Loose threads

Various sewing projects. Mostly historical (or historically inspired) stuff. Varying levels of ambition!

New ties for the gamurra

Kategori: Allmänt, Historic Sew Monthly 15

 I had great plans for the September challenge; I had projects I wanted to do and fabric at hand, but September was a silly busy month so... well, no. I did get to two larps, though. One of which was not in my original plan, so good thing I could venture into my wardrobe for something already finished. The ties were satin ribbons, though, so I figured I should fix it. I used the same finger-braiding cord as usual, polyester/wool yarn and aiglets from my stash, and am quite pleased with the result.
 
 
I also took the opportunity to take it in - minus about two-two and a half inches in the bodice. It now fits better. Wear and tear over at least seven years as well as bias stretch in the fabric had taken its toll. I could take it in a bit more, actually, but I'll leave it for now. It's a cotton dress, after all, it will never be perfect anyway and it's far more wearable now than earlier.
 
Also the ties are prettier. This was the last garment I made before I learnt about spiral lacing, though. Right now ladder lacing would be prettier, but it doesn't work so well with the rings so I X-lace it for now. I'm not that fond of making holes for lacing.
 
What the item is: Ties for a gamurra. Technique: fingerbraid, two strands.
The Challenge: Brown
Fabric: None
Pattern: None
Year: Unsure about technique, made to fit 15th century dress
Notions: Wool/poly yarn, aiglets
How historically accurate is it? The only yarn I found was a wool/poly blend, but I guess it'd fool people from a distance.
Hours to complete: Maybe six or seven for all the ties (front, 2 longish for sleeve openings plus 14 short ones for attaching sleeves)
First worn: 5 september
Total cost: Aiglets was purchased awfully long ago, I used two bundles of yarn for easier finger-braiding but of course have a lot left, so maybe five euros in total.

A different era: the sort of Roman tunic

Kategori: Allmänt, Historic Sew Monthly 15, Stashbusting

Right. So this something I don't do everyday. On a whim I decided to try a LARP set in the late Roman period. More specifically, 364 A.D., slightly alternative-history tweaked but in a very intelligent way. The only thing the non-larper really needs to know to follow this post is that more roles were open to female players than would expect, and fashion adapted to go with it. First time in a while that I don't wear floor-lenght skirts to a LARP. Only problem: nothing Roman, not even very late-almost-dark-age/medieval-period variety. Lucky me it was a LARP and not reenactment; I could follow the guidelines/minimum requirements from the organisers and get by.
 
Most essential: the TUNIC, which for my role ought to be red. I got the fabric, cut into the right pieces, from a friend from my birthday. Which was a good thing! It is not madder red, since madder red wool fabric was not to be found at this time - sold out/out of stock everywhere. I only had to do minor adjustments to the pieces, and then pin together.
 
I almost never bother to do backstich anymore. I still do rather tiny stitches, though. This is what my running stitch look like in thick fabric.
 
For a while I tried to find out if tablet-woven edges would be period-appropriate (I am reasonably sure that tablet-weaving is), but then I decided that since this was not going to be totally HA anyway, I could just as well go ahead.
 
I never tried it before. It took me a while to figure out how to keep the tension of the warp, but I sort of made it in the end. The yarn is that silk/alpaca mix I've used for other projects and no, it's still not period. The colour was a decent match, though!
 
Good enough result for a first try. Eight threads/one pair of tablets. This might be the photo which is most true, colour-wise.
 
Finished tunic. Tablet-woven edges at the bottom, cuffs and cut neckline (no shoulder-seams, but sleeve seams).
 
I've seen nice pictures on the internet claiming that the 'coptic tunic'( which is really my reference here) is woven in one piece on a wide loom with "selvedge in cuffs and bottom" - wait, say what?! Selvedges both along the the warp and the weft? ...Well, selvedge (edges along the warp) I get, but at the same time another selvedge at ninety degrees, along the weft? No. My brain can't make that work. You have to get the fabric out of the loom in some way. Even if you do one piece of clothing at a time, there will still be warp ends that need to be cut. Can't wrap my head around how that would work, sorry. Anyone who knows, feel free to enlighten me here!
 
If I had woven the thing, though, I'd be able to add the clavi and roundels in the fabric. Limited to bought fabric, I had to add them later.
 
Trying out roundel size with cups and bowls. Am normal, I promise.
 
Cutting the narrow, straight bands for the clavi was the most frustrating part of the project. Pinning wool on wool however, is a lot easier than a lot of other types of guards I've done recently.
 
Since the larp was in September, rain was a possible issue. The organisers thought about that (too!) and suggested the CARACALLA/cucullus as an option, rather than a distictly 14th century liripipe hood. Said and done - I knew those corners left over from making a cloak forever a go would be good for something. A caracalla is really only a half circle of fabric, and two corners added by a seam makes a half circle.
 
Well. Let's just say I'm happy it didn't rain:
 
Behold my sceptic face. Behold the possibly least becoming garment ever. It's not even ugly on an advanced level, it's just ugly.
Secret weapon of the Romans: make the barbarians die from laughter. At least it worked that way in the Roman camp before larp started. I live to amuse the world around me, I really do. I did not, however, use it with the "hood" up during the LARP. For obvious reasons.
 
I did tablet-woven edges here as well, in black yarn. As you can see, the bias-cut edge didn't respond that well to being stretched in the process.
 
The scrap from the cloak fabric was also enough for a Pannonian hat, which is basically a pill-box hat. It wasn't any prettier in the 4th century, either. As the tunic hid most of them, I could use my old larp trousers and leg wraps. As for shoes, we had strict orders to make "comfy" a priority rather than "HA" and I kind of like my 3 euros-find from ten years ago.
 
Sorry about the quality of the picture. I didn't bring a proper camera. The tunic turned out to be slightly too long, a problem easily solved by having a bit more of it above the belt. This isn't exactly a fitted garment.
 
View from the back.
 
The hairdo is an experiment: two braids, like for Tudor styles, but my rather short braids are tied in the nape of the neck and the ribbons then secured around the head. To my immense surprise it both worked under the Pannonian hat and stayed in place all day withouth any pins or modern cheats at all. Not the fanciest hairdo, but am still pleased.
 
What the item is: Roman/Coptic tunic with blue clavi
The Challenge: Blue
Fabric: Red and blue wool
Pattern: None
Year: Meant to be 4th century
Notions:Silk/alpaca yarn for edges, waxed linen thread for long seams, blue embroidery threads for clavi.
How historically accurate is it? Not very. Clavi supposed to be woven into fabric, wool content for tunic not 100%, nor is the colour very madder-like. I would say 40%.
Hours to complete: Maybe 20. Attaching clavi was time-consuming.
First worn: At a larp last weekend.
Total cost: Fabric for tunic was a gift. Clavi fabric+ notions about 15 euros.
 
 
 
 
 
 

The quest for a nice coif

Kategori: Allmänt, Historic Sew Monthly 15

Two things elude me: a coif that works nicely AND is period for the rest of my wardrobe, and a nicely fitting partlet (be it a linen or a wool one). I might get there eventually. I originally planned for garters and a belt for the Accessorise challenge, but on a whim, more or less the evening before departure to the LARP in late July I decided to try out a new coif pattern. Not that I'd be likely to wear one, really, but because I wanted something small and linen and ladylike to work on in-game. Or not to work on, but pretending to. Earlier, I've tried out the pattern for a coif with wired brim from Tudor Tailor, and liked it. Only thing with that is that its hard to keep in shape and to wash between events, and also tend to stand ot a bit too much around the ears.
 
(Apparently, there's this discussion going on as to whether the oorijzers used in the Low countries have been used elsewere. I don't know nearly enough to weigh into that discussion: it makes sort of sense, but the coifs in Tudor tailor seems to be meant to be worn without them).
 
So. What else to try? There are dozens of exant coifs, says my feeble google skills, that are made in about the same way as this one from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow:
This one's dated 1610-1620 - so a bit late for me, alas, even if they were around also in the late 1500's.
 
For those of you who, like me, have to do quite a bit of mulitdimensional geometry in their heads seeing how this flat piece of fabric becomes headwear, I'll try to explain. The TOP horisontal edge in the picture is the top of the coif. The coif is folded along the vertical line in the middle and the horisontal edge is thereby folded in half and stitched together. This means that the curved edges on each side frame the face, with the "bulges" in the bottom corners covering the ears. The BOTTOM horisontal edge is gathered by a string in the nape of the neck. Also the top seam is gathered to get rid of the "peak" that is otherwise formed on the back of the head. Clearer? I guess not, I'm sure I used too many words just now.
 
The curved edge can have a lot of shape, making either a coif that sits far back on the head or  creates a peak over the brow. Or both. I went for more or less this basic version, helped by a pattern diagram from Janet Arnold's Patterns of fashion 4. That pattern hadn't a channel for the string in the neck and on the top of the back of the head, but small loops of ribbon, so I decided to use that.
 
As this was the first time round, I didn't do anything fancy. A simple linen coif, and since I had no good ribbon I used thin, white cotton ribbon both for tying the coif and making the small loops.  The results are, so far, promising.
 
Please ignore my very un-period t-shirt. The size is about right, but the "ear-flaps" are still... well, flappy. Securing them wouldn't be bad. Despite the drawstring in the back helping a lot with the fit.
 
I put my hair up for this: two braids tied round the head. My hair is a lot too short to do this properly, the ends barely meet on the top of my head, but after braiding I use a cheat-y round, elastic comb to secure everything and once I wrap the ribbons a few times round my head the comb makes it so secure that I don't even need hairpins. The ends of the braid are kept down by the coif itself. It stays all day, I used the same method under the hairnet with the blue dress.
 
Side view. I was a bit sloppy when putting my hair up. A forehead cloth of some sort would make this a non-issue. The ends of the string that goes round the head could (should?) of course be tucked in in the back. Here you can also see the drawstring that gathers the back of the coif.
 
Back. More hair would fill it out better, but I'm ok with this look.
 
What the item is: A linen coif

The Challenge: Accessorise

Fabric: White linen

Pattern: from Janet Arnold's Patterns of fashion originally, I think, also adapted from a couple of photos of extant coifs.

Year: Late 16th/early 17th century

Notions: White cotton ribbon. No white linen ribbon to be found!

How historically accurate is it? Apart from the cotton and me not being entirely sure about the fiber content of the thread, I'd say 90%.

Hours to complete: Perhaps four or five. The addition of the small loops for the ribbon was surprisingly time-consuming. Maybe because I watched Wolf Hall at the same time and was very distracted indeed. The same goes for the in-game sewing at the larp.

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost: Next to nothing, it uses so little fabric. Maybe 3 euros including the ribbon?