April 2016 Service Projects (Part 1) – Buttons and Teaching, Oh My!

Because of my job, I don’t have the bandwidth to organize activities anymore because I can be summoned at a moment’s notice to work on the weekend. So, most of my service work is done by teaching or making largesse (gifts that people can give other people). This month’s largesse was buttons! I know. Right now you’re thinking, “Buttons? Why are buttons a big deal?” If you’re not a re-enactor, this is a perfectly good question to ask. Just think of it in terms of the old formula, “Time = Money.” Handmade buttons take a lot of time to make. They lend authenticity to garments. When someone gives you handmade cloth buttons, they’re handing you hours of their time. And why are handmade buttons a good craft for a busy person? Because it’s a small, portable project that you can take out of your purse and work on in moments when you can’t do anything else…like when it takes your computer 20 minutes to boot up a work.

Handmade Buttons

Handmade Buttons for Coronation Largesse

My second service project this month was teaching a class on how to make a three-pouchlette German bag. This was a test teach at Isenfir’s Gemlutlichplaz event…where is snowed…in Charlottesville. Happily, the class was moved to an indoor location in a beautiful lodge with a roaring fire. There were five ladies and one gent in the class, which was a test-teach for Pennsic. Right now you’re thinking, “What’s a test teach?” If you’re not a teacher, this is a perfectly good question to ask. Generally, when a teacher is trying to work the bugs out of an arts & crafts class, she does a test teach. For mine, I try not to charge any money for these classes because I don’t know how they’re going to work out. It’s one thing to make something yourself. It’s another thing entirely to teach the skill to someone else. Most times, the classes work out. Sometimes they don’t. Fortunately, this class worked out just fine.


Kendra, Azza


Ragna, Tessa

The purses should be made in leather but the class was given using heavy felted wool, which is a good analogy. The added benefit of teaching with wool is that it’s a far less stabby proposition then trying to teach someone how to make an object in leather, which requires greater hand strength and sharper tools.



The last photo is my latest clothing project for Pennsic. I’m going to try to wear German clothing every day. We’ll see how the weather goes.

Landskencht, April 2016

Italian-ish Landskencht, April 2016

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Defending the Gate 2016

Here are some photos from yesterday’s event. Left to right: Esperanza, Amie, Anastaasia, Genefe. We were trying to recreate a photo taken four years ago!



Esperanza, Amie, Anastaasia, Genefe


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This month’s service project

Thank you notes with pre-stamped envelopes for Queen Toryn Seven Stitches. A service gift other than offering to sew something for somebody!


Heraldic Thank You Cards

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Kingdom Arts and Science Festival

All three dresses by me! I didn’t mean to coordinate colors but I guess we can all tell what color palette was on my brain during the last 12 months. Left to Right: me in Landsknecht, the dress dummy is wearing a Masquerade dress based on an illustration from an unfinished manuscript commissioned by the Emperor Maximillian, and Baroness Esperanza is wearing a Cranach Princess dress inspired by Sybille, sister to Anne of Cleves.


German Dresses!

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Cranach Princess Dress, second draft

This Baroness Esperanza wearing a Cranach Princess dress that I made. The photo was taken at 5:30 in the evening when the outside light was low. The inside lights were on. There was one above the backdrop and one behind me as well as ambient light from outside. I pulled the curtains open.


Esperanza, Feb. 2016

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Costumer’s Dilemma: The Wrong Buttons

by guest columnist Basil White

Your costumer Significant Other might ask you for buttons for a holiday gift or their birthday. Unless they’re going to use the buttons for some non-functional decoration, assume they need specific buttons. You may think “buttons are everywhere. There’s a wall of buttons at those stores that sell fabric, whatever those stores are called, and I have these buttons in my dresser drawer, and…”

Do not give these buttons. These are The Wrong Buttons.

The Wrong Buttons are everywhere. They surround us, and are in all manner of places – shops, homes, work – but the reason they are everywhere is because each button suits a very specific purpose, and unless these buttons are exactly the same, they are not interchangeable. These Are The Wrong Buttons.

You may think the purpose of all buttons is to secure clothing, and so they are all the same. However, the purpose of all examples of something you value might be the same, and you wouldn’t mix tequila and champagne, or the Chicago Bears with the Memphis Grizzlies, would you? Certainly not; that would be silly, like your former attitude about buttons. The grizzly is a form of bear, and this common feature would make them interchangeable, but how would you feel if you needed quarterback Jay Cutler for your NFL fantasy team, and a trader gave you point guard Mike Conley? Because grizzlies are bears, and therefore interchangeable? No, you would think that trader a monster for delivering such a mistake.

That monster is you, because These Are The Wrong Buttons.

Let me retain your attention with alcohol and sports metaphors. A loved one can dismiss one wrong button as a mistake; multiple cards of Wrong Buttons reveals you as an incorrigible psychopath. To increase their effectiveness at making you happy, beer and Timberwolves are grouped into sets of six and five, respectively. So it is with buttons. More is best, but only if they are The Right Buttons. Surely, a gift set of a Grizzlies wall clock, barstool and pilsner glass would express your insight, but what if you gave these to a Bears fan? They would think you thoughtless, and rightly so; Bears fans already have a full measure of suffering.

So when your significant other indicates a specific set of buttons, buy them. Don’t think on your own. It is a losing proposition and will only lead you to gift the Wrong Buttons.

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Costumer’s Dilemma: No One is Going to Pants You

It has been a few years since I made my husband his first really nice English doublet and Venetian hose for 12th Night. It was made from gloriously thick black wool interlined and tailored to fit him from a pattern that too me days’ worth of attempted mockups.

We dressed at home because the event was close by. I was so excited about my own dress and fancy hat that I didn’t pay much attention to anything else until we were at the event.

Once inside, my husband went to the bar to get me a drink. That’s when I noticed some weirdness going on in the butt of his Venetians. My husband has, ask I like to call it, negative butt space. And that’s how I made the pattern, for a man with negative butt space. However, the hose no longer fit smoothly. The thighs were tight. The inseams were all wonky and he had a tell-tale butt lump on one side.

When he came back with my adult beverage, I took a deep drink before the ensuing conversation.

Me: “Darling, why are your pants all lumpy?”
Him: “I don’t know. You made them.”
Me: “Are you, perhaps, just maybe, wearing your cargo shorts under your Venetians?”
Him: “Yeah, so what? I gotta have some place to put your wallet.”
Me: “I put pockets in your Venetians so you could hide your wallet.”
Him: “I didn’t know these had pockets.”
Me: “You’re wearing them. How could you not know about the pockets?”
Him: “It doesn’t matter. I’m not wearing only underwear under a costume. I have to have pants on.”
Me: “The Venetians are pants.”
Him: “No, they’re not. They’re a costume.”
Me: “Are you afraid that somebody is going to pants you at 12th Night?”
Him: “They might. You never know.”
Me: “Your cargo pants have ruined the line of your Venetians.”
Him: “No, they don’t.”
Me: “Why do you hate me?”
Him: “I don’t hate you. Here, let me get you another drink.”

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