This handout will cover:
Making Good Fabric Selections:
Linen is a natural fiber made from flax. It can range in texture from very rough to very fine and can be extremely heavy weight or sheer. Some of the better manufactured linens come from Ireland and Italy. Some of the more coarse weaves are from America.
Durability: Linen is a very durable fabric and has been used throughout Europe for centuries. Being a natural fiber, it tends not to burn but rather smolders, which works well for garments that you will be wearing around a campfire. It washes well and becomes softer as it is used. One of the nice things about linen is that it is hard to dye due to the waxyness of the fiber, this helps the fabric resist staining.
Comfort: While linen may seem stiff when you first, it begins to soften as you wash it. It is very breathable and helps you stay comfortable at outdoor activities. It is much cooler than cotton and will help wick away sweat.
Wool is a natural fiber which comes from sheep. Sheep were widely raised for food and clothing throughout history. Like flax, wool was a very popular and widely used fiber until the Industrial Revolution.
Durability: Wool fabrics are very durable and flexible. They do not burn easily and are great for wear at events.
Comfort: Wool is an excellent insulator. It keeps heat close to the body by trapping still or dead air within the fibers. To a certain degree, wool is considered water repellent. Small amounts of liquid, such as spills, light rain or snow, will stay on the surface or run off the fabric. Wool fabrics also wick moisture away from the skin, keeping the wearer dryer when sweating and cooler when hot.
Velvet is a process for creating a napped fabric; "velvet" can be made from silk, wool, cotton, and synthetics. In the past there has been some controversy surrounding the existence of velvet in earlier centuries. Velvet has in fact been around as early on as 2000BC. The Egyptians were documented using a technique similar to the one that is utilized today in velvet production.
Throughout the centuries from the medieval era through the renaissance into the flapper rage and still today velvet is being used in a variety of ways. In earlier times only royalty and nobility could afford to own garments of velvet. It requires more yarns to create and a number of extra steps in the process, which adds to the expense of velvet garments. It was also common for supplementary sets of yarns to be placed on the surface of the fabric to create a brocade effect making the design intricate and interesting.
As the nobility knew and we can still see today some of the richest colors can be produced when dying velvet. It has only been in this century that velvet has become affordable to the masses. The industrial revolution brought with it the chance for the common person to experience luxury that was for centuries reserved for royalty and the rich.
Durability: As long as you select cotton, wool or silk velvets, your garments will look stunning and the velvet nap does not crush or get funky. Do not select polyester velvet as it will crush easily and look dreadful. Cotton velvets and velveteen work well for SCA garments. You can substitute narrow wale corduroy if you want. The production process is just the same as velvet.
Comfort: Velvet can be lightweight too heavy and meet almost any sewing need you may have. As long as you select natural fibers, the nap stays fresh and wears quite well.
Cotton’s exact age is unknown. Scientists have found pieces of cotton cloth in caves in Mexico that are at least 7.000 years old. Cotton was grown and made into cloth in the Indus River Valley in Pakistan as early as 3,000 years before the birth of Christ. Egyptians were also weaving cotton fabrics around the same time. Cotton arrived in Europe, through Arab merchants, in approximately 800 A.D., although, flax linen and wool remained the primary fabrics for common clothing. Christopher Columbus found cotton in the Bahamas in 1492. Cotton was known all over the world by 1500.
Cotton’s aesthetics vary depending on the applied treatments, the fiber blend (if blended) and the grade of the fiber. A typical 100% untreated cotton fabric has a pleasant matte luster, a soft drape and a smooth hand.
If you decide on a blended fabric, try to select one that has at least 50% natural fibers. This will make the garment much more comfortable for you as the wearer. Remember that natural fibers breath and let your body feel more comfortable in the heat or the cold.
What can you afford for your garments? Just as in mundane life you need to consider if you are the type of shopper who shops at Old Navy or Prada.
Example: If you are planning to attend a variety of camping events, you'll need layers of clothing for hot days and cool evenings.
If you are usually cold, you may want to consider a wool cloak, or if you are usually overheated, look more to short-sleeved garments made of cooler fabrics.
Are you trying to look like a field worker, woodsman, merchant, or noble? Fabrics and trims can play a large role in announcing your persona's resources and social status.
Will you be sewing your garment by hand or using sewing machine? Will you finish the edges with pinking or stitching? Will you be adding trim or embroidery?
Measuring your fabric - I like longer tunics, about knee length once belted. You will need to determine the length you'd like for your finished tunic.
Fold your fabric in half lengthwise
Fold fabric again end to end
You now have your fabric folded such that there are 4 layers of fabric, two folded edges and 2 raw edges. Lightly press your fabric along the folded lines. This will help you for placement of collar facing later
Marking the neck hole:
One of the most important things to note is that the head hole is not placed in the center of the collar but rather it is almost entirely in the front of the shoulder line. This is very important in order to avoid feeling choked by your garment.
Add a drop of "fray check" to the bottom of your neck opening to keep the fabric from fraying and leaving a hole.
Owen-Crocker, Gale R. "Dress in Anglo-Saxon England." Manchester University Press, 1986; Revised The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2004
ISBN 1 84383 081 7
Outstanding book for historical and well-documented clothing and fabrics of Anglo-Saxon England touching on Viking/Scandinavian settlers, Irish, and continental influences. One of the best-researched books I've come across. Highly Recommended
Thursfield, Sarah "The Medieval Tailor's Assistant Making Common Garments 1200-1500."Costume&Fashion press and imprint of Quiet Specific Media Group Ltd. New York & Hollywood, USA, 2001
Great book if you are just starting out trying to make earlier period costumes. Many of the patterns are very close to "authentic" period designs and create a great finished garment. Good patterns and construction details. Originally developed for theater costuming. Strongly recommended.
Crowfoot, Elisabeth. 1983. "The Textiles." The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial, Vol. 3, ed. Angela Care Evans, London: British Museum Publications Ltd.
Comprehensive and in-depth discussion of the Sutton Hoo textile finds, including speculation on garments and household furnishings.
Groenman-van Waateringe, Willy. 1984. Die Lederfunde von Haithabu. Berichte über die Ausgrabungen in Haithabu. Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag.
Great documentation for period leatherwork here--includes many kinds of shoes, a quiver, and a variety of construction stitches. In German, but with lots of diagrams and suchlike.
Hald, Margrethe. 1980. Ancient Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials, trans. Jean Olsen. Copenhagen: National Museum of Denmark.
In addition to write-ups on a huge variety of finds of textiles from the Bronze Age through the medieval period, this book contains a good diagram of the Thorsbjerg pants pattern. Good drawings and a few very good photos.
Crowfoot, Elisabeth; Pritchard, Frances; Staniland, Kay: Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Museum of London, 1992.
Some Web sites about hoods:
147 Maiden Lane
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Open 9-6 Mon-Sat. and until 8 p.m. Monday & Thursday.
They have many fabrics and notions. The staff is super helpful and will cut swatches of any fabric. Just watch out, they can be very expensive and I find their fabrics somewhat over priced.
4458 Mission St: Specializing in Bridal
2315 Irving St: Children's Fabrics
1432 Haight St: Unbelievable trims, furs, etc.
525 Fourth St: Warehouse
All in San Francisco
OK selection, good prices.
Fabrics R Us
1745 Berryessa Road, San Jose, CA 95133
A great selection of dress fabrics. My favorite fabric store. If they don't have what you want, just ask, they can probably get it and at a really great price. Cotton velvets, linen blends, wool and cotton blend brocades, and silks.
2982 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Offers an extensive selection of threads, ribbons, tools and supplies for the textile arts, including lace-making, embroidery, knitting, tatting, crochet, costume, bridal, etc.. Corset stays and busk pieces - OK for hats and bags. You can rent hat forms there, to make your own hats.
Stone Mountain and Daughter
2518 Shattuck Ave. at Dwight Way
Sometimes they have good buys, great for pewter buttons and such. Almost always have 100% linen
Online fabrics stores
http://www.fabrics.com - My personal favorite
100% linens @ $7-$8/ yard
100% wools -they don't always have this but when they do runs about $8/ yard
silks and blends, overall great online shop and I have never been unhappy with fabric I have received from them.
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