Project: Recreation of an extant piece from what is currently believed to be from the 15th century, attributed to belonging to St. Birgitta. The focus is largely on the stitching in the center of the cap.
Project Beginning- Research and Practice
Sources consulted include the book Medieval Clothing and Textiles by Robin Netherton and Gale Owen-Crocker. Also, I had several e-mail conversations with the author of another primary source about the cap.
After practicing the stitch the first full attempt at the cap used a piece of metal to hold the cap in place while the cap was stitched together.
More Practice- Additional practice focused on finding other ways to hold the cap while sewing that are more likely historically correct. . Experimenting with a stable, stiff, yet pliable base to do embroidery when the item is curved (like two edges of a cap). I tried linen soaked with beeswax. Bonus it smells good.
I also attempted this with no frame. I would NOT recommend using no frame as a first, second, or even third time project. I’ve been practicing for a while.
Final Practice: I’ve also completed a linen on linen cap. This is practice for the class I’m teaching at St. Claire’s, as well as some experimentation to play with what it was made how its made and to answer a few questions that the extant piece left to time. Its fabric-store linen and four ply linen from Miriams. The sewing thread is modern. These are not period accurate linen fabric or the right ply of floss but it is getting me the feel of the fibers.
Preparting for the Final Cap: I am also getting ready to complete a final version of the cap using a historically accurate needle, and more accurate linen fabric. First thoughts on the period needle: Slightly malleable, but strong. It is easier to grip than modern needles. It slides through fabric well and this is a fairly tight weave. I do like that isn’t as brittle as modern needles. Made by Louis Garcia. I’m using Tired to History handkerchief linen for the final project. The linen weave is super fine, with a high thread count and a low amount of slub. The drawback is that it seems to be a lighter weight, than the extant piece. I’m working on thread and floss now.