Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Material for wool hood finally finished dying

Well, that was not altogether fun.
I completed dying the green linen, blue linen, green wool and all was well.  I attempted to dye the blue linen and what I ended up with looked more like medieval tie-die.  Splotchy, dark patches, light patches and all together yuck.  My daughters loved it.  One giggled for quite a while about me wearing a tie-die hood.  I washed the hood once more and then attempted another dye bath.  On the first go around I placed the wool into the bath dry, which I have come to learn is not the correct way to do things.  After washing the wool the wet fibers seemed to take the dye a lot better.  There are still some mild splotches here and there, but I’m not going to bleach them out and start again.  This will have to do.  I must say that I’m very happy with the overall color scheme and shades of color I ended up with.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hand Stitched Fur Lined Blue Wool Mittens

While digging around in my basement looking for some wool I came across a bin of scrap material I had kept. I tend to be a bit of a pack rat and so, when I was at a sewing guild and a fellow tailor indicated that they would be throwing away their scrap I quickly accepted the remnant wool. The wool was left over from a cloak she had crafted. There wasn't much, but there was enough to create a nice sized pair of wool mittens. I also collected a contribution of a couple rabbit furs from another member who indicated that she had been storing them for some time with no plans for their use. I decided to make a pair of fur lined wool mittens based on a pattern from the book Medieval Tailors Assistant. Each mitten was made from two pieces of heavy blue wool and completely hand stitched using a combination of stab stitches and back stitching with 100% linen thread. The rabbit fur had to be cut pieced together to make a piece large enough for each mitten. I had to patch 3 pieces of fur together to get a piece large enough for each mitten.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Blue and Green Linen Cotte begun

This is not my first tunic ever made, but this will be my first attempt at dying the fabric myself.  I looked at various fabric stores and could not find the exact color and texture I was looking for.  I decided to dye some fabric on my own.  Mind you, this was not intended to be an A&S project and I had no intent on using period manners when I attempted dying.  I simply wanted to derive the right color I was looking for without the over bright "modern" looking colors. I ended up dying two sections of natural linen.  The color was still a bit brighter than I would have liked.  I suppose if I want true period colors I will one day have to learn how to do dying in a period manner.

Linen after dye and ringing out.
Not yet dried.
I chose to dye the fabric in a tub rather than the washing machine.  I chose this for two reasons.  First, I have a front loader.  When the machine is running the door locks.  To open the door the machine must drain first.  Makes it hard to check the progress of the dye.  Second, I wanted to closely monitor the color.

The reason everyone will look at me oddly
for the next 3~5 days!
I made a number of mistakes and as I have said, this is my first attempt.  My biggest mistake was to not wear gloves.  I hate the feeling of rubber gloves and so I chose not to use them.  "How bad can it be?" I thought.  Well, it was pretty bad.

Here is my next project.  The outer portion of the overall outfit I am making will be blue and green linen and wool.  This is a bucket of wool soaking in the dye.  This one will have to soak overnight me thinks to get the to the proper shade of green.  If this works well enough I will have to repeat the entire process once more with some more linen and wool, only making it blue this time.

Before Dye
Wool Soaking in green dye bath
Linen after blue dye
The green dye turned out so well, that I began processing the next batch.  I used the same brand commercial dye and about the same amount of time for each soak.  I was really hoping for a nice faded color.  Period looking, but not super vibrant.  I'd like the garment to look worn, and not right off the shelf.  I really LOVE the way the blue linen came out.

Wool soaking in blue dye bath

Linen Shirt

This is another garment to be worn as part of the Stone Dog Baronial Green and Blue Fashion Show.
This item is a self-threaded linen 12th century shirt. Entirely hand stitched using only threads pulled from the selvage, waxed with bees wax.
This was constructed out of the same linen as the braes I finished a few days ago.

I based the construction using the instructions found in The Medieval Tailors Assistant.  This is not the first linen shirt that I’ve hand sewn, but it is the first time that I constructed a shirt entirely self-threaded.  I found that the technique is slightly different.  I used the same stitches, but I found that I had to use much smaller lengths of thread as the thread pulled from the selvage is not nearly as strong as the type one might purchase already spun and spooled.  The other thing I noticed was that the thread is not straight and easy to sew with unless waxed well.  The thread pulled from the selvage is not straight and is often slightly slubby which makes it snag when hand stitching.

The following image shows both threads.  On the left you will see a section of thread purchased on a spool.  On the right you will see the thread pulled from the selvage.  To compensate for the "ripples" in the pulled thread I had to apply more beeswax than normal.  I also found that doubling up the threads helped in sections of the garment which were likely to be under more stress.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ayerton Blue and Green Fashion Show - Wool Belt Pouch Lined with Linen

 Garment to be worn as part of the Stone Dog Baronial Green and Blue Fashion Show.  This is another rather simple item.  After spending about 50 hours making a shirt and pants I wanted to start a slightly smaller project.  This is intended to be an accessory to a fully hand stitched outfit which I hope to wear in the Ayerton Green and Blue fashion show.  I have a friend whom I consider to be an expert in medieval studies.  When going through her and her husband’s garb closet I spotted a very nice looking wool pouch.  She explained the construction and purpose and that alone inspired me to remake my belt pouch.  My persona for this outfit is a craftsman and as such I need no embellishment on the pouch.  The item is simply practical and functional.  It is made from heavy wool lined with linen using a leather thong as a closure. The wool was taken from a Salvation Army woman’s coat. The linen was from scraps left over from a recent shirt/braes created for the same fashion show. The leather thong was reclaimed from a leather shoulder belt attached to a woman’s brief case from Salvation Army.

(( Insert image of item being worn ))

Ayerton Blue and Green Fashion Show - Linen Coif

Garment to be worn as part of the Stone Dog Baronial Green and Blue Fashion Show
Twelfth century linen coif. Entirely hand stitched using linen thread waxed with bees wax.
This is nothing special.  I want my entire outfit to be hand constructed, so it was simply a necessity.  I’ve made coifs before, but I’ve never completely hand stitched one.  It feels good checking things of the list, but this item actually took about 4 hours to construct from start to finish.
I mocked up the pattern using a scrap piece of material.  I pinned it together to get the overall shape before cutting the final pattern from the linen.  The linen I used was a small portion of scrap remaining from my recent shirt/braes project.  I tried to keep the stitching as small as possible as I suspected that this item might someday find its way into an A&S competition.  No single stitch is over 1/16th of an inch.  I tried to keep the length of the stitches to be no more than the width of 3 warp/weft threads.  The tie is simply the selvedge edge of the material.  I folded the selvage into a tape and whip stitched it closed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Twelfth Century Braes completed

I recently started down the road of making an entire 12th century outfit.  The starting point was of course, the under garment layer.  I’ve seen others wear braes cut in the very odd fashion, but I’ve never worn them.  After completing them I was a bit concerned.  When I first put them on, they felt very much like I was wearing an oversized diaper.  I slept in them and surprisingly they looked and felt much better the next morning.  The linen was a bit stiff when I first put them on.  After wearing them for about 12 hours they seem to have found a more comfortable way to bunch and fold.  They look much more like the images I have seen after they have been worn in a bit.

 These are self-threaded which means rather than using linen thread from a spool, I simply pulled threads from the selvage edge and used that to stitch the garment together.  The only portion that is not linen is the braided tape I chose to use as a draw string.  I may look for a linen version at some point, but I wanted to put them on and try the fit and could not wait.

I based the construction using the instructions found in The Medieval Tailors Assistant.  I must admit that the instructions regarding the waist band was not all together helpful.  I played around with a few styles of the belt before choosing the structure I did.  The waist band of the braes is actually three layers thick.  There are two layers on the inside and one on the outside.  I wanted one extra layer against my skin and behind the draw string so as to cushion a my waist against a tightly pulled draw string. 
(( Insert image of draw string opening )) 


 There are two holes in the front of the waist band which will be used for tying the hosen to, when they are completed.  I wasn’t sure exactly how to do this portion, so I simply made a small slit and then button hole stitched around the hole to reinforce the edge.

My daughter laughed so hard at this one.
She kept saying it looked like I was
wearing a diaper.  "Why are they so baggy?"
The sides of the braes are slit at the bottom as was done in the images I’ve seen.  This allows for an alternate method of wear.  I can easily roll the legs up and tuck this portion into the waste band which makes for a very comfortable shortened version.  This might be done when working outside on a very hot day.  Whey I first showed my wife this manner of wearing the braes she did a double take and said “What… What the hell is that!”  I guess that means they look correct!

OK, I'm not proud of these, but simply wanted to show what the braes looked like when they are rolled up as they might be when one is working in the hot sun.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New hand sewing project started

Well, I've been out of it from a sewing perspective for a while.  Turns out that I gained just enough weight lately that I don't well fit into my nicer clothes.  I've started a new weight loss program and have taken 12 pounds off already.  In the mean time I'd hate to start new garb.  I decided to go back to my original SCA roots.  I've taken a step back away from Elizabethan and have decided to do a new outfit in 12th century style.  I've chosen this for a few reasons.  Been a while since I've done some hand sewing.  Also been a while since I've done an earlier period.  Most of all, the garb is forgiving for those who are shifting in size.  I'll make the outfit sized for my current girth and will simply wear it a bit loose if'/when I lose the weight.

So far I've cut and began assembling a pair of braes.  I've also cut the material for a shirt and plan on starting assembly tomorrow at sewing guild.  Nothing fancy.  Pattern was based on a layout found in The Medieval Tailor's Assistant.  The material is 100% linen purchased from ... who knows.   Found it in a bin in my basement.  Probably there for 3~6 years.  Had a tag I put on it with the yardage and material.  All I know now is that it is 100% linen.

So far I have about 15 hours of sewing in on the braes.  They are all self threaded.  I used a strip of the selvage edge and have been pulled out to used as a construction thread.  I have been using the warp threads as opposed to the weft threads as they are much stronger and hold up better to the stress of sewing.  Still I find that I must keep my threads to about 6~8 inches of working length and wax the thread well.  The self threaded style of sewing tends to fray the thread very easily.  The thread is not nearly as strong as a spool of linen thread that one might buy.  This is the first time I've tried using this construction method entirely on a complete item.  I've done it in the past for small sections, but never for the construction of a complete garment.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Four more scrolls done

 The following three blanks were all loosely based on a design I saw from a French hunting manual.  I wanted use Kingdom colors (Red and Green) as much as possible.  After seeing these completed blanks I really need to work on my white work.

This is one of my favorites so far.  Not all that elaborate of a design, but it will be perfect for an archery award.  It is based on a page from The Hours of Catherine of Cleves.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Forty Scroll cases

The Midrealm issued a "Midrealm Scroll Case Challenge".
I decided to take up the challenge and make some scroll cases to go along with the scroll blanks I had recently been working on.  As it turns out, making scroll cases goes a heck of a lot faster than making the scrolls.  Shocking I know!

Over a period of three weeks or so I scrounged up all the cardboard I could from work.  When I had a decent sized pile I started going through the bins of scrap material in my basement.  It turned out to be a nice little recycling project.  I was able to purge almost two full bins of material.  I had scraps of material from over 10 years ago.  I never throw any material away.  This gave me a real reason to finally purge.  It was kind of funny when my wife saw the pile.  She recognized some of the material.  I had leftovers from kids baby blankets, pajamas, SCA clothing and a host of Halloween costumes.  It turned out to be a nice little pile when it was done.

Forty scroll cases in all.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Finished scroll blank

Inspiration: Image found in book: call number:745.67 BOLOGNA, G ID:31257010045655
Illuminated manuscripts : the book before Gutenberg / Giulia Bologna.

Here is an image which shows a side by side comparison of the inspiration and my finished scroll blank.  I chose not to fill in the shaded area as was done in the original manuscript.  I think I like the way it looks with just the red and gold.

Paper Stock:  Strathmore Bristol Board - Vellum Surface, 9in X 12in
Gilding: Holbein Gold gouache.
Technique: Free hand sketched with a mechanical pencil.
Inked in with Red India ink applied with a metal-nibbed dip pen.