Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is it period garb?? Boy's Thorbjerg pants

Item- Child's brown Thorsbjerg Pants

Materials- Fabric- one yard of 60/40 linen/rayon blend
                Thread- 100% cotton

Time to complete- 11 hours, including cutting and fitting

Cost- About $4 (linen was on sale, plus a discount coupon)

seam placement
Sewing diagram

Cutting layout
These pants were cut out of one yard of brown linen rayon blend.  It was a bit hard wrapping my brain around how to cut the fabric to get the back to wrap around like the seam placement diagram, until I found the sewing diagram above right or another one. After playing tetris on my one yard of fabric I was able to get my cutting layout. 

My waist band ended up being two pieces because of space. I only have five belt loops even though the original had six, because I felt that six was excessive for the boy. All the seams are hand sewn and flat felled or hem stitched where appropriate with 100% cotton thread. See the construction section here for details... I choose the cotton thread because it flexes and moves in a similar way to linen, so less of the garment will be cut. The downside it that the only cotton thread I had is bright white. Whenever possible I kept very little thread showing on the right side of the garment.

front inside seams
seat inside seams
This cutting pattern ended up being way too baggy in the waist and the seat, to correct this I did end up putting one box pleat on each hip. And a few small tucks at the seat and crotch gusset seams. I also lowered the waist band folding the extra underneath and stab stitching it all down, making sure to that very little of my white thread showed on the outside, which corrected most of the bagginess. I choose to keep the excess fabric so that it can be let out as the boy grows.

first fitting- too baggy
Second fitting seat
In the second and final fitting the boy can ear the pants without a belt, but are still a bit baggy in the waist, and may slip if he wasn't wearing thermals underneath. The gussets in between the crotch seem to be a bit to wide  because the seat still puckers a bit, but is 100% better than the first fitting.
Close up

Notes, Thoughts, Observations-
Since this was my first time truly working with this pattern, I had cut things too big in the waist for the boy. I used the proportions in the diagrams above using his thigh measurement as a guide. Even with the initial pining I had significantly reduced the size of the gusset and seat, and shaved and extra on the leg pieces around the waist. I think that this pattern is more suited to someone with larger hips and more of a seat than my bean pole has. 

Also make sure the linen is washed in hot water and dried in the dryer several times before sewing the garment if it is going to unlined or worn by someone sensitive to the fabrics against the skin. I had pre-washed the fabric once, but it was still somewhat stiff, which is easier to sew with, but the boy complains it is scratchy. One bonus of washing it again and again after sewing it, is that the white cotton picked up more of the dye released by the fabric, so is much less noticeable.

Things I would do differently-
Well I would have pre-washed the fabric more than once to soften the fabric. I should have cut the pattern thinner to fit the boy better, this also would have allowed me to get a waist band in one piece. I would also try and find matching linen thread if my budget allowed, along with 100% linen. I think that the next time I do a pair of pants for him I will use the Skjoldehamn pattern since it seams easier to adjust for him.

What is period about it?
The fabric has the same weight, texture and color achievable in period. The Thorsbjerg pants are actually a diamond twill wool fabric, but many resources indicated that several different weights of linen are common. It is also hand sewn using several stitches that have been found in period garments. The Thorsbjerg finds have actually been dated to before SCA period between the first and third centuries A.D. Although there has been a crotch piece (scroll a quarter of the way down) of similar construction to the Thorsbjerg pants that was dated to the 10th century. Along with several carvings and other art depicting tight fitting pants. Making it feasible for this pattern to still be used in early period. Also the color of these pants was easily achieved, oak galls being common for browns. Although linen can be notoriously hard to dye, and often fades.

What isn't period About It?
Again like most of the garb I create I am limited in my fabric choices by funds. This fabric is a linen rayon blend. Rayon is considered a poor man's silk. It is fabricated from cellulose (wood pulp), so it is technically a natural fabric in the sense that it breathes, stretches moves, and originated from nature like other natural fabrics, although it has been artificially processed to achieve this. I am not sure that linen and silk were often combined within a fabric, I am still researching that. The cotton thread would be insanely expensive for northern Europe, and probably unheard of in the early period.

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