Author Archives: medievalhandwork

Making an Italian Camicia – c1510

I decided I needed a new camicia for my new Italian gowns (okay I didn’t get them made in time). This camicia is based on a very specific style from the first quarter of the 16th century.
I drew from a number of portraits of women, specifically:
Titian
http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/full.php?ID=36923

There are a number of other portraits that show a gathered camicia with a form of embroidery either around the hem or along the gathering in the neckline.
Bernardino Licinio –
Portrait of a Woman with "l'Acconciatura detta 'il Balzo'"

Raphael – La Velata

I made the camicia with linen batiste, which would give a similar look to that of the inspiration garments. It was made with 4 panels: front, back, sleeves.
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See my paper on Camicia here: Evolution of the Camicia

I used the full width of the fabric (60 inches). I removed the selvage as it was much stiffer than period fabrics. Normally I would use the selvage and whip stitch the edges. As it was, due to the fraying edges, I ended up doing french seams.

The gussets are placed depending on the drape of the camicia and neckline you wish. I chose to have a camicia that would be more rounded.

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The gussets are fairly generous, going further up towards the neckline.
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If you make smaller gussets and place them further down the arm / body seam you will get a narrower sleeve at the bicep and around the body. It will create a square neckline.
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I used about 30 inches of width per sleeve (1/2 the body) and made them extra long to allow for “poofing”.
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Because the sleeve is pleated down to a small width (about 6 inches) and they are fairly narrow they created excess fabric at the head of the sleeve. This actually is ideal for a garment that you want lots of fabric for poofing at the top of the sleeve.
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The embroidery was done with a silk pearl thread (Soie Perlee). The stitch was a chain stitch. I pleated up each panel and each chain was done picking up one pleat.

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The seams were placed at the body/arm seam per the portraits.
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Gathering threads were removed and a backing band was put on so the pleats would not move or the embroidery would not break under stress.

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Testing out Embroidery Patterns – Pleatwork

So I decided to work on a new long term project to chart out patterns from some of the German Modelbuch’s and then recreate them in both white and black (embroidery). Well I got 3 done, and only in black. The charting is the easy part, but I quickly realized that it would take much more time than I expected and its very tedious.

However, the results are very cool. One of the big questions when looking at pleated and embroidered garments is it “trim” or “embroidery”.

People also like to interpret some of the embroidery as “blackwork” which is doable over pleats but would not be what we modernly consider blackwork.

I am going to designate this as monochrome embroidery on pleats. The technique used is modernly known as pattern darning. Its a very common technique, dating from likely 12th century onwards.

Sample 1

“Ein new Modelbuch auff außnehen vnd borten wircken … Anno Domini 1526”

Johann Schönsperger (der Jüngere), 1526, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Kunstbibliothek

http://www.bildindex.de/bilder/kb17720014a.jpg (Thanks to Katherine Bairch) http://jillwheezul.livejournal.com/245929.html.

I did however reverse the colors.  This is the chart and the resulting sample embroidery:

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Sample 2:

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Sample 3 is a test from portraiture.

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Sample 4 was done to try out the embroidery on the shirt from Portrait of the Margrave Casimir of Brandenburg-Kulmbach c1511 

http://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hans_S%C3%BC%C3%9F_von_Kulmbach_002.jpg

What I wanted to test if a silk could hold up to being carried over on the front of the pleats or was this more likely a stiff medium such as metal thread. I embroidered over 5 pleats using Soie Ovale ( a flat filament silk). It seemed to hold up, but over more pleats it would start to droop. So it was most likely a stiffer floss, or a fine fine metal thread.

File:Hans Süß von Kulmbach 002.jpg DSC00013

 

TAKEAWAYS so far:

1. Silk for embroidery should be equal in size to the size of the pleats for the best effect

2. Very tight pleating (like Sample 2) will replicate trim / brocades

3. Not all patterns work for pleats. You cant have the thread carry over too many pleats or the pattern starts getting distorted.

More to come… next white..

 


A Pleatwork Apron – Flemish Style

Inspiration strikes at the oddest times. I was visting the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my husband and was walking around enjoying the exhibits when we stopped to look at a tapestry. It was pretty cool, having a harvest scene surrounded by the signs of the zodiac. I walked away, stopped and walked back, something catching my eye.

There was a pleated apron on one of the women in the tapestry. Not only that it was different than anything I had seen before. So I took a picture and continued on wandering around the museum. After I got home, I started looking at the few picture I took and there was the picture of the tapestry and that apron. I HAD TO MAKE IT!!

Now I have been making pleatwork aprons for almost 10 years. I own two, I have given piles away. I really dont need another one. So I put the call out to see if anyone wanted one if I made it. Well one of the people who answered  happened to have a middle class Flemish persona (in the Society for Creative Anachronism). Her research has been in cooking. Who better to need and get an apron!!.

My challenge with this project was just trying to figure out what the heck was going on. The apron was a strange merger of what I consider a Flemish Apron (rectangle of fabric) and the pleatwork aprons that were a favored accessory in the Germanic areas during the 16th century.

What I found was more and more pictures of aprons. While I did not uncover another image that looked like this one, what I found were images of aprons that had various elements of my inspiration image. Once again, it all came together and a new apron was born.

This was my third entry in the Kings and Queens Arts and Science Competition for the East Kingdom of the SCA and the one I think was the most “fun”. I actually had to keep trying it on to show people all the fun elements. I have been accused of spreading apron fun through the SCA. If this is the influence I have had, then that is a good thing indeed. I mean really, who does not love a pretty fun accessory:)

As with the other projects, below is a link to the write up, and some pictures.

https://medievalhandwork.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/a-flemish-apron.pdf


A Knight’s Hood – 14th century appliqued hood

I have been honored  for the last few years by a good friend to serve as his consort in tournaments for the Society of Creative Anachronism,  in the East Kingdom. This past summer, Jibril al-Dakhil became a Knight of the Society. I had promised him that I would make him a gift befitting. As with many projects, this one had it’s challenges.

He did not have a preference between a hood or a cloak. He has fairly simple tastes and did not want anything too over the top, but that being said it had to kick ass:)

His persona is that of a son of a Spanish woman who fell in love with a moor (son of a nobleman).  He turned against his faith when forced to choose between family and service. He grew up in southern Spain, and went off to the crusades and became a squire to a European knight. While he still remains true to his roots he is a Christian warrior. As befits his somewhat humble background he prefers simple accoutrements, and in fact as a new knight he is still building his estate and his wealth.

This was  my second item entered in our Kingdom’s Arts and Science competition this past weekend. When I was asked to talk about the hood I brought his persona into my explainations of material and design choices. I think my favorite moments were when I was discussing  access to the fabrics ( Merino wool from Spain because his mother was Spanish, and the Cashmere wool, that he likely “aquired” during the crusades) and when I explained that unlike the elaborate hoods described in wardrobe accounts, he was still a lowly knight and had not yet made his fortune, so he would not have been able to have a garment dripping in pearls and precious metal. The documenation linked below talks more about this. 

My goal was to completely hand make a hood, representing his new order, incorporating his personal heraldry, make the garment as period accurate as possible, but also keep it practical for SCA use and his desire to keep it somewhat simple. In my opinion I accomplished this goal and also somewhere during making of it, I fell in love with it. I am very proud of how it turned out, and I only hope the recipient loves it as much as I do.

PS, as of this writing he has still not seen it:) Yes, I am mean that way. Enjoy, and please, I would like to hear from you on what you think.

https://medievalhandwork.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/a-knightly-hood.pdf


The Finished Project

The shirt is finished and it met all my expectations. When I set out to make this shirt, I wanted to first make a side opening version, because they are rarely seen, and two I wanted to test out some construction theories:

  • Stiff collars
  • Stand out from the neck
  • Rounded top edge
  • Geometric embroidery

I really feel that I accomplished what I set out to do.  By folding over the fabric for the collar, the edge once pleated provided a nice clean edge. The double fabric allowed for thick, stiff pleats. The added benefit is that you need less fabric in the body to pleat up the neckline. The pattern darning created the geometric patterning that I see in the inspiration portraits.

This was not the easiest project. I put a lot of hours in to rip out embroidery and redo it. But with each failure came more understanding and further success.

Below is the link to the documentation for the shirt. It was recently presented in the Arts and Science Competition for the East Kingdom of the SCA. I am also recapping details of the shirt below in a full gallery.

https://medievalhandwork.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/the-italian-shirt.pdf


Achievement unlocked: completed embroidery!!

Thanks to a requirement that I rest with my feet up ( it’s not sell it’s cracked up to be) and crappy weather I knocked out the embroidery this week.

Per my previous posts I knew this would take less time because I had half the pleats to embroider than I did before. Thirty eight (38) rows around 1/2 hr to an hour each row. Started it last week, finished last night. Total time about 32 hrs pleating and embroidery.

Next: fitting the shirt

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Take Two!

In my last post I was woeing the need to rip out a horrific number of hours of embroidery because I was not happy with it.

So I did. Here is what happened next:
I put the shirt back up on the dress form to see how much fabric I could remove from the body without changing the drape ( about 10 inches front and back) .
I did 3 more test runs with pleat size.( decided on a larger pleat) .
Re-fit the shirt to my test dummy ( hubby).
Made sure I had enough thread in the same dye lot.
Put in Christmas movies and started pleating again.

This time, because there was less fabric and they were deeper, there are fewer pleats. This will actually be good because it pattern will be much more visible. The embroidery will also be easier because they will not be as tight. And I know the pattern now, so round two should be faster.

Two nights to re-pleat it and here is the result:

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