A Hasty Photoshoot

As you may know, I’ve been busy with a lot of projects the past few weeks. So busy that I had to halt all of my online activity to make time for them. The biggest of these projects is a personal project – costumes for the upcoming Renaissance Faire! We’ve always loved these and have even done costumes before. We decided to really go all out this year though, with full new costumes for all three of us. I’ve been working my tail off, making all three costumes by hand!

Before I share these photos, I have some caveats: 1) it was late at night, 2) it was swelteringly hot, 3) we both felt ridiculous, 4) these photos were taken with a Blackberry. So, not the best camera or photo conditions, and not the best time or mood for taking flattering photos. In other words, we both look less than our best.

This is the bottom layer of my costume. It’s a simple square-necked muslin shift. I actually really like this pattern and the shape of the dress. Might make some similar things for actual everyday wear. This is the typical undergarment that every woman from the 15th century (or thereabouts) would wear. It wasn’t really intended to be seen, but mine will be. The neckline is a bit too wide for me, but that’s okay in this instance. I am thinking of adding some embroidery along the neckline. Blackwork would be a nice nod to Catherine of Aragon, but I’m thinking I’ll do a white-on-white border design. I am wearing some yoga pants underneath because I didn’t feel like taking them off. I have a somewhat tighter pair that I’m planning to actually wear to the faire, for comfort.

And here is the top layer! The corset is the only thing not made by me (well, except the parts of hubby’s costume that he’s made himself). We bought it a few years ago at, you guessed it, a Ren Fest. (Our favorite one, in fact.) It dictated the color of my costume; otherwise I would not have chosen a red skirt. (Red dye was too expensive for ordinary people back in the day, and also I don’t care for how I look in red.) (My corset actually is reversible but the other side is a very dark blue that looks black and that didn’t really work for me either.) If I look a bit uncomfortable, it’s because the bottom of my corset is laced too tightly, and the top is not laced tightly enough. Hey, we were not going for perfection for these photos.
The skirt is a wraparound skirt and it overlaps on the left side there by my hand. I’m planning to conceal a pouch or two in there. I don’t really have a “character” exactly, but as I’ve worked, I’ve imagined my clothing as belonging to a sort of secretly-badass innkeeper, with a knife under her skirts and taking no shit from nobody. Yeah, basically a medieval River Song because that’s how I roll. Oh and for shoes, I bought some nice grey flats from Target. They rock.

Remaining items to be made: a pouch or two, for carrying things. Possibly a wrist bracer. Decorative items like necklace and earrings. Hairpiece. I’m also thinking of making a fabric vest-like thing to wear as a substitute for the corset if I get tired later in the day.

Now for the boy! This is part one, and it’ll actually probably be a part of most of his future costumes. Yay for multitasking. I am absolutely in love with the shirt. I spent days and days on it, and I am SUPER proud of it. The blue details turned out better than I imagined. There are silver buttons at the cuffs and top of the placket, but you can’t see them here. The pants are also handmade although in the end we probably could’ve gotten some karate pants and been fine, haha.

Armor! This sword-arm construction is actually two pieces – a shoulder piece and a wrist/forearm piece. They are both made of faux leather and are custom-fit to his arm (his upper arm is several inches shorter than the pattern, for some reason). It’s backed with a feltlike stuff and is pretty dang comfortable. I’m wearing it right now actually because I got curious as to whether it’d fit me. Both pieces can be worn separately and can go on the left arm as well (but you’d need a squire to help fasten the shoulder piece since the buckles would be in the back). The wrist part took only a few hours total, but the shoulder took longer than I expected. I really enjoyed making these and I’m hoping to actually make some to put up in my Etsy shop. If you’re interested, let me know!
There is also a chainmail shirt in the works that’ll go on just under these pieces (so the buckles are on top). I started it and taught him how, and Jonathan’s been working on it steadily in his spare time for weeks. We bought all the rings from Etsy for convenience and improvised the shape, and it looks great. I’ll share a photo when it’s done.

Here are the finishing touches. The sword, well, it’s not really part of the costume. It’s a Sting (we are nothing if not nerdy) that he decided to use as a photo prop. We are hoping to purchase a proper longsword this year!
The shield has an interesting story. It began life as a metal-mesh tabletop fruit basket at Pier One. At some point, lacking a surface to set it on, we hung it on the wall and noticed that it resembled old shield displays. After months of that thought rattling around, we finally decided to try weaving some suede lacing through it. This idea yielded the final result you see here. I love the serpentine pattern of the metal and the black leather. The top section is marine vinyl with a leathery look. We ran out of suede lacing, and that stuff is expensive. I really like the finished product, with the scalloped edge. The silver accents on the top are fleurs-de-lis, originating from our heraldic arms.
There is an open-sided tunic that is about half-done, sitting on our bookshelves. It’s the same deep blue as the accents on the shirt, and I have embroidered a water bouget (another piece from our heraldry) to applique onto it. However, I improvised the shape of the tunic and I am very unhappy with how it has turned out. I’m hoping to salvage it, since the fabric was NOT cheap…

Still to do for him: not much actually. There may be a hat forthcoming, and of course the tunic if I can manage it.

Did I say three costumes? Oh yes I did. There’s also an adorable pink satin dress for our daughter, which she’ll wear over some pink pants with her (purchased the same year as the corset) fairy wings. No pictures of her since, as I mentioned, it was late. I still need to make a hairpiece for her, and possibly a necklace or some other sparkly jewelry.

I’m pretty proud of these things, and I hope you like them too. I also hope you haven’t given up on my blog. I’m still here! I’m just sooo busy. With only accessories left to make, though, I might have a bit more time to spend here! Don’t go too far!

Do you like Renaissance Faires or festivals? Do you like costumes? Let’s talk about nerdy fun!