Odd that I was able to post more during cancer than after treatment ended … although, since then, I’ve started a new job, my cat died, and I’m now dealing with some post-treatment health problems that will keep me from sewing & costuming for a while. So yeah, never ending.
Basically, my right arm (where some of the surgery occurred) now has lymphadema & nerve compression that makes typing on the computer, not to mention sewing, very painful. I have physical therapy through July, so no new costumes for Costume College, although I will be teaching.
Furthermore, since my cat was ill for the past three months, he kind of made a mess in the sewing room (it was his favorite room because it was so sunny), & I have to clean it up before I could use it. So, um, not the best memories there. Still, I’ll try to update a bit now…
For March’s theme of gloves & mitts, Larsdatter’s Medieval & Renaissance Gloves & Mittens page & 18th-Century Women’s Mitts page are outstanding resources of extant items in museums & period imagery. Obviously for just those eras, but wow, just so much historical info, these sites are really amazing starting points.
For April’s theme of parasols, I highly recommend the book “Sticks in Petticoats: Parasol Manufacture for the Modern Costumer” by Rachel E. Pollock. It’s written by a friend of mine who is a professional costumer & teacher, who runs the blog La Bricoleuse. As I say in the review on the book’s webpage, this slim volume guides you through several tested methods for covering a frame, & it includes a basic history with detailed parts & construction of standard parasols/umbrellas. This is a practical manual with clear, sharp instructions. If you want to cover, recover, or repair a parasol, you need this book, & it’s only $14.99.
For May’s theme of necks & waists, think of the fichus, ties, belts, collars, & cuffs that go with your outfit. My Pinterest board for the Accessory Challenge has lots of examples & some how-tos for inspiration.
For June’s theme of makeup, this is where looking at period imagery is crucially important. What was the beauty ideal in that era? Can you see the pink cheeks of rouge or the dark eyes of kohl? Are patches all the rage? High arched eyebrows or thick dark brows? Take what you see in historical portraits & experiment with modern makeup to recreate the look. It’s really the finishing touch & can be a lot of fun.
Finally, in July, there’s the shoes & stockings theme. These days, we have so many more options for buying reproduction shoes, you only need to make them if you want to. You can also retrofit modern shoes for a more period look. Nobody needs to wear totally modern shoes with a historical outfit anymore!
At Costume College, I’m teaching three classes, all on accessories to fit with this year’s CoCo theme:
Historical Purses: How to Carry Your Crap: This is an overview of women’s bags and purses from the medieval era to the present. You’ll learn which shapes and sizes were popular and see what modern bags are good fits with historical outfits. In addition to the many period images show, some reproduction bags will be available for examination, and tips for making your own versions will be discussed. After this lecture, you’ll never want to lug around your everyday purse while in costume.
Five Faux-Historical Accessories You Could Replace Right Now: There are certain accessories that seem to pop up again and again among historical reenactors. These items may even cross over historical eras — they’re that ubiquitous. But they’re not always very true to the period. They’re simply cheap and easy to find. In this class, we’ll look at five seemingly historical accessories that are very common, but aren’t very accurate. We’ll compare with period imagery and see suggestions for replacements that aren’t expensive or are easy to make. By swapping out a few accessories, you can up your game in no time!
Essential Elizabethan Accessories: Whether portraying Queen Elizabeth’s court or her lowliest subjects, Renaissance faire participants can bring their costumes alive with historically accurate accessories. In this class, we’ll look through period imagery to identify the most iconic and typical hats, bags, jewelry, shoes, fans, and other small props for women and men, nobility, middle classes and peasantry. Tips for how to make these accessories and where to buy them will be included. You may be surprised that some common renfaire items don’t have much basis in historical fact, while other fabulous pieces were frequently seen in period but aren’t used much today.
These are all unlimited classes, so anyone at CoCo can attend. Hope to see you there!