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12th - 13th century sewing/stitches (or anything period)

Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:03 am
by Duvan
What are the basic types of stitches used in Western Europe or Scandinavia during about that period? I'm hand sewing of course.

Pictures would be nice too... I've tried to search on google, but I haven't been able to find anything better than beginner articles to tunics and the likes, that don't really say much about sewing, or how the hems should look to be historical correct.


Re: 12th - 13th century sewing/stitches (or anything period)

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:04 am
by Karen Larsdatter

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:48 pm
by Attilla the Bun
The link "Anglo-Saxon and Viking Works of the Needle: Some Artistic Currents in Cross-Cultural Exchange" s one of Carolyn Priest-Dorman's pages, and she is very reliable. Her entire website, "Textile Resources for the Re-enacter" is an invaluable resource - her bibliographies are amazing!

I once asked her if she'd read them all, and she said she had; the ones in Scandinavian languages she gets through by combining her knowledge of German with use of dictionaries in each language :shock:
Now that's dedication!

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:40 pm
by Dave B
Attilla the Bun wrote: Now that's dedication!
No, that's mental. I don't mean this in a derogitory way but to read a whole book in a forign language by useing dictionaries is just deranged.

It's a good job there are all these nutters doing all the hard work so us lesser mortals can nick thier conclusions

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:28 pm
by Attilla the Bun
I think she had a lot of time on her hands!

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 3:11 am
by BrendanGrif
I have found the following site really good:
Having read it *after* lots and lots of hand stitching, I realised what I should have been doing - and it was easier.

There is a useful categorisation by time period and references.


Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
by Colin Middleton
The Medieval Tailor's Assistant has a good section at the beginning on the correct stitches to use. The good news it that they are all straightforward to do with at little practice.

Good luck

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:00 pm
by Duvan
Thanks for the links guys!

Really appreciated, just what I wanted.

But I'm a bit confused about some of the pictures: ... l#WSFelled

A couple of the folds are identical on both sides as it seems, but for the other ones, like the butted one for example... should the actual fold be visible when you wear it (to be historically correct)? Probably not (at least on modern clothes that's not how we do it). But that means, in the side view pictures, the outside side is the one below (the one pointing down in the picture). Correct?

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:42 pm
by BrendanGrif
My reading of these diagrams is that the darker side (in the image) represents the side of the cloth that will be on the inside once the garment is made.

Most of the options pictured would result in hidden "folds".

I dont know whether the "folds" were ever visible or whether they were always concealed. I have to admit that after 30 or 40 hours of hand sewing I always feel badly done by that the non-visible seams are, well, non visible.


Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:57 pm
by Duvan
Thanks. Glad to see somebody actually understood what I meant. :)

Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:00 pm
by Colin Middleton
Forget modern clothes!

As I understand it, many of the seams are worked on the 'right side' of the cloth, i.e. they will be visible, so you'd better do a good job on them. I've resently been taught to do a propper felling stitch and even though it passes through the 'right side', it is not visible because it is so small. You'll probably find that this is the case with many of the visible stitches, many, tiny stiches on the outside in the same colour as the fabric, so you can barely see them. Certainly that's how you hem linnens.

Good luck

Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:34 pm
by Duvan
Mm. But are you talking about hems that are on the outside of the clothes... not only the fact that when you sew, some stitches are going to appear on the outside?

Well, but if so, how do you know from that website, which were used on the outside and inside?

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:04 pm
by frances
Goodness me!! I had no idea that seams were sewn in these ways - what a good resource. Certainly doing two or three rows of sewing down each seam would be very strong. But to have the raw edge on the right side of the fabric goes against everything that one has done all ones life. Yet another automatic activity to cast aside.

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:18 pm
by Duvan
I'm still all confused here after Colin's post.

Does he really mean the cloth is folded on the outside, making it look like an edge on many of those seams...
And which ones are, which ones aren't on the inside or outside?
I would think, a linen cloth that was folded on the right side, or connected in a simple butted way would be the worst thing you can do if you want the cloth to start fraying and the seam to wear out. It would mean everything was exposed.

Should be easy to say for people that are into it, yet nobody is posting :)

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:41 am
by Tuppence
If I'm reading it right, and it doesn't actually say, (I don't think - only skim read), the lighter shading in the diagrams shows the right side ot the fabric, and the darker shading the wrong side.

so in the first picture below the right side is facing down, and in the second, it's facing up.

For some of the seams you would have the edge of the fabric on the outside - forget your modern preconceptions about clothing, as Colin says - modern clothing is made differently as the techniques used are based around the sewing machine.

For a linen seam you should use a flat felled seam that's triple stitched, and has all the raw edges enclosed.

Likewise for silk.

The ones with the exposed, but hemstitched seams, would be for woollens and similar.

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:44 am
by Tuppence
And hemstitch done well is practically invisible on all but the finest of fabrics.

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:21 pm
by lidimy
For a linen seam you should use a flat felled seam that's triple stitched, and has all the raw edges enclosed.
Tuppence, what's 'triple stitching'?

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:36 pm
by Tuppence
like this one where the seam is stitched three times.

though the picture above where it's stitched twice would do just as well, come to think of it..

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:13 pm
by Colin Middleton
Sorry Duvan, I've been away for a week.

As I understand it, most hems are on the inside, though you may have fabrics that don't need a hem (either they have a self edge or are so heavily fulled that they won't fray). For these, you can just do a tiny overstitch to hold them in place. You can also fasten the hemmed edges togeather, again with an overstitch, or with a 'hidden' stitch (what I would call an edge-edge stitch in leatherworking). It depends a lot on the fabric that you're using.

In short listen to Tuppence.