Apprentice Tournament – Samhain

Like most tournament formats in the SCA, A&S competitions usually follow a fairly standard format.  “Enter ‘x’ pieces with some level of documentation and be adjudicated according to the level of competition”.  Over the past few years, there as been a shift in A&S activities from the standard in order to draw in more participation. I’ve seen, run and/or participated in “unfinished projects”, round tables, and show & shine formats.  Recently at Samhain in Montengarde the A&S champion ran a format that I could both participate in with ease and challenged my documentation.  The theme was Irish (there were other categories, Irish is the one I entered) and there was a 1 page limit on documentation.  I conveniently had a Beoaed on hand whose garb we’ve been working to make more authentic.

This is Beoaed in his blue silk Killcommon Jacket and Saffron Leine

I also entered his attached braies and hose, which I learned are just called Trews according to the authorities on 16th century Irish Dress.

Most of my documentation came from Mairead Dunlevy – Dress in IrelandH.F. McClinotck – Old Irish & Highland Dress and The Image of Irelande, by John Derrick plates


John Derrick – The image of Irelande (1581)
I had a few major personal accomplishments with this entry.
First off, being able to pull something out of the closet that I made without the intention of entering it in A&S and enter it was a big deal. I had great comments from my judges on this.  It was honestly not something I had really thought about, but like Mistress Katryna said it speaks to where my work is.
Second was distilling my documentation to a single page.  I was having problems finding the happy medium between covering my divergences from period and documenting what was actually period. In the end, with guidance from Mistress Inga, I kept the paperwork simple and elaborated on my process, design and divergences in my oral presentation.
Eventually I would like to do a series of blog posts about later period Irish clothing including some patterns, so keep an eye out!  For now, here is my winning entry from the Samhain A&S competition:


16th Century Irish Clothing – By Adelheid Holtzhauer
·         Blue Silk Jacket in the style found in the Killcommon Bog find.
o    Blue silk outer fabric, linen canvas interlining, white linen lining.
o    Hand sewn with blue and white silk thread
·         Saffron Linen Liene with green and red embroidered seams
o    5.3oz Autum Gold linen from
o    Hand sewn with green silk thread that is deteriorating
o    Repaired with white cotton thread and re-embroidered with green and red cotton
·         Linen underware and trews based on the Killcommon Bog find.
o    5.3oz white linen, green linen, patched with orange linin
o    Handsewn with white cotton thread
During the 16th century, the English were trying to conquer Ireland. Conquering a country included the vanquished accepting the dress of the victors (Dunlevy, 1989, p. 46).  Ireland was divided on acceptance of English rule.  With this divide came some interesting combinations of traditional Irish dress with English fashions.  Depending on how one wished to be viewed, one would dress in different modes or simply mix and match as seen in plate 12 of The Image of Irelande (The Image of Irelande, by John Derrick (London, 1581) – Plates, 2002).
As luxury fabrics became more readily available in Ireland, the Noblemen began to eclipse their women in dressing with vanity in rich fabrics.  In order for the in Dublin Castle encouraged the Irish aristocracy to wear lavish garment by offering expensive fabrics or clothes as gifts.  Acceptance signified acknowledging English rule in Ireland (Dunlevy, 1989, p. 44).  Doublets were known to be made from and lined with expensive fabrics such as satin, velvet, cloth-of-gold. Legs were covered with breeches on the upper legs sewn to stockings below (Dunlevy, 1989, p. 45).
Saffon dye was made from the dried stigmas of the autumn crocus and was considered a distinctly Irish dye and was specifically legislated against by Henry VIII in 1537 (Dunlevy, 1989, pp. 47, 54).  This saffron colour was traditionally believed to protect the wearer from ill health (Dunlevy, 1989, p. 54).
The saffron-dyed linen léine (pl. léinte) had long full sleeves and their jackets were short-waisted with v-necks and hanging sleeves covering the tops of the arms and tied at the wrists (Dunlevy, 1989, pp. 53, 54). There is a misconception about the Irish not wearing trews or leg coverings.  Woodcuts from John Derrick debunk this showing kern wearing fitted leg covers or trews and underwear (The Image of Irelande, by John Derrick (London, 1581) – Plates, 2002).
The mode of dress was described by John Derricke after spending time in Drogheda (Dunlevy, 1989, p. 56):
His skirts be very short
With pleats set thick about
Their shirts be very strange
Not reaching past the thigh
With pleats on pleats they pleated are
As thick as pleats may lie
Whose sleeves hang trailing down
Almost onto the shoe


This description is corroborated by William Camden in 1589 who described the dress of the kerns as large linen tunics with wide sleeves hanging down to their knees which were generally dyed with saffron; short woolen jerkins, and simple close fitted trews.  It is also backed up by the suit of clothing found in Kilcommon bog near Thurles Co. Tipperary (Dunlevy, 1989, p. 57).

Léune’s are shown in the print titled “Irish Chieftans” in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford as closed in the front, drawn up through a belt to make them knee length and the resulting pouch around the waist was probably used as a pocket (McClintock, 1950, p. 32).  Later the léine is shown as open in front and the sides fold across the chest, it is also shortened to a length between the hip and knee (McClintock, 1950, p. 41)
The Irish trews found in the Killcommon bog have a drawstring waist, and made of a single piece of fabric joined with a seam and shaped to the waist.  The legs were made with a different fabric with a seam at the back and attached to the body with a seam around the thigh. The bias cut of the lower leg allowed more flexibility in the tight fitting garment (Dunlevy, 1989, pp. 57, 58).
Dunlevy, M. (1989). Dress in Ireland. New York, NY: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc.
McClintock, H. (1950). Old Irish & Highland Dress. In H. F. McClintock, Old Irish & Highland Dress Second Edition. Dundalk: Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest) Ltd.
The Image of Irelande, by John Derrick (London, 1581) – Plates. (2002, 06 27). Retrieved 11 03, 2016, from Masterpieces from the research collections of Edinburgh University Library:

Coronation Wear – Arnsbjorn

As I said in a previous post, some friends of mine did an thing, that thing allowed me to step out of my 16th C costuming head and jump into 10th C for a bit.  The time between Arnsbjorn winning Crown to Coronation was very short.  Normally heirs have 8-12 weeks to prepare for their step up, because of changing calendar schedules, Arnsbjorn and Inga only had 4 weeks.  “Simple” you might say for a viking step up, its all rectangles and nothing is fitted.  You’d be wrong.  Inga wanted a simple apron dress, undergown, and a front panel.  Most of her “wow” would be in bling and beauties applied to the garments.  Arnsbjorn needed a whole new outfit; he spends most of his SCA time working on domestic things or wearing fight kit.


Most of the fabric’s for both outfits came from mine and Inga’s fabric stash.  The problem was that the red linen in my stash is not the colour of red they wanted.  1.5 weeks into the process, they ordered some more linen from Fabric-Store.  From the sample card Inga has, they thought they wanted the Redwood in IL019 (5.3oz 100% linen).  On a whim they also ordered Crimson in the same weight.

Shipping between Canada and the USA can be a challenge.  Customs and international borders delay deliveries and we couldn’t afford a delay.  Even shipping priority USPS (recommended by the retailer) the Linen didn’t arrive until 10 business days after being ordered.  This put us 1 week away from Coronation with the fabric still “on the bolt”.

When the linen’s arrived, the Redwood was much more orange then the same card or image online.  Thankfully the Crimson was much closer to their choice and we went with that.  The Redwood was a good tone for Sigurd’s coat (created by Inga and Brangwyn).

The Inspriation

Arnsbjorn wanted something different.  Below is the inspiration image.

From a Calendar (sorry no proper citation, not my calendar)

The mantle was sourced out to Ellsif and Una in Calgary. The pants (not visible) were made by Inga.  That left me with the coat and shirt.

2.5 yards IL019 (5.3 oz) bleached white linen
White cotton thread
The original image has a shirt with a tall collar that opens on the side with some red embroidered details.  Arnsbjorn didn’t want the tall collar, and we didn’t have time for embroidered details. 
The shirt is machine sewn with hand finished seams.  Small amounts of fiddling with the neck hole were required, but it came out fitting nicely.
Arnsbjorn at Coronation, photo courtesy Beothuk on Flickr
Crimson 5.3oz linen (IL019 from Fabrics-Store)
Yellow Linen
Black & Yellow tablet woven trim (By Driffa)
Black, Red & Yellow cotton thread
The pattern for the coat was based on the measurements for the shirt. I made a mock up in flannel and fit it to Arnsbjorn.  With the mock up trial, we found it would be a challenge to sit in so we decided to open up the back and make a riding coat. We wanted the hem guard and wrist guards in yellow linen and edged with the tablet trim.  We decided on far fewer bands and buttons on the chest, as well as opening in the front fully as a coat instead of the tunic in the original image.  
Instead of gores in the sides to make a skirt I decided to “show opulence” and make the skirt lines flow by cutting the skirt as part of the body.  The sleeves were made longer then the shirt and slightly larger to give the fullness shown in the original.
The bands along the buttons were 4.5″ x 2″ strips of yellow linen and 4″ of the tablet trim.
There was quite a bit of fiddling after the pattern was cut in Linen and assembled.  Necklines are the bane of my existence and Arnsbjorn is so thick through the chest, my automatic adjustments didn’t work on his sleeves and shoulders.  
Once we had a nicely fitting coat, I started adding guards.  They are 4″ and 3″ on the hem and wrists respectively. The yellow rolls over the underside of the red linen and then is stitched down with a stab stitch along the top of the guard.  A row of black and yellow tablet trim is running stitched along the top of the guard to break of up transition from red to yellow.
Tablet trim on yellow band
The bands were assembled by cutting and finishing the yellow linen bands, then applying the tablet trim to make 1 piece to apply to the coat.
Arnsbjron at Coronation
Photo by Beothuk on Flickr
Button loops were made of 1/8″ wide double folded linen strips and attached under the bands.
Although I was sewing trim in the truck on the way to the event and on site, the final product was stunning and I am proud to have been able to make this for him.


All good intentions seem to lead down the road to hell.  Or at least Valhalla.

Friends of mine went and did a thing, so I will be taking a short hiatus from my 16th Century costuming to work on their very period Norse stuff.  They have visions, I get to make them reality!

I hear all the time about how easy rectangular construction is… this is embellished truth.  I also hear about how viking’s are all the same …. an outright lie.  Or how “its all about the embroidery and jewelry”… whoever said that didn’t have 4 weeks to turn around full outfits!  I find rectangular construction just as challenging as fitted garments.  Mostly I psyche myself out thinking they are so easy and make stupid little mistakes.  We will get to those later.

As mentioned, 4 weeks to turn around the following:

Viking Womans undergown – White Linen
Viking Mans undertunic w/ side collar closure – White Linen
Viking Womans gown embllishments – Yellow Linen
Viking apron dress – Red Linen
Viking coat – Red Linen

Inga’s undergown pattern, including incorrect body measurement

I started with patterns, since neither had a good pattern that fit.  I took a few existing garments and pulled measurements.  **Note** When taking a pattern, make sure you’re measuring often and on flat surfaces.  Measure again before cutting.  I measured and then cut the body of the womans gown too small and it had to be remade…  Why do I find body blocks and fitted patterns so much easier!

Arnsbjorn’s shirt pattern.  Sans underarm gussets.

I wish I could say there was 3 dimensional measuring and math involved, but there really wasn’t.  Just a measuring tape and a flat surface, pencil and paper.  Once I had the measurements rough sketched, I plotted them on graph paper and started cutting.

All seams were assembled by machine, and finished in either a pressed flat open seam or run and fell seam, whipstitched down.  I am particularly proud of how my gores and gussets went in.

Inset gore at front of Inga’s gown.

Keep an eye on this space for a tutorial on how to inset gores without the help of a convenient seam.

Apron Research

Melancholia I – Albercht Durer – 1514
Melancholia I (Apron Detail) – Albrecht Durer – 1514

Aprons, ubiquitous to all stations throughout history, serve both functional and frivolous purposes.  Made of wool or linen, ranging in colours from black to white to green to blue, they were used to protect clothing and as a status symbol.

This is the beginning of my research into aprons in the German Cities in the 16th century.  I’ll be looking at the range of colours displayed in art and trying to extrapolate a difference in social class in relation to apron colour.  I will also try to identify different styles of aprons; pleated, smocked, flat, partial coverage or complete.

I like aprons, I find them useful every day.  I cook, clean, work, and relax in garb over the course of an event.  Having useful functional clothing and accessories assists in maintaining my kit as well as lending authenticity to it.  The devil is in the details. I’ve had a simple pleated apron made of midweight linen for 5 years and it’s finally time to cut it up into wash cloths.  I need some basic functional aprons, but I’m also working on some fancier ones similar to the apron depicted in Durer’s “Melancholia I” shown above.

Welcome to my Rabbit Hole!

Welcome back…. and WAY back!

I haven’t posted a blog in a VERY VERY long time.  I shall begin to remedy this promptly.

Since my past post in 2009 I’ve grown enormously in my research and knowledge of both clothing and life in the 16th century.  I’ll try to get a few diaries and patterns up as well as complete photos and progress shots.

But, let me start with the start.  This is me in 2009 in the first thing I ever made (beyond that one bag in sewing classes when I was 12).  It was at Montengarde 12th Night (photo courtesy Falashad on Flickr) and inspired by Hans Holbien’s painting.

Me. 2009. First Garb!
Portrait of Dorthea Meyer – Hans Holbein the Younger (1525)

Iain Gutherie patterned the bodice for me, and I did it NO justice in the end.  Lemme tell you, this was an optimistic first try.  I have yet to re-attempt the gown.  Its a great attempt though, I am pretty proud of this all things considered!

Smock Constrution

100% Cotton

How I did it
A bunch of triangles and little tiny cartridge pleats around the neck…. maybe?

Hat Construction

 ?? Your guess is as good as mine.  It doesn’t look too bad though eh!

Gown Construction


Lining – 100% cotton
Interlining – Jean denim
Red Fashion – Questionably 100% cotton drill
Black guards – Questionable content plain weave “wool”

How I did it
This was a VERY long time ago.  So I don’t have many details on my process other then a LOT of tea, frustration, and seam ripping.

I started with zigzagging all the edges of all the pieces… so I had some good direction!

The lining and interlining on the bodice is sewing good side to good side then flipped right side in and pressed.  Since I used inappropriate materials, and didn’t know about clipping allowance, I ended up running a stitch along the neck and front to minimize bubbling along that edge.

The bodice was WAY too big around the waist and fit funny so I ended up  putting a little pleat in the back where it attaches to the skirt to make it look better.

The sleeves are probably unlined and sewn in right side to right side then flipped over.  I didn’t know much about seam finishing, so they are all bulky and raw inside.

The skirt is a vague approximation of a knife pleat. The neck guard runs down the length of the front of the skirt and then into the  hem guards.  I liked the look at the time, but totally undocumented.

It is closed with hooks and eyes.

Take Away
Ok, this is pretty redundant since it’s my first ever sewing project.  But I really DID learn a lot from both those helping me, and my own mistakes.  I guess it wasn’t too bad, since I haven’t stopped making stuff yet!

Sort of Done

So here is my somewhat completed Cranach Gown. It was pinned…. a lot. The Brustfleck is held on with Saftey Pins, and looking at the picture, I need to make the brustfleck smaller still. All in all, it worked. I know what changes I need to make for the next one to work better (except the attachement of the Brustfleck… grr)
Its a wee little long, and I really really need an underskirt.

Excuse the purse and sunglasses! This is the only full length picture I can find of the dress.
Photo from Her Ladyship Althea’s flickr: