Monday, January 19, 2015

Phrygian Cap Documentation

Phrygian Cap

Being an entry into the Viking Stitchery Competition at Summer Coronet, AS 47

A Phrygian cap to match my new ionar, in green/black herringbone wool, lined with green linen.

This piece, aside from being a clothing accessory, is intended to example several seams and stitches appropriate for Norse clothing.  What it is not intended to be is a period perfect replica of an existing garment.

After trying out several possible patterns, I decided upon a simple three piece one, consisting of two sides, and a circular top.  This pattern, I feel, gave me the best combination of utility (as the hat will be actually used for warmth) and drape for the desired profile.
The pattern used.

The three different versions I made mockups of.

The materials used for this piece were primarily linen and wool. 
The lining is sewn of a medium weight green linen, which, while if the period hat would have been lined at all, would have been a lighter weight wool or white/natural linen.  I chose the green linen because I had it sitting in my stash and wanted to continue with the colours of green and black (plus white shows dirt too easily).
The exterior on the other hand is a coat weight, worsted, herringbone wool woven in green and black (and was also from my stash).  I believe that the fabric contains 5% nylon, which, while unfortunate, is not noticeable.

Most of the stitching is done in one of several colours of linen thread—wool (on the exterior) or plain linen would have probably been more appropriate--however, I do not have any wool thread and wanted coloured thread to either match or contrast the fabric.  The yellow cotton crochet thread was used for reasons discussed below (having to do with aesthetics), and should have rather been wool or silk thread.

Stitches used
           The two stitches used for the main construction—running or stab stitch, and overcast/whip stitch—require no introduction and may be found on most extant garments (and modern pieces of handsewing as well).  However, a brief mention of the difference between the running stitch and stab stitch is necessary;
           While the two stitches are essentially the same and are mostly interchangeable, a stab stitch is taken only one or two stitches at a time and goes through the fabric vertically or slanting inwards like so (diagram below).

           Herringbone or Catch stitch can be found on a couple of hems in period, from Hedeby and York I believe[i].

           The reference I found on this form of buttonhole stitch with a detached overcast stitch was on the Archeological Sewing page, by Heather Rose Jones[ii], and is documented to an Danish Bronze age find.  I use it here partially because I did so on my matching tunic, and found it to be an interesting piece.  I can not document it to the Viking Age, although the standard buttonhole may be (Bjerringhøj, Denmark[iii])—the buttonhole stitch does not seem to actually be very common in clothing from this age.

The only scholarly reference I could find (online, at least) to the ösenstitch was in a paper from The Antiquaries Journal[iv] saying “Crowfoot suggested that the distinctive Scandinavian style of wire embroidery, known as Osenstitch, is also a southern Swedish trait, and is certainly found in Birka.” and continuing on to say that it is related to nalebinding.  I chose to use thread rather than fine wire because I felt that the use of wire would stiffen the material, and not allow it to fold properly.
The top seam (that will have the circular piece sewn to it) was turned under twice, and sewn down with a close running stitch.  The circular piece got the seam allowance turned under once, and fastened down with a stab stitch then sewn to the main body of the hat with a whipstitch, both stitches are in blue linen thread.

           The straight(ish) seam up the back is sewn with a fine stab stitch for the main construction at which point the seams are double turned and stitched down with an Osenstitch (Vandyke stitch) in blue linen thread.

           The seam up the front has the double turned seam allowances sewn down with a fine stab stitch in blue, and has been whip-stitched with gold linen thread with wrong sides together.

           Bottom hem of the lining is single turned to avoid bulk, and is stitched down with a herringbone stitch, in gold linen thread.  I then added a row of running stitch in green to couch down the herringbone and keep it from catching on things.

           The top seam has been double turned and sewn down with a nearly invisible overcast stitch in green linen thread.  The circular center piece has a single turned hem sewn down with a stab stitch in blue thread for a light contrast, while this piece was sewn to the main body with a whipstitch, also in blue.

           The back seam is sewn with a stab stitch in green and the seam allowances have been rolled to one side and stab stitched again. 
I applied the trim over the back seam and top with a stab stitch in the same yellow cotton thread that the trim is constructed of.  In order to hide the raw edge (of the trim) I first partially sewed the top of the hat on, then applied the trim—this way I could get everything lined up, and be able to hide the end of the trim in the seam.

The bottom hem was basted down with green linen thread, but the actual construction stitch is the herringbone.  Unfortunately the herringbone is in cotton thread (yellow), as I needed a thicker thread than what I had in linen in order for the stitches to be larger on the looser woven material.  After I sewed the front seam together I completed the herringbone, so that it would not have any break in the stitching.  I also chose to leave the basting stitches in to provide additional structural stability.

The seam up the front first had the seam allowances turned to the side and pinned down.  Following that I used a whipstitch in green linen thread to sew the two pieces of the hat together.  When this was completed I fastened the seam allowances down with an Osenstitch in the same yellow thread as the herringbone along the bottom.

To complete the hat, I stitched the exterior and lining together (wrong sides together—this is important) with a small buttonhole stitch in gold linen thread then ran a length of the cotton thread through the openings in the buttonhole in a spiral manner.


What I learned
           First off, I learned a couple of new ways to make a Phrygian cap, and found my preferred way, although the others are there if I need them.  I learned how to do an osenstitch, as this was my first time doing that particular form of topstitching (I Like it).  I also figured out how to get my herringbone stitch more even than it was the last time.

Time spent on construction: 13 hours 45 minutes

[iv] Excavations at the viking barrow cemetery at heath wood, Ingleby, Derbyshire by Julian D Richards, FSA, The Antiquaries Journal, issue #84

© John Frey, 2015. 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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