26 July 2007

Hold the Mustard!

Changing course now, just a little bit. My apologies for the lengthy delay in getting back on course. I you are still with me after all this time, I give you thanks. If you are new, having found me by way of my presence on Tribe.net or elsewhere, then welcome and well met! You come at the turning of the tide.

Note the divot I carved into the tip of my wooden thimble in the picture above.
It's especially useful when sewing through canvas or leather. Since I
made that adjustment, I've reduced considerably the number of
slipped-needle injuries I sustain in a project like this.

Since we began this journey, the book Tudor Tailor was released. For those who have not yet read it, the book goes a long way toward pulling back the curtain on certain salient aspects of all we strive for, sort of a user's guide to Patterns of Fashion in a very real way. But I came here not to sell you books, I came hence to tell you that the book changed my mind in a couple of ways on the final outcome I hope to achieve with this garment and certain long-held beliefs on the construction of period-seeming garments for the reenactment set.

And so I resolve to complete the journey, a journey now refined by the passage of time and the introspection brought on by long hours wreathed in plaster dust as we continue to remodel our home, by the rumination over illness and injury, and by the letter R.

I have long thought that handsewing was just a pain in the @$ and little more good could be said of it. I was wrong. My wife tried to tell me that it had its place, and I thought she meant in areas were a machine could not go. What she really meant was that there were marked differences in the results achieved by the slow & steady approach versus sticking layers of fabric under the frantic needle of the Hotrod. I stand corrected.

As such have just completed the garment I began here this long while ago. When last we met, I was using plum-coloured canvas to draft a new pattern for a mustard-colored middle class doublet. A close-fitting affair with set-in sleeves and a grown-in collar.

  1. I set aside the grown-in collar after the difficulties I experienced with the rust-colored jerkin. I never completely resolved the pucker at the back and muslin after muslin repeated the problem, so for now I have set aside the notion entirely.
  2. I came into a stash of 100% linen in natural and a pale green. I have traded in the mustard-coloured brushed cotton for the natural linen as an outer material and the pale green as lining.
  3. I have - for this project as an experiment - set aside my usual Pellon fusible interfacing that I have hitherto used in lieu of canvas interlining and subsituted it with canvas 'Duck' since I couldn't find anyone selling proper fustian (a heavy cotton/linen blend).
  4. I will be making cloth buttons out of scrap linen instead of using the wooden bead buttons I used on the rust-colored jerkin and was intending to use again on the doublet.
The pattern piecing was very similar to what I have shown before. Using a combination of the machine and hand-stitching, I laid out the pattern I drafted and cut interlining, lining and outer fabric. Making a sandwich of the three, I sewed and turned them so that the interlining is caught between, providing structure to the doublet.

(Note: I will be making a new jerkin of green wool soon using this same method and will go in-depth on that, perhaps sometime this fall)

The more seams you have, the small pieces you piece from,
the more points of adjustment you have to work with, and the
better fit you can manage in your clothing.

The piecing of doublets is a subject I have been thinking on a great deal this past year. I have studied every painting from the period I could get my hands on, perused a borrowed copy of Alcega, read Tudor Tailor and internally worked the seams in my head during the quiet moments of the morning when the novel wasn't singing to me and sleep was elusive.

Doublets of our period seem to have been made from many small pieces, some smaller than others. Leather doublets seemed to be even more prone to this almost quilt-like piecing strategy. It's all about making as many clothes from one ell of cloth as possible, you see, The smaller the pieces, the more you can fit them on the cloth ere you cut, like the pieces of a puzzle. The period tailor books were full of illustrations of how best to eke the most out of a single length of fabric. And so shall it be with me...

Note the unaligned seams where the sleeve meets the doublet body.
These became rarer as more and more machines replaced tailors.

During the industrial revolution, patterning of clothing changed to accomodate the machines being used to manufacture them. Seams such as these would slow production, so they were aligned so as to be sewn in a single pass, or as few passes as possible. So it is that machine sewing of Renaissance clothing seems so awkward, the machines constrained.

When easing curved seams I use as few pins as possible, giving me
as much play as I can to stretch and turn the fabric as I sew. This
allows better alignment of layers, I think, and a nicer finished look
to the final garment.

I am not so reduced that I will set aside my hotrod entirely, but it will definitely be utilized in the main for sewing long straight seams, or pieces that will be turned and the machine sewing hidden. As I went along in this project, I was surprised to find that I did more and more by hand as I developed a feel for it, and acquired a rhythm for the movement of the needle, thread, and beeswax.

I must cogitate some more, and I've buttons to make and buttonholes to sew as well. I'll be back soon with more pictures and more in-depth maundering of the like you're used to on the myriad subjects that spring to mind as I stitch...

Next: Making Buttons!!

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