Friday, January 31, 2020

Superstition of the week: St Brigid's day and the blessed piece of textile-

I was planning to start this series with a different superstition, but a post popped up on my FB feed...

Tonight is St Brigid's eve so don't forget to leave a cloth or scarf outside to be blessed by the saint as she passes. Known as a 'Bratog Bride' in Irish folklore, this special garment can then be used as a cure for headaches or sore throats.

I was planning to start this series with a different superstition, but a post popped up on my FB feed...
So I need to go and find a scarf to put out on my balcony...

A few years ago, I was weaving my small flwered shawl in Judit's workshop, and in the third day, after I finished the shawl, i wanted to weave a piece of linen fabric. I had linen and silk yarn,, and I wove a simple 1/1 material, with an intention that I will cut it up and sew something out of it. I even wove a 10 cm or so wide narrpw striped piece (with blue) so I will have something for a collar and / or pockets. Right.
Fast forward a couple of month, the big fair of folk arts and crafts, which is usually around the day of  out national holiday, the birtday of St Stephan's and the clebration of teh new bread.
I've been out at the fair with my handdyed wooƩ and yarn, and I had several of my handwoven shawls for decoration... Including the 3.5 meters of linen/silk. The celebrations included blessing of the new bread, and each group had to send a couple representing the group and a big round bread to be blessed. You cannot just have a naked bread, they are usually covered with some cloth... but my group had no clean cloth, but the piece of fabric I had woven. So they covered the bread in it, had it blessed, and now I have a piece of fabric blessed. Wich I cannot cut... How could I? A blessed piece of textile?

I don't know, what made me think of this story, except both the supetstition and the story had a piece of blessed fabric in it. There you go. Put out something.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

How much? In other words, the amounts of fabrics needed...

The question arose from several sources lately... Partly from how I am once again trying to rearrange my flat in order to find place for everything. Back, when about 11 years ago I moved stuff around and moved my sewing stuff in the smallest room of the flat I was happy to have a separate room.... but things changed over the years. I am desparately hankering after a weaving loom, and the main obstacle now is the lack of space. AND, maybe more importantly the amount of stuff I keep around for sewing multiplied... by manyfold. So I thought, while I work on my flat ( at the moment the newly painted ceiling in Chris's new room is drying), and trying to get out the pictures of my phone to finish up my series on the regency daydress, I make a summary of how much I used from what... in which I also summarize, the styles I worked with until now.
In the last few years I often mused just how much MORE stuff I need, because of the historical clothes.  While before, when I saw a fabric I loved, I bought a meter  or two (three at the most), that amount would not take me to far (maybe a stomacher or sleeves, but for even a skirt, it would hardly be enough).
A question on an instagram post of mine  (and a few other, privately asked question) prompted me to take account... I will not show all the stuff I made over the last four years, but an example of each style. Not in a straight timeline, historically, but in the order I made them.
So let's see. The first historical dress I made was the 1860's blue ball gown. (okay technically it was the dark red stripey, but the amounts were the same).
As we already discussed, for a historical dress you don't only need the dress itself, without the proper undergraments it would not look like much. So, the first layer is a pair of drawers and a chemisette. You need about 2,5 meters of light linen, or cotton fabric for this. You will need corsets, that you can buy (for teh first time around I did buy mine, later made one, needs about 1 meter strong canvas and boning)
Then you need a cage crinolin, for which we used about 24 meters of steel boning, which is basically a flat spring. Also we used about 3-4 meters of white cotton (the type that is used for sheets) for the bottom part and covering the boning, about 20 meters of growgrain ribbon, a ribbon for belt. The next layer a petticoat that used about 5 meters of the double width (240 cm wide) cotton, and about 12 meters of lace to go on the bottom. I have two petticoats under the dress, to smooth out the hoop-lines. The second is made a much lighter, stripey fabric though. 
From the blue fabric I bought 9 meters of fabric, and I actually used 6.5. The skirt is 3 times its length (3 x 1,3 -including seam = 3,9 meters), so 4,5 meter wide is pleated into the waistband.  The rest of the bodice. I have put away the rest to make a daytime bodice, which I did not get around to do... just yet. 

The next ensemble I did was my 15th century everyday set. This set was made entirely from linen.
 The first layer is a simple underdress, needs about 4 meters.
The second layer, a light blue kirtle, with long sleeves and laced on the sides, underarms (this one hardly shows, which is a shame, I love the fabric), and the top layer, whihc is still short sleeved, as I never got around to finish the tie on sleeves. Both layer needs about 4,5 - 5 meters of 140 cm wide fabric. 

My early baroque (early 17th century) commoner ensemble, which is a summer version, the outer layer is from linen. 
Needs an undershirt from about 4,5 meters of (cream or white) linen, a petticoat about 4,5 meters of  linen (I used red) and about 5 meters of 5 cm wide lace - actually I used about 15 meters of thinner lace, sewed up right next to each other. For the top dress about 5 meters of linen and 20 meters of the decorating tape. 
My cap and apron came from about a meter of ramie/cotton fabric, leftover from an older project. The lace on my apron was a practice piece from when I learned to do laces.

My late 15th century Italian aristocrat clothes...
Has a camicia, from about 4,5-5 meters of light, white linen, decorated with handmade linen lace. Used about 4-4,5 meters of the damask for the dress itself and about 1 meters of the unicolored blue fabric, I got from my teammate, Gizus. I used about 4-5 meters of the braid and a gazillion of beads. 

I also made some early victorian ensembles. They need similar underwear than the 1860 ballgown, drawers, chemisette, stays / corset. It needs a corded petticoat , which I made from about 2 meters of cotton, and about 200 meters of cord. it has a plain petticoat (3,5 meters) and a ruffled patticoat. (5 meters).
For the dress itself I bought about 8 meters of the fabric. All those crossed folds on the front used up quite a lot of fabric--- but it was worth it. 
Though, for the first attempt I used only about 6 meters.

And finally (but no way lastly) the regency era dresses:
Underwear (drawers and chemisette) - about the same 2,5-3 meters than the victorian underwear, though, both the drawers and the chemisette is slightly longer). There is a pair of corded stays, made from about a meter of canvas:
There is a bodiced petticoat from about 3-3,5 meters of white cotton.
The white dress used about 4,5 - 5 meters of light cotton, with tiny pink dots. 
For evening wear there is a layer I add made from an Indian saree (5 meters of an about 70-80 cm wide fabric)
And the daydress with the roses...
I dyed up about 6 meters, but used about 4.5 meters.

So you can see that these amounts are far from the 1-2 meters I used to buy when I got something with the "will be good for something one day" base. Now when I see something I like for historical clothes, I buy at least 6 meters, if it is for renaissance or regency, 8 or more, if it is for 18th or 19th century. If I find white linen in the cheap fabric store, I buy all they have - I love this fabric for modern civilian stuff too. If I find white cotton that is good for underwear (like petticoats, or chemisettes), I buy about 10 meters....  

You know, I need more even from yarn... from 100 gramms of sock yarn, you can knit a generous pair of socks... for historical stockings... I need at least 150-200 gramms 
So, here is the answer, why I need more space. :-) Not to mention the fact that selection is very limited around here. No garment district like in New York. There are a few - very expensive- stores, and there are the chain that sells factory recejts and lefotver fabrics.... I hunt them regularly, however, as the nature of things, nothing stays there for long. Whenever they have something, that could be remotely useable, I need to grab it. And as you've seen I need to grab a good amount of it. 
Photos: Millarca (rainbow), Norbert Varga, and my own phone-pictures. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The current state of things....

This is how the New Year's Red Sweater looks like at the moment:
 (Hint: It's got sleeves now).
 This is how the room that for the last 10 years used to be my sewing room and will be Chris's room looks now.
(Hint: most of the things are out, and most of the wallpaper is off)
And this is how my hand looks now:
(Hint, this is what happens, when you put your hand between a big, heavy industrial sewing machine and the doorframe, and give the machine a short, but strong kick).
Now, excuse me, until I go and feel sorry for myself, think up something to write about one of the most often mentioned fibery (umm, knitting) supertsition.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Weekly Superstition?

Le Roman de la Rose. Bodleian, MS. Douce 195. French, late 15th century.

Yesterday I was putting up a post in my (Hungarian language) FB spinning group about St Distaff day, and I remembered, that back, when I was writing that BA thesis on knitting (In the English / American institute of my university no less), I looked into knitting and spinning superstitions. It was not a major point so my research was not very deep, but lately it seems I keep bumping into the topic.  I keep mentioning „The Boyfriend Curse”… Yeah, Xmas times and gift knitting goes hand in hand… so much another blogger have written about it, but his viewpoint is not exactly mine… but then what about the other superstitions? There are a ton of them concerning spinning, knitting weaving or sewing… Do we know them? What if I would explore them here one by one? Knowing myself I cannot promise that it will be a weekly column, but I will try and bring a superstition, and maybe my thoughts about it here. You could even tell me what do you think and we can talk…  What do you think? What should be the first one?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

St Distaff Say

Did you know that today is St Distaff day? No there is no saint with that name, but this is the day when women traditionally return to work after closing the Christmas / year end celebrations with Epiphany on january 6th, and in these "work" in winter spinning, weaving has an important role... so today, we have to spin. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

New Year's roadblocks

Ahhh the New Years Good Luck Sweater….. You might remember, I've written about it here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and I did knit one last year, though it took me considerably longer than before (two month to be exact).
Ever since I’ve done it, I haven’t started it this late but kept bumping into blocks... most of them I've put up myself. Over the years I made this set of rules: whatever I make should be for me, it should be started on the first, and I should not knit on anything else until it is done (except for the times I cannot knit on it - like in the movies, or in the car - for those times I can knit on something very simple, like socks) - knowing how easily I toss projects aside, this rule is not as easy as it seems...And it should be red. In the FB group for the new years sweater adventures,I keep telling everyone, that the rules are flexible, and everybody can bend them as they see fit - no, it does not HAVE to be red, it does not HAVE to be a sweater, I don't even mind if it is not knitted, etc.. But with myself... I am much strickter. I've set the rules, so no, it is not okay to finish something I've started last year, no it cannot be something smaller, like a hat and call it done... Also I have a long standing debt to someone, and now I wow-ed to myself o finish it, and I feel bad to start something complicated before I do - se the catch 22 there?... and so on, and so on... But then, after whining about it for a couple of days, I finally got up, took down a box of yarn, decided what should it be, and on the 3d I finally started.