A felt cloak

One of the least represented garments in the realm of historic dress is the Fieltro de Camino. It is a full circle cloak made of heavy felted wool. I have not seen a single image, surviving garment (there is only one) or painting that did not include an embroidered design of radiating lines on both the body of the cloak and on the hood.

I developed my pattern from the layout given in Alcega's manual of 1580. It is quite basic in its cut and easy to interpret. In the 16th and 17th centuries, felt was made and sold in pre-cut sheets so one was constrained to cut the garment with as few piecings at possible. The felt that I purchased was of a similar width (though ours is made by the yard now, not by the sheet). I was able to cut all of my pieces without need to join on extra fabric to complete any shapes.

Pattern from Alcega's manual of 1580.

Pattern from Alcega's manual of 1580.

Here is the draft I used to make my cloak. There are some slight variations for example the version in my construction photos is Bs in length rather than B though this shorter length really does appear in the manual. I just made mine longer to fit with Alcega's draft.

Here is the draft I used to make my cloak. There are some slight variations for example the version in my construction photos is Bs in length rather than B though this shorter length really does appear in the manual. I just made mine longer to fit with Alcega's draft.

There is one surviving example from the 1570's belonging to Stephan Praun III. It is housed at the Germanisches Nationalmusem in Nuremberg, Germany. It is actually a 3/4 circle garment. Its hood is made up separate from the cloak body. In the one painting that exists of Mr. Praun in his pilgrimage clothing with which this cloak was worn, the hood is nowhere to be seen. The second layer is made of leather and is also made separately. From the look of it, though I have no definitive proof, the second layer appears to be heavily oiled for waterproofing. In Alcega's manual, as well as Burguen, and Freyle, the Fieltro is shown in two different layouts, one that is cut with skirting/second layer, and one without. Due to weight, cost and wearabiity, I have chosen not to use a second layer of felt. I may make the second layer with leather, but for now, I just need to finish embroidering this garment and move on to the next piece to make for the book. I'm running out of time as the final photo shoot is at the end of September...right before the book is meant to be finalized and sent to the printer.

Pilgrimage cloak of Stephan Praun III, Germanisches Nationalmuseum--Nuremberg

Pilgrimage cloak of Stephan Praun III, Germanisches Nationalmuseum--Nuremberg

Closeup detail of the front of the hood

Closeup detail of the front of the hood

Here is my progress on my copy of this garment so far.

The 100% wool felt is 1/8" (3.2mm) thick. I originally purchased some 1/4" (6mm) and found that it was much too heavy and cumbersome. A friend who actually viewed the original told me that it was approximately 1/8" - 3/16" thick. So, I reordered and got the 1/8" thickness. It was purchased from thefeltcompany.com they have many different kinds of wool felt and it is a really nice product to work with. This is the page with the product that is shown in my photos, Specifically the f3 quality material. When its pressed, you can smell that it still has quite a bit of the natural oils still in it. It is absolutely not suitable for people with Lanolin allergies.

 

 

Front

Front

Back

Back

Side view of collar in progress

Side view of collar in progress

Back view of collar in progress.

Back view of collar in progress.

The couching and embroidery is all being done in wool. It was a good color and somehow felt correct for this piece. I suspect for wealthier folks, the embroidery would have been made up in silk.

On the main body, I have used a couching technique with two strands of the wool and the couching stitches themselves in the same wool.

On the collar, the satin stitch for the leaves is worked in a single strand of the wool while the heavy line of the border is four strands of the wool that have been re-spun and plied to create a heavier cord. In retrospect, I absolutely should have used this re-spinning technique for the main body. It looks beautiful. But alas, I didn't think of it until after the body was done and there isn't time to go back and re-work it.

I am saving the embroidery of the hood for last since I really want to have all my design choices made and wanted to have my hands "tuned" to the proper stitching. The embroidery on the hood is quite elaborate in the surviving piece.

I'm pushing myself to complete this project because its standing in the way of so many others. I'm glad its almost done though.

Just so everyone knows what's going on with this book, the projected release date is October 31st 2017. I'm working VERY hard to make sure that date is maintained.

Be well, thank you for reading and as always, HAPPY STITCHING!!

Still here, Still plugging along

Its been ages since my last post. I'm not very good at keeping this web page updated, but I am more motivated now than ever before to keep it up.

There are interesting developments all around. The Modern Maker Vol. 2: Pattern Manual 1580-1640 is almost done. I have a handful of pages left to write and a lot of draft notes to put in. But otherwise, the final structure is complete.

Its bigger than I expected, It covers a lot more patterns than the original outline and nearly all of the garments have photos of completed pieces. There will be a few that don't. But they are garments that most people won't ever make anyway. I'm putting them in because they need to be there.

I wake up every morning at 5:30am. Have some coffee and work on the book until 7am when I usually eat something and get ready for work.

I walk to work, so I leave the apartment at 8am, arrive at work at 8:45am and start handling whatever the show has to offer me that day. If there is down time, I work on the book. That's usually an additional hour or two during the day.

If I have any energy left when I get home, I work on it some more, or I THINK about the next steps and make plans to implement them the next morning.

Somewhere in each day, I eat, sleep, live, watch a TV show or two while spending time with my better half.

Its a lot. I am tired, but I won't stop until this book is done. There is no more time to wait. I've had too many things on hold and they need the attention they deserve. There may be changes coming my way with my career, so I have to finish this work while I can.

 

One of the many pieces of clothing I've made recently. I still have several more to finish up before this book can be completed.

One of the many pieces of clothing I've made recently. I still have several more to finish up before this book can be completed.

Client order 3242016-B

Today I am working on a suit for a client. It is a classic "Modern Maker" style suit consisting of a 1600's style doublet and breeches with a ropilla/sayo in matching colors. The construction is identical to the doublet in TMM 1 and will be left relatively plain with some simple contrasting band embellishment. The doublet will likely have a narrow velvet trim and the ropilla and breeches of hunter green wool will be trimmed with black bias silk bands.

The illustrations are some of my first using a new program for the iPad Pro called "Procreate" While I am not the best illustrator, the images give enough understanding of the suit to create it.

This suit will also have a cassock of beautiful brown striped wool. I will post additional photos as the process continues.

 

The formed interlining with pad stitched wool felt in the shoulder and armhole

The formed interlining with pad stitched wool felt in the shoulder and armhole

The linen doublet front, formed and basted in place

The linen doublet front, formed and basted in place

Illustration of the doublet and breeches

Illustration of the doublet and breeches

The unfinished illustration of the ropilla/sayo

The unfinished illustration of the ropilla/sayo

So many things are happening!

Today, I am pleased to announce a new product that we will be selling. Because of how it needs to be manufactured, it will be available as a "pre-order" only garment for the first few runs. If it proves to be a viable item to sell, It is likely that next year, I will have a larger batch produced in a factory instead of a small-run outfit here in NYC. I will be designing new patterns and new colors every year.

The inspiration for this jacket comes from European examples from throughout the 17th century. The height of their popularity was in the latter half of the century though there are examples from every decade. With over 50 of these garments in museums around the world, there is a LOT of information to pick and choose from for style, construction and detailing. The first 11 photos in the gallery are of several extant examples from which I took some details and overall concept. The next three photos are of charts from pattern books of the era that were widely circulated for creating knitted pieces, embroidery and weaving. The first photo after the screen shots of period manuals is my hand-knitted panel. The piece is knit on US size 0 needles with two strands of the silk yarn and one of the metal. Once I selected the motifs, and started knitting, I really had to come to terms with the fact that A. Many people would want and wear these if they were available, and B. there was no reasonable way that I could hand knit these with any regularity. So, I then set about charting the designs in the computer and then began working with a company that does machine knitting. The pattern motif is different in the Machine knit version, but it matches my hand-knit black and silver swatch. During the development process, we had to take a short break because the company was overwhelmed with work for New York Fashion week...thankfully, I too had other obligations so the timing worked out very well. Their swatches are beautiful. The first full sample has a few issues, but nothing tremendous. The sleeve just needs a little adjustment. Its both too wide and too long. But the next sample we make, I believe it will be perfect. During the heyday of these garments, they were worn by both men and women. For the most part, the differences between the two styles is minimal. Women's necklines tended to be more open and men's tended to be more collar like...in all cases, the necklines of the majority of the surviving garments look terrible....and I don't mean because they're old and used up...I mean, they're just horribly finished. I have never been able to figure out how these folks would spend months knitting something like this, and then have an atrocious neckline...but I digress. My version is intended to be an agender style which can be worn by both men and women. The neckline in its current form is a neat, though rather modern detail.  For a tighter fit, the back of the jacket can be pinned in place to follow the lines of the body. The sample is headed to a reenactor's event called Gulf Wars in Mississippi to be on display for pre-ordering. Samples of the other two colors of silk for this production run will also be available to view. Here on themodermaker.net, there will be a pre-ordering available if I can figure out how to accept payment in 2 parts. Deposit and final. In addition to this site, there will also be pre-orders available through Etsy.com which you can find here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GnagyArts?ref=hdr_shop_menu

They will be wearable as modern garments as well. Something this pretty shouldn't be left out of sight! The very last photos show me wearing it with my modern jeans and Tee and ball-cap. I don't think it even looks that weird. I mean...a little eccentric. But overall, it gives you an idea of how it should fit even though the sleeves are too big. I'm delighted that the development is almost over and I can start marketing and selling these amazing beauties from the past!

Finally found my way in!

As a writer, I can say with some certainty that it never gets easier to start a new project. Every book has its own unique energy and sometimes its hard to find your way in. However...this book gave up the fight and I have found my path through it!

Attempting to create the right kind of book for the content was causing me quite a bit of distress for a couple of months. Now though, I have a solid knowledge of how the information needs to be conveyed as well as what additional information needs to be included to make it even more useful.

Instead of a typical pattern making manual which tends to show you how to draft patterns and nothing else, this book is going into some detail about layout and cutting and the additional things needed for the insides of the clothes.

At first glance, the layouts don't look especially different from the original manuals. However, they now have much more clear notation, they have been updated to reflect a more current average size and height. The men's pieces reflect a size 42R or 44R and the women's pieces are based on a size 10 rather than industry's more typical size 6. This means that more people will be able to use the layouts as they are given without having to move the placement of the pattern pieces. The layouts will be given in the two most standard widths of cloth, 45 inches and 60 inches. Also, in the original manuals, many smaller items were left out of the layouts. Sometimes things as essential as collars were simply too well known to people in the trade to bother putting them in the layout images. Times have changed. I am including all the little bits that are needed to finish off the clothing...the shoulder wings, the tabs, where you should cut the strips of bias to be used to trim and finish the clothes. Each garment will have the necessary layouts for the fashion fabric, the canvases, the felt padding, hem stiffeners, armhole supports, interlining and linings..depending on the garment.

Without these, the story of the clothing is incomplete.

I'm looking forward to sharing the progress with you as we take our big leaps forward in the next few months.

Cutting Central!

Cutting Central!

New Beginnings

As I begin to work on the next volume of The Modern Maker, I am starting out by looking at some patterns that I have had less experience with. This week, I'm looking at a garment from Burguen's manual of 1618. It is called a Sotanilla. There are two types. A half-fit style, with a shaped and fitted front and a loose back, and a fitted style with a both a shaped front and a shaped back. I have made garments which resemble the fitted style so I will be exploring the half-fit style since I have less experience with it. I have to look through the other tailors manuals to find out if it was intended to be lined. I've never seen such a garment in a museum. There is an early 18th century coat that survives which is a similar cut and is fully lined in linen..even though the date is a bit far off to use as evidence, similar styles do seem to be treated in similar ways over the course of time. And the few surviving coat-like cloaks from the late 16th and early 17th centuriues are also lined, so my assumption is that it should be lined. Alçega mentions false back panels "postizas falsas" when he describes the Mongil Trançado, which is a woman's half-fit gown with a long draped back, but doublet shaped front with attached skirt. He doesn't mention a lining. The false back (or fitted interior back panel) is a lining piece that appears to be necessary to make the sotanilla fit well. The sotanilla is placed among the clerical clothing, so it may be part of the wardrobe of the church. However, in most cases, the author has labeled specific drafts "for clergymen." Interestingly, the fully fit style is called "sotanilla for a bachelor" however that is based on a more modern meaning for the word "mancebito" It may well have had a different meaning in 1618. As part of the project, I will make sure to corroborate the definition and find out more about the history of this garment and hopefully, it will give us a fuller understanding of its intended use. 

As I continue to study the garment, I have noticed that the length for all the clerical soutanes is quite clearly sBB or, 1bara and 5/6. Its hard to assign exact lengths because the bara would be scaled according height. Were I making a clerical garment, it would be floor length. 66" for my height with a 2 or three inch hem assumed for final length of about 63-64" from high point of shoulder. It would be about 1" from the floor. The Sotanillas (which appear to be secular garments), are cut a little shorter. At my height of 5'11.5", bringing the length to 49.5" from the high point of shoulder to the hem. There is some doubt as to exactly where this length is intended to be measured. Some believe that it should be measured from the top of the back collar to the hem and the front bears the same measurement imprint as a code for the cutter to know that those pieces are meant to be sewn together. However, in every modern case from the 18th century to present, the measurement that is given is laid from high point of shoulder to hem as collars can be quite variable depending on the client. In layouts such as this one, it is also assumed based purely on practicality and logic that all seam allowances and hem allowances are included in the measurements as they are given.

In reading the definition of Sotana from a 1611 dictionary of Spanish, it says "A coat of the clergy, long enough to cover the ankle. Sotana is so-called because it is worn beneath the mantle. Sotanilla is the same garment but shorter." This definition doesn't seem to indicate whether the shorter garment is considered secular wear, or clerical only. Its clear from a few paintings of the era that there are styles of sotanilla that are worn by leymen, but in the Manual, there is no such distinction.

Here is the pattern layout from the Manual

Here is the pattern layout from the Manual