The Summer of Little Focus

On the one hand, I have the urge to blog about everything I’ve been doing in the last two months since the conference. On the other hand, I have been all over the place and totally unfocused and I know that would just lead to a messy post. So what I’m going to try to do is just focus on the two main things that are occupying me right now with a short summary of my other projects at the end as a kind of “coming soon.”

First, a little over a month ago when it really started getting hot and humid (unusually so, as they just announced that July was officially the hottest month since they began keeping records in 1880) I somewhat half jokingly threatened to make myself a linen Viking-inspired breeches and tunic set to try to cope with the heat. I hemmed and hawed for a while, bought the linen because I had a coupon, set it aside to try to stay focused on my in-progress stuff, and then finally I had a four-day weekend last week and spent half of it putting together my set.

I wasn’t going for 100% authenticity; I just wanted something comfortable that would look sorta Viking. But lightweight and comfortable were the absolute keys. These two dudes were my image inspiration:


Image by


Image from

For the breeches I loosely followed the diagrammed pattern on this site. Instead of a waistband I made the breeches drawstring, and instead of relying on leg bindings to get the poofy pants look, I added cuffs to the legs. At the moment I just close the cuffs with safety pins because I am lazy and have other projects to work on. But someday (probably) I will add button closures to the cuffs.

For the tunic I followed the pattern for the “Birka tunic” from this site. I ended up making both the tunic and the breeches slightly too big, but they are comfortable so they’ve achieved their purpose.


Just your casual backyard Viking.

I still need to hand-sew trim around the neckline, but I haven’t the patience for hand-sewing at the moment. Once my Viking set was done-ish I thought I would be able to work on my Halloween costume. But. Recently Rufflecon announced that Lauren of American Duchess will be one of the guests at the event in October.

Cue excited fangirling. Then I had to stop and re-plan my entire Rufflecon wardrobe.

Then I decided it was time to finally buy those Kensingtons I’ve been wanting (thanks, Bastille Day sale).

Also, I decided I need something fancier to wear with my new Kensingtons. Better make a new frock.

Which brings me back to the 18th century.


I’m using my trusty J.P. Ryan pattern again for a polonaise this time, but I’m going to use some of the trim ideas from Patterns of Fashion. I’ve actually been planning this polonaise for years since a friend of mine gifted me the yellow fabric in the image above, but now that American Duchess is coming to Rufflecon I figured it was finally time to put this together and show off a little.

So far I’ve got the bodice shell sewn together and did a fitting over my stays.


Once I get the sleeves on and the lining sewn in I’m going to hand sew trim of self-fabric with pinked edges around the bust and the sleeve openings. I was going to set in the sleeves and the lining today, but I seem to have burned myself out with these and my other projects over the last couple weekends, so I am blogging instead (still productive, right?). I still need to order petticoat fabric, but I’m having trouble finding the color that I want. Swatches are on the way, so hopefully I can order that soon. I also need to make a proper bum pad once and for all, because I never did get around to it for my previous 18th century set, and with this fabric being pretty heavy, I’m going to need proper skirt support.

So those are just two of the things I’ve been up to. I’m also putting together a panel on historical foundation garments that I will be presenting at Rufflecon, so I’ve been doing some supplementary research and starting the framework for that. The other things I’m sewing right now that I will post about later include: hand sewing a waistcoat from the Tudor Tailor pattern; learning embroidery basics so that I can try some Tudor blackwork; a mystery Halloween costume (history inspired, of course); and my 18th Century menswear set that I started months ago is still in pieces and still in progress. I will finish it eventually. Stay tuned to find out how long that takes me.