Diary Started 25 Aug, 2010 - Item finished October 2010
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Research and background


Running costs

2,5 m Brown wool, shell 350 kr
3,4 m Dark blue wool, lining (49,95kr/m) 170 kr
Black silk sewing thread ca 1 reel 25 kr
One ball of yarn for making trim 43 kr
2 reels brown silk buttonhole thread 36 kr
3 balls of green yarn for making trim 96 kr

Total: 720 kr
25 August, 2010: A hood experiment - The real reason I decided to start this particular project was the wierd little hood that goes along with this garment. The official reason is that I need something I can put on in the morning for bathroom runs, and what better item of clothing than one actually called a morning gown, or to put it in Alcega's terms "Ropa Turca para levantar" (Turkish morning gown). The pattern I am using as the basis of this project is the one on page f.45a of Juan de Alcega: Tailor's Pattern Book. There are some other morning gowns on the surrounding pages, but only the Turkish variant has the hood I am after.
There is also another manuscript from around 1580, by Diego de Freyle (digitised by Tammie Dupuis of the Renaissance Tailor website), which shows, on page 43 a very similar cutting diagram of a gown, also titled "Ropa Turca de levantar".

The materials for this project are all going to come from my stash. The brown, overcut wool I chose as the shell is a gorgeous bit of cloth I've had in my stash for a couple of years. It was a remnant piece, gotten at Visby for less than half its original value. The colour does not show up very well in most of the pictures, but it is a lovely warm brown.
At first I did not think about lining, but I decided that I didn't want to grimy up the inside of this lovely wool, so I got out some of the very light weight twill-weave wool that I got on the way home from Double Wars a few years back. It is a dark blue colour, and is the same fabric used to line the Principality of Nordmark's Coronation Copes (a project I worked on with my Laurel).
I am considering decorating the outside with braids of black, or possibly red. I purchased one ball of black cotton/viscose yarn which looks and feels much like silk, and has a bit of bulk which I will attempt to make braids out of to applique on the gown. I need to find some good references to how such a gown would be decorated before I can decide, though.

Finally a note on Alcega's unit of measurement. He uses the base measurement of 1 bara, or b for short, in metric that is 84 cm. From this unit, he gets many sub-divisions: m=1/2 b= 42cm, t=1/3 b= 28 cm, Q=1/4 b= 21cm, s=1/6 b= 14 cm, o=1/8 b= 11 cm, d=1/12 b= 7 cm, and i=1/48 b= 1,75 cm. In particular the measurement i is fantastic, as it is pretty much a thumb's breadth, or a standard seam allowance.

Layout and Cutting

Pattern and layoutSince I had a limited amount of fabric to work with, only two and a half metres, I had to be very careful with the cutting layout. I had to be a little more conservative than Alcega. The body panels ended up 1,25 m long each, which will go to mid-calf on me. The notes on the pattern make the length of the body panels btt, which is 84 + 56 cm for a total of 140 cm. Meaning I am not too far off, but I am taller than the average Spanish lady of the period. I also had to narrow the sleeves a little bit, as they came out of the strip Alcega suggests you cut off first along one selvedge. The pattern notes suggests 56, but I could only manage 40 cm. The length of the sleeves is 100 cm, which is delightful, but again not quite as fulsome as the pattern suggests (bt or 112 cm).

All of these changes were due to the fabric width. The period width of woolen cloth was wider (bb, equivalent of 168 cm) than mine at 152 cm, and I could not make up the difference by using a longer cut of fabric, since I only had 2,5 metres to start with. That should dispel any sort of myth about period loom widths, or was perhaps the good tailor writing science-fiction, providing cutting diagrams for fabric widths not even invented yet?

The Hood

Hood patternedOne additional change I made to the pattern was in the hood. I had to choose to either leave it the size suggested, as shown in the picture to the right, and have it be too small to go over my head, or enlarge it somewhat, and have it be useable. I chose the latter, adding about 8 cm of height. The change I made was to extend the hood to use up the entire height of the fabric.

The hood made up
Hood finished, splayed
In the image to the right the fabric continues a bit at the bottom, I used all of that fabric, and the triangular piece along the front opening was turned around and used to make sure that the entire front edge of the hood had the same angle. The finished hood here on the top left shows how that worked out. The bottom left photo shows how the hood will presumably hang on the back of the gown, (the neckline at the bottom) and shows the piecing at the tip. It is also the best representation of the colour of the shell fabric I have managed to capture.
Please note that there is a seam at the centre in the lining, but not in the shell, this was not planned, but due to the lining fabric being slightly narrower in width than the shell fabric.

All of the pattern pieces have been stitched together by hand, using black silk sewing thread, and all seam allowances folded out to either side and top stitched from the right side, save for the piecing in the hood, where I folded the seam allowances together to one side, graded the inner one and topstitched it all down. The hood and its lining was stitched right sides together around the front opening, turned and then topstitched all around - I think this gives the edge a lovely crisp finish.

Now I just need to finish the body of the garment and assemble the hood and we will see how it all works together.

Braiding and Finish

Finished, from behindThe assembly of this coat is rather straight forward. The armscyes are rather larger than they need to be, in order that I should be able to wear anything I want underneath it. So setting in the open sleeves was never a problem. I simply lined them up at the shoulder seam and attached them flat between the shell and lining. As I attached the lining at the neckline I sandwiched the hood in the same manner, hemming the lining to the inside carefully, and attaching the shoulder seams together. The lining was then hemmed down the front and around the bottom separately from the shell. I did attach the front edges together with invisible hem-stitch, leaving the lower edge of lining and shell non-attached.

Finished, showing sleeve braidsBefore I did that, however, I had bought three balls of yarn with which to make fingerloop braids to decorate the coat. I did not know exactly how much would be needed, but since the yarn was fairly cheap I used up all I had, using a five-strand flat braid. The key to consistent braids is consistent tension, and at the end of all of that braiding I had gotten quite good at it, so that I could use the entire lengths, rather than having to discard the first few inches.

For the sleeves I first laid the braid as an outline, dividing the sleeve as if it were made in two panes. Since the sleeve-pattern is very simple the top of it shaped as a point I laid the braid as upward points as well, with a loop at the apex of every point. The two panes I further divided with another up-arrow and then I called it good. The coat itself also got an outline, basically following the front edge, around the hem and also around the opening of the hood. There is also quite a bit of left-over braid for further decoration, but that is awaiting further inspiration, or a dull Sunday afternoon.

For closures I chose to stitch in three large coat hooks and eyes at the top of the front opening. It does not need to be closeable the entire length, and should I need it to I have only to cinch it at the waist with a belt. After its first outing at Frostheim's yearly Northern Lights event I found that the combination shirt, petticoat skirt and Turkish morning coat was exactly the level of comfort needed for an at event breakfast and I still looked positively respectable without any effort whatsoever.

Finished, in sunlight

Photo Gallery


For images I may not have linked in the diary, close-ups and overviews et cetera please have a look at the photo gallery.

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