Thursday, March 3, 2016

February 2016 Report

Melinda Sherbring came to Baldy View at our February 17 meeting with her Renaissance-period costumes. Melinda gave us a brief history of Renaissance Fairs in the USA and her experience joining the Society of Creative Anachronism. Her RenFair interest led to interest in Elizabethan-era needlework (she wanted to do accurate needlework in her accurate costume). She came to a meeting last year and presented a wonderful program on Blackwork and Elizabethan Goldwork. So February was about what women in the Upper and Merchant classes wore and how needlework was likely incorporated.

 Every woman of any class started with a linen shift, a knee-length loose gown with full sleeves. When you have to run into the yard, you throw on a robe and so did Elizabethan women.

Elizabethan underwear for the upper class. Melinda assured us that the corset was surprisingly comfortable. There was often one or more petticoats too. Melinda shared that some regions encouraged the hoop lines to show while others wanted the skirts to be perfectly smooth. Ah, the fickleness of fashion. Women of every class wore the same type of underpants: none. Just like Scotsmen with kilts, women of every class wore nothing under their skirts.

The only garments that were laundered regularly was the shift. The absorbent linen would collect body soils and perspiration and was actually more effective in keeping a person odor-free than bathing.

This lady is dressed. Over the hooped underskirt a lady would put on another garment with a decorative front followed by a dress that fitted over all. This was followed up by pinned-on sleeves, then ruffs around the wrists and neck. If it was chilly, a light coverup was pinned over the ladies bodice. In fact, pins were everywhere. That's where the phrase "pin money" meaning a little extra money for clothing accessories comes from. The hair was covered by a scarf, then a cap pinned to an ear iron, then a hat of some kind.

Melinda was very excited to tell us about ear irons. Historians have long wondered how women kept the caps firmly on their heads. The realization that ear irons kept the cap not only shaped but created a base for the cap to be firmly attached to the head only came about recently because they were so common that people didn't bother to write about them.  How many things do we do today that are so common, so widely known and unquestioned, that we don't bother to record any details for posterity?

Melinda also had a costume for the merchant class. The woman would start with a shift, an overgarment, and then cover it with a kirtle. It's basically a dress with boning in it. There is no corset or petticoat because the kirtle contained the clothing's structure. Again, Melinda touted it's comfort.

Because women's bodies change over time because of pregnancy and aging, all these garments are highly adjustable. And there were no size tags!

 Melinda brought a few period-style pieces for us to see. This mermaid is mounted on a box made of clam shells.
 Melinda made these badges for herself and her husband. Silk and gold embroidery and they are absolutely beautiful.

This piece was covered with winning ribbons at the 2013 American Needlepoint Guild National Seminar. Goldwork with silk threads and lovely, lovely, lovely.

 Our March 16 program is a silk ribbon embroidery piece designed by our member Katherine Z. It will be mounted on a small box that is painted and waxed.

Here is a photo of the top. We haven't done a silk ribbon embroidery piece in several years. If you're interested, call Georgette (look at the newsletter page) and let her know so she'll reserve a kit for you. The cost should be about $7. Bring size 24 and/or size 26 chenille needles and a 5" or 6" hoop and scissors. We look forward to seeing you there.

We welcome new members of all levels of experience. Plus we are fun! See you on March 16 in Ontario, California.

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