Hello everybody, welcome to my new diary, where I will document the count down to the LARP, Giovanni: The Last Supper.
I am really looking forward to playing at it, but I have sooo much to make and do before then. For one thing I have to make a wardrobe for the event. And I’ve left most of it until now. Oops.
Luckily I have collected pretty much everything I need for it and I’ve planned out most of what I will be doing. My character has links to Byzantium so I’ve been doing a lot of research to find out what she would be wearing and how I can best reach that. This included realising that there was no way I could afford to buy all the trim that her outfits would need, so instead I have bought some fabric by the metre that I will be cutting up to use instead. A lot of planning for a major crafting task like this involves making decisions like this. You can’t do it all at once it needs to build up slowly as you research what you are going to make and start buying it. But I think I’ve settled all of that now. Which is great! All the “easy” stuff is done, now I “just” need to sit down and start crafting.
*soft screams come from a distant offscreen location*
Currently, it is nine weeks until I need to have everything done or else I am going to be going naked. Or in other LARP gear, I already have, which doesn’t fit the character super well.
I am a big fan of Retro Claude on Youtube so inspired by her video on Crafting While Disabled I have separated my plans into Good, Better, and Best.
Good is the stuff I will take and be happy with, it is not quite the bare minimum, but it is pretty close.
Better is more stuff, maybe a bit more embellished, and maybe with fancier finishes and all the bling I could carry.
Best is EVERYTHING. Two outfit choices for every day, a tonne of accessories and enough dresses to explode the sides of my suitcase.
I know I am not going to make it to Best, but I might dip into the waters there if I get through Good.
So what is on my Good list?
First, because the LARP is a Vampire one where I am playing a human who is going to get eaten by the end of the weekend, I want a white nightgown that I plan on covering in fake blood. I have decided that this is necessary for my full enjoyment of the event, partly because what kind of vampire event would it be if I didn’t have something like this, but also because it looks super cool and I am looking forward to it. Currently I have some fake blood on the way and I am going to test it out on scrap fabric before soaking anything in it to check that it passes the requested rules of it not being sticky and gross. I have already started work on the nightgown itself, in fact I am not a hundred miles off finishing. I might have done it tonight actually but I got distracted by some gold rayon crochet thread that came in the post. More on that later. Anyway, all that’s left for the chemise is to do the sleeves and the side seams, and then figure out how long a hem I want. On the one hand I like the image of a floor length blood soaked gown. On the other I know that actually trying to run around with anything floor length is more likely to send me head over heels since I tend to wear much shorter dresses. So I need to figure that out.
Secondly, I want to make a Dalmatica style robe with woven trim down from the knees to the hem, with a similarily trimmed neckline and sleeves. This is one of the things I have been dithering over. For a good long time I was planning on making a more Italian style gown, the kind of renaissance gown that you see in the Borgias. But as I researched more and more I realised that not only would a Byzantine-style robe be really interesting to try out, but also it would be much easier because it is an A-line shape pretty darn similar to the Medieval Kirtle dresses I have made multiple times now for other LARPs. I have had the main fabric for this dress for over a year, I was just waiting on deciding what to do with it. I bought several metres of red and white satin fabric on eBay for a steal, it should work perfectly to give that heavily textured silk and embroidery look I want to the dress. The more time I have for this dress the more I will embellish it, this might mean that I do the basic version and then put it aside until I have other things done, but I have a feeling that some bling will get added at some stage even if only because I got bored or I was doing something similar and wanted to not have move my stuff around too much.
Third, I need to make a decent Renaissance style chemise. One with fully finished seams that won’t start fraying the first time I put it into the wash. Again I have had the fabric for this one for ages and the only thing stopping me from making it has been a lack of motivation. Well now I have a two month deadline and that will do. This is probably the item of clothing that I will get the most use out of after this event so I want to make it really well and make it sturdy. A good Renaissance style chemise will set me up for pretty much every era of history up until the Victorians and even then I could could probably still wing it if it was something with sufficiently large sleeves and bodice. And I dress up in Medieval clothes for at least four weekends a year so I will find a use for it. This is not the most interesting thing in the world to make, but it is also pretty easy given that I intend on making a version that is almost entirely made up of squares so hopefully I can get through it relatively quickly.
Fourth. My first accessory! I want to make a Byzantine Supernumeral. This is basically a massive collar that is half capelet, they were made to show status in Byzantium and they were typically dripping with jewels and embroidery. This will probably be the thing that takes me the most time out of this whole rank, but it is also the thing that will elevate the costume from flashy Medieval to clearly Byzantine so it is pretty necessary and needs to go here.
So that’s the stuff I have determined is absolutely necessary for my Byzantine wardrobe.
In addition, I would quite like to make a crown or headpiece of some kind. If it gets too close to the deadline and I have enough budget left I could buy it, but most crowns are either godawful looking or horrifyingly expensive so the aim is to try to make something.
I can also always use more chemises, so another chemise is on the list. As is a Tunica, which is the middle layer of the traditional Byzantine outfit. It’s basically a dress somewhere between the level of fanciness of a Dalmatica and the Byzantine chemise equivalent, the Camisa. This one will be made using some nice lining fabric I found which meshes with the colours of the rest of the outfit, and if there’s time trims can be added.
That’s the “just add more of the same” style stuff for the Better rank. The Tunica will be easy enough to make, especially since by this time I will have made about a dozen gored triangle kirtle shaped dresses which is all it is. The chemise is likewise simple if I want it to be simple. I can add embroidery and trim all I want, but the foundations are still dress that I have made a bunch of times.
After this it starts getting more complicated.
I have been wanting to make a set of Regency stays since I got into making costumes. It was one of the first patterns I ever bought. And I still haven’t done it. I even already have the pattern cut out. So I would like to make a set of stays for this wardrobe. My choice of Regency works pretty well for this since a lot of people have talked about using Regency Stays for Renaissance projects before as they aren’t a hundred miles away from the bodices of the period and kind of even look like some items that have been found. So if something similar was possible at the time I don’t think it is too outrageous to imagine that my Byzantine character might have picked up a pair during her stay in Italy. And if I’m planning on making one of these things anyway I would rather just make them and not waste the resources and my time on x number of similar but not quite the same thing.
Obviously, stays are more technically difficult than four different types of unfitted sack dress. So I will need to make at least one mock up. And there are a lot of different parts involved, including boning AND cording because of course there is. Oh and also a tonne of eyelets. In fact, I am already considering leaving out the front eyelets and maybe using hooks and eyes there just to make it easier to get on and off. Any adjustment for size can happen at the back with THOSE eyelets.
So yeah, the stays are the final point on my Better list. I may not get to them. I hope I will, if I want a pair I have to do it sometime so why not now? But the actual outfit should come first, I suppose.
I also need to think about the smaller accessory elements of my costume. Tights/socks, garters, hair pins and ribbons, bags or pockets for carrying things in. And by pockets I mean both modern and historical. At the very least my Dalmatica should have enough structure to be able to hide a couple of pockets in it and you always need pockets at LARP.
For tights and socks I plan on making a long awaited splurge at SnagTights.com, there are some lovely merino wool ones that I think will be delightful. Which should mean I have no need for garters because they will hold themselves up, but well…
You know that gold rayon crochet thread I was talking about getting distracted by? Well I have a garter and a sixth which could be used as ribbons or trim instead if I change my mind. I originally bought the thread to use on the Supernumeral, but I had the image in my head of gold garters against burgundy wool tights and I loved it so I started work at like 4 today and got one of them done at eight. Then I played around trying to figure out how snoods worked for a bit, before knuckling down to get the second one done. Still a bit of a way to go with that, but not a mountain of work there.
I’ve got some historical u-shaped pins coming from Amazon, but there are currently postal strikes in the offing so they could be delayed or turn up in a day or two, it’s hard to tell.
At some point the character briefs will also come out and I will need to write up some notes on that in a notebook or something. At the very least I need to write down the names of her nearest relatives and her backstory so I remember it. Also she’s got some magic powers so I need to get my head around them and the easiest way to do that is to write down what I can do.
That isn’t strictly speaking a costume problem, but I don’t want to stick it in an obviously out of character notebook, which is what I might end up with if I don’t think about it ahead of time, so it gets added to the list.
I think that is pretty much it. I mean, I have tentatively said that I would like to make a second more gothic outfit that fits the lines of Italian Renaissance fashion better, but that is very low on the priority list given the other stuff ahead of it.
But if I do I have black chiffon that I would love to make into a chemise and black satin that would make a VERY dramatic overdress.
I’m not saying that I will get there, but if I do the old brain has a plan.
So yeah, this is the general shape of my current plan. I have about sixty days to do it in, give or take some buffer time for travelling to the LARP and obviously Christmas and New Year. And my birthday. And Burns Night because I’m Scottish.
Also my brother’s girlfriend is coming to visit and I wanted to make her present.
Also, also, I was thinking about maybe using this outfit as an entry for the Foundations Revealed Competition, but that isn’t due until after the LARP so that is definitely Future Kirsty’s problem.
That poor, poor, poor soul.
Right sixty days and counting. And so far I have most of an unbloodied chemise and a garter.
Wish me luck.