Monday, August 24, 2009

Italian renaissance gown update - The bodice

Onto the gown construction, you can see the underpinnings in the earlier blog post.

We were inspired by La Signora Onorata Katerin da Brescia's post on making a similar outfit, however, we morphed into a later period as we went along, more 1560's, something like Laurie Tavan's gown on the Realm of Venus. As this outfit isn't for the SCA or other re-creation event, rather its for a history demonstration and English lesson, so we're happy to create a generic gown of the time, using the painting and others as a style guideline.

We chose a lovely dark green cotton velvet for the outer gown with a lighter cotton for lining. M is an embroiderer and is working on all the trims for the gown and underpinnings. Haven't any photos of these decorative articles as yet.

We used the Corset generator to create the bodice.

Fitting of the toile:

The bodice was made up of three layers, outer fashion fabric, lining and denim to reinforce the bodice. I also boned the bodice using cable ties, we were aiming for smooth, flat front of the late Renaissance period.

Front of the completed bodice

Back of bodice, note the back V point, this is typical of Venetian gowns of the period

Close up of spiral back side lacing, we used the Zen of spiral lacing tutorial to get it right, we also used this for the corset.

Draping of fabric to get an idea of the skirt, the pins look like a jeweled girdle

Onto the sleeves and undergown ---->

Italian renaissance gown update - Underpinnings

Over the winter M and I have been creating her Italian renaissance gown, I posted the start of the project in May under 16th century corset and cheese toasties but haven't done an update since then. We made all the underpinnings first, camica, corset and farthingale:

We used Festive Attyre's Italian camica pattern (the corset M has on in the piccie is mine).

We used the Elizabethan Costume corset generator and rope for boning technique as suggested on the site, it gives a softer line than cable ties.

We made the farthingale using the Renaissance Tailor instructions and interpretation of Juan Alcega's Tailors Pattern Book

Haven't got a picture of the bum roll but you can get the sense of it under the farthingale in this photo:

Onto the making of the Bodice .....>

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hot and spicy Mexican Bean Mix for nachos

Mexican tex mex nachos are a staple in our house and the 'wife' makes a fabulous one, so she is starring in today's blog post. You can contact her @cyclewitch on Twitter. We had the one pictured with Beez Neez honey beer - perfick! (to quote Sid Larkin from The darling buds of May) which we often do in this house.

J-L’s hot and spicy Mexican Bean Mix for nachos


For the chilli beans:
  • one onion - finely chopped
  • fresh coriander root, minced or finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 fresh birdseye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ‘Italian herbs’ (or a mix of parsley, sage and tarragon)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons good quality oil (Preferably olive oil)
  • Two tins (400gms) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin (40 gms) red kidney beans or pinto beans (or around 1 and ½ cups of soaked, pre-cooked kidney beans) – drain and rinse tinned beans before use
  • 1 tin of re-fried bean mix (‘Amy’s’ make a lovely organic one which I use)
  • Tobasco sauce to tastes
  • 1 to 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese


  • 1 to 2 ripe avocadoes
  • 2 medium fresh tomatoes
  • ½ red onion – finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • White wine vinegar
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Pinch of salt and pick of pepper
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves – finely chopped
Sour cream or light sour cream


Bean Mix:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or deep dish frypan, then add chilli flakes, dry herbs, coriander powder and pepper. Fry these dry ingredients for a couple of minutes to get the aromatics going, then add onions, fresh coriander root and fresh chilli and vinegar. Add the salt at this time as well to keep the onions ‘clear’.

Keep frying the mix on medium heat until onions are soft but still clear, not browned, then add refried beans and rinsed beans.

If you like the ‘whole bean’ look, keep the beans whole and mix refried beans into mix first. If you like a smoother, less lumpy mix, crush the whole beans a bit on your hand as you add them.

Mix the beans in and let them heat and fry just a little, then add the tomatoes and mix thoroughly. Taste and decide wether you want more chilli and if so, use tobasco sauce to augment. Adjust the heat up or down to maintain the mix at a simmer until it is the thickness you prefer.

This mix will serve at least 4 people.

Tomato and onion Salsa:
Mix onions, and coriander in a serving bowl and add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Let the onion mix pickle for a few minutes while you make the guacamole and chop the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and mix them in just before serving.

Mix avocado and crushed garlic and salt and pepper with a fork to form a rough paste, then mix in lemon juice. You can keep mixing and crushing with the fork until you have a nice, smooth paste if you prefer. Note that this method only works if your avocado is nice and soft and ripe.

To Serve:
Put a tablespoon or two of the mix in individual shallow bowls (eg: pasta bowls) to just coat the surface, and cover with corn chips (please – not the flavoured ones!). Top with grated cheese and grill until cheese is just turning brown and crispy.

Cover the middle of the cheese coated corn chips with hot bean mix ready to top with Salsas and sour cream.

The same principals can be used for tachos, fajita’s, and enchiladas, or you can serve the bean mix with melted cheese and sour cream as a pre-dinner or cocktail accompanied dip.