When I do costuming projects there is always the point where you could just say: “it’s done.” Or …. you can add some ornaments. There is always something on my garments, I can’t help it – but I tended to always use the same kind of stitches. So … I went to the library and got some stitching books. And tried them out. This is the outcome for now:
One of my next projects will be a “Brigitta Cap”, this includes Herringbone stitch. I had no idea how this works, so I included this into the research for “get a new stitching repertoire. And as more people like to learn it, I made myself a memory help “how to do the herringbone stitch” – also easy to see for people who want to try it out step – by – step how to do it.
A little side project for a very good friend of mine…. a chemise. That this is not totally plain, I thought I surprise her and add some black work. This is just my second try with black work, so I did it onto a even woven Aida fabric and will applicate it to the chemise. (You have seen that picture in one of the initial postings already, but work is still in progress for a short while) It will be easy for the recipient to get it off the garment again if she doesn’t want it, the chemise needs more intense cleaning or if the stitching is just not looking good any more (wear & tear).
Definitely between 1200 and 1600. I can tell it in museums. If I just walk through and see art or objects… I think they are odd / don’t like them => they are for sure labeled post 1600. My center of interest is central Europe, 1400. So many things happened! Changes in politics, culture, law, fashion, approach to life.
The book I like best is “Katrin Kania: Kleidung im Mittelalter. Böhlau Verlag, 2010”. It is not a easy to read book for beginners in construction of medieval garb, also “just” in German language available. It is a dissertation of a German garb scientist that was so interesting that she publicized her work. It starts with basic introduction into sources, materials, techniques and goes on with reconstruction projects and then the best: a really good catalogue of actual findings. What was found where, what time period it belongs to, what was it made of, colors, special circumstances….
For everybody who wants to start with medieval costuming I recommend “Sarah Thursfield: the medieval tailor’s assistant. Making common garments 1200-1500. Ruth Bean publishers 2001”. It is a good starting point for making first outfits, gives a good overview and a “feeling” for your start into “making medieval garments”. For all German speakers: yes, there is also a translation into German.
Fabric: whatever project in whatever time you do – think about functionality, what you wanna do in and with the finished garment. And then: how you want to CLEAN it in the future. Then clean the fabric BEFORE you even think about doing the first working steps with it! Either in the same way as it should be cleaned in the future (washing temperature, hand-wash, dryer/no dryer, dry cleaner,….) or wash it slightly hotter than you will ever wash it afterwards.
The fabric can really surprise you – changes in size, texture, color, general behavior. Nothing I didn’t see by now! Every minute of work you put into your project is wasted if your finished work is “ruined” after the first attempt of cleaning! Saves you working hours and tears.
If there would “just” be one …. but the one I will definitely do in the future is a variation of the “Malterer Carpet” (I couldn’t find a side in English, but here is the link to the German Wikipedia side: Information to the Malterer-Carpet ). In my Austrian group we did a group project and everybody was stitching a little tile; the Background was never finished – they just where applicated onto a red background. I just noticed: in my medieval encampment I really miss it!
I have finally a big square stitching frame; I also found linen that will work perfectly fine as basic material. I definitely will work directly on the basic material, no applications – and in the hope that I will also do the whole background. And Now there comes the big task: figuring out the sizing an do the transfer of the pattern! This is really a “big” thing for me, because for now I mostly did counted stitching or was designing a “freestyle” pattern directly onto the basic fabric.
Where is my work space? Literally EVERYWHERE. If you come into my flat you find hints to projects-in-progress everywhere. You go on adventures if you open a drawer or a cupboard.
Now that I live in California I have to coordinate in a very small space – so there the “projects are everywhere” even more obvious. My center points are our very big kitchen island – most of the cutting happens there. Laying out of fabric, figuring out where to actually cut …. this happens most of the time somewhere on the floor! I like to spread out with the fabric to actually see all available fabric in front of me to figure out how to work with it.
One of the best things we got for our household is “the” IKEA folding table. My husband cut out on one side a nice hole with an addable shelf where my sewing machine can go in. If I need both sides of the table it gets really huge. If I don’t need it, it folds down really small, goes to the side of the kitchen island. And the best: it has drawers for all the “small things” you need for sewing and handcrafting!
For small spaces definitely something I would recommend!
I never work “just” on one project. There is always going on something. There are times where you just have to step back from an ongoing costume, make a brake – do something else. And come back a view hours / days (weeks…) later. With a fresh attempt to go on.
In this moment there are some projects on the list going….
the kirtle. With the help from a friend – who is for a very long time not only into costuming but especially into post-1500, pre-1600 costuming – I made the first prototype of a kirtle. I started with a mock-up out of cotton and machine sewed with whatever thread color that was currently in the sewing machine (boning, fitting of the upper part). It was quite satisfying and a good basic for starting a more serious attempt: a kirtle out of linen & wool. But… I felt it was too sad to let the mock-up just sit in a corner – likely forever. So – I found linen that I used for a dying project some years ago. Never was satisfied how the dying process went, linen was in a light color and spotty. But…. perfect for matching up with the mock-up! So I decided to just go on, build up over the cotton inner layer with linen and see how the finishing of the kirtle would work out, what looks good, what I can do better with the “real” project. Turned out it was really a perfect outcome for a camping event where I mostly cooked dishes over open fire – never felt sorry for messing up the kirtle with some disgusting stuff out of the kitchen. To finish this piece now I will try to add some detachable sleeves – and see where this will bring me. Sadly there is no proper picture from me in the kirtle …. for now.
The “napoleonic” dress. Last year I visited the V&A in London with a friend and fell in love with a dress! Never did any research into this time, neither did any patterning or sewing . But sometimes strange things happen. The basic layer – in white – is nearly finished. Have to add closing hooks in the back and finish the seam line. Now the tricky thing is coming. Over this white basic dress there is a colored layer – fine, lightweight, net-like fabric with beautiful stitching on it. The “original” fabric was out of my reach to get, so I tried to find a fabric that is in optic and performance similar looking to the dress I saw in the museum. I had to dye the fabric I found. The original color looks like it would be a very rich, dark pink. If you give a nearer look and see the fabric in different light it turns out that the “original” was a wonderful shade of red. My dyeing process was not as successful as I hoped for, the fabric was not taking the color as I wished and the outcome is: a very light pink. Oh well, I will work with that now.
Accessories: hairnet. A never ending project – in very small scale making knot over knot. Hundreds of hours. At least you can take breaks whenever you want and set it aside.
Accessories: tablet woven border. Progress of designing a pattern for a medieval dress – little flowers. As I’m a bloody beginner in tablet weaving a never ending process. Working on a prototype with cotton crocheting floss in random colors, the “real” thing will happen in wool.
stitching: small black work border, will be added in a soon to start project for a friend.