Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Medieval Reliquary Bag (plain red silk)

I made my first Medieval Reliquary Bag!

It's supposed to be my 50th item of largesse, but I'm not sure I want to give it up!

10 cm long x 9 cm wide
silk, linen, copper alloy

It's a plain red silk (it's actually the buttonless cuff of an old silk shirt I'd cut up for trim!), with silk finger-loop woven drawstrings, silk loop-braiding sewn to the edges to close them, and linen finger-loop woven hanging loop, with copper alloy bells.

It's inspired by these reliquary pouches:
Embroidery in the exhibition-"Splendour and glory of the Middle Ages"; BELLS!, 14th century, German(?)
Plain leather and red silk Reliquary bags; 13th century, found in France
Blue silk Reliquary bag with draw-strings and hanging strap still attached, 13th century, found in France

Because I was using bells, I decided to thread them directly onto the silk thread I used for the loop-braided seams, and stitched down the loops to the pouch. I may go back and do some extra stitching to make sure the bells are really secure.

It's a little tricky to start the braid with the bell attached, but not bad.

The stitching of the seams is done in a spiral, over both sides of one of the loops (here looped over top to bottom), and through the edges of the fabric the opposite way.

I'm sewing the opening at the top in this picture, which is why I'm not sewing the two edges together. As this was a sleeve cuff, the outside and the 'lining' were already sewn together, but... eh. I wanted the look right.

Pull the stitch tight over the loop...

And bring the loop you just stitched through the other loop, and bringing the other loop down to be stitched next.

If this isn't clear, there are better instructions here.

Don't forget to bring your snoopervisor. Very Important.

You can stitch the ends in or use longer loops and sew all the way around the pouch. I was using left over warp ends from a tablet weaving project and the loops were only long enough to do one side with short ends, but I decided they were big enough for wee tassels! Since there were two sides to the opening, I did them in opposing directions so two braids would finish in each corner.

And the bottom of the pouch.

For the draw string holes, I used an awl to gently poke holes in the cloth without cutting any (or few) threads. I'd advise doing the drawstrings first so you know how thick they are before deciding how to make your holes. I'd already done the drawstrings and knew they were thin. A button-hole or larger hole might make it necessary to cut the cloth instead.

Eyelets are sewn with a buttonhole stitch in silk.

Fingerloop braided drawstrings in three colours of silk, all hand dyed by me; logwood (lavender), indigo (blue), not sure what the yellow was done with, was playing with a bunch of yellows at the time... I'm only sure it wasn't weld!

The bells were threaded onto the loops at the beginning.

This is the braid I used. Greyne dorge of 6 bows, "Grain d'orge" (French for "Barleycorn"), probably referring to the chevron pattern of the two colours down the centre of the braid.

Because the silk had shown signs of heavy fraying during braiding, I decided I needed a sturdier hanging loop, and went with linen. Very basic round braid of five strands because the linen thread was quite heavy; 4 shades of indigo (left over from a dye sampling day) and one of white.

The hanging loop was tied on with the short silk tassel through the bell loop on one side, and knotted with the tassels (both hanging loop and seam braid) through each other on the other side.

Snoopervising is exhausting work! (Thank you, Jack!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Last year's hats

So... uh.... these are the hats I mentioned last year when I posted my Holly Hood....

Nothing super-amazing, sadly. Four-panel Birka style hat (childs) out of coarse-woven blue silk, with green stitching.

Four-panel Birka style hat (Adult-lg) out of coarse-woven red silk, with red stitching.

Long, Rus style hat (adult-m) out of coarse-woven red silk, with navy blue silk trim. It's lacking the metal passementerie 'beads' for the point, as I don't know how to do those. Also, not sure if they were never done made without them, or we've just never found evidence of them except when the metal preserved part of the hat.

Blue linen Dublin cap, without the curved seam (left that for the recipient to fit to their own head).

Grey linen Dublin cap, likewise without the curved seam.

Sorry, yeah. Not super exciting, this time. All given as largesse to the Coronets of Avacal, whom, I believe dispersed them to other royals to use as largesse. Hopefully they found good homes! They were nice hats! :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Leather drawstring pouch

Another "Let's try something NEW!"

This pouch is based on this website.

Leather drawstring pouch (unlined), with finger-loop braided drawstrings and tablet woven seams.

Pouch is made of scrap leather which I believe is deerskin, and cotton thread (because it was my first time finger-loop braiding in 10 years and the first time tablet weaving edges EVER! YAY, NEW STUFFS!)

Isn't my clamp loom awesome? Not period, but oh so cool and handy! The two halves of each post are lined with those felt stick-ons you put on the bottoms of furniture to keep them from scratching the floor. The removable half has screws attached that go through holes on the other half and screw in as tight as they need to be.

In the above picture, the ends on my tablet warps are loops, so I just stuck a stick through the loops to keep them from pulling through the clamp. The blue thread seen hanging is the weft (on a needle, to sew through the leather). The bit of red at the start of the tablet weaving is my lead thread. I do a full set of 4-5 picks (a pass of the weft through the warp one way) to draw in the warps and space them evenly before starting with my actual weft, the tail of which is woven in as I start weaving.

I used six cards, alternating S- and Z-threaded, two each green and blue thread, staggering colours by one hole across the cards.

There's two ways to do a tablet woven edge, depending on the look you want and the purpose of the edge. In this case the tablet weaving is woven like a tube around the edges of the leather. You can find a different way of doing it here, which will produce a flat band that is attached at one edge to the edge of the fabric.

Pass the weft thread through the warp towards you, then sew through the leather edges away from you; turn the cards a quarter turn and pass the weft through the warp, and leather again. Essentially the weft thread is spiralling through the weaving and the leather.

I didn't make the holes in the leather first with an awl, because I wasn't sure how close the weft threads would pass, and whether I needed to sew through the leather each time, every other time, or whether I'd need to stitch twice every time I passed the weft through the warp. Determining this is mostly a matter of how thick the warp threads are. In my case, it turned out to be a stitch every time the weft passed through the warp.

The tablet woven edges were done with a continuous quarter turn forward. I chose to continue the weaving on to make the hanging strap rather than edge the opening with the weaving. There's some question as to whether this was done, but since leather edges don't fray and I didn't line the pouch, I decided I'd rather make a strongly attached strap than put unnecessary edges on the top of the pouch.

If you are going to do this, continue weaving a tubular or flat tablet woven band once you finish the first side of the pouch, for at least half the length or a little more that you want the hanging strap. (I chose to do a flat band and switch to a pattern of eight quarter-turns forward, eight quarter turns back.) Then shift your weaving forward on the loom so you can bring around the pouch and weave the other edge. (see picture below)

(By the way, the clips holding the edges of the leather together are dollar store hair clips! Also awesome for doing hems!)

If you'd rather sew edges to the opening, or have to because your pouch is lined and/or made of cloth, there's a couple ways to do this. If you are going to sew all the way around the pouch, including the bottom, you can start at one side of the opening and go across the top, down one side, around the bottom, up the other side and across the other side of the opening.

A more likely way of doing it (many of these pouches do not have a bottom seam and do not have tablet weaving along the bottom) is to start from a bottom corner, and when you reach the top of the pouch add in a second weft, and at the turning of the top corner split the deck of tablets in half. Do each side of the opening with one of the wefts and half the cards, then put the deck back together and remove one weft as you turn back down the other side. Most of the medieval pouches were done this way, including, I believe, the leather ones.

Either way you do this, the warp threads will want to go straight and the collective edges of the pouch aren't a straight line. You will need to turn the pouch, but maintain a straight line from the starting corner of the side you are currently working on and the unwoven warp. There's a picture of one way to do this here.

Continue on until you are finished the other side. At this point you can either finish off the weaving and trim off the warp threads, or, as many people do, cut the warp threads a bit away from the end of the weaving and use them as part of a tassel-something which many of these pouches had. The other end has the warp waste from where you attached the warp to the loom. I cut mine off roughly where the cards are in this picture.

I added some red thread to the tassel to make them more full, and to match the drawstrings which I'd previously woven.

Carefully cut or poke holes in the top of the pouch for the drawstrings. Make them small; you can always enlarge them if they're not big enough. You need to make an even number of holes (and space them better than I did!).

If your pouch is cloth, you'll need to sew the edges of the holes. See here for slits, or here for eyelets for suggestions on sewing the drawstring holes.

While a single drawstring can be used, two strings pulled to opposite sides is much easier to deal with. My strings are kind of short because the original drawstring I made was not really long enough to make into two, but I was out of time to make a second. :(

My drawstrings. 5-loop fingerloop-braid. A simple round braid in three colours, the same blue and green as used for the tablet weaving, and red of the same thread.

Et voilà!

And many thanks to Tenzing (orange), Persephone (black), Jack (also black), and Lancelot (*also* also black), for their diligent snoopervision of this project! And to the Polar Bear for inventing and making the Loom of Awesomeness!

Ring Pouches

Decided to try something new....

Anglo-Saxon/Medieval ring-pouch!

Sometimes known as 'pickpocket pouches' because it's easy to steal out of them. I'd like to point out here that evidence for these pouches suggest they were used to carry everyday items like combs and fire-strikers and such. People wouldn't have carried valuables like money in them, and I can't advise anyone to carry their wallet in one either!

Outer pouch made with left-over wool scraps from my stash; striped light-weight wool tabby. The lining is pale grey linen. Due to the sizes of the scraps the outer layer is made from two separate 30cm x 30cm pieces, the linen is a single 30cm x 60 cm piece folded over.

This piece was for largesse so I went with the lighter coloured linen as all medieval depictions of these pouches have white/pale lining. I'm not sure about Anglo-Saxon versions of this type of pouch. As far as I know, we've only found the rings with possible fragments of the pouches.

The most important measurement for these pouches is the CIRCUMFERENCE of the ring (not the diameter). The fabric of the pouch needs to be at least wide enough to fit all the way around the ring. So measure the circumference of the ring, divide by two (front and back) and add a couple cm or inches PLUS seam allowance!

I didn't bother with a progress picture of the first step (sewing the pouch together) since it's just a basic back-stitch seam, for both pieces (sewn separately). The pins around the side seams in the picture are there because I'd considered 'finishing' the seams to make them lie flat, but after pinning in the ring and looking at it, decided ultimately that they didn't need to be.

The raw edges at the top were folded in between the layers and the entire top was folded around the ring. Another option for these pouches is to sew the top shut and whip-stitch the ring to the top edge, leaving it visible. Which is a better idea for good looking rings, and not a 4" steel ring from the leather-working department of Michael's! :)

I found it easier to pin half the circle onto the ring and sew it, before scrunching up the sewn part and sewing the rest. The thread I used was a pale purple wool, since the stripes meant nothing else I chose would be invisible all around.

The leather strap (and they all seem to have leather straps, not cloth-though I could be wrong about that) was sewn on over the outside of the cloth, both above and below the ring. If you're whip-stitching the pouch to the edge of the ring, you could sew on the strap first.

I put the sewing holes in the leather with an awl first, as it's heavy leather and had to be sewn through two layers of leather and three layers each of the wool and linen, below the ring.

And there you are! Depending on how fast you sew, this should probably take you a few hours total!

Later Medieval versions of these pouches often had the ring sewn in further down the body of the pouch, and put a drawstring through the top edge to close the pouch. If you want to be able to carry your wallet in the pouch, I recommend doing that. However, the drawstring version is not, as far as I'm aware, period for Early medieval Anglo-Saxon.

Another Medieval variant is to make the pouch out of a large circle of cloth, or possibly to round the corners of the pouch. The square ones sometimes had tassels on the bottom corners.

There's another style of these pouches I also hope to try in the near future, that was specifically used for money. It involved a ring too small for a hand (even a child's!) to fit through, sewn to a long, narrow pouch too long for fingers to reach the bottom of. Coins and other small bits of 'currency' would be out of reach, but easily accessible to the owner by pouring out the pouch.


I made some haversacks recently too!

I made a red one of unknown fibre, lined and strapped in yellow cotton (Avacal's colours!) that I started for the siege sewing competition at Avacal/Tir Righ War in... 2008? But I don't seem to have taken a picture of it when I finally finished it in 2011... oops.

(photo credit to Baron Beothuk for the picture!)

Brown and white herringbone twill, with brown linen lining and an inkle woven strap given to me by HE Bryjna, to save me from having to sew one! For a siege largesse competition at Dragonslayer 2012 in Montengarde. Given to Baroness Wilma at the end of the day.

Haversack- black and white twill wool /red linen lining and strap (to HH Avacal for largesse)

The edges of both layers were folded between and whip-stitched with red wool. The strap was sewn right sides together and turn inside in, which was such a pain in the butt I didn't want to do it again! This one has two separate, long straps knotted together at the top to adjust for height.

Haversack- red and white herringbone twill wool /red linen lining and strap (to HH Avacal for largesse)

This time, to hell with it, the strap was whip-stitched too! The bag is BIG!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Second Dublin Doll


Linen body (as usual), cotton weaving waste stuffing
Linen hat and over-tunic
Linen/Cotton under-tunic
Given to Their Excellencies of Montengarde as largesse, making #49 in my A&S50 Largesse challenge!