Saturday, July 23, 2016

HSF 4, 5 & 6: Catching Up

While I actually completed the Historical Sew Monthly challenges in the appropriate month, I am just now blogging about them so this is going to be a collective post about the 3 challenges I am behind on.

HSF #4   April:  Gender-Bender

Sometime over the last holiday season, Pietro took up counted blackwork.  I and several friends convinced him that it was just like drawing on graph paper.  Only you were using floss to draw on fabric. The original plan was to make something small to see if he liked it.  To the surprise of all of us (and him) he took to it like a duck to water and that small project turned into a collar and cuffs that took him about 3 months to finish. Not wanting to dull his enthusiasm, I wanted to get the collar and cuffs on a shirt he could wear as soon as possible. 

I used the same pattern an construction that I used for HSF #1  since my goal was to get him a shirt to wear quickly.  I'd been looking at coloured ties in various portraits and decided to do a black and white fingerloop braid.  I kind of ambivalent at the end result.  I don't hate it, but I don't like it as much as I thought I would.  I think I'll do the next shirt with a solid black tie and see if I like it better.

The Challenge #4  Gender-Bender

Material:  2 3/4 yds of 019 linen (5.3 oz)

Pattern:  Pattern #9 from Patterns of Fashion 4

Year: 1580-1620

Notions: DMC floss, Aida 14 count cloth, #10 cotton cord for ties,  80/2 linen thread for hand sewing, poly thread for machine  sewing

Hours to complete:  10-12    I'm getting faster at these shirts!

How historically accurate is it? maybe 70%  The pattern is from an extant shirt but its been altered slightly to make it legal for SCA rapier combat, I can't specifically document the blackwork pattern to an extant modelbuch or garment, the ties should probably be made out of linen rather than cotton and I machine sewed long seams on it (but hand finished everything).

First worn:  April 2016  and worn several times since

Total cost:  $0   everything was from the stash

HSF #5   May:  Holes

Summer..even Spring in the Deep South can get pretty bloody hot.  After getting sick from the heat wearing tightly laced 16th century Italian, I broke down and did what I swore I was never going to do:  I decided to make a Greco/Roman outfit.  A chiton so I could at least cover my arms.  (Croom calls this a "gap sleeved tunic"1)And, added benefit: a chiton had openings on the sleeves that would count as holes!

My first try was with linen and it was definitely a no-go.  I felt like the Hindenburg and it did NOT drape anything like the sculptures.  Which left me with an interesting conundrum.  Should I go with rayon for a more accurate look or go with linen for a more accurate fabric?   After some pondering the "I have to not actively hate what I look like in it" won out and the Tuesday before I planned to wear it, I went to the local fabric nirvana Fine Fabrics (literally a warehouse of fabric) but they had no solid coloured rayon.  So......  I bought some lovely red silk instead. Silk is not generally favored as a good warm weather fabric in re-enactor circles because it doesn't breathe as well as linen, but it was light and the arms were open, so I decided it had to be better than 16th century Italian.  

Silk was used by the Romans, but was very expensive since it was imported from China and always seen as decadent.2  Doubly decadent  because it was scarlet which was considered to be nearly as decadent as purple.3  It may be decadent, but I knew it was the right call because when I  pinned the two pieces together it draped beautifully and gave me folds straight out of a sculpture.


I found some cute Roman sandals on Amazon for under $20 and wore Roman to the event that Saturday.  Since then I have dug deeper into actually researching Roman clothing and rather surprisingly, find the Roman era pretty fascinating.  The clothing doesn't change much but the hair styles and jewelry do; I've tentatively settled on the late 1st - early 2nd century era to focus on since the first wearing have  made myself an under tunica to minimize wardrobe malfunctions.  I also want to delve into wig making to do justice to some of the Roman hair styles.   This is classic "Compulsive Elaboration Syndrome"  -I can't just knock out a fast chiton to wear in the summer... I have to understand the whole outfit and where exactly it fits into the Roman timeline...oy.   I am also..  um...  looking at Roman glassware for a set of feast gear and might have been reading Apicius on Project Gutenberg.

The Challenge:  #5  Holes

Material: 3 1/2 yards of  silk  it wasn't as slippery as a charmeuse, but it was more substantial than a habotai.

Pattern:  None.  It's 2 pieces of 45" fabric, hemmed, sewed up the sides partway and caught at several points on the shoulder

Notions:  Poly thread for the machine sewing (I was in a hurry or I would have done it by hand) and silk thread for the hand sewing

Hours to complete?   maybe 4 since I hand hemmed the top and bottom edges

First worn:  Early June 2016

Cost:  $35 for the silk

HSF #6   June:  Travel

No respectable Roman lady would venture outside her home without the palla.4  So for the June challenge, I am using the palla I made to go with my gap sleeved tunic.

The palla is a large rectangle of fabric most commonly pinned at the left shoulder, brought around the back, under the right arm and either draped over the arm or flung over the left shoulder.  

I chose sheer navy blue silk.  I had read that blue was an expensive dye for the Romans, but I cannot for the life of me find the source for that now.  

Note:  I am not wearing this in the manner discussed above.  I didn't have a pin at the time.  
But there are examples of alternate drapings for the palla.

The Challenge:  #6 Travel

Material:  3 yards of silk

Pattern:  None

Notions: None

How historically accurate is it:  80%   I can't find the reference to blue dye, but silk was available in the Roman era.

Hours to complete:  A  couple of hours fringing the edges

First worn:  early June 2016

Cost:  $30 for the silk

And  with that I am caught up on my challenges and have my July project in progress.  I  have now made it further than previous year I've attempted the Historical Sew Monthly.  Yay me!

1   Croom, Alexandra. Roman Clothing and Fashion  Gloustershire: Amberley, 2000. 
2   Ibid page 19.
3   Ibid page 27.
4   Ibid page 104.

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