Thursday, January 31, 2013

Is it period Garb? Child's long sleeved Tunic

Item- Child's green long sleeved T-Tunic with key hole neck line
Materials- Body - 1 yd x 45" 100% printed cotton
                            Facing- 30" x 14" 100% cotton hand dyed
                            Thread- 100% poly
                            Button- 1 1/2" wood button
                            Button loop- Braided 100% cotton embroidery thread
Time to complete - 15 hours
Cost- Approximately $3.00

So I have finished my son's long sleeved tunic. First I started with one yard of a pre-washed clearance Christmas cotton that was left over from another project. The cotton is printed with a forest green and gold scroll pattern. The cotton was cut into the same pieces as extant tunics, and art work from the earlier medieval period through out Europe. Rectangular front (with key hole) and back, slightly tapered sleeves, four triangular gores (two of which are split in half), and two under arm gussets. I used one of my son's large T-shirts for initial measurements, and added several inches to the hem, and made the body and sleeves 3 inches wider to leave plenty of room for seams and growth. Due to the shape of the fabric, the gores were cut out cross grain to the sleeves and body, fortunately the pattern is small and busy enough that the change in orientation of the pattern is not noticeable.

Everything on this tunic is hand sewn. The tread was a gold poly thread in my stash, which matched the gold in the pattern. I used a running stitch with about 8 stitches to the inch, and a back stitch about every inch and a half. Afterwards the seam allowances were folded over to encase the raw edges, and the whipped stitched down. This was done for every seam. The hem and the cuffs were only folded over a few times to encase the raw edges and to take up some extra fabric, then whipped stitched down, with about 5 stitches per inch. I decided not to include the front or back gores, so there are only gores in the side seams of the garment. I actually kept track of the time it took me to create this item. It took 2 hours of casually sewing (ie.. while watching netflix) to complete one sleeve! All in all it took 12 hours of sewing to complete the garment excluding the facing. Although I am sure that it could have shaved a few hours off if it had my whole concentration.

After the body was sewn my son and I searched through my stash for another cotton for the facing. The bit of hand dyed yellow is what he finally decided on. Again I used my running stitch, fold over allowances and whip stitch it down technique. After the boy tried it on and ran around the house we decided that the key hole needed to close, so I braided a short length of embroidery thread to create a loop, and found a small wooden button and sewed them onto the top of the key hole. The pictures above show some detail and are a bit closer to the color than the photos taken with the flash, also excuse the wrinkles.

Notes, Thoughts, Observations-

Tips for new hand sewers-
Having decent light and a comfortable position with hand sewing is key. I found that having the garment on top of a pillow on my lap helps to keep my neck from straining, and my eyes from going cross eyed. Take a break every once in a while! Also pins are your friend, and make sure your fabric is taunt when stitching down the seam allowances, other wise your fabric can twist, pull or bunch. Make sure your stitches are even and are closer than the length of the seam allowance, and at least 1/4 inch away from the edge other wise it may pull through and unravel. Finish your seams, even if you have tiny stitches, finishing your seam will make your garment strong. The hand sewn finished seams I have found to be stronger than machine sewn seams.

Thoughts on sewing for children in the medieval times-
This small simple project took me a total of 15 hours to complete, including cutting, sewing, pining, and fittings on the boy. As I said I was sewing this casually, but with my full attention it would probably been closer to 10 or 11 hours. I can't imagine though how a medieval person at home with children would have been able to possibly give their full attention to a sewing project. Granted they would haven been quicker because of practice, but even still one simple garment for a child would take a day or two to complete. Now imagine if you had 3 or 5 children who grew like weeds, and needed to wear these items everyday, not just for a weekend here and there!!! It definitely gives me greater insight as to why young children were clothed in dresses, and many artwork depicts boys in simple baggy tunics without undergarments. Hand-me-downs would be essential.

This is baggy on the boy. It is made to grow into. The bottom hem and cuffs can be let out two inches, and the body is quite roomy, and the neck is big. The undershirts I will make will have a square neckline to make sure his neck stays warm in nasty weather.

Things I would do differently-
I should have decided what fabric to use for the facing before I had the body sewn together. It would have been much easier to line up the fabric and sew it on when it lies flat. I also should have ironed both of them before hand. Because I didn't do these two things, I had to put a few tucks into the facing to get it to lay right. Ironing the seam allowance would have helped them stay in place while sewing. Also I wish the fabric could have been a bit longer so I could have had all the pieces with the same grain and have the patterns line up. I am debating about running some ties through the cuffs to keep the garment from covering his hands...

Child being a goof ball in finished tunic
What is Period About it-
The cut and construction- (aside from the gores being cross grained) All of the seams have been hand sewn and finished in ways that have been used in period. The garment is constructed like extent T-Tunics. The fit- Artwork depicts many children in baggier clothing, plus the knee length is commonly seen on adults as well as children.

What is Not period about it-
The Fabrics and thread. Cotton was rare in early Medieval Europe. There are few examples of cotton shirts, but it is very uncommon and expensive, and when it was found, from what I can tell by my research  it was white when it was found. (although I could be mistaken). This tunic if it was medieval would have most likely been linen (silk being easily ruined). Any pattern would have either been woven into the fabric or embroidered. The fabric was also wider than medieval looms, so the placement of the pattern on the fabric would have been different. Poly thread was unheard of, so it would haven been linen thread also. Also as I mentioned above, the gores are cross grained. Nor am I sure a button closure is period either.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A New Wardrobe for the Child

Have I ever mentioned that my child is a bean pole?? He has this habit growing. It always starts with bouts of eating everything in sight for a period of 3 to 5 months, then he grows 3 or 4 inches taller, but manages to get even skinnier in as many months. Then over the next year and a half he slowly fills out his frame, while barely growing an inch. By the time his waist finally fits his pants, the process starts over, then his belly and ankles are showing again in a blink. 

Sigh.... Due to this growing habit my child only has one pair of semi SCA worthy pants. (yep the plaid PJ's in the last post) He had very few period pants to start with, since we choose to use some snug fitting pjs as mock hose for the last couple of years, and with the hard use they not only do not fit but have disinigrated. He has one red tunic that fits, (the rest were made over two years ago and are unrepairable, and the favored link outfit now is owned by a Mr. Teddy) plus two hand-me-downs tunics from my kid brother in which he drowns in. My brother is stout and rotund to say the least, so even the fit is awkward for my son. Luckily he still has a couple of mantels and hoods that still fit.  

I could try and modify the cotehardie and pants I made him with left over fabric, but the crushed velvet is jarring to my senses, plus the boy says he prefers the simpler viking style tunics. I am trying to get his wardrobe a bit more period. I may still modify the outfit, since it does match his hood and mantle. The pants will be a simple fix, but it is not a priority.

So the pile of fabrics on the right will be the boy's new medieval wardrobe. Most of the fabrics average about a yard and are left overs from other projects. Most are cotton, with the exception of the apple green and the brown linen blends (which I got for a steal for about $3.40/yd), and the grey woolen, which was a $1.50 thrift store find. So I estimate this to be about a $12 pile of fabric. I know it doesn't look like much at the moment, but let me explain what is going on here.          

The grey woolen at the back will be a "gypsy vest", it will be lined and trimmed with the red cotton, with frog closures. Eventually I will embroider it, I am thinking some eastern style floral along the trim, and larger Chinese dragons on the body as requested by the boy.

The apple green fabric is a 60/40 linen rayon blend, and will become a nicer T-tunic. I am planing a key hole neck with a closure, elbow length sleeves, and a hem that falls just above the knees. It will be embroidered with trim around the hem, neck, and sleeves. My embroidery pattern sketch is at the left, consisting of gold rampant dragons alternating with blue/green parti-colored shields with gold triforces, both lined in red inside white medallions with some additional red and gold work surrounding them.

The green cotton with the gold scroll design will also be a tunic. This one will be long sleeved, with possibly a squared neckline as show in the Thorsbjerg find undershirt shown above right, otherwise it will be a key hole. The hem will fall just above the knees, and the body will be sightly less full. Both the sleeves and neck will be trimmed with something I have in my stash, not sure exactly what yet. On the left is a sketch of how the two tunic layers would work together. Sorry about the fuzzy pics, camera didn't want to cooperate.

The last two fabrics, the yellow striped cotton and the brown 60/40 linen/rayon will both becoming Thorsberg pants.

Aside from the fabrics pictured I also have some undyed cotton muslin, and some white linen blend fabric from my given to me stash, that will become facings, embroidery base, and a couple of Thorsbjerg under tunics. I also have a yard left over a of very fine not quite opaque airy apple green linen/cotton, which I may use for him, but I am debating this, I am not sure it would hold up to an 8 year old boy. All of these items will be made a few sizes big for the boy, with extra hemmed into the wrists, ankles and side seams, so as to last a few years. I am also planning on hand sewing most of the garments since I currently have the time to do so.

 At some point I think I will need to make another pair of pants to round out his wardrobe. But aside from that once these items are completed the boy will have a versatile wardrobe that will easily last for a 3-day camping event, and even sit at a feast, or demo (court is a long shot) without looking like a complete urchin.


Thorsbjerg Viking trousers pattern

Middle eastern pants
So lets talk about medieval pants. They did exist. There have been several extent pairs of men's trousers discovered in viking and bog finds. See more info and resources here. The maroon pair of trousers that I made for my husband are loosely based on the Torsbjerg trousers. They do not have quite as many gores and or gussets. These pants are also borrow some middle eastern elements  (since my husband has a middle eastern persona). They are baggy in the waist and are tighter in the lower calves, and are closed with a drawstring. So they are a cross between the two. 

The pants also have a pocket (at husband insistence). The pocket has been hidden into the seem on the side. It has also been attached to the waist, so that with the slight bagginess my husband can hid items without it being and obvious pocket. Especially since most of his kaftans will cover it.  (** Note to self-  make slits in kaftans to reach said pocket.**)
These pants are made out of reclaimed curtains. The fabric is light and airy with a hint of a sheen and perfect for hot weather. Judging by a burn test it appears to be a natural fabric. I am guessing  a linen or cotton mixed with rayon due to the sheen. All of the seams have been hand sewn except for the original selvedges on the inside of the waist band and the pocket. The seams were all sewn with a running stitch, with a back stitch about every inch. then the raw edges were folded over and tacked down with running/back stitches, with a few whip stitches around the pocket.

Since the curtains were given to me by family, the thread some poly/cotton blend out of my stash, and the drawstring a shoe lace removed from a pair of shoes, this pair of pants cost me nothing to make except time. All in all these only took about 5 hours from cutting to finished pants.

 On another note; my son is a bean pole, as such many of his pants have recently become high waters, but otherwise fit him. Several of them have been trimmed to become next years shorts. My son loves his sweatpants and PJ's. One of which pictured on the left was one of his favorites to take to events. (yes I know plaid pj bottoms are cheating, but they are also cheap, easy, and don't take up time to sew for him to grow out of before a blink of an eye, when I was swamped, yadda, yadda... But that will soon change) So I let the hem out, took some scrap felt that was the same weight and softness as the pj's and extended the legs 3 inches. The hem is very deep so can even be let out another two or three inches.

They boy had received some other pj's that fit for his birthday and holidays, so these pants are becoming a permanent SCA garb item. Since these were hand-me-downs to start with these were again a free pair of pants for the garb bag.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Illumanu website

Oh my gods!!! Manuscript heaven. I have just spent way to many hours lost in this website.

It has become on of my favorites. It has page after page of manuscript artwork. Everything is sourced, dated and tagged with the elements in the artwork whenever possible. Most art is 14th or 15th century from Fance, or England, with some 16th century, italian, netherlands, and swiss and a few other countries...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Past year's progress with sewing

See this list??? It is over a year old. the stuff in yellow is the stuff I have completed in the last year. green are new notes, red things that are no longer needed. 

 List of stuff  to do over the winter.- Dec 1211
  • Fix bodices on blue cotte, red kirtle, and an underdress. Red kirtle still has enough give in it
  • Finish green kirtle, sleeveless kirtle, and pin on sleeves. Create side back lacing on sleeveless??
  • Line son's wool cloak, make an undershirt, and finish gray t-tunic. Grey tunic scaped 
  • Sew tent
  • Finish husband's Middle Eastern coat. Redo frogs on kaftan, and an undershirt. Coat just needs trim
  • A pair of hose or two for myself.
Stuff to do at a later date
  • Redo waist band on gypsy skirt, and make a matching choli. Fix choli
  • Make son a gypsy vest, another shirt, and pants. green linen shirt, and brown linen pants
  • Another apron, smock and underdress
  • Cut lining for fancy purple kirtle, sew it, then embroder it.
  • Make striped Kaftan for husband - Striped fabric make into vest thingy, purple print into kaftan
Things I should do or wanted to do but need materials
  • A hood and pants for my son. Redyed husband's old hood for him
  • A long sleeved under shirt and pants for my husband. - Have all the materials now
  • Gold patterned cotte once I can afford buttons.- Have buttons
  • A Hennin, and a red or black hood. 
  • A couple pairs of gloves for myself.
  • A gray fur lining to make a cloak/mantle from a red/purple woolen material I have.

So even though I did not get everything done on my list before last years camping season I did accomplish a lot.  The big major project was the tent.  My husband and I were able to make due with the items we already had for the few events we went to, and my son still fit into most of his items. Plus I was able to acquire many of the things that were preventing me from completing garb. So what follows is my new list 

Garb stuff  to do  Jan 2013

For Camping Season
  • Boy- Green linen tunic, brown linen pants, Gypsy vest, undershirt, Line wool mantel, another pants?
  • Husband- Trim coat, Striped vest thingy or Purple patterned light kaftan, Undershirt
  • Myself- Repair Choli, hem veil, find/make veil straps, fix gores on purple wool kirtle
    • Make smock and linen underdress,
    • Modify- backlacing on mauve/plaid kirtle? Sideless surcoats from given garb
  • Roommate- Tan/white striped pants, red pants, lt blue linen tunic, tan linen tunic, lined mantel
Later date/unpressing stuff- materials already mostly on hand
  • Boy - New court garb (Turquoise tunic perhaps or add to velvet outfit) 
    • more pants, and undershirts/tunics
  • Husband- Striped vest thingy or Purple patterned light kaftan, another kaftan or two, extra undershirt, head coverings
  • Myself- linen hose and gloves, Hennin, Black shaped hood, liliprei? another apron...
    • Fix seams on fur Burgundian, Finish seams on woven Burgundian. 
    • Adjust neckline on blue/brown cotte. V neck to curved
    • Fancy embroidered purple linen blend kirtle lined with sage (reversible or parti colored?)
    • Gold linen cotte with brown buttons
    • Fancy Turquoise linen cotte- with tippets and buttons
  • Roommate - Court tunic and pants from cotton satin. Dk blue cotton tunic and pants, wool plain tunic, hood, leg wraps
Materials needed 
  • Gray fur for red mantel
  • Silks, velvets, linens, and trims for fancy garb
It seem as if I have a whole lot more projects for myself, which is partly true, but part of it is my persona having at any one time 2 to three visible layers plus an underdress or smock. I do a lot of camp cooking besides a fire, so need garb that is not fancy for camp along with fancier garb for court because several somebodies decided it was a good thing to make me a lady. Hee hee.... Where as the boy husband and roomie have less layers, nor do they fight, cook, forge or do other activities requiring a separate set of garb. well the boy is an exception, hence he has one fancy set of garb. Not to mention I just like to sew, and find it easier to envision garb for myself, and I had more opportunity to go to events in the past. A lot of my current garb that was a bit nicer I will now be using as camp garb and removing some of my earlier attempts with synthetic materials.

If I am able to accomplish all this stuff on my list I will be able to remove much of my starter garb (which in my own opinion is somewhat horrible) from my wardrobe, and still have a distinct set of camp garb that is comfy  plausibly authentic, but not a big deal if ruined. And as things wear out I will Hopefully be able to replace them with better materials, and more skillfully made items....

Getting back into the swing of things

So It has been while since I posted. Mundane life seemed to get in the way. Not long after my last post I returned to school for my last semester. I have since, not in any specific order; Graduated, took in a neglected pit and found a new home for said chicken killing but otherwise well behaved dog, was offered and revoked a really good job halfway across the state, Made several 8+ hour round trips to find housing for said job, half packed and then unpacked my household. The husband was laid off and in laws offered to help financially and then revoked. Took in a roommate, so lost my office/sewing room. Had several infections early in the semester, and currently pertussis, with no help from antibiotics due to allergies. All while trying to take care of the homestead, home/virtual schooling my son (who skipped over 3rd grade) and searching for a job.

Whew!!! I will be glad when the mundane in my life works all the kinks out.

Despite all that I haven't been completely unproductive in regard to everything related to sewing and garb.

I did do a commission project (a fantasy tunic, jerkin and wizard's cloak) for a gentleman. The fabrics were natural high quality materials, and were a joy to work with, and the gentleman was pleased with the results.

I have learned how to shear, wash and comb wool. I even tried my hand at spinning, but at the moment I require a drop spindle of my own.

I learned how to knit, the hat my son is wearing is one of my first projects. I also have made a couple of scarves and experimented with different lace knitting patterns. The next item I want to tackle are some socks...

I have hand sewn a pair of pants for my husband in a light weight maroon colored fabric recycled from some linen/cotton curtains. They are slimmer and made with a crotch gusset like many early examples of mens' trousers, but still have a drawstring, and have a pocket hidden into the side seam (hubby's request). But unfortunately they are MIA for a picture. I also have cut out another couple pairs of pants for our roommate who is also a SCAdian, but has very little garb. These will be machine sewn, but all visible stitching will be hand sewn. One will be from the same red fabric as my husband's pair, the other a stripped tan/white cotton to match the shirt I made him earlier in the year.

I have also been working on middle eastern style coat for my husband. It is pictured on the left. It is a gold/green pattern acrylic that resembles silk woven with gold. the picture doesn't do it justice. Better pics to come in the future. It is lined in a soft white cotton and the hems and inside seams will be trimmed with a hand dyed bright pink cotton. The coat itself has wrist length sleeves, and the hem will rest near his knees. Most of this garment is machine sewn, but I will be hand sewing some frog closures down the front.

I have also been doing a lot of planning for garb.

I was able to acquire several yards of 100% linen, and some periodesque cotton prints for some future projects.

My son has outgrown most of his garb, So I will be busy making him a few simple items, (pants, a tunic, an undershirt, a cloak lining and a gypsy vest are on the list) before the summer camping season starts.

The hubby wants a couple lightweight shirts, and we both need an under shirt/dress. I will be revamping some of my camp garb, (adjusting for bust issues, fixing and/or finishing seams and hems) and refashioning some garb I was given into either a parti-colored kirtle or 2 sideless surcoats. Right now I am leaning towards the sideless surcoats.

The roommate also has a few items he would like, out of recycled fabrics given to him. A lined cloak and a couple of viking tunics. Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you view the situation) I have all the time of in the world at the moment to work on sewing projects once I get better.