A New Wardrobe for 5778

My friend Nicolin posted on Facebook that she intends to make herself an entirely new wardrobe for late 13th/early 14th century England. Knowing that she’s an ace at fitting and making her garb, and knowing that she’s a very good teacher and a patient human as well, prompted me to say “Hey, can I do a sew-along with you?”

Actually, my wording was more along the lines of me begging to learn by her, acting as a student/assistant while she does her own garb.  Her list of needed garments and accessories is similar to mine, and I realized that here was an ideal opportunity for me to actually see and take part in the process of wardrobe construction. That ought to give me a lot of confidence when it comes to making my own, especially if I follow along and do what she’s doing. Thank goodness, we’re both the type of person who benefits from having someone else working while we work, to keep us company.

Nicolin has worn out most of her existing garb and has only one wearable dress at the moment; Hakim and I have almost nothing appropriate to our half-arsed attempt at personae, which are theoretically supposed to be 14th century Spanish. We’ll start with Nicolin’s things, and then I’ll follow along about a step behind. By the time I get to Hakim’s things, I’m sure Nicolin will have found she has better things to do. 😉 Or maybe I’ll have found that I need less supervision.

Nicolin’s needs, as described on Facebook:

  • 4 shifts
  • 4 hosen
  • 4 coifs (1 goffered)
  • 4 veils (1 goffered, 1 square, 1 long, 1 silk)
  • 2 cottes (silk or wool)
  • 1 sleeved surcote with hanging sleeves
  • 1 sleeveless surcote, silk
  • 2 aprons (1 wool, 1 smocked linen)
  • 2 open hoods
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 striped cote
  • 1 silk hair net
  • 1 tablet woven belt
  • 1 tablet woven fillet

My needs:

  • 4 shifts/smocks
  • 2-3 Birgitta style caps
  • 4 hosen
  • 4 braies
  • 3-4 hoods (2 open, 1-2 buttoned)
  • 4 veils (1 circular, 1 semicircular, 1 turban, 1 goffered semicircular)
  • 2 wimples (1 rectangular, 1 conical)
  • 3 aprons (1 wool, 1 linen – possibly smocked, 1 linen – full-torso ‘midwife’ style)
  • 1-2 pairs tablet woven garters
  • 2 tablet woven belts (1 for braies, 1 for pockets)
  • 2+ pockets
  • 2 pilgrim bags, 1 possibly with tablet woven strap
  • 5-6 cotes (linen: 2 plain, 1 plaid or plain/plaid particolor; wool: 2-3 plain)
  • 1-4 surcotes (1-2 linen, 1-2 wool and/or silk)

Hakim’s needs:

  • 4 shirts
  • 4 hosen
  • 4 braies
  • 4 coifs
  • 3 hoods (buttoned or slip-over)
  • 2-3 kippot
  • 1 shop apron
  • 1 tablet woven inner belt (for braies)
  • 2+ pockets
  • 2+ pairs garters
  • 2 sets of points for braies
  • 4 short/mid-thigh cotes (3 linen, 1 wool)
  • 4 knee-length or longer cotes/surcotes (2 linen, 2 wool)

I have a whole lot of linen already, and a whole lot of midweight or heavier wool. The linen is mostly not of very good quality, but it’s quite good enough for me to make a “first” wardrobe from.

Normally I would want to hand-sew everything. Not because I ascribe to the elitism of perfect authenticity, or to rub anyone’s nose into the fact that “Nyah nyah, I’ve done all my things by hand, and you haven’t, la la la,” but just because sewing machines are terrifying to me. They go so fast! *whimper* By the time I realize I’ve made a mistake, or sewn outside the lines, I’ve already sewn an extra ten or twenty inches down. Frequent un-picking of a seam will weaken the fibers at that location, and I utterly hate doing it, so I much prefer to do it right the first time. Which, in my case, means going at the nice, slow, relaxing, enjoyable pace of hand sewing.

The down side to hand sewing is exactly the same as the up side: it takes a long time. So in the interest of having a wearable wardrobe, I’m intending to sew at least one type of each major garment (shift, braies, cote, surcote, possibly a hood) by machine. I don’t know if I’ll also have the courage to do machine finishing on the seams, but I’m going to try and talk myself into attempting it, at least. We’ll see if it actually happens…

Anyway. I’ve decided that, barring unforeseeable interference, I’m going to complete at least one full outfit for myself this year (remember, this is the Hebrew year that begins in just under a month, not the Gregorian year that waits till the dead of winter). Good luck to me, eh?