Introduction to the Challenge

This challenge is specifically set towards those that have not had the opportunity to sew a garment/object by hand. This challenge is NOT a competion, merely a place for new handsewers to document their progress and seek feedback and help, and to challenge themselves. Sewers that are experienced in hand stitching items will not be excluded, but this is meant as a chance for those with no experience in this realm to get a start.The Challenge I propose is that all persons joining the challenge pick a garment or object of textile nature, no matter how small or large, i.e. a pilgrim bag, a Coif or any type of hat, socks, flag, gloves etc., and have at least one form of documentation for its existence during the SCA time period. Acceptable forms of documentation for this project will be paintings/woodcuts/drawings with the desired object in it or a picture of the desired object.The challenge starts first of June and will end one year later. People can join the challenge at any time during this year. Those of you with handsewing experience are invited to follow the blog, and leave comments and feedback as the challenge progresses. The challenge is based in Drachenwald, but is open to all kingdoms.
If you would like to join the challenge (and the blog) please email me at to be added!

Friday, March 26, 2010

End of March: Neck Facing and Sleeves

The neck facing and sleeves are now done!

The pattern for my kirtle does not include cut outs for facing so I had to construct the pieces myself. The stitch I have used thus far for constructing the kirtle has been the whip stitch. Considering that the facing must be placed onto the dress with right sides together, and then turned to the inside of the dress I believe the whipstitch would be rather difficult to use. Instead I have used the running stitch. This is the stitch that my mentor, Cristiana, suggested. In the "Reconstructing History Sewing Techniques of the Medieval Period" sewing guide it is said that the running stitch was used for seams that required little strength. I believe the neck facing would fall into this category. So the neck facing has been done with the running stitch, keeping the stitches small and close together to give the seam sufficient strength, then turned inside and finished with a running stitch.

Below is a photo of the neck facing in progress using the running stitch:

And a photo of the finished neck facing from the inside:
As for the sleeves, looking at the original Codex Manesse illumination I see a gold band on the bottom edge. To re-create this band I purchased silk fabric in a gold colour. I believe silk is a good choice for this band as silk is a natural fibre and was a fabric used in the medieval period according to an online source: " Science and Technology in Medieval European Life" where it states that wealthier members of society would use imported silk. To construct the band I cut a rectangular piece of the fabric in the desired width and attached it with a running stitch on the outside of the sleeve as seen in the photo below:
I then proceeded to sew up the length of the sleeve using the whip stitch that was used for the majority of the dress, switching from the green cotton thread to gold cotton thread once arriving at the band. As well, I finished the edges as I had done with the rest of the dress. I then folded up the band to the inside of the sleeve and finished it with a running stitch.
Here is a photo of the band attached to the sleeve and finished on the outside:
Here is a photo showing the finishing of the sleeve inside:
The next step was to attach the sleeves to the dress. Reading through the "Reconstructing History Sewing Techniques of the Medieval Period" Guide it is stated that the back stitch was a very common stitch used for underarm seams and sleeve attachments. With this said, this is the stitch I decided to use for attaching the sleeves.
In the photo below you can see the back stitching on one side of the seam:
And in this photo you can see the backstiching on the reverse side of the seam:
All that was left to do was to finish the edges of the sleeve armholes. To do this I trimmed one edge of the seam so I could fold the wider edge over it, turn it under and secure it with a running stitch. This proved to be a neat finish and comfortable once wearing the dress.

With the neck facing and sleeves complete, all I have left to do is eyelets and a hem! I can just taste the completion of the kirtle!

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