Well. It has been A Few Weeks and no mistake!
(Seriously, I’m so tired. I’ve missed two round-up posts and four bullet journal entries. And had to then rush-write two essays in 4 days because I forgot that they were due.)
Thankfully, it’s been a productive one.
Something I’ve done on this post is to set up the images so that you can click through to see the full-size, original photos. I’ve done this so that people can get a closer look at the weave or texture of a fabric if they want to, and with my shoes so you can see details on them.
For the pattern and layout sketches, I’m providing three views - the original scanned pages at their full size, ‘enhanced’ SVGs (from tracing the scans in Inkscape), and PNGs of the ‘enhanced’ patterns. (I didn’t replicate the scale on the SVGs or PNGs, because it was already late enough at night when I made them. It’s not really important anyway, they’re about layout rather than measurement.)
So, at several get-togethers over the last couple of weeks, I’ve mentioned my garb and my concerns and issues so far. And I’ve gotten lots of good feedback and advice.
At Monday’s grape pressing with some Baronial people, I had my measurements taken - I was quite surprised at how little they’ve changed since the last time I had to be measured up for something (many, many years ago) though not surprised to see that I have one shoulder slightly wider than the other. (This explains why I have such a hard time getting my sleeves to sit at the same spot on each side.) This was also where I was pointed to DK Fabrics initially - should have acknowledged that in my previous post.
Next, at the following Monday night Arts and Sciences get-together where I was still struggling with mocking up my serk (using this pattern calculator and (trying) to use Hilde Thunem’s Birka serk pattern sketch) I got a lot of help from someone with a very strong reputation as a garb-maker, as well as being introduced to another Collegian doing Viking garb.
I’ve also gotten lots of advice on fabrics and fabric sources, especially for wool. For belts, the Collegian told me that there are tablet-woven bands available from merchants at Rowany Festival this year (which is in a little over a week!) and has generously offered to pick items up for me from there. Assuming there are no disasters, I’ll soon have 120cm of tablet weave wool (for a belt), a round brooch (the one I’m getting is in silver, a bit smaller and a lot cheaper) and a set of capped veil pins from Medieval Attachments for a little under $40 all up.
If money and time permit though, I do really want to get a tie-up leather belt made (and ideally, wide enough to fit on my jeans too). I’m not sure if the belt shop in Adelaide Arcade that I went to last time will have the right buckles, but it’s always worth asking.
It also looks like thrift stores are going to be my best friends for finding feasting gear - though some other collegians are also getting rid of spare feasting gear, and one is possibly setting up a beginner’s forging workshop to make forks, which will speed things up considerably for me. I might have gotten lucky with shoes though - check out what turned up in my wardrobe when I was looking for my Docs!
I also picked up these from Savers - not quite front-lacing ankle boots, but close enough if the above boots don’t work out.
Having read some sources from the Atlantia resources directory on caring for horn and bone utensils, I think I’ll keep away from horn for my feasting gear - seems too easy to ruin it, especially with hot food or drinks. I’ve also hit a snag with my water bottle cover; if I make one from leather, it won’t technically be Viking, as there’s apparently no extant examples of Viking water bottles. I did consider a small drinking horn or horn cup that I could pour water into, but honestly, that’s just more stuff to carry. But, I did finally get some evidence for the shape of ‘Birka cup/mug’ recreations and some clear images of reproductions, and I happened to find something close enough at Savers.
But, from the time spent at Savers, I really don’t think I’m going to have much luck with bowls or plates there. I haven’t tried other op shops or the Port Adelaide markets yet though.
I made it to DK Fabrics on Tuesday, ahead of an ICW-related meeting. And oh…I think I love DK Fabrics now.
Setting aside some gushing over their shot silk chiffons and dupions, I went through looking for fabrics I could use for my garb (though I did snap photos of some I can use for other things…)
So, here are the options I looked at in linens.
This is an undyed linen; as per a tip from someone at the Monday Arts and Sciences night, undyed linens are typically rougher (they’re not processed as much as the dyed linens) but will soften up with washing. That’s good, because this is quite a rough linen. It’s also $3/m more than the two dyed linens, and somewhat heavier. Possibly even too heavy.
This linen is possibly dyed; it’s close in colour to the natural linen, and a bit wider. But, both of these linens are…well, they’re very dark in colour. To my eyes, anyway.
This linen is a much better colour to my eyes - not a full-on white, but not such a dark off-white either. But, it looks and feels awfully light.
This fabric was at the front of the store, in the upholstery cottons section - so it might not actually be linen. But, it was lighter than the two ‘undyed’ linens while still being darker than the cream linen. It was quite smooth too, but also quite light. No tag on the roll, unfortunately.
So, this still wasn’t easy, but it was easier than expected. I’ve been tipped off by a couple of people that upholstery wools are an option, and that now is the time to step on getting it before the prices rise in winter. If worst comes to worst, wool blankets found at op shops can be an alright option - I shouldn’t need larger than a double bed size at worst. I just don’t feel confident getting the colour is all.
The bad news first - my only affordable options are a denim, or a poly/wool blend.
This was the lightest-coloured denim that they had; it’s still quite dark. It felt like a somewhat heavier and stiffer denim too, so it might not work at all for a dress. And, sewing denim could be the end of my current sewing machine, which is honestly the last thing I need.
With that being said, this navy poly/wool blend is cheaper than I was expecting, and has a good width.
This wool is a little more expensive, and it feels…very weird. Smooth, and light. I believe the label, but…it’s weird. I don’t think I’ll go with this one.
For whatever reason, this wool is substantially marked down, which makes it much more attractive. One issue so far though is that all of these blues are much darker than I really wanted to go with.
This is the colour I wanted. For some reason, it’s marked as faulty; I didn’t ask the assistant what was wrong with it as I wasn’t buying that day, but if it’s still there when I next get paid I will ask what the issue is. Hopefully nothing serious.
These are two more expensive options; I’m sure the 150cm wide wool is fine though. I’d have to over-dye them, but someone at Monday night told me that Rit powder dyes can do wool. Wool dyes from websites online aren’t super expensive though, so I don’t mind buying one. I just have to find out how you ‘fix’ the dye. I might also buy a very small amount of the 160cm wide wool - 0.5m at the most - to make leg-wraps with.
But I’d really rather have that serge tweed from Fabric Muse for that. (I don’t think the herringbone flannel would be thick enough, though I suppose I can always order swatches.)
I’m feeling more confident about making a caftan coat after some tips at on Monday, namely that it can be made using a serk pattern with a round or oval neckline and a little bigger to accomodate layers underneath. And, given that I couldn’t find much in patterned wools that looked like it’d work (as per Wandering Elf’s investigation which also told me that my previous intuitions about the flannels were very wrong) I’ll probably have to settle for a solid-colour one.
But that can work out okay. Using the images from this post from Wandering Elf, I noticed something.
That coat looks awfully similar to a long cardigan I already have. I’ve altered it, adding ring-type press studs to close it during cold weather, but if it was made with a neckline like this coat, it’d be almost identical in shape and pattern.
Top is laid out flat, second is fastened on the dress form, third is unfastened. It's a stretchy acrylic knit, which is part of why I had to use that type of press-stud - the smaller sew-in ones kept coming undone.
While the long cardi doesn’t fit me amazingly well, I can copy its pieces to get close to a coat pattern. Just have to make an actual neckline and fix the fit.
This is an upholstery wool; it’s very heavy and very scratchy, but it’ll make a very warm coat. I will have to over-dye it, and that may be…interesting, since I’ll have to actually settle on a colour. The gray wools are also an option here.
I can line it in linen and then have an everyday winter coat as well.
(Another minor issue is that I may want to get a trefoil brooch rather than a pennanular to keep it period, which will make me sad because I like pennanular brooches.)
So, I’m still torn on what exactly I’m doing in terms of headwear. A filet and veil sounds easiest of all, but I’m also strongly considering a cap for any classes, for reasons of both safety and keeping my hair clean and tidy. I also like to keep my ears covered in cold and windy weather for comfort, so I plan to make the cap a bit longer to both contain all of my hair and protect my ears.
For filet fabrics, I’ll admit that I kind of walked straight past the plain-colour dupions to drool over all the shot dupions. (They’re amazing, ok? Don’t judge me.)
If I had to get a shot dupion, I’d probably get this white-gold, or a similar not-quite-white colour. I still really want the gold silk twill from Fabric Muse, but I’m sure DK Fabrics has a gold dupion that I just walked past.
For the veil itself, having handled the different fabrics, I think a chiffon is my best bet. Georgette is a little on the scratchy side, and organza is too stiff and crinkly. Chiffon is smooth, and flows nicely.
This is an ivory chiffon; I’d really like something more along the lines of cream or otherwise more obviously off-white, but I can live with it as long as it’s not white-white. I don’t think true whites would have been easy to make in the 9th century; AFAIK, bleaching mainly relied on UV light, and even if they had chemical bleaches I doubt they had methods for bleaching something as delicate as silk.
There was a strange crinkly sheer silk in the shop as well; it was crinkled like cotton cheesecloth and not shiny, but it was quite smooth. I didn’t see any white or cream colours in it, but I’m sure I could ask. The label didn’t say what kind of fabric it was though beyond that it was 100% silk, so I’m not sure what it was.
Speaking of cheesecloth, it and muslin are an option for the veil as well if budget calls for it. I’m also strongly considering cheesecloth for summer garb and clothes, since it drapes nicely and is slightly more opaque than muslin (so I need fewer layers to preserve some modesty). Muslin lacks any real stretch, so it may be more suitable for the cap.
Another and likely better option for the cap (and for summer garb - at least, for the areas that need to preserve some modesty) is this fabric, which I think may be quilter’s muslin. Quilter’s muslin is somewhat thicker than regular muslin, so it’s opaque but still light. And cheap!
Sigh. This is a hard decision.
Looking at this in-person, while it’s not as bright as I was worried about it’s still…too busy. And too much blue.
This looked pretty, but too bright, and again…more busy than I’d like.
The peacock pattern wasn’t as large as it looked in the photos, but again, it looks too busy and intrusive. The gray floral is the only one that looks likely, and that might be too pale.
There’s still options though. I’m not going to use any tablet weave now, since I have a tablet-woven piece as a belt (and I don’t know if I can get a different piece of trim before July). I know it was said in one of my sources that if using tablet weave, perhaps don’t use silk trim, but I’m intending for the layers to be slightly separable. (In the future, I’d like to do a Haithabu serk and a Birka apron-dress, and a shawl - so I have a set of Haithabu-style garb and a set of Birka-style garb.)
I’m thinking I won’t trim the caftan coat though - if I’m going to have that as an everyday-wear winter coat, trim would look weird. (At least, I haven’t seen coats with trimmed collars and cuffs…ever? It doesn’t seem to be ‘in’, at least.)
I have to check if shot silks are period, but I would love to have shot silk trim. Or shot silk something. It’s so pretty, look at it!
There’s also this pink and gold floral-patterned dupion, but I’m not sure if it’s going to work colour-wise.
But I found another solution through some brief Googling: this Etsy seller who has oodles and oodles of patterned silk ribbon (sari trimmings, or otherwise) for very reasonable prices. Some of which are explicitly labelled as brocade, others of which are just a very nice colour and pattern. I won’t be able to match the trim until I’ve selected fabrics though.
It’s been a struggle to find the ones I might like the most with a search for ‘brocade’ thanks to my terrible Internet connection, but I have options. They do come in packs though, so I may end up mixing and matching.
Some options are:
These wider green-based pieces. At least the two darker ones.
These three vintage borders, especially the bottom one.
These purple borders are a bit brighter than I would normally like, but I could make them work, maybe.
These golds are a bit bright but potentially usable.
These lovely subtle creams and greys could be nice on the serk.
The images, in order of the above list. All from RibbonsAndSilk on Etsy. I have...many options.
As Wandering Elf notes here, the strips were at the most 2cm wide; RibbonsAndSilk’s pieces seem to be roughly 1.5” wide, about 3.8cm, so I could cut them in half longways and get twice as much trim out of each piece.
But, I also have yet to actually read ‘Silk for the Vikings’ (Marianne Vedeler, 2014; I don’t currently have a copy, but it’s on my ‘urgent’ list) and its Google Books preview is very limited. At best, I can see that Chinese silks are best avoided anyway (yay) and I should be looking for geometric motifs - but the preview cuts off quite early on, so I can’t see much of the motifs. (If anyone with a copy feels generous, scans/screenshots of the relevant pages would be excellent! I especially want to know if shot silks would be ok. I may be able to access an electronic copy for free through my university, but I haven’t looked into it yet.)
I haven’t been able to find a copy of the book with the sketches by Sofie Krafft that Vedeler uses images from in her book, as it looks like there aren’t any copies in my state and no full copies online. Apparently, I can do an interlibrary loan through my university to get it, but I haven’t looked into that yet either. I’m hoping Vedeler’s book will be enough, since that’s much easier to find.
Speaking of garb and fabric, and Monday night…
Someone there (whose name I have sadly forgotten, though I’ve chosen not to name names in the posts anyway) showed me how to use graph paper to work out the fabric layout, and gave me a lot of advice on simplifying the mock-up. I’m feeling a lot less stressed and overwhelmed (and confused) by the patterns and layouts now, and I feel a lot more confident about the whole thing.
I’ve unfortunately lost the original copy of the sketch made for me on Monday night, but it and the talk gave me a lot of food for thought.
The result is that I’ll be making the serk’s front (and possibly back panel) as a single piece, to keep it flat. Once I tack the side gores and sleeves, I’ll decide if I still need a back gore; at this stage, I don’t think it’ll be necessary. I’m also going to do the two side gores as two half-gores joined together, because I’m not sure I’m right about the width - I want enough skirt to move easily and fit well over my hips, but not entangle my legs or get muddied by my shoes. And I want to keep the fabric use conservative - if I don’t need the extra gore then that’s a big saving for me. (I was told by the Collegian that front gores tend to just entangle your feet.)
For the back panel, I’m going to test what happens while moving around, to see if I need to do the back differently. I’m not sure that a two-piece back won’t have a major structural weakness though (the entire back seam) so if I need to do the back as a wider panel, I’m going to look into using a dart (like in a shirt) as a failsafe.
And here’s what I’ve sketched for myself. It looks like I can actually get down to about 1.5m per serk - though, I’ll add a little extra on, just in case. (I know Birka and Kostrup aren’t the same sites, but the pattern’s caption on the blog implied that it’s based off of serk finds at both sites.)
One thing to note is that my wonky shoulders are going to be a problem. One shoulder is 10.5cm wide, the other is 10cm wide. For this reason, as well as the allowances, I’ve bumped the body panel widths up. I’m not quite sure how to compensate to ensure that the shoulder seams are straight on both sides - debating whether to shift the neckhole slightly off-centre to compensate for it. The problem with not doing that (and instead, say, rounding up to 11cm) is that this will then produce wonky sleeves - one sleeve will sit 0.5cm higher than the other. (And yes, this is noticeable - because it explains why I’ve always had so much trouble getting shirt sleeves to sit evenly at both shoulder and wrist.)
This is why you need to measure each side of your body independently, instead of trying to mirror across. A tiny asymmetry like this can quickly become a dramatic one when fabric physics gets involved.
As you can see, upscaling the deceptively simple small layout was…not easy. I had to shift a lot of the pattern around to make it fit (as well as switching to two-part sleeves, though that may be for the better) and it leaves me with a 30cm x 30cm square. This could be useful though, as the small pattern doesn’t account for gussets, which I may or may not need, or for using extra linen to make the straps on the apron-dress.
This is an alternative layout, if I only bump the body panels up to 45cm wide. This brings their actual width back to the 40cm I was going for previously, but it may not work out so well. I’m inclined to go for the layout with 50cm body panels, personally - that gives me a lot more leeway for seam allowance, and for a more realistic fit.
I’m slowly working on the serk mockup - it was too hot and too hectic over the last two or so weekends to work on it properly, but I’m going to recut the body panels as one piece with shoulder seams, and then pin in the gores and whatnot.
So, my first gripe here is wastage. I’m not happy about those squares of material that don’t fit anywhere on the pattern, but I really cannot see another way to fit it all on the width.
I’m also somewhat confused by the pattern. Three body panels seems like one too many to me, but I’m going to cut all three for the mockup. We’ll see how it actually goes - though, I definitely want to do the back panel as a split panel in case of there being extra stress on that fabric.
As mentioned above, I want to copy the shape and layout of my striped cardigan, which comes down to about knee-length. It has some existing fitting issues though - namely, it isn’t actually designed to be closed (which is why it looks so weird when it is). I was going to extend one or both of the front panels, as I remembered that most ‘proper’ jackets cross over at the front for warmth. I don’t think that design is period, but not freezing to death comes first for me.
The neckline is a bigger issue. While I do want to be able to close it high or lower, I don’t like the scoop neckline of the coat in the photo on Wandering Elf’s blog - to me, it looks untidy when it’s pinned lower on the body. I’m not sure what I can do as an alternative though - I may just have to learn to live with it.
But, I haven’t actually sketched it yet, so…we’ll see how it goes.
So with this sketching reassuring me, I’m feeling a lot less worried about fabric costs.
If I went with the most expensive fabric options for each, it works out to:
Serk: 3.5m of linen @ $25/m = $87.50
Apron-dress: 2.5m of grey wool @ $35/m, excluding dye costs = $87.50
Coat: 2.5m of white upholstery wool @ $25/m, excluding dye costs = $62.50
Being fair, I expected to pay much less for the serks, and much, much more for the apron-dress and coat.
But. Using my current ‘best’ picks, it works out to:
Serk: 3.5m of linen @ $22/m = $77
Apron-dress: 2.5m of the faulty light blue poly/wool @ $15/m = $37.50
Coat: as above, $62.50.
Filet: 0.2m of narrow-width dupion @ $35/m = $7
Veil: 1m of silk chiffon = $35
Cap(s): 1m of quilter’s muslin = $12
Width is a big point here. The ‘narrow’ dupion silks are 112cm wide - so the length I’m getting cut is really the width (yes, this will do some odd things with a shot dupion, but it might also look better with the white and gold one). The quilter’s muslin is 115cm wide as well, but I’d like to have more than one cap (in case one manages to get mucky somehow) and it’s cheap enough that buying 1m doesn’t bother me. The silk chiffons are 137cm wide, so I may not need 1m, but I have yet to work that fabric out.
The coat wool is 160cm wide, so I may need even less if I’m clever about the layout. The linens are all different widths though, which makes my life a bit harder - I’d really like a 150cm linen, but I also want one that’s not so dark, so I might get stuck with the slightly narrower cream linen. The light blue wool is 150cm wide too - but, I’ve been warned to add half a meter to account for shrinkage when I wash all of the wools, hence the extra length on it and the coat wool.
While I will need to decide on the trims, the Etsy options all seem to be around the $20 mark; that makes each trim roughly $6.70 (and I would probably be cutting them in half longways to make the actual trimming strips so I get twice as much out of each piece). On the other hand, while the patterned dupion silk is $40/m, again I doubt I’ll need more than the minimum cut (probably 20cm) because it’s 135cm wide, which works out to $8; for 2cm strips, that gives me 10. I can trade whatever I don’t use at events, market days or on the Barony and College group pages.
And after doing all of that sketching, I realize that I didn’t properly account for seam allowances in anything. Still. I haven’t bought any fabric yet, so I’ll be revising the patterns at some point soon. (Most patterns propose a 2.5cm seam allowance - while I find that absurdly massive IRL and tend to go with 1.5cm seam allowance, 2.5cm is easier to show on the graph paper.)
Bookings have opened for ICW; while I’ve booked a cabin ticket, the organizers have yet to confirm how many cabin tickets are available, so I’m budgeting for the assumption that I’ll have to buy a tent (probably this cheap one from Aussie Disposals).
I’m also adding money for a foam mat, a duffel bag (since I doubt my carry-on bag can hold everything and I’m not clear on whether suitcases are ok or not), a head torch (to use in addition to my phone’s torch) and a sleeping bag. The cheapest sleeping bag of the right rating is this one, but I really want this more expensive one - it has a little more room, plus it can be completely unzipped into a quilt. Despite being assured by a salesperson at Aussie Disposals who has been to the area before, I still want to take either a brushed wool blanket or (if I have to share a tent) my Onkaparinga blanket for extra warmth.
I’m still working on the other logistics of travel gear I need. I desperately need some kind of lockable container for my meds, emergency bank card (in case of regular card being eaten by an ATM - it’s happened before) and emergency cash. I may end up just buying a small lockable cash box from Officeworks though.
Finally, I’m on the hunt for an insulated lunch bag that actually keeps your food hot for some reasonable period of time. I have my black flask from T2 which can keep tea steaming hot for a full day, but I’ve struggled to find insulated lunch bags and lunch boxes that actually work when it comes to keeping food hot. From the preliminary schedule, I’ll have to pick up lunch ahead (or pack it ahead), and if I can keep food hot then that gives me some less boring options.
But, most of the purchases will have to wait. I haven’t started adding up costs yet, but I will soon. Hopefully, it’s less than I thought and leaves me time to put together some extra cash before the event.
Mum picked up a lamb leg roast, which we carefully removed the bones from. I cleaned them as best as I could, but even hot soapy water didn’t clean all of the bits off. So, they’re now buried in a plant pot out the back (as suggested by a number of enthusiast websites since bleach can make the bones disintegrate and I don’t happen to have a spare, not-for-food slow cooker or baby bottle sterilizer lying around). I’ll check on them in May. I also have some kangaroo soup bones to clean and similarly bury. Based on photos from a Vikings of SCA group member, the lamb leg bone is the right size, and it doesn’t look too hard to cap the ends. So, let’s hope the soil from the garden is active enough to clean the bones up…
So, as always - I am terribly cash-strapped, and also not always very good at finding things out. And this is really the first time I’ve ever made actual clothes for myself. Any advice or donations will be a very, very big help.
Comments or advice can be directed to my email address, or any of my social media addresses. (I’ve been debating whether to do a comments system on here; while I don’t mind moderating it, I have absolutely no idea how to implement something that isn’t Discus (which I don’t like) so it probably won’t happen anytime soon.)
gh-pages-blog is the simple way to set up a fully responsive blog on github in just a matter of minutes.