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Damn The Bias, Full Serge Ahead!

Posted 2008.09.29 0.00 in Hobbies by Stephanie

Greetings once again, friend readers. When last I spoke of my quest to learn the arcane ways of the seamstress, I had reached the point of learning several new and unusual words — along with several new and unusual meanings, for words I thought I knew. I was armed with knowledge, equipment, and supplies. I had faced the Bobbin and the Patterns, and had been beaten back. I was awaiting the astral alignment, the sun and stars to reach their proper places, such that the Gods might favor me with success.

Such a time did come to pass, and once again I went into the breach (of the Machine), thumbs and fingers dancing about the bobbin, thread and needles. These are dark arts indeed, my friends. There are many hazards for those not fortunate enough to spend many a-year apprenticing with a true Seamstress.

There is much more knowledge out there, but I am wary to delve too deeply into it lest I become lost in it. Formerly I jested about the dark arts of Bobbin management, but it is no jest! I share with you a brief exerpt from that most unholy tome, The Bobbinomicon:

By candle light clutch Bobbin tight
With a needle new of virtue true
Prick thy thumb till blood doth run
The blood to drip ‘pon burning wick
Endure the pain, and chant the names

I dare not divulge more. The Bobbin Mastery incantation is three pages of such dark rhymes.

Still, I resolved to press onwards. Steeling myself, I drew forth the patterns. Unfolding, and unfolding, and unfolding again, the wisps of smoke-thin tissue grew and grew till it seemed the whole of my study was to be engulfed. And yet unfolding was but the start. Now, armed with the scissors designated “for pattern only” I began to cut, cut along the lines. Some of the tissue, thank the Gods, was fit to be discarded. Yet most of the tan-coloured stuff must be kept. Some to be returned to the envelope from whence it came (ha! They must be mad) while the rest, that which I had cut free, must now be mated to fabric, for The Tracing…

The Tracing… when you thought the Pattern was unwieldy… try and mate it to an equal amount of fabric. It is… not as difficult as single-handedly moving an unconsious bear through a household. Which is to say, difficult, but not entirely impossible.

By the by, knowing that my knowledge was preliminary and my experience nonexistant, I selected a seemingly simple project to be my first. I decided to make for myself a new hat. Desiring something stylish, I opted to manufacture a design that has graced the royal head of the former monarch, Henry the Somethingth. Known alternatively as a Tudor hat or simply medieval hat, it can be seen gracing the Kingly brow in this woodcut:
Henry ??th wearing hat

Yes, nothing looks so stylish and regal as a small flying saucer with a short skirt under it. And, if the Gods permit it, such a cap shall soon be adorning my very own skull.

At first glance, such a hat indeed seems simple. For what is it, but a top, a middle, and a bottom? Three sections, all round, the lower two having a hole through which to fit one’s head. Ah, but looks, they are deceiving. Three sections, yes. Three pieces of fabric? No. No no no no.

Have I mentioned the word Interfacing yet? How about Liner. You see, this simple hatform consists of ten separate pieces of material. There are but four pieces visible to the eye. Two more can be spied if the hat is removed. But a further four pieces are completely encased. This Interfacing… it is like fabric but with magical properties. It stiffens, supports, adds form. And this simple Tudor hat, contains a lot of it.

With pattern traced, I was freed of the tissue. I folded and folded, but it will never again fit so smoothly into its paper home. To this day the envelope remains bulging, with tufts of tan-coloured tissue poking out.

Now the time was nigh, to stow the Pattern scissors and unsheath the For Fabric Only blades. Cutting fabric, proved to be much like cutting patterns – only slightly more difficult due to the weight and lifelessness of the stuff. And still, I pressed onwards.

With fabric — and interfacing — finally cut, pieces organized about me, it was time to stoke the fires and bring The Machine to life… but I see now that this entry has grown long. Fear not! I shall return again soon to continue this tale, and you may know the final outcome, of my first true battle with The Machine!

More Pointy Things, Redux

Posted 2008.09.27 0.00 in Swords by Stephanie

Well I finished the scabards/sheaths for my two little knives, and I’m fairly happy with them.

The scabards start with a wood core that is hand carved to fit the blade exactly. Then leather is wrapped over the core and the knife handle, to achieve the overall shape that is desired. I use 3-4oz vegetable tanned leather. I cut it roughly to size and shape (a bit oversized) then soak it for a few minutes in hot water, pat it dry, then stretch it over the core and knife. I then do the final trimming to size, as I hand-stitch the leather closed. It’s very tight over the core, so there’s no chance of the core coming out. Then at the knife handle it’s a little less tight. The scabard is suspended by a simple leather lace / thong, that can be looped over or through a belt.

Once this is done and the leather has fully dried, I then did some carving. Admittedly it’s a bit crude and rough but this is my very first time doing leather carving. Have a look:

two knives in sheaths
The one on top has a simple knot/loop pattern that I’ve done twice. The lower one has a ‘Celtic’ knotwork pattern for the lower 3/4 of the scabard, then my “Mon” at the top.

The backs of the scabards have some Ogham runes. The one on the left reads “Blessed Be” and the one on the right reads “Stephanie Made Me”. At least, I think that’s what they say!
two knives in sheaths

Finally, here’s a pic of the two knives next to their respective sheaths. One curious thing – I made both of these scabards at the same time, and they were supposed to be ‘identical’ in overall design. Yet, one of them came out ‘backwards’… Somehow, every step of the way, was mirrored. The stitching, attaching the belt suspension… it all ended up the wrong way round. Ah well – it’s interesting! 🙂

Two knives and their scabards

My Entry for Wierdest Dream of the Year 2008

Posted 2008.09.26 0.00 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

It all started with me going antiqueing. I was going from antique shop to antique shop, looking for deals on old daggers, knives, or swords. This much is at least fairly unremarkable. Equally typical, I failed to find anything in the various shops.

After wasting the day doing this, I ended up going to my parents house. While visiting with them, their house came under attack by pirates. They had brought their ship up alongside the house and had unleashed a barrage of cannonfire upon us in a terrible broadside onslaught. During the skirmish, my right leg came off about the knee, and my left leg was torn up a bit.

The pirates then got bored and headed off, and I got some bandages on my legs while my parents were cleaning up the house. Then I went up to the “big box plaza” up by #7 because I knew someone who worked at the Body Crafters

More Pointy Things

Posted 2008.09.25 0.00 in Swords by Stephanie

After the dissapointment with the sword project, I decided to return to stuff I knew and make some knives. I had a few unfinished blades laying around the house (well, after all, who doesn’t?) so I picked a couple of the smaller ones.

The swordy knowledge has also included a lot of related information, including knives and daggers. I don’t have any daggers in my collection (yet) but had been learning about the kinds of knives might be appropriate for different classes in various times in history.

I decided I wanted to make some ‘general purpose’ knives that might be appropriate for lower classes, in the early middle ages. Please note, that although I might sound like I know what I’m doing and talking about, this is not necessarily the case.

Anyhow, so most peasants would have one knife that would serve them for everything. A general purpose knife, that was for eating, working, utility stuff, whatever. It would not be fancy, and would not be made of expensive materials.

My two small knife blades were each about 3 inches long, with long tangs. One was definately carbon steel, the other seems too shiney, but I don’t know what kind it is. Both are razor sharp, flat-ground. The carbon steel one was labeled as being hardened to 52 on the Rockwell C scale.

It took only one evening to rough out the two handles, a second evening to finish shaping both handles, and a third evening to finish and stain both handles. Finishing included a brass ‘pommel plate’ on each one. The carbon steel blade had a tang that was too hard to peen, so I cut it off about 1/4″ shy of the end of the handle. It is held in the handle by friction and a few drops of glue. The ‘pommel plate’ is held in place by a drop of glue, and two small brass nails.

The second blade had both a rivet hole and a peenable tang, so I did both — installed a brass rivet, then peened the tang over the brass ‘pommel plate’.

Tonight, I am working on scabards for the two of them. I’ve already made wood cores for the scabards; that took only one evening to carve, glue, and finish the two cores. Tonight I’m stitching veg-tanned leather over the cores, and adding leather thongs. I might try some simple scabard decorations, as such would not be inappropriate for what I am trying to reproduce. When the scabards are finished, I’ll post more pics.

2 knives
In the above picture, the top knife is the one with the carbon steel blade, the lower knife is the one with the shiny blade. As you can see, both blades are about 3 inches long, both handles roughly 3 1/2″ long. The carbon steel bade is a bit wider, the shiny blade is a bit skinnier. Both handles are made of a dark wood, I don’tk now what it is — just something I had laying around the house. The handles are sealed with Tung Oil, my favorite wood finishing product.

2 knives
Another view of the knives, closeup of the two blades. You can see I have not included bolsters in the construction, nor are there guards of any kind. These knives are designed for doing cutting, and that’s it. Not fighting or stabbing.

Finally, a closeup view of the ‘pommel plates’ of the two knives. You can see the two nails on the first knife and the peened tang of the second.

Home made knives

Pointy Things

Posted 2008.09.24 0.00 in Swords by Stephanie

A few days ago, I posted about that sword I was working on, that I’d finished but wasn’t too happy with.

I didn’t have any pictures at the time, and I was babbling, so, bunny and pancakes.

Well, now I have a pic. I’m not really any more happy with it, but now it’s immortalized with a picture.

Sword made from Del Tin Orcrist blade

Peeling Onions

Posted 2008.09.17 0.00 in Family/Friends by Stephanie

A shameless plug for my friend Lezley’s website.

She’s an artist, she draws well, and has a great sense of humour and a nice casual style. She’s working on a daily comic thing, with a new take on life.

Go and check out her work.

Peeling Onions

Get Frosted!

Posted 2008.09.17 0.00 in Family/Friends by Stephanie

Cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, cupcakes.

They are freaking awesome.

Made by my sister.

Better than Duff.

Go. Look. Gallery. Drool.

Get Frosted!

Get Frosted!