|Christ Blessing, Surrounded by a Donor Family. German Triptych. 1570s|
Note the untidy ruff.
The Project:This is a complete set of ruffs--neck and wrists--to go with the 1570s Germans. While not based on any particular example, they are perfectly typical examples for the period, with the ruff being fairly modest. As it should be--as it must be in order to get the right spring--I made it of the finest linen I could get my hands on and did the project completely by hand.
Who:Contrary to popular belief, ruffs would be worn by whoever could afford them, and to have them laundered (a specialist job in and of itself)--not just the uppermost classes. Still, this is intended as more of an upper class example, with the laboriously stitched edging, and that it isn't quite as modest as it could be.
Goals:For once, I wanted to get as close to a period example as I possibly could, using all period materials (almost) and doing it completely by hand. I decided on this particular example as being the most likely to go with the painting of the full suit I've been working on--again, fairly simple and modest. Plus, I wanted to make one--I (and my Pelican/Donna) have been talking about making a set for several years; now it's her turn *evil laugh*. Since I almost always hand finish everything which can't be hidden, hemming the piece by hand was really the only choice (I do enjoy doing rolled hems, though).
Again, for once, I actually don't have any reverse goals--things the project is not intended to be.
Garment Description:Most of you (I assume, since you're reading this) already know what ruffs are, and what they look like. Essentially, it is a strip of white linen, gathered or pleated into a neckband, and starched into usually a figure 8 shaped set. All in all, pretty simple (until you get to the starching stage).
Materials:This is rather simple, since there is only one choice for ruffs...linen. Preferably the finest, tightest woven white linen available for the ruffles themselves. The neckbands, however, can be a somewhat coarser linen. Any lace...also linen. Construction thread? Guess what...linen. The only other materials which may show up is in coloured silk or even gold thread to decorate them, which you can see below.
|1578s, Edward Hoby?|
Pattern:Really, ruffs aren't a complicated garment...a rather long strip (three fabric widths, in this case) of linen for the ruffle, cut from the width of the fabric. And a piece about 8 inches wide by the neck circumference for the neckband (this gets folded lengthwise into fourths). That's all.
|Sir Edward Hastings, 1573|
I decided on the measurements quite simply--three fabric widths for the neck, and 1.5 for each of the wrists. The neck/wrist bands were done to fit.
Seams:Quite simply, there aren't a lot of seams, and I went off of the suggestions in the tutorial for the most part. A running stitch for gathering, backstitch for basting, and a small overcast stitch to actually secure the ruffle to the band. A staggered backstitch is used on the wrong side of the band to secure the gathers even more. The final stitches are a rolled hem, and a buttonhole stitch for decoration.
jerkin...it seemed like my life consisted of doing buttonhole stitches.
I didn't take as many progress pictures as I should have...sorry. Once I actually began construction it went extremely fast--under a couple of hours.
The gathering threads were pulled to gather up the cloth to the right length, and pinned to the neckband at center and ends. To secure it for the real stitches, I used a large backstitch through the seam allowance, then flipped it over and used a fine overcast stitch. Each stitch only caught a few gathers and threads.
Then the band was folded over, and the overcast stitch repeated on the other side.
Laundering and Starching
I'm sure the Dutch of a few decades later would appreciate the combo (link to Dutch paintings with wine)
Conclusions (and What I Learned):Overall, this was actually a fairly relaxing, fun project, and I obviously learned a bit about making the blasted things. While none of the techniques were actually new to me, since they were basic stitches, the starching will be (it's on the schedule for this week). Additionally, I learned the best way to pick up a buttonhole stitch when your thread breaks or runs out....and that when you're running a gathering stitch, pull the full length of thread off the spool, even if you don't cut it yet. It turned out that my linen thread had tie in it, and that caused all kinds of annoyance when it came time to gather.
As for in the starching I learned that the best way to work it in is just get a small amount of starch goo onto your fingers, and work your way through so that you don't end up with a huge amount of extra starch in the fabric.
What I'd do Differently next time:Really, not much. The only things are to check the gathering thread, as mentioned above, and use silk thread for any decorative stitching. In the construction, I should have removed the blue chalk marks before gathering (oops...); the other thing is instead of measuring 1/2 inch in for my seam allowance/gathering line, I should have measured from the other side so that any variations in width would be taken up in the seam allowance.
How Accurate is it:Extremely. I couldn't be happier with the accuracy of this project--just the use of cotton decorative thread brings it down slightly. The other thing is that the starching is being performed with corn starch because I never picked up the more period wheat. I'm giving it a good 97%.
Time:Not actually as long as I thought--only 32 hours 20 minutes (approximately; I lost some of my journaling at the beginning of the project). When I started it, I thought the project was going to take ages. Most of that time was in hemming and doing the decorative stitching--once I finished the gathering stitches, it only took a couple hours to put it together.
HSM Challenge Info:The Challenge: Special Occasion. While ruffs weren't necessarily worn only for special occasions--even the common man would wear one if he could afford it--they weren't exactly an everyday thing, either. More along the lines of Sunday best, and at court (or portraits). Plus, for me, it really is a special occasion, since I doubt I will wear it except for special occasions.
Material: Linen. 2.8oz linen from Wm, Booth for the ruffles, and 5.3 for the bands.
Pattern: Based on the instructions by Noel Gielegham of the Elizabethan Costuming group.
Notions: Thread! Mostly linen for sewing, but the black buttonhole stitched edging is in fine cotton floss.
How historically accurate is it? Extremely, other than the cotton thread, which should be silk. Going to say 98% on this one, as it used all period methods, and was completely handsewn.
Hours to complete: 33 hours, 20 minutes.
First worn: Again, not yet. Technically, it's not 100% complete, although all the sewing is. I still have to starch and shape it, but am waiting for a few more weeks (until closer to debut, since it's easier to store unstarched). Like several other HSM projects this year, it goes with my 1570s German suit.
Total cost: 15$ US, or so. I used a bit under half a yard of the good linen, the bands were scrap, and I did have to buy some of the floss.
Gieleghem, Noel. How to Create a Stand-Alone 1570s Style Ruff
© John Frey, 2017. 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.