Oops. I have been meaning to make this tunic for Jeroen the bronze-casting rocket scientist since last year's Swordfest. Which explains, of course, why I've finally started it with less than a week to go. This is in exchange for the fabulous finishing and scabbard he did for my rapier last year.
He gave me the woollen fabric last year - a large chunk of a herringbone twill which I've dyed green (a grey green, but greener than these photos show) and a small piece of a diamond-twill pattern, which I've dyed orangey-red to look like madder.
I started cutting out and sewing this morning, having worked out shapes and sizes yesterday.
There are no shoulder seams. Simple oval and slit for the neck.
Mark has been out all day - shopping and then out at his local in Bradford - so I'd been able to get on and sew all day. As he was in a good mood when he got back, I made him try it on and stand up against a local white wall to model it.
I'm really pleased with the shape and outline of this tunic.
Detail of the gore let into both side seams to give fullness at the hips and lower.
And the underarm gusset. I can't be the only person with a man who finds the mention of 'gussets' hysterically funny. It doesn't seem to matter what context, gusses are intrinsically amusing.
And another overall shot, with arms down. The neck looks uneven - I need to put a tuck in the bottom of the slit and a couple of ties, which I shall inkle weave tomorrow morning.
It may be a trifle large for Jeroen, but better too big than too small. And he is intending to wear it for his early medieaval persona, plus do iron-smithing in it, so better is probably bigger. I've made sure the wrists are wide enough to allow for rolling up.
This is entirely hand-sewn, and my left middle finger is feeling it - this is the one I have underneath the work that bounces the needle back up, and although I've tried all sorts of thimbles I then can't feel the needle so it doesn't work. I use a steel needle on my right middle finger to push the needle through.
I did actually want to sew this with linen thread, which would have been more authentic than the brown cotton thread I ended up using. But the linen was too strong for this fabric, which would have meant any stress points would tear through the fabric and not through the seam. Fabric tears are much harder to repair. The brown thread is not terribly apparent.
Had the fabric been woven from worsted yarn and not woollen, I could perhaps have unravelled long threads from torn edges and used those. But this is woollen spun yarn, and too weak and fluffy to be used like this. But it wouldn't have fulled so well if it was worsted.
Hand-sewing, although labour intensive,doesn't have to take as long as people think it must be.
Each seam is sewn with running stitch and then the seams are all flat-felled. The cuffs and neck opening are all bound with straight cut (not bias) strips. Single hem on the bottom. I machine washed all the fabrics before dyeing so they fulled beautifully and don't really fray at all now.
I feel the need to knit now. I have lots on the go, but perhaps I shall start something else. Why not be overwhelmed if I feel like it. I have a large glass of red wine, Mark's doing steak and chips and salad for tea, and at least England isn't playing and losing another one day international!
Open Studios Weekend
3 days ago