange fur. It lost the glossy silkiness that was its selling point, but it was good enough for Halloween.

On dyeing: I typically machine dye, but that was insufficient, even at the sanitize setting. I tried stove top dying with the iDye Poly and it still barely took the color. I switched to Rit DyeMore (for polyester) and had much better results in color, but required temperatures resulted in the poor texture. I must have wasted about 3 yards of $20/yard fur (I used coupons, though), and about 6 bottles of dye (plus a few packets of iDye).

I had purchased a onesie pattern for adults, teens and children (Simplicity 1731) and decided to make the child’s L for my mockup. The child’s L was very similar to adult S, but shorter in height. I ended up having to make the child’s M, which I modified extensively to give it curves, cap sleeves and narrower legs.

I used snaps for the closure, and to attach all of the parts. I wanted it to be modular for cleaning, in case the dye ran onto the white parts. This way, I can also bleach the white, in case of dirt.

I covered the snaps with iron-on rhinestones, to hide them, and because, bling! I also made a jeweled collar, painted my arms with colored hairspray, and added elbow length gloves. The hairspray had all flaked off by my arrival to the party, so I’d skip this step next time.

Here’s how it looked:

Pet Fox Costume

Pet Fox Costume

I want to make a couple of improvements for next time. I would like to try dyeing the fur with ink (the same way one would dye a synthetic wig), and re-dye the bottom of the corduroy black (possibly also with ink). The cords on the mask could be replaced for a better hold, and the collar has scratchy ends that I will trim.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged

Feastware for Uluric de Exeforde

Over the summer, I completed a commission for Uluric de Exeforde where he requested his device and badge on a set of plates. I drafted up a couple of designs to unify the set, he picked his favorite and I set to work painting!

I’m happy with how the set turned out, but the yellow could have used an extra 3 or 4 coats of paint.

Follow Kataryn’s Heraldric Feastware on Pinterest.

Here’s the original design:

Draft design

Draft Design

Posted in Pottery | Tagged

More Pottery

Posted on  

I have continued making gifts of pottery to some of my closest friends, and now it seems I am getting commissions for such! In light of these events, I have created a FaceBook page for “Kataryn’s Heraldric Feastware,” where you can find some information on the options available.

Below are pictures of the work I have completed thus far:


Posted in Pottery | Tagged

Tall Ships & the Chemise a la Reine

Posted on  

For my birthday this year, I decided to attend “Tall Ships” in Philadelphia, PA. I have long followed other costumers on LiveJournal (did you know that still exists??), and someone posted that she was attending this event in costume the weekend after my birthday. I immediately requested to join, to which she agreed. I have been wanting to get to know some of the other non-SCA East Coast costumers I follow on LJ, as they have an annual Francaise Dinner that I hope to someday attend, and I’d like to know someone there already. This was the perfect opportunity.

But first, I had to do some work on my chemise a la reine before I could wear it to the event. A week prior, I dug out all the bits and bobs, looked at my previous pictures of this dress for improvements, and made a list of the things that needed to happen, as well as the nice to haves.

Tighten chemise a la reine neckline
Redo chemise binding so it’s not visible beneath dress
Wash and restyle wig

Re-cover shoes
Finish about 12 inches of binding on stays
Stiffen sash
Make a bumpad
Make a petticoat
Make drawers
Make stockings

The stays were first, since they had the least work to be done. I have drastically improved my sewing skills and learned many tricks in the two years since I started and nearly completed these stays. It hurts to see how awful the binding looks, the bones are loose in the channels, the tabs are poorly shaped… But it works! It’s effective and feels great. I donned the layers all together and the stays are totally visible above the back neckline. So I won’t be wearing them, but someday, they will work for my Robe a la Francaise.

Then I had to re-cover my shoes. The rubber cement I had genius-ly decided to use when I initially covered them failed miserably. The fabric peeled itself off half way through the day when I wore this outfit, so I used Aleene’s tacky glue this time. Still not the recommended fabric glue, but it was what was handy. I still have enough fabric to re-cover these shoes several more times, if needed.


In case you forgot what they looked like

I spray-starched my sash and hung it up to dry, then moved on to the bumpad. Though a “rump” was optional, I really wanted one because I am lacking in that area and the pictures of my dress showed this fault clearly. I based my bumpad on Kendra Van Cleve’s article about 18th century skirt supports, #7. I was unable to find a better picture of the rump because the Manchester Galleries’ website is undergoing revision. So I made something vaguely crescent shaped, but only reaching as far as my side, unlike a 16th century bumroll, which gives bulk all the way around the waist (what I used in my previous wear of the chemise a la reine). The cool part about this item is I got to use my new flex ruler, one of those lead-filled ones that hold the shape, to pattern my waist exactly. I cut two layers of muslin, stitched it, filled it, then sewed a 1″ grosgrain ribbon to the inside of the waist. One problem I had with my 16th century bumroll was lack of comfort, and some of the alternate constructions I later read about suggested this solution.

I then spent several evenings pleating and repleating a petticoat. My waist measurements dictated that each half of the petticoat (2 yards per side) should be pleated down to a 13″” twill tape. IMPOSSIBLE. After at least 6 hours of guessing, then measuring, and still not getting it to work, I decided to use math! But I couldn’t find a tutorial I remembered reading once upon a time about figuring the correct pleat and return and all the math. So I had to create it from scratch, using a spreadsheet. I’m not great at math, but I am great at spreadsheets… I figured I could manage this. Well, after about an hour of googling for the tutorial, then two hours of Excel and repeated tests, I think I may have gotten the math right, finally. At least, the final test seemed like it would work. One of the major problems I encountered was measuring the pleats accurately, since the fabric had a slight stretch, meaning if I spread it *too* smooth, it changed the measurements! But in the end, I had necessities I had to get finished, so I never got back to the underskirt. However, I *must* finish it in the coming days so I can put it away, ready for next time.

Then I finally tackled the wig. Oh how I was dreading this part. The wig, in its previous hedgehog-ish incarnation, had gotten destroyed between airline travel and moving. I made the decision to reuse the wig, rather than throwing the rat’s nest away (next time, I’ll buy a cheaper wig and dispose of it when it is beyond repair). I washed it in shampoo, then conditioned it to try to give the artificial fibers some “slip” from the tangles. That part didn’t actually help. I ended up using children’s detangler and a wide toothed “wet” comb. Lots and lots of detangler. Between breakage, and later trimming a couple inches off the ends, I had enough hair to make a beret sized hair rat for my mother’s natural poof. Fortunately, the wig had plenty of hair, and all the breakage probably made styling easier than the first time. Or maybe that was the trimming it received. Either way, it was too long and too thick initially.

After the detangling, I re-read Lauren of American Duchess’ tutorial and loosely followed the directions. However, I decided to start at the back this time. I realized I needed to plan ahead so I had enough hair for a few lovelocks. So I pinned all the hair upwards and curled sections at the back. I set my curling iron to low, but it still felt like it might be too hot, so I turned it off, then occasionally tested it. When I was no longer fearful of melting the wig, I curled heavily pomaded lock. No melting. Eventually, I found I didn’t need the iron to sit quite so long, and I could hold it for a 60 second count. Also, the locks seemed to curl better pomaded AND powdered. I then hair sprayed them to death, gently tucked them into a shower cap (pinned closed against the head form) and let down the rest of the hair down. I went all the way around the head and sectioned out a ring of hair. I then teased the center of the wig, then loosely smoothed the outer ring of hair over the rat’s nest, starting from the back, then the sides, then the front. I judiciously trimmed some length as I figured out what length was needed in which area. This solved the too-long problem that I, and Lauren, had with our long wigs. Everything was heavily pomaded and hair sprayed as I styled, holding it in place, but also allowing the baby powder to stick. Then a few more coats of hair spray were added. Prior to the final powder / hair spray steps, I freed the lovelocks, but for transport, I used flat hair styling clips to pin the curls up, then I put a shower cap over everything.

I also curled, powdered, sprayed and cut a lovelock from somewhere in the center to use for my mom’s hairstyle. It was transported the same as the ones on my wig, then bobby pinned into her natural hair, though it didn’t quite match. The loss from the wig was never noticeable!

The wig styling was accomplished the night before the event. I did not get to bind the chemise neckline, but it was under the gown anyway. I *did* attempt to gather the front edges of the gown neckline, but it did not make a significant enough difference in the near indecent way it revealed my cleavage. No point in trying again, as I will have to completely deconstruct and remake this dress if I am to wear it again due to problems with the initial construction, primarily the awful hems, from learning how to use a rolled hem presser foot on polyester voile.

Just before hitting the sack, I had to figure out what I was going to wear in place of the stays. My options were bra or breast binding. I believe I went with a strapless bra last time, and was displeased by the appearance of my large breasts. I tried on a product I had used once before as breast binding, Futuro Abdomen Support, size medium. I purchased it after researching my options prior to a 1920’s picnic where I wanted to minimize my DD as close to flat chested as possible. I bound the edges of the support with felt to prevent chafing, and wore it comfortably all day (under close supervision). It’s a stretchy elastic, but not the same material as an Ace bandage, which can cut off circulation because they are designed to tighten with movement. It’s actually similar to “breast binder” a post-op compression garment, in that it’s a stretch fabric with velcro at the end. Because the support is designed to be a certain measurement, it’s nearly impossible to tighten it past the max stretch of the elastic. If you managed to completely stretch the elastic out, you’d be past the velcro area for securing it. Anyway, I didn’t end up wearing that item, despite past success with it. I have a fresh belly piercing (also in celebration of my birthday) and it rubbed it uncomfortably.

So, another alternate method: I have a shapewear girdle (example) that I wear under dressy modern dresses. Inspiration struck and I slid it up so that the waist was around my chest. Success! It flattened without being too tight, and it was long enough to fully cover my piercing without rubbing. I wore it all day comfortably, though if it had been a *little* tighter, it would have had less slipping problems, but I will probably buy one especially for this purpose, instead of using one stretched out from proper use.

Finally, the fun part: pictures. We didn’t take many, and the group shots were taken after a couple people had left. I *hope* I remembered the names correctly.

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

Lunch was at City Tavern, which apparently has a cool history and delicious food.

Mandy and Robin

Mandy and Robin

Mom and Erin

Mom and Erin

Moms hat

It’s blurry, but I wanted to get a shot of Mom’s hat

All the girls!

All the girls!

Costumed girls

Just the costumed

We peeked in the Independence Seaport Museum, but weren’t particularly interested. We mostly needed cool air and bathrooms.

no comment

Uhh… no comment

Me and Erin

Me and Erin

Mom and I didn’t even make it onto a ship, as we got there after the others had their tour on the famous L’Hermione, but I wasn’t bothered. I came for the costumes and the friends!

Me and Erin

Also me and Erin

And for the 61 foot inflatable rubber ducky, who looked like this the entire time:

Mama Ducky

Mama Ducky – taken by Amanda

Sadness. After many efforts to fix her throughout the festival, she ended up with a 60 foot tear, and many bad puns in the news headlines. But I did get to see her baby, the 10 foot “Rocky the Baby Duck.”

Baby Ducky

Baby Ducky

So, I guess all was not lost.