tisdag 17 september 2013

Wool and inertia

Just a short notice to prove that I am alive, sort of. After Visby this year I was just too pregnant to exist and really crashed, and as soon as I had cleaned and squared my gear away, there was no more energy to do wool stuff. I fell to making acrylic crochet blankets, my no-brainer go-to when inspiration runs out. But I have too much wool which will go bad sooner or later, so I had better get to it and start spinning.

To the left, my default spindle and a freshly started cop of barely decent one-ply (soon to be two-ply in combination with the ball on the right). In the middle; a  small amount of test yarn from a blackish brown sheep whose fleece is so dry by now that it reminds me more of pubic hair than anything else...yuck. It will take a small amount of self-persuasion to work through that batch. It must have sat for quite a while before it came to my house. But I shrink from the idea of throwing it away. 

torsdag 30 maj 2013

Here, hoodie, hoodie, hoodie...

Most of the time, I just buy random fabrics, like candy, and have no idea what they will be used for. The notion of a huge wool stash (and the knowledge that you have more material than you will probably have time to use up in a Very Long Time) is oddly pleasing, and most likely primeval too. This is my inner cavewoman sitting back with a sigh of relief, now that she knows she has enough of, eh, everything, to survive the winter. 

Other projects you dream about before you find the right materials, and my latest one is a bit of both – a small 14th century red woolen hood lined with fox fur. The red fabric I bought with this exact hood in mind. The fur comes from my mother’s old 70’s coat, which has long outlived its original use, but nevertheless has warmed me through a series of very cold winter LARPs back in the 1990s. I don’t see myself ever wearing it in its present state again, but in order to pay my respects to the fluffy critters who died to provide the fur, I continue to reuse, reuse, reuse for as long as I can. The body of the coat will be trimmed down and used to line a dress – the sleeves were just large enough to be made into a hood lining. 

I have a hood pattern that Maria gave me, for one of those super-tight hoods that you can barely slide back off your head while it is still buttoned. I have made several, but never lined one before, so this time I cut it a bit more generously to accommodate all the extra bulk.  

Cutting fur items is a downright pain if you’re not used to it. I am not used to it. The sharpest tool in the house turned out to be my eating knife, which I have sharpened obsessively since Alex gave me a whetstone, unlike the disposable utility knives I figured I’d use. Trying to follow a squiggly line when cutting “in the air” with no support is an inexact practice at best. There is fur everywhere, despite my best efforts. Fortunately the fox was old and somewhat brittle, and parts of it tore like paper rather than leather. 

This is the hood toile.

And this is my ridiculously honed eating knife.

Lining pieces sewn together. I used white silk to fasten the two gores.

Jondalar’s relax kit: dead fox + iPhone.

Stitching the hood together, using red silk.
So far the process held no surprises, and was pretty straightforward.

The shell and lining was supposed to match up but they really didn't,
so the whole fit became a bit meh until I decided not to stitch up the bottom hem.

I put the two hood pieces together with some really hideous, crooked stitches.
The plan is (always) to have as little visible stitching as possible,
except for buttonholes and the like. These will eventually be hidden.

Ugly stitches from the outside. Some of the fur crept out with the thread. Eh.

Face opening turned back on itself, to hide both the stitches and the fabric edge.

Black silk for the facings and wool yarn which Elin dyed with madder.

Pinning facings into place. A million needles!

Here I’ve started to hide the fold around the face opening with an embroidered
braid made from the madder yarn. Read more about this neat finishing
in Ida's blog post, or in my tutorial. Tip: pin the work in progress
to your pants to keep it in place in your lap while you’re working.

The raw fur edge on the inside is hidden with another braid.

The bottom edge of the hood is hemmed with a heddle-woven band.

First I meant to use brass buttons, that I bought in Morimondo right next to the stall of another vendor who tried to sell my husband a lovely ceramic jug. They had no language in common, so the Spouse eventually managed to convey “It’s lovely, but I live in Sweden and there’s no way I can bring this back with me on the plane” by flapping his arms to illustrate “flight” and say “Bappeti boopeti – problema!” Before I started to make holes that would accommodate the metal buttons, I realized they would not provide enough friction to keep the hood closed – there is a lot of strain on them since the hood is so tight. I ended up making ordinary cloth buttons instead. 
Button holes edged with red silk, and pin marks where the buttons will go.
Finished buttons.

Inside of the fastening.

 The option was “no liripipe” or “really fancy liripipe” so I went for the WTF alternative. There is no way I would turn a hideously narrow piece like this inside out, so I stitched it from the outside and just tightened the stitches a lot to make them disappear into the nap of the wool. It worked, sort of. 

Disregarding the medieval clothes, this type of photographic motif and image angle consist a so-called “fjortisbild”, favored by 14-year old girls at their most annoying. My main problems right now it that a) all my other medieval clothing is a bit less presumptuous and won’t match the hood – I will have to make more stuff! And b) that the hood itself is so massive that I can’t hear a damn thing while wearing it. 

söndag 28 april 2013

Lussefläkten! Embroidered braids

Since almost every item of clothing we make (in Albrechts Bössor, at least) for 14th century reenactment is more or less plain, without decorations as such, I am hugely fond of the few, approved methods of pimping available - such as the stitch-on/embroidered braids that nobody seems to have a fixed term for. Ida did a tutorial on them which includes several very useful links, among others that to Medieval Silkwork, which describes them as "lussenvlechten" and to a tiny schematic which ironically turned out to be the most useful item for me.

But it still took the longest time before I got the hang of it, above all to understand how to actually sew in relation to the braid, so that's what I've tried to show here. This braid trick can be used on top of an existing seam, or instead of one (to close the panels of a purse, for instance), or be applied slightly further in on the fabric to decorate a collar or sleeve opening.

1. You will need fabric, a needle and scissors, some thread matching the fabric (though I should have used something with more contrast here), and two strands that make up your braid. Attach all four ends of these strands where the braid begins - you will be able to hide the ends inside a seam or tassel if you're making a bag. In this tutorial I've just knotted them and attached them randomly to my fabric swatch.

2. Put one loop inside the other.

3. Pull a little to tighten the "shed" that forms.

4. Make one stitch through your fabric. The sewing thread begins by crossing the braiding thread which you haven't lifted up, and then passes through the fabric to go under that same braiding thread. Basically you're sewing a long spiral in the direction of the braid. I should have used a sewing thread which gave a better contrast than this grey one, which I picked to match the fabric!

5. Put the next loop into the previous one.

6. Tighten the new shed.

7. Make another stitch to lock down the [red] thread.

8. Booya! I realized I should have marked the intended outlay of the braid on the fabric beforehand, by drawing or basting a line. If there's no edge to refer to, it's not altogether easy to see where you're going. Good luck!