Sewing thread question -15th Century

Making, Pictures, Queries, Resources

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
rowana
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Derby

Sewing thread question -15th Century

Postby rowana » Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:29 pm

I am looking to start sewing late 15th century clothing.

I *think* I am right in saying linen thread is used for sewing?

I wanted to ask, do you use linen thread or just normal cotton? Do you save linen thread just 'for the field'?

If linen thread is usually used- where can you get thin linen thread? The stuff my local shop has is upholstery thread and quite thick.

Or have I got it all wrong? please advise me before I start sewing- I also plan to sew bits and bobs 'in the filed' so don't want to be using inccorect thread.

Thank you!



User avatar
Dave B
Post Knight
Posts: 1737
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:34 pm
Location: Cheshire
Contact:

Postby Dave B » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:06 pm

For some things, I've just taken a spare long narrow strip of the linen cloth, say the full width of the fabric by 4cm and once you get the knack you can strip it into sewing lenghts of thread.

Then you get lovely invisible hand sewing because the thread is exactly the right colour and weight, and it's surprisingly strong thread from linen cloth.

Cant swear it's authentic, but it looks right.


Find time in every day to look at your life and say; 'Well, it could be worse'

Kurt's uncle Bob.

User avatar
chrisanson
Post Centurion
Posts: 704
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 10:23 pm
Location: Dudley
Contact:

Postby chrisanson » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:15 pm

have you tryed ebay?



User avatar
rowana
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Derby

Postby rowana » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:16 pm

as in just tease the material and pull threads off? Interesting idea thank you!

I did look at ebay but is hard to tell how thick the tread is.



User avatar
JC Milwr
Posts: 325
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:00 pm
Location: Not so far from Berkeleleley
Contact:

Postby JC Milwr » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:58 pm

I was told recently that you use the same material as the cloth you are sewing, so linen for linen, wool for wool, silk for silk.

At the moment I cheat and use ordinary polyester cotton at home, and linen when on show!


Dance like nobody's watching, love like you've never been hurt.

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Postby gregory23b » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:59 pm

Either check out teh Museum of London's textile book or contact them or the V and A, they will have in depth information about the types of medieval sewing thread, not just linen either, silk and possibly hemp and nettle too.

11th century information

http://www.forest.gen.nz/Medieval/artic ... VIBORG.HTM

"...The sewing thread employed is either single-ply Z-spun linen thread or two-ply Z-spun S-plied linen thread. "


middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
lucy the tudor
Post Knight
Posts: 1984
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2007 11:57 am
Location: Lancashire
Contact:

Postby lucy the tudor » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:50 pm

Hobbycraft now have the full Gutterman stand in our branch- includes pure linen fine thread in basic colours, and similar in pure silk.
Not totally authentic, but another step along the way.


lucythetudor@gmail.com

a filthy, arse-grabbing strumpet, masquerading as a demure two-door lady.

User avatar
rowana
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Derby

Postby rowana » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:56 pm

thank you everyone...going to look at hobbycraft online...



User avatar
Grymm
Post Centurion
Posts: 594
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2005 9:18 pm
Location: The Chilterns

Postby Grymm » Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:38 pm

Gutterman linen is better'n nothing but it I've found, and this may just be my sewing style, that in long runs of hand sewing, especially whipping, it has the tendancy to unwrap or wear at the eye end even when well waxed. It also suffers from varying thickness with the odd knotty lump in it.


Mem Sahib suggests this place
http://www.handweavers.co.uk/index.html
http://www.handweavers.co.uk/shop/linen_warp_belting.pdf
And theres natural linen and dyed linen/cotton mix here
http://www.fibrecrafts.com/Products.asp?Level1=5&Level2=1&Level3=72&PID=0&Action=
http://www.fibrecrafts.com/Products.asp?Level1=5&Level2=1&Level3=258&PID=0&Action=
Last edited by Grymm on Wed Sep 09, 2009 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Futuaris nisi irrisus ridebis.

User avatar
Sophia
Post Centurion
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:46 pm
Location: Camberwell, London
Contact:

Postby Sophia » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:12 pm

For linen thread suppliers - can I refer you to an earlier thread http://livinghistory.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5176&highlight=linen+thread.

To minimise the ravelling and ware on natural fibres I suggest lightly waxing the thread, using the right type of needle and remembering that it is a false economy to use a longer thread.

I have been doing a bit of research and I am pretty sure that the most common threads for sewing were unbleached linen and undyed worsted wool though I think that linen was the more common of the two. If you had money you would have invested in sewing silks or dyed wools for at least where it showed. I have not yet found any references to dyed linen threads for this C15th and C16th but that doesn't mean they were definitely not used.

Soph :D


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

User avatar
Calendula
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 7:23 pm

Postby Calendula » Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:13 am

Texere is also good for various linen and woolen threads (their Galway is quite fine):
http://www.texere-yarns.co.uk/texeresho ... pools.html
Last edited by Calendula on Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.



User avatar
Tuppence
Post Knight
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:20 pm
Location: chaos-world, west yorks
Contact:

Postby Tuppence » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:29 pm

when I use linen I use gutermann's, or thicker barbour's or stancraft stuff, depending on the job. or mulberry dyer's, though take their advice on it as not all is strong enough for sewing.


I don't recommend using unravelled threads from fabric - many fabrics will have threads that aren't as heavily spun, and which will not be as strong as sewing thread. Some will be ok, but you may not find out what isn't till the thread snaps.


"What a lovely hat! But may I make one teensy suggestion? If it blows off, don't chase it."
Miss Piggy
RIP Edward the avatar cat.

Donald_McQuag
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: NewcastleuponTyne

Postby Donald_McQuag » Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:53 pm

Le prevo do some linen thread.


Cabbots Company (Recruit)

User avatar
rowana
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Derby

Postby rowana » Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:07 pm

thank you for all your advice :) I have ordered some from Texere Yarn.

On a question of needles, am I right in assuming brass needles are okay?

thanks in advance!



User avatar
Sophia
Post Centurion
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:46 pm
Location: Camberwell, London
Contact:

Postby Sophia » Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:22 pm

For practicality at home I suggest you use modern steel needles. Steel needles were available at period - IIRC mainly imported from what is now Southern Germany in the early part of the period.

Copper Alloy/Brass will tend to bend as it warms and require a significantly different technique.

IIRC the following people sell good period needles that do not bend instantly.

Peter Crossman at TORM - Iron and Copper Alloy, also sells pins

Quartermasterie at TORM - Copper Alloy, also sells pins

There are other traders but I have not road tested their needles.

If you have serious cash to spend I have had hand made Japanese steel needles (http://www.leonconraddesigns.freeserve.co.uk/needles.htm) recommended as the nearest thing to period steel needles but have not tried them yet due to cost. To expensive to risk losing in the grass.

When you are making clothes at home you can use modern needles. The following are my recommendations.

Seams and hems on outer garments

Lightweight: No.5 betweens, No.9 crewel
Medium to heavy weight: No.3 betweens.

Body linens

Fine: No.5 betweens, No.9 crewel
Coarse: No.3 betweens

Whipping panels together

Large heavy duty darning or mending needles.

When it comes to choosing threads I normally choose a thread which is about the same thickness as the warp and weft threads of the cloth I am using unless the seam is under a great deal of stress when I might use a heavier thread.

When sewing in public there is not so much choice in needle size so you have to make do.

Soph :D

P.S. I do occasionally cheat and use modern needles which had become a little bent and quite a lot blackened with use. :D
[/url]


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Postby gregory23b » Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:14 pm

If you get them from the quartermasterie, they are likely to be Robin Mitchener's, superb brass pins and needles, as good as the originals.

I would add to Sophia and say yes get steel ones but do get some brass ones, then see the difference and also have the variety in the set. I find brass ones easier to grip, for some reason my sweat keys in the surface.


middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
rowana
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Derby

Postby rowana » Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:29 pm

well I am going to TORM so I will hunt the stall down :) thanks again for links and information :)



User avatar
Pelican
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:35 pm
Location: East Sussex

Postby Pelican » Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:45 pm

I get my brass needles from sweetness and light (whose website address has currently escaped me), lovely people. It's amazing how long people will be interested in watching you sew with a brass needle for...

I've recently been told that it seems that it was a group of monks who invented steel needles, they kept the method/technique of how to make them in a close knit circle that didn't got into the 'public' domain for centuries, thus making them expensive. Can anyone shed any light on that idea?



User avatar
Sophia
Post Centurion
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:46 pm
Location: Camberwell, London
Contact:

Postby Sophia » Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:59 pm

Never come across that one before - my understanding was that the development of steel needles was linked to the development of steel wire drawing.

I have just had a quick trawl through petty customs accounts (1480's) and needles are being imported but it does not specify what they are made of. Import units specified are dozens, thousands and clouts.

Sophia :D


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

User avatar
Tuppence
Post Knight
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:20 pm
Location: chaos-world, west yorks
Contact:

Postby Tuppence » Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:19 pm

offhand, steel needles were a later thing than copper, and were more costly, but I forget where I read it - a book, definitely, but that's not much help :lol:


iron needles are also about, and historically correct, but very hard to get nowadays.


whatever material you go for, try to make sure that you get needles that aren't too thick (it can be impossible to pull them through all but the softest fabrics if they're too thick), and make sure you get ones that have as few burrs as possible - the more irregular the surface, the more 'damage*) the needle will cause to the fabric, and the quicker the sweat and oils from your fingers will make it degrade.




but yes, at home use whatever modern needles you like.

Sophia's list is good, although I tend to use slightly larger needles to avoid my hands crampoing up (but then I do sew constantly).

Remember to match modern needle size to your fabric though.




*all needles damage the fibres of the fabric to an extent, even modern ones.


"What a lovely hat! But may I make one teensy suggestion? If it blows off, don't chase it."

Miss Piggy

RIP Edward the avatar cat.

User avatar
Sophia
Post Centurion
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:46 pm
Location: Camberwell, London
Contact:

Postby Sophia » Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:31 pm

Tuppence,

I think it is a technique thing with betweens. I was taught to sew by my grandmother who was a professional tailor, before she married in 1940, managing a large workshop. When sewing by hand she rarely used anything other than various sizes of between for seaming and was scarily fast (this coming from someone who can easily finish a shirt or shift by hand in a day). They do require efficient use of a thimble or very calloused fingertips though. (Since the thimble she gave me as a girl wore out - it looks like steel lace - I have not been able to find a thimble which I truly comfortable with).

On the keeping the needle smooth front - Peter Crossman did at one point sell little linen bags of fine carborundum. They are probably something any one could make at home.

Sophia :D


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

User avatar
JC Milwr
Posts: 325
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:00 pm
Location: Not so far from Berkeleleley
Contact:

Postby JC Milwr » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:31 am

According to the needle maker I spoke to at Berkeley, both steel and brass are fine for 15th century, but the reasons brass needles were more common isn't quite what I thought, it's because steel needles rust!

The brass ones may start soft, but they harden the more you use them. Also brass is a must for fine cloth, especially silk (according to him they are still used for silk today).

I find brass is good but with a new needle you have to change your technique slightly, and push through the cloth with your fingers near the tip, not at the eye end as we tend to do with steel.


Dance like nobody's watching, love like you've never been hurt.

User avatar
Tuppence
Post Knight
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:20 pm
Location: chaos-world, west yorks
Contact:

Postby Tuppence » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:16 pm

I think it is a technique thing with betweens. I was taught to sew by my grandmother who was a professional tailor, before she married in 1940, managing a large workshop. When sewing by hand she rarely used anything other than various sizes of between for seaming and was scarily fast (this coming from someone who can easily finish a shirt or shift by hand in a day). They do require efficient use of a thimble or very calloused fingertips though. (Since the thimble she gave me as a girl wore out - it looks like steel lace - I have not been able to find a thimble which I truly comfortable with).



It actually has more to do with the type of fabric you're using. All needles, whatever their type, have to be matched to the fabric you're using, or it just won't be efficient.

Usually a between will be the strongest and the fastest, but it's a mistake born of modern (post 1900) fabrics and non specialist sewing (i.e. regular dressmaking and tailoring) to assume that they can be used for everything.

I was also taught to sew by a trained tailoress, who trained in the 30s, remember. And who taught me to sew using betweens.

And I do have calloused fingertips.

However, the fact is that many of the fabrics I'm using are too dense for small betweens, and after 26 - 30 hours of non stop stitching with them, they cause agony to the hands.


Also, betweens not long enough to sew padding.


"What a lovely hat! But may I make one teensy suggestion? If it blows off, don't chase it."

Miss Piggy

RIP Edward the avatar cat.

User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:02 pm

I tend to buy brass needles from Sweetness and Light for leatherwork. They're not too thick (though they come in different lengths and widths) and I can bend them to sew curved holes. If they do bend while going through the leather, I can just bend them back.

I've just gone to their web-addres http://www.candlemaker.org.uk/, but get a place-holder page. I don't know if anything's gone wrong there?


Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

User avatar
Sophia
Post Centurion
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:46 pm
Location: Camberwell, London
Contact:

Postby Sophia » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:08 pm

Tuppence wrote:
I think it is a technique thing with betweens. I was taught to sew by my grandmother who was a professional tailor, before she married in 1940, managing a large workshop. When sewing by hand she rarely used anything other than various sizes of between for seaming and was scarily fast (this coming from someone who can easily finish a shirt or shift by hand in a day). They do require efficient use of a thimble or very calloused fingertips though. (Since the thimble she gave me as a girl wore out - it looks like steel lace - I have not been able to find a thimble which I truly comfortable with).



It actually has more to do with the type of fabric you're using. All needles, whatever their type, have to be matched to the fabric you're using, or it just won't be efficient.

Usually a between will be the strongest and the fastest, but it's a mistake born of modern (post 1900) fabrics and non specialist sewing (i.e. regular dressmaking and tailoring) to assume that they can be used for everything.

I was also taught to sew by a trained tailoress, who trained in the 30s, remember. And who taught me to sew using betweens.

And I do have calloused fingertips.

However, the fact is that many of the fabrics I'm using are too dense for small betweens, and after 26 - 30 hours of non stop stitching with them, they cause agony to the hands.


Also, betweens not long enough to sew padding.


Debs'

Sorry forgot about the padded armour as it is not something I make at all (his nibs is on a learn to make your own or pay for it diet if he should ever need it).

On the whole for normal garments I have never had trouble with betweens but as I have arthritis in my hands already I tend not to sew for more than about 4 hours at a stretch and then give myself an hour off. However I am not making a living making clothing so there is not the same pressure.

I think in the end it is probably a matter of personal preference on the needle type though I firmly agree with you on matching it to the weight of the fabric - this is based on the same reasoning as matching the weight of the thread, i.e. minimal damage to cloth in sewing process.

Soph :D


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

User avatar
Tuppence
Post Knight
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:20 pm
Location: chaos-world, west yorks
Contact:

Postby Tuppence » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:47 pm

that's a good point about the thread, that I completely forgot about.

you have to match needles to the thread you're using as well as the fabric.

the most obvious example is that firmer, rounder threads, like linen, cotton sewing threads, many modern fibre sewing threads, have to be sewn using a needle with a round eye (betweens and sharps being the classics).
softer, fluffier threads, like embroidery ones, or woollen threads, need a longer eye to help grip the thread (i.e. an embroidery or darning type needle).

somebody once told me when I was sewing using a fluffy thread (hemming with embroidery thread actually), that the long eyed needle I was using would bend because the stitches were wrong for that kind of needle... :roll:


also, too small a needle and too thick a thread, and the needle won't make a big enough hole for the thread to pass through easily - the other way round, and the thread will just slip out of the eye...


"What a lovely hat! But may I make one teensy suggestion? If it blows off, don't chase it."

Miss Piggy

RIP Edward the avatar cat.

User avatar
Tuppence
Post Knight
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:20 pm
Location: chaos-world, west yorks
Contact:

Postby Tuppence » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:49 pm

oh and martin (to be seen on the stall at the markets and at tewkes) says I'm a freak because I sometimes have no finger prints on the tips of my fingers, especially the middle finger of my right hand, which I use for pushing needles :twisted:


"What a lovely hat! But may I make one teensy suggestion? If it blows off, don't chase it."

Miss Piggy

RIP Edward the avatar cat.

User avatar
Sophia
Post Centurion
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:46 pm
Location: Camberwell, London
Contact:

Postby Sophia » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:21 pm

No you are not a freak - I develop exactly the same condition when I do a lot of sewing.

Soph :D :P


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

User avatar
Tuppence
Post Knight
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:20 pm
Location: chaos-world, west yorks
Contact:

Postby Tuppence » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:56 pm

I explained it to him and he didn't get it, so I showed him, and he recoiled in horror :D


"What a lovely hat! But may I make one teensy suggestion? If it blows off, don't chase it."

Miss Piggy

RIP Edward the avatar cat.

User avatar
Tuppence
Post Knight
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:20 pm
Location: chaos-world, west yorks
Contact:

Postby Tuppence » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:00 pm

I felt my work was done :lol:


"What a lovely hat! But may I make one teensy suggestion? If it blows off, don't chase it."

Miss Piggy

RIP Edward the avatar cat.


Return to “Costumes”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests