Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A D-Shaped Veil--Practical Considerations

Several years ago, I read a post by Elina on her blog, Neulakko about a D-shaped veil she had made from wool. She described it as light, but so water repellent it tended to stay dry in damp (though not rainy) weather, and it hung a nicely as a linen veil. That post can be read here.  Lately, I've been looking into short projects to help ease myself into more regular costuming activities, so I've bumped the D-shaped veil project up a bunch of places on my list.

After reading the post, I decided I wanted a similar wool veil for myself.  I like the idea of a veil a lot, though the rectangular veils I have made over the years always looked more like I was balancing a  rectangular placemat on my head instead of wearing a graceful veil.  A D-shaped veil, with the straight edge worn in the front, seemed like the ideal cut to eliminate the problems I've had with veil-making.

Unfortunately, I have another problem that a D-shaped cut, standing alone, will not solve.  A veil of light weight fabric requires a narrow hem--specifically, a rolled hem--and I have never succeeded in making a rolled hem that was not blocky, thick, and dorky-looking.  The problem is compounded when the garment in question has a rounded edge and is made from easily fraying fabric, such as a light wool.  Elina used wool muslin for her veil, and noted that it frayed a lot.  

Eithni's library of tutorials includes a tutorial on a magic veil hemming stitch that supposedly alleviates these problems.  It's a kind of hand-wrought zig-zag stitch that starts with folding your edge and directing every other stitch through the folded edge.  I have tried her technique before, with only mixed success.

Elina's own suggestion for easily frayed fabric is to make a 6 mm fold in the edge, stitch down the fold with stab stitches, and then make a rolled hem or other kind of hem of the remaining cloth. While that technique should control fraying effectively, it sounds as though it might result in a thick, blocky hem, and blockiness is part of what I was trying to avoid. (On the other hand, it would result in a hem of more even width and thickness than simply folding over the edge and whipstitching it down can achieve.)

I suspect the real knack to using Eithni's technique lies in figuring out where to put the fold and how deep to make it.  Moreover, that problem is compounded when the garment design requires you to hem a curved edge.

But before I can test any of my theories, I will need some suitable fabric for the project.  My thought is to use wool gauze or wool challis.  I've found several sources for wool challis in the $20-$25 per 1/2 yard range (which is what I'd want to get).  It's higher with shipping, of course, so I may wait to buy it until after our summer expenses have been dealt with.

EDIT:  (7/10/2019)  In light of a comment about Dharma Trading, I went back to that site and found a light silk-wool (63% silk / 37% wool) blend.  Part of the point of this project was to see how a purely wool fabric worked for me as a veil, but Dharma has a silk-wool blend for only $14.75 a yard--MUCH cheaper than either the wool challis or the wool gauze that I found.  Queen Arengunde's remains have shown that a silk-wool blend was available, at least to the super-wealthy, in the very early Middle Ages.  Denver Fabrics had some 100% wool gauzes as cheap, but those are all sold out!  Though I want to try the project on a pure wool fabric, the lower price for the silk-wool is very attractive to me, so I may go with it. Stay tuned.

EDIT:  (7/16/2019)  I found a source of wool challis on EBay that's about $14 (with shipping) for about a half yard, which is all I need.  I'd have already ordered it, but I'm heading out for vacation on Saturday, so I'm economizing on other expenses until after we return.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Seed Bead Opportunity!

As my regular readers may recall, I am slowly making a völva costume. I keep going back and forth about whether to make a necklace specifically for this project or repurpose a necklace  I already have.

The packets of beads I am seeking to re-sell.
While I've been dithering, I saw a vendor on Etsy who was selling glass beads "Size 4 mm".  This is a bit on the small side for the Viking era, but I figured I could find other beads I have that are not strung to use with the mix offered, which was lovely and colorful.  In addition, the price was very low for the item and shipping/postage combined, even though the vendor is based in Australia.  

I should have guessed, from the 15 gram weight estimate for 145 beads, what I would be getting.  But hope springs eternal, especially when the price listed is low.  The beads I received are seed beads, with a diameter closer to 1 or 2 mm each than 4 mm each in size--way too small to make a Viking era necklace or any necklace with the number of beads provided.  A picture of the little packets of beads, with a 10 cm scale bar above, appears with this post.   

I don't have a use for seed beads, pretty though these are.  But there are potential costuming and craft uses for seed beads, both modern and medieval (check out the Medieval Beads site for evidence of medieval seed bead use).  So rather than try to seek satisfaction for my total purchase after several months (USD $6.85, including the postage), I figured I'd try to re-sell the beads for what I paid ($2.00 USD), plus shipping to the buyer's address, wherever in the world it is.  In the US, that will almost certainly be the cost of mailing a first-class letter, because the beads are only 15 g in weight, and a first-class letter in the US is one ounce, which is about 28 g.  I have no idea how much it might be to other countries, but the item is so light it shouldn't be much; we should be able to figure it out.

For the modest amount of this item, it's probably easiest to pay me through Paypal.  E-mail me at cathyr19355 at gmail dot com with questions.  If you are interested in buying the beads, I'll give you the information to use to reach my Paypal account.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Enigmatic Beauty

Last week I learned, through a short note from Professor Beatrix Nutz relating to an article of hers that I had just downloaded from Academia.edu, that she has also published an article about a set of textile finds from Lengberg Castle that, though originally thought to be part of a bra-type undergarment, are actually the remains of a headcovering with a  section of sprang in it.

The article can be downloaded from Academia.edu here (free account required). It's called "Enigmatic Beauty:  The Decorative Headwear of Lengberg Castle," and Professor Nutz, Rachel Case, and Carol James are listed as authors.  Curiously, similar types of headwear are shown on men as well as women in period art, suggesting that this type of headcovering was a symbol of a particular status.

It's an article well worth reading by anyone with an interest in late medieval clothing, particularly German and Austrian late medieval clothing.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Saalberg Shoe, Redux

A few months ago, I wrote a short post about a Roman leather shoe featured at the Saalburg Museum with a striking, openwork design. 

Today, through Instagram, I found the webpage of a leatherworker who has made a striking recreation of that shoe in red and yellow. Go and see it!  It's marvelous.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Royal Schiaparelli


Recently I found the video to the left, which talks about the discovery of a 1939 Schiaparelli gown worn by Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester.  Princess Alice was the wife of Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, who was the third son of George V of England and Queen Mary.  

The video points out a number of unusual elements of this gown (including the use of plastic imitation pearls in the embroidery and a very early plastic zipper) and includes a photograph depicting the gown in wear by Princess Alice.  It's short (about 3 minutes and 30 seconds) and a must-watch if you are interested in clothing of the 1930s.

Readers of this blog who are curious about Princess Alice may enjoy this article, which gives some background about her life.  You can find out more about her life from Wikipedia, here

Saturday, April 27, 2019

One Afternoon Tutorials--Many Hats

My last collection of one-afternoon tutorials was an assortment of how-tos for making different types of bags. Today's collection is all about headwear: caps, hats, and other forms of headwear.   

From time to time, I have posted headwear tutorials in the past. I have tried not to duplicate any tutorials (since you can look up my old posts simply by checking out the "one afternoon tutorials" tag). Apologies if I have duplicated  any of those tutorials here.  

As with my collection of bag tutorials, I have tried to list these tutorials in roughly chronological order for the item in question (i.e., tutorials for items earlier in history will be nearer the top on this list).  Also, (as is true of all the tutorials I mention in this blog), unless the description of the tutorial says otherwise, I have not tried these tutorials out!  Nor have I made any judgments about how historically accurate the products of these tutorials may be.  Research the items you want to make, and decide whether the tutorials reach a level of authenticity suitable to your objectives.  

On to the current list!
  • Scythian inspired hood.  This is the type of open hood, resembling a Phrygian hat, that appears in the art of the Scythians.  This tutorial gives double value, as it includes directions on how to felt wool fiber into cloth from which to make the hat.  Tutorial provided by Lara Baker-Olin on her blog, A Magyar Jurta.
  • Viking women's headwear.  On her blog, Jenn Culler includes an article about speculative but plausible Viking age women's headwear. Most of these are made with unsewn pieces of cloth worn as turbans, headscarves, or veils.  Find it here.  
  • Early Medieval coif.  A common piece of headwear for both men and women (often under other hats, hoods or veils) is the coif, a tie-on garment. From the Maille Is Riveting blog.  
  • Medieval "beanie."  The same page on Maille Is Riveting that has the coif directions also have directions for a kind of skull cap with a stem on the crown of the head, which often appears in medieval art.
  • "Coffee Filter" Hat.  This is a kind of pleated coronet with a chinstrap, often worn with a hairnet.  I do not know what this type of headwear was called during the Middle Ages, but today costumers also often call it a "coffee filter" hat.  Cynthia Virtue provides these directions for such a hat on her website.  
  • Open hood (15th c.).  Hoods like this one turn up on peasant and farmer women depicted in the Tres Riches Heures and other manuscripts of the same approximate date.  You can find Sidney Eileen's directions on how to make one here (though, unlike hers, most of these do not seem to have been embroidered).
  • "Butterfly" hat (15th c.). Cynthia Virtue also has a tutorial for a 15th c. "butterfly" hat.  You may know this hat by the term "hennin" (or henin).  The tutorial is here.  
  • French hood (English/French Ren).  This is the ornamented crescent with a veil hanging down its back that you see in the art of Henry VIII's day. The Elizabethan Costuming Page (which still lives, after all these years!) has a page about how to make one, with links to other relevant pages on the same site. I suggest you start your journey through them here. Note:  I used this tutorial to make a French hood once, long ago, and it was quite satisfactory except for the chinstrap (which may have been due to my misreading or misapplication of the directions).  
The next few tutorials all come from Genoveva's German Renaissance of Genoveva blog.  
  • Split-brim hat. Similar hats were worn in other countries during the period. The tutorial is here.
  • Platter hatThis hat is commonly associated with Landknechts, but women wore them too. Note: The directions are packaged as a PDF.  
  • Wulsthaube.  This hat looks like a smooth headwrap with a bulge at the back.  Directions are here
  • False braids.  False braids made from stuffed tubes of cloth were a common addition to certain German Renaissance hairstyles, and not all of them were made in the natural colors of hair!  Illustrated tutorial here.  
Now for more modern stuff:
  • Late Tudor hats. Directions for a Tudor-style flat cap and a high crowned hat can be found courtesy of Tammie Dupuis at the Renaissance Tailor site, here.  
  • 17th c. coifs. Late 16th-early 17th century women's coifs were worn with a tie-on kerchief or cloth underneath them.  The Marquis of Winchester's Regiment gives directions on how to make a set for yourself.
  • 18th century hat.  The Pragmatic Costumer shows you how to turn a modern, circular straw placement into a hat here.  Martha MacGyver's Imaginarium has a tutorial on making a similar hat from a modern straw hat; find it here.
  • Regency (1800s-1810s) poke bonnet.  Kelly of Tea in a Teacup has a lovely, detailed  tutorial with plenty of pictures about how to make a Regency poke bonnet from a straw hat; find her tutorial here.
  • U.S. Civil War (1860s) bonnet. From Kim Morton comes an illustrated tutorial on how to make a 1860s bonnet from a modern straw hat. You can find it here.  
  • Mid-Victorian day capSew Historically provides directions on how to make a pattern for such a cap, and how to assemble and hand-sew it here.
  • 1940s hairscarf.  Ever wonder how to duplicate Rosie the Riveter's headscarf?  Wonder no more. Retro Chick at Lipstick, Lettuce & Lycra shows you how in this video.  The accompanying blog post also provides some useful information.
Have fun!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Tenth Anniversary

A cape made from Madagascar Golden
Orb spider silk exhibited at London's
 Victoria and Albert Museum (June 2012).
(photo:  Cmglee, on Wikimedia Commons)..

Unsurprisingly (given my irregular habits), I missed the actual date, but on March 16, 2019, this blog was exactly 10 years old.

A decade is a long time.  In the 10 years since I started this blog, I've seen many costuming blogs fall by the wayside, lost to family obligations, changes in health, changes in priorities, and the rise of other forms of social media, such as Instagram and Facebook.  Other Internet communities of historical costumers, including the MedCos list and the Norsefolk and Norsefolk_2 mailing lists on Yahoo!, are defunct, and the h-costume list, though still technically active, sees very little activity now. 

On the other hand, Instagram and Facebook bear witness to the fact that there are more historical costumers, and more people interested in historical costuming, than ever.  I ended up as one of the moderators of the Reenactment clothing and textiles group on Facebook because they get so many applicants. In addition, I have become concerned that Google will get rid of Blogger, as they have decommissioned G+ and so many other interesting and useful products, and that I will have to migrate my blog to another platform to keep it alive.  But I still enjoy blogging, and am determined to continue to maintain an Internet presence through my blogs.

The last time I did an anniversary post, it was 2011.  In that post, I included a token link to an actual costume-related article (since an anniversary post is technically a "meta" post).  This link I found courtesy of Susan Baker Farmer on the Historic Tablet Weaving Group on Facebook. The article is about gene-modified bacteria that produce a spider silk so strong that space suits could be made from fabric woven out of it.  The technique used doesn't produce very much silk, and doesn't produce it efficiently, but if it can be modified to produce at industrial levels it will have created something valuable and new indeed.  Enjoy!

P.S.  The cape in the picture is made from spider silk, but not the kind reproduced with genetically-modified bacteria.  I added it for visual interest, and because it's an interesting garment in its own right.

EDIT:  (6/4/2019) Since this post, there has been a concerted effort made by members of h-costume to reactivate the list, so don't hesitate to sign up if you are interested!