making pennons

It was a busy weekend for my SCA household and some of our friends from Black Creek, BC. We gathered in my craft room to produce over 500 fabric pennons to give as “site tokens” at an upcoming SCA event called AT War – a friendly war between the soon-to-be Kingdom of Avacal, and the Principality of Tir Righ, to be held in the Village of Nakusp in the interior of BC, July 27-Aug 3, 2015. And it’s not just a war – we are partnering with the the Nakusp Medieval Society to put on a weekend-long medieval demo for the public!

making pennons

We started with 16 metres each of red and blue broadcloth. Needing 250 pennons in each colour (blue for Tir Righ and red for Avacal), Joan and I had previously calculated that we could get seven pennons out of every 16 inch long section of fabric. The rotary cutter and mat saved hours of time cutting the fabric into sections and then cutting out the pennons. It was pointed out that we didn’t need to trim the sections to be 20″ wide before cutting – the extra would be cut off when we made the first diagonal cut (thank goodness I hadn’t done that step before everyone arrived!)



Joan spent hours at the ironing board prepping the hems, switching off with others at the machines when she needed a break.



Sewing hems.



It took a lot of fiddling to get Kimberley’s serger to do a proper rolled hem, but we were victorious!



Allison preparing the hand-made white cording for the blue pennons. We couldn’t sew all the cords on at this point because the pennons still needed the sizing washed out and I had visions of rat’s nests emerging from the washing machine!


making pennons

After taking a break for spaghetti we worked into the evening.


making pennons

And we were at it again the next morning. Sewing a total of 142 yards of hem is time consuming!


making cord

The cords were all made by John, who hand plied crochet cotton into 250 yards of cording! He rubbed each long loop of string 18 times to twist it before folding it in half, causing it to twist upon itself. He then knotted the ends to keep their twist in the cord and cut them into the proper lengths and knotting the ends of those. After two days of plying cords, he had rubbed all the hair off his wrists!


making pennons

Kimberley serging the sides. We didn’t serge the ends because of our need for a more substantial edge to sew the cords to.


making pennons

256 blue Tir Righ pennons, and one seized serger later (thank goodness oiling it fixed the problem!) we move on to the red ones for Avacal. All in all we would serge 384 yards of edging!



The kids were very supportive of us working hard while they played hard!



Bundling the cut cords in preparation for sewing them on later. The red pennons will require their own cording – 250 yards of yellow. Having had his fill of plying, John will organize another crew to tackle that job!


making pennons

Tricks were established along the way, like sewing the hems in contiguous lengths to keep the corners of the pennons from jamming in the machines.


making pennons

We needed two machines going to finish the hemming before everyone had to go home.


making pennons

At the end of it all there was still a pile of serging to complete. Kimberley took everything that was already serged and said she would finish what I didn’t get done that night.


making pennons

I called it a day for serging and instead tackled weaving in some of the ends while watching a movie with my family.


making pennons

They did finish up nicely.


making pennons

I wanted to surprise Kimberley by having all the serging finished before taking the pennons to her on Tuesday. By 10:30pm on Monday night I was done. I calculated that it had taken me 1.5 minutes to serge each one, which equaled eight hours at the serger for the ones I had worked on (not counting all the time taken up by things not going well!)

On Tuesday morning there were still so many ends to weave in (between the two of us, Kimberley and I would finish 1,536 corners!!!) Thank goodness the kids swam for five hours after their lesson on Tuesday morning. I got the last one done by 5pm and we took them over to Kimberley’s. She was surprised, and very appreciative! She could move right onto washing them and getting them ready for the next steps.

Indeed, even after over 50 hours of work, there’s still lots to do. 250 yards of yellow cords still need to be made, and over 1000 individual cords sewn on by folks in Allison and John’s group up island. Then the pennons are going to Avacal for block printing; a griffin on Avacal’s and a voided star on Tir Righ’s.

It will have been an intense effort, but come July, the sight of hundreds of pennons flying in the medieval encampments at AT War will be a magical thing to behold.

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