Tuesday, September 25, 2018

One Afternoon Tutorials--A Little Something Different

It's been a while since I posted a collection of quick costuming projects.  The current selection includes directions for items both practical and unusual.
  • From Anna's blog, Anachronistic and Impulsive, comes a pattern, instructions, and some documentation material about how to make an Archaic period Greek peplos.  Bonus:  full color photographs of several of the peploses Anna made, and of an exhibit showing several statues of the period, both as they look today and as they may have looked when the paint on them was fresh.
  • Also from Anna's blog, a pattern, instructions, and documentation material for an Archaic Period himation.
  • Mad about Viking fashion?  Too broke to afford a princely-looking pair of tortoise brooches?  Visit Vorpal Rabbit's blog and learn how to make a great pair--from Sculpey!  Obviously, this isn't a technique (and doesn't involve a material) that was used during the Viking age, but the process of planning and carving a suitable design from Sculpey will teach one more about Viking tortoise brooch designs than simply picking up a pair from Raymond's Quiet Press or another vendor who caters to the Viking reenactment market would do.
  • If the Italian Renaissance is more your thing, try this quick and easy Vorpal Rabbit project--ribbon-tied dangling earrings.
  • Finally, I recently found a different pattern for a one-hour 1920s dress than the one Kass McGann posted a few years ago. Here it is, courtesy of Bianca, The Closet Historian.
Good luck, and have fun!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mitten Progress Report

Last night, I traced the pattern for the mittens on my faux fur, which will be the inside layer of the mittens.  

The good news is that I don't need to fell any of the seams on this project.  The leather outer layer will not ravel, and unfelled edges of the faux fur I'm using for the lining will not shed appreciably because they will be trapped inside the mitten itself when it's completed.  Also, though the directions say to use running stitch for the seams, I've been using whipstitch because the outside of the lining layer will not be visible once the mittens are complete.

The bad news is that I have had to rip the thumb free from the first mitten three times so far because I had not properly mated it to the rest of the mitten!  As near as I can tell, that's because I really should have sewn it on from the wrong side, even though the directions say to mate the thumb to the side piece right sides together; I still could have done that if I'd taken seriously the part about gathering the base of the thumb piece to fit.  the instructions say to sew the circular base of the thumb section to the side piece (which has a circular section) before sewing the two side pieces together, but I couldn't figure out how to fit the thumb base in correctly so long as the two side pieces were separate.

So tonight I sewed the other side piece partway on, and that did finally make it possible for me to get the thumb sewn in place. The poor thumb is somewhat twisted, probably because I didn't gather the  area of the side piece to fit the circular base of the thumb, as the directions require.  However, I may be able to fix that after the fact or may be bold enough to open some of the stitching and re-do it.    I will definitely gather the other side of the mitten so the two will fit together.

I also spent some time last night looking to see whether I have a needle for sewing leather.  The answer turns out to be that I have one but only for use with a sewing machine, not for sewing by hand.  So I will have to acquire one before I start the outer layer of the mittens.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Skoldehamn Socks--Finished!

The finished pair of socks.
In wear.
Here is the pair of wool socks I made, based upon the socks in the Skoldehamn find.  I've included photographs of the socks alone, both right-side out and inside-out, as well as showing them on my feet.

Each sock is made from only two pieces of cloth, but it took me a surprisingly long time to figure out how the pieces had to go together to fit my feet. Once I did so, however, the socks went together quickly.  I seem to have twisted them in sewing them together, just a little, and both are a bit large in the heel and narrow through the toes (which is no surprise, since I have very narrow heels relative to the width of the front part of my feet).  Overall, though, the fit is good if a bit closer than I prefer.  However, I think that if I put the socks on my clean feet right after I wash them, while they are still wet or at least damp, I will obtain a more comfortable fit.
In wear, from the side.

I have more sensitive feet than average, but even so the under-the-foot seam did not bother me as much as I expected.  I attribute this primarily to the qualities of my wool (which had been pre-washed before it was sent to me).  The wool is both soft and surprisingly stretchy, and I think those attributes enabled me to get a satisfying result; I'm not sure it would be possible for me to get a comfortable fit using the Skoldehamn pattern with stiffer cloth.
Inside-out (on the left) and right-side out (right).

The original socks were worn with leg wraps, which extended over both the trousers and the tops of the socks.  However, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the Skoldehamn shoes were pretty low--no higher than the top of the ankle bone at the sides.  Both pairs of shoes I use with my Viking costumes come up well over the ankle bone.  As the picture shows, they are high enough to support the open sides of the socks without leg or foot wraps or other ties.

Worn with the Viking boots I usually wear.
The Skoldehamn socks also appear to have been worn with pieces of wool wrapped around the foot; Hilde Thunem notes that it's not possible to tell whether the foot wraps were wrapped directly over the naked feet before the socks were put on, or were simply wrapped over the outside of the socks.  I don't have enough fabric left over from this project to try to make proper footwraps, but I may look through my stash to see if I can find enough wool fabric to make some and then try wrapping them at least over the outside of the socks, because my socks fit too snugly for an inside-the-sock approach to work.

As the above comments imply, this project turned into more of a learning experience than I had anticipated, and took longer to complete than I'd expected (Susanna Broomé's booklet classifies the socks as an elementary level project) .  However, it was still a success, since I got a usable set of socks out of it, and was a short project despite the minor difficulties.

After I finished the socks, it occurred to me that this project also falls within the ambit of the HSM challenge for August--Extant Originals.  However, since the Skoldehamn originals are not complete, and I finished this pair in September, not August, I prefer to submit my socks under the September challenge.  

Sole-side up.
The Challenge:  September--Hands and Feet

Material:  100% woven wool fabric, in a 2/2 twill weave.

Pattern:  Susanna Broomé's pattern for the Skoldehamn socks (part of the clothing of the person whose remains were found at Skoldehamn) in her booklet, Smaller Garments.

Year:  Late 10th-early 11th century CE.

Notions:  White linen Guttermann thread from my stash; I drew each thread across a cake of beeswax for ease in sewing.

How Historically Accurate Is It?:  About 80%.  The actual Skoldehamn socks have survived only as incomplete pieces.  Photographs of those pieces, along with detailed descriptions in English, can be found in Hilde Thunem's article on Viking age hose, here.  For my socks, I acquired a similar wool twill, and have sewn the socks in running stitch with the seam felled by folding over the sides away from the running stitch and whipstitching them down, consistent with the seams on the originals.

But my pair differs from the original in certain respects.  For example, some of the original sock pieces have blanket stitch along the edges instead of folded-over, overcast edges, but I decided to go with the whipstitching all of the outside edges down instead because I am more comfortable with that technique.  Also, because of the shape of my feet (as noted above), I altered the placement of seams some.  In addition, I used linen thread instead of wool thread, and double-folded all seams and edges, instead of simply finishing seams by folding the edges away from the location of the running stitches and whipstitching across the raw edges.

Overall, the resulting pair of socks is by no means a copy of the originals, but is, I think, made with appropriately historical techniques and materials.

Hours to Complete:  About 5 hours.

First Worn:  I tried them on while sewing them to help adjust the fit, and wore them for a bit before taking the photographs with this post to see if wearing them helped make them more comfortable.

Total Cost:  $10.50 (including shipping) for the 18 inch (approx. 46 cm) by 29 inch (approx. 74 cm) piece of wool fabric I used.  I already had the pattern, and the linen thread.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Behold...a Sock!

The first sock!
I have finished the first sock of my pair of Skohldehamn socks.  A picture of the sock appears to the left.

The project is taking longer than I expected because, even though each sock is composed of only two pieces of cloth, it took me a while, even with the directions, to figure out how to orient and sew them together properly.  I also came to realize that the socks would not work with a less stretchy fabric than wool.

When I finish the other sock, there will be more pictures and explanations.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Getting Dressed in the 14th Century

This week, I found a fascinating pair of videos on YouTube, meant to illustrate how Europeans from all walks of life would have gotten dressed, and what they would have worn, in the 14th century.  They are fascinating because they show not only the items of clothing that would have been worn, and how they were put on, but also plausible reconstructions of where they would have hung, or been laid, overnight while the wearer was sleeping.  

The video embedded on the left shows Piers the Ploughman.  A second video shows two working women, dressing and helping each other dress, here.  Both are based upon images found in the Luttrell Psalter, a 14th century illuminated book of prayers originally commissioned and owned by  Sir Geoffrey Luttrell; it now resides in the British Library in London.  The channel in question, CrowsEye Productions, has "getting dressed" videos for other eras as well, including World War I and the 18th century.  The Luttrell Psalter is especially useful to show everyday life in the 14th century, because many of the images therein do just that; they show scenes from life on a manor like Sir Geoffrey's manor in Lincolnshire. Another reason why the Luttrell Psalter is an especially appropriate series of images for CrowsEye to bring to life is that CrowsEye Productions is based in Lincolnshire!

CrowsEye has made vidoes showing folk getting dressed in other periods, namely, the 18th century and World War I.  Their Patreon page states that their ultimate plan is to make videos showing people getting dressed from many different periods of English history, from the Viking era to World War II, but they are seeking suggestions as to which period to tackle next.   Anyone who has followed my blog will easily guess that it's Vikings I'd like to see next!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back to the "Touchwood Belt"

While I'm working on the mittens and socks for my völva outfit, I figured I should make sure I have a "touchwood" belt.  My new belt is shown to the left of this post.

As I discussed in this post, it seems likely that the "touchwood" referred to in the saga is dried fungus, used as tinder.  I considered purchasing some actual fungus, but figure that I don't really need to spend the money to buy enough to make a belt, just for costuming purposes!  However, I misplaced the felt strip I originally bought for the belt, so I purchased a larger piece of felt in a much lighter shade of brown on Etsy.  I cut three strips from the felt, each a bit longer than my waist measurement, knotted them on one end, braided the three together, and knotted the other end.   Then I pulled on the ends to stretch the braid, making it look a lot less like felt.  To fasten it, one sticks the bigger of the two end knots through one of the gaps in the braid.  

I claim no historical accuracy points for this item, because no one knows for certain that tinder fungus was used for belts in the Viking Age, let alone how such belts may have been constructed or what they looked like.  But the idea of a traveling shamaness having firemakings with her person at all times seems very appropriate.  I should keep an eye out for evidence that shamans in other shamanic cultures made belts out of tinder fungus, though.

It occurred to me, after making the belt, that real fungus shows pronounced areas of darker and ligher color which might be simulated by tea-dyeing the belt.  That might be worth doing yet; I need to consider the matter some more.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

New Project--Skoldehamn Socks!

One of the patterns in Susanna Broome's booklet is a pattern for cut-and-sewn socks like the ones that are part of the Skoldehamn find.  Though the experts still debate whether the Skoldehamn find is Viking or Sami, the socks are a practical item in a style that would have been useful for people living in either culture, so I have decided to sew a pair to wear as a part of my völva outfit.

I found some splendid, soft, heathered, cream-and-light brown wool cloth from an Etsy vendor that should be perfect for the purpose--a picture of the cloth can be seen to the left.  As usual, click on the image for a larger version that gives a better view of the weave.

Susanna Broomé's pattern indicates that because the top of the stocking is not closed in the center, the socks need to be worn with leg wrappings or puttees.  I'm not sure if that's true if I wear them with boots that come up a little way on my leg.  I need to think about that some more.  This should be a quick project to make, though.  I probably will finish it in a few weeks at most.