Kentish: New book

New book. I’m giddy with happy.

Buckland Anglo-Saxon Cemetery, Dover. Excavations 1994 (Archaeology of Canterbury)

Very nice details about the textiles.. especially nice details about the tablet weaving. I need to re-read it in more depth.. but I expect many good things to come from this.

6th Century Kentish Women Clothing

From Rogers, Penelope Walton. Cloth and Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England (p 190).

A: Kentish Dress Style III – a garment with a vertical front opening clasped by two brooches, one at the throad the other centre-chest, and worn with a buckled belt.
B: Kentish Dress Style IV – the same as Dress Style III but with the addition of a front-opening coat or jacket on top. The coat/jacket was fastened by a pair of crossways bow brooches, either at the waist or immediately below, the jacket being worn ourside the belt. The women used both imported and Kentish-made brooches to fasten these garments and bordered the front edges of the jacket with their Jutish-style tablet weaves.
C: Kentish Dress Style IV worn in the Merovingian style

I’m going to focus on Dress Style III and IV. I believe under all of this would be a chemise but I have no proof of that.

Here’s what I’m trying to figure out. (I plan to edit this post as I figure things out)

– Chemise – no current info about this. I plan to make a standard rectangular construction white linen under-tunic that goes to between my knee and ankle, with sleeves that go almost to my wrist and finish the neckline so it’s hidden under the tunic.
– Braisses – I also plan to wear braisses for comfort though I have no proof about these either.

– gold brocaded tablet woven strap. How prevalent? Restricted by age?
– Closed rings/staples. How prevalent? How are they used?
– Veil? How prevalent?
As far as I can tell, there are no earrings in the finds it may imply that the ears were covered.
If the closed ring/staple was used to attach the brocaded strap to something.. you have to wonder.. why didn’t they just sew it. Tablet weaving can be sewn through.. so the staple would be unnecessary. I think it was doing something else. Possibly attaching it to leather?
The article about the gold braids says that these have only been found at the head level. Meaning that brocaded tablet weaving does not show up on the edges of the front opening of the tunic or jacket. The only example of tablet weaving found away from the head seems to be a cloak edging or baldric in a man’s grave used near his sword.

– What cut?
– What colors?
– What type of fabric is it made of?
– How far down does the front opening go? ankle? navel?
– How are the edges of the front opening finished? Rolled hem? binding? Tablet weaving?
– How prevalent is the “button loop”?
– How prevalent is the “wrist cuff”?
– “They” say the anglo-saxons wore metal bracelets at the end of the sleeves is there any proof of that?
– Always belted? Sometimes belted?

– What cut?
– What colors?
– What type of fabric is it made of?
– How are the edges of the front opening finished? Rolled hem? binding? Tablet weaving?
– What kind of tablet weaving? how wide, what material?

– The threaded in Anglo-Saxon belt found on a strap end may actually date to the 15th century and may not be a good item to use on a 6th century outfit. That said.. it’s pretty.. so I may do it anyway.
– If not tablet woven.. what were the belts made out of?
– Buckles or tied?
– Strap ends? only on men’s or on women’s as well?
– Any other plates on it?

– What kind of shoes?
– Naalbinding socks?
– Wickerbander? cross-gartered?

– Beads?
– Chatelaine?
– Crystal ball?
– Pouch?

Green Kentish brooch-closed dress, 6thc
5th-6th Century Kentish Costume
Hordweard- Anglo Saxon 6th Century

Early Anglo-Saxon Costume: An Archaeological Approach

Anglo-Saxon Fiber Colors

Saving for future reference:

Jenny Dean’s Anglo-Saxon Dye Experiments
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Reds, Yellows, and Browns
Part 3 – Blues, Greens, Purple, Brown and Black

Introduction to some more Anglo-Saxon style experiments

Regia: Dye Equivalent Colours DMC

The Colorful Iron Age
Interesting conclusions about Medieval/Iron Age dyes and mordants. Researchers dyed some wool samples and then simulated aerobic and anaerobic burial conditions. “The dyes included madder, cochineal, Brazilwood, indigo, weld, and walnut, and the mordants included alum, copper, cream of tartar, and tin.”

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.