24 February 2019

Historical Sew Monthly 2019: #2 - Linen/Linens

The Visby sewing continues! I've already completed two shifts for myself and a pair of braies for my husband (using the excellent loincloth-type pattern shared by Enes and Riku at Hibernaatio). Next on the list was a shirt for my husband. I continued using the delicious antique hand-woven hemp I bought last year to make something a bit like this:

Pierpoint Morgan MS G. 24, f. 19. N. France or Belgium,
possibly Tournai, c. 1350. Source.

I used the good old 'rectangles and triangles' method that seems to be what was used in the mid-14th Century. Drawing up the cutting pattern required some careful tessellation as the fabric is only about 28 inches wide. I cut the 'skirt' gores conservatively by cutting them like this |/\| and piecing together the second gore from the two narrow right-angled triangles. This meant that I could get the 'skirt' gores out of the narrow strip alongside the body panels. Therefore, I got the whole shirt out of 3.3 m of the 28 inch wide fabric, even though it's nearly knee-length!

Since the hemp is old-fashioned good-quality stuff, I could unravel some of the offcuts and use the thread to sew the shirt with. A little beeswax and it was good to go!

All the seams were felled over and whip-stitched down. It looks very pleasing.

The finished product (with Luttrell Psalter-style hat, due to him having crazy hair today!).

The sleeves turned out a touch short which will be rectified in the second shirt but will probably just get left on this one. However, otherwise it's pretty good.

What the item is: a man's shirt

How it fits the challenge: underwear definition of linens

Material: antique, hand-woven hemp from Eastern Europe (probably c. 1920s/30s?)

Pattern: my own, based on rectangles and triangles

Year: mid-14th C

Notions: beeswax, no thread as I used threads pulled from the fabric offcuts to sew this

How historically accurate is it: I don't 100% know if hemp was used in Wales at this time, though it was used elsewhere in Europe; barring that, it's about as close as it could get.

Hours to complete: more than it should have, seeing as I seem to be incapable of sewing shirt/shift arms in the right way round first time

First worn: tonight, for photos; probably not til June for an event

Total cost: about £30 (3.3m of £9/m fabric that is about 28" wide, couple of pence in beeswax)

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