August 27: Varangian/Byzantine sources
For Filing Purposes.
Basilios II, 11th century:
The Madrid Skylitzes:
August 26: Handsewing
So here's what I mean by "sewing from the outside".
It's a construction method that, according to Ostergard, was common on medieval clothing finds in Greenland (specifically Herjolfsnes). Greenland finds were pretty well representative of the rest of Europe, and are the only extant garments close to what I'm trying to make, so I'm trying to utilize their methods where I can.
I'm using small swatches of the actual material I plan to use for my project -- one layer each of blue wool and white linen, sewn with two strands of Gutermann silk thread (I used black for convenience as I had it lying around, but Joann's also has it in a matching blue).
I have two ends, and I press down the seam allowance on the left side (in this sample I'd pressed both sides, but it was only really necessary on the left side).
I whipstitch the two ends together, being careful to catch all of the layers while not making the stitches too obvious. This is the aspect I probably need to work on the most. The stitches go much closer to disappearing if I do it right. Also, I find it nearly impossible to pick up the linen lining of the folded side as I work unless I make huge obvious stitches. I don't worry about it to much, as the next step should take care of it nicely.
To stabilize the raw ends, I fell the wool layers around the linen and tack it down. This is a departure from the Herjolfsnes finds which only fell one side--it's a true felled seam, but seems to work better on unlined garments. It is, however, similar to European artwork that depicts lined garments (such as this guy).
This is how it looks from the front. I could probably improve the tension so that the stitching isn't so visible, but there is evidence of such shadowing in the artwork of the period:
It is especially prominent around the neckline of Mary Magdalene's red kirtle in Hans Van der Weyden's Seven Sacraments.
August 21: Adventures in Solo Fitting
Fitting by myself wasn't as hard as it could have been since I just draped the basic bodice over my duct tape dummy, but after that it was just a consistent pattern of futzing, cutting, sewing, trying on, futzing, etc.
It's a mockup, but it's made with cheap (re: Ugly as sin) wool lined with linen, to replicate what the actual kirtle will be made from. Because I hate doing eyelets, I just tacked on some grommet tape so I could see what it would do laced up. Drew and I agreed that the overall effect was very punk.
As a first mockup, this wasn't too bad, and was even fairly supportive, The thing that annoyed me the most was a huge gap at the top of the neckline that was determined to be the Thing That I Could Not Fix.
After several rounds of futzing, I brought it in slightly at the side seams, and brought the shoulder straps upwards. It might not be super obvious in these pics, but it became much more supportive, so much so that could "fill out" the top portion much better than before, which minimized the gap slightly, but not enough for my liking. Note that the armscyes have gotten much smaller, due to my own stupidity. That was a fun ten minutes trying to take it off.
There is some horizontal wrinkling under the bust, but I'm not too worried about it. The skirt will weigh it down a bit, and even if it doesn't, there is plenty of evidence in the artwork that such wrinkling is fairly common.
I cut out the armscyes some more before trying to take up the shoulders again, but the gap in the top of the lacing still wouldn't budge.
I thought maybe I needed to broaden out the neckline farther out on my shoulders, and then it occurred to me that the arm holes were still pretty far past my armscye, and it was probably contributing to the gap in the front (evidenced by the long diagonal wrinkles from the shoulder to the bust). So I clipped it some more, and also adjusted the shoulder straps -- in my futzings the shoulder seam had started creeping more toward the front, so I clipped the back shoulder strap instead of just taking in both the front and back. It still felt kinda loose so I also took it in about 1/2 inch in the side seams as well.
I almost think I went a little too far with this -- This is the first it started feeling tight, though not tight in a constrictive, corseted type of way. And while it felt very supportive, I thought it was doing weird smooshy things to the bust, as opposed to the nice rounded look I was getting previously.
The gap finally shrank, though it's not gone completely. I think with expanding the armscyes a little more, especially as a result of setting in a sleeve, it should end up disappearing.