The neckline

I’m making Fearghus a new fighting tunic and decided to give it the same sort of neckline as the Viborg shirt.

His neck is 18.5 inches. I mathified this (C=2pi*r) and figured out the radius of the circle that is his neck and then cut out a square that could bound the circle of his neck (each side of the square was 2r). Turns out this is TOTALLY the wrong thing to do. This was me, the modern day educated woman, applying math to a non-math problem. By doing it this way I ended up with a VERY loose neck in fact so loose he could pull the tunic on over his head without any slit opening (a medieval Norse woman would be -scandalized-). I ended up sealing the slit on the neck of the fighting tunic and he just has a nice faced square neck opening on it.

BUT this did allow me to realize the error of my ways BEFORE I tried to make the Viborg shirt for him. Instead of making the opening a square that could contain the circle of his neck I need to remember that the square on the shirt is made of fabric.. so it will deform to fit his neck. So really I need to figure out a square that has the same total exterior measurements as the circle of his neck. In this case it means that each side of the square needs to be 4.625″ long (18.5/4). I will probably fudge that to 4.75 inches just to give him a smidge of breathing room.

Pics or it never happened

Click to embiggen.

Front of the shirt

Back of the shirt

Closer view of front

Neck opening detail

Closeup of Sleeve seam

The Gusset

Closeup of the skirt overlap

Closeup of the front fixative stitch

Viborg Shirt Finished

I just finished the last last stitch on my initial copy of the Viborg shirt. Really I took 3-4 days off on sewing it. The thread I was using was a very chunky linen thread that shreded and broke a lot. I found this very frustrating and had to take a bit of time off from the shirt.

I ordered some 60/2 linen thread from Wooded Hamlet Designs. Oh.. my.. it’s lovely.

Of all the stitches I found finishing the neckline to be the most difficult.

Skinny Little No Veggie Eating Hick!

So.. so I get some of the seams now.. but I’m still perplexed by others.

Viborg Sleeve Seam

Take the sleeve seam. Part A is “getting rid of the raw edges”. I get that.. but I don’t get why we used a running stitch through the two folds instead of a simple overcast stitch or even a running stitch to just hold the edge down. If I’d used a running stitch it’d lie flat… as it is, when you do sleeve stitch part B you end up with this odd little.. band around the outside of the sleeve.

I mean I get that the shirt (and therefore teh Danes by extension) seems to favor Overcast stitches and funny little half overcast, half running stitches.. But honestly.. they used a running stitch while they were doing the flatfelled seam on the left sleeve.. why couldn’t they just use it to hold down the doublefold on the sleeve? Hell, even a simple overcast seam like they did on the hems would have made the sleeve lie flatter. /sigh I’m just perplexed by it.

Anyway.. finished the fixation stitches(front and back), finished the sleeves, finished the waist seams (front and back), attached the sleeves to the garment.. and finished the side seams.

Yeah, the shirt is small.. we’re talking like skinny twelve-year-old boy who doesn’t eat his veggies small. I honestly don’t think I know anyone that small.

So.. I’ve started planning for the -next- shirt.. the one I’ll be sizing up to fit Fearghus. More to follow.

OH… Also I think I’ll teach a class about the Viborg shirt in June at the Kingdom A&S. I should have good notes.. and a fantastic “look-I-made-this” example shirt. 😛 I think just reviewing the pattern and going over the different seams would fill up a class period. Hmm I guess that means I’ll need to makeup a handout.

Viborg Progress

Monday: Finished up the right sleeve overcast seam on the commute home.

Completed the shoulder seam. (which I then ripped out on Wednesday. Doh)

The shoulder seam

Sewn from the “inside” of the garment. The shoulder seam attaches the front and back linings to the “poncho” outer fabric all in on step. This is going together very quickly.


Flatfelled seam

Flatfelled the two pieces of the left sleeve. Also flat-felled the gusset onto the back of the left sleeve. I had planned to do the fixation stitch on the front/back of the garment.. but when I laid out the half finished garment I found out that the front lining piece was the wrong size (somewhere I just messed it up) so I had to re-do it. I ironed the linen, cut new lining pieces, overcast the two pieces of the front lining together and then re-did the shoulder seams. Still, it didn’t take terribly long.

Flat felled the second seam on the gusset/left arm. The gusset was already attached to the back of the sleeve with a flatfell (since I did that on Wednesday). This seam attached the other side of the gusset to the sleeve and then continued down the length of the sleeve to the wrist to completely close it off.

Before bed Thursday night I laid out and sewed the fixation seams on the front. I only got done with marking the fixation seams on the back. I’ll try and finish that on Friday night.

At this point I’m not certain I’ll have it done by this weekend. It may be the middle of next week before it’s done. That said, it’s going together very quickly. I think at this point I’m 1/2 done and have ~3 hours in on it.

Viborg Shirt Observations, Conjecture and Puzzlement

Gusset and Neck Hole The gussets are almost exactly the same size as the neck holes.  It would be convenient, and save fabric to make the gussets out of the fabric removed to make the neck holes.

Fabric Width and Pieced Lining
I assume that given enough fabric the medieval seamstress would have preferred to cut the linings as a single piece. So then the fact that the lining is pieced implies that it was done to conserve fabric. This then placed the width of the original piece of fabric at about 39.5 inches wide.  That is 22.5″(width of the main body “poncho”) + 17″(width of the widest piece used in the lining).

Even though the proposed cutting diagram shows it as a single piece, the article says that it’s uncertain whether the lining on the back of the garment was cut as a single piece.

Selvages and symmetry
I’m bothered that the right and left sleeve use different seams to join the two pieces of the sleeve together(overcast selvages on one and flat-felled on the other).  The proposed cutting diagram with the article actually has enough selvages that the left sleeve could have been cut/sewn just like the right one.  This bothers me even more since the seam treatment is visible on the exterior of the garment. The article is very clear about the seams used on the sleeves.

To me that implies that either the cutting diagram is incorrect (and there wasn’t enough selvage available) or it’s a modern (or even just a personal) hangup and the medieval seamstress didn’t care.

That said, I can’t re-arrange the pattern pieces to make a more logical cutting pattern that conserves more fabric.

Minor Puzzlements

I’m puzzled why the body of the shirt is lined, but not the skirt.  I suppose this could for added warmth while still conserving fabric.

I’m also puzzled why the neck uses such a complex set of ties to keep it closed.  The neckhole could easily have been folded inwards and finished that way instead of adding the binding/ties. I suppose it does make it so the neck hole will fit over your head and still close tightly.

Lastly I’m puzzled why the front and back of the shirt use the “fixative” stitch.  Is it purely decorative or does it serve a purpose (may not figure this out until I sew it together)(if ever).

Front Lining

Sunday morning I bought some more linen. I very carefully found linen of the right weight, with a firm selvedge, that (at least reported that it) was 100% linen. I washed and dried this and FINALLY cut out all the pieces.

This linen is -still- slightly wrong as compared to the medieval linen. Modernly, firm selvedges are reinforced.. that is they have about twice the thread count of the rest of the fabric. I believe the medieval fabric edges were not reinforced. That said, this is the closest I’m going to get without weaving my own fabric.. so it’s good enough.

I’m using an S/Z two-ply linen thread to sew this together. At this time I’m using it as-is. If the thread frays a lot I will start waxing it.

From The Viking Shirt From Viborg:
Joining the selvages
The lining of the bodice is made from two pieces of fabric, the selvages of which are sewn together with an overcast stitch from the right side so that the seam faces the front.

The selvages of the two right sleeve sections are sewn together with an overcast stitch from the wrong side.

I find that first sentence very confusing. What I understand: The lining of the front of the body of the shirt is made of two pieces (noted in green on the cutting diagram). They are cut so that both pieces has selvage on the edge. These selvages are sewn together using an overcast stitch so that the pieces could be flattened (no seam allowance). I think the sentence is trying to tell me that this seam would be made on the “right side” of the fabric which would mean that it would be close to the body. Structurally I don’t think it makes any difference.

This morning on the commute I finished this first seam.

This evening I’ll try and finish the second seam(the sleeve seam).

Note that the description calls this the “right sleeve” but that the cutting diagram has labeled the “left sleeve” on the selvedge. I’ve decided that the cutting diagram is mis-labeled. In the pamphlet, in a later image the right sleeve is very clearly the sleeve with no seam allowance on the join. So the sleeve I sew together tonight will eventually be the “right” sleeve.

Groking the Pattern

Cheap krinkle linen is put away. Probably will use it for a chemise or somesuch. Got new linen and washed it.. No krinkles. Saturday I dragged a table out of the garage and into the dining room and used that to lay out fabric to cut out the Viborg shirt.

I totally -grok- it now. I know why it was cut the way it is cut and totally know how to adjust it to fit Fearghus(win).

It wasn’t until last night when I was looking at the sewing instructions that I realized that the fabric I used is -AGAIN- totally not right. I need fabric that has a hard selvedge.. this linen has a fuzzy selvedge. The historic find uses the hard selvage in several places.. so sewing a reproduction together with a fuzzy selvage just won’t work totally correctly. Bah humbug.

If I’m going to sew together a reproduction with an eye towards teaching this at an A&S someday then I need it to match the original as closely as possible. So I’m again looking to buy new linen (3rd times the charm.. right?) I think I’ll go ahead and futz the seam treatments and make up this first cut out as something to give away. I hate to waste fabric.. but I also hate to spend all this time/effort hand sewing a reproduction just to be forced to do it wrong because of poor fabric choice.

So back to square 1 on the Viborg shirt.. well more like 1.5 since I now -get- it and just need the proper fabric to get to work on it. (boo hiss)

Also, I am amused to find an error in the Viborg article. It was easy to spot.. but an error none-the-less.

Cheap linen is cheap

So Saturday I got 14 yards of 45″ wide natural linen for $2/yd (SCORE).

The responsible sewing gremlin demanded that I whack of a hunk of it off(~100 inches) for my Viborg project and throw it in the wash on “hot/hot” and abuse the snot out of it (abuse the fabric before you make it into clothes.. then the clothes will behave better)(right?).

While it was in the wash I pulled a thread of the weft off the remaining roll to check it to see what it was like. I want to compare my purchased fabric to the fabric described in the Viborg article. I fiddled with it for a while and found that it was WAY overspun. Very tight. I thought this was a little odd but didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.

When I pulled my test hunk out of the wash I noticed it had crinkled up ALOT. I’ve never had linen do that before. My gremlin decided I should wash it again(hot/hot).

Again it came out of the dryer all scrunched up.

So I ironed it. It was very stretchy. I’ve never had linen be this stretchy. After ironing it, it was mostly flat.. but still had a some stretch to it.

Not sure what to do about it. I’ve thrown it in the wash again.. this time on cold/cold. If it comes out mostly flat I’ll be ok with making stuff with it. If it scrunches again I’m just not sure.

I really don’t want to make an SCA garment that I have to iron before someone can wear it. I mean wrinkles are period.. but scrunchy crepe-y linen seems wrong.

Starting Rumbles

Next project is a reproduction of the Viborg shirt. The plan is to sew this on my commute since it’s all hand sewing. Long term plan is to resize this to fit my boy. Short term plan it to make it in it’s original size to see how it goes together. I thought I had linen for this.. but the linen I have right now is too nice to use for a shirt that no one’s actually going to wear. I’d rather use it for the sized up version for F later. I don’t have the fabric I want to use for this first Viborg shirt so I think while I’m trim shopping I might also pick up a few yards of good-enough linen.