Hipster A&S

Apr. 1st, 2011 08:47 pm
cat_cetera: (SCA!)
[personal profile] cat_cetera
On Thursday got asked if I had any pieces of largesse I could take with me to KA&S. I did not, but I did some brainstorming with [livejournal.com profile] falashad about what I could make on short notice. After looking through the stash and my usual selection of references, decided I could probably throw together some coifs.

The women's coifs will be Elizabethan, based on the various extant pieces described in Janet Arnold 4. The men's coifs will be based on two boldly patterned silk taffeta coifs belonging to King Enrique of Castile (c. 1203-17) and his brother Infante Fernando (1189-1211), as described in Dahl, Camilla Luise and Sturtewagen, Isis (2008). "The Cap of St. Birgitta", in Medieval Clothing and Textiles 4: 99-142.

I started from the patterns in The Tudor Tailor and The Medieval Tailor's Assistant (men's) and Janet Arnold 4 (women's) and scaled them up onto my trusty yellow plaid practice fabric.

"It's an obscure project; you probably haven't heard of it."
The men's coifs are kind of fun - instead of just being boring old white linen, they are in loudly patterned silk taffetas. I had some patterned silks in the stash that I thought would probably be pretty good.

The men's coif patterns I had don't exactly match the pictures of the extant coifs, which are in only two pieces and appear to be gathered or pleated along the bottom edge. Using the two coif patterns I had as a rough guide, I sketched out a pattern I thought was closer to what I needed. I pinned it together and it sort of fit, but I couldn't get the curvature of the top of the head to work properly.

12th Century Spanish Men's Coif

In the interests of time, I decided to go with the three-piece pattern in The Tudor Tailor, because it's gridded out and very easy to scale up.

12th Century Spanish Men's Coif

That fit fine, but I had a couple of further ideas. Because my silk is patterned, I didn't want to cut some of the pieces on the bias and others on the straight grain if I could avoid it - it would be pretty obvious. Also, maybe the pleats in the examples are what's creating the curvature otherwise created by the bias strip in the Tudor-era pattern. I cut the bias strip in half, then pinned one half flat to the side piece. I flattened these two pieces out to get the next pattern piece, cutting apart the bottom of the pattern piece where needed to make it lie flat.

12th Century Spanish Men's Coif

I pinned the new pattern pieces together and pinned pleats into the bottom edge, matching where I had had to split apart the old pattern piece. It's not entirely right - it rises too high in the back compared to the pictures of the extant examples, and the pattern of the fabric in the examples sits more straight up-and-down at the back compared to how mine looks, but it's close enough for my project today.

12th Century Spanish Men's Coif

To pattern the women's coifs, I chose the pattern from Janet Arnold 4 that looked like it took the least fabric and scaled it up. I think there was a problem with my scaling because my first attempt had very dramatic angles. I redrew the curve and cut it out.

This pattern needed no further adjustment, but when I'm cutting it out I think I'll make it a bit wider. It's sort of difficult patterning for hypothetical individuals - I needed to try the patterns on myself to make sure they were credibly head-shaped, but I don't know if that means they will be too small for the average recipient or what.

Patterning having taken much longer than I anticipated, I took a break for dinner. After dinner, I dug out the Doctor Who DVDs and got started on the first of the two Spanish coifs.

12th Century Spanish Men's Coif

It's unlined, so I edged it with the same ribbon I was going to use to make the chin straps.

12th Century Spanish Men's Coif

For the pleats at the back, I made 6 half-inch pleats on each side of the centre seam, each half an inch apart. I sewed them into the ribbon edging on both sides - this means the pleat is sewed down twice. I've done it before and not been satisfied with the result, and I was dissatisfied again this time. I'm going to do it differently for the other coif, and hopefully I'll remember not to do it again. I got most of the way finished the coif before deciding to call it a night - it's never a good idea to start watching anything written by Steven J. Moffatt right before bed and the next episode on the playlist was "The Empty Child". Are you my mummy?

The next day, I was able to finish both of the two mens' coifs before heading over to [livejournal.com profile] falashad's, where I was supposed to be gaming.

12th Century Spanish Men's Coifs

"I liked this project better before it got so mainstream."
(Actually I just really hate embroidery)

I also had in the stash this poly-cotton blend with machined black embroidery in a paisley pattern and irridescent plastic spangles. Definitely not the most accurate fabric I have ever used, but I thought I'd put together an Elizabethan coif to see how it turned out. A proper one of these should be hand embroidered in polychrome silk and maybe a bit of metallic thread for extra bling, and many people have made very beautiful ones. It's the embroidery that is the time-consuming part; putting together the actual coif is pretty straightforward.

I finished the edge of the whole piece with a narrow hem, then attached a tube at the back for the drawstring to go through.

Elizabethan coif

Elizabethan coif

I attached metallic braid to the curved edge using whip stitch (not shown) and whip stitched the top edge together. Caiaphas and Don Bjar the Blue were then good enough sports to pose with the men's Spanish coifs while I wore the Elizabethan coif and [livejournal.com profile] falashad and FCH played paparazzi. Despite the number of shots they snapped, I don't have any where all of us are looking nice at the same time:



Blue also put together an Elizabethan coif, featuring actual embroidery by [livejournal.com profile] falashad, which I don't have pictures of yet.
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