Esmeralda Goes to Ren Fest, or channeling my inner Maureen O’Hara

It happened that the theme for Labor Day weekend at MNRF was Silk Road (“Discover the Riches!”) this year, which meant gypsies and belly dancers and lots of pirates in jingle scarves.  It also included a Longbow competition which seemed an odd addition to a Middle Eastern weekend, but this is brought to you by the same folks who have a Barbecue Competition on High Seas Weekend (which is also Motorcycle weekend?), so who knows.  Last year there was a “Green” or eco-friendly weekend that included a 5K.  All of which was of course widely celebrated in the Renaissance.  (insert the sound of my head hitting my desk, over and over…)

Because I had nothing to wear (of course) that corresponded with the weekend and because my wardrobe is starting to look A)sparse and B)mostly noblesque, I really needed to make something new.  Particularly since everyone else I knew was wearing ghawazee coats and jingly bras and hair falls and all kinds of crazy, historically inaccurate festiveness.

Since my stomach is not going to see the light of day until an Angel comes down from heaven and gives me Janet Jackson’s abs (, I needed some sort of cover for it.  Thus I looked over my older patterns from the Big Three in search of something suitably gypsy.  Since there was going to be very little historically accurate about this outfit, I figured I would go nuts.  As much color as possible was the plan of the day.

I decided that I needed to cut into my cloth of gold that El Jefe brought me back from India.  Since I have 13.5 metres, I figured that sacrificing 3/4 yard would be ok.  Turns out the stuff hardly frays at all, sews like a dream, presses beautifully, was so easy to sew and looked great.  LOVE it.  I want to give a yard to everyone to see what they would do with it.  It certainly made an excellent bodice.  I went with the front of this pattern (, from the large photo.  The back was the back of my Liesl pattern, modified to fit the wider shoulders.  As it is I had to take in 2 inches in the back.  I will likely need to take in more under the armpits too.   I also sewed 2 d-rings on one side and attached a small leather purse so I wouldn’t have to wear a belt.  The chemise was a modified version of my basic raglan shoulder wench chemise pattern with a curved sleeve hem.  I rolled the edges of the opening and used elastic in the sleeves and a ribbon drawstring in the top.

For the skirts I took the red skirt I wore last year for pirate weekend and removed the sewing channels and the Cheap Chick cut off 7 inches of the bottom, making two 3.5 inch strips that I ruffled using my AWESOME ruffler foot.  I sewed it back on, and added the dangly trim.  The overskirt was 4.5 yards of the silk taffeta from India and the Chick and I did roughly the same to it that was done to the red skirt.  I added a gold braided trim to the bottom of the ruffle for some added bling.  I also serged the edges of a fine piece of silk chiffon that I had sitting around for my headscarf.  Add in my crazy big hair fall from Lacey Wigs, my black jingle coin scarf, jewelry from JCPenney’s, Claires and assorted thrift stores and a goblet that was given to me by a Posse member, and I was bright AND shiny.

After I put the entire outfit on it occured to me that A) I looked like a red-headed Esmeralda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame and B) I had somehow managed to recreate a version of an outfit Maureen O’Hara wore in one of her swashbuckling movies.  All I know is that I had a tremendously fun time, everyone loved the crazy hair and I have never inhaled so much dust in my life.  I haven’t felt that filthy since I was in the Army and crawled through mud.  Yikes.

Here is the end result!

In front of the Friends of Fair glade.

The Chick and I in our jingly finery.

Photobombed by the Bust Dusters.  They will dust your bosom and sprinkle you with glitter.  However, you can pay them off to prevent being glittered for the season and they will do a stealth glitter bombing of your choice.  I am saving mine up for a special person…

Some of the Posse representing at Fest.  MamaRox and her sister Chum were out with their progeny that day.  Pictured above are the Cheap Chick, myself, Spammaggie (NO ONE was looking at us when she was around), our very own Roller Girl Maven, and Danger Kitty aka Ophelia Jib the pirate.

And my favorite photo.  The Chick and I have a running joke that the wench wear often seen at renaissance festivals looks straight out of a 1970’s Fleetwood Mac concert, and when we saw this booth it just seemed like fate.  Who doesn’t want to “ring like a bell through the night?”

I kind of love this outfit.  If I don’t lose any more weight I am going to keep it, I love it so much.  Spammaggie is eyeing it, though.  It helps to be close in size to the person making the costumes….

I might need a crystal ball, though.

5 thoughts on “Esmeralda Goes to Ren Fest, or channeling my inner Maureen O’Hara

  1. Renee says:

    I wish I had been there in person because you look FABULOUS in the pictures I’ve seen! I must see that bodice up close in person.

  2. Matti says:

    So, I am impressed that you managed to make the front of that pattern work. i tried once, and gave it up as a bad job. Hints, please o please?

    • Laura says:

      I used the underbust portions rather than the overbust portions as I knew the overbust wouldn’t work on my shape. I made the rest of the bodice first and then mocked up the underbust pieces and judged how tall they needed to be to sit properly under my bust. I also discovered that a properly fitting and tight bra made a huge difference. Good luck!

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