On Mother's Day, May 9th 2010, I finally finished my First-time Handsewing Challenge! I am so proud of myself and I know my mother would be too.
So, just to refresh everyone's memory, here is a copy of the Codex Manesse illumination that contains the outfit I decided to recreate:
And here is a photo of me wearing the completed outfit, all hand sewn:
I believe I have done a rather nice job recreating this outfit and not only that, I am proud to say I made it all by hand. I'm hoping to wear the complete ensemble at a future SCA event, but it has to be a special one, since this is a very special outfit. Perhaps I can convince my husband to make me some shoes to go with it and I may even attempt to recreate the head piece being worn in the image as well. When that event happens, rest assured, I promise to upload some photos so you can see the outfit being worn in context.
Seeing this project at its end is somewhat bitter-sweet. I am so happy with its outcome, but at the same time I am sad to see it finished. It's been like a good long book...it takes you forever to read, but you don't want it to end. This project began even before the actual challenge, since the inspiration began as soon as my interest in the SCA began in the spring of 2009. I can't believe it's been over a year since I saw that image for the first time. I have enjoyed every second of it though, including the many hours I spent in my sewing room planning and experimenting, the many evenings spent with my mentors in their living room and sewing room (fondly known as "the shoe"), the many evenings at our local SCA fight practice, a couple of SCA events and even lunch hours spent at my workplace.
I have learned so much over this past year! I have gone from a very basic knowledge of hand sewing to a much deeper understanding. I have gone from absolutely NO knowledge of the Middle Ages to at least a basic level of knowledge. I have learned to research sources and to look closely at what I am attempting to recreate. I have learned that it is okay to change my mind about what I'm doing, even when I thought I had it all figured out. I have gained a new perspective on the whole world of sewing, realizing that machine sewn pieces are not necessarily better constructed, better looking or easier to make. And most of all, I have learned patience! I have never spent so much time on one project in my sewing experience AND completed it! Would I do this all over again? Absolutely! This has been one of the most valuable sewing experiences in my life and I have gained a new level of respect and enjoyment of sewing that I never realized I could reach.
With all that said, I must must MUST thank my mentors: Her Excellency Baronne Estela du Frayse and the Honourable Lady Cristiana ingen Mec-Bead. Without their expertise and knowlege, their instruction, their advice and their patience, this project would not be half as good as it has turned out to be today. Thank you SO much for all of that and most of all for your friendship.
And thank you to those who created this First-time Handsewing Challenge! It has been an absolute joy!
What will I do next? Time will tell I suppose.
aka: Chris Hulme Colin