HANDCRAFTED HISTORY


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How to put in a gore in a medieval garment

Remember my latest spring green wool dress? I took lots of photos during the process so I could show you how I made it, and share some great handsewing tip if you want to handsew a garment yourself. This post is a step-by-step on inserting gores in a garment, like front and back gores, small sleeve gores and gores for a hood.

The pattern? Here is a tutorial on how to make one.

Here’s an old post about a recreated Herjolfnes dress.

Lets start with my favourite way of inserting gores! With this method you will always get at gore that looks nice and ends in a smooth top.

Start with cutting up the back panel, make it around 1,5 cm shorter than the side of your gore.

Press the sides (the seam allowance) of the cut on the inside/wrong side of the dress.

Pin or baste the gore into place. If you are a bit new to handsewing, working on the inside might be easier, but you can also do this from the front/outside of the dress. The photo above shows the inside.

Start sewing from the outside, with a version of the whip stitch. Here you can se the bottom of the gore where I start; and the waxed linen thread going in from under the folded seam allowance to hide the knot. Vaxed linen thread (35/2) or a thin 2-ply wool thread are my favourite choices, but for an upper class garment silk is also an option.

To make the seam as invisible as possible, sew it like this; making my progress upwards on the inside of the fabric. The result is a seam that is only visible by small dots.

When I reach the point of the gore I just continue around, sewing small whip stitches all the way around the cut. The result is a set in gore that looks tidy, like this! But we are not finished yet, the seam needs to be finished of on the inside to be durable and neat.

This is what the inside of the garment looks like now.

Time to trim and fell the seam allowace! I start with cutting the seam allowance of the back panel down a bit, so the overlaying gore covers it. This looks tidy, and makes it easier to sew down.

When I have cut all around, I press the seam flat and whip stitch it into place. This will give me two seams holding the fabrics together, creating a very durable garment.

And the finished gore at the back of the dress. The small shadowed hollows around the gore is were the whip stitch from sewing down the seam allowance shows, these are nothing to be afraid of; it is a result of handsewing.


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Making a sleeveless dress in easy steps

I decided to make another sleeveless middle dress to wear under my velvet houppelande. The other one (similar to this one, also in black silk tafetta) I made before apparently shrinked on its own in the wardrobe during the winter, and come spring was a little to small over the waist. Can’t imagine how this could happen..?

This style of dress may also be worn on it’s own with sleeves, in the Italian style. The amount and choice of fabric and decorations does all the difference in placing this dress on the fashion time line, as well as the waist seam is a clear indicator of region and time. I fancy the waist seam placement in the natural waist so I took inspiration from these paintings, as well as the Italian examples further down the post.

This kind of dress may also be made in wool or cotton, depending on the area you would like to get your inspiration from. Cotton was more common in Italy, while wool is much more common in Northen Europe. (For more information about cotton dresses, I recommend “The Italian cotton industry in the later middle ages 1100-1600” by Mazzaoui.)

I used a black silk tafetta, because I wanted a cool dress, matching the silk and velvet outfit and taking as little room as possible in my event packing. If you are going for a silk fabric, tafetta is more similar to historical fabrics than, for example, uneven dupioni or raw silk. Medieval dress silk should be shiny and evenly woven as far as I have seen.

I also have a similar one in amber wool twill, recreated to be worn by a woman not as high in social status as this black silk one will belong to. I took photos from both processes to be able to show you some different techniques.

Want to see how I made it?

1. This is a basic sketch of the pattern pieces. Really simple; a front and a back upper body + linings. Also 2 different ways to make the skirt; the black one are made of the rectangle, and gathered in the waist. The wool dress is made of panels (opt 2) to create more width in the bottom hem, but wide enough in the waist to gather.

2. Upper body pieces: I started with a front and back, loosely based on my toile/mock up pattern, and added 5 cm in each side to be able to adust the fit and have some extra fabric to fold to the inside for support. If you go for side lacing you can have a whole front piece, and the curve from the front seam will instead be moved to the sides. I will show you later!

3. Cut two of the outer fabric, and two lining pieces. Then baste them together to be able to work with the pieces without risking any movement.

You also need to decide if you are going to have lacing in both sides (seems to be usual in Italian portraits and handy if you often change your size) or in one side (faster to sew, allow you to get the dress on quickly).

4. Pin or baste the body pieces together and try them on. Having a friend to help you will be really helpful! Adjust and take in the side seams to create a smooth fit. You can also adjust the shoulders by gently pulling the front upwards if necessary. The fit doesn’t have to be all smooth, if you have lots of curves there will be some room in the dress (just decide on wearing a bra or not, or making the dress supportive before you finish).

Basting the skirt into place for the fitting is really good if you want to see how the fabric falls, and where the waist is going to be placed. Skirts usually “hang down” the bodice and make it look longer. Not the silk though- silk is such a light fabric.

5. Here is the body, inside out, after the fitting above. The line is really curved to make a god fit, and support the bust thanks to the stretch in the fabric and lining (lining is really important, don’t forget the lining!) If you are going to sew one side, use backstitching to create a durable seam.

Or if you are going to lace both sides, press the fabric to the wrong side of the body so you have 4 layers of fabric to sew the lacingholes through (if you work with a medium to thick wool this might not be necessary, you may instead trim some fabric down and whip stitck it into place. Remember that all the sewing allowance needs to be pressed down- don’t be tempted to leave “a little extra” as this might lead to the dress being a little bit too big…

6. The bodice during the sewing phase. I closed one side seam with backstitching, but left the sewing allowance. It is nice to have if you need to adjust the size or fit in the future. To keep it from fraying you can baste or whip it loosely to the lining of the bodice. The other side gets folded and pressed down.

7. The neck opening and arm openings I fold down (once for thicker fabric and twice for thin and fraying fabric) and whip stitch into place. To make it both pretty and durable, you can then press the openings and sew them one more time with a stab stitch.

Or you may finish the openings with a separate strip of fabric on the inside, as a reenforcement. Here I overlocked the lining and the outer silk fabric together after basting and fitting, and finished it of with sewing a fabric piece to the outside around the opening. That one I then folded and pressed down on the inside. This technique is good for sensitive, fraying fabrics and machine stitching.

Here you can also see the clamps; some silk fabrics get small marks by pins, and I therefore use clamps when working on visible places like the neckline. But they are very handy for all kinds of fabrics, so if you are not a fan of pins- try them out! (Search for sewing clamps or fabric clamps on an internet or sewing store of your choice)

8. The skirt part of the dress I usually sew separately from the bodice when I make garments with waist seams. Sewing the skirts together with running stitches, occacionally locked with a back stitch every needle lenght or so, will give you a fast and good seam. Press the seam allowance to one side, trim, and whip stitch it down. This is my favourite way of making long seams faster by hand. Or use a sewing machine, it is your choice!

9. After that, I hem the upper lining of the skirt, before gathering it (see the tiny stitches at the top of the skirt below?)

10. There are several different ways to gather or pleat a skirt to a bodice. I use different methods depending on the look I want. The wool skirt got gathered in soft pleats, and then sewn onto the bodice. I used a vaxed linen thread, to make the seam steady. Silk would have been another option, but as I wanted to create a working class garment I mainly used linen thread.

The black silk dress got a pleated skirt instead. The skirt part is simply made out of two rectangles that I have stitched together in the sides, leaving the seam at the top open for around 15 cm, to be able to get inside the skirt when it is attached to the bodice (if you have side lacings on each side, leave both side seams open a bit)

I use something to measure with, and then mark the pleats with a pen, or make them at once with pins or clamps. You could also calculate the amount and size of pleats if that is to your taste, but I usually just roll with it. There might be an extra pleat or some uneveness- but it won’t be visible.

In the front the folds are sewn towards the side of the body, while in the back the folds meet in the back. By arranging them this way you create a flatter front, with more volume at the hips and back. After the entire waist is gathered/pleated, I often secure the folds with a basting stitch, or pins before I sew it to the bodice. (See the photo of the wool dress above, I use this method for most waist seams.)

11. Lacing: if you are a bit unsure, you could save the lacing holes to last and do them after one last fitting with the dress on, with the right shift/chemise under. Otherwise I like to sew them before attaching the skirt, I feel it is easier to sew with less fabric on my knees. I use a spiral lacing and finish it of at the waist seam. Often my skirt will stay closed enough without any further closure, but if I have a more narrow skirt that fits snugly over my sides I might need to add a fastening like a hook and eye, to keep it closed.

Spiral lacing on another project, just to show you what it looks like. If you need lots of support from you dress, make the lacing holes tighter together. If you have a looser dress style, you don’t need as many. I usually have 2-3 cm between each hole on one of the sides.

12. Last; finish of the bottom hem. Check to see if it is even and adjust if necessary (a friend is a good help here but modeling yourself and adding pins might work) I usually just finish the hem with a single or double fold and a whip stitch. After that, just try on your new dress!

If you want to add loose sleeves, here is my tutorial on the black ones with ribbon. 

 

 


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Houppelande tutorial -part 1

Since I made my first houppelande (late medieval overdress) some years ago, I have been thinking about putting together a tutorial for you, to make it easier to understand the construction techniques behind the dress.

As it turned out, the houppelande dress is a bigger project than I thought at the beginning, so I’m doing the tutorials in different parts so it will be easier for you to find the model you are most interested in, and to get a nice overview of the whole dress style.

I start with my first woolen houppelande:

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This was somewhat of an experiment trying out both pattern, if I would like the type of garment, and what it would look like finished. I could not find my original sketch for the pattern layout, but it did look something like this:

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Some notes; this type of pattern layout work well in a tabby weave since it doesn’t matter if you turn your front and back pieces, but you can also use a twill like I did. If doing this type of pattern on a patterned fabric, you can have the pattern one way on the front pieces and the opposite on the back pieces, which work really well I think, if you want to save on the fabric.

The amount of fabric needed for this layout, in size small, is 150 cm * 280 cm (I used 3 meters of fabric, so I had a slightly larger hem.

F=front, B=back and FM= front middle gore. S1 and S2 is the sleeves. I always recommend drawing out your pattern before you do it on your fabric, it gives you the opportunity to see if all the pieces have room, and if you can add some extra circumference to the skirt. I also use to draw out how the garment will look finished, to give you an extra idea of the result. The small cut out pattern piece I use to draw the pieces faster by drawing around it on the paper.

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This is what it looked like once I had cut out all the pieces. After cutting, baste your pieces together to try them on, or sew them at once. I used running stitches and back stitches for parts were there was more stress on the seams (like around the body, the armholes, and the top of the front gore). I also pressed the seam allowances down and whip stitched them. You can of course sew your dress on a sewing machine if you would like, just be sure to pin or baste the skirt lengths first so they don’t stretch uneven.

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Always pin or baste your pieces together when they lay flat on a surface. After this is done, you can have the garment in your knee, sitting comfy in the sofa and sewing without having the seams getting all uneven. I started with the front gore, then sew the front and back pieces together. The sleeves were made after the “fitted sleeve” tutorial.

The hem is folded twice and whip stitched down, and the sleeves and front opening is lined with a soft, cut sheepskin in a matching colour.

The dress is sold since some time back, and I moved on to make another kind of pattern construction (as I usually do). I liked this one because of its simplicity, it was very comfortable and not bulky around the upper body. another pro was that it didn’t take a lot of fabric to make it. I really liked the fluffy lining since it gave a lot of extra warmth.

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The style is somewhat unusual in art, but can be seen at the start of the houppelande period, though with a tighter upper body, the sleeves were full length and often somewhat tighter. For paintings and art inspiration, check out my Pinterest board about Houppelande dresses

What I didn’t like was that I dragged the hem of the dress after me everywhere, without getting the comfort of a warm and thick enough fabric to protect me from rain and chilly winds. So the next one became a bit sturdier in fabric, and with more fabric…


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Höstens hantverksträffar

Efter mitt förra inlägg med massor av allvarliga tankar känns det som att det är dags att skriva om något positivt! I höst blir det kurstillfällen och hantverksträffar på hemmaplan, med start den 11 oktober. Träffarna går att anmäla sig till separat men är tänkta att fungera som en grundläggande hantverksresa på väg mot din egen medeltida dräkt. Första tillfället blir en inspirationsträff blandat med symöte med vår förening hemma hos mig, och därefter blir det ungefär en träff i månaden.

Eftersom det är flera som varit intresserade har jag preliminärt bokat en lokal att vara i, men om deltagarantalet blir litet ses vi istället hemma hos mig (eller hemma hos någon annan) för att hålla kostnaderna nere för de som anmält sig (inte roligt om det blir dyrare för dig bara för att ett par andra inte kunde). Det du får som anmäld är förberedda kurstillfällen fullproppade med kunskap, häften/inspirationsmaterial och dyl, allt förbrukningsmaterial du behöver för att göra mönster mm samt roligt umgänge och en bra lokal att vara i.

Anmäl dig till kurstillfällena genom att maila mig på mehloic at gmail punkt com, eller genom att pma mig på facebook. Anmälan är bindande för att lokal ska kunna bokas och material köpas in, de tillfällen som kostar betalas på plats med swish eller kontanter.

11 oktober blir det inspirationsträff, symöte och pepp hemma hos mig. Du som reser en bit behöver inte dyka upp nu, men det finns möjligheter att få hjälp att leta i källor, välja dräktidéer att göra och titta på tyger för beställning. Eller bara umgås och ha trevligt tillsammans med andra.

18 oktober: Hantverksträff 1: Toilekursen från Visby.

En toile är ett personligt grundmönster som man använder sig av för att göra åtsittande plagg. Om du vill ha lösare kläder från ex vikingatid går det också att göra mönster till. Förbrukningsmaterial ingår + instruktionshäfte och du får både lära dig att göra toiler till överkroppen samt ta med dig en egen färdig hem att använda som mönster. Vi tittar också på ärmar + gör sådana toiler (om tiden räcker till). Jag hjälper er med tygåtgång till era dräktval, och tar med mycket inspirationsmaterial för dig som inte bestämt dig för en dräkt än. Kaffe/te finns på plats, samt kök för att värma mat. Ungefär 4 timmar. 300 kr

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8 november: Brickbandskursen från Visby (för nybörjare).

I kursen ingår det ett häfte + garn och om du inte har egna verktyg, brickor mm kan du köpa sådana av mig för en låg summa. Jag visar hur du ritar och designar egna mönster för enkla brickband, läser mönster, varpar, trär och förbereder allt inför vävningen. Mycket problemlösning, och när du kommit igång med vävningen visar jag olika tekniker för att mönstra och skapa variationer med brickorna. Tanken med kursen är att du ska få en bred bas så du kan ta hem ditt band och väva klart, och sedan kunna väva själv. Vi har haft fantastiskt roligt med den här kursen, både deltagare och kursledare, och på 4 timmar hinner du lära dig allt du behöver för att kunna fortsätta hemma. Kaffe/te finns på plats, samt kök för att värma mat, 300 kr

29 november: Hantverksträff 2: Sömnadskurs, klipp ut och sy ihop din dräkt

Ta med dig din toile (eller annat mönster) och ditt tyg som du vill sy i. Jag berättar och visar hur du gör för att använda toilen/mönstret, lägga till sömsmåner och rörelsevidd, tyg för knäppning mm. Vi lägger ut mönstret på tyget och klipper ut alla delar (ja, du får klippa ditt tyg själv men jag finns med som stöd) och sedan går jag igenom några olika tekniker för att handsy + tips för maskinsömnad. För dig som inte sytt så många plagg förut, eller som känner att du vill ge dig på något mer avancerat, som vill ha pepp och stöd för att klippa ut plagget och bra tips på hur du ska sy ihop allt. Vi arbetar så långt vi hinner och orkar under dagen, och provar in plagg vid behov. Kaffe/te finns på plats, samt kök för att värma mat. Räkna med minst 4 timmar, 300 kr

Sedan tar vi paus för julen och ses på syträffar med föreningen Gyllengran om man bor i närheten. I januari ses vi igen, provar in och finjusterar plaggen, nålar upp fållar mm, samt syr detaljer såsom knapphål, snörhål, knappar, förstärkningar, smock och andra roliga tekniker.

Det kommer alltså finnas tid mellan varje träff för att hinna sy hemma eller på träffar, om du till exempel vill handsy ditt plagg.

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