Fabrics for historical costuming

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We all know that very often it is the fabric that makes The Dress. A wisely chosen set of materials will bring out the beauty of the design, will enhance the tailoring – or even hide some dressmaking mistakes.  A less than perfectly sewn dress will look amazing if the fabric is right – and a fantastically well stitched creation can be badly marred by a poor fabric choice.

Naturally what fabrics we chose differs – all depends on the purpose of the garment. If it is a one off frock cobbled together for a friend’s fancy dress party,  you may not want to spend a lot on expensive silks; however if you are planning  a creation that you are going to wear a lot, or if you strive for authenticity, the correct fabric choice is essential.

In this post I shall mostly concentrate on the historical accuracy and will try to provide a basic reference on which fabrics to use in which period. The list is aimed at providing a very general overview, so I won’t be getting into details like which weight for which garment in which century – would take ages and would make for a very, very long post indeed!  I have learnt a lot over the last 20 or so years in the field – but am not omniscient, so if you know of an article or a reference that would be helpful with researching which fabrics were used  when, please post in a  comment and I will add it onto the article –  it would be very much appreciated!

I will also get a list of providers of the fabrics I use most often.

So, there we go!

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Medieval.

Linen:  for undergarments, shirts, basic tunics, lining, gambesons, etc. Bleached linen for the unmentionables for the wealthy, unbleached, natural one for the less fortunate. Other colours ( reds, blues, browns, pinks etc were used for tunics, kirtles, linings etc. Different weights were used for different  garments.

Wool –  different weights and types were used – including   patterns – herringbone and diamond were apparently quite popular in the dark ages and Viking era for example; fulled wools tend to become popular from 9-10 century, whereas plain weaves were generally available throughout the period. napped and sheared wool start to appear in the 14th century too ( broadcloth, wool satins etc)

Silk –  plain weaves and some patterns are used from mid medieval period in the north of Europe,  earlier in the south – proximity to Byzantium and the silk route.  Available only for the wealthiest, really – and even then was used sparingly considering its great value. Plain weave, early taffetas ( 13-14th century), basic brocades and damasks were used. Silk velvet starts to appear in the end of 13th century, if I remember well, and by 15th has evolved into several styles ( cut, uncut patterns etc).

Raw silk was probably used more by the steppe tribes, and duponi was not used much either, apparently.

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14th century dress in wool, lined with linen

Cotton – although there are some references to cotton imported from India, they are very rare – fustian was used however (cotton/linen blend) and there were several fustian manufactures established on the continent.  In England cotton as a name is used in the 16th century and most likely refers to woolen cloth!

Great article on the use of cotton in the medieval, Elizabethan and Stuart era – here 

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silk/linen brocade, fleur de lys pattern

16-17th century

 Linen – different weights any types ( cambric, lawn, Holland, buckram etc) – for undergarments, linings, ruffs, coifs, interlining, aprons, doublets, waistcoats etc

Wool – lots of varieties by that time, including blends with linen and silk; looks for broadcloth, scarlet, kersey, worsted, stammel, russet, cotton etc ); also, as mocado ( velvet using wool pile instead of silk)

Silk – again, lots of silk types used, in a variety of weights, patterns, blends ( cloth of gold, cloth of silver, tinsel) and grades. Look for satins, damask, velvets,grosgrain, sarcenet, taffets) Different types and patterns were popular in different decades. A good link showing some types- here 

Don’t be tempted by duponis ( existed, but very rare as second rate fabrics – contrary to today, slubs were frowned upon apparently), noil, stretch or crushed velvets…. Not period….

(Duponi lovers, do not despair, modern powerwoven duponi has hardly any slubs at all may be used as an alternative to taffeta. just avoid the slubby stuff where it shows…)

Cotton – see medieval note

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Tudor gown in cloth of silver

 18th century

Linen – underwear,  waistcoats, breeches, also dresses in the second half of the century ( especial pattern or printed) – polonaises, jackets etc

Wool – breeches, waistcoats, coats, capes, cloaks, riding habits, travelling outfits, uniforms etc

Cotton – at last! Getting more and more popular – and cheaper (cotton from the West Indies and America) and with the Industral Revolution on its way, the invention of the Spinning Jenny and more advanced mechanical looms  meant being ablt to make cotton cloth in Englad too (  1774 saw the lift of the heavy tas levied on  brit produced cotton – it was established in the beginning of the century to protect native textile industry, and its revoking opened the marked for locally made cotton cloth :-); I believe the first cotton velvet is mentioned in 1790 or thereabouts – there is an extant male waistcoat made in cotton velvet in the States.

Silk –  taffetas, brocades, damasks, velvets –plain or very specific patterns –famous Spitalfields silks ; used for dresses, petticoats, coats, breeches, waistcoats, frockcoats etc

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striped silk for a polonaise

19th century

Linen, as before

Cotton – including muslin, lawn, voile and plain cottons for dresses, pelisses, breeches, linings etc also undergarments including corsetry

Wool – coats, habits, suits, cloaks, dresses, uniforms,  – everything goes! A variety of types and weights are used, broadcloth, superfine, shallon, worsted etc

Silks – velvets ( still mostly silks, cotton velvets or plushes used as furnishing fabrics too), tafettas, grosgrain, damasks, brocades, twills, satins etc – a great range of fabrics of different weights, weave and patterns used

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more stripes , wool this time, made into a Victorian bodice

 A few generic notes

*avoid man-made, artificial fibres whenever you can. Polyester taffetas may be cheap – and not only do they looks so, but they are a nightmare to work with too.

*Sometimes (well, almost always!) quality will hit your pocket hard – but in the long run, it is worth it.  Don’t go for plastic embroidered duponis etc – save up  for a month or two and get plain silk taffeta; if you cannot afford a dress in silk velvet, use a cheaper silk, or blend – or wool – a very period thing to do, plus it is easier to clean.

*Hunt for bargains –  I have searches set up on ebay looking for  different silk fabrics and sending me reports every week – some of the listings are useless, but sometimes you can  stumble upon real treasures! Go to sales at silk mills, fabric stores etc.

*If possible,  do not skimp on fabric. True, sometimes you get  a fantastic end of roll silk –  and there is only so much of it – then piece the panels up and of course use it – but if you are at liberty to  get the proper amount of the fabric for the project, do so.

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Silk brocade, Victorian

Trims and embellishment.

More or less similar things apply – avoid artificial stuff!  Elastic plastic lace will spoil any Victorian outfit, rayon guipure  lace will clash with proper Elizabethan fabrics. Also mark that different type of lace or braids were used in different periods – putting a cluny lace onto a 12th century bliaud instead of tablet woven braid will not do you any favours.

Again, please mark all those notes are for historical attire – if you are making fantasy, bridal, steampunk, etc garments, you have  much more freedom with the fabrics and embellishment choice – I  love experimenting with the alternative bridal styles or Steampunk looks as my imagination can run wild and I can go for the trims and interesting fabrics that I cannot use for historical gear!

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steampunk wedding gown using poly taffeta and satin – looks ok, but was an absolute nightmare to work with!

 Suppliers, in no particular order

Historical textiles – great quality  broadcloth, superfine and other

Hainsworths – wool

Whaleys – cotton, linen, silk

Bernie the Bolt – wool, linen, cotton – frequents UK and Europen markets – no website:-(

 Herts Fabrics – wool, linen –

 Renaissance fabrics – wool, linen, silks – lovely stuff!

Sew curvy – corsetry fabrics ( coutil, broche, drill)

 James Hare – lovely silks,  great lace,- you will need a trader’s account

 Silk Baron – silk velvet ( 80/20%), taffetas, duponi

Quartermasterie – lovely silks, also stunning silk velvet on cotton backing  – no website though! frequents UK markets

Harrington Fabrics – lace, silks, lovely brocades  – trader’s account needed

Watts&Co – church fabrics, absolutely gorgeous but very pricey ( looking at   £100 – £250 per metre, many fabrics made to order only)

Sartor – – historical textiles –  – great fabrics, do check the fibre composition information, as many of the stunning historical patterns are made in blends – half silk, half viscose:-(! some are 100% silk though and are a great find.

MacCulloch and Wallis – cloth, lace, haberdashery

Duran textiles AB – lovely silks and cotton prints, suitable for 18th and 19th century

Tudor Tailor – lovely wools suitable for Tudor and later costuming, plus linen and calico

Wm.Booth Draper –  great fabrics especially for 18th and 19th century

Happy shopping!

 

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Officer’s jacket, Napoleonic era – Military bling galore!

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I do not do men’s garments after 1800.  But some people are very persuasive ( or simply very stubborn)…

In this case one of my existing customers ( I made a whole set of Regency wardrobe for his lovely lady last winter) managed to persuade me that I wanted nothing more than to make his new gear. A consensus was made, I gave under pressure and agreed to making shirts, waistcoats and the blingy coat, but drew a line at pantaloons. I shouldn’t have bothered at that line as it later turned out that since another tailor was a bit behind and wouldn’t be able to do the pantaloons – and  so I ended up making 2 pairs of the trousers. And a nice redingote for the lady…

The inspiration was the dress jacket from the National Army Museum 

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Over July measurements were made, toiles were fitted and all the ingredients were assembled – and there was a lot to assemble!

The cloth ( broadcloth) came from Historical Textiles,  silly amount of military lace and braid from Hand&Lock, and some more braid and buttons were provided by the customer.

I started with the waistcoat….

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pockets!

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eyelets at the back

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the waistcoat closes with hooks and eyes

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ready!

Time for the jacket….

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lace was applied and i started applying the trim….

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all the wriggly bits ( official term!) in place

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time to play with the front decoration…..

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the innards showing the stitches – the braid was attached with a strong linen thread.  The whole jacket was later lined in red light woolen cloth ( shalloon)

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sleeves ready!

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and the result:-)

the pantaloons were next – and they worked surprisingly well! 2 pairs were maid, one on navy broadcloth, one in white one…

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back waist detail

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done!

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front detail

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and the navy pair

The whole set was worn at Bath during the Jane Austen festival – and as we were there for the Ball,  Lucas took some pictures of it all being worn together:-)

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very dapper….

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back view

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undressed…

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and chatting with the ladies….

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At the ball with his lay wife, who is also sporting a Prior Attire kit:-)

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and if you are wondering about the prices…

well, the blingy bits ( lace, braids, buttons) were well over £200,

fabric – broadcloth is at around £50 a metre ( and worth every penny!) –  6m were used.

1m of shallon for jacket lining, – £21

shirts, lining and neckclothes –  linen – 3m – £26

calico for toiles and interlining – £10

altogether the materials cost more or less around £400

Labour for it all – roughly £1000…..  it took altogether about 60 hours to complete….more or less.

Not a cheap  set – and obviously the accessories  were of fantastic quality and also , I imagine, rather dear. But gosh, doesn’t it all look fantastic! 🙂

And surprisingly – I really enjoyed making it, so watch this space, I don’t think it is the end of military bling for me!

May 2015 update –  and indeed it wasn’t….. since then I have made a corsetted waistcoat  and another set of a waistcoat and dolman, even blingier than this one:-)

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Credits

Cloth and help with patterning – Sean Phillips from Historical Textiles

Military lace:Hand&Lock

braid and buttons and the barrel sash:Stitch in Time

leatherwork – Peter Stroud – Menagerie Leatherwork

Photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

and all of this has been brought together by Prior Attire

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First Impressions – Regency Ball

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Pray excuse my blatant use of the original, unofficial title of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, but it was exceedingly appropriate here for once 🙂

Let me explain.

Last weekend we partook of a Regency Ball in Bath – marking the end of the week-long festivities going on there during the 14th annual Jane Austen festival. It was our first ball there, and my first visit to Bath –  Regency is not my favourite period and I felt that I couldn’t be bothered to make something specifically for the occasion, but as last December  I had to make an evening gown for the 1820 Christmas feature for NBC (details here), I thought – I have the frock, I might just as well use it! Since Lucas had appropriate kit ( his wedding gear plus a pair of new breeches I cobbled together ), the decision was made and tickets were bought.

More on the clothes that I finally did make in other posts –  today we are looking at our own ‘First Impressions’…

 

 

The Ball was a fantastic event- even better, there was a dance practice in the afternoon, preparing us for the exertions of the evening, and the town was lovely – especially the gardens. In the evening there were about 200 people strolling around, dancing, drinking, playing cards and other games – a very convivial evening. The food was fantastic and there was plenty of it, and the musicians excelled.

All together, a perfect evening – we danced until we could hardly walk, we talked and laughed ’til we couldn’t speak and generally had fun.

Of course, all through the evening,  my professional costumier’s eye was noting the details of the clothes being worn. Naturally, there were no ‘authenticity police’ rigorously barring the entrance  to all those whose kit didn’t pass ‘historical inspection’ – so a huge variety in quality was observed.

Some dresses were amazing, some mediocre, some fairly awful – however,this was not a fashion show but a social occasion so it didn’t really matter. The idea was for everybody to have fun – and so no unkind words were said by anybody, which I thought was terrific – after all, many guests simply rented the costumes for the evening, or cobbled things together for themselves at the last minute, whereas others had evidently been sewing for years and preparing for the occasion for months.  Good breeding shows in good manners, and manners were excellent all round that night!

Having said all that, my professional inner self was taking notes – I noticed a few interesting facts and thought I share them with you.

It was interesting to notice that on average the gentlemen’s wear was of a much higher quality than ladies’: all the men looked very dashing, be they in regimental or civilian gear. I may not be too enthusiastic about the ladies wear of the era, but by Jove, the men’s fashions were just amazing. What was even more interesting – the cut of the dolmans, jackets, tailcoats, etc, made all the blokes walk and move differently, with a proud and graceful posture – no slouching, no dragging feet or shuffling to be seen. Amazing!

As far as ladies wear is concerned, I realised  a very peculiar thing. The costumier in me looked at every gown, true – but as the evening progressed I noticed that the ladies who stood out most and looked the most authentic were not necessarily the ones with the best dresses…  It was the lasses who took care of all the elements together who looked the best overall. I have previously ranted at length about period silhouette, hair, accessories, etc (links to the  relevant posts  at the end of this post), and now I have the perfect proof.

Some amazingly well made dresses, all hand stitched silks, lovingly embroidered hems, etc, looked rather sad without their proper undergarments, (and yes, a lady’s posture without them is immediately recognisable); a few otherwise lovely gowns were also somewhat marred by modern hairdos and faces caked with make up and mascara.

On the other hand, there were gowns that were not really that well made, or where the fabrics were not that fantastic – but they looked spot-on as the wearer invested in proper undergarments (or perhaps had a naturally Regency suited figure ;-), had a proper hairdo (and not necessarily a complex one – there were a some very good, simple hairstyles that worked beautifully!), and went easy on the modern make up.
Add a pair of gloves, a shawl  and sometimes a reticule – and  all together the wearer stood out from the crowd – not merely a woman in fancy party dress, (however good it might be), but a woman truly wearing the clothes of the era.

The effect of taking such care was really amazing- indeed it was often easy to overlook how simple a dress really was, or what fabric was used – because it was the whole picture that caught the eye, not the mere details.
And it so happens that a girl in a borrowed,  poorly- fitting or cheaply made dress looked better (and at no great cost!) than  some ladies who spent a fortune on an elaborate silk gown but neglected the rest. The underwear and details do make such a difference – So voila – the First Impressions!

And yes, some first impressions would not pass a closer look unscathed – but for this particular occasion it simply didn’t matter 🙂

Disclaimer: It is not my intention to offend anyone with this post, criticize their outfits  etc. it is just an impartial observation about the difference the attention to detail can make.

Promised links –

Looking the part1:(undergarments)

Looking the part 2 ( hair and make up)

 Looking the part 3 ( accossories)

 

and a few photos from the event!

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great cap and bonnet combo!

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yep, that’s us!

 

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loved that blue gown in the later style, fantastic!

 

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How to make French Hoods

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French hoods, the bejewelled headpieces of the Tudor era, seem to be one of the most mysterious and difficult to recreate items – a real challenge for any Tudor re-enactor wanting to portray an upper class persona. Throughout the last few decades a number of patterns and a number of ideas has been employed to recreate the look – some more successful than the others, some less. The main problems lies in the lack of evidence other than pictorial one – to my knowledge, not one of the headdresses we now call French hoods has survived to our times. There are surviving examples of the wire base used for the gable hoods, but not a single one that would cast some illuminating light on the construction of the French ones.  The only way then, it seems, is to rely on the portraits and accounts of the era, which, though immensely helpful, seem to be insufficient to resolve the burning issue once and for all – how  were the things made and how they stayed on the heads!

In the present article I will briefly discuss the origins or the history of the hoods and then proceed to show how Prior Attire hoods are made.   I do not pretend to come up with the pattern I have been using, and a full credit is given to the ones who did, nor will I claim that the method we employ is the best ever – I am confident it is only one of many, and it just happens that it has worked best for me and my customers. The purpose of the article is to show, step by step, how to achieve the creation – and for that you may want to buy the commercial pattern, as it will help you a great deal, but it is by no means necessary.

In my career I have come across several different solutions to the problem, and indeed a few of them seem to be working just fine. The two most popular for the last two years have been the following:

  1. All elements ( coif, paste, veil, crescent) are separate and are pinned together on the wearer’s head –  and the method has been discussed in great detail in an excellent article by another costumier, Sarah Lorraine (http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/articles/historicalperiods/medievalrenaissance/280-reconstructing-the-french-hood-by-sarah-lorraine) )
  2. The Tudor Tailor’s way – the elements are stitched together in a sturdy headdress – with a few items being removable as needs be (coif, bongrace, separate billiment). The idea is not new, as I managed to dig out the references to it in an earlier publication by Denise Dreher, but is now enjoying a well deserved revival.

I believe that in the 16th century there wasn’t just one pattern for the hood – ladies were making do with different arrangements, striving to achieve the fashionable look by a variety of means and no doubt women across the world are doing the same nowadays. For me the latter way really worked as a way of making a headdress that is historically correct, easy to wear, looks good and most importantly, stays on my head.

 

 The genesis of the French hood.

It is becoming more and more evident how the English, or gable hood evolved on the UK, transforming from the open hoods into bonnets with paste and frontlets, and then in the most iconic form known from the portraits of  Jane Seymour or  the More family.

Similarly, it is possible to trace the evolution of the French hood – though it must be noted that its origins seem to be developed on the continent rather than in England.   Although they derive from the same ancestor, an open hood worn in the last decades of the 15th century, the evolution took the headdress two separate ways. In England, the front of the hood became stiffened, and started to fold in the middle over the forehead, creating a point (style also worn with some hennins). With further stiffening and additional decoration of the brim, the gable shape started to emerge – first with the long frontlet, laying on a stiffened and decorated paste, then with the paste shortened, frontlets folded back and pinned to the crown and divided veils.

Charles d'Angoulême et Louise de Savoie jouant aux échecs

Charles d’Angoulême et Louise de Savoie jouant aux échecs

On the continent, the hood was also changing at the time, but the emphasis was on the roundness – the stiffened and decorated part of the hood followed the shape of the head, eliminating any possibility of the rectangular shape of the English bonnet.  The beginnings can be seen in the portraits of Anne of Brittany or even Katherine of Aragon, who, contrary to common misconception, did wear the early version of the French hood as well.

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Katherine of Aragon, Michael Sittow,

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  Anne of Brittany, Jean Perreal

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Margaret aged ten by Jean Hey,

 With time, various elements were added and new styles were developed – ornaments and basic shapes of the crescent changed, the veil changed through the decades and the hairstyles changed as well – but the most recognizable style of the French hood seems to have persevered through many decades, starting as a simple hood and transforming into one of the most complex headdresses.

Materials:

Buckram (linen or hessian) 0.5m

Wire – 2m

White linen – 1m

Veil – black velvet or satin, 0.5m

Silk for the paste and the crescent, can be the same colour, can be different. Silk taffetas, satins and velvets work best. The most common colours were white, black, tawny-gold, though reds and colours coordinated with the gown were also in evidence. You will need very little; 0.5m for both in the same colour is ample.

Silk organza – a thin strip (fine linen also works)

Linen and silk threads

Ornaments – freshwater pearls,  lass beads, metal beads, gems –   depends on style.

Thimble, pliers, wire cutters, different size needles, including a curved one

A scrap of silk velvet or wool for cushioning the inside of the paste.

A bit of cardboard for mock up

Pattern:

I used an adapted pattern from the Tudor tailor book. The pattern is available in hard copy http://www.tudortailor.com/patternshop.shtml

 Method

It is a good idea to make a mock up of the pattern in cardboard or stiff paper – just to see how it lies on your head. The paste part is the most important as it provides the base for the whole construction. It should sit on your head snugly, with the front parts resting just below your cheekbones, and the back ‘wings’ cradling your head. Remember to make sure your hair is coiled in a bun or a plaited into one at the top back of your head- it provides additional support for the hood. If your hair is short, it is worthwhile to get a basic plait extension – coiled and pinned, it will do the job just as well. Depending on the shape of your head that should be sufficient to keep the hood on very securely. For very heavy hoods with lots of bling on them, I find I need to pin them just over the ears as well.

Experiment with the mock up till you find the best fit and adapt your pattern accordingly.

  1. Cut out the pattern shapes for the paste and the crescent in buckram. No seam allowances are necessary.

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The paste cut out.

 

  1. Cut out the pieces : in linen – 2 of each, with an inch seam allowance all around; in silk, 1 of each, with the same seam allowance
  2. Put the fabric pieces aside for the time being- the buckram pieces need to be wired first.
  3. Cut a length of wire – should be enough to go all around the paste, with a little overlap. Sew on the wire to the edge of the buckram – you can do it by hand, with a strong linen thread, or on a machine. If using the machine, set it to a wide zig-zag stitch and sew, slowly and carefully, making sure the needle goes down on both sides of the wire, and not into it. Do not hasten the process– it will most likely result in broken needles…

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  1. As you near any corner, use the pliers to bend the wire around it.

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Paste with the wire sewn on by a machine

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And the crescent with the wire

  1. Pin the back ends of the paste together and try it on. You will most likely notice that the buckram squashes your ears or at least feels unpleasant – take note of the areas and mark them on the buckram – they are the places that will need some cushioning to make the hood comfortable to wear.
  2. Cur small rectangles of wool or velvet – any thick and smooth fabric will work well. Fold it and stitch it to the inside of the buckram where your ears will be.

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The ‘ear protectors’ stitched in to the inside of the paste

  1. You are now ready to cover the outside of the paste with linen. Pin the linen layer to the paste, folding the seam allowances over onto the inside. Stitch around, keeping the fabric taut and secure – remember that it will not be seen as the silk layer will go over it, but if your silk is thin, try to keep your stitches small so that they do not show through it.

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The paste covered with linen

  1. Once the linen base is in place, you can cover the outside with your fashion fabric – it can be silk taffeta, velvet or satin. Again, fold the seam allowances under and stitch carefully, ensuring the fabric lies smooth on the curved surfaces and that the corners are well defined.

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Paste covered with black velvet

 

  1. Next step – pleated frill. You can skip it if you plan to wear a coif with a frill. If your coif has plain edges, you can add the pleated strip to the hood.
  2. Cut a length or organza (utilising the selvage, if you can – if not, you will need to hem it) and pleat it in even knife or small box pleats, securing each pleat with a pin.

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Once you have enough to fill in the front of the hood, secure the pleats with a simple stitch, pin the trip onto the ironing board and set it with steam. Do test the fabric first to see if you can iron it – if yes, go ahead, if no, just steam.

  1. Pin the strip to the inside of the paste, so that only about half an inch extends beyond the paste. Sew it onto to paste, at the back, and carefully, at the front, making sure you catch the fabric folded under but not going all the way through all the layers.

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Frill pinned and stitched on

  1. Leave the paste aside for the time being – it is easier to line it later on, once the crescent is attached.

Time to work on the crescent.

  1. Cover the outside of the wired crescent first with linen, and then with your fashion fabric, just like you did with the paste.

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Crescent covered – outside view

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And inside

If you plan to decorate the crescent by sewing the ornamentation directly, do it now.

Decoration options: you can stitch each individual bead and pearl directly – useful particularly if you are planning a more elaborate decoration option. Alternatively, if your embellishment is just a single row, you can string all of the beads etc on one thread, and then simply stitch between them, securing the string onto the crescent.

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Once the decoration is attached, line the crescent with the other piece of linen. Pin the piece around and stitch carefully so that it doesn’t peek from the underside

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Stitching the lining to the crescent

 You are now ready to tackle the most difficult task of all: attaching the crescent onto the paste,

If you have vice, it may come useful, but a spare pair of hands or long pins could do the job just as well.

Mark the centre points on both paste and crescent. Pin them together, and continue pinning at the sides so that the crescent is in position.

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Crescent pinned

Sew with needle (curved ones are best for the purpose) threaded with strong thread, catching both items. It helps if you first place a few strong stitches at both sides of the crescent – hidden by the decoration, they will not be seam, but they will go through all the layers of the crescent and the paste. They are the main anchor. Continue along the edge of the crescent, catching the crescent’s fabrics and going through the paste, the stitches will show a bit – but you can cover them later with more decoration.

Using normal needle – and a curved one, below

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  1. The two pieces are now in place – so the worst part is done! You can now decorate the paste with your choice of embellishment –braid, pearls etc.

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Pearls sewn onto the paste, covering the stitches.

  1. Line the paste with the last bit of linen.  The stitching will have to be careful and require some dexterity since the shape of the hood is now slowly emerging and you have to deal with concave and convex surfaces – again, a vice or a third hand can be useful. Pin the lining in first:

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Then sew with small stitches

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Lined hood

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  1. Time to connect the back ends of the hood; pin them first, so that they overlap a bit, and try the hood on. Again, remember to arrange your hair as described previously.   Make any necessary arrangements until the hood feels secure.  Once satisfied, take it off and sew with strong thread, connecting the two parts. Since you will be going through all the layers doubled, you will need a thicker and stronger needle, and possibly pliers too, to help you draw the needle through.

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Trying the hood on

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Last bit – the veil.

Cut the veil in silk satin, silk velvet or taffeta. Sew the back seam and hem the edges.

Pin the veil to the hood – mark the centre top first and pin that first, then pin the sides onto the crescent. Where the crescent merges with the paste, pin the veil onto the past, so that it goes smoothly in one circle.

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Pinning the bottom centres together

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Hood pinned

 Sew with small stitches – again, a bit of manual acrobatics will be necessary, but it can be done – with experience you will work out which way of holding the hood works for you. Again, a curved needle is a blessing!

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Sewing the veil on…

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And the hood is ready!

Optional: if you plan to sew the crescent billiment onto a separate base, you can do it as the last step.

Cut a narrow strip of buckram, mirroring the shape of the upper edge of the crescent. Wire it, cover with lining and fashion fabric just like the other items before. Attach any decoration and pin the billiment onto the hood – it can sit on the top of the veil too. Attach the billiment.

Hood in silk velvet with a separate billiment:

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Other examples of hoods:

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Silk taffeta base and crescent, silk satin veil, freshwater pearls and metal beads decoration on the upper billiment, gold metal braid on the lower

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 Silk satin base and crescent, freshwater pearl and garnet beads decoration, silk satin veil

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Silk velvet base and taffeta crescent, satin veil, freshwater pearls and gold braid decoration

your turn now! :-0

And if you need a gown to go with these –  How to make a Tudor Gown, and Katherine of Aragon gown…

Bibliography

Boucher, François. A History of Costume in the West, Thames & Hudson; Enlarged edition (23 Sep 1996)

Mikhaila, Ninya and Malcolm-Davies, Jane. The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing sixteenth–century dress. London: Batsford, 2006.

Caroline Johnson,  The Queen’s servants, Fat Goose Press, 2011

Hayward, Maria. Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII. Leeds: Maney, 2007.


 

 References:

 

Boucher François,  A history of Costume in the West, Thames & Hudson; Enlarged edition edition (23 Sep 1996)

Denise Dreher, Fromm the Neck up; An illustrated guide to hat making, Madhatter Press

Mikhaila, Ninya and Malcolm-Davies, Jane. The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing sixteenth–century dress. London: Batsford, 2006.

Caroline Johnson,  The Queen’s servants, Fat Goose Press, 2011

Hayward, Maria. Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII. Leeds: Maney, 2007.

Medieval & Renaissance

1-Sarah Lorraine, “A Lady’s French Hood”, Mode Historique, 2002.

Royal adventures In Carlisle Castle

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This summer Carlisle Castle has hosted a different royal couple each weekend – and on the 8/9th of August it was our turn :-)We were hired by History’s Maid to provide interpretation as Edward I and Margaret of France.

The period was familiar to us, though not in great details, so it was an excellent opportunity to do some more research and learn more about the social and military aspect of the late 13th and early 14th  century- as well as study the lives of the two monarchs in more detail. Here Lucas had a more complex task – at the date we chose to base our visit to Carlisle ( 1307, the second Scottish Campaign) Edward was at the end of a long, rich life – so a lot to learn about!  As Margaret was 40 years younger, I had a much simpler task…

It was a very interesting research – and it was great to be able to pass it on to the visitors as well – most of them arrived knowing that Edward, or Longshanks as he was called, is the king who had Mel Gibson, sorry, William Wallace, 🙂 killed – hopefully they left with a bit more knowledge!

As far as the costume bits were concerned, we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, as the booking came in when I was already booked with commissions till  October, but  managed to free 2 days  for working on our kit.

Lucas already had his fur lined mantle, hose and chemise  he uses for earlier periods – but he needed a tunic and a surcoat.  As it was hot at the time, we opted for linen in rich midnight blue for the tunic – decorated with bands of gold metallic silk, and a silk for surcoat – with metallic braid used for decoration.

Hair was a bit of an issue – we needed a graying blonde…  A wig was bought at a local shop – I trimmed it, styled it and it did the job!

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original wig

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styling – just before steaming it

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result!

A crown was borrowed from the English Heritage staff , the sword came from Black Knight Historical, and the bling from Gemmeus – and voila, we have a king!

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and the king in question on his lunch break 🙂

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As far as Margaret attire goes, I already had a cloak, chemise, shoes and a dress in wool – but there was just enough time to make a surcoat and a silk dress, and an alternative headgear.

There are very few images of Margaret, so I based the cut on the Codex Manesse garments – and recreated the headdress from  one of the statues of her.  Margaret wasn’t crowned – but she still wore a crown, and her seal shows her doing just that! – for the  original images for both Edward and Margaret, as well as clothing of the era, there is a modes board on pinterest

The hair was interesting –  the image shows curls, and probably coiled plaits which were jut becoming fashionable at the time – so it was a hairpieces  time for me!

I plaited my own hair, attached plaited extensions, coiled and securely pinned, and then pinned my own meager plaits around them

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2 sets of plaits, work in progress…

then I added clip on curls – and pinned them around too.

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The barbette and veils were next – and a crown on top. Or the alternative look,  based on the original image, a linen headdress with a frill and a veil on top of it…

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a medieval selfie

and the other look –

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and the whole picture

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The  weekend passed quickly – we were at the gate doing the meet and greet, and priming the visitors for the royal audience when they could ask  us questions. The audiences were  inside the castle and  they were great fun – lots of questions, followed by some more in depth discussions as there were a few history teachers visiting too – fascinating!  The kids learnt about what a person their age could expect in the royal service, what skills and arts they would have been taught and what duties they would have had. Adults inquired about the manners, armour, tactics, food, clothing, day to day life of a royal and their retinue. Battles tactics were discussed, pilgrimages and wars were talked about, languages and marital strives were elaborated on –   lots of interesting questions.

The days finished with a Walk with Longshanks – a stroll on the battlements, talking about the castle, the defence mechanisms and the area around. We even had a chance to practice our French as there were quite a few visitors from Canada, France and Belgium 🙂

 

And at the end of the day we were given leave to take some photos  –

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It was a bit windy…. 🙂

 

On the second day we took photos of Gemmeus jewellery and I changed the hair for a wig, to get thea ‘ Codex Manesse’ look 🙂

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silk dress with a stylised bridal belt from Gemmeus

In short – the whole event was both enjoyable and educative – the best kind, well worth the long drive there:-) – many thanks to all who made it possible  – greatly appreciated:-)

and the credits

History’s Maid

Carlisle Castle

Black Knight Historical

 Gemmeus

 Prior Attire

Pitcheresque photography