Back at home from our Tudor sojourn at Kentwell Hall, and I’m picking through the costume bags, sighing at how badly the linen has frayed in the shifts I made, and looking at all the repairs I have to do. I think it might actually work better to take the shifts apart and re sew them with good seams, now that I’ve bought a pamphlet from Magot on perfect linens plain and fancy and have the inkling of a clue where to start.
I haven’t really done all that much sewing, although it feels like I’ve never stopped. To give an idea of why…
a shift – this is a long smock like shirt. Mine has a simple slit opening that goes down to the bottom of my ribcage, allowing for easy access for a (constantly) breastfeeding baby. It is made (badly) of linen, and what I didn’t know last year is that those fiddly seams called either run and fell or sew and fell (slightly different to each other, reasonably close to a french seam) are actually vital to stop your garment falling apart on repeated wearing.
an underkirtle. Mine is heavy linen, pink, and is rather like a slip. Pink/ red was a good colour as it was thought that warded off illness. It is in need of fixing at waist band and side seam. (Putting that here to remind myself!)
kirtle/bodice & skirt. This is actually a one piece dress like garment. It is made of heavy wool and lined in linen. The upper part should be either boned or interlined (is that a word??) depending on who you ask or when. It is not a subject I claim any expertise on. Mine is dark green, with black guards around various edges and has little boning. Mine fastens at the front with lacing – eyelets are deeply unhappy things to make. It has no sleeves – those are made separately and pointed on (laced through more eyelets, at least two sets each sleeve, preferably three. Kirtles can be side lacing as well as I understand it.
coat/jacket. I don’t actually have one of these. I rather wished I did the first week we were there, when it was cold and damp. If I’d had one, it would be sheeps colour, linen lined and mostly shapeless. I am not up to shaping things!
leather belt (long & thin, no roller on buckle). I have the makings of this, and carried it around for a week, hoping that I’d find a friendly leather worker with a sharp thing to make the holes I needed to sew it. I didn’t find the friendly leather worker until my last day on the manor, by which time I’d given up carrying the belt blanks. I’m going to buy an awl and finish them myself. I figure leather skills will be useful anyway.
1 basket/bag – I have a basket and will make a bag as well I think. My basket is a little over oval, but is at least of a seemly material, not being split but full. I bought a basket from an apprentice basket maker for Big and am hoping I may commission one or two more 😉
1 inner privy bag (nope, not yet.)
1 or 2 coifs/headrails: I have a coif and headrail, I wear the latter under the former. I was told that a coif was more seemly for a grown woman.
1 hat – I do not have a hat, but I’d very much like to felt myself a statute cap, either from a knitted pattern, or felted straight. I think I’ll have a chat with my friend Frances and see if I can acquire the required materials and expertise from her.
1 clout – oh of these I have many.
1 or 2 aprons I sat and hemmed aprons while I was there. I think my sewing may be improving slightly. Sigh. An apron is a large square (perhaps a metre) of linen, white for good, could be blue or green and could even be blue or green wool for a working woman.
The original list I worked from didn’t include pinner or partlet, which could explain why I didn’t add them to my necessary list. A pinner is a yard square of white linen, hemmed (of course). You fold it in half into a triangle and wear it over your shoulders to cover up any cleavage that might peep from your shift. I wasn’t comfortable wearing pins given I had a babe in arms throughout, so just tucked it in. A partlet comes a couple of different ways. It can be white linen and worn under your kirtle at which point it looks like a high necked shift. Or it can be black wool, lined with linen where it is worn over the kirtle and proved to be an extra layer of warmth for Big when we purchased one at the cart boot sale.
Other useful things:
1 knife, 1 spoon, 1 bowl (&/or 1 plate), 1 cup/mug – all of these I have, though keeping them all in one place proved challenging.
A stool – something I aspire to.
Children wear much the same as adults. Smallest didn’t have an under kirtle or partlet, though she does have a coif and looks exceedingly gorgeous in it. Tigerboy wore a shift, kirtle, napron and coif, and can be seen in this particularly gorgeous shot on flickr. That is taken before I had finished hemming a pinner so I just had a rough clout that I drew about myself when he wasn’t feeding, though I had borrowed a hat to perch atop my coif. Boys once around 7ish are breeched and move into hose much like the mens costumes. Before that they can be in kirtle or cote – tbh I prefer them in kirtle. And it doesn’t look at all feminine, just normal when they are surrounded by other children similarly attired.