Re: [h-cost] Non destructive testing for wool/synthetic

2016-08-19 Thread Chris Laning
If the reason you need to know is to figure out how to wash it, you could 
simply plan to hand wash it to be on the safe side. Baby things are small and 
usually don't take forever to wash or dry.

If there are other concerns (such as potential allergy), the smell and feel 
tests should give you a clue. You can also ask other knitters to smell and feel 
it if you're not sure you know how to tell.

Alternatively -- neither of the "destructive" tests requires more than, say, 
half an inch of yarn or a pea-sized quantity of fuzz.  Carefully clipping off 
some "fuzz" from the inside without actually cutting any yarn, or looking for a 
place to clip a little off the inside of a seam allowance, could let you be 

On Aug 17, 2016, at 11:46 PM, Elizabeth Jones wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> This is not directly historical but I knew this list would be my best
> chance of an answer.
> My uncle sent my 2 month old son a gift of a hand knitted cardigan which he
> bought from a charity stall. without a label I have no way to know if they
> have used wool or acrylic yarn.
> I know I can test using bleach or a burn test but I don't want to damage
> the garment is there a non destructive test I can do on a finished garment?
> Thanks
> Elizabeth
> ___
> h-costume mailing list


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Re: [h-cost] Chemise/Shift question

2014-05-09 Thread Chris Laning
 Yes, Janet Arnold's book on shirts and other linen garments would be THE place 
to look, at least for English styles. Unfortunately my copy is put on loan at 
the moment.

My educated guess is that, since not every smock or shirt is decorative, there 
are probably some utilitarian types of covered seams in use as well as the 
decorative types described. 

You're quite right from what I remember: linen ravels easily enough that IIRC 
linen seams were nearly always made so that the raw edges were hidden or 
stabilized. If they aren't stabilized, then seams are the first things to wear 
out and need repair.

-Original Message-
From: Ginni Morgan
Sent: May 9, 2014 10:18 AM
To: Historical Costume
Subject: Re: [h-cost] Chemise/Shift question

I think Arnold covered this in Patterns of Fashion, but I could be wrong.  I'm 
at work and all my costume books are packed up anyway.  My guess is a small 
rolled hem on any cut edge.  The openwork stitching that attached one piece of 
cloth to another needs something to anchor it that won't fray apart under 
strain.  It is my understanding that the garments were often taken apart for 
washing and sunbleaching.  Thus each piece would need to be finished.


-Original Message-
From: [] On 
Behalf Of Liz H.
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2014 9:55 AM
Subject: [h-cost] Chemise/Shift question

I'm sure sometime has answered this sometime over the years, but I can't seen 
to find it...

In the 1480-1600 period of time, does anyone know how the edges of the cloth, 
or seams of under-tunics/shifts/shirts/chemises would have been finished?  I 
figure that as they would have been the most often washed garment, something 
would have been done to help prevent the edges of the cloth from 
unraveling...but I haven't been able to figure out what, during that period of 

(Me, I either zigzag or whip-stitch the edges usually...but I'm wondering what 
would have been done *then*)

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Re: [h-cost] Stockings for 1917

2012-08-28 Thread Chris Laning
Marion wrote:
Where is a good link to buy the Amish cotton stockings? 

I'd try Gohn Brothers first.

They're in Indiana -- their website is really rudimentary, but you can call 
them or write and ask for a catalog.

Call Toll Free - (1-800-595-0031)

P.O. Box 1110
Middlebury IN, 46540

It's entirely possible that the phone will be answered by an actual Gohn 
Brother if you call. They specialize in clothing and textiles for the Amish and 
Mennonites and their prices are very reasonable. They have been in business for 
over 100 years. Wonderful folks.

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Re: [h-cost] Spelling Errors

2012-08-16 Thread Chris Laning

On Aug 15, 2012, at 10:08 AM, Bobbie Kalben wrote:

 Can I request that you re-read your email for spelling errors before you hit
 send?  There have been emails recently that have so many spelling errors
 that I have no idea what was intended.  Thanks!!

Re-reading one's email is always good. I've noticed a recent upsurge in 
spelling errors all over the Internet, which I think is due to the rather 
insistent auto-correct function on (at least) iPhones and iPads, which I 
haven't figured out how to turn off. It corrects words unless you 
specifically decline to make the correction, it's easy to miss when you're in a 
hurry, and the target you have to hit to decline the correction is very small.

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Re: [h-cost] Ear-coverings and wimples

2012-04-04 Thread Chris Laning

On Apr 4, 2012, at 4:48 AM, Robin Netherton wrote:

 On 4/4/2012 1:18 AM, Sharon Collier wrote:
 It almost looks as if the ear was added later, as it is much more red than
 her face.
 Well, it's covered with a veil, and the baby's ear is reddish too. But the 
 Virgin's looks practically separate from her head, a bit too far to the left. 
 I wonder if it *was* meant to evoke the idea of a sex organ!

Both versions of the painting are considered to be, e, somewhat less 
than masterpieces of painting, I think. ;)

No one seems to have decided exactly who painted either of them, as I mention 
in the article. It may just be that no one has gotten around to researching 
these paintings specifically. 

As you might imagine, I'm always a sucker for paintings of the Virgin Mary and 
the Infant Jesus playing with beads ;)

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Re: [h-cost] Ear-coverings and wimples

2012-04-03 Thread Chris Laning
On Mar 23, 2012, at 5:20 PM, Maggie Halberg wrote:

 I think sometimes we try to apply too much they did this because to 
 fashion.  Can't something be worn because its thought to be becoming and 
 fashionable in its time?  Just look at how necklines go up and down.  Why is 
 it OK to have an open neckline in 1500 but not in 1600?  Why do skirts go 
 from being OK to show ankles in the 1830's to dresses being floor length 
 again in the 1860's?  Why wear tall cone shaped hats in the 1400's?  Why the 
 tall hairstyles in the 1700's?  Why the large drum shape skirts in the 1600's 
 and a bustle shape in the late 19th century.  Its simply all because the 
 fashions changed.  People tweeked what was being worn until it got to the 
 point where it looked like something else.  Perhaps something was being done 
 and the daring new fashion was to do it the opposite way.  

I agree. The human is a storytelling animal -- we have an instinctive drive to 
find patterns -- so it's easy to understand why such explanations are so 
popular. But human behavior does not always have logical reasons behind it. 
Sometimes something is fashionable just because everyone thinks it's 

That said, it's also true that there are periods when you rarely see a woman's 
ears exposed. Some time periods seem to count covering a woman's ears as part 
of the cover your head imperative, other time periods seem to think a woman's 
head is respectably covered as long as all her hair is under wraps.

I was particularly interested to find a painting of a veiled Virgin Mary where 
her veil is transparent enough that you can see her ears:

(Sometimes it's amusing when I have made friends with someone at historical 
events, and then when I first see them in blue jeans and a T-shirt they look 
quite different because they have HAIR!! ;)

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Re: [h-cost] marking tools

2012-01-12 Thread Chris Laning
Anahita wrote:
I have not yet found the perfect tool for marking on white and other very 
light fabric. I sometimes use soft school kid's chalk in a somewhat darker 
color (i tend to use a medium blue), but i worry about it staining the fabric. 
I also sometimes use a very soft graphite pencil when i am certain the lines 
will be hidden by the stitching.

Once when I was bored I did a marker test. I searched through my pen stash and 
then went out and bought one each of about 6 or 8 different brands of 
non-permanent fine-line felt-tip pens. In all I think I had about a dozen types.

I took a piece of scrap muslin and marked it off into squares with a permanent 
marker. I labeled each square permanently with the name of one of the 
non-permanent markers, and then used that non-permanent marker to make X's, 
scribbles and so forth inside the labeled marked square. Then I tossed the 
whole thing in the wash.

Based on this test, I would advise not even bothering with red and black -- 
they seem to be the hardest colors to get rid of. The greens and blues did much 

I did find one color and brand of pen that has served me very well over the 
years -- fine lines, easy to use, lasts for at least 10 years (both in the pen 
and on the fabric) and 100% comes out with one washing. It was a particular 
type of green Pilot Fineliner (not the permanent kind) and of course, since 
then they have discontinued that particular type. I bought about a dozen when I 
first discovered how good they were and I'm on about my last two or three. When 
those run out I'll have to do another test. ;)

Also, for white marking on dark fabric, I found that Schwann Stabilo 
“Aquarellable” pencils, white only (color #8052) were the best of the lot. They 
do still need frequent sharpening, so they're better for sewing (where 1/32 of 
an inch matters less) than for embroidery.

Most of the wash-out markers I've tested did well, especially ones sold for 
use in kindergartens. Likewise wash-out tempera paint for schools seems to be 
pretty good, though I haven't tried letting it sit for long periods. The 
pigments are too coarse to use in a pen, though.

I wrote an article if anyone wants more details:

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Re: [h-cost] What costume-related gifts did you get?

2011-12-28 Thread Chris Laning
I haven't received it yet, but I noticed that the Cosimo de Medici book has 
mysteriously disappeared from my Amazon wish list. I have a strong suspicion 
that it might turn up as a birthday gift, and since my birthday is the Third 
Day of Christmas, I think that counts. (I'm out of town, so any birthday gifts 
I'm getting are probably going to be waiting for me at home.)

I also haven't bought the other half of my Christmas gift to myself yet: I've 
ordered The Queen's Servants, but not the sock blockers and blocking wires for 
my knitting.

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Re: [h-cost] What's your dressmaker's dummy wearing today?

2011-10-06 Thread Chris Laning

On Oct 5, 2011, at 4:37 PM, Kimiko Small wrote:

 So right now, poor Bessie Blunt is rather naked.

But isn't that what she is most famous for?

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Re: [h-cost] Need information on sacque garments (NOT the dress)

2011-09-14 Thread Chris Laning

-Original Message-
From: Janyce Hill
Sent: Sep 14, 2011 11:29 AM
To: Historical Costume
Subject: Re: [h-cost] Need information on sacque garments (NOT the dress)

In later years the word sacque comes up freqently in the french fashion
journals I have.  Most often under the term dressing sacque or combing
sacque.  From the illustrations that are in the journals the dressing
sacque is a long loose gown that falls from the shoulders, meant to be worn
after undergarments are put on - but before the actual dress or other outer
garment was put on.  One supposes that if you were puttering around in your
bedroom before finishing dressing - you'd slip one of these on.  In the
pictures that I looked at, they were all very plain and without
embellishment - as opposed to dressing gowns which are highly embellished
in the illustrations.

The combing sacque is a garment that is only waist-length, and fastenes at
the center front neckline.  These are mostly plain, but sometimes have a
little inserted lace or a yoke.  According to the descriptions, they were
meant to be put on after you were dressed, and while you were combing or
brushing your hair.  Their purpose seems to be to prevent shed hair from
ending up on the clothing you were wearing out in public.

I suspect that this usage (1890 - 1903) is probably derived from your older

Janyce Hill
Vintage Pattern
Lending Library

I don't offhand see any mention of what these sacques are made of. Are they 
white linen?

If so, as a medievalist, of course my reflex would be to simply consider these 
as shirts, smocks or chemises -- the nearly universal innermost layer of 
medieval/renaissance underwear, and hence present in large quantities in most 
wardrobes. But I don't know enough about post-renaissance clothing to guess how 
late the fashion lasted for this type of undergarment.

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Re: [h-cost] some questions about renaissance,

2011-05-13 Thread Chris Laning
In some danish inventory lists, which all are written in german (it was the 
language used then in Denmark) it is often mentioned with wide dresses and 
narrow dresses.

If by renaissance you mean 16th century, then my first thought would be that 
a wide dress is made to go over a farthingale and a narrow dress is not 
(and would be worn with only petticoats).

Welcome back!

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Re: [h-cost] Costume con

2011-01-26 Thread Chris Laning

On Jan 26, 2011, at 5:31 AM, Land of Oz wrote:

 On Tue, 25 Jan 2011 21:23:52 -0500
 Stacey Dunleavy wrote:
 I'm coming out of lurkdom to ask;
 is anybody going to Costume Con?
 down the block from me this year, so
 I have no excuse.
 How is this not signed?  Just because the name is at the top instead of at 
 the bottom?  shesssh.

Some e-mail programs STILL (in this day  age) do not show a Stacey Dunleavy 
wrote thing at the top of every message. Nor do they necessarily show in the 
header who something is from. My e-mail program has From, Subject, Date, To and 
Reply-to in the top of every message, but not all e-mail programs do that -- 
they may just show Subject and Date.

Also, sometimes it only shows the e-mail address and not the name, and list 
members can't always remember that (for instance) is Chris 

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Re: [h-cost] 17th c. blue jeans

2010-11-28 Thread Chris Laning

On Nov 28, 2010, at 10:30 AM, wrote:

Of course, what is this fabric we call denim? A  heavy-ish cotton  
twill dyed indigo. It seems quite logical that an old and common  
weave used with a old and common dye would come up sooner than later.


I think the other major distinguishing characteristic of what we call  
denim is that it has colored threads in one direction and white  
threads in the other. Offhand I don't know which is warp and which is  
weft, though. Anyone?

And of course paintings can't tell us what fibers were used for this  
very jeans-like material. The fabric in the paintings could well have  
been either linen (which takes indigo dye pretty well) or wool (which  
you'd expect for outer garments). Although cotton certainly existed  
and was used (especially in Italy) I'd want to find out more about  
_how_ cotton was used before I'd conclude that this is identical to  
modern denim. Cotton thread strong enough to use for weaving is a  
different thing than cotton batting used for stuffing (for which I  
think we have better pre-1800s documentation).

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Re: [h-cost] how museums can help costumers

2010-11-11 Thread Chris Laning

On Nov 10, 2010, at 1:04 PM, Julie wrote:

One would be to know what they have and accurately and fully  
describe it.  I see a lot of errors describing knit vs. crochet vs.  
other techniques.

Then I think one of the most useful things a museum could do would  
be lots of photos and get some darned closeups.  The pictures I  
looked at on the from the link you posted for the Smithsonian didn't  
have anything that wasn't full length - no details at all.  OTOH,  
some pictures I've seen from the VA get so close I could chart the  
knit or beaded designs.  I really appreciate that kind of  
information online since it's unlikely I'll ever get to go to the  

Julie in Ramona

Both of these, alas, pretty much boil down to questions of money.  
Museums are increasingly understaffed, and often can't spare the time  
for their curators to do much research on what something really is and  
how it should be labeled. Also, it means that the few curators they  
can hire often don't cover the full range of expertise they need for  
the things they have -- almost no fine arts museums have jewelry  
curators, for instance. A famous example from the Met has a curator of  
sculpture writing about a painting and getting the clothing  
description hilariously wrong because he doesn't understand surcotes.  
(Mirror of the Medieval World, painting of St. Clare of Assisi)

Writing and correcting the catalog descriptions (either in the museum,  
online or both) is also time-consuming. Online photos are expensive  
both in terms of getting the photos taken in the first place (since it  
usually means hiring a professional photographer) and then in terms of  
processing and preparing them for the Web. I agree that the VA and  
some other museums are now beginning to do a truly splendid job of  
posting useful, detailed online photos of a few objects (sometimes  
even hundreds of objects) but not all museums feel they can afford to  
follow suit, or else simply don't have that as one of their  
priorities. (I know some interesting pieces that are now in a museum  
in Qatar, for instance, which has NO photos of items in their  
collection online yet.)

It's often annoying to see something mislabeled on the Web (sprang mis- 
labeled as knitting, for instance). First, of course museums are not  
infallible: they can only use the knowledge they have. Second,  
sometimes a former opinion on what something is (made when knowledge  
was less) persists for a long time because either they can't find  
someone whose scholarship they trust to say otherwise, or again purely  
because no one on staff can spare the time to do the fixes. A recent  
example is an Islamic knitted cotton sock that is still labeled as  
probably coming from India, when that idea has been pretty thoroughly  
debunked within the last twenty years or so.

Annoying as it is, sixty costumers writing in to a museum to say fix  
this, please is often not going to make a lot of difference. The  
problem is that museum staff can't know all the experts in all fields  
personally, so they have to rely on credentials to judge who is and  
who isn't giving them good advice. If you have a Ph.D. or published  
scholarly papers on Islamic textiles, for instance, they are likely to  
take your advice more seriously than if you are someone who has been  
studying and re-creating historical costume for thirty years. You may  
know just as much as the Ph.D., but the museum has no way to know who  
does and who doesn't know what they're talking about.

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Re: [h-cost] Fingerloop braiding

2010-10-14 Thread Chris Laning

On Oct 14, 2010, at 11:07 AM, Rachael Watcher wrote:

Humm, fascinating.  I never used one of the tools shown for finger  
work.  Just stuffed a loop into the existing loop then tightened.   
Rinse and


I think I know what you're talking about -- is it this?

I'm happy to discover the term butterfly stitch for this, BTW,  
because I've never known what to call it.

The problem here is that there are certainly many techniques that  
involve loops, and fingers, and produce a braid, that can be done  
without tools.

Some -- but not all of them -- are what is now being called  
fingerloop braiding here. This is a technical term that was invented  
in the late 20th century to label a particular set of techniques like  
what Ginni was describing, involving loops held on the fingers (or if  
you're Japanese, across the palms of your hands) and passed through  
each other without tightening.

I've seen butterfly stitch called fingerloop braiding, and it's kind  
of problematic, because it does involve fingers, loops and  braiding.  
But it isn't really fingerloop braiding in the technical sense. has lots of material on what's now being called  
fingerloop braiding.

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[h-cost] Words for clothes (WAS: Re: I found my way back!)

2010-10-12 Thread Chris Laning

On Oct 12, 2010, at 6:02 AM, wrote:

Now here is another interesting use of a word for one's clothing and  
accouterments.  Had to look up exactly what regalia means--I have  
of course seen it to mean one's trappings, outfit, etc.  Its origin,  
though, which makes sense if one thinks about it, is the rights and  
privileges belong to a monarch or ruler.

I referred to myself as a costume historian to a War of 1812  
reenactor, and he insisted his outfit is clothing, not costume.   
Yet, among square dancers, the preferred term for the matching  
outfits worn by everyone on the committee of a national square dance  
convention is costume.

Clothing, apparel, attire, costume, regalia--I guess it is like  
one's own personal name--one should use the term the individual (or  
group) prefers.  However, one shouldn't be offended if a poor soul  
uses the wrong term because one doesn't know what that group prefers!

And in the Society for Creative Anachronism it's garb.

When people are talking about their medieval clothes, they are  
sometimes garb, sometimes simply clothes -- very few people call them  
a costume (at least in my hearing), although someone who makes such  
medieval clothes is usually a costumer.

I prefer clothes, as do many of the people I hang out with, but  
garb is handy as a one-word term for the clothes I wear to SCA  
events, as opposed to the clothes I wear on other days.

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Re: [h-cost] Inventory of King Henry VIII

2010-07-30 Thread Chris Laning

On Jul 30, 2010, at 11:08 AM, Lavolta Press wrote:

Does anyone know what is the difference between:

The Inventory of King Henry VIII: Textiles and Dress [Hardcover]
Maria Hayward (Editor), Philip Ward (Editor) (Forthcoming)


The Inventory of King Henry VIII: Transcript of the Inventory  
(Studies in Medieval and Early Renaissance Art History, 23)  

D. Starkey (Author, Editor), David Starkey (Editor) (1998)

I believe this inventory was first envisioned as a 2- or 3-volume  
series, but only the first volume (the one by David Starkey) ever came  

Then it languished in some sort of author/publisher limbo for quite a  
while. (Apparently there was more than one problem causing delay and  
I've heard several different stories.)

It sounds as though the forthcoming title (Hayward and Ward) may be  
the long-awaited second volume; if so, it's supposed to consist of  
essays and commentary on the raw material provided by the inventory  
records reproduced in the first volume. Very good news if so.

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Re: [h-cost] Masonic aprons .. a bit OT

2010-07-21 Thread Chris Laning
My family has a Masonic apron and sword that belonged to my great- 
great-grandfather (who was born in 1819). None of us are Masons, and  
we would eventually like to donate these to a museum or Masonic  
collection that would appreciate them. Anyone have suggestions for who  
to contact about finding them a good home?

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Re: [h-cost] Splendors of the Renaissance photos

2010-06-03 Thread Chris Laning

On Jun 2, 2010, at 5:12 PM, monica spence wrote:

This is a copy of the outfit worn by Federigo Gonzaga C. 1529. I  
think they

used what they had for the lace.

I can't help noticing their reproduction is missing the rosary he  
wears around his neck ;)

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Re: [h-cost] copyright law thing...

2010-05-13 Thread Chris Laning
Fran, it sounds like you are saying that legally there is no such  
thing as fair use.

If that's not the case, could you explain what constitutes fair use?

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Re: [h-cost] questions

2010-02-02 Thread Chris Laning

I can really only address one part of this.

On Feb 2, 2010, at 12:45 PM, Julie wrote:

2.  If I have to make my own hoops, where do you recommend I buy the  
hoop material?

My first farthingale was sturdy cotton twill, and when it wore out, I  
made my second one of medium-weight linen. I try to use linen as much  
as possible because it breathes better than tightly woven cotton and  
also tends to last longer.

I have actually used 1-inch steel lumber strapping, carefully  
straightened, for the hoops. If you have skirts of heavy velveteen or  
wool, modern bridal hoops are sometimes not strong enough to hold  
that weight of cloth properly. Best of all, it's usually free. The  
downsides are that it can rust if it gets wet a lot, and that it's  
rather heavy. If you are trying to minimize the physical weight of  
your 16th century clothing it's not the best choice.

Do ask around a bit about how big to make your hoops -- especially if  
you're working to someone else's costume standards. Some of the  
Victorian hoops can get pretty big; the Elizabethan ones (at least  
according to the costume guidelines in my Renaissance guild!) are  
seldom more than about 90 to 120 around at the bottom.

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Re: [h-cost] spray adhesives

2010-01-13 Thread Chris Laning

On Jan 13, 2010, at 6:52 AM, Kim Baird wrote:

The ONLY kind I like to use is Sulky KK2000. It is a temporary  

Everything else, especially Sullivan's, is WAY TOO STICKY, and gets

It's expensive, so I stock up when there's a sale.

Yes, TEMPORARY or RE-POSITIONABLE are the words to look for.

It might be worth comparing prices of the adhesive sold for fabric  
with the temporary spray adhesives in an art department (i.e. near the  
paintbrushes and stuff) -- I've used a couple of different brands and  
they are very handy for glue-basting. As with glue sticks, I  
strongly suspect that they may change the packaging, label it as being  
for fabric, and jack up the price, but the contents are probably  
identical to what's sold for art purposes.

BTW, the price difference between buying something from a specialized  
art store and from a crafts chain store like Michael's can also be  
pretty astonishing.

As far as I can tell, these temporary adhesives seem to wash out of  
cloth completely, but I can't vouch for what will happen decades down  
the road.

Just be sure you avoid the permanent kinds -- those are basically a  
spray version of rubber cement, and we all know what happens to *that*  
when it ages.

I discovered these because I'm a graphic designer, and this is not the  
only art tool that carries over well into textile arts: my favorite  
marker for dark fabric is a Stabilo white watercolor pencil.

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Re: [h-cost] spray adhesives

2010-01-13 Thread Chris Laning
Forgot to add: yes, spray adhesive DOES get everywhere. Not something  
I would like to be breathing, either. I always do mine out on my front  
porch, with lots of newspaper around the thing I'm spraying.  
(Admittedly, living in California makes year-round front-porch  
spraying a lot more feasible...)

Also: spray the back side of the small piece you are putting down, not  
the front side of the background. Seems like common sense to me, but I  
did have to point that out to my Mom once.

I find this stuff really, really helpful for applique. It keeps  
everything nice and smooth while you are stitching it down.

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Re: [h-cost] Online dictionary of colors with color swatches

2010-01-03 Thread Chris Laning
Online color guides are also useful if they contain named period  
colors, since there are quite a few color names that give the  
uninitiated *no* clue as to which part of the spectrum the color is  
in. I was a bit disappointed not to see either Dead Spaniard or  
Goose-turd green when I looked at the linked site. ;)

For that sort of use, the colors don't have to be 100% precise, just  

I was interested to see that it did have Alice blue which is  
apparently a notoriously difficult shade to describe using words  
alone. I would think that this sort of color guide would also be  
useful for someone trying to describe the shade that quilters refer to  
as that Thirties green, which is quite distinctive once you see it,  
but which tends not to show up in modern color guides.

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Re: [h-cost] stabilizer/facing material [was:Re: s-t-i-f-f-en agent]

2009-12-12 Thread Chris Laning

On Dec 12, 2009, at 5:23 AM, landofoz wrote:

What I'm not *getting* is why it has to be stiffened at all. If it's  
an applique it's decorative and has no structural function, and not  
having a third layer of anything would make it easier to sew pearls  
on, wouldn't it?

It's often difficult to get an appliqué to lie flat and smooth while  
you're trying to sew it down. The tension on the cloth must be  
absolutely even, otherwise you end up with wrinkles or ripples. This  
is especially true for any material that's slippery, such as silk, and  
that goes double if the fabric is thin or limp and slithery.  
Stiffening, pasting, or backing the fabric used for the appliqué  
pretty much eliminates the problem. (Pins don't work nearly as well --  
at least for me -- because they create bumpy areas.)

Quilt-makers doing piecework sometimes use basted-on or temporarily- 
glued-on papers to stabilize the edges of odd-shaped patches: for  
instance, the hexagons of a Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern are  
often done this way, especially in 19th-century pieces where the bits  
of cloth are difficult-to-handle fabrics such as velvets and silks. I  
would not be in the least surprised to discover more evidence that  
paper or parchment stabilizers may have been used for pieced work or  
appliqué in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as well. (We already know  
that parchment was used to stabilize the back of fabric when it was  
going to have heavy beading or metal thread on the front.)

You can find quite a lot of little tricks to solve this problem in  
modern quilt-making literature, all of which are aimed at making sure  
that the edges of the appliqué are firmly turned under along a smooth  
line and that the fabric lies flat. Synthetic iron-on interfacing is  
often used, despite the fact that it does make the appliqué  
significantly harder to stitch through. (I helped hand-quilt a quilt  
where this was done, and it was a pain in the wrist.) Dissolve-away  
stabilizers, or simply starching the pieces also work -- but in my  
experience, not as well. Ironing the appliqué pieces onto freezer  
paper (which is plastic on one side) is another trick, with the  
advantage that if someone wants to go to the trouble later, the  
backing fabric under the appliqué can be slit open and the paper  
carefully removed.

I've had a lot of trouble making appliqué look good, and I used to be  
a quilter, so that while there is of course great value in doing  
things the period way, personally I tend to shamelessly make use of  
non-period techniques that I learned from other quilters or from my  
graphic-arts profession. (Spray-on light-tack adhesive, for instance,  
is exceedingly helpful for basting, and in my experience it washes out  
pretty well. And I've been able to test a lot of white and colored  
marking pens/pencils to find ones that are easy to use, make a sharp  
line and wash out completely. If you don't mind using modern  
techniques, these can save a lot of headaches.)

OChris Laning - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] s-t-i-f-f-e-n-i-n-g agent ;)

2009-12-11 Thread Chris Laning

On Dec 11, 2009, at 11:27 AM, Alexandria Doyle wrote:

Was this on a hanging or clothing?  I wonder about having a piece of
paper permanently inside of a component of the bodice

If it's actually *paper* and not varnished or plasticized, it is  
unlikely to cause problems. When it's new, it may make the occasional  
crackling sound, but if it's in an area of the garment that moves and  
flexes a lot, that will soon go away. It will also soften up if it  
becomes damp (such as from perspiration) or gets cleaned.

While paper tends to be denser than fabric, and thus doesn't  
necessarily breathe well, for a small area that's not likely to be  
important. And as it softens it becomes more breathable. And it's  
not NEARLY as bad as synthetics in this regard. If breathability is  
vital, you could spend some extra $$ and get the paper with regularly  
spaced little perforations all over it that is sold for scrapbooking  
and cross stitch on paper craft projects. An added bonus is that  
this is usually archive quality paper which means it's not going to  
turn yellow a few decades down the road and possibly stain a light  
colored fabric. (Or you could simply use 100% rag paper or other  
archival paper.)

As for glue, IIRC wheat-paste glue seems to be what was used in the  
16thc for pasting paper onto cloth (don't have a citation to hand but  
could possibly track one down if needed). The disadvantage is that it  
has a high enough water content to make paper warp and ripple. Modern  
white glue sticks, if I read the ingredients correctly, contain less  
water, but are casein-based, so otherwise not all that dissimilar to  
pre-1600 cheese glue. (It also, very conveniently, washes out.) If  
you're familiar with SCA resources, there was an issue of the Compleat  
Anachronist sometime within the last few years on period adhesives,  
available through the SCA website (

More than you probably actually wanted to know, but perhaps it may be  
helpful ;)

OChris Laning - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] Viking alternate history--14thC/15thC Vinland?

2009-09-30 Thread Chris Laning

On Sep 30, 2009, at 9:18 AM, wrote:

Isn't that called Ramie?

Ramie is in the nettle family, but a different species.

I wonder whether bark-based fibers or pounded-bark cloth might have  
been possibilities. If Native Americans made cord (which I'm sure they  
did) then there must have been *some* sources of fiber available.

Generally, though, bark-based fibers seem to be considerably harder to  
domesticate than animal-based or annual-plant-based fibers -- much  
slower growing, of course, and I suspect also more labor-intensive to  
prepare. (Although considering all you have to go through to get linen  
from flax, maybe I shouldn't say that!)

I expect there are also hemp-like fibers available from some plant or  
other throughout most of North America, though it's an area I haven't  
researched. And the yucca relatives in dry areas certainly produce  
plenty of leaf fiber; I'm not sure how easy that is to extract.

Don't forget also that while sheep and linen aren't native to the New  
World, cotton *is* -- not quite the same strains, but very close. I  
know it was used for both cordage and cloth in the Southwest. There's  
an Anasazi sock from circa 1200AD made from cotton, with fur caught in  
the plies of the cotton thread for (presumably) warmth. It is attached  
to a sole of plaited yucca leaves. That's a rather labor-intensive,  
but plausible way to use sheared fur, which (in the absence of our  
friends the sheep) tends to be too slippery to spin well.

O   (Dame) Christian de Holacombe, OL - Shire of Windy Meads
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Re: [h-cost] Browned lace Edwardian? Collars

2009-03-09 Thread Chris Laning
Wanda wrote:
Being totally ignorant about lace... were they ever supposed to be white?
The most beautiful three are ecru (?) or a coffee with lots of cream shade.
I'm not silly enough to put them in a bleaching solution.  I thought putting
them out in the sunlight maybe?

If you decide you'd like to see if they will become whiter, and you have a 
suitable patch of healthy green grass where they won't be disturbed (by wind, 
humans or beasts ;) you could try dampening them and laying them out on the 
grass on a sunny day. Supposedly the combination of sunlight, moisture and the 
chlorophyll in the grass can provide a very gentle bleaching action. (I've 
never tried it, but so says the tradition...)

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Re: [h-cost] Looking for a tubular bag frame...

2009-01-28 Thread Chris Laning

On Jan 27, 2009, at 8:32 PM, Pierre  Sandy Pettinger wrote: carries a 16 tubular bag frame.  I couldn't find  
anything bigger.  Perhaps if you contact them they can point you  

It might be worthwhile checking out your local thrift stores to see  
whether there's a bag with a frame you can re-use.

OChris Laning - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] Stockings query

2008-11-29 Thread Chris Laning

On Nov 28, 2008, at 6:46 AM, Kate Bunting wrote:

In some sets of instructions for knitting period stockings, you are  
told to fold the heel flap in half. I'm a fairly experienced  
knitter, but I can't make sense of this. Can anyone advise? I  
assume it means to fold the flap edge-to-edge rather than to double  
it back on itself.

I actually teach beginning knitters this heel, because not only is it  
period for before 1600,  it's easy to see how it works. Getting a  
tube of knitting to turn through a right angle is pretty mysterious  
if you try to imagine how to do it.

If you'd like to see pictures, I have these:

There's also a link on that page to download the pattern I wrote.  
It's for worsted-weight yarn, so it makes rather a heavy stocking,  
but I wrote it that way because I wanted beginning stocking knitters  
to be able to finish something more quickly. If anyone else wants to  
try the pattern, BTW, I'd welcome beta testers and feedback. (So  
far, the main problem people seem to have is if they need to size it  
up for stouter legs. I can see I'm going to have to work on that)

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] Need costume calendar

2008-11-13 Thread Chris Laning
I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses the late, great Medieval  
Women calendars. :(  I think I still have most of the ones I bought,  
though they're a bit big and awkward to store.

Methinks someone could probably make a tidy profit by doing somethng  
like that again!

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] women's costume late 13thC

2008-11-13 Thread Chris Laning

On Nov 13, 2008, at 9:02 AM, Beth and Bob Matney wrote:

Note the cut of the sideless surcote and the minimal headcovering  
(a ribbon?). On the page 93 detail, note the fur lined cloak and  
what appears to be buttons down the front bodice (buttons are shown  
along the sleeves of the GFD underneath in both images). Some form  
of closure would be required on both, given the high neckline. In  
both surcotes are what appear to be slits for hands and a full gore  
set into the front.

Late 13thc (1200s) I think is a bit early for anything that would  
really be characterized as a GFD (Gothic Fitted Dress). My  
understanding is that the trend from baggy, roomy tunics toward more  
closely fitted clothing has really just gotten started at this point,  
and that the only really close fit is in the lower sleeves (to  
probably over-generalize wildly). I actually think you can see in the  
first of the two illustrations that there is quite a bit of roominess  
still in the shoulders and upper sleeves of the blue garment worn  
under the red surcoat.

I wear clothing from this century often, so I like to explain that at  
this time there had begun to be a creeping trend toward a closer fit  
-- which began at the wrist, but by my era (1270s-1290s) it had  
only progressed as far as the elbow!

I then go on to summarize (humorously) Robin Netherton's theory of  
the evolution of the GFD by explaining that the sinister trend  
toward a closer fit* started at the wrist, crept up the arm, and then  
overtook the armhole (thus making a closer fit across the shoulders  
possible -- while still allowing you to move your arms). In  the next  
stage, a front opening with lacing was invented, which allows you to  
closely fit the rest of the torso down to the waist and hips, while  
still letting you get into and out of the dress (since you don't have  
to pull it on over your head any more!)

My own inclination is to start describing it as a Gothic Fitted Dress  
only when it gets to the point of closely fitting through the torso  
-- because that's where you start to see the interesting way the gown  
shapes and supports the body, which loose tunics certainly never did.

(*Granted, it's only a sinister trend if you follow the lead of  
some churchmen of the time and decry closely fitted clothing as too  
revealing and sinful!)

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] Devil's Cloth

2008-11-06 Thread Chris Laning

On Nov 5, 2008, at 8:20 PM, Catherine Olanich Raymond wrote:

On Wednesday 05 November 2008 10:50:26 am Chiara Francesca wrote:

It is a book: 


It is the history of stripes on cloth. Very cool book. It has an  

cult following. :)

I can't imagine why; it has a rather low information to anecdote  
ratio, in my


Michel Pastoureau is a very entertaining writer. I have _Devil's  
Cloth_ and another one of his (_Blue: The History of a Color_) which  
has some huge and lovely photos in it. He's also written a very good  
little introductory paperback on the history of heraldry -- I used to  
keep an extra copy or two around to give to people who were just  
starting to become interested in the subject. Great photos in that  
one too.

But I agree, I wouldn't consider either book as an unquestionable  
source of historical information. He has a tendency to pick out  
particularly entertaining bits and talk about them, rather than  
considering the entire sweep of the evidence.  I'm also told that the  
Blue book demonstrates that he's either not aware of, or is  
ignoring, some of the more recent and important evidence on the  
history of color concepts and color words (or so said the cognitive  
linguist who gave it to me). That's a pretty serious failing for a  
book that purports to be about the history of the concept blue.

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] French titles - Mediaeval costume and textiles

2008-11-01 Thread Chris Laning

On Nov 1, 2008, at 3:40 AM, Viv Watkins wrote:

You might be interested in this book - although it covers a much  
wider period it has a good mediaeval section.
I bought myself a copy of Rayures. une histoire et des tissus  
rayes because the illustrations were excellent and struggled  
through enough of the French to get the basic idea.  I was then  
thrilled to find that a translation had been done The Devil's  
Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric - much smaller  
book, far fewer illustrations and in black and white - I think the  
complete text but my French is really not good enough to say for sure.
The French title is - Rayures: Une histoire des rayures et des  
tissus rayes by Michel Pastoureau  ISBN 2020236664. Publisher Seuil  
(1995). It is out of print but Amazon has one copy available in the  
USA at £15.26.
The translation is - The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes and  
Striped Fabric (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought  
and Cultural Criticism) ISBN 0231123663 . Columbia University Press  
(2001).  Amazon has plenty of copies starting from £7.99.

Michel Pastoureau is a very entertaining writer, but tends to be a  
bit how shall I say this flamboyant? about some of what he  
says. I have a couple of his books, including _Blue: The History of a  
Color_ and right at the very beginning it contains some passages that  
appear to demonstrate that he either is not aware of, or is  
deliberately ignoring, some of the significant research on the  
cognitive history of color concepts (or so says the scholar who gave  
it to me).

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] book is confirmed!!!

2008-10-31 Thread Chris Laning
I was mildly amused when I got my e-mail notice a day or two ago. Usually I buy 
things from Amazon USA (since that's where I live) and the notice says Your 
Amazon order has shipped.

This notice (from Amazon UK) instead said that it had been dispatched!!

Wonder if that means it will arrive faster? grin

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[h-cost] Corsetry issues (was Looking for bad examples)

2008-10-02 Thread Chris Laning
Anyway, sorry to be Devil's advocate; I know some people claim a
medical problem when they just don't want to wear a certain thing,
and it's not up to someone else to insist they can. But what about
people who can't take the pressure of stays / corset? What are they
to do?

Which makes me curious. What actual medical issues have people encountered that 
really _do_ mean someone can't wear a corset? I'm sure it does happen -- and it 
seems to me that having some idea of what really are the issues that cause 
problems might help dressmakers decide whether to (1) attempt to exercise more 
tactful persuasion, (2) devise some sort of work-around, or (3) do the best 
they can to make a nice looking garment without corsetry.

Offhand, I can think of two issues where any kind of corsetry or stiffening can 
be a problem. One is for people in wheelchairs: if they are to wear a corset at 
all, it must need to be designed for sitting rather than standing, and I can 
imagine that for someone whow has limited mobility anyway, not being able to 
bend freely at the waist could make some necessary movements very difficult.

I also have a friend who finds that a normal 16th-century corset and fitted 
gown cause too much of the weight of the skirt to be carried by her hips and 
lower back, which she finds very painful. She does much better with something 
where most of the weight of the dress hangs from the shoulders (loose gowns, 
for instance, although she can also wear a fitted gown with a few bones but not 
a full corset). In her case, the medical problem is nerve damage.


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Re: [h-cost] Tatting before 1600?

2008-09-02 Thread Chris Laning

On Sep 2, 2008, at 1:37 PM, Julie Tamura wrote:

Thank you all for your answers.  You reinforced what I thought I
knew/'s out of our period.  I've saved your messages  
and will

used when challenged again G

It sounds to me as though several stories got confused together and  
came out as one g. Chaucer is often cited (incorrectly, I think) as  
an early source for blackwork; needle tatting does seem to appear  
at least as early as shuttle tatting if not earlier (but not in  
Chaucer ;) and as others have explained, fishing nets do use knots.  
Put 'em all together and you get what you heard g. A lot of word-of- 
mouth history seems to travel this way.

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] Setting color question

2008-08-26 Thread Chris Laning
I have some dark red linen that I would like to use, but I want to wash it  
first.  My local fabric store usually carries a product called Retayne  but 
they have been out of it for a while.  It's a color fixative for  cotton 
fabrics according to the label and is used in hot water.  I've been  using it 
linen with good results.  
What can I use instead?  Someone at the fabric store suggested white  
vinegar, but she was not sure of the water temperature or amounts.  I would  
like to 
wash the linen in warm/hot water, if possible, to allow it to shrink  before I 
use it.  I'll be doing it in the machine, since it is about six  yards.  

White vinegar is helpful _during_ the dyeing process for some dyes, but IMHO it 
doesn't do any good afterward -- it's helpful in dyeing when the acidity of the 
dyebath makes the dye take better. Nonetheless, it's widely recommended as a 
method of fixing dye and there are people who swear by it. My science 
education leads me to be very skeptical, though ;)

Your best bet is probably mail/internet order: I know Dharma Trading used to 
stock both the brand-name Retayne and their own generic version, and their 
service is quite fast and competent. 

Some commercial detergents do contain small amounts of something comparable -- 
they generally advertise on the box that they help keep colors fast. I've 
always relied on my little bottle of Retayne, so I don't know how well they 

If you need something quickly and don't mind paying inflated prices for a 
couple of laundry loads' worth, the Rit dye company sells (or used to sell) a 
color fixer right there on the rack with their little dye packages. It's 
actually just Retayne, packaged in a little one-washer-load envelope, but you 
can sometimes find it in areas where there aren't a lot of specialized stores 
that would stock Retayne any other way. It might be called Run Away if my 
memory isn't playing tricks on me, but if you find it, read the box to be sure 
that's what it does.

In general, quilters are good people to ask about dye and marking questions, 
since when you sew little bits of various colored fabrics together on a routine 
basis, you encounter these problems a _lot_ grin.

There also exists a detergent called Synthropol which I think of (incorrectly) 
as the opposite of Retayne -- Synthropol is pretty effective at removing dye 
that has run onto somewhere it is *NOT* supposed to be (as when all your 
underwear comes out of the washer pink...). It does not fix the dye that is 
already attached to fibers: what it does is to remove any dye that is just 
hanging around in the cloth and _not_ firmly attached. 

Good luck: reds tend to be among the more difficult colors to keep where you 
want them ;)

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Re: [h-cost] general fitting questions .........How I'd try to fix it.....

2008-08-22 Thread Chris Laning
Dawn wrote:
I am going to go with the gusset idea, as it will allow me to salvage 
this piece  (even if I could find more of the silk fabric, it was $35 a 
yard) as I hate the idea of wasting what's gone into it so far.  When I 
make this again, and I'm sure I will, I will be making more substantial 
changes to the pattern itself.

For when you're working on the muslin for the next one: One common cause of not 
being able to raise your arms high enough is when the armhole is (somewhat 
paradoxically) cut too BIG. A bigger armhole with a lower bottom curve actually 
translates into LESS freedom of motion, not more, as you would think. This is 
because as you move your arm upward, the low meeting point of sleeve and body 
under the arm means the sleeve quickly begins to transfer the pull upward 
onto the body fabric -- which can't really move upward very far if it's at all 
closely fitted or confined at the waist. A higher meeting point means you can 
raise your arm further before it starts to pull. I know I've made this mistake 

Try raising the bottom line of the armhole to make a smaller hole and see if 
that makes a difference.

(Of course, there are practical limits here, you don't want the armhole so 
small it binds or feels tight. But pattern companies, who have to make a 
pattern that attempts to fit all body shapes, often do rather large armholes to 
accommodate people who have heavy upper arms, and that simply doesn't fit 
everyone else correctly.)

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Re: [h-cost] Question regarding career path

2008-08-15 Thread Chris Laning
I wrote:
If you set your sights low, you are likely to fall into 
some career traps, by which I mean careers that look 
appealing, but where you really have to fight hard to 
get the wages and the respect you deserve. Custom dress-
making is one -- many people have made a success out of 
it, but as I think this list can testify, many wind up 
working long hours for very little money, because 
customers often think they should get Yves Saint-Laurent 
clothes for sweatshop prices. Theater costuming is 
another place where we've heard a lot on this list 
about lack of respect, impossible expectations from 
management, no budget, unpredictable crises and low 
wages. I know there are good shops, but you have to 
look for them and be firm about what you will and 
will not accept.

Just to clarify, before I start a flame war: I don't at all mean that these are 
somehow lower careers! Many people have been very successful at them. What I 
mean is, if you set your sights low, AND you get into one of these fields, you 
are likely to have problems -- as others can testify -- if your low 
expectations lead you to accept pay that's too low and treatment that isn't 
good enough for how good YOU are. _That_ is the trap to avoid. You ARE good, 
but you have to believe it.

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Re: [h-cost] Looking for Amsterdam museums events

2008-07-27 Thread Chris Laning

On Jul 26, 2008, at 4:05 PM, monica spence wrote:

The  Rijksmuseum (Rembrandt Museum) and Anne Frank's house are both  
places in Amseredam. Also-- anyplace that sells chocolate and baked  

However, beware of the damage to your waistline!

Is the Rijksmuseum open again yet? Most of it (like 90%) was shut  
down for renovation when I was there in March. All they have open is  
one wing with a highlights of the collection exhibit, which I  
didn't bother with because I want to go back  sometime when I can see  

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] Ancient Egyptian beaded dress

2008-07-21 Thread Chris Laning
Sylvia wrote:
I had been thinking of crocheting, but I really don't want to have to 
macrame a dress either.   That's why I asked if anyone had come across 
a netted fabric that would work.  I know that nylon net is way too 

Yes, my chief concern would be finding a way to attach or hang the beads that 
was *strong enough.* That many beads are going to be *very* heavy, and I'd be 
afraid that even sewing them onto linen fabric would not be strong enough. I 
would guess that the original beads were threaded onto the actual string from 
which the net was made.

If you do find some fishnet (1 inch squares or something like that) I'd suggest 
threading the beads on something strong and also sewing them individually to 
the strings of the net (i.e. sew through each bead, not just over the string 
they are threaded on).

Of course, if you aren't particularly looking for durability, this becomes less 
important and you do have more alternatives (many of which will be less work). 

I don't know whether Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood's book on Pharaonic clothing 
addresses this type of garment, but that might be a good source to check.

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[h-cost] Someone interesting studying classical clothing

2008-07-06 Thread Chris Laning

Anyone seen this?

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Re: [h-cost] Tie on pockets, dating correction

2008-05-15 Thread Chris Laning
Lauren wrote:
This may be stupid, but -- aren't their pocket *slits* in 
some of the Herjolfsnes/Greenland finds? Which would suggest 
underlying pockets 13th century, even though they don't 
show up in paintings. 

It certainly seems likely that pocket slits are to provide access to 
*something* hidden under the outer layer of garments, and the common thought is 
that in at least some cases, that something is some sort of self-contained 
pocket or pouch (i.e. not sewn into the seam as is the case with modern 
that is hung from some sort of waist tie or belt. 

What *form* that pouch takes, however, is less certain -- since we generally 
don't get to see it g. The surviving 17th-18th century pockets seem to be 
flat, closed at the top and with a slit or opened seam partway down one side, 
giving access to the contents. On the other hand, when we get to see earlier 
pouches (such as in a painting where someone has lifted up the outer layer to 
display them) they seem to be simple drawstring bags with the opening at the 
top. Same principle, different shapes.

I'd certainly consider it very plausible, for a lot of medieval and renaissance 
contexts, to make one or two of the drawstring type of pouch, hang it/them from 
a ribbon tied around my waist, and wear them under a top layer with pocket 
slits. I'd be more doubtful about the plausibility of the later, flat style of 
hanging pocket in contexts before about 1600. (Though I haven't looked at the 
Spanish example yet.) OTOH, I can testify that the later style is certainly 
easier to get one's hand into when you can't see what you're doing so 
practicality might win in that case. 

(I have a farthingaleI made with a two-piece adjustable waistband, and it has 
side openings from the waist down to about thigh level. I sewed a pair of just 
this sort of flat pockets into the lower part of the openings, so they hang 
down *inside* the hoops. There are corresponding pocket slits in the outer 
gown. Very practical to keep a bulky wallet, keys and checkbook in, and they 
don't show at all -- but I don't have any historical justification for it, just 

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Re: [h-cost] crochet 18th C

2008-05-07 Thread Chris Laning

On May 7, 2008, at 11:53 AM, Bonnie Booker wrote:

 I think you are right. There has been mention from 16th c. of Queen
 Elizabeth's favorite cauls being made of chains. Could this have been
 done the same? There were crochets and hooks counted in Queen Mary's
 belongings when she returned to the court of Henry VIII. Then there is
 a cope in a Spanish museum they say is trimmed in crochet. It seems
 strange these things keep popping up but everyone says crochet didn't
 exist until the 19th century. Maybe it just wasn't the fad until then.

Santina Levey says in _Lace: A History_ that there is a braid used as  
trimming mentioned in the 16th century (1580s) Earl of Leicester's  
inventory that she thinks is chain stitch made with a hook -- but she  
doesn't say *why* she came to that conclusion.

Caul headdresses may have been trimmed with something similarly chain- 
like, but all the cauls I've seen have turned out to be made of solid  
fabric with diamond-shapes embroidered or couched onto the surface;  
they are not open hairnets in this era, or if they are, they are made  
in netting and always lined with fabric.

Unfortunately, most of the supposed identifications of crocheted  
trim or crochet hooks earlier than at least the mid-1700s have  
turned out to be flawed when examined closely. The hooks and  
crotchets in Queen Mary's wardrobe are a classic example -- once you  
see them, you realize that they are dress hooks, used for fastening  
the opening to a dress (like modern hoks and eyes, only bigger) or  
for looping up portions of the skirt. They are basically a little  
flat rectangle of metal with a bent-metal hook that is more or less  
semi-circular in shape -- the modern item they remind me of is a cup  
hook (for hanging cups in a cupboard. We have surviving examples  
still attached to garments that demonstrate clearly how they were used.

As I've said, I'm quite willing to believe Bjarne's example may be  
chain stitches and attachments made with a hook; I'm not dead set  
against there being crochet in the 18th century. But I see so many  
people jumping to conclusions from incomplete evidence that my  
initial response to most such suggestions is extreme skepticism until  
someone shows me really good evidence -- which it looks like Bjarne's  
example is. Yay for that!

Really, I do understand why people keep trying to find crochet  
earlier. But we have so many examples of new things originating  
suddenly and then becoming fads in a very short time -- even in the  
Middle Ages and Renaissance, when we don't usually think that of that  
happening -- that I don't see any need to think crochet was around  
for any length of time before it caught on. My favorite example of  
a quick fad is, in fact, the rosary, which originated in more or less  
its present form around 1470: an amazing 100,000 people from all over  
Europe joined rosary confraternities in just seven years, from 1475 to

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Re: [h-cost] crochet 18th C

2008-05-06 Thread Chris Laning
Carol wrote:
 Back to crochet -- yes, the simple chains and such were around in the
18th century.  Some of the cords on military drums are chained rope.
 The reason for the no crochet pronouncement is that some people
want to use crocheted lace for 18th century.  The explosion of lace
patterns occurred in the 19th century.
 There are a number of different lace making techniques, many done to
look like another type at various times throughout history.  Tatting
to look like needle lace, etc.
 Find the artifact for the era, copy the artifact.  Depending on the
level of accuracy desired, a pair of crocheted doilies may not work
for engageantes.  I wouldn't use the chaining on fly fringe to
justify using them.

I'd also be curious whether the museum specifically knows that the crochet on 
this piece is original, or whether it could have been added a bit later 
forgive my skeptical reflex here, please! It certainly _could_ be original if 
it's just chains and fastenings.

I'd also like to see a photo, if Bjarne has a way to post it. It may be 
important to know exactly what this looks like. The more evidence we have of 
what early crochet _was_ like, the better equipped we are to say what it 
_wasn't_ like (granny squares, lace edgings, zigzag afghansg).

I'm convinced, personally, that bobbin lace was invented as a faster and easier 
substitute for needle-made lace, which is very, very slow. And then tape lace 
was invented as a faster and easier substitute for bobbin lace; crocheted lace 
was invented as a faster and easier substitute for bobbin and tape laces, 
machine-made lace as a substitute for crocheted lace, chemically-dissolved lace 
as a substitute for machine-made lace grin Of course, this is an 
*extremely* over-simplified view, but I think there's some truth in it.

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Re: [h-cost] book lust G

2008-04-14 Thread Chris Laning
Julie wrote:
I ran into a copy of Moda de Firenze (the Italian Renaissance costuming book) 
a Ren Faire this weekend.  I was all set to add it to my collection but was 
shocked at the price.  The last time I looked it was going for about $80 U.S.  
\Yesterday it was priced at $148.

Has this book really gone up that much in a year or two?  
Is there another less costly vendor?

IIRC, what's out there now is a 2nd printing. Publishers seem to feel quite 
free to jack the price up when something is much more popular than they 
expected (as I think this was, and this definitely happened with QEWU) and they 
go into another printing when they didn't originally expect to.

(To be fair, this may also have to do with having to gear up the press again, 
which may have gotten more expensive to run in the meantime, perhaps having to 
re-create some of the production files if they didn't save them, the increasing 
price of paper and so forth. It's not *just* the temptation of more profits...)

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2008-04-12 Thread Chris Laning
These experiences suggest that both designers and directors would be  
happier in the end if, whatever the expectations are, they were  
*written down* and agreed on ahead of time.

A designer might not be completely happy, but both designer and  
director might be far less *stressed* to know ahead of time that, for  
instance, the leading lady gets to dictate her own colors and will  
provide her own undergarments. (The designer is of course free to  
think Victorian corset for Shakespeare? Ha! in the privacy of his  
or her own mind)

I'm sure the collective mind can cheerfully provide a list of common  
things that go wrong if anyone wants to write up guidelines for what  
might be useful in such an agreement ;) (That is, if there isn't  
already such a thing available...)

Flaky employees who don't meet deadlines, however are endemic in all  
ines of work and are really another matter. That's a matter of  
someone not meeting the terms of something they already HAVE agreed  
to. Community theater directors may just be more out of luck on this  
than most people because they so often don't have anyone else they  
can really turn to if the costumer flakes out.

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Re: [h-cost] understanding paintings of Saints

2008-02-22 Thread Chris Laning

On Feb 22, 2008, at 5:27 AM, Mary + Doug Piero Carey wrote:

There is a very interesting book called _The Square Halo and other  
Mysteries of Western Art: images and the stories that inspired  
them_ by Sallie Fisher.

I'll second that endorsement. A delightful book and very useful: it  
explains a _lot_ of cryptic scenes in medieval paintings, and does so  
with a sense of humor.

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Re: [h-cost] Bad books:

2008-02-22 Thread Chris Laning

On Feb 22, 2008, at 12:52 PM, Exstock wrote:

- Original Message - From: Dawn [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Some of those books really are not that bad.

Although most of the books listed date from the 40's to the 70's  
and have been out of print for decades, they still show up and can  
be useful sources.

Along those lines, as I am busy spending scads of time looking for  
wills  inventories on Google books, I'd like to make sure that  
people don't get confused and think that everything written on  
historical matters during the era of Bad Costuming Books is  
worthless.  People in the 19th century seemed to have a positive  
mania for transcribing very useful historical documents.

They did indeed, and it's a great help. I would never say *all*  
Victorian sources were bad; it's more complicated than that. Although  
any Victorian source needs to be checked out -- and we should be  
doing that anyway.

I think the problem is mainly that Victorian writers on the Middle  
Ages and Renaissance were very, very confident. They were *certain*  
that they could look at a fragmentary, incomplete artifact and  
restore it to what it looked like when it was new.  They also seem  
to have been fairly relaxed about generalzing from very few  
examples.  Modern researchers are much more cautious, and try to  
question their own biases and to not make any assumptions beforehand.

I'd still say not reliable is a good starting assumption when  
looking at Victorian sources, but that doesn't make them useless.

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Re: [h-cost] looking for tudor/elizabethan references

2008-02-21 Thread Chris Laning

On Feb 21, 2008, at 4:51 AM, Melanie Schuessler wrote:

If you're planning to cover up to 1600 and not just 1500-1600, you  
might consider expanding your talk to include discussion of 14th  
and 15th-century images of saints.  Robin Netherton is the expert  
here, but I do a little version of Jeff Foxworthy's you might be a  
redneck if that I call they might be a saint if in my Costume  
History class.  Images of saints are particularly common in these  
centuries in Italy and the Low Countries, though they appear  
elsewhere as well.  They tend to be wearing fanciful and/or  
imaginary clothing, and for some reason modern people looking for  
research always seem to zoom in on them.

For instance, Robin is fond of pointing out that elaborately  
decorated or jeweled bands along the hemline are usually confined to  
queens, saints, angels and other people who don't have to worry  
about getting their hems dirty. ;)

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[h-cost] Glowing review of *Medieval Clothing Textiles 2* ( TMR 08.02.19 )

2008-02-21 Thread Chris Laning
 medieval studies newsletters.  Nevertheless the editors have
kept the level of scholarship admirably high, particularly in the
methods and interdisciplinary approaches used in the present volume,
which bodes well for the future of the journal.

1. DISTAFF is Discussion, Interpretation, and Study of Textile Arts,
Fabrics, and Fashion. While many of the papers come from the sessions
at Leeds and Kalamazoo, papers are peer-reviewed by an editorial board
and some are submitted without first having been identified through
the conferences. iMedieval Clothing and Textiles/i, vol. 2, ed.
Robin Netherton and Gale R. Owen-Crocker (Woodbridge: Boydell Press,
2006), xiii.

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Re: [h-cost] Finding information

2008-02-20 Thread Chris Laning
Justine wrote:
...That is my 
second problem as a costumer, scholarly research. Aside from going onto 
websites and reading in timeline books where all the information is 
already researched and digested for others to read, which is my main 
source of learning, where do you find this stuff? The only thing I have 
thought of is to go to a library but than I wonder, where to begin 
digging deep into the collection to find original sources of info. 

First, you can always ask on this and other mailing lists. If you explain what 
types of things, centuries and geographic areas you're looking for, there will 
probably be lots of people who can give you book and article titles as a place 
to start. The more specific you can be, the better. You can also ask whether a 
particular book is considered to be a good one -- Iris Peacock's costume books, 
for instance, are not.

With regards to libraries, you're on the right track. There is *much* more 
information available in book form than online (and it's often easier to tell 
whether the information is any good). People who teach research classes now 
have to hammer it into their students' heads that the Internet is *not* your 
best or only source for serious research.

The bigger the library, the better the chances of it having useful material; 
university and college libraries are often the best place to start, especially 
if you don't live in a big city (big-city libraries are often good, too). Most 
university libraries are open to anyone who wants to walk in and look at 
things, and you can generally photocopy things even if you can't take them out. 
My local public university has a Friends of the Library program and I've had 
a card through them for years that lets me take out up to 10 books.

The way I always start when researching a new area is to look up the call 
numbers (whatever system your library uses) for a few books in the right 
general subject area (in your case, historical clothing). A reference librarian 
can almost always help you with such a search, and many libraries now have 
their catalogs online. It doesn't much matter exactly which titles you start 

Step 2 is to go to the section of the shelves where those books are, and start 
looking at everything on the shelf that looks interesting or relevant. Pick out 
the ones where it looks as though the authors are basing what they say on 
actual research (i.e. probably _not_ So-and-so's Book of Quick'n'Easy Stage 
Costumes ;).

Step 3 (and this is the key!) is to turn to the back of the book and read the 
BIBLIOGRAPHY. This will list the books and papers the authors used for 
reference. *This* is the important section to photocopy, because now you can go 
looking for any of _those_ books and articles that look relevant. Find those 
and repeat the process ;)

One of the best sources of information on the nitty-gritty details of clothing 
is articles published in professional journals in history. The most practical 
way to discover which articles to look for is to get the references from 
someone else's bibliography. Again a reference librarian can help you sort out 
the cryptic note in the bibliography that says something like J. Hist. Text. 
48:3-39 (I made that one up). Bound copies of the journal may be available in 
the library or on microfilm, even if they're not near the main bookshelf you 
started with.

Of course, you will very soon begin to find books and articles that sound 
absolutely fascinating but that the library doesn't have. Inter-library loan is 
your friend here. You can generally ILL a specific book through your public 
library, although some library systems do this much better and more quickly 
than others (and some have to charge for the service, though most don't). 

Hope this helps -- ask more questions anytime.

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Re: [h-cost] Mari to the white courtesy phone

2008-02-20 Thread Chris Laning

(answered privately)

On Feb 19, 2008, at 4:33 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

Is Mari Alexander on this list?


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Re: [h-cost] Re: Viking Women's Dress - New Discoveries

2008-02-18 Thread Chris Laning

On Feb 12, 2008, at 12:06 PM, Beth and Bob Matney wrote:

There has been a bit of discussion about this on the Norsefolk_2  
list. Here is an image of her reconstruction:

see bottom of

I won't exactly say that Norse costume experts on other mailing lists  
seem to be laughing themselves into stitches over this. but...

There are certainly some aspects of it that don't look very  
practical, such as the train. Also, as someone on another list  
pointed out, generally costume found in one place and time will show  
some sort of evolutionary relationships to the costume of other,  
similar places at the same time, before and afterward. But I'm not  
aware of anything remotely like this anywhere in northern Europe  
(disclaimer: but then, I'm hardly an expert) To me, it would seem  
much more plausible that the placement of garment parts reconstructed  
here is the result of subsidence in the graves from which the  
originals came, rather than that they were actually worn that way.

There is certainly merit in challenging the established applecart  
of wisdom about how things were done, just to be sure no one is  
getting too complacent or thinks that we know everything. But some  
challenges have a lot of plausible reasoning and evidence behind  
them, and others, well, don't.

(I recently ran across someone who claims that French, Italian and  
Spanish all descended from Modern English, and that Latin never  
existed as a living language, it was merely scribal shorthand.  
Definitely one of the more far-out attempts to re-think established  
wisdom, and apparently without much in the way of evidence  

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[h-cost] Prayer beads conference in Leiden March 27th

2008-01-26 Thread Chris Laning
I've been meaning to mention for some time that I've been honored  
with an invitation to speak at a one-day conference on prayer beads  
in March.

(I will candidly admit that my initial reaction is along the lines of  
Lawk a-mercy me: this is none of I! -- a Mother Goose reference. I  
am of course tremendously flattered that someone considers me an  
expert, but me? really? I shall have to make a good effort at it now.)

The conference is on the history and role of prayer beads in  
different cultures and communities, and it's on 27th March at Leiden  
University (in the Netherlands). It's sponsored by the Textile  
Research Centre 
homepage.htm, a 17-year-old project currently under the wing of the  
National Museum of Ethnology, but hoping for its own home soon.

This all started when the Centre's Director, Dr. Gillian Vogelsang- 
Eastwood, who specializes in Near Eastern textiles and dress, started  
searching for more information for a small exhibition on prayer  
beads from around the world she was planning for this summer, and  
found my Paternosters blog.  The exhibit has expanded into a full- 
fledged intercultural project, and there's no end in sight: the  
conference is one result.

The list of topics and speakers seems to be fairly firm at this point  
(it's on the TRC website), and as you can see, it is very wide-ranging:

Hindu iconography and prayer beads, Dr. Ellen Raven, Leiden University
Tibetan Buddhist prayer beads, Dr. Henk Blezer, Leiden University
Korean shaman prayer beads, Prof. Boudewijn Walraven, Leiden University
Japanese Buddhist prayer beads, Dr. Andreas Marks
Orthodox Christian prayer beads, Dr. Karel Innemée, Leiden University
A history of Catholic rosaries, Ms. Chris Laning, Independent  
scholar, USA
Prayer beads from medieval and post-medieval excavations in  
Eindhoven, ca. 1225-1900, Nico Arte, Eindhoven Archeological Centre

Protestant attitudes to prayer beads, Dr. Anneke Mooi, Leiden University
Prayer beads and medieval Arab/Persian sources, Dr. Asghar Seyed- 
Gohrab, Leiden University

Modern Islamic prayer beads, Mr. Yusuf Alan, Rotterdam
Neo-Pagan prayer beads, Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, TRC, Leiden

How we are going to fit all that into one day I don't know!

I'm particularly interested to see two speakers on the Islamic prayer  
bead tradition. It's a subject on which very little information seems  
to be available, especially on its early history. One possible reason  
seems to be that many of the cultural studies in Islam that would  
concern themselves with such artifacts are regional rather than pan- 
Islamic. I look forward to hearing what the speakers have to say.

American that I am, I'm of course particularly excited to be invited  
to speak in Europe, and since the conference coincides with my Easter  
break, I will have about ten days before the conference to travel  
around. Besides sightseeing and museums, I hope to see many  
historical paternoster beads and take many pictures! Most of the  
places I'm going will be new to me, including Cologne (Köln),  
Nuremburg, Regensburg, and possibly Konstanz. I've been in both  
Amsterdam and Munich once before, but that was thirty-mumble years  
ago and I hardly remember any of it.

As for the conference, I would of course be delighted to meet anyone  
there who reads this, so do please introduce yourself. You can find  
more information on the TRC's prayer beads project at http://, and on the  
conference itself at 
20bead%20workshop.html, including where to write in order to register.

This is turning out to be a delightful instance of it's a small  
world, since I had actually encountered Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood once  
before: a good friend of mine has raved about her book on Pharaonic  
Egyptian clothing, which is excellent.  Not the sort of thing you'd  
expect to combine with an interest in rosaries!

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Re: [h-cost] Found it! - Colored shirts in the 16th century?

2008-01-18 Thread Chris Laning
Sharon wrote:
At 6:55 AM -0700 1/18/08, Saragrace Knauf wrote:
Ah Ha!

I suppose one could argue this isn't a shirt, but I've never seen an
under dress with this kind of cuff...

The portrait shows the garment as being lined, however -- or 
magically blue on the outside and red on the inside. Whatever it is, 
I really don't think this is persuasive evidence for colored 
underwear (shirts).

To me, the clincher is that you *can* see a shirt or partlet in the front gap 
of the gown, at and below the neckline -- and it's white, just as one would 
expect. There's no sign of the blue-and-red garment in that front opening, 
which to me says that it must be open all the way down the front. I've never 
seen a cuff like that on an underdress either, but I'd be more willing to 
accept that it's an undergown with odd cuffs than a shirt that is open all the 
way to the waist :).

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[h-cost] Copyright AGAIN (WAS: Re: looking for scan of Alcega Scholar robe)

2007-12-26 Thread Chris Laning

On Dec 26, 2007, at 2:30 PM, Althea Turner wrote:

Hello Ruth,
Would this not fall under fair use? I would like a copy of a  
page for academic reasons. I'm not asking for the whole book and I  
intend to post the page on the web. It's seems counter-productive  
to not

allow academic use of published materials, especially in light of the
extremely high price of the book.


On Wed, 26 Dec 2007 17:13:30 -, Ruth Bean wrote

Unless Wicked Frau has access to one of the very rare original
copies of Alcega, surely there's a copyright issue involved here.
Certainly in most of Europe, and I assume in the USA too, there is
no right to offer and distribute copyright material freely to others
without permission, even if supplied without charge. We have not
authorised any display of Alcega patterns on line either.

Please, can we not get into THAT discussion again here?

I am not the list moderator, but.. About every three to six  
months on this list, someone asks about sharing copies of something,  
and it leads into an extended exchange of conflicting, passionate  
posts about what exactly the copyright laws DO say, what they SHOULD  
say, what's right, what's wrong, what's fair and unfair, legal and  
illegal. and it can go on for weeks.

Of course we are always getting new people on the list (welcome, new  
people!) who haven't been through one of these yet, so it's quite  
understandable that the topic will be brought up from time to time.  
But I hope that before discussing this yet again, people will first  
re-read the previous discussions in the archives. The most recent one  
was in October 2007, I think.

You can search this list's archives at:
The only drawback to this search site is that it only searches  
message headers, not text, and threads about copyright often don't  
have that in the subject header. I *think* most of the October  
discussion was in a thread called costume photos.

Or go directly to the October archive here and search on copyright:

I, personally, would make a mild suggestion that anyone who wants to  
correspond about sharing or copying information would do well to send  
their e-mails on the subject directly to other list members, rather  
than to the list as a whole. In most e-mail programs it's fairly easy  
to control what address appears in the To: line.

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[h-cost] Frobisuit (WAS: Busy making holiday gifts?)

2007-11-23 Thread Chris Laning

On Nov 23, 2007, at 10:24 AM, zelda crusher wrote:

Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2007 09:23:25 -0800 From:  
[EMAIL PROTECTED] Subject: Re: [h-cost] Busy making  
holiday gifts? To: [EMAIL PROTECTED] CC:  Then Ansel wants a  
new Frobisuit for Bristol next year

A what?

My guess would be that
   Bristol = Bristol Renaissance Faire
   Frobi = Sir Martin Frobisher (if I'm remembering the name right)
   suit = outfit

Good guess?

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Re: [h-cost] help finding a painting

2007-10-23 Thread Chris Laning

On Oct 23, 2007, at 6:23 AM, Elizabeth Walpole wrote:

This is not directly clothing related but does anybody know where I  
can find a painting that shows the visitation (the bit in the bible  
where Mary visits Elizabeth) with a sort of x-ray view where you  
can see both the unborn babies (Jesus and John the Baptist) on  
their mothers stomachs. From memory it's 14th or 15th century  
Italian and I think one mother is wearing pink and the other blue  
but I may be mistaken. I was talking to a friend about it but  
without an artist or reasonably unique title a google image search  
didn't turn up anything useful. To bring this back to clothing, I  
think it would be fun to recreate the painting by painting or  
printing a picture of a baby onto a dress.

Fortunately or unfortunately for you, there is not just one such  
painting -- it's a fairly common theme.

However, my favorite is the one I made a LOLsaints picture out  
of it's here: 

(P.S. Safe for work, but not for the humorless :)

Now that I look at that one again, it's one of the type where only  
one infant, the future John the Baptist, is actually shown. I do have  
at least one that shows both infants.

Aha! It's from REALonline  
which is an excellent image source for paintings, sculpture, et  
cetera in Austria.

Go there, select Bildthema from the drop-down menu,  and search on  
Heimsuchung Mariens (without the quotes) and you will get well over  
100 Visitation paintings when you click on Zeige Bilder (see  

The one I have in mind is their picture number (Bildnummern) #000225.  
A direct link to just the picture is:

The information on the main site (which uses frames) says as follows:
Tempera on wood, wing panel of an altar. Artist unknown, Upper  
Austria, 1490-1500.

Now in the collection of Krems Cathedral, Austria.

Aha, here's another one: 
Another altar wing panel, tempera on wood, by the Master of the  
Pfarrwerfener Altar, probably painted in Salzburg around 1425-1430.  
Now in the Museum Carolino Augusteum in Salzburg.

There's an interesting book stand in this one too: a detail is at

Others I saw in a quick run-through: or   
picture #012952
Each lady has a gold oval on her belly and I think I can see images  
of babies in both. or picture  
This one's especially interesting, with the two babies seemingly  
kneeling in the air in front of their mothers. or picture  
(I am sorely tempted to caption this one MY halo is bigger than YOUR  
halo...) or picture  

This one just has gold stars on both ladies' bellies.

And there are at least a couple more.

The one I made into a LOLsaints icon is also from REALonline, picture  

Direct link:
Yet another altar wing panel, in tempera on wood by Konrad von  
Friesach of Kärnten, 1450-1460.

Have fun!

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Re: [h-cost] help finding a painting

2007-10-23 Thread Chris Laning

On Oct 23, 2007, at 2:34 PM, Helen Pinto wrote:

The painting is The Meeting of Mary and Elisabeth by Max  
Reichlich, Austrian, ca 1513.  It's up on Web Gallery of Art.  I  
was interested in the jug and the beverage flask, but the fetuses  
doing the meet-and-greet between the pregnant bellies are what made  
the picture really memorable...

I have to admit, it's the only one I've seen where it looks like the  
babies are giving each other high-fives!

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[h-cost] OT: ISO scan of a Morris tapestry

2007-10-20 Thread Chris Laning
I'm looking for someone who has a better picture than I do of the  
19th-century tapestry from Morris  Co. called Adoration of the  
Magi (designed by E. Burne-Jones).

All the pictures I can find on the Internet are tiny (400 pixels or  
so) and all the details of the original are invisible. I need a  
better look at this, so if anyone has a book with a better picture in  
it, I'd love to hear about it. This was one of the most popular  
Morris tapestries, so I know there are examples out there and some of  
them have probably featured in books.


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[h-cost] Paternoster beads: medieval dress accessory

2007-10-14 Thread Chris Laning
For anyone interested who hasn't already heard about it, my booklet  
Bedes Byddyng: Medieval Rosaries and Paternoster Beads has been  
published (finally!) as issue #135 of the Compleat Anachronist (an  
SCA quarterly). It's  available at $4.50 per copy at: https:// (Go to page 14 of the site  
and scroll down)

This is a short introduction to the history of rosary beads (mostly  
Christian ones), along with a look at the social history: what  
materials were used for beads, threads and accessories; numbers and  
significance of beads; how rosaries were made, sold, worn, and used;  
and a few pointers on how to tell whether a string of beads is a  
rosary or not. There is also an appendix with full instructions on  
making a rather generic set of medieval-style beads.

It was stressful to write, but satisfying. I hadn't seen it since I  
turned in the manuscript six months ago, and I am now grimacing over  
the usual quota of typos, formatting mistakes and bits of authorial  
disorganization that made it into the printed version. I'll do better  
next time: but I'm happy to have it to offer.

I'd be interested in anyone's comments (on or off list) once you've  
read it.

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[h-cost] Re:[ h-cost] Costume photos

2007-10-04 Thread Chris Laning

On Oct 4, 2007, at 12:09 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

But you'll have a very hard time getting ANY published material  
copied at Kinko's. Ten years or so ago they were the subject of a  
big copyright-violation suit because they were helping/encouraging  
faculty to make their own textbooks with photocopied materials,  
and neither the faculty nor Kinko's pursued the necessary  
permissions. Since then, Kinko's has been DEFINITELY once burned,  
twice shy with copying. Some years ago I wanted to make little  
thank-you cards for my TWELFTH NIGHT cast, and since we had danced  
a lavolta as our curtain call I wanted to put Queen Elizabeth I  
Dancing with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester on the front of the  
card. For that I needed (lacking a color scanner and a color  
printer at home) a color photocopy of the paintingand the  
counterperson at Kinko's WOULD NOT PERMIT me to make a tiny copy  
for this innocuous purpose. Even UNpublished material: My truelove  
had to photocopy the rough draft of a repair manual he was writing,  
to ship it to the company he was writing it for--and that Kinko's  
counterperson, seeing technical drawings bearing the company's  
name, refused to copy it for him without a written release from the  

The conscientious counter person at Kinko's once tried to refuse me  
permission to make multiple copies of MY OWN WORK because it had a  
copyright notice on it.

I eventually convinced the manager that it was okay, but I was quite  
amused. :)

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Re: [h-cost] OT: Standard American Diet

2007-10-02 Thread Chris Laning
And from the other end of the spectrum... My grandmother 
was raised in the south before we knew some of the things 
we know now about nutrition, fat, etc. 

Nutritionists refer to the Standard American Diet as SAD for more reasons 
than one..

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Re: [h-cost] Re: Elizabethan Dressing Jackets

2007-09-24 Thread Chris Laning

On Sep 24, 2007, at 6:38 AM, Catherine Kinsey wrote:

I finally found it on the web site: snip Accession number: 43.243

Again they only show the back of it, and in this lighting you can't  

how magnificently metallic it is. The museum now dates it to  

I wonder if they disproved the connection to Elizabeth I, who died in

Unlikely, I'd think. Barring the discovery of new documents, a  
connection with a famous person is pretty difficult either to prove  
or to disprove.

The date says about, which I would guess means they are probably  
fairly confident about which quarter of the 17th century it's from,  
and maybe the decade, but wouldn't want to narrow it down too much  
beyond that without some more research.

The MFA Boston actually has a pretty decent textiles collection, but  
for a long time they had NO gallery space allotted to it, and even  
now there is only one textiles gallery. So most of the collection  
sits in storage. They do, however, make it fairly easy to purchase a  
good photo of many of their items, even if they're not on display.

There might also be someone in the Boston area on this list who'd be  
interested in taking a closer look at it. (I'm only in that area for  
a couple of days twice a year or so, visiting my Dad.) In my  
experience, if you have a good reason to want to see something close  
up, you can usually make an appointment to see something backstage  
and take photos for your own private use. (You still probably won't  
be able to touch things -- a staff member will be with you, though,  
so things can be turned over for you to see both sides.)

This type of jacket (obviously) is not knitted, but the MFA also does  
have several knitted jackets from about the same time period. If  
anyone's in the Yahoo [HistoricKnit] group, my photos of three of the  
knitted jackets from the MFA are in a photo album called jackets  

(That's )

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Re: [h-cost] middle ages: braies for women?

2007-09-13 Thread Chris Laning
Heather Rose Jones will probably chime in on this one if she sees it -- she 
gave a presentation on exactly this issue at Kalamazoo a couple of years ago 
(and has just submitted a paper version for a future _Medieval Clothing and 

Basically, what I think she winds up saying is that virtually all the pictorial 
examples of women wearing braies in medieval Western Europe turn out to fit 
into one of two themes: (1) mythical women such as the Amazon warrior queen 
Penthisilea; or (2) who wears the pants in the family arguments between women 
and men. Neither one of these seems intended as a realistic picture of what 
women actually wore.

(Heather, did I summarize this correctly?)

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Re: [h-cost] Blackwork in Lady in Green

2007-09-04 Thread Chris Laning

On Aug 30, 2007, at 9:34 AM, Frau Anna Bleucher wrote:

In the 16th Century, many blackwork designs were created to display  
a different pattern on the reverse side. I expect this is an  
example of this work. To duplicate without learning the specific  
stitch pattern, two layers will be required.

In this case, considering that one side of the embroidery is  
arabesques -- a curling leaf and vine pattern -- and the other side  
is a simple diamond grid, I think two layers of cloth is a more  
likely explanation.

These patterns have such completely different structure that I can't  
think of any way that working one on one side of the cloth could  
produce the other pattern on the other side. Most, if not all, of the  
blackwork patterns I've seen that do have different sides are pure  
counted-thread double running stitch. They are not this kind of  
flowing, curvy line thing, which was more likely worked in stem  
stitch or other line stitches.

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[h-cost] King Tut exhibit (WAS: More Comments: Costume Content)

2007-08-21 Thread Chris Laning

On Aug 21, 2007, at 9:08 PM, Penny Ladnier wrote:

The King Tut exhibit in Philadelphia in mid Sept.  Has anyone been  
to it?  I would like to know if it is worth the trip.  I was going  
to see the exhibit in Florida when it was there.  A friend told my  
sister that this tour was not that good.  I would like some  
feedback from someone who has seen it in PA, CA, or FL.

Co-workers of mine who went to see it were disappointed, mostly (I  
gathered)  because they hadn't realized beforehand that some of the  
most spectacular artifacts stayed home this time, such as the famous  
gold mask.

Reading between the lines, though, it sounded pretty interesting to  
me as long as you go with an open mind and don't assume it's  
necessarily designed for maximum splash like previous Tut exhibits.  
(Old armchair Egyptophile speaking here.)

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Re: [h-cost] Re: batiste weight linen

2007-07-19 Thread Chris Laning
Someone wrote:
Once upon a time there was a discussion on batiste weight linen and a source
was posted. I thought I saved the URL but I can't find it in my link files.
Could someone with the link please post it and post (if you remember) the
name of that type of linen as I know it isn't batiste.

The discussion I remember began when Julian Wilson (Hi, Julian!) mentioned that 
he had bought some batiste to make banners with from a local supplier on (Old) 
Jersey. Lots of us got very excited. Upon investigation, however, it turned out 
to be cotton rather than linen, IIRC.

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Re: [h-cost] Medieval embroidery

2007-05-06 Thread Chris Laning

On May 5, 2007, at 4:11 PM, Robin Netherton wrote:

1. Is my memory correct -- is this indeed a characteristic of  

Or any other kind of historic embroidery style?

Hi, Robin! g

Some, but NOT all, historical blackwork is reversible (same on both  
sides). The idea that ALL blackwork is supposed to be completely  
reversible is an artifact of the 20th century embroidery revival.

2. Is this characteristic actually documentable to any non-modern
examples? (I know it's easy to assume that a standard definition of a
technique must date back forever, but it might be done differently in
different periods.) If so, how early? I mentally associate  
blackwork in
particular with the Tudor period, but the reference in this case is  


I know there is also a tradition of Japanese silk embroidery that is  
identical on both sides, but I don't know how old that is. And  
probably not relevant :)

3. Can anyone point me to a published source that would document  
the use

of such a two right sides technique to a medieval artifact?

IIRC, most of the evidence that it existed is from paintings, which  
as we all know, may or may not represent reality accurately.

I'll e-mail you off list with more info

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[h-cost] Re: Theater vs. Historic

2007-05-04 Thread Chris Laning

On May 3, 2007, at 3:30 PM, Robin Netherton wrote:
It occurs to me that the productions that get the most criticism on  
list are historical drama, particularly those that purport to be  
(say, Elizabeth, which offered film-linked packets for school  
programs as part of its marketing, as opposed to Orlando, which  
was also
set partly at the Elizabethan court but had a strong fantastical/ 


Yes. For me, at least, less-than-accurate costumes are not really the  
problem. The REAL irritation is that film directors (etc.) blithely  
do whatever they think feels right with the costumes AND then have  
the audacity to claim that their renditions are accurate,  
thoroughly researched, and (deities help us) educational. Which  
thoroughly -- and unnecessarily -- confuses anyone who actually IS  
trying to do research and/or education.

If they would stop making the silly claims, the clothing wouldn't  
matter nearly as much.

The same goes for messing with history for the sake of the plot. It's  
OK to invent how history might have been, or could have been if  
things had happened differently, or how modern people would react if  
put in that situation, or for that matter, it's OK  to produce  
allegories about modern times disguised as history. What is NOT OK  
is to then claim that your rendition is somehow more true than what  
actually happened, or to produce school education packets asserting  
that real historical figures actually DID what you have imagined.

Of course, I  think it's quite legitimate to present a different  
take on real history as the real thing when there actually IS  
historical evidence for it. Scholars can, do, and always will differ  
on what actually happened and why.

What I don't think is legitimate is to take half-baked or widely  
criticized ideas (aliens building the pyramids, anyone?) and present  
them as sober historical fact WITHOUT planting plenty of clues that  
you're not _really_ serious. I didn't see Shakespeare in Love, but  
those who watched it closely tell me that a Stratford-on-Avon  
souvenir mug appeared fairly prominently, early in the film. Nice  
touch. g

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Re: [h-cost] was thread on spools in Eliz England?

2007-04-23 Thread Chris Laning

On Apr 23, 2007, at 11:27 AM, Rebecca Schmitt wrote:

OK, here's the question:

I work at a Renn Faire, and would like to be able to do some  

most likely linen shirts for my child. I don't want to have my plastic
spools of thread flashing about! How did Elizabethans work with  
thread? Was
it wound on spools (wooden, I assume)? Was it somehow put into  
hanks (like

modern-day floss)? How can I make my thread look right?

The best 16th-century images I've been able to find seem to have  
thread/yarn either (1) wound into little balls, kept in a box, or (2)  
wound around something small, rectangular and flat (no indication of  
what it is, since the images are little details in the corners of  

I would guess that sewing thread might have been sold in hanks, but I  
really don't know. I am fairly sure that silk embroidery thread was,  
and flat thread winders have been suggested as a plausible way to  
wind off part of a hank of silk so you could cut lengths to work with.

You might find these articles helpful -- though I'll warn you, while  
you see a lot of the needlebooks shown here (on the project page in  
this issue) at Renaissance Faires, the documentation for them is not  
terribly good. They show up in re-drawings by Herbert Norris, who  
often (but not always) had good sources for what he showed, but never  
tells you where he found things :(

OChris Laning [EMAIL PROTECTED] - Davis, California
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Re: [h-cost] RE:hippie pants-suit vs. Corduroy pants-suit

2007-04-01 Thread Chris Laning
My mom, who went to a fair number of professional conferences,  
thought pants suits were the greatest thing since permanent press,  
and wore them with enthusiasm.

She told me that at one conference (sometime in the late 70s I  
think), a couple of nice ladies took her aside and told her that  
really, you know, it wasn't the Done Thing to _always_ wear pants  
suits. After all, people might think she was a gasp! Lesbian.

Being happily married since 1943 and the mother of four, my mom  
thought this was hysterically funny!

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Re: [h-cost] 1960s-70s School Dress Codes

2007-04-01 Thread Chris Laning

On Mar 29, 2007, at 1:37 AM, Penny Ladnier wrote:

My students have been asking some really good questions.  These  
questions I only know the answers from personal experience.  I  
lived in Mississippi at the time and do not know if we were really  
far behind fashion or not.  If you answer these questions, please  
let me know your location and the app. year you remember these  
fashions were worn to public elementary through high school:

1. Mini-skirts: Girl's skirt lengths were measured
2. Girls' pants:  When were girls' allowed to wear pants to  
school.  Pants-suits, hiphuggers?

3. Boys' Hair: Allowed to wear long hair
4. Boy's mustaches: When allowed

Newton, Massachusetts, mid to late 1960s --

1. I never saw anyone actually measuring skirts, but I know there was  
a rule. It may have been something like an inch or two above the knee.

2. Girls could not wear pants for any reason, any time. If it was  
freezing cold, they could wear pants under their skirts for the walk  
to school, but had to take them off when they got there. About the  
only allowed form of leg-covering was tights (which I always hated).

And of course, tights were frequently un-cool. My mom said she used  
to see groups of girls going by on their way to the local junior high  
school in the winters (snow on the streets, etc.) with short skirts  
and bare legs that were bright red from the cold. She said she always  
felt like rushing out and offering them blankets or something.

3. I never paid attention to the rules for boys, but I know some were  
wearing hair that was considered long in those days -- though it  
wouldn't be considered long now.

I was also much amused when midi skirts and granny dresses came  
into fashion, and one of my classmates got into trouble for wearing a  
skirt that was too LONG (a granny dress, in her case). How they  
rationalized that I have NO idea! I suppose it fell into the category  
of too distracting.


Interestingly, these are still battlegrounds in some places. The  
school I work for is a Catholic private school for girls, and they  
have always worn uniforms.

The current rule is that uniform skirts are supposed to be no more  
than 3 inches above the knee, but of course in a group of fashion  
conscious young women, who are also at the stage where they're  
growing like weeds, this is difficult to maintain. Students have been  
threatened with all sorts of dire punishments if they are caught  
rolling their waistbands to make their skirts shorter, but in  
general, enforcement is pretty slack, confined to announced days two  
or three times a year. Few of the faculty are interested in doing  
anything about it.

This may change next year, as the new principal-to-be is probably the  
faculty member who's cared the most about the dress code. There are  
rumors the rule may be changed to 2 inches above the knee rather than  
3, and I expect more enforcement.

Until this year, pants have only been allowed by special exemption to  
the few students we have whose families are Muslim (whose definition  
of modest dress includes having legs covered). This year, by radical  
innovation, students could wear pants during the winter, and some  
did; but they had to be the official uniform pants, which are on the  
expensive side. Requests by students for the option of wearing pants  
are frequent, but always blocked by faculty who feel they are  
unprofessional looking unless they are the tailored uniform pants.  
Our students don't feel this is fair, especially since the other  
Catholic high schools in town that include girls _do_ allow pants.  
(For the one that requires uniforms, they must be a particular color  
of Dockers.) The faculty who object claim that if pants were allowed,  
it would be too difficult to define which pants were OK and which  
were too tight, too low-slung, or too baggy and gang-like.

It will be interesting to see what happens :)

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Re: [h-cost] Sarnen Robe? Chris Lanning - was Punches for cloth.

2007-03-06 Thread Chris Laning
Saragrace wrote:
Chris, what is the Sarnen Robe on your site?

 I've mentioned this page before (probably the last time Bjarne  
 brought this up, in fact...)
 I've used metal leather-punching tools with pretty good results.

It's a robe belonging to a famous statue of the Infant Jesus, which is located 
in Sarnen, near Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. Legend says that the deep red silk 
of the garment was from a dress given by Queen Agnes of Hungary in 1318. Many 
religious statues have been given richly decorated ???robes??? like these in 
which they may be clothed for special festivals

There's a photo here:

And also some more details of making one's own bezants with leather stamping 

(tooting my own horn, herem, with apologies...)

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Re: Punches for cloth, was Re: [h-cost] re; Wizard

2007-03-05 Thread Chris Laning
Just be sure your paillette-maker uses sturdy enough plates if you're  
going to use it on metal. I know folks who have tried to use the  
scrapbooking type of plastic-plate sort of thing, designed for paper,  
on lightweight metal, and the plastic gets mashed flat in about three  
passes no fun.

I've mentioned this page before (probably the last time Bjarne  
brought this up, in fact...)

I've used metal leather-punching tools with pretty good results.

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Re: [h-cost] Belle Armoire

2007-02-23 Thread Chris Laning
Fran wrote:
Does anyone on h-costume subscribe to this magazine?

I don't subscribe, but I pick it up occasionally as eye candy when I'm in the 
right mood.

I am somewhat interested but divided. I'd be interested if they were 
showing sort of vintage looks, the kind of thing people put together out 
of the good parts of several pieces of damaged vintage clothing and 
trims. Is that what this magazine is mostly about, or not?


Or not exactly.

It's about various sorts of creative things one can do with clothing, but 
original vintage clothing rarely enters into the process. You _might_ find some 
of what you're looking for in it -- it's not my area of interest, so I may miss 
things that would interest you. But on the whole, creative tends to win out 
over nostalgic in the project department. Sometimes projects are deliberately 
aged to look old -- but history has little to do with the process, other than 
as inspiration. 

The issue currently in my bathroom has articles on poly-clay jewelry, covered 
matchbox purses that look vaguely Japanese, crocheted hats embellished with 
all sorts of sparkly stuff, and I forget what else. Other issues have had 
articles on painting T-shirts, a covered-shoe challenge (not necessarily 
practical but more along the embellish creatively line), and various dyed, 
painted, pieced, pleated and otherwise embellished garments. 

Also, how much do the projects depend on the use of rubber stamps, as 
the publisher seems to focus a lot on those in their other magazines?

They show up in maybe one project per issue, and not always that. Dyes, paints 
and poly clay are always big, though.

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Re: [h-cost] sequins and spangles

2007-02-03 Thread Chris Laning

At 9:44 AM -0500 2/3/07, LLOYD MITCHELL wrote:
I know that we have discussed this in the past but cannot remember a 
referrance or definition.  In 18th C. embroidery, what is the 
difference between spangles and sequins used for additional 
embellishment.  I have been reading the Mackenzie text for the Wade 
collection at Snowshill and she shows embroidery samples that use 
both in the same illustration.

I am preparing a major part of my Collection for auction and have 
several pieces of elaborate embellishment that I am trying to 
describe.  Also, Re the composition of sequins, besides gel, what 
might they have been formed from before 1930?

Don't know whether this would help, since it's several centuries 
before your period, but there's a brief discussion of the medieval 
equivalent at:

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Re: [h-cost] h-cost] What's your dressmaker dummy wearing and sewing affliction

2006-12-05 Thread Chris Laning

At 3:03 PM -0500 12/5/06, [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

In a message dated 05/12/2006 19:04:35 GMT Standard Time,

 I've thought about that a lot.  I think I have a severe fear of making that
 initial cut into virgin fabric.  Anyone else suffer from this?

completely - with expensive or hard to get fabric.

I once shared a house with a friend who made her living as a 
seamstress. She said she got a lot of business from brides who 
started out intending to make their own dresses, but chickened out 
when it came to cutting the expensive fabric...


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[h-cost] Jeans (WAS: illustrator vs fashion historian)

2006-08-17 Thread Chris Laning
Every so often the conversation comes around to a point where I feel 
like mentioning again Drea Leed's hilarious little essay on 
21st-century superwide jeans -- a paper (to be) given at the CXII 
Interplanetary Costume Collegium, 2543 A.D.

Her excellent Elizabethan Costuming site has moved since the last 
time I tried to access this article, and it isn't mentioned anywhere 
on her index page. But -- acting on a hunch of what its address might 
be -- I was delighted to find that presto! It's still there, right 
along with the rest of the site.

It can now be found at:

Enjoy. evil grin

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[h-cost] Re: OT: LJ/ blogspot/Yahoo360 etc.

2006-07-12 Thread Chris Laning
Fran wrote:
  Not everyone has a strong need for
 social support/approval.  I agree that's what many blogs seem to be for, 
 it just holds no interest for me personally.

I have two: one LiveJournal, for miscellaneous ramblings on how I'm doing 
personally, and another on Blogspot, which is for articles related to my 

The LiveJournal one I started mostly because several of my friends are on LJ, 
and it seemed like a good place to put the occasional blather about weather in 
the Central Valley, the health of my cat, what I saw on my trip to England this 
year, and other stuff that would mostly be of interest to family and close 
friends. It's a way of letting that small audience know how I'm doing without 
having to write each one individually.

The Paternosters blog ( is something I started 
to force myself to sit down and WRITE about my research on the history of 
rosary beads. For about a year and a half I was producing one to two articles a 
week; it got sidetracked somehow after my England trip this spring and I 
haven't gotten back to it, but I certainly have not run out of things to talk 
about. I find that writing gives me more ideas about things to research and 
write about, and I've learned a lot in the process. I like it also because it's 
somewhere to post the answers to FAQs and anything else I want to make 
available, and yet it's simple to maintain just by sitting down and typing 
something; I don't have to create or configure entire Web pages to hold the 

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Re: [h-cost] Judging costume contest? Help!

2006-07-02 Thread Chris Laning
Tania wrote:

What I've seen that works well for the public is to have someone 
announce that the contest is about to begin and that anyone interested 
should come up to stage. You can either have appointed judges or do 
the winner(s) by crowd applause. If you're worried about hurting 
someones feelings you can always have some sort of side prize such 
as most imaginative. Hope this helps. 

I like this, because it requires people to step forward if they DO want to 
compete. Since this is a _competition_, their stepping forward means 
(hopefully) that they are prepared for the possibility that they might not be 
chosen as the winner -- which minimizes possible hurt feelings.

I'd also suggest that having some small token for everyone who enters would 
be very nice -- something as small as a pretty bar of soap or a fresh rose.

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Re: [h-cost] help - velveteen colour running

2006-06-27 Thread Chris Laning

At 12:03 AM +1000 6/25/06, Beth Schoenberg wrote:
Have you tried Runaway?  I believe Woolworth's and Coles sells it, 
and possibly also Kmart.  It worked when we had a red-running 
problem on the huge baronial banner for Politarchopolis, which I 
believe you may have seen once or twice.

Runaway is the same chemical as Retayne, except that it's 
packaged in one-laundry-load doses at a much inflated price :(  If 
you think you'll ever have trouble with colors running again, it's 
worth it to buy a bottle of Retayne. Dharma Trading carries it if 
you're in the USA -- Googling on the brand name should get you 
whatever local sources you need. Stores that sell cloth dyes ought to 
carry it.

Synthropol is also an excellent investment. I've seen it in art 
supply stores and (of course) Dharma Trading.

My recommendation is to wash your item with Retayne first to fix as 
much of the dye as possible. Vinegar is often mentioned as a dye 
fixer, but actually it works a lot better in the initial dyeing 
process than later, and often doesn't do much for an already-dyed 
object. After that, then wash it in Synthropol to remove any dye that 
isn't firmly fastened onto the fabric.

Crocking or the rubbing off of dye onto whatever it's touching is 
unfortunately a problem with a lot of heavily dyed items. Reds and 
blacks (wouldn't you know!) tend to be among the worst dyes for 
staying put where you want them. Hope this helps --


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Re: [h-cost] silver foil tape for Paillons?

2006-06-23 Thread Chris Laning
On Jun 22, 2006, at 12:16 PM, Bjarne og Leif Drews wrote:

 In recreating materials found in 18th century embroidery, i thoaght i 
 might could use this for shaped spangels or Paillons as they were 
 called. These were cut from silver plates, and often vernished in 
 different shining collours. I would like to try it. Does any of you 
 know this material? Is it hard to cut out, can you use an ordinary 
 scissors? I am in need of some cut like a flower with 5 leaves.
 Also how would you make the holes for sewing?

Hi Bjarne --

Yes, I'm on this list, and here's the information on my experiments making 
paillettes or bezants:

A short report and a couple of photos of my first efforts (and a very nice 
medieval original!):

Here are the articles I wrote for our local Needleworkers' Guild newsletter:

I am going to be teaching two classes on making bezants in July (sorry, Bjarne, 
they're in California! :) so I've been looking for a less expensive source of 
metal. Both of the Internet addresses in the Make your own Bezants article 
seem to have what I need, in both gold (brass) color and silver (aluminum) 
color. Of course they are both in the USA, but perhaps you can print out the 
information and look for other places that have the same thing. This stuff is 
really easy to use -- you can cut it with ordinary scissors and make holes with 
an ordinary large sewing needle.

Good luck!

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Re: [h-cost] bezants

2006-06-23 Thread Chris Laning
Bjarne wrote:
Did you make that flower with 5 leaves on the bottom photograph of this 

Yes, I did.

Is it possible to cut out the outer layer of the foil, so that you only get 
the flower?

Yes, with patience and a pair of sharp scissors. Of course, you will need to 
use a pair of scissors that you do not want to use for cutting cloth after you 
use them on the metal :)

Is there a chance i could buy such a stamp from you?
I think i could use that on the steel foil i baught today.
What i like is the shape, and the 5 flower leaves, matches very nice to the 
shape i am after.

I am not completely sure whether this stamp will work well on steel. It is made 
of metal, but it is designed for stamping leather, and will wear out more 
quickly if it is used on metal. I have had good results using it on brass, 
however. If your steel is as soft as my 36-gauge (0.13 mm) sheet brass, it 
should be fine.

You can buy this stamp (and many others) from Tandy Leather at:

I don't know whether they will ship things to people outside the USA, but I 
expect so. If you have problems ordering from them, let me know off-list and 
I'll arrange something.

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Re: [h-cost] Hancock Fabrics

2006-06-02 Thread Chris Laning
I actually don't see much difference where I am in the inventories carried by 
Hancock's, Jo-Ann's and the fabric sections of Beverlee's. All of them are now 
about half-and-half fabric and crafts. While each of them has some things the 
others don't, that means they are in _more_ direct competition than ever 
before. That doesn't bode well for all of the chains surviving.

I went into the local Hancock's lately (about four blocks from where I work -- 
not the one on Florin Road) and noticed that they now have a certain number of 
prime seasonal fabrics up front -- silks, crepes and so forth -- and then the 
rest of the fabric section is all flat folded or discounted fabrics. That's not 
a good sign either but I like the store because it's been run locally by a 
very nice group of staff and a manager who's both friendly and competent.

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Re: [h-cost] Historical Films

2006-04-25 Thread Chris Laning
Robin wrote:
I rather wish that Dan Brown had picked a saint who wasn't quite so
central to costume study. Say, Mary of Egypt.

I can just see it now.

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Re: [h-cost] Movies, was: Knight's Tale

2006-04-23 Thread Chris Laning

At 6:22 PM -0400 4/23/06, Ruth Anne Baumgartner wrote:
... everything blends together into the look of Yore. That's why 
hennins, for example, seem to be appropriate headgear for The Merry 
Wives of Windsor?!?!?! etc.

Thank you for a very useful term! Yore it is.

On Apr 23, 2006, at 5:44 PM, Sharon L. Krossa wrote:
The more I learn about the entertainment industry, the clearer it 
becomes that accuracy is more an advertising buzz-word (used to 
attract audiences) than something truly pursued. That is, it is far 
more important to persuasively _claim_ accuracy than to actually 
_be_ accurate. (I'm know there are exceptions among individuals who 
work in these industries -- but in the industry as a whole...)

Besides, it's a lot easier and cheaper to just *claim* it than to 
actually *do* even a half-decent job of it.

At 6:50 PM -0700 4/21/06, Sharon at wrote:

I agree- the leading lady was SO out of period. I kept thinking one hat
looked more like it belonged in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The costumes
bothered me more than the music.

Leading Lady Syndrome -- the Big Name Star playing the leading lady 
more or less gets to wear whatever she wants, even if that means it's 
wildly different from what everyone else is wearing. Often this means 
no corset, low necklines, clingy fabrics, modern hairstyles 
whatever _she_ thinks makes her look sexy. sigh


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Re: [h-cost] Mouldy linen/dyed linen

2006-04-22 Thread Chris Laning
 in places, but the item as a whole
looked fine and was usable.

Hope these things help.

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Re: [h-cost] Fascinating: oldest evidence for needle binding

2006-04-21 Thread Chris Laning

At 8:43 AM -0700 4/21/06, Chris wrote:
Forgot...I was completely blown away by the plaids they've found as 
well...reminds me of the Stewart 'hunting' plaid, but regardless, 
it's absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!  Wait until you see it!

Yes, and of course the news media immediately seized on this and 
started speculating about Celtic peoples in central Asia snort.

You don't have to be Celtic to weave plaid fabric. Or wear it. Or 
anything it's just what happens naturally when you have repeating 
color patterns in your warp and weft...


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Re: [h-cost] Quick lace question

2006-04-18 Thread Chris Laning
Being the first to have the book handy and a few minutes to type. 
the very first sentence of Chapter 1 of THE classic reference, 
Santina Levey's _Lace: A History_, says: During the two decades 1560 
to 1580, lace became an increasingly important feature of fashionable 
dress in most European countries, and this development can be traced 
in contemporary records and in the portraits of the period.

She goes on to say that decorative crimped and goffered EDGES 
appear in the _15th_ century, in the same places we would expect to 
find lace some decades later -- but they are merely a laundry 
technique and not needlework of any kind.

In the late 15th and early 16th centuries we can see decorative 
edges that _do_ involve needlework of some kind on the edges of 
veils, and at the necks and wrists of smocks and shirts. These edges 
were created with embroidery (oversewing and buttonhole stitch), 
beads, seed pearls or applied cords. Many of these edge decorations 
were carried out in colored silk or metal thread, a fact which has 
tended to obscure their links with later linen laces.

The earliest record of some sort of trimming made with bobbins is 
1476, by the ladies of the household of Eleanor d'Este, but it's 
almost certainly a cord, since the account book says ...cordella 
facto a piombino

There was no moment, she says, at which any of the above 
techniques either changed into or were replaced by lace. Gradually, 
however, during the second quarter of the sixteenth century, changing 
tastes in trimmings and embroidery resulted in the exaggeration of 
certain effects: in particular, greater emphasis was placed on 
decorated seams and edgings Needle and bobbin lace began to 
emerge in response to these demands, but it was a long time before 
they were seen to have become separated from the older techniques... 
Indeed, one of the clearest indications of the newness of lace is its 
lack of a name that is wholly its own.

As for possible early dates for metallic lace, ...Although, 
therefore, fifteenth-century references to 'lace', such as the mantle 
lace worn by Richard III at his coronation in 1485, really refer to 
cords and braids, it is possible that some of the later references to 
'passementerie' may refer to early bobbin laceThe 'Pasmens of 
gold' and 'passmeyn riband' worn respectively by Mary I and Edward VI 
were certainly braids, but the more explicitly described 'Passmeyn 
lace of bone work of gold' mentioned in the Lord Chamberlain's 
Accounts for 1553 was bobbin lace. (She gives a footnote for this 
conclusion, but doesn't justify it further. She goes on to describe a 
white silver bone lace of 1560 and 6 white smocks edged with white 
needle lace in 1558-9.)

That help?

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RE: [h-cost] abuse of fabrics (aka care and washing) question

2006-03-06 Thread Chris Laning

At 10:40 AM -0600 3/5/06, Betsy Marshall wrote:

My information is that dry cleaning helps preserve the fabric treatments
used by the manufacturer- either fabric or clothing processes; so fabric of
wool, linen, silk or combinations thereof, _can_ be washed, just be prepared
for the size/hand/texture to change. (Personally I toss it all in the washer
on cold and let the chips, er, scraps fall where they may.)

My philosophy is to give the finished garment a cleaning treatment 
that's one step gentler than the washing I gave the fabric before I 
cut it out. I pretty much machine wash all yardage as soon as I get 
it home and the edges zigzagged.

This has worked a lot better for some things than others. I've not 
had any problems with linen or silk, but I've learned to be more 
careful about wool, especially about tumble drying it. I had a wool 
Elizabethan gown (and I can now boast that it was custom-made for me 
by Margo -- yes, THAT Margo, of Margo's patterns g) and she washed 
my wool yardage on hot, _three_ times before she cut it out. And I 
washed it on cold and dried it on barely lukewarm, and it DID shrink, 
almost three inches in length after half a dozen washings. :(


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Re: [h-cost] Goldwork

2006-03-03 Thread Chris Laning
In case there's anyone who hasn't discovered it yet, there is lots of expertise 
on goldwork (as well as lots of other subjects) on the Historic Needlework 
list, which is hosted at:

I know there's at least one expert on Elizabethan sweet bags on the list (not 
me!) :)

The H-Needlework list is actually a child of this list, in that it started 
from a discussion here of the idea that there ought to be a place where both 
costume-related and non-costume-related needlework could be discussed at 
length. It's a good bunch of folks and (need I say) very helpful.

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Re: [h-cost] books

2006-02-25 Thread Chris Laning

At 8:27 PM -0500 2/24/06, Catherine Olanich Raymond wrote:

On Friday 24 February 2006 8:05 pm, Beth and Bob Matney wrote:
  I have been cataloging my reference collection on librarything.

Using what for time?  When I retire, maybe.

I'm also a LibraryThing fan, though I did maybe two batches of books 
a while ago and haven't gotten back to it.

The great thing about it is that it DOESN'T take much time because 
you don't have to enter ALL the information on 99% of the books. It 
will look them up for you! All I've needed to type in is the titles, 
and it pulls them right up.

I do plan to back up the list on my own computer once it bears some 
resemblance to my actual library -- I haven't been systematic about 
it. It sounds like it will be in a format that I'll be able to import 
into FileMaker (or MS Access) so I'll have my own database.

Since I hate having to look up and type ALL the information about a 
book every @#$%! time I cite it, this site is _wonderful_.


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Re: [h-cost] Embroidery dating

2006-02-08 Thread Chris Laning
This sounds really exciting. What an experience to be able to see and handle 
such stuff!

. and am I the only one in a peculiar mood today, or did anyone else look 
at the subject line and think, Embroidery dating -- how to help your 
embroidery find its perfect soul mate? I think it's entirely too close to 
Valentine's Day

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Re: [h-cost] Elizabethan Style, Nostalgic Needle, Sharon Cohen

2006-01-31 Thread Chris Laning

At 5:46 PM -0500 1/30/06, [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
I agree with Ann. I used Safari on a Mac OS X and it was fine--pages 
loaded very quickly. The colors were quite nice for me, and the 
design of the pages was clear and consistent. I liked the stitch 
listings (is there really a stitch called bukkion, though? I'd 
have thought bullion, but I'm not an advanced student of 
Order and contact information are really needed for this appetizing 

Yes, I think a bit of copy-editing is needed in a few places. I think 
I noticed splender (for splendor), acron (for acorn), and The 
inspiration for this sampler are...

I gather that these kits are not available from the website directly? 
If they are, ordering info is definitely needed. If not, a link to 
some retailers who carry them would be much appreciated.


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[h-cost] Re: Gifts for Brits

2006-01-29 Thread Chris Laning

Thanks, everyone, for all the suggestions!

Also, I was talking to a friend on Friday who mentioned she's had 
great success bringing over packages of Jelly Bellies jelly beans. 
She says you can't get them in Britain (and they actually are quite 

Apropos of Hogwarts, I've seen Jelly Bellies packages of Bertie 
Bott's Every Flavor beans -- though they thoughtfully leave out all 
the nasty ones :) Is there really no one doing that in Britain?

ObCostume: the actual spur to planning this trip is the Mediaeval 
Dress and Textiles Society meeting on March 11th, which is on 
Knitting before 1600. The last time I was in England -- or, indeed, 
anywhere in Europe -- was 1970, so this will be quite exciting. I've 
got about half a week in London and half a week out in the 
countryside planned.


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[h-cost] More OT: to Brits (WAS: Seriously off topic - need advice)

2006-01-25 Thread Chris Laning
So it looks as though I'm going to be in England for a week in March, and part 
of it I'll be staying with a family. These are people who are interested in 
history, BTW, but not necessarily in clothing.

What sorts of things make good presents-for-one's-hosts from 
California/USAmerica? What do we have that's difficult to find over there or 
especially American? grin

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Re: [h-cost] Mystery Hands

2006-01-22 Thread Chris Laning

At 11:13 PM -0500 1/21/06, [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
I don't know a lot about the subject, but it strikes me as odd that one 
group of orange beads is 9, while one is 8.  Aren't rosaries in 
groups of  10?  Or

shouldn't they at least be all the same number?

In a painting, not necessarily -- but I see what you mean.

Ten is certainly the overwhelmingly common number of beads in a 
group, with five as the runner-up. But paintings show bead numbers 
all over the map -- 8, 3, 7, 9, et cetera. Similarly, the total 
number of beads in a painting may be 39, 19, 16, or some other number 
that (1) fits into the space on the painting, and (2) allows the 
beads to be big enough that you can see what they are.

As for actual beads, the best evidence is in written documents, which 
do generally talk about groups of ten. Surviving beads are relatively 
few and have often been re-strung somewhere along the way, but 
something like the Langdale gold rosary or Mary Queen of Scots' 
rosaries indicate that ten-bead groups are indeed the norm.

*  *   *  *  *  *  *  *

BTW, I haven't plugged my website Paternoster-Row or my Paternosters 
blog in awhile, and I was going to mention them again anyway, since 
I've just started a blog-post series on Wearing your medieval 

*  *   *  *  *  *  *  *

Some different numbers of beads for your entertainment:

The man in the woodcut about halfway down this page has twelve beads:

This page shows St. Joseph's rosary from Rogier Van der Weyden's The 
Magdalen Reading, which has 16 beads:

There's another indefinite-numbered rosary being worn by St. Hedwig 
on this page:

The classic, of course, is the beads of Catherine, Duchess of Cleves, 
which appear as the border of a manuscript page:[EMAIL PROTECTED]/89815411/

Here's one that does seem to be consistently in groups of 10 (as far 
as we can see):[EMAIL PROTECTED]/20904863/

Here's a particularly good example, I think, of beads big enough 
that you can see what they are overriding realism:[EMAIL PROTECTED]/10134724/

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