I bought myself a birthday present

red brocade

Yummy, isn’t it?

It’s silk, based on a nominally c13th design. I say nominally becuase the motif of two beast within a circle is found far earlier. This is going to be a new c12th Norman dress. My current norman frock, which I’ve had for about ten years or so, is made from a c12th motif wool brocade – it’s the stuff you see behing the brooch here…

norman brooch

(The jewel was one of my early efforts in silversmithing, I tent to wear a larger gold-plated one these days, which is much more ostentatious) The wool is actually pretty great in most weathers, but I fancied something lighter wieght for the occaisinal day of extreme heat that we get from time to time. Ironically the silk, at £43 per metre, was about a third the price of the wool. I do love that wool though, it’s super-authentic, and extremely high status, but kind of understated at the same time.

The silk is now wrapped up and put away, as I’m not going to play with it until next year. I want to make the collar for it first – this year’s daily christmas embroidery will be a collar based on the chancel arch from Adel church, a wonderful norman effort consisting of cannibals eating babies, gurning devils, and peculiar old women in striped headscarves that I intend to reinterpret as a tasteful garment embellishment. It’s goign to be lovely…

I bought this fabric last week at JOhn Lewis in Oxford. (Oh how I miss having a local John lewis…Obviously I’m turning middle clarss in my old age…)

white 1

To be honest it’s been giving me ideas for my own version. There was another one that looked sort of Japanese, consisting of a layer of white over a layer of black with the white cut away and quilted down into flower patterns. I wanted it quite desperately, but it was a bit pricey and I couldn’t think what to make from it. Explaining to Gareth that I simply wanted it in my fabric stash made him inexplicably grumpy and resulted in him dragging me away and threatening to confiscate my wallet.

THis was only £12 per metre though, so I bought a bit cos it was just crying out to be made into a silly little knee length summer skirt. I cut my metre in half and sewed into a double wide length. I didn’t want it too poofy around the waist so instead I started sewing down pleats over the top four inches.

white 2

Two thirds of the pleats are at the back. I decided not to bother with a waist band, but just added a zip and folded the top over – it was quite thick enough because of all the pleats


I put in a lining as the fabric is quite sheer in places. I used one of my good high thread count cotton bed sheets that a certain little furry bastard who shall remain nameless clawed a dirty great hole in some months ago


since I was on a roll I decided to also play with this cashmere shawl I bought a few months ago.


Ideally I would have liked this pattern as a pencil skirt, but it’s far too soft and drapey, so I decided on a simple gathered skirt. The width of it was all wrong though – too short for a long skirt but too long for a short one. I decided to drop the waist by adding a simple balck wool yoke. I didn’t bother shaping the yoke since my intention is to wear this with long shirts and winter jumpers, so only the shawl part of the skirt will show.


I really like the asymetrical pattern. Obviously I’m putting this one away for a few months, as it’s too warm for it right now.

I’ve also started making a black linen shirt, since buying a nice black shirt is even harder than finding a decent white one. I made a pintucked yoke piece, but then I decided to make another pintucked piece as an experiment. There’s probably a name for this, but I don’t know what it is…

black pleat

I absolutely love the effect. It’s a bit Issey Miyake? However, I think it may be a bit fussy on a shirt for me – I have big boobs and tend to avoid anything to fussy as it makes me feel claustrophobic – something about it is saying handbag?

~ by opusanglicanum on June 8, 2013.

20 Responses to “I bought myself a birthday present”

  1. Oh my goodness! Where did you get that silk!?

    • its a place called sartor bohemia, in czechkosovakia, theyre on the web. the lady is ever so helpful. They seem to get one bolt of something and then when it sells they get another colour

  2. You really are on a roll, aren’t you – a really productive week!

    • I’m feeling as though I haven’t done much at all, really. I made the two skirts cos I needed a quick fix after spending everyevening after work procrastinating over the silk underkirtle I’m making for my new c15th (I hate hemming these things, they’re so hard to get straight). I’m having an afternoon in my workshop now, fiddling with bits of wire – I only came in for a glass of juice. Hopefully I will have shiny things soon, cso I’ve got laods to pick up from the assay office next week, and once I get things gold plated there will be bling. Ohyes there will…

  3. Men just don’t understand that she who dies with the most fabric, wins! Lovely stuff. I especially like the black/white skirt. Smashing!

  4. *ack* You do have a way with depleting my pocket money for the next billion years … I must not mention that Czech fabric merchants to my other half…

    Lovely skirts, but I love the pintucks best. You could always use them as a detail elsewhere on the shirt (though I totally understand not wanting froofy material over the bust area).

    • For once I could actually afford it…of course now my boiler will explode or the roof will fall off my house

      I love the pintucks too, which is why I thought bag as it would make a feature of them?

  5. Gorgeous fabric!

  6. That silk is GORGEOUS!!! You really have an excellent eye for fabrics and design. Poor Gareth, but he’s lucky that you actually use your stashes. I mean, it’s not like you collect diamonds and sapphires!

    • erm…actaully gareth doesn’t really know about my gemstone stash for silversmithing(it’s small and easily hidden – rubies and sapphires tho, I don’t like diamonds anyway)

  7. Stunning! Love the silk pattern! I will look for that Czech store! 🙂 x

  8. That top pink silk is really gorgeous. I can’t wait to see the frock. Ax

  9. What a busy and very fruitful week! Your ‘early silversmithing attempt’ is gorgeous, and I love the two skirts, especially the white and black one.

    • Gareth loved the balck and white one too, I wore it for our birthday day out. I made it a bit big though so i need to take it in (big is good on birthdays though – you can eat more cake)

  10. […] and the Greatest | Of a Swallow * The end of the home decor plate assignment | ink. paint. paper * I bought myself a birthday present | opusanglicanum * petrus christus hat, part one | opusanglicanum * Hand made sketchbooks | Amanda […]

  11. […] also been thinking about doing some embroidery to go with the Silk brocade this embroidery was originally intended for, but which it didn’t go with cos it l… and I think I might have to make some teeny weeny cloisonné panels to apply to goldwork and […]

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