Monday, December 1, 2014

14th Century Women's Hood: Documentation

Finished Hood.

Garment Description:
This piece is a 14th Century woman’s open hood, in a style appropriate for the early to mid 1300s.  This style of hood—rather than pulling on over the head as earlier and men’s versions do—buttons up the front, allowing it to be worn open in warmer weather, often folded back.  It is a fairly standard liripipe hood design—fairly fitted and having a short mantle, with a tail (the liripipe) running from the back of the hood.

The find and sources:
I decided to not duplicate a period piece for this project.  However, much of my inspiration came from the London Hood, which I patterned the construction off of[i].  In addition, some of the dimensions (most notably the circumference of the hem) and construction is from the Greenland find.  While mid century examples tend to be shorter and tighter than earlier ones, I also took the colder climate into consideration—upon discussing this project with another apprentice--, I tried to design the hood so that the mantle would cover the neckline of the recipient’s dresses in cold weather.
Pieces of the Garment:
The construction is fairly simple, being only four pieces (times two, if you count the flat-lining).  These consist of: the main body, which is roughly rectangular, with pieces missing for shaping (removed from under the chin, and rounding in at the back of the head); two gores which are set above each shoulder; and a liripipe.  Looking at period examples[ii] you can see that the liripipe is usually cut as a separate piece from the main hood.
London Hood.
My Goals for this project:
I was challenged to (secretly) make something representative of my craft for Her Highness of Oertha, for her birthday.  After due consideration of my craft (plain sewing), materials available, and what I knew of her persona, I decided on this—the open hood of the 14th century.  This was cemented by the knowledge that she had no warm headwear, and even more so by her publicly professed desire for one of these garments.
My goals were to make a hood for her, using period construction techniques, and (ideally) materials, and to stretch myself with several new techniques.
Ms 1380 | image 173
There is a limited number of options in the way of period fabric choices for a medieval hood—wool is it, to the best of my knowledge.  The lining material—if the style was lined—is unknown, as no examples of a lined hood have survived.  This may mean one of a couple things—that they were never lined (which contradicts artistic "evidence" of contrasting linings), or that the lining was made of a material which did not survive in the acidic conditions which preserve wool (i.e. Linen lining)[iii].
MS G.24, fol. 4r 
              The material selections were entirely from stash—when I was challenged to make this project, I had one week (I failed miserably at that, but was unwilling to compromise on my construction methods)…which is not enough time to order fabric.
              I decided on a navy blue wool flannel, which is slightly fulled, as the shell.  The lining is of a complementary grey wool, which is appropriately soft.  I chose to line with wool rather than linen because I wanted an extra degree of warmth for this garment.
              The handsewing was done with cotton thread.  This was chosen primarily because I am out of fine linen thread (and it is not locally available)—I feel this is reasonable, due to the unavailability, and that you cannot tell after it has been sewn (as I discovered while sewing my Moselund Kirtle).  The piping and tablet weaving is with 60/2 wool “yarn”, and the silk trim is a plain silk twill.
              The detail sewing—for the facings and edges—was done with fine cotton thread for machine, which matched the colour of the facing silk.
Seams and choices:
            I used period seams and stitches for everything.  The main construction is with a fine stab stitch, and the seam allowances graded and felled with a filled overcast stitch[iv], either to both sides (back seam) or the outside (for the gores). 
The exceptions are the liripipe, which was sewn with a stab stitch without the seam allowances stitched down; and the top seam on the lining, where I used a stab or running stitch to sew down the seam allowances.
Filled or Corded Overcast Stitch

The edges were more complicated.  I knew I needed to keep them flexible, but durable (in most cases).  There are three edges, which were treated as follows.  For the bottom hem, I turned the lining under, sewed them with a tight, small stab stitch, and trimmed the shell—leaving a raw edge.  The front edge--where the buttons are--, had a silk facing sewn down.  The lining was trimmed under the facing, and the shell left raw—this was to reduce bulk in the buttonholes.  For the face opening, I wanted something stiffer—I turned the shell edge under (covering the raw edge of the lining), basted, then applied a silk facing to the inside[v].
All of these edges were further treated with a simple example of card weaving.
The cardweaving was…interesting.  Before this project, I had only done one piece of the craft, and that was in a heavier cotton—the wool was not only finer, but slightly fuzzy.  An additional challenge was that the cardweaving was not woven, then sewn on.  Instead, it is woven directly onto the edge of the garment, sewing the trim to the body of the garment with the weft thread[vi].
I used this as an opportunity to experiment—each of the edges has the weaving attached slightly differently.  The bottom hem is sewn with a whipstitch so the trim curves around and covers the edge[vii].  For the front opening, it is sewn with what is basically a stab stitch; the weaving is only sewn to the fabric on one edge[viii].  And finally, on the face opening I stitched it with at stab stitch on both sides of the warp, so it is sewn down on both sides.  The second has the best documentation.
Drafting the pattern:
After acquiring the necessary measurements (circumference of face, circumference of head, vertical from crown to shoulder, neck circumference,  and shoulder measurements) I began drafting, making the front opening half the face measure.  The depth of the hood is half the head measure, plus two inches.  I chose to not make the face of the hood exaggeratedly deep—so it’s only cut in by three inches.  At this point I ruled over by half the neck measure plus an inch of ease.  I flared out by about 45 degrees in the back, drafting from the top in a smooth curve (narrowest point a touch higher than the chin of the face), and maybe 15-20 degrees from the chin on the front.  The angles were chosen by observation from the Greenland finds[ix].
              The overall length was chosen by adding the vertical measurement taken to the suggested skirt length (which was chosen for warmth, and to cover any deep necklines in the winter).
              I had to break out Woven into the Earth to figure out the total hem circumference—the longer hoods (none of which are this long) were in the 1100-1250 mm range[x]—around 50 inches at the upper end of the range…far larger than I would have thought.  I measured mine to be approximately 55 inches, before sewing.  The liripipe length was determined by convenience—how long a piece could I get, without wasting any fabric.
                I chose to actually slant the slit for the gore toward the front.  If you look at the (sketch of) the London Hood, and one of the Greenland hoods (Norlund 78[xi]) you can see it is actually offset.  I have two theories for why: Either carelessness in cutting, or that it provides a slightly better fit by moving the fabric slightly to the back, while keeping the pivot point on the side.
Construction (Order of operations):
             After drafting my pattern and cutting the pieces, it was time to begin sewing.  The first step was to sew the top seam of the lining.  It really shouldn’t have been there, but I did not have enough fabric to cut the lining on a fold.
               That done, it was the side gores—nothing special there.  After they were both in, I graded the seam allowances, and felled it with a filled overcast stitch—working from bottom to top, then going around the top with the same.  Because the lining somehow ended up slightly shorter, I covered both raw edges.  Eventually, I ended up weaving between the two with a kind of herringbone pattern—there is no documentation for this, but I needed to cover up the glaring tiny blue patch.
Tiny herringbone weave.
              The liripipe (which is unlined) got attached to the main body at this point, being sewn through both the shell and lining with a fine stab stitch.
              The process for the back seam was identical to the gores, except I spread the seam allowances to both sides.  At some point in this, the liripipe was sewn closed (before felling the allowances of the back seam, I believe).
              Now it was time for edges.  I basted the bottom hem together, and trimmed the lining at the front and face openings.  At the face opening, I turned the shell material under—covering the raw edge of the lining—and basted.  At this point, it was time to apply facings, starting with the face opening.  Both sets of facings were applied with an extremely fine overcast stitch on the inside edge, and a similarly fine stab stitch on the outer edge. 
              Because there is a curve at the point of throat and chin, I had to figure out how to face it.  There was no documentation for the use of bias cut material for facings—therefore, I had to put a curve into a non-stretchy fabric.  This was done by carefully gathering the needed section and sewing the gathers down.
              At this point, I stitched the bottom hem with a fine stab stitch and trimmed the raw edge against the lining.
             Tablet weaving.  I used four tablets—16 strands—of 60/2 wool, all ‘S’ threaded.  In hindsight, I should have done two ‘S’ and two ‘Z’.  I started in the center back, using the same wool for the weft, sewing around the bottom edge with  a whip stitch—doing my best to keep the stitches even.

Cardweaving.  Notice the red tensioning thread.

              Once I got to the front edge, I switched threads to the same fine cotton thread and sewed it with a stab stitch.  The tablet weaving “floats” off the edge.  Upon turning the corner to the face opening, I modified this so that it no longer floated. 

Front and Face Openings
              Going down the other sides, I did it exactly the same.  When I reached the start, I threaded the trim into a tapestry needle and buried it between the shell and lining.
Bottom Hem
              The final steps were to make buttons and sew buttonholes.  My research showed that in the medieval period[xii], buttonholes did not have a half moon of stitches around them, and were just straight slits close to the edge of the material (which is the purpose of the tablet weaving—to help support that edge).  After a couple experiments with fine thread, I found that a heavier perl cotton looked far better and used that.  I did make several test buttonholes before approaching the garment.  In addition to the tutorial, I referred to Textiles and Clothing.  On page 162, you can clearly see the buttonhole is worked from the wrong side—with the facing—of the garment fragment.  You can also see that the facing goes beyond the edge of the hole towards the inside (influencing my decision on how wide to make the facing.[xiii]

              The buttons are self stuffed, made of 1¼ inch squares of the wool flannel, and sewn on at ¾ inch intervals through the trim of that edge.  There is a spare button tucked away in the opening for the liripipe.
Buttoned up.
Conclusions and what I learned:
             While the overall construction of this garment is not difficult, certain factors were—mainly the tablet weaving. 

              In the making of this garment, I learned:
·       Several tricks.  One of which being that to keep tension on the fabric, you should run a line through it, fastening it a few inches below far end of the tablet weaving.  You can see the red thread I used for this, in the photo of the cardweaving.
·       How to do the tablet woven edging. 
·       Period buttonholes!
·       Self Stuffed buttons as well.  I had made them before, but in the flattened version, not the round one.
What I would do differently next time:
·       One of the things I would do differently is not stitch all the way through the fabric layers when I sew tablet weaving as a facing (like on the face opening). 
·       I should have invisibly joined the ends of the trim, rather than burying them—I knew it was possible, but wasn’t sure how, and didn’t leave myself enough in the beginning to work with anyways. 
·       On the tablet weaving, I should have made the cards balanced, with an equal number of ‘S’ and ‘Z’ threaded cards—my not doing so was an oversight.
Time:    36 hours total time sewing.  9.5 hours of that was the tablet weaving.
Ostergard, Else. Woven into the Earth.  (Aarhus University Press, 2nd Edition, 2009).
Crowfoot, E., Pritchard, F. & Staniland, K.   Medieval finds from excavations in London: 4. Textiles and Clothing 1150 – 1450.  (Boydell Press, 2001).
Huisman, Hans.  Degradation of Archaeological Remains.  (Sdu Uitgevers b.v; Den Haag, 2009) <> [Accessed 12-1-2014]
Charlotte Zificsak (Lady Mathilde).  Navy/black wool late 14th c. hood with liripipe, and blue silk edging and buttonholes (March 2004)  <> [Accessed 12-1-2014}
Catherine (Katafalk blog). Open hood with card / tablet woven edge. (April 2014). <> [Accessed 12-1-14]
Merouda Tremayne. 14th Century Garment Construction Techniques.  (May 2002). <> [Accessed 12-1-2014]
Kelly, Tasha Dandelion.  How to Sew a Medieval Buttonhole Left-Handed.  (October 2013?). <>  [Accessed 12-1-14]
Larsdatter, Karen. Women’s Hoods.   <> [Accessed 12-1-14]
Photos: Image of the London Hood (Picture 1) originally from Crowfoot.
 University of Chicago Library. Le Roman de la Rose, r.81.  (c. 1365) <> [Accessed 12-1-14]
Pierpont Morgan Library. MS G.24, fol. 4r  (c. 1350) <>  [Accessed 12-1-14]
All other images belong to me.

[i]  Mathilde, pp. 3

[ii] Ostergard, pp. 203-218

[iii] Huisman, pp. 88

[iv] Ostergard, pp. 100

[v] Crowfoot, pp. 160-61

[vi] Crowfoot, pp. 161

[vii] Ostergard, P. 105   (I modified the technique slightly, so the strands lay around the edge.)

[viii] Crowfoot, pp. 161

[ix] Ostergard, pp. 203-18

[x] Ostergard, pp. 203-18

[xi] Ostergard, pp. 214  (The conclusions are also based on my own research towards recreating the garment)

[xii] Kelly

[xiii] Tremayne, pp. 4.  Button #2 Stuffed Buttons
© John Frey, 2014. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.


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