Apron Largesse

So I heard there was going to be an interesting sort of Arts and Sciences competition at May Crown.  It’s called a Dirty Dozen Donation Derby (or 4D for short) and the idea is that you make 12 items, usually themed, and after everyone votes for their favorite, the winner gets one of each contestants entries, and the rest goes to largesse stocks for the kingdom or barony.  I am so used to the usual A&S style where you bring in an item that you have done a bunch of research for, and you get to show off your nifty item, maybe chat with people interested in that research, maybe win a neat prize, and then you go home with your nifty item.

The idea of making several things that you then give away after the competition was very novel for me.  I must embarrassingly admit that I had never had an interest in donating largesse before now.  But the contest format gave me motivation, and some parameters to work within, which made it very exciting to work on.  I had to consider several things when deciding what to make:

1.  What can I make 12 of cheaply?

2. What can I make 12 of in two months?

3. What is something isn’t easy for everyone to do themselves?

4. What is something I wish more people used/wore?

While I was pondering these questions, I was finishing up a smocked shift.  I got the pre-pleated shift from a class on smocking I took a few years ago, but as I finished up, I thought that I’d like to do some more smocking.  However, all that pleating seemed like a bore, so I looked into buying a pleater machine on eBay.  After I bought one, I thought of the perfect project to help me get acquainted with my new tool, and get to practice a bunch of different smocking stitches to boot.


It fit all my criteria, 1. Cheap if I make them out of muslin (approximately two dollars of fabric per apron), 2. I could do a foot of smocking on twelve aprons and assemble them in 2 months, 3. many people do not have the time or energy to make decorative aprons for their medieval outfits, and 4. I think aprons are awesome and more people should wear them.

It used to be that my next step at this point would be to collect as many pictures as I could of the relevant item (aprons in this case), and save them to my hard drive.  I would be good at first and properly track the artist, name, and date of the painting I was saving, but inevitably I would get lazy and just start saving them as is.  But now that I have entered the fantastic world of Pinterest, it’s much easier to collect images and still be able to track where they came from for documentation purposes later.  Queue much Pinning at this point.

Noodle has an Apron!

I can haz apron?

Also queue a cute picture of Noodle the stuffed dog wearing an in progress apron.

Honeycomb Apron

I had lots of fun trying out all the various smocking stitches.   I made a few honeycomb style aprons, which are one of the more popular styles in the SCA.  I also tried to diversify the types of aprons I made, in an effort to make acceptable largesse for as wide a group as possible.  I tried to make some that were very early like Mary’s servant (?), The Holkham Bible (Brit. Lib. Add. 47680, fol. 12v), c. 1327-1335.

Zig Zag Smocking

Based on The Holkham Bible, 1327-1335.

I made some that were quite late, like one based off of this Portrait of a One and a Half Year Old Child, by an anonymous artist, 1598 (though the lace I added was not nearly as splendid!).

I even made a few simple short ones intended for men (perhaps to be given to kitchen staff at a feast event?).  Examples here, here, here, and here.

Now, like a goober, I did not get nearly enough pictures.  I meant to put them up on my dress form one by one so I could keep a picture of each, but that didn’t happen.  I did get a few at the event though, where I ended up taking up a whole table for at the Dirty Dozen competition.

Dirty Dozen Largess

Picture by Nidda, the fabulous lady running the competition.

You can sort of see in the picture that I attached little card labels to each apron, containing the usual largesse info like name, Barony, Kingdom, and materials, but I also added the picture that the apron was based off of, and the title, artist, and date of the image.  I guess I still thought of it a little like an A&S competition and had to include a smidge of documentation, even though it was not required for any of the entries.  I figure that whoever ends up with these would appreciate knowing when/where they are from.

The 4D was fun, and there were lots of pretty entries.  I think I might try to hang them up in someway if I were to make a similar entry in the future.

Apron Display

And this is why I had to ask to use someone else’s picture above, all mine came out like this! Nothing but a sea of bright white :P


Lastly, I want to give a link to Larsdatter.com, which is a super fabulous site, and often the first place I go when starting a new project.  I am always so very surprised when I mention it and people do not know what I am talking about.  Don’t be that guy!  Check it out and share with others!

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