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  • Jen
    Hi, I recently was given a HUGE amount of old boxed fabric from the 60 s but in great condition. It appears to be silk, wool, cotton (seersucker), and linen!
    Message 1 of 21 , Apr 27 10:44 AM
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      Hi,

      I recently was given a HUGE amount of old boxed fabric from the 60's
      but in great condition. It appears to be silk, wool, cotton
      (seersucker), and linen! How do I tell if the wool is really wool and
      the silk is really silk? I remember a list posted at one point about
      burn tests. I could put the silk in bleach, and if it dissolves it is
      all silk, right?

      Thank you for any help you can offer me!
      Frigga
    • Renee Graham
      Burn tests - cotton leaves an ash much like paper and smells a lot like paper while burning. Wool smells like burning hair and leaves a distinctive ash as
      Message 2 of 21 , Apr 27 12:44 PM
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        Burn tests - cotton leaves an ash much like paper and smells a lot like paper while burning.

        Wool smells like burning hair and leaves a distinctive ash as well.

        Either Sew News or Threads magazine had an article a while back (last two years?) on this - it might be available on-line at www.sewnews.com or http://www.taunton.com/fiberarts/index.asp .

        Or go to Google or Ask Jeeves and see what comes up when you type in burn testing fabric.......

        Renee G
        torn between two sewing rooms


        ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

        I recently was given a HUGE amount of old boxed fabric from the 60's
        but in great condition. It appears to be silk, wool, cotton
        (seersucker), and linen! How do I tell if the wool is really wool and
        the silk is really silk? I remember a list posted at one point about
        burn tests. I could put the silk in bleach, and if it dissolves it is
        all silk, right?

        Thank you for any help you can offer me!
        Frigga

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • unclrashid
        Two tests for wool... butn test-- burning wool smells like burning hair, and I forget the exact type of ash, but as long as it does not make a plastic-y melted
        Message 3 of 21 , Apr 27 12:59 PM
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          Two tests for wool... butn test-- burning wool smells like burning
          hair, and I forget the exact type of ash, but as long as it does not
          make a plastic-y melted ash or hard bead, you can be pretty sure it's
          wool.

          Also, the guy at that fabric store showed me the other day that if
          it's 100% wool, you can rip it with your fingers without needing to do
          a starter cut with scissors. Also, when you rip it, then yu can look
          at the little fibers and see if there is anything in there that is too
          sparkly or shiny to be natural.

          Silk smells like burning feathers when you burn it (and don't ask me
          how that is different froom burning hair, seems similar to me)

          You can probably find a website that explains more detail if you
          google "burn test fiber content". The type of ash or residue left can
          also give you a clue as to what's in there.

          Rashid


          --- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, "Jen" <frigga_of_glennlinn@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi,
          >
          > I recently was given a HUGE amount of old boxed fabric from the 60's
          > but in great condition. It appears to be silk, wool, cotton
          > (seersucker), and linen! How do I tell if the wool is really wool
          and
          > the silk is really silk? I remember a list posted at one point
          about
          > burn tests. I could put the silk in bleach, and if it dissolves it
          is
          > all silk, right?
          >
          > Thank you for any help you can offer me!
          > Frigga
          >
        • Coblaith Mhuimhneach
          ... Reconstructing History s Your First Garb article includes information on the burn test
          Message 4 of 21 , Apr 27 1:06 PM
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            Frigga wrote:

            > How do I tell if the wool is really wool and the silk is really silk?


            Reconstructing History's "Your First Garb" article
            <http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/beginners/FirstGarb.html>
            includes information on the burn test for fiber content, and a chart
            showing results for various fibers.


            Coblaith Mhuimhneach
            Barony of Bryn Gwlad
            Kingdom of Ansteorra
            <mailto:Coblaith@...>
          • Ken Nye
            Putting a sample in undiluted chlorine bleach works on wool too. The wool will eventually disintigrate. Nylon or acrylic that have been blended in will stay
            Message 5 of 21 , Apr 27 2:22 PM
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              Putting a sample in undiluted chlorine bleach works on wool too. The
              wool will eventually disintigrate. Nylon or acrylic that have been
              blended in will stay behind giving you some idea of the proportions.

              K.

              --- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, "Jen" <frigga_of_glennlinn@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > Hi,
              >
              > I recently was given a HUGE amount of old boxed fabric from the 60's
              > but in great condition. It appears to be silk, wool, cotton
              > (seersucker), and linen! How do I tell if the wool is really wool
              and
              > the silk is really silk? I remember a list posted at one point
              about
              > burn tests. I could put the silk in bleach, and if it dissolves it
              is
              > all silk, right?
              >
              > Thank you for any help you can offer me!
              > Frigga
              >
            • jane doe
              I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined the SCA and so far I have made all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore, rushed
              Message 6 of 21 , Apr 27 3:06 PM
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                I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined the SCA and so far I have made all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore, rushed things and used cotton thinking it is a "natural fibre". It is so embarassing, I am volunteering at an event this weekend and what I am going to wear everyone is going to be laughing at. I am such a newb.

                Dina
              • Anplica Fiore
                I m sure it s not that bad Dina!! We all have our first attempts that either didn t turn out QUITE as we expected or that isn t made from the most natural of
                Message 7 of 21 , Apr 27 4:02 PM
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                  I'm sure it's not that bad Dina!! We all have our first attempts that
                  either didn't turn out QUITE as we expected or that isn't made from
                  the most natural of fibers. The important thing is that you made the
                  effort at dressing the roll of a gentle who lived prior to 1600.

                  Wear your first attempt with pride, and when you see someone with garb
                  you really like, don't be shy! Ask them about it and about how they
                  made it. I've been amazed at how warm folks in the SCA can
                  be...especially when you give their garb kudos! :)

                  Anpliça Fiore
                  ~~~~~~~~~~
                  Fare Del Bene
                  Isunden Herald - Kingdom of Northshield



                  On 4/27/06, jane doe <redlebaroncoup@...> wrote:
                  > I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined the SCA and so far I have made all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore, rushed things and used cotton thinking it is a "natural fibre". It is so embarassing, I am volunteering at an event this weekend and what I am going to wear everyone is going to be laughing at. I am such a newb.
                  >
                  > Dina
                • ciorstan@comcast.net
                  Speaking as someone who has been hanging around the SCA for too many years to want to admit the exact number-- anyone who is crass enough to dare laugh at you
                  Message 8 of 21 , Apr 27 4:31 PM
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                    Speaking as someone who has been hanging around the SCA for too many years to want to admit the exact number-- anyone who is crass enough to dare laugh at you is a boor unworthy of your notice.

                    ciorstan

                    -------------- Original message --------------
                    From: jane doe <redlebaroncoup@...>

                    > I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined the SCA
                    > and so far I have made all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore, rushed
                    > things and used cotton thinking it is a "natural fibre". It is so embarassing,
                    > I am volunteering at an event this weekend and what I am going to wear everyone
                    > is going to be laughing at. I am such a newb.
                    >
                    > Dina


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Lente
                    First, don t worry so much about your garb, only a real uncouth fiber snob is going to care and maybe comment. Relax take a deep breath, this sounds like this
                    Message 9 of 21 , Apr 27 5:15 PM
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                      First, don't worry so much about your garb, only a real uncouth fiber snob
                      is going to care and maybe comment. Relax take a deep breath, this sounds
                      like this is your first event, so have fun, and according to one gentle on
                      the list if someone comments on your garb do this: 'Why thank you for your
                      future help on what to get fabric-wise and on garb making and now when would
                      be a good time to get together?" It will either shut them up and/or get you
                      some help in making more garb.

                      What?? cotton is a natural fiber. Rayon now...Rayon is technically a natural
                      fiber that is man made from cellulose or wood, or basically the cellulose
                      has to be worked a bunch to make it a fabric and that process didn't develop
                      until I think the second world war. Cotton is part of the stuffing in the
                      cotton plant (or whatever its called) that holds the seeds in the pod until
                      it opens, you have to remove the seeds to spin the cotton. Was is used
                      during the majority of SCA period?...probably not, but it does work and can
                      be somewhat cheaper in cost for starting out.

                      In the US cotton is mostly grown in the South (I've seen it as a kid in
                      fields down there, we stopped driving so us kids could pick a few from the
                      fence edge; doing that made me understand why my great aunt called me
                      Cottontop growing up) and even saw it being grown along the southern route
                      through Arizona into California region last summer.

                      Burn tests are cool; especially when you have bought a wonderful mystery
                      fabric.

                      So remembered bits of fiber stuff lecture over...Just so you know I've been
                      in the SCa for 8 years and...A good portion of my garb is still cotton, all
                      my turkish pants, all of my tunics. My Magyar stuff is made up of the
                      following:
                      --One pair of pants silky-ish mystery fiber 60's era fabric in a stripe,
                      --One undertunic in cream raw silk with red crochet inserts (test version
                      and I had made the sleeves too short),
                      --One undertunic in cottom muslin with blue chainstitch along hems, collar,
                      etc.
                      --One rectangular light blue construction coat in raw silk with cotton
                      piping along the front facing edges,
                      --One rectangular bright blue construction coat in linen rayon blend in my
                      heraldic device's colors with cotton piping along the front facing edges,
                      --One Wool Mongol hat with a fake fur cuff and matching wool long coat with
                      matching fake fur on collar with a horrendously bad dyed cotton for a lining
                      (haven't got around to replacing the test version which became the lining 3
                      years ago right before Estella war) and last but not least
                      --One Mongol coat in a green/aqua nubby satin weave cotton/poly blend (well
                      maybe c/p), with gold poly crepe backed satin trim along the edges of an
                      orange reverse side of brown satin for the facings, oh yes and don't forget
                      the cotton oriental quilting cotton lining on the sleeve facings, the
                      sleeves on the Folkwear's chinese coat pattern are way too short for me and
                      I had to move the facing down to the very edge of the sleeve and then line
                      the facings.

                      Kathws
                      who has a whole rough tote of linen to make into undertunics, and other
                      garb; someday the fushia pink linen will become a cotehardie <weg>

                      Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:06 PM
                      Subject: Re: [SCA-Garb] burn test (was: Recent acquisition)


                      >I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined the
                      >SCA and so far I have made all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore,
                      >rushed things and used cotton thinking it is a "natural fibre". It is so
                      >embarassing, I am volunteering at an event this weekend and what I am
                      >going to wear everyone is going to be laughing at. I am such a newb.
                      >
                      > Dina
                    • Lexy
                      I know exactly where you re coming from, Dina! I ve been to only one event and wore borrowed garb because I felt the garb I had made prior (out of cotton, as
                      Message 10 of 21 , Apr 27 6:34 PM
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                        I know exactly where you're coming from, Dina! I've been to only one event
                        and wore borrowed garb because I felt the garb I had made prior (out of
                        cotton, as well) to that wasn't good enough to be seen outside my lounge
                        room! The ladies of my area make this fear of mine much worse because they
                        are all so beautiful and lovely in their own exquisite garb. At the event
                        that I went to, however, I joined in a few conversations with several of
                        these ladies and mentioned my envy and the strangest thing happened - one of
                        them has invited me to her workroom to start on my own gown! I'm sure the
                        gown that we work on together is going to be great (a ton better than what I
                        did on my own, at any rate) and I've made a friend already - two positives
                        and no negatives. I guess we all have to start somewhere, don't we?





                        _____

                        From: SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                        Of jane doe
                        Sent: Friday, 28 April 2006 7:37 AM
                        To: SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [SCA-Garb] burn test (was: Recent acquisition)



                        I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined the
                        SCA and so far I have made all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore,
                        rushed things and used cotton thinking it is a "natural fibre". It is so
                        embarassing, I am volunteering at an event this weekend and what I am going
                        to wear everyone is going to be laughing at. I am such a newb.

                        Dina







                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Roger Franz
                        Cotton is late period. See below. Quoting from http://des.kyhm.com/cotton (a tertiary source, but bibliography is included): BEGIN QUOTE: *** The Venetians
                        Message 11 of 21 , Apr 27 8:29 PM
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                          Cotton is late period. See below.

                          Quoting from http://des.kyhm.com/cotton (a tertiary source, but
                          bibliography is included):

                          BEGIN QUOTE:
                          ***
                          "The Venetians (1125AD) were the first to send merchants and boats to
                          parts of the Levant to start a trade in finished cotton cloths, with an
                          eye to purchase raw cotton for production and sale in Italy to all parts
                          of Europe. Genoa (1140AD) too, sent merchants and ships shortly after
                          the Venetians, and as cotton became more and more well known, other
                          Italian cities also sent delegations to Arab coastal towns to set up
                          charters and trade agreements. By the mid 12th century, Venetians had
                          trade agreements, considerations, and colonies scattered throughout the
                          Levant, and even inland to Damascus.

                          Over the next century, cotton consumption, cultivation and production
                          were practiced all over the Mediterranean Basin, from North Africa,
                          Spain, and Sicily, to the "boot" of Italy, the Veneto and all of the
                          Levant. Spain was a cultivator and supplier of cotton for local
                          consumption, and continued to be practiced during the complete
                          reconquest of Spain, although in much smaller quantities. North Africa
                          produced medium to coarse cloth for trade further inland in Africa, and
                          Sicily became a focal point for cultivation and reliable trade of raw
                          cotton to European towns and cities.

                          ...

                          Cotton was first "officially" introduced to Europe after the First
                          crusade. Italy was the first Christian nation to understand the
                          significance of cotton, and began marketing it from the 12th century
                          onwards. As a luxury fabric, Germany's earliest record of cotton
                          products was in 1282 as overland transportation from Venice. France
                          began to demand cotton after it appeared at the Champagne Fairs, the
                          first record of sale was from 1376. From those fairs, it spread to
                          England, but in such small quantities, that it was not well known until
                          after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and English merchant
                          ships reached the Levant.

                          ...

                          The use of cotton for undergarments, tunics and summer clothing was in
                          use in Italy for the poorer classes from the 13th century onwards, and
                          while utilized by the lower classes right through the 16th century, was
                          discarded by the upperclasses in favour of linen and other "fine"
                          fabrics by the late 14th century.

                          ...

                          The decline of cotton production in Italy in the last half of the 16th
                          century was synonymous with the rise of southern Germany as a major
                          producer of finished cotton cloths. Germany began to acquire ginned
                          cotton from Italians in large enough quantities, that by 1625, Italy was
                          known for its high quality cotton cloths, and Germany for it's
                          fashionable, but cheap cotton cloths."
                          ***
                          END QUOTE.

                          Majority of period, no, but it *was* used in Europe during 450 years or
                          so of it (or perhaps more), which is a significant chunk. It was used by
                          Mongols and Arabs for long before that, so really, it shouldn't be a
                          problem. Mind you, if you're playing a late period noble character in
                          Europe, cotton would be *so* lower class.

                          I'm in California, and prefer linen (cooler in the summer). But cotton
                          would work.

                          Roger



                          Lente wrote:

                          >it opens, you have to remove the seeds to spin the cotton. Was is used
                          >during the majority of SCA period?...probably not, but it does work and can
                          >be somewhat cheaper in cost for starting out.
                          >
                          >
                          >
                        • m d b
                          ... and ... about ... is ... All fibre from a protein source yes:) So that s wool, and it you have some brand new fabric it could be woven form soy;) As you
                          Message 12 of 21 , Apr 28 12:47 AM
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                            > I recently was given a HUGE amount of old boxed fabric from the 60's
                            > but in great condition. It appears to be silk, wool, cotton
                            > (seersucker), and linen! How do I tell if the wool is really wool
                            and
                            > the silk is really silk? I remember a list posted at one point
                            about
                            > burn tests. I could put the silk in bleach, and if it dissolves it
                            is
                            > all silk, right?

                            All fibre from a protein source yes:)

                            So that's wool, and it you have some brand new fabric it could be
                            woven form soy;) As you are not likely to have a modern man made
                            protein fibre in there then yes, you will have silk or wool or other
                            fibre from an animal f it completely dissolves.

                            Michaela de Bruce
                            Willemyne van Nymegen
                            http://glittersweet.com
                          • Sfandra
                            I used heather gray cotton flannel for my first chemise. I have recently made several gowns out of acetate - because it s the only stuff with the spiffy
                            Message 13 of 21 , Apr 28 5:35 AM
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                              I used heather gray cotton flannel for my first
                              chemise. I have recently made several gowns out of
                              acetate - because it's the only stuff with the spiffy
                              brocade patterns! No-one is going to laugh at you
                              (and anyone who does is a noodge and you should ignore
                              them) for using cotton. You've "made an attempt", and
                              honestly, if you've made your own garb, you should
                              pride yourself on the fact that your attempt is
                              already a step up from half the stick-jocks of the
                              Knowne World :). Remember, if a belted oversized
                              Tee-shirt and sweatpants counts as an attempt (poor
                              man's Viking, we call it) then you're already ahead of
                              the game by researching and sewing your own. Wear
                              that cotton proudly! Besides, as long as the
                              construction is good, that cotton can become
                              fighting-garb or cooking-garb, or
                              unloading/loading-at-pennsic-garb, or sleeping-garb,
                              or running-to-the-porta-castle-at-3AM- garb..... :)
                              Cheers,
                              --Sfandra


                              --- jane doe <redlebaroncoup@...> wrote:

                              > I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago.
                              > I only just joined the SCA and so far I have made
                              > all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore,
                              > rushed things and used cotton thinking it is a
                              > "natural fibre". It is so embarassing, I am
                              > volunteering at an event this weekend and what I am
                              > going to wear everyone is going to be laughing at.
                              > I am such a newb.
                              >
                              > Dina
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >


                              ******************
                              Sfandra Dmitrieva iz Chernigova
                              Kingdom of the East
                              ******************
                              Never 'pearl' your butt.

                              __________________________________________________
                              Do You Yahoo!?
                              Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
                              http://mail.yahoo.com
                            • Ken Nye
                              ... Rayon now... and that process didn t develop ... You re thinking of nylon. Rayon was being developed in the 1880 s and was starting to replace silk (under
                              Message 14 of 21 , Apr 28 6:13 AM
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                                --- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, "Lente" <lente@...> wrote:
                                Rayon now... and that process didn't develop
                                > until I think the second world war.

                                You're thinking of nylon. Rayon was being developed in the 1880's and
                                was starting to replace silk (under the name "ArtSilk") in the early
                                1900's. It was quite common by 1920.

                                K.
                              • Ellen Griffith
                                Dina, My first event is this weekend too, and my tunic, well it s much less than i hoped for. But what the heck, I m going to be laughing with new friends, and
                                Message 15 of 21 , Apr 28 7:25 AM
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                                  Dina,
                                  My first event is this weekend too, and my tunic, well it's much less than i
                                  hoped for. But what the heck, I'm going to be laughing with new friends, and
                                  hopefully find one who can sew better then me! *grin* I'm ssure this weekend
                                  will be wonderful for the both of us, enjoy the magic :)

                                  Ellen


                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Lente
                                  Soo I would definitely be safe using it for my mongol lord s garb, and I have in fact, he s just so hard on cotton that the next batch of undertunics is being
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Apr 28 8:09 AM
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                                    Soo I would definitely be safe using it for my mongol lord's garb, and I
                                    have in fact, he's just so hard on cotton that the next batch of undertunics
                                    is being made out of linen blends. 2 summers ago every coupon I got from
                                    JoAnns went to buying a whole bolt of the linen blend in natural colors, so
                                    I can replace all his undertunics in a big sewing binge--if I can stand to
                                    make that many undertunics at once.

                                    This is what I have made in about the right order of making: I have made 1
                                    set of his undertunics out of rayon (first sets and its what I had in the
                                    stash), 1 set in kona cotton which was wonderful to sew but I can't find it
                                    anymore, 2 sets in muslin cotton this was also done to get the length and
                                    fit perfect, one tunic out of raw silk that lasted until he decided to wear
                                    it for fighting, 2 sundays and I now have it back in the stash to cut down
                                    into undertunics for our kids. 1 set means 4 to 5 tunics or enough for
                                    Estrella War. During all of these versions I have played with how the neck
                                    and front slit were finished, using my DH as the test victim I have some
                                    ideas on what will work best for anybody who rips the slit or neckhole in a
                                    tunic, even figured out a fix for a too big neck opening for a friend. I'll
                                    post those separately though this is probably long enough.

                                    Kathws

                                    Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 9:29 PM

                                    <<cool cotton info clipped>
                                    > Majority of period, no, but it *was* used in Europe during 450 years or
                                    > so of it (or perhaps more), which is a significant chunk. It was used by
                                    > Mongols and Arabs for long before that, so really, it shouldn't be a
                                    > problem. Mind you, if you're playing a late period noble character in
                                    > Europe, cotton would be *so* lower class.
                                    >
                                    > I'm in California, and prefer linen (cooler in the summer). But cotton
                                    > would work.
                                    >
                                    > Roger
                                  • azelana@aol.com
                                    ... SCA ... rushed ... embarrassing, ... everyone ... Dina, Your cotton is fine! Really! I see cotton all over events in my home Kingdom of Trimaris. Why?
                                    Message 17 of 21 , May 1, 2006
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                                      >>From: jane doe <redlebaroncoup@...>

                                      > I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined the
                                      SCA
                                      > and so far I have made all the mistakes, I have jumped in full bore,
                                      rushed
                                      > things and used cotton thinking it is a "natural fibre". It is so
                                      embarrassing,
                                      > I am volunteering at an event this weekend and what I am going to wear
                                      everyone
                                      > is going to be laughing at. I am such a newb.
                                      >
                                      > Dina



                                      Dina,

                                      Your cotton is fine! Really! I see cotton all over events in my home
                                      Kingdom of Trimaris. Why? Because it's a natural fiber that breathes in our
                                      extreme heat. That should serve as an acceptable rebuttal to any snark. But,
                                      for even more arguments on your side, cotton was also used somewhat in
                                      period...

                                      1) Janet Arnold lists "fustian" as the fiber content of several extant
                                      garments from the 16th Century. Fustian is a woven fabric of linen + cotton.

                                      2) Unspun cotton was used as "bombast" to fill things like Elizabethan
                                      men's pumpkin pants, and the shoulder rowles on a lady's gown.

                                      3) Many SCAdians are currently researching its use in cultures influenced
                                      by Egypt, as well. I don't have any of that at my fingertips, but a Google on
                                      "cotton in period" or something similar should turn up some interesting
                                      results. :)


                                      Two more arguments:

                                      A) I would also add that wearing cotton broadcloth today is economically
                                      comparable to wearing linen or wool in period. Before polyester and other
                                      unnatural fibers were invented, all fabric was made of natural fiber. Therefore,
                                      you didn't have to pay extra for "REAL linen". Peasants wore linen and
                                      wool. Some farmers grew their own flax to make the linen; some raised their own
                                      sheep. The cotton gin had not yet been invented, so milling the seeds out of
                                      the cotton plant could be costly. Plus, most cotton was imported from the
                                      American colonies and possibly Egypt, so cotton was harder to come by and thus
                                      probably too rich for peasant wear. Today, the opposite is true. 100%
                                      linen or wool is expensive, and not what an American peasant wears in their
                                      daily life. Cotton broadcloth, however, is cheap.

                                      B) Cotton is less allergenic than linen. I have read on some websites that
                                      "linen is hypoallergenic". NOT TRUE! I've met plenty of people allergic to
                                      it -- including myself. Linen is made from flax and contains flax oil aka
                                      linseed oil. Allergic reactions occur when the cloth becomes wet -- by water
                                      or sweat and the oil spreads out onto the skin. The rash is intensely
                                      painful. Wool is animal hair, so if you are allergic to sheep or goats, then guess
                                      what: You are probably allergic to wool and mohair. You may sneeze your
                                      head off, get hives (like I do!), or even have trouble breathing -- especially
                                      if your wool cloak gets rained upon. I have never met a person allergic to
                                      cotton, though. I won't say they "don't exist", because it's always possible,
                                      but it's uncommon in America for sure. So, if in the SCA we frequently
                                      adjust period recipes for feasts in case of food allergies, why can we not also
                                      adjust our cloth fiber for allergies?


                                      I really need to write an article on handling snarks someday...



                                      Helpfully,
                                      Gillian Tedcastle







                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • Coblaith Mhuimhneach
                                      I posted a link to . ... First let me say I agree that cotton garb IS just fine, though my why
                                      Message 18 of 21 , May 1, 2006
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                                        I posted a link to
                                        <http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/beginners/FirstGarb.html>.

                                        Dina wrote:
                                        > I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joined
                                        > the,SCA and so far I have made all the mistakes, I. . .used cotton
                                        > thinking it is a "natural fibre".

                                        Gillian Tedcastle wrote:
                                        > Your cotton is fine! Really! I see cotton all over events in my home
                                        > Kingdom of Trimaris. Why? Because it's a natural fiber that
                                        > breathes in our extreme heat.. . .cotton was also used somewhat in
                                        > period...

                                        First let me say I agree that cotton garb IS just fine, though my "why"
                                        would be "because the SCA leaves it up to each individual to determine
                                        what's appropriate, based on his or her personal interpretation of its
                                        few rules." Corpora <http://sca.org/docs/govdocs.pdf> states (1) that
                                        SCA events are intended to evoke the atmosphere of the pre-17th century
                                        European Middle Ages and Renaissance and (2) "[a]nyone may attend
                                        Society events provided he or she wears an attempt at pre-17th century
                                        clothing". I, personally, believe that "attempt" means "try your
                                        best", and that if I'm going to be part of something meant to evoke a
                                        historic atmosphere I should do what I can to help evoke it. For both
                                        those reasons, I use the closest thing to period fabrics available to
                                        me, as well as the closest thing to period construction and decoration.
                                        But it IS a choice; you're free to make another one.

                                        Because individuals' ideas about what's "period enough" vary so much, I
                                        believe it's important for newcomers to have access to information
                                        about real medieval clothing that they can use to come to their own
                                        conclusions. Here are a few facts related to the "cotton issue" that I
                                        think are important.

                                        1) If authenticity is something you want to cultivate, the first thing
                                        you need to know is that "period" is, hands down, THE most misused term
                                        in the SCA. What's period for me (my persona "living" in Munster
                                        between 850 and 950 C.E.) and what's period for someone with a
                                        16th-century Venetian persona are COMPLETELY different, and picking
                                        something from my era and something from hers and wearing them together
                                        isn't period for ANYBODY. Silk is well-justified as trim for my
                                        léinte, but it is extremely unlikely that I would ever have seen a
                                        garment made entirely of it, much less that I would own one. So, while
                                        silk is classed as "a period fabric", a silk dress wouldn't be
                                        authentic FOR ME (at least if I was dressed for my primary persona).
                                        The fact that they had them in Venice 600 years later (or even at the
                                        time) doesn't change that.

                                        2) Linen and wool were widely used for all purposes through most of
                                        Europe for most of the SCA millennium, so they're excellent choices for
                                        first (or second) garb as well as likely choices for garb made by
                                        experts. Cotton is period for a very limited selection of purposes, in
                                        limited timeframes (hence Gillian's use of "somewhat" in her statement
                                        above), so if you're trying to be as authentic as possible, you'll
                                        avoid it for most garments. There's a good article on the European
                                        adoption of what we now call cotton from The Costume Dabbler
                                        <http://des.kyhm.com/cotton>. It might help you determine whether it's
                                        period for you, and if so, for which portions of your wardrobe.

                                        3) I can say, from personal experience, that linen is much cooler than
                                        cotton to wear, so heat's not really an argument in cotton's favor
                                        (unless you're comparing it to synthetics, which are further down the
                                        "inauthentic" line, anyway). We don't usually have summer events in my
                                        part of the world--temps run over 110 degrees Fahrenheit pretty
                                        regularly, and we like to keep our fighters out of armor and the sun as
                                        much as possible--but even spring and autumn events can be startlingly
                                        hot here. (We hit 100 degrees a couple of times at the end of April,
                                        this year.) Linen doesn't just "breathe"; it stays cool. I'm sure
                                        there's a scientific explanation for it, though I don't happen to know
                                        what it is.

                                        One final comment: There have been a couple of times when cotton WAS
                                        the closest thing available to me, on short notice (I almost always
                                        have to mail order my linen and wool). You can only do the best that
                                        you can do. So, even if you share my interpretation of the spirit of
                                        the rules and want to make your next set of clothes out of something
                                        else, you should wear your cotton clothes with pride. . .they were the
                                        best that you could do with what you knew when you made them, and doing
                                        your best to respect the spirit of the Society is certainly nothing to
                                        be embarrassed about. Similarly, if you're one of the small fraction
                                        of people who are allergic to all wool and the tiny fraction who are
                                        allergic to flax (poor thing!), or if you have to choose your fabrics
                                        from the bargain rack at your local fabric store because you can't
                                        afford anything else (been there), keep using the cotton broadcloth and
                                        be proud that you have done your personal best. NOBODY has done more.
                                        (I should mention, for those whose main restriction is monetary, that
                                        my brat is made from a lovely burgundy wool "remainder" that I got for
                                        about US$2.00 per yard on e-bay; sometimes, investing a little time and
                                        effort can take the place of investing a lot of money. Even US$6.50
                                        per yard for linen--the average full price at
                                        <http://fabrics-store.com>--isn't bad, as fabric prices go.)

                                        Whatever your eventual personal decision about fabric is, I hope you
                                        enjoy making and wearing your garb, and don't let worry over what
                                        others will think of it detract from your enjoyment of events. Welcome
                                        to the Society!


                                        Coblaith Mhuimhneach
                                        Barony of Bryn Gwlad
                                        Kingdom of Ansteorra
                                        <mailto:Coblaith@...>
                                      • Ciorstan
                                        ... There is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical structure of the staple that the yarn is spun from, and the air pockets/spaces trapped
                                        Message 19 of 21 , May 1, 2006
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                                          Coblaith Mhuimhneach wrote:

                                          > Linen doesn't just "breathe"; it stays cool. I'm sure
                                          > there's a scientific explanation for it, though I don't happen to know
                                          > what it is.

                                          There is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical
                                          structure of the staple that the yarn is spun from, and the air
                                          pockets/spaces trapped within the yarn.

                                          Linen is a plant that produces a long, thin series of cells stuck to
                                          each other on their respective short ends, one on top of the other.
                                          These smooth fibers run up the length of the stalk of the plant. Bast is
                                          what you get when all the un-useful bits are removed from those
                                          cellulose strings-- and that's what's spun into linen yarn. Bast can be
                                          as short as a couple of inches and as long as 12 feet (yeah, that's 12
                                          FEET, as in almost four full meters) in the case of some hemp-produced
                                          bast. Linen is spun by selecting just enough fibers to get the width of
                                          thread you want; its coolness is caused by two physical characteristics:
                                          there is very little trapped air inside the thread, and linen tends to
                                          quickly evaporate any trapped moisture from the wearer's skin. It is
                                          the evaporation that causes the cool effect.

                                          Cotton is produced from the fluff of a flower pod surrounding a set of
                                          very tenaciously-fastened seeds, and up until the invention of the
                                          cotton gin, cotton seeds had to be hand-picked out of the staple at
                                          great cost because of all the labor involved. Cotton staple is usually
                                          around 25mm or 1/4 inch to around an inch/roughly 1cm in length. Because
                                          of its short length, cotton is spun at a very high twist to maintain
                                          cohesiveness. It feels 'fuzzy' to the touch when compared to linen yarn
                                          because of all those little short bits sticking out of the thread.
                                          There's also minute amounts of trapped air inside the thread; long
                                          staple cottons feel cooler to the touch than short, which is a mark of
                                          quality. Cottons absorb moisture, they don't evaporate it like linen.

                                          So there you have it.

                                          And the reason linens get softer and smoother with age and use is
                                          because with laundering and ironing, you end up polishing the surface of
                                          those long slender cells. Throw it in the dryer and spoil the whole
                                          effect-- instead, pull your linen garment out of the washer and HOT iron
                                          it dry with a heavy hand; the steam from the damp fabric will press
                                          right out together with any wrinkles the washer dared to leave.

                                          Linen is the queen of fabrics next to the skin, even better than silk, I
                                          think.

                                          ciorstan
                                        • unclrashid
                                          ... thing ... term ... together ... while ... persona). Well said. You saved me from having to say it, and you probably said it in a way that was more
                                          Message 20 of 21 , May 1, 2006
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                                            --- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, Coblaith Mhuimhneach <Coblaith@...>
                                            wrote:

                                            > 1) If authenticity is something you want to cultivate, the first
                                            thing
                                            > you need to know is that "period" is, hands down, THE most misused
                                            term
                                            > in the SCA. What's period for me (my persona "living" in Munster
                                            > between 850 and 950 C.E.) and what's period for someone with a
                                            > 16th-century Venetian persona are COMPLETELY different, and picking
                                            > something from my era and something from hers and wearing them
                                            together
                                            > isn't period for ANYBODY. Silk is well-justified as trim for my
                                            > léinte, but it is extremely unlikely that I would ever have seen a
                                            > garment made entirely of it, much less that I would own one. So,
                                            while
                                            > silk is classed as "a period fabric", a silk dress wouldn't be
                                            > authentic FOR ME (at least if I was dressed for my primary
                                            persona).


                                            Well said. You saved me from having to say it, and you probably said
                                            it in a way that was more interesting than I would have.

                                            I'd like to add that when it comes to cotton, even putting aside
                                            serious questions of authenticity and where and when did they use it,
                                            I observed something interesting a while ago. I was doing a survey
                                            of early period garb documentation on the web and noticed that there
                                            are lots of living history groups that have sample pictures of garb
                                            (especially tunics)on their websites that look way, way better than
                                            the pics we see from the SCA. After studying this phenomenon
                                            closely, I determined that the ones with the great looking pictures
                                            were the groups that required linen or wool for tunics.

                                            The reason for this is that cotton has a stiffer drape (doesn't hang
                                            in soft folds) than wool or linen. If you make a tunic out of wool
                                            or linen, it will hang on your body like the tunics pictured by
                                            medieval artists. If you make a tunic out of cotton, it will (for
                                            the most part) hang on your body like a starched Victorian pinafore.

                                            It really is quite noticable. Not all cottons do this, but the
                                            majority will. Exceptions might be gauzes and soft twills. Some
                                            other really fine cottons also drape well, like Indian cottons.

                                            Amazingly enough, about the time that most researchers think cotton
                                            was starting to become more common in Europe (somewhere around the
                                            late 1400's) you will find that garb made from cotton looks more like
                                            the pictures than earlier period garb made from cotton does.

                                            Rashid
                                          • Ah'reylia della Cava
                                            ... From: Ciorstan There is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical structure of the staple that the yarn is spun from,
                                            Message 21 of 21 , May 2, 2006
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                                              ----Original Message Follows----
                                              From: Ciorstan <ciorstan@...>

                                              There is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical structure of
                                              the staple that the yarn is spun from, and the air pockets/spaces trapped
                                              within the yarn.
                                              <SNIP>

                                              Wow that was interesting and informative! Thank you so much for sharing. I
                                              love when learning something new everyday is fun.

                                              Ah'reylia

                                              Lady Ah'reylia della Cava (2-11-06)
                                              Chatelaine - Incipient Canton of Westmere (1-6-06)
                                              House of Sable Raven (7-8-05)
                                              The "Bad" Apprentice to Enid D'Auliere (1-6-06)

                                              ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
                                              If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.
                                              What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us. ~ Herman Hesse
                                              ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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