Very rarely do we in Northshield get to witness the level of pure costume geekiness as I was privileged to witness this past weekend in my own Barony. The Golden Seamstress competition started, from what I am led to believe, in Atlantia and migrated to the Middle Kingdom about 7 years ago and has since been taken up by Ealdormere and now Northshield. HE Eithni fell in love with the concept and has traveled to the Middle a number of times to compete and finally asked permission to stea...er, continue the concept here in Northshield.
Thus was born the Griffin's Needle Challenge. The Challenge? To create a complete outfit, from the skin out, and so an ideal entry will include undergarments, the outfit, shoes, a hat, and key accessories within a 20 hour period. Some accessories could be prepared ahead of time but all pattern drafting, cutting, sewing and finishing had to be done on site from 10pm Friday evening until 6pm Saturday. Scoring was scaled appropriate to the division (i.e. the level of skill required to obtain a "10" in the Pyxis class is significantly higher than in the novice class). Yes, it is Northshield since we just don't have an advanced category but Pyxis. Teams consisted of as few as two members and as many as six, which could but didn't have to include the model although anyone who did any work on the project at the competition must be counted as part of the team. Laurels in costuming, textile arts, related fields, or "ringers" (i.e. people whose Laurel is in some other field but are known costumers) count as two people on Intermediate, and Pyxis teams which is how the team with Master Gevehard was limited to 5 members (and still completed two full 16 c. Persian outfits).
The teams were the Persian Griffins, winner in the Intermediate category with both male & female outfits completed from fez to shoes. Apprenti and Friends, winner in the Pyxis' Pleasure division, with a magnificent women's 16th c. Russian outfit that included a fur trimmed coat and couched pearl accents on the collar. We've Got a Notion, winner in the beginner divsion, with a 14th c. man's outfit (only 4 on the team and one couldn't even be there until midday on Saturday). The Gilded Lilies of Calontir, Pyxis' Pleasure, with a boy's 14th c. English outfit (and the cutest 10 yo model who could answer questions about the garb he was wearing quite well). Equestrians and Co., Pyxis' Pleasure, who really blew my mind when I saw the range of accessories that they did to go with their woman's 13th c. French outfit (accessories included jewelry, pouch, personal grooming kit including toothpick and ear scoop, veil pins, belt, shoes, and fillet & barbet. Mother-Daughter Mayhem (beginner's division, I believe), which consisted of two lovely ladies--one of which had never been to an event before--who valiently attempted a women's 16th c. Italian outfit and tried to do with two what other teams did with 5 or 6. (My apologies if I got any details about the teams or their projects wrong but if you know me I usually figure that clothing is something that we all have to wear and beyond that the details get muddy.)
My view can be seen by clicking "original article" below.
And one final word about this. A challenge for others to consider. Dame Josceline and I were both spectators this year and neither have a burning desire to actually compete but we are fascinated with the process and would like to encourage it to continue. We decided that we'd both like to be patrons next year and sponsor a team. We'll supply the materials and be the final model for any team that would like to have a patron and we will have a new outfit at the end. So, even if you do not sew or do not like this level of competition, show your support next year by sponsoring a team. Can't you just see your arms now on their warm-up jackets? ;-)
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