Friday, September 7, 2012

For Pleasure of The Joyful Time

I may have mentioned it, but about a month ago Kitten came in the living room and asked me and Oscelot if we wanted to go to one of the regional Renaissance Fairs this year. We aren't planning on taking our big vacation in November, because we are going to go back to Portland in the early summer months. We agreed that it would be a nice little mini-vacation. So, the first week in October we are going to go up to Kansas City Missouri and go to their Renaissance Fair. I think we'll have a good time.

I haven't been in years, and the last time I went we weren't able to stay as long as I had liked because it was really hot. This time it should be nice and cool, because Columbus Day weekend is usually pretty fair when it comes to weather, by then the painful heat has normally passed us by. I've only been a few times in my life, and I've only been with people willing to dress up just once. So this ought to be a lot of fun.

Yes, we're dressing up. I asked the girls if they wanted to and they were amenable to the idea, so we're going to go in full garb. We are making our costumes ourselves. Its slow going, because I do not use sewing machines (I swear, I've tried to learn, its just not my thing) so we have to hand sew everything. Some of the stuff is relatively complicated to sew, too. I felt thankful that Kitten and Oscelot wanted to go in men's dress, but honestly, their stuff is turning out harder than my dress. Breeches aren't too bad, I suppose, as long as you get them to balloon out the proper way. The jackets are a little more complicated. I told them to hit the local costume shops because there is no way in Hades I am going to try and sew them period accurate blouses. I am just not that cool. I'm also going to make them nice, jaunty little hats and custom garters and all that. It should be a lot of fun to see them dressed up.

My dress...well, its already a trip. I've managed to get the under-dress (the skirting that goes underneath the overlay part of the dress) done. I used netting to help make it fluffy. There's no way I am going to custom make hoops. I did it once and it was a pain in the ass. I don't want to do it a second time.  I also managed to get the chiffon underlay that goes in the front, and shows in between the pieces of brocade, sewn in. I made a bumroll for the first time yesterday. I attached it in such a way that I can customize how big it gets and I can make it lay flat for transportation purposes. I also started stitching the brocade to the bodice and making the outer skirt. Its seriously heavy and I'm terribly afraid that the hanger I've got it on won't hold up. I would kill for a dress maker's dummy right about now. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone I know has one to spare. Otherwise I would be begging for it right now. After getting the overlay started, I've discovered that I am also going to want hiprolls and they need to be pretty substantial. Joy.

I truly love to sew, but I'm not huge on sewing with a deadline. If I could move at a slower pace I'd be liking this more. The dress would also look prettier because I could take my time with the stitches. Then again, if I could machine sew, I wouldn't have to worry about the stitches at all, because they'd be perfect. Maybe I should try to learn again, eh? I told Oscelot yesterday that if we wanted to go again next year, I would keep an eye out for the appropriate fabrics and I would sew us new outfits over the course of a year, so we didn't have to rush. As it is...well, the girls are going to have to pick up a needle and thread at some point so that I can get it all done.

My mom came over yesterday and looked at the dress and told me to quit my day job, and my aspirations of being a writer and go to school for seamstress work, because I'm really good at it. She liked it and it made me feel good, because she doesn't really praise many of my talents too often. Not to my face, anyway. And she's dead set on me becoming a famous writer. So I must be doing something right. Then again, she liked to sew by pattern, and I almost never use a pattern. I certainly am not now. I just researched the period clothing and undergarments and went to town. I do like sewing, though, that's true. I did get a giggle from my favorite little girl who works at the local craft/fabric/hobby store. I was telling her about what I was doing while eyeballing a few of the pattern books to look at the trims that the big companies prefer to use (polyester bridal lace? No, thank you) and she told me the outfit would be very authentic, since they didn't have sewing machines in the 1600's. I suppose she's right.

So all this blood and sweat is so we can drive several hours to a giant fair and drag these beautiful costumes through the mud, dirty them up and maybe never wear them again, depending on the condition that they're in. Ah, well. That's the joy of it right? On the other hand, I do get to see jousts and sword fighting and a lot of really talented artisans working their trade. I love that sort of thing. And the food will be wonderful. And we're planning on attending the Royal banquet for dinner, which means dinner with the King and Queen. Its outrageous how much they charge for this, but I'm not getting prettied up just so I can go sit in a tavern and have a wench slop beer on my gown. Well, not just for that anyway....

We booked ourselves a really nice hotel and we are probably going to do other things while we are there. I am looking forward to it all.  I'll probably skip the turkey legs, I can get those anywhere. But I am looking forward to ale, and mulled cider. I am looking forward to fresh corn on the cob (we're going on the pirate themed weekend so they're $1 each. Get it? Buck an ear?) and watching Kitten get real fish and chips. I don't know that Oscelot has ever been to one, and neither of them have been when they were dressed up, for sure, so they are excited. Kitten was telling me the other day, and I was pleased, how happy she was that I suggested that we make costumes. She said she would have thrown on stuff from her closet to look sort of piratey, and not have felt as cool. This, she says, will make it special for us. I thought it was nice of her to say so.

I am a little anxious. Being Americans, we aren't really familiar with forms of address for nobles, so I've been looking at the ranks and the titles and forms of address. I'm going to have to write them down for the girls and quiz them on the way up so that they can not make asses of themselves by calling a wench an honorable or something. I can't imagine. I also have to teach them how to properly introduce people, because, as a woman, its not really my place to talk. I also had to research the colors that certain ranks are allowed to wear, because if someone asks us who we are and where we are from, well, my town wasn't around then, so we'll need a nice story and they should know how to answer those questions properly. I mean, its all fun and games, I get it, but there are some serious Ren Fair enthusiasts out there, and they're usually the actors. I'd like not to insult them, or be fodder for off stage glee because we were unable to conduct ourselves like the lords and ladies we are pretending to be. In case you're curious, I'm pretty sure Kitten and I are going to be Count and Countess and I think we're going to make Oscelot either a Viscount or a Baronet. It depends. We have to determine what country we're from too...because I think being from England would be death to us all. I know Elizabethan history, but not that well. And I sure as heck don't know how to teach all the nuances of that to the girls. If we're foreigners, well, sometimes they get a little more leeway, don't they? Either way, our costumes are a mustard gold and black, so we're up there, but not so far up there that we're royalty. Just nobles. I've always wanted to be a noble. The last time I went I was a wench. Honestly, I'd like to be a marchioness, or a marquess (don't lecture me, Anne Boleyn was a marquess and she was a girl. And yes, I know she was only marquess because Henry VIII wanted to enoble her before he married her. That's not the point...) but explaining the nuance of a marquessate to the girls...again, maybe next year. 

I'll probably post pictures once I get the costumes done. I'll also probably mention the fair a bunch in the meantime, because it is very much on my mind. I know I've bored my FB friends to tears with dress updates. But then, each moment of progress on that thing is a little victory for me, because the last one of these dresses I made took me two months. I'm much faster and more focused now, and I'm sober, and that makes a difference. Looking back, I was thinking about how it was a shame I didn't still have it. Then I remembered that it was 17th century French and I was a size 2 then, so it wouldn't have worked anyway.

I'm really excited about it all. I rather wish we had other friends going with us, but then, that would mean they would need to acquire costumes too. Not to mention hotel rooms and the like. And a lot of my friends work with me, and that means they would need to ask off...yeah. I know how that goes.

Right. I have to get ready for work. The life of a wench is a hard one.

One month. One month and I get to pretend that Casa Bueno never existed and I have people to do my bidding and I get to wear a hugely fancy dress for two solid days. History can't get here soon enough.

See you soon!

PS- today's title is an Elizabethan song lyric from This Sweet and Merry Month of May by William Byrd. He was Queen Elizabeth I's favorite composer.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like so much fun, and I love the authenticity you're striving for!

    When I was a theater major I studied costume design and spent a great deal of time in the costume shop. I usually used a machine, but the finer work was done by hand. My hat is most definitely off too you! It's labor intensive, but weirdly satisfying too. I'd love to see how they turn out.

    You know, I bought a sewing machine years ago, and it's still in the box. :0P