Sunday, June 5, 2011

Garb Quest - Fabric Choices...Once Again

I kinda let a week slip by there, didn't I? Sorry about that!

A large amount of my time these past two weeks has been spent on the research aspect of my Garb Quest and doing some initial edits to my roughly sketched out documentation. I find that I'm at a particularly interesting point in the compiling of my documentation that I know what needs to be said, but I need to locate a credible source to verify the statement. It's a lot of trolling around Google's Book search and checking to see if I can get certain books through my local library loan system. I'm taking anything I can get at this point that has anything remotely to do with any aspect of my quest, which has resulted in a few interesting diversions (such as a history of business in the middle ages). I have been surprised, however, by the very limited number of books dealing with medieval tailoring and sewing techniques. Every reference I've been able to locate though Google has lead me to the Museum of London "Textiles and Clothing" book. This can't be the only source for this information!

I have only written a small percentage of the documentation thus far, and I am continually making edits throughout, but it's turning out to be quite a treatise. My rough estimate, and not including any images, puts it around 50 pages when complete. That's a pretty hefty bit of documentation, and it's making me a bit worried. I can sometimes be verbose, and I've done a fair amount of editing already to try to stick with the barest editorializing, but I don't want to sacrifice my voice for the sake of a tidy little paper. I'm spending countless hours (and I've already dropped a pretty penny) on this project- it deserves as many pages as I can give it. I think I'll contact the Regional Minister of Arts & Sciences, though, and express my concern that, if I present the entry with a 50+ page long documentation, I'm going to get stuck with judges they could afford to "lose" for the day (as in they wouldn't make good judges for any other entry anyway), but that are not necessarily the best judges for the entry.

I have also given another thought to the colors of the dresses, based on some of the things my research has pointed out, and have reconsidered whether I should line the overkirtle or not. You might remember that I polled my readers a while back with the choice of a blue, pink or peach underdress, and the blue dress won. I was perfectly fine with the choice, as I was thinking that I would use the ginger linen as a lining for the navy blue wool, and that would create a color barrier between the two blues. I have since then realized that not lining the wool is both an acceptable alternative (based on the number of apparently unlined overkirtles found in period artwork), but also makes sense in terms of re-creation. If I don't line the wool, I have more of an opportunity to wear it during the year, rather than restricting it to just the cool months. If I don't line it, however, that eliminated the color barrier, and I'm not sure I can get behind a double blue outfit.

The original plan was to line the blue underdress with a rust-colored linen, but I recently decided that I didn't want to waste the rust as a lining. Plus, a natural linen would be more suitable for the lining of the underdress (another realiation derived from my research.) The ginger linen, though not a natural linen, would be suitable as a lining, as the color is easily achieved, and would have been fairly inexpensive. More than that, using a cheaply dyed linen would have been preferable to my persona over using an undyed linen, if for no other reason than because she could easily afford it.

So I was still stuck with two blue dresses. Then I decided to take a look at using the rust linen instead of the blue for the underdress. The rust has a very strong red hue, rather than being a more yellow-toned orange, but it contrasts against the navy in a nice way.


Going this route provides me with two good things. First, it allows me to finish the two dresses in two different ways. With the wool unlined, I can show my knowledge of seam finishing, while still showing that I know how to do a lining on the underdress. Second, I make better use of the colored linen, and even reduce the whole outfit by a layer.

I haven't been doing too much actual work on any of the pieces. I had to start over once again on the huvet, but I was getting frustrated at the odd shape of my own head that I had to put it down and work on something else for a while. I also haven't returned to the hose, figuring I'd better stick with one piece at a time. I think I'm comfortable with the huvet's shape now, though, so I'll get back to that and make it ready for the embroidered front binding and loop (which I still need to create). Before I do the band, though, I'll probably go back to the hose. That will give me an opportunity to find the exact embroidery technique I'd like to use on the band.

I've also done the preliminary pattern plan for the smock. I'm using compilation of a few patterns from The Medieval Tailor's Assistant. The body will be basic rectangular construction (with gores), but the sleeves will be a bit more tailored by using a lozenge gusset in the underarm, instead of the traditional square, and by cutting the shoulder seam on an angle toward the neck. The neckline will be pretty low and wide on that, which means I've got to be really careful. I don't have a good track record when it comes to cutting very specific necklines.

In my frustration with the huvet, I moved on to doing two mundane baby quilts for the twins I've been meaning to make (they're almost done- just need the bindings put on.) Then I started a new brick stitch embroidery that I'll reveal more about when it's complete. I need to be really diligent- I've got a few too many balls up in the air at the moment, and too many projects not getting finished. That's a dangerous cycle, you know.

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