Re: [CostumeHistoryClass] Handsewing
- In a message dated 2/11/2002 4:16:35 AM Central Standard Time, CostumeHistoryClass@yahoogroups.com writes:
For: Byzantium and Early Medieval Europe Assignment
Ick. Can you imagine sewing that all by hand?
Melissa, Hi. Indeed, I can imagine sewing it all by hand. I don't use machine stitching on any of my reproduction garments until the historic timeline would allow for machinework. (Well, there was that one bodice, but that was before I turned purist <weg>) On the Victorian / Western pioneer clothes, I use my treadle, since that would be what was available.
I can turn out a decent chemise with flatfell seams and wrists gathered to cuffs in a long working day. A petticoat is just tedious for all the straight seams and a carriage pleated skirt isn't bad either. The fitted parts and fancy work is the killer, timewise. But that's true of modern dressmaking on a sewing machine too. Really, it's not the sewing time that's impressive for the pre-industrial clothes, it's the spinning and weaving of the cloth first!!
In one of Weyland's book (the Mummy one, I think, but I'm not where I can get to my library right now), she estimates that over one half of the total labor in pre-industrial society was devoted to textile manufacture. That's right, more that was devoted to either conquest or food production.
It boggles the mind when you think about it; all the textiles for secular and sacred use were hand-spun and hand-woven. That includes not only clothes and household linens like sheets, diapers and towels, but also cloth for bags (remember even as recently as the 1930s, flour, sugar and other staples were packaged in cloth bags), and even ships' sails. Think about those huge galleons in the Spanish Armada with the seemingly acres of canvas. All handspun and handwoven. YIKE!!!
Karla (off to hand-hem more church linen. Long story short - My Mom volunteered me.)
- There's an absolute difference in the quality and time frame for re-enactments (whether ren or colonial or antebellum) and theater (regardless of the play). If you are putting on a typical HS (1 to 3 shows) or college (max of 6, I'd guess), there just isn't a reason to put the work into handsewing. Also, re-enactors get up close and personal with their audience, like touching distance, so the details show. Theater is 'across the footlights', otherwise theatrical makeup wouldn't work.
The two types of use differ a lot in the wear and tear. There's a world of difference in the need, for example, of hiking our rather hilly, tarmac and mud trials at the ren fest and a flat stage. Also, in theory at least, your fellow actors aren't walking on the train of your dress (though I'm sure it happens <G>).
I tend to think of my garb as "clothing" rather than "costume". I wear my shifts as nightgowns frequently and all my skirts have two sets of hooks (with and without corset / bodice) so I can wear them around the house enough that dealing with the petticoats and length becomes second nature. Also as somebody else pointed out, the more you wear a corset, the easier it is.
Karla (off to hunt for Folkwear patterns. JC wants a black duster now that they are allowed to wear them to school again)