6. Assorted war garb revisited

Reduce, renew, recycle is a fine mantra, especially when it comes to sewing.  This entry to my challenge started a little over a year ago with Mad Pennsic Sewing™.  72 hours after arriving on US soil, I had attacked an uncountable number of yards of linen and more or less ended up with the following:

  • 2 simple linen kirtles (green and blue)
  • Red linen surcotte
  • Green and yellow parti-colored linen surcotte
  • Heavy wool cyclos
  • Towel/multi-purpose cloth*
  • Assorted linen napkins*
  • Linen veil*
  • Large Martebo-style tote bag (listed in persona challenge entry 3)*
  • And a cotton gauze scarf dyed with lichen to wear with the Moorish tunic MsMcknittington sewed for me

 *hand sewn

I am fairly new to sewing clothing, having a severe angst connected to actually cutting cloth.  I can envision dresses, but can’t seem to make myself take the risky step of damaging the yardage.  To get me started, I went ahead and used the “Kvinnodräkt från 1300-talet” patterns from Sophias Ateljés Förlag.  A few trials cut from old sheets gave me hope that the sleeves would fit, and there wasn’t time to consider much else.

These got me through Pennsic XL, but have been languishing in storage since then.  I don’t have much call for garb here on the edge of the Known World, allowing me lazy delays.  But sudden desperate need for gear for this year’s Viking festival at Lofotr (http://www.lofotr.no/no/Hva-skjer-/Lofotr-Vikingfestival) sent me scrambling into the closet to rework these dresses into something serviceable. 

Hems have now been trimmed and repairs made and they are again usable, even if not especially accurate.  Most of all, they have provided a good learning experience.  I am counting these items collectively as one entry for my persona challenge. 

Lesson 1: Gores sewn bias edge to bias edge are a bad idea.  The original kirtles were cut with the outside line of the skirt angled out from the waist to the floor to eliminate one gore and this sagged more than I could have imagined, about 15 cm, leaving the side hem drooping nearly to the floor.

Lesson 2: Add more length at hem and cuff than anticipated.  These kirtles will be fine for camping with an ankle-high hem, but it doesn’t make for elegant court wear.

Lesson 3: Don’t skip the under-arm gusset.  The pattern used had only a one piece sleeve construction, but there has been a fair bit of wear at the seam.  By using a gore, the seam would be moved forward and back leaving only smooth cloth under the arm.  I have patched under the sleeve, creating a mock gusset and that seems to be standing better up to the wear.

Lesson 4: There are some things that are 1000% easier to have help with, like measuring hem length and trimming necklines.  Thank you mom for helping on yet another of my crazy projects!

Lesson 5: A little embellishment adds a lot to a piece.  I also reworked an old apron dress from my journey down to Double Wars in1996 by re-sewing the hems by hand and adding a line of whipcord around the upper edge.  Not a great investment in time or effort, but the piece looks better and gives me something I’m not afraid to use for working or camping.

And one final lesson: Cutting cloth can be fun.  Having something to wear is fun too, so I see more cloth falling under the knife in the near future.

(originally posted to LiveJournal: September 9, 2012)