Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mending & Patching


Hi, any readers still here!  I've been incredibusy[1] for the last while, but none of it's been interesting new textile explorations that I needed to whine about, and I've been travelling a lot, so lack of postings.  (I actually have a pick-list of general topics I want to burble about, and I need to be better about motivating self to burble about them when I'm not in the middle of a project.

Since last we parted, I've moved, let's see here, eleven cards from "Backlog" to "Done"; each of them representing a task (see graphic above).  Now, a single task might be small and quick (e.g., mending the top of a gore) or a lot of work (e.g., making 50-odd buttons for a pourpoint); but they're still An Thing.   You can also get fancier by estimating effort per task and using that as a filter or pick mechanism, but I usually have an idea just by looking at it, so I haven't bothered shaving that yak.

I used a different method to track the kirtle work (which I've also finished!!)--it's on a single card, but it has ticky-boxes inside the card for each step.  I can see value to both methodologies; I think it really comes down to whether you're more inclined to do one entire project to completion, or to cycle through several in turn.  Since a lot of what I was doing presently was mending/fixing/upgrading, it made sense to have this combo method.   

For the record, I did not stop to resolve the questions I had about the kirtle that I burbled about in the previous post; I just forged ahead and made the thing.  I'll get analysis later, for use with a more serious project.  (I did face the center-front and the neckline with silk bits, the linen being so very fine; I did not bind the neckline or armholes.)
it's less dorky if you sew stuff
in your own underwear

A thing I am slightly smug about: I have classified my chemises.  I have a bunch of shifts and, except for two which I made simultaneously, they're all slightly different in cut and fit, and some work better with some dresses than others; and it's difficult when you're staggering around your tent in the morning to figure this out.  So!  I have tried each on in turn, taken notes of its particular features, and sewed in tiny corresponding numbers at the back of the neckline.  And they're nubbly, so I could even figure it out in the dark.  Ahem.  (And this also means I don't have to fumble around figuring out which side's the front.)  

I may forget what each number represents, yes.

Having finished the kirtle last night, now I suffer the option paralysis of what to pick off the backlog next.   OH HEY I'LL HAVE LUNCH THAT WILL HELP SOLVE THIS no no it will not

[1] I have an English degree and that means I can make up words.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Various Devils In Details

Nothing to see here, move along

I spent most of the last while working on [REDACTED], and after some few setbacks and, ahem, learning experiences, it's done and I'm tolerably pleased with the result.  Don't worry, I took a bunch of photos and you'll get to hear all about it later, if without the piquancy of my in-the-moment emo.

I have now turned my attention to the linen kirtle I cut out last summer and, like an idiot, was trying to finish at Pennsic, which I want to have done for Quest (which is Memorial Day weekend).  And now that I've hauled it out and started really looking at it instead of just robotically executing "here are the pieces, sew the thing", I have a couple of concerns.  The minor one is easily resolved, at least once there's someone over who can pin me in: the front neckline is wayyyyyy too high.  Like, almost no drop from the shoulder.  I'm not sure how that happened, but it did; but I don't want to try and amend it freehand, but I can assemble the rest of the thing, leave the neckline unfinished, and then have someone mark it on me.  (The back, at least, seems to be in the right place, so I can even close it up to the shoulder seams.)

Somewhat more concerning is that the center fronts are quite curved.  Now, this is perfectly normal for my 14th century stuff; but my understanding of the 16th century is that we're all about the straight lines because we have support happening inside the garment layers[1] and that's going to force your shaping so your pieces can be more cookie-cutter.  Certainly all the example pieces and published patterns have straight fronts, so I think this is Not Right, particularly for a working-class dress.  On the gripping hand, what I need is a passable light linen dress comfortable for the Cambodian summers we've been suffering, so a) does it really matter for this garment since it's not a show piece and b) do I have time to get consultation/help with amending it and c) is it even something that can be amended at this point?  

It is possible that the answer to all three of those questions is a big whompin' No.  

But to keep my options open as long as possible, I'm going to finish the skirt and attach it (I'm OK with where the bottom of the bodice is hitting) and by that time I'll have a sense of whether I'll be able to tap someone to have a look at it (the usual sewing night this week is prorogued for a birthday celebration).  Or I can start training the dashing consort on how to pin someone in--though when I consider how long it took me to get the knack of it, this may not be helpful for the current undertaking.

Other minor nits that have occurred to me:

  • I had originally planned to bind the neckline with a contrasting linen, but I'm not sure whether this would be appropriate for a working-class under-dress.  On the other hand, I'm mostly going to wear it alone, so a wee bit of ornamentation would not go amiss.  I can't find period guidance either way.
  • do I need a strengthening strip around the skirt waist like we do for cartridge pleating (I think maybe not, because again, working class basic?); 
  • a facing for the center front to strengthen the lacing holes would be smart[2]; 
  • the Tudor Tailor says to self-bind the armholes, rather than other finishing techniques, and I'm wondering why; 
  • I really need to make a shift with a more U-shaped neckline for this late period stuff and also maybe my shifts should be a little longer (a lot of them are barely knee-length)
Of course, after all this, it'll probably be one of the years where Quest is 40 degrees at night and pleasant during the day.  So I'm hedging my bets by finishing the refurbs on at least one pair of my consort's wool Venetians, too.

The Trello board I mentioned in my last post continues to work well; so well, in fact, that it was proposed to me that I could teach a class in Agile Project Management Techniques As Applied to Your A&S Work.  Do we think this would be a useful / valuable thing?  Would it play in Peoria?

In other news, I am engaged in a Kafkaesque struggle to understand what the East Kingdom actually expects of you reporting-wise after you have held an event.  The only thing I've learned is that 1) everyone has a different idea--and I asked some experts, I can tell you--and thus 2) no one really knows for sure.  So I have started to document what I've found, because this is silly.  (I still, after two weeks, do not have an answer of where I'm supposed to send our duly-collected waivers--you know, the ones you're supposed to turn in within ten days.)  Hey, guys?  This kind of disorganization is why more people don't throw events.

[1] or under, for later and fancy rich people
[2] this is, in fact, what suddenly caused me to go HEY FRONT NOT STRAIGHT WHYYYY

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I Aten't Ded

Hey kids, let's put on a picnic!

Wow, it's been awhile, hasn't it?

I haven't been idle these past four weeks; quite the opposite[1].  It is usually a hand-waving and slightly contemptible excuse to say "wah too busy to blog/time track/update my projects", but truthfully I have a certain methodology for posting, and the pattern of my recent activities has prorogued that.  

So, what've I been up to?

The first weekend, I went to an embroidery academy way out in Pennsylvania, that I had agreed to teach at.  It's a full weekend thing, with everyone crashing in the camp's bunkrooms[2], which gives a lot more scope for more in-depth and hands-on classes.  I learned Bayeux stitch, and I started a canvas-work Elizabethan floral slip (which class incidentally also had hands-on instruction in prick-and-pounce for tracing your pattern; something I'm happy to have in my toolkit).  They also had a lovely touch of everyone bringing relevant books and pooling them into a library/research space; and I encountered a new book unfamiliar to me, which may have the only artistic representation I have ever seen of a laurel wreath in the high medieval era.  That is, you see laurel trees in manuscripts, e.g. the Tacuinum Sanitatis; but, unlike grapevines, oak branches, acanthus, etc. you never (hardly ever) see laurel used as borders the way we like to use them for Laurel regalia in the SCA.  

Also includes neat animal pictures!
NB: This is not Notre-Dame in Paris, but in a town
in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
For the Pel-Laurels out there

So a great event, though exhausting, and I recommend future iterations to all my embroidery peeps.

I spent the following weekend creating our Household Great Wardrobe Account; a spreadsheet of all our clothes (not accessories yet, but I'll get to it), the current state of each...including fit...and any repairs needed.  I then used that information to build a Trello board of sewing tasks.  I can unpack this more in another post if there seems interested; but briefly, each "card" on the board represents a piece of work to be done, whether large or small, but each an individual task, whether it's a mending job or for new construction.  E.g., for the work still remaining on the pourpoint, one card is "rip out the lower sleeves" and another is "cut out new lower sleeves" and yet a third is "quilt new lower sleeves".  I've also color-tagged them by project, and where applicable, included due dates, so I can prioritize.  The idea here is that I can come home from work, and even if I'm awfully fried and have no reasoning capability left--which is regrettably common right now--, just pick one discrete task to work on.  So far, this is working tolerably well.  For instance, I don't think I would have finished the little Bayeux stitch project and gotten it onto its final destination without this; it would have been yet another half-finished blorp taking up space in my project basket.
PSA: it's a royal pain to
appliqué something onto
an already-made book

There's a collaborative project I'm engaged in and have spent a deal of time on, but it is S3KR1T so you won't hear about it until later.   

Last weekend, my college BFF came to visit, and we Marched for Science and had great conversations and stuff.  She is also in the Arts Scene, but in a different kingdom and as a performance artist (you could say that she wrote the book on commedia dell'arte) (that should be a link to Compleat Anachronist #173, but someone at Milpitas has not updated the page in a year, ahem), so it was really interesting to compare notes about How Things Work for each of us.  

And, oh yes, my honorable colleague and I put on an event this weekend!  We've been trying for years--and I use that word quite literally--to drum up a small event within the boundaries of the subway system. This is a difficult thing, because space in NYC is so outrageously expensive, even for non-profits, so we thought hmm, what about in a public park, since a parks permit is only $25?  The problem here, and why it took years, is that the people in charge of permits make the Keystone Kops look like NASA.  I will not weary you with our series of disappointments--other than mentioning that last year, we had the permit in hand and everything was going swimmingly until three weeks before the event, when they suddenly called us up to say oh, oops, they double-booked the permit, so ours was revoked.  >:-/    BUT!  This year it finally worked!  The weather cooperated, we had about 26 people, and there was live music and dancing and hanging out and lots of food.  Also, we weirded the day for many of the good people of Brooklyn.

In addition to being co-event-steward, however, I was seized with the compulsion to have my contribution to the potluck be something defensibly medieval.  Thus, for the past two-three weeks, I have been mumbling over medieval pie recipes and foisting test versions on unwary passers-by.  

So, pies are A Thing in medieval cookery; indeed even hand-pies (in the general vein of the Cornish pasty) were known to exist; but the pies we have recipes for are, chiefly, items for lordly tables, and super-fussy and in many cases not very convenient to eat, particularly at a picnic.  I also wanted to have a broad spectrum of choices for different dietary restrictions.  So, I made one of the classic stalwarts, the Tart in Ymbre Day from Forme of Cury (this is from the court of Richard II, about 1390):

Tart in ymbre day. Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out þe water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese [brede AB] & bray it in a morter, and temper it vp with ayren. Do þerto butter, saffroun & salt, & raisons corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

A lot of people interpret "erbis" as "herbs", which I think isn't right; there's no reason to parboil herbs. "erbe" in French refers to grasses and leafy ground plants, so I think it's much more likely to refer to Dark Leafy Green Veg, which you might indeed want to parboil.   So I parboiled yellow onions & kale, squeezed the water out as best I could, and blitzed them in the food processor because I was on the clock; added queso fresco & butter, and rubbed them in with my hands as you do with fat in a pie crust; and stirred in eggs, currants, and the spices as noted.  

Now, on my test run, I turned them into little empanada-sized hand pies and it worked well; but on the production run, it was too liquid and this wasn't working at all, so I just tipped it into a regular pie crust and called it a day.  

A meat pie was trickier; a lot of the recipes are less filling-ish as we know them, and I didn't see them working in this context.  So I decided to go off the reservation a little, and work from rissole recipes instead.  Rissoles are little filled dough/pastry pockets--think of them in the pierogi or ravioli line--which were deep-fried; but there is one reference to baking them instead, so that was good enough for me.  

I started with Scully's redaction of Chiquart's meat rissoles:

Again, rissoles: and to give understanding to him who will make them, according to the quantity of them which he will make let him take a quantity of fresh pork and cut up into fair and clean pieces and put to cook, and salt therein; and when his meat is cooked let him draw it out onto fair and clean tables and remove the skin and all the bones, and then chop it very small. And arrange that you have figs, prunes, dates, pine nuts, and candied raisins; remove the stems from the raisins, and the shells from the pine nuts, and all other things which are not clean; and then wash all this very well one or two or three times in good white wine and then put them to drain on fair and clean boards; and then cut the figs and prunes and dates all into small dice and mix them with your filling. And then arrange that you have the best cheese which can be made, and then take a great quantity of parsley which should have the leaves taken off the stems, and wash it very well and chop it very well in with your cheese; and then mix this very well with your filling, and eggs also; and take your spices: white ginger, grains of paradise--and not too much, saffron, and a great deal of sugar according to the quantity which you are making. And then deliver your filling to your pastry-cook, and let him be prepared to make his fair leaves of pastry to make gold-colored crusts(?); and when they are made, let him bring them to you and you should have fair white pork lard to fry them; and when they are fried, you should have gold leaf: for each gold-colored crust(?) which there is, have one little leaf of gold to put on top. And when this comes to the sideboard arrange them on fair serving dishes and then throw sugar on top.  [tr. Elizabeth Cook]

...which redaction started with ground pork, for convenience, and I really think that's the wrong way to go about it; but I made it up and it worked well enough, but it was reeeeeeeally sweet.  This is no doubt because Chiquart, as the master chef of the Duke of Savoy, was making expensive and very very fancy food, and sugar is a great expression of wealth; but it was not at all picnic food.  So I took it down several levels of society, and went with our friend the Menagier de Paris:

RISSOLES ON A MEAT DAY are seasonable from St. Remy's Day (October 1). Take a pork thigh, and remove all the fat so that none is left, then put the lean meat in a pot with plenty of salt: and when it is almost cooked, take it out and have hard-cooked eggs, and chop the whites and yolks, and elsewhere chop up your meat very small, then mix eggs and meat together, and sprinkle powdered spices on it, then put in pastry and fry in its own grease. And note that this is a proper stuffing for pig; and any time the cooks shop at the butcher's for pig-stuffing : but always, when stuffing pigs, it is good to add old good cheese.  [tr. Janet Hinson]

It occurred to me to use beef instead of pork for a public contribution, because more people have pork restrictions than not; so I went to get a braising cut of beef to cook in the same way, but had an idiot braino and got an eye of round instead, which is All Wrong.  So I ended up having to use ground beef instead, grumble.  But it's simple; I browned the beef, mixed in chopped hard-boiled eggs, spiced it, and filled my wee pies.  The first round was really too bland, so I lashed in the long pepper with a will, and I think the production round went well.  

I had meant to make the Menagier's fruit versions as well--

Item, on ordinary days, they can be made of figs, grapes, chopped apples and shelled nuts to mimic pignon nuts, and powdered spices: and the dough should be very well saffroned, then fry them in oil. If you need a liaison, starch binds and so does rice.  [tr. Janet Hinson]

...and I did make a test run of those, which were quite nice--very like mince pie, actually; but for the production run I was entirely out of spoons and could no more that night.  Well, there was plenty of food, anyways. 

A word on crust: we don't have much in the way of actual medieval pie crust recipes, because as you see in Chiquart's version, the pastry cook was a completely different person (and different guild maybe?) and if any of them recorded their work, it hasn't survived.  It's likely that many crusts were just flour and water (no fat), as we see later and all the way into the 19th century, and were acting as tough containers rather than foodstuffs themselves. But we do have some recipes for tarts anyways which include butter, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients.  In this case, I just made my standard pie crust recipe.   If you want to know more, someone's broken out a whole bunch of references according to type.

So. Yes.  Some things happened.  And now, the summer sewing season.  *flail*

[1] well, I admit I spent three days just playing Assassin's Creed:Brotherhood right after the pourpoint test launch.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Pourpoint Commission: Beta Release

Action shot!

I misunderestimated how much time it would take to reach Minimum Viable Product, which meant a lot of late nights and sewing-over-lunch-hours; but the pourpoint was ready at the time the client wanted it, which was "after court, for the feast".  So, a success, as far as this goes.

Many people were kind enough to comment on how well they thought it looked, but I, of course, can only see the things I want to fix or do better.  Well, and there are some definite actual problems too--in spite of having cut the forearm pieces bigger, they are still an inch too narrow (WTF!?!).  Herewith, a list of items to amend before I hand it off to the client for good[1] at Pennsic:
  • Buttons and buttonholes, duh.  Est. time: 20-25 hours maybe?  I am not super fast with buttonholes and I don't know how long it'll take me to cover/make the buttons.
    • I still have to determine what I'm going to do about the round buttons.  Entirely fabric, like Red Charlie's?  Or solid-core, like the flat buttons definitely are?  AAAAAAA.
  • Re-cut and re-quilt the lower sleeves larger.  6 hours or so.
  • Add the cuff piece that I thought I didn't need 'cause the lower sleeve was long enough when I fit it but isn't now (though, aheheh, I think I can just cut off the bottom of the extant lower sleeves and use that?)  Possibly no time at all.
  • I may have to do a little neckline fiddling once I've lined up the center front properly, which I couldn't do when stitching him in.  A couple hours.
  • I really feel it ought to be a couple inches longer (though I only lost 1/2" from quilting shrinkage, so I guess that was a botch from the word go).  So I'm thinking of quilting strips to sew to the bottom of each body piece.  4 hours?
    • This is a lead-in to a separate irk: the "skirt" of the pourpoint was flaring out in an incorrect fashion.  I am hoping that adding length will help that, but I don't know if that's enough to overcome the forcing-out by the thickness of the padding.  Theoretically, closing up the slits at the hips would fix this; but Gold Charlie has those slits,  
      • Now, Gold Charlie also has a ton of additional tie points for hose, and if you tied your hose all around that would help drag the skirt down; but this also confuses me 'cause most men's hose designs I've seen only have a single attachment point in front, so I really am not clear WTF is going on here.  I'm going to try at least attaching the two hose points we have a little lower on the body, and see if that makes a diff.
    • It's also too loose around the hips, at that.  Should be more form-fitting to match the imagery.  I don't know how to make that happen without closing the slits, though.
  • And then after these tasks I gotta re-hem it all.  *drinks hemlock*
As a side note, I stuffed the upper chest portion as much as ever the fabric could hold, but it's not getting the pouter-pigeon effect.  I guess we just have to chalk that up as artistic license.  (Or a difference in body shape for dudes whose day job involves living in armor.)  

Oh, and I need to finish the linen test version too.  Probably another 10-12 hours of quilting and a bit more cotton bowing, and then maybe 5 hours of assembly + 12 hours of eyelets.

[1] with occasional borrow-backs for competitions & displays

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Pourpoint Commission: Coming Around The Clubhouse Turn

This will be a little more perfunctory and less image-enabled, because ain't no one got time for that, and also my phone forgot how to connect to wifi after the March 5 Android patches and this has caused me to use up all my data plan for the month and Google Support has not followed up after "did you try a factory reset?" so uploading photos is not currently a thing.  But at least I SPELLED THE POST TITLE RIGHT AFJDKFJKDFJFJDK


Right. So, where are we after a week of blitz?  

  • All pieces are quilted except the right front, the two upper sleeves, one lower sleeve, and one back gore
  • One of the two hose ties is made up[1]
  • The upper back & lower back are sewn together (and the seam allowances are finished, TYVM)
This doesn't seem like a great deal of advancement, but to be honest, from an effort perspective we're over the hump.  I have all of today...modulo eating and, ahem, put to it; that's probably a good ten hours' work available (well, I already put in an hour this morning finishing up other gores) and then every evening this week.  I have also rethought the order of events--I had intended to spend today quilting the right front piece (and that woulda been the whole day, too, probably), in the instinctive desire to prioritize the most fundamental pieces; but instead I'm going to do the upper sleeves.  Because why?  Because then I can take them into work and set gores over my lunch hour. I will have to jettison my workout routine, but needs must when the devil drives.

An hose tie.  It's made up of the lining linen cut into a forked
strip and then wrapped in silk quilting thread.
There is, as expected, no damn way I'm getting 50+ buttons & buttonholes done by Saturday, even if I farmed out the work; the client is OK with being sewn in for this.  So, the Minimum Viable Product task list, in no particular order: 
  • Quilt remaining pieces
  • Set gores in upper sleeves
  • Sew lower sleeves to upper sleeves
  • Sew front pieces to back (that's two side seams and two shoulder seams)
  • Attach sleeves to body
  • Hem all raw edges (not literally hemstitch)
  • Make up 2nd hose tie
  • Attach hose ties
Other than quilting, probably the slowest part will be closing up the raw edges... In the absolute worst-case scenario, I can do all the long(ish) seams by machine, and then rip 'em out afterwards and redo them properly.  

RIght; breakfast, and then on.

[1] which I did while watching a vendor demo. Who says vendors are a waste of time?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Pourpoint Commission: Not So Much "Launch" As "Measured Acceleration"

the cult of Baron Samedi took a
strange turn in some clothworker

The past week's efforts were somewhat restricted by lacking any pale-colored silk quilting thread, because in my laudable Buy All The Things In Advance effort I had only gotten black thread. because I am genius.  shut up.

I became aware of this resource gap a few hours after last week's post; I had laid out the pattern pieces on the silk to get an idea of how much wiggle room was available, was pleasantly surprised to find a comfortable amount, and cut off (with some wincing and gritted teeth) a 6" square to test-swatch.  I set it all up on a small frame and went "...oh."  I put in a rush order for what I needed--getting both white and natural colors, since I wasn't sure which would look better and I didn't want to go through the same thing a few days later--and proceeded on the test swatch with the black thread I had, because it's a test swatch and who cares?  
Promising, yes.

Pleasant surprise #2: the silk, even when packed much more fully than the linen, didn't have any perceptible lossage either.  That meant I could proceed with cutting out the pattern pieces from the silk without any additional pattern-frobbing, hallelujah.  No; just had to do all the frobbing to make sure the brocade motifs lined up in an agreeable fashion.  This is a) not easy and b) nerve-wracking, particularly the first time around, particularly on fabric this expensive.  Also, my kingdom for space for a table I can cut out fabric on.  oh god my back. 

The rest of the week there wasn't a lot I could do, waiting on the thread arrival, so I stuffed it full of the social engagements I wouldn't have time for once I really got going, and did a few minor tasks, like ensuring I had lining fabric ahem.  I decided to use the Sartor heavy natural linen I had in stash already, because a) it's worthy, b) I have a goodly amount of it since I'd intended to make a dress for me and a suit for Himself out of it, and c) most of the other stuff I have to hand is fine, underwear-weight, and if you're anchoring expensive silk and a pound of cotton floof on it, not to mention OVER FIFTY BUTTONS AFJKDJFKDJFKLJG, I figure you want something a bit more solid.  (And it's not coarse heavy; just heavier than their other stuff, which is rated "fine".)  Regrettably, I have no information about Gold Charlie's lining, other than that it is linen, but I feel this is a reasonable choice.

in media res
I had all my critical resources in place to begin yesterday afternoon, so after doing a stay-stitch around the armhole curves, I got cracking on the upper back piece, which is comparatively easy: it doesn't have to match anything and the motifs line right up down the center back so you have some built-in guidance.  Happily, the brocade motifs are spaced in such a way that, by running the quilting lines along the the top and bottom of the quatrefoil lobes, this works out very close to the 30mm spacing on Gold Charlie.  That'll work for all the large pieces except the lower back, whose lines are on a slight curve, because there is no God[1]; the gores are a mixed bag, and I will worry about them later.

Some observations thus far:

  • I should do the first, centermost line of quilt stitches on each piece with no padding in place, then stuff on either side of it.  That will make life so much easier.  Why did I not think of this sooner.
  • The silk quilting thread is annoying as hell and wants to be waxed, which I was reluctant to do with silk, but a) it's unravelling and b) it's knotting itself up.
  • Switching to a finer needle makes a huuuuge difference here.  My usual quilting betweens were just not doing it.
  • Instead of laying out everything on a big-ass piece of lining fabric and just "scrolling" it into place on the frame, I'm breaking it down into smaller pieces.  This is going to be considerably more profligate with the lining fabric, but I have some compelling reasons:
    • I don't want already-done pieces of the garment to get smooshed under the frame holders.  This is no big deal for a linen garment but I don't want to get marks on the silk.
      • the downside is, I'll have some uncomfortable sessions getting to the center of the frame with my little T-rex arms, sigh.
    • It's easier to manage the frame if there isn't 2 yards of excess linen drooping around it in all directions.
    • I'll take some of the waste fabric, as available, and put it on the small frame to do the gores.  This also makes my project a little more portable. As long as I'm going to a place that has an embroidery frame stand. -_-
I also had the inspiration to outsource the cotton bowing to an under-employed friend, who is coming up today to do that thing.  I am pleased with my Very Medieval Solution to my critical lack-of-time problem.  Warning: do not come near my living room today.

I still haven't found a solution for the round buttons.  I checked all the usual vendors and so far have come up empty.  I wonder if only the disc buttons are metal underneath?  I wonder if the Charles IV exhibition people made assumptions because they found a bunch of metal buttons too?  WHY WILL NO ONE PUBLISH GOLD CHARLIE?

Current music: the Deadpool soundtrack. On auto-repeat.

[1] Actually it's because of the interesting shape of the waist seam at the back; once the upper & lower backs are attached, the curved lines look straight.  I have not taken the time to suss out why this arrangement is better than a straight seam. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Pourpoint Commission: It's Go Time

"It's 21 days to Mudthaw, we have six metres of
Sartor silk, four pounds of raw cotton, society
is collapsing and we have day jobs."  "Hit it."

After days of obsessive activity somewhat interrupted by being gone for a week for a work conference, I got enough of the test pourpoint together--i.e. the body + left arm, which is my patron's dominant side--for a fitting yesterday afternoon, and mirabile dictu, we are actually in pretty good shape here.  I need to add a little extra around the midsection (behold the difference between a human animal in summer and winter) and a little extra around the forearm muscle; no huhu.  My only concern is the way the front gore fits, which looks a little bunchy and puffy.  I took consultation with my panel of experts on how best to fiddle this, and by moving the seam inwards a little on the gore, it should do better.  (Viewers will note that there is some bunching under the armpit, which is true; this is a consequence of both the padding and the extra fabric needed to get the range of motion which is the whole point of the grande assiette sleeve.  So, that's okay.)  

It was interesting to note the difference in padding thickness on the pieces, as well.  The ones I had done first (the back) were much less full than the ones I did last (the sleeve & gores).  This wasn't at all intentional, and indeed I wasn't even conscious of it as I was working.  I think it's a combination of early trepidation + later confidence; at first, I was afraid of over-padding and turning it into a ski jacket, and with each successive piece I was worrying less about that and just instinctively adding Enough Padding To Make It Look Right.  And, as it is, I think I will want to up the levels even more, particularly across the upper chest.  

So.  Hurray.  We pass unit testing.  Guess what that means:  Time to do the real piece. And I am determined to have this in wearable state for the patron on March 25, which is an important event for him.  Possibly this is madness; though minimum-viable-product is having the garment done except the OVER FIFTY BUTTONS AND BUTTONHOLES AFJKDJFKDJFKLJG and sew him into it for the day, which reduces the number of required hours by a significant factor.  We'll see how it goes. 

aaaaaaaaaaaa I am being
trusted with this
Some thoughts:

  • The big elephant in the room is, how differently will the silk behave in the quilting process?  I had no lossage due to padding on the test unit, but I'm pretty sure this is because linen is mad stretchy.  Silk is not.  And we do not have much, if any, excess fabric here to screw around with.
  • How best to do the sleeves is an open question yet.  The pattern instructs you to assemble the upper sleeve (i.e., insert the gores) and then quilt it all down together; and I started with that, and then looked at the now somewhat three-dimensional item, and could not see how it could be done on a stretched-flat quilting frame.  So I took it apart, quilted each piece individually, and then assembled them.  This worked--though if you think setting a gore is hard, try doing it when all the pieces are thickly padded--but it wasn't the best or neatest.  Beth opined it could be done post-assembly by hand, sans frame, but I'm not convinced that'll end well for me. 
    • also, damn do I wish I had gotten to the serious quilting before I went to see Gold Charlie.  I have a whole list of things I would look at more closely now.
  • I estimate that 450g-500g of cotton is probably about right for padding one courtly pourpoint.  I still have a good bit left of my first batch of bowing, but a) I haven't quilted the right sleeve pieces yet and b) as noted earlier I should've used a lot more on the body pieces at least.
  • Mem: make sure the quilting lines will line up with each other across the center front.
  • I have been advised to balance the pattern of the brocade on the different pieces.  The medievals weren't obsessed with perfect matching like we moderns are, but if you look at Gold Charlie, they didn't just slap the pieces together willy-nilly either.  
  •  I did order some 5/8" buttons; the flat ones will do the job for the lower front, but the domed ones are right out.  I need actually round buttons for the sleeves & upper torso.  
  • oh hey let's make sure I have enough plain white linen in stock for lining this
The next order of operations is to lay out all the pattern pieces on the silk, getting the brocade lined up and all, so I see exactly how much extra I have to play with for testing purposes (and for covering 50+ buttons, fjdklajfdklajflajfakdkjagfdf).  If I have enough extra, I'll quilt say a 6" test swatch and see what our stretch factor is.  --Oh hey.  I could do the test swatch, and then disassemble it and use that for covering buttons, if I absolutely had to.  

ora pro me