So first update is in already!

The first month of the IRCC has FLOWN by so very fast and I have so much going on right now I fell like I shouldn’t really be sewing at all, but I committed to the challenge so I HAVE got to finish it! I would never forgive myself if I were to withdraw!

Anyways here’s my first bits done.

This year I have selected two portraits by Francesco Montemezzano. The first is Portrait of a lady and the second Portrait of a lady with a Squirrel. Both portraits date approximately between 1575 and 1580, and the style of the sottana and chemise are very similar, however the differences between them show one as high court wear and the other as more daytime wear. I really like the idea of being able to take one sottana and chemise set, and dress them in two ways depending on the rest of the accessories and pieces worn with them. So my idea is to do just this. One basic chemise and one basic sottana, and then interchangeable pieces and accessories to make them into two very different looks.

Francesco Montemezzano Portrait of a lady maybe eleonora Gonzaga cica 1590Francesco Montemezzano Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel 1565

The second inspiration for this outfit is the peacock. Without going into horrible details, a number of years ago I went through a not nice time in the SCA and a person said some unkind words to me that included the phrase “just a preening peacock.” Now I was upset at the is but I have worked through it and realised that peacocks are beautiful colours and I have formulated the idea of a peacock gown for about 3 years now. a while ago I bought some gorgeous blue green shot dupion silk and a small piece of blue dupion that toned in with it. This year they are to be the main materials of the sottana. I have also decided to include embroideries of peacocks as decoration on the sottana, and as my hands are difficult at the best of times, I have employed my fantastic embroidery machine to do these to save my hands for the necessary hand sewing parts and not inflict extra pain on myself.
The first layer I have completed for my outfit is a very simple chemise, or camicia.
I selected some lightweight cotton fabric and cotton lace from my stash. The design I used is from
It’s a very simple four piece design, one that I have used many times before. I used cotton tape to insert drawstrings around the neck and wrists.
chemise completed.jpg
I decided to also make a simple pleated underskirt for this outfit. The green fabric was agin selected from my fabric stash, I am not entirely sure of it’s composition but from burn testing it, I think it is most likely a cotton/rayon blend.
I simply cut a length three times my waist and pleated this onto a waist band. The hem has two horizontal tucks to help keep it out from under my feet and also a padded skirt guard to give it weight and protect it.
underskirt completed.jpg
I decided I needed some simple head coverings to wear underneath a hat that I will make at a later date. I browsed through a lot of pictures and websites and came across a reference to the St Brigittas caps. It stated that they may have been worn as late as the 16th century, and the style seemed quite easy to make, and one that may actually stay put on my very slippery head. I took my inspiration from a number of sites but made some minor changes to suit my needs.
I ended up making two, one with a lace insert and one without. I used plain white cotton and some lace, all again from my stash.
I have left the ties loose and not made them into a loop as per the patterns as I felt the need to be able to tie it as tight or loosely as I needed depending on how my hair is done underneath, of course the ties are way too long but this will allow me to trim them up as needed.
I am really happy with both of the cuffia have turned out, they seem quite comfortable, and I think they will do the job quite well.
cuffieas completed.jpg
The outfit will need its own set of jewellery, so I raided my beading stash and found some blue, green and gold beads to make something simple. I made a very quick necklace and some simple drop earrings. I really like how they turned out.
jewellery completed.jpg
I chose some beautiful green/blue shot Dupioni silk from my fabric collection, I have hoarded it long enough, it needs to become the Peacock Gown now.
I began by using a bodice pattern I have from other gowns, I altered it become the open fronted Venetian style, I cut this out in cotton for the lining, 2 layers of denim for the internal structure, and the silk for the external layer.
The denim layers were sewn together to form pockets for the frontal boning I use when making this style of gown. I have used large cable ties for the bones, carefully melting each end of these so they are not left sharp and then cut through the fabric. Once the boning is in the bodice I have sewn both ends of the pockets shut so no boning can escape. I have also sewn a layer of felt wool over the area where the boning is so that these do not show through to the silk layer and gives a lumpy appearance. the wool smoothed the look really well.
bodice with skirt and placade just pinned in place.jpg
I have to admit, I hate gathering, especially silk, and had thought about doing pleats instead but the portraits definitely show gathering. Sigh. They I had a sewing epiphany! I own a smocking pleater which does the cutest teeny tiny gathering. So I tried a small offcut through that machine and was really happy with how fast it was, and the resulting gathers! So I ran the whole skirt through it! Wow such nice gathers and oh so easy! No torturing my hands at all!
I have attached the skirt and am up to hand sewing the internal lining down and finishing around the arm holes. The edges of the bodice again feature slashed binding, I think I am addicted.
I have also started on the first of two placades, for want of a better term, that will be the front panels of this gown. This first one features a toning blue silk with a machine embroidered gold peacock. Like the bodice the placade is make of the four layers, with cable tie boning and the wool felt to hide the ridges. I wish my hands were able to do the embroidery but they can’t so I scoured the internet to find a nice peacock and a nice swirl position under to make the whole design more of a suitable shape for the front. I have also, while all the embroidery attachments were on my machine, found a set of nice peacocks for the sleeve cuffs, and stitched them out in the same gold thread.
I have spent quite some time selected trims for the gown bodice and after many tries have finally settled on the ones I will use, but you will get to see them next month.

Skirt gatheringSkirt gatherspeacock emboidery with added swirlsleeve embroideries

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So another year rolls by and it’s IRCC time again. This year the Peacock Gown!

I have been rather naughty and very lax at updating my blog, but it’s Italian renaissance Costume Challenge time again, and even though my life is very stressful and hectic I just could not refrain from entering again.

So this year it’s The Peacock Gown. I have had this gown formulating in my mind for about 3 years now, it has grown from a very negative start to  a project I am going to have some fun with.

The negative start. A few years again at a major Baronial event in the SCA group I attend, a not so nice thing happened. A person who was obviously not being courteous and chivalric tried to insult me by calling me, “Just a preening peacock who does nothing but walk around as though she’s better than everyone else.”

This hurt me quite deeply at the time, luckily for me I have an awesome mentor whose advice in this situation was, the best revenge is looking awesome. Thus the peacock dress was born. I mean who doesn’t think peacocks are gorgeous!? All those pretty blues and greens!

I came across some blue and green shot silk on a bargain table and it has sat patiently in my fabric stash until I became brave enough to make the gown. This year I think I am brave enough to do it.

The gown will be based up on Portrait of a Lady (maybe Eleonora Gonzaga) by Francesco Montemezzano, ,circa 1590.

Francesco Montemezzano Portrait of a lady maybe eleonora Gonzaga cica 1590

I am embellishing the front of the bodice and the sleeves with gold peacocks embroidered on my clever machine as my hands just aren’t up to doing embroidery right now, but beading will happen as it always does.

I have started construction of this outfit and will post again soon to update on it’s progress.


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my IRCC6 outfit

You can see my full write up and check ins for this years competition here.

I learned a lot this year, and really tried to stretch my abilities a lot.

I am really proud of the red over gown that I drafted from Fransico de la Rocha de Burguen’s Geometic y Traca Perteneciente. It was such a simple pattern that I was unsure if it would work but the result is so comfortable and the lines are just so nice I love it. I can see it being made again and again.


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IRCC6 sneaky peak of the final completed outfit

IRCC6august 2016 034

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About me and my SCA life


SCA life and times of

Mandy L’Estrelle


The Honourable Lady Ydeneya de Baillencourt

Name: Ydeneya de Baillencourt

registered with the Lochac College of Herald in October 2008


Purpure, a unicorn couchant and on a chief argent, five mascles vert.

Registered with the Lochac College of Heralds in August 2011

Persona Story:

I was born in the middle of the 16h century in France, near the Abbey of Messines.

My father, Pierre, being the youngest son of a noble family, had little fortune and so became a merchant trader. On one of his many trips to England he met a young Yorkshire lass named Ydeneya Wills, whom he fell in love with and married. He brought her back to live in Messines.

I was born a goodly time later and my father named me for my mother who unfortunately did not survive long after my birth. Sadly when I was still quite young my father also died whilst on one of his trading expeditions, and I was sent by my aunt Jeanne, who was the abbess of Messines, to live with her distant cousin Guido in Florence Italy.

My cousin was quite a wealthy man, although his character may not be quite reputable, but I have had the fortune to be introduced into the Doges court and enjoy all the quality of life therein.

I am fortunate that my dear father and uncle have left me quite prosperous, with villas in both Venice and Florence, so I spend my time where I wish, and with little inducements to marry, I run my own household, however I do favour to spend some of my time with a gentleman of good character and suitable rank, Lord Hadrian de Listrille.


My Sca life began with the discovery of the SCA at the Perth Medieval Faire in 2006, I began participating with the formation of the Shire of Dragon’s Bay, in 2007 where I was on the council as Reeve and Chatelaine.

In 2009 to widen our horizons we moved our participation to the then Canton of Abertridwr, where again I served as Chatelaine then Reeve. As the canton was part of the Barony of Aneala, many of the events were baronial.

House Annwn was created by myself and two other ladies, Lady Rosamond de Montfort and Lady Rosalind de Peregrine (sadly Lady Rosalind has since left the household)as a result of regular sewing get togethers, when I had the crazy idea that we should become a household. I researched and came across the name Annwn.

The name Annwn is taken from “Preiddeu Annwn” a cryptic early Welsh poem of sixty lines from the “Book of Taliesin”. The text recounts an expedition of King Arthur to Annwn, the Welsh other world, a world of delights and eternal youth where disease is absent and food is ever abundant.

This description was accepted as very appropriate for our household.

The household motto originally chosen was “subsisto somnium” which translates loosely as “stop the nonsense”. It relates to encouraging household members to not become embroiled in the disagreements that can bring the game into a bad state. There has been some discussion recently to change this motto to something more fitting along the lines of “contagiosus est precario” which translates as “Courtesy is Contagious”.

House Annwn

Since 2011 I have been official Head of House Annwn, and this entails trying to give direction and purpose to our household, by running events as a household and encouraging each other with our goals and aspirations. The household has expanded to hold about 15 members.

Recognition and Awards:

In the Kingdom of Lochac:

Award of Arms

given by Berenger I and Bethan I,

on 5 July 2008,

at Lochac Midwinter Coronation

Order of the Golden Tear

given by Gabriel II and Constanzia II,

on 6 June 2011,

at Pencampwr

Royal Cypher

given by Gabriel II and Constanzia II,

on 2 July 2011,

at Midwinter Coronation

Order of the Star and Lily

given by Alfar III and Angharat I,

on 10 May 2014,

at May Crown Tourney AS XLIX

Order of the Silver Pegasus

given by Steffan and Branwen

on 27 September 2015,

at Anealan Baronial Championship

Order of the Prometheus

given by Gilbert and Bethony

on 20 January 2016

at Canterbury Faire

Order of the Cockatrice

given by Ariston and Lilavati

on 19 January 2017

at Canterbury Faire

In the Barony of Aneala:

Order of the Golden Swan

Given By: Lachlahn and Jane

On: 25/07/2009

Order of the Demi-sun

Given By: Branwen and Kilic

On: 26/09/2010

Baronesses favour

Given By: Branwen

On: 27/9/2011

Other achievements:

2010: Arobryn of Abertridwr

The Arobryn is the A&S Champion of Abertridwr. The Arobryn must to be able to demonstrate skills in a variety of different areas in the arts and sciences. It is therefore not enough to simply excel at one type of skill but to demonstrate excellence across at least 3 separate areas. I entered a cornucopia made from pastry, a painted pavise and an Italian style gown.

2014: Aneala Baronial Arts and Sciences Champion

This championship is held over the period of 12 months, and artisans must have entered a minimum of 3 pieces over that period to be considered.

2014: Kingdom of Lochac Arts and Sciences Champion

The Arts and Sciences Champion of Lochac is the gentle with the highest accumulated score over a year of Kingdom A&S Competitions from May Crown to Twelfth Night.

Involvement in the SCA:


25-26 Jun 2016

AUTOCRAT The Inaugural Golden thimble competition Aneala

21 May 2016

AUTOCRAT May in the Bay Royal visit

June 2015

A&S co-ordinator and teacher

Pencampwr XXI June 2014

A&S teacher

May 2014 May Crown,

Hall steward, lunch feastocrat

March 2014

Autocrat Ull’s Arrow

September 2013 27th-30th – Anealan Championship Weekend at Balingup


July 2013 Saturday 20th –

Not As It Seems Feast Hall steward

June 2013 Weekend 31st – 3rd June – PENCAMPWR IX

kitchen duties

January 2013 Sunday 13th – onwards

Autocrat Costuming Workshop (an 8 week course)

June 2012 Weekend 1st-4th –

PENCAMPWR VIII Kitchen duties

December 2011 Sunday 4th –

Toys For Tots co-autocrat

October 2011 Sunday 9th –

Arabian Nights Autocrat

March 2011 Sunday 13th –

Queens Guard Challenge Constable

December 2010 Sunday 12th –

Toys For Tots sub Autocrat

November 2010 Weekend 5th-7th – Lochac Crown Tourney – hosted by Aneala


June 2010 Weekend 4th-7th PENCAMPWR VI

Autocrating team member

December 2008 Yule feast

Autocrat and Hall steward

August 2009 Sunday 9th – Newcomers Collegia


June 15th-16th – Sausage Sizzle at Bunning’s O’Connor

team member


Sunday 9th – Dragon’s Bay Inaugural Archery Day

list keeper

My Interests in the SCA:

I have a great range of interests in the arts and sciences. I love to paint and have been designing and painting scrolls as part og the College of scribes. Costuming is my greatest passion and I am working on improving my skills in pattern drafting and construction methods, mainly in the area of late 16th century Italian garb but I also dabble in other times and cultures as the mood takes me. I make jewellery and allt he accessories to go with the garb as well. I sometimes have a go at archery and might one day get brave enough to try some rapier, if I can get my health issues under control enough.

The Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge:

I have entered this challenge each year for the six years it has been run by The Realm of Venus website. It is a four month long challenge to create a complete outfit including underwear and accessories. I have learned an incredible amount through participating in this challenge, through researching and construction. I push myself every year to try something new and to make the outfit better than the previous years. It has almost motivated me to accumulate a good library of resource books and websites to continue to grow my knowledge and skills.

Each year my placings in the overall points tally has improved and in 2015 I placed second overall.

In 2016 I was the Overall winner and also won the Best Historically Accurate Design and Best Historically Accurate Construction.

In the last 3 years I have also mentored  a number of other participants who successfully completed the challenge, it was wonderful to help them and encourage them and see them happy with their final results.

I look forward to taking part again if the challenge continues to be run.


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So what to sew next?

I have so many ideas I just don’t know where to start! Perhaps by tidying up my sewing room would be a good idea as it is kind of trashed after the IRCC and then championship sewing.

Anyways watch this space, I will be starting on my next sewing adventure very soon, and I promise to try to keep this blog moving along.

I did make something since the IRCC. A black saio for my beloved husband. It was the first one of it’s kind, a prototype you might say. He loves it and says it’s very comfortable, so the design only needs minor tweaking. Below is a picture of him in it escorting me into court, I think he looks rather smashing in it 🙂


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Let all the fabrics be free from persecution!

I often see many articles or blog posts telling costumers that they MUST use natural fibre fabrics. Well OK that’s really nice BUT….not necessarily true.

I love using silk and thanks to a wonderful husband who works extreme hours to earn us a good living I am able to afford to buy silk whenever I need it, however this was not always the case and I am still very reticent to always use silk because it is expensive.

I often find exquisite colours and patterns that are entirely suitable for my main interest area in costuming, the Italian Renaissance, but they are often polyester blends, so do I buy them and use them? Yes I do and I always will. Why? Because let’s face it, no fabric produced today is 100% historically accurate anyway, even the silks, wools and cotton are different as genetic changes in the animals and plants that produce the products have changed the fibres, and the way they are spun and woven are different to earlier practices. But what about the ever-so-hated man made fabrics like rayon and poly blends? Why do I use them? Well basically I am really not precious about my garb, I love to make things that are inspired by the portraits I see, and I will try my best to make them in almost period techniques, well hey I do use my sewing machine because of my shonky hands, but hand finishing is done as much as possible. Many fabrics in my stash are polyester, and they will become gowns or other garb at some stage. I won’t try to say to anyone, hey that’s silk! When it obviously isn’t, and I am well aware of the fire risks involved, and will make sure I stay well away from naked flames when wearing such fabrics.

Another reason I will use them is because  they are substantially cheaper than the natural fibres. My costuming is a learning process. Each piece is a lesson to me personally, and I will tweak and change the process for each piece as I learn. If i am trying a whole new pattern, I am more likely to try it out on my inexpensive polyester or blend fabrics than reaching straight for my silks. I don’t make what many call “muslins”, making a piece out of calico or similar just to test the pattern out. I make walking trials i.e. I will complete the piece and wear it a few times to events just to see how it goes and wears, if I am not happy with it I will either alter it or sell it off  and start working on another piece with the lesson I have learned from it. I would find it to be very wasteful to use the expensive fabrics when I am not confident I am going to get the piece right and use it many times. I have done this is the past and now find it sad that I wasted such pretty fabrics, many of these pieces are in my “to be fixed” pile.

On a note about linen and wool. I am contact sensitive to both these fibres. If I wear them directly touching my skin I soon develop a lovely red rash of hives and start itching. Thankfully I can tolerate cotton/linen blend and cotton, so my underpinnings are made from these fabrics. I don’t use a lot of linen but do have a couple of gowns that are linen, and I am just careful not to put it where it can touch my skin too much. Also this is a good thing because the cotton/linen bland and cotton fabrics are generally substantially cheaper than the linen, however I have had many comments regarding my chemises not being linen by the more purist costumers, but once I explain about my allergy most seem content with that reasoning. Wool I can only use as top most garments such as cloaks, so I have few woolen items, and I tend to overheat easily and these few items rarely get used anyhow.

So my advice to anyone out there who may read this. If you are a starting out costumer, or someone just sewing for enjoyment, use what you can afford and what you like, if anyone approaches you to criticize your choices, ask them about their early garb. Was it all pure fibres? Was it all perfectly tailored? Or even better still ignore the negativity and ENJOY your costuming! Have fun with it! Not historically accurate? Oh well, does it really need to be? If so, then well you’ll have to go down that wicked windy path of deciding on which expensive fabric to use, and whether or not to machine sew. But if you are just having fun wearing pretty garb, and enjoying yourself. then LET ALL THE FABRICS FREE no matter what their content might be.

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