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!)

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