Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sewing the Period Way--Some Observations

Tonight, I started working on my savanion. Now, I'm not only using my bronze needle, but I'm using linen thread (80/3, in case you were wondering) to sew it. This is the very first time I've sewn with linen thread.

I've been waxing each sewing thread by running it across my beeswax bar a few times, then running the thread between my fingers once or twice before I thread it into my needle. I'm doing this because I've been told that linen thread tends to be rough, and to be difficult to draw through the cloth (even if it's linen cloth) unless you wax it first.

I expected that the beeswaxing ritual would be an annoyance, and would do little good. Again, to my surprise, the technique works rather well and isn't that much of a distraction. The waxing also has the advantage of stiffening the thread just enough to make it much easier to thread it into the eye of the needle.

In addition, I've noticed that getting the thread off of one of my floss bobbins is turning out to be no more trouble than unwinding thread from a modern spool, and the deep notches on the bobbins keep the remaining thread from unraveling itself from the bobbin much better than the shallower notches on many modern spools do.

The moral of this story is, in my opinion, that the period way really is practical, if you understand it well enough to do it right.


  1. When I was at CostumeCon, one of the merchants was selling bronze sewing needles for $10 each. I didn't know whether this was a good deal or what (and now I almost wish I'd contacted you to find out).

  2. I got my needle from Kass McGann, who runs Reconstructing History. She sells them on her website for $7.50 each. However, if you buy them over the website, the postage is about $7.00. It was my understanding that she had a dealer table at CostumeCon.