Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Whip it! Whip it good!

As I am sure you are starting to notice...I like catchy titles! So what does this whip business mean?

In this post I would like to start with a very simple but extremely effective demonstration of the whip stitch. The whip stitch is a simple stitch that can be used to add a huge amount of detail and visual interest to our garb/ clothing. I have a dress that I made that I receive a huge amount of attention over and the key component of why it looks so good/so authentic is due to the simple whip stitch.

Lets begin with how this applies to my 10th Century Varangian persona and her clothing. I study the clothing of female graves found in modern day Eastern Sweden, Western Russia and Ukraine that are identified as Scandinavian in nature by tortoise shell brooches and that date roughly to the 9-11th century. ( If you are very very new to Norse/ Scandinavian clothing and this last bit confuses you worry not there will be more information on this in posts to come in the future....for now run with me on this). One of the grave complexes that I have been studying in earnest is the grave complexes of Pskov, Russia. 

This particular post will not be discussing the amazing dress found at Pskov and the various interpretations of it's cut and usage (I promise to come back and add a link here when I cover this...and oh am I going to cover this topic) what we are going to be looking at is the wonderful stitch that was found on the seams and trim of the clothing that are left for us. In a grave there was found the remains of a birch box that had within it at least 2 articles of clothing. The most common interpretation of these two pieces is that it is an under dress and an over dress, and wrapped up withing the folds of these two dresses was a pair of Scandinavian tortoise shell brooches. The under dress neckline was preserved almost completely intact and on that neckline we had the following stitches.

Whip Stitch
Running Stitch
Chain Stitch
All three of these stitches are great, simple stitches that add a huge amount of visual interest to our clothing and can be used both as construction stitches and as I have used them as a combination of construction and "visual interest" or decorative stitches.

The project that I am working on currently is my interpretation of the Birka 735 Banded Dress/ Coat. I have merely used the Birka 735 grave as inspiration for my Birka Coat (I am sure that there is evidence of whip stitches in Birka but at date I don't have that data so I have used Pskov as my reference point). I did not follow the banding or the cut exactly but simply had a huge amount of trim that I had picked up years and years ago from Calontir Trim and I wanted to use it up. The trim that I used is a simple weave...probably polyester and in no way shape or form period. I am a very big advocate for using up what you have first so thus I am practicing my hand sewing skills while being resourceful and showing you how to make really period looking garb out of the items you have on hand.

To begin with lets learn the whip stitch.
The whip stitch is a very easy stitch that once you get the hang of it can go very easily and very quickly. The best way to visualize a whip stitch is to think of a zig zag that is actually "wrapping" the edge of a seam or seams. For me it is always worked from right to left ( I am right handed). What does that mean you might wonder, that means that as I do my stitching I am starting at the far right of my area to be stitched (in this case the far right of my piece of trim) and I am stitching over and over again working my way to the left.

The trick for me to a really successful whip stitch is two things. Spacing and and consistency. Remembering to bring the needle and thread up at the bottom of the zig zag rather than at the corner always makes the job 10X easier. 

Bring your first stitch up from under the trim/ seam
and always start in the bottom corner of the "zig zag"

Once you get the hang of the stitches just keep going and stitch stitch stitch. I used a whip stitch to attach and thus hide the machine stitching that I used on the trim of this coat. I measured out and marked the straight lines of my coat, pieced the trim onto their respective straight lines and machine stitched the trim pieces in place. I then whip stitched undyed linen thread over all the seams and have thus far created this.

I have used this whip stitch on other pieces and I can't tell you how much this small but mighty stitch has added to my clothing. In the future I maybe removing the machine sewing element and just hand sew the clothing from start to finish but until that day I will probably use this as well as other stitches that I hope to share with all of you as I work on them. I think we can all add small flourishes like hand stitching to really step up our garb.

And like any good SCAdian I have take a photo of the stitching from the inside so you can see that as well. I am working on not having knots in my work ( a kind embroidery laurel informed me that knots are so not period :) 

I hope you have enjoyed this quick little tutorial. If you have any questions feel free to comment below or send me a message. I hope you have a great time adding some visual and period stitches to your clothing. Next week I am hoping to do a tutorial on the Pskov under dress I mentioned above. Until then!

In service to my dream and yours:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Not letting perfect stand in the way of good!

Welcome to the first blog post!

I was tasked by my laurel ( teacher and mentor in my re-enactment group) to start a blog for my sewing and research projects. I was reluctant to do this thinking that there are a million blogs out there and mine will be just one of the multi million that are floating around in cyber space, always half finished and not really very reliable. To be fair it is completely plausible that this blog will always be half finished because I will never know everything thing about the topics that interest me but.....but I do have some useful information and I love to take photos and this seems to be a good combination for a blog. So here we go...


Here is what you can expect.

#1 Research-
  • I am a research junkie and thus I really enjoy sharing what I find with others. I do not abide by this idea that information should be hoarded away while others are desperatly trying to stumble along the path behind you. I will be posting my research, some of it my be very theoretical and subjective but it will be available for you to read and decide for your self what your thoughts are on the same data that I am using.
#2 Creativity-
  • I am a very proud member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I believe that it is important to be able to use your creativity to understand what it is that we are researching. Now the caveat to that statement is that I do not believe that we should use the excuse of "creativity" for sloppy/ lazy research or recreation attempts.
#3 Failure-
  • I think this point is the most important one. I am really bad about allowing the desire to be "perfect" keep me from even getting to the point of being "good" Let us not do this! I will be showing you all my attempts, theories, trials,errors,successes and failures in recreating the items that I am researching. I will be working threw my experiments and showing you the process along the way. This part of my blog is to help me to remember that no one became a master over night.



If these are things that you are interested in and you have the mind to read through my rambling sentences then please follow along.

In service to my dream and yours!
All my best: