Out Of interest... Thread Counts

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CeDeBe
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Out Of interest... Thread Counts

Post by CeDeBe »

While reading many of the posts, I find reference to the term 'thread counts' often accompanied by the 'A' word.

Is this a level that all, most, or some people, try to attain?

Is anyone able to provide links, reference or resource titles, so I can find out more about appropriate thread counts for late 14th/early 15th century please?

Thank you 8)

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gregory23b
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Post by gregory23b »

Thread counter is often used as a derogatory term to those who might be wanting to push their knowledge further, often linked with
authenti-crat, authenti-nazi, anal retentive, picky, fussy, yogurt knitter.

:roll:

I am sure textile bods use it more constructively, I hope so.
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Annie the Pedlar
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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

There were 101 threads wrapped round the roller brushy things on my hoover when it blew up. Does that count?

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Post by Tuppence »

Although in terms of research it is quite important (it changed over the years, it's useful in archeological finds as n indication of all sorts of things (bearing n mind fuinds are usuall fragments).

But in re-enactment, it's not really that important, unless you want to do an exact reproduction of something, and are having the fabric woven specially.

I have had people ask me about thread counts, and to be honest my reply is always 'I'll let you know when I've looked it up', cos I have too much other info to keep in my head (like when were metal grommets patented, when was the sewing machine first used, what did dresses in 1863 look ike, etc, etc... :lol: ).

And I use the term yoghurt weaver slightly differently - not about those who want to gain further knowledge (which I'm all for), but for those who think they already have, but haven't, of which there are many... :roll:
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gregory23b
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Post by gregory23b »

Ah I use it in its original sense, eyes down and becoming involved with the minutae of non-military crafts.

Groudnhog day looms.

;-)
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Thread Count

Post by Neibelungen »

I's agree with Tuppence and others, that there's a degree of over the top authenticrat involved with the whole concept of thread counters.. afterall, there's only so far you can go on anything before it becomes hugely expensive and unfeasable to attain that level of accuracy.

On the othjer side of the coin though, it does pay to look closely at the quality of stitching and fabric employed. You simply cannot get the same quality of fabrics today that were made even as close as 20 years ago. There's no linens as fine as those woven in the later 18th C. A conversation with Hainsworth will tell you they would be hard pushed to reproduce some of their fabrics from even ten years ago without enormous expense. Everything is possible at a price !!

In terms of costume making, even up to the early half of this century, the quality of hand-stitching is phenomenal. Literaly catching every other thread down in a stab stitch... Then you look at the inside of the garment and it's wacked in, pieced together, patched and bodged in a way you woudn't think they could get away with. Idealy a raw edge would be prick stitched every 16th of an inch or more, but rarely will a costume-maker have the time to work to this level (though a good 90% of them could).

In terms of leatherwork, most people tend to work at about 6 or 7 to the inch, though rarely will you see much original work below 9 or 10, with 12 not uncommon. That said, a French cartidge box and even a few officers shako's have only about 4.

Historically, labour was always the cheapest part of making any item, and it was the materials that were the most expensive part. Today the reverse is the case, and hence few people, apart from those making for themselves for the fun of it, can afford to pay for that cost. If you think about your material being 10 or 20 times it's cost, then the effort you would spend in making something with something that expensive, would be that much more significant an effort and reflect perhaps what should be strived for.

I can't say too much about medieval cloths, but in more modern fabric, the significant change comes with the move from hand loom to machine looms cloth. The higher speeds and multiple machine minding, forced the weaving to use more robust thread sizes.. less snapped shuttles meant more cloth. So fabric weaves decreased, not only in thread count, but the diameter of the thread, especialy in the cheaper more mass produced fabrics.

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Post by Tuppence »

You simply cannot get the same quality of fabrics today that were made even as close as 20 years ago.
Beg to differ - it's actually quite easy once you know where to look for 'em.

Agree though that whether most people are willing to pay for them is another matter entirely... :D
Idealy a raw edge would be prick stitched every 16th of an inch or more, but rarely will a costume-maker have the time to work to this level (though a good 90% of them could).
I'd say less than that (skills not really taught any more to that level - thank the lord for a 30s trained Nana :lol: ), but again, it comes down to whether someon is willing to pay for it. It's rare...

And since most re-enactments are "correct to within 'x' feet", you do have to question the point of doing so (except to prove to yourself you can (or just for practise)).

Look at some medieval embroideries, and you'll see stitches that are approx 2 - 3mm long (freehand, not counted work). Which explains why it took so long to train.
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Post by CeDeBe »

Thanks for your responses! I feel sufficiently armed to defend myself from rampaging athenticrats!

Could I safely assume that when purchasing fabric in the future, I should be looking for "modern" fine weaving to approximate "pre modern" medium weaving? (if that makes sense?) :?


Dear Anne The Pedlar

I'm not sure I'd enjoy wearing a fabric made of floor thread and dust bunnies!! I would suspect that the threads are the dreggs of some fantastic piece of apparel you have created! :wink:

Dear Neibelungen

Can you elaborate futher on the "prick" stitch? Is this another name for
"stabbing" stitch or something entirely different?
For me sewing equates to jab pointy thing through fabric, don't jab finger...

Cheers 8)

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Post by gregory23b »

Neibelungen.

Er I wasn't actually making a case for the anti-thentis, I was having a go at them. I think it is an outright shame that people use terms like thread counter etc to bemoan other people's efforts, I certainly was not allying myself with them. As soon as a conversation re any sort of accuracy attempt/research etc comes up invairably there is accusation of authenticrat, given that that term only strictly applies to people who impose their views on others in their groups it is misplaced in normal debates/discussions on fora

Everyone is an 'authenticrat' to some degree or they would all be wearing a diverse mixture of clothing, as people purport to playing in a certain era then they have standards which denote that era, so the anti-thentis are not that far removed, they just like to think so.

harrumph.
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Post by nathan »

I'm not aware of a report/thesis that analyses the statistical trends of period weaves (warp/weft count and weave for particular fibres) but i may be able to give you a few numbers that will give you an idea of where you may wish to aim.

I would point you towards the MOL book on textiles and clothing http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1843 ... y&v=glance

as it does cover late C14th early C15th (but i can't remember how much material there is for that period, I’ll double check tonight)

(sorry as this thread has tangented a little, I’m not answering the original question past this point)

On the whole subject of not worrying about thread counts i think this has to be applied with a little common sense.

If you are trying to get hold of cloth that 'approximates' what would have been produced in period then a _rough_ idea of the weaves, thread counts and colours that could have been achieved is essential.

I'm not suggesting that you _have_ to match the warp/weft count exactly to a find but if you have the information then this allows you to buy cloth that actually looks the part (and there is some awful cloth out there that is just totally unsuitable (wrong fibre, colour and with an excessively chunky thread)).

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Post by Neibelungen »

I would question whether you can still find materials materials that truely match anything made from over 100 years ago today. While silks and cottons are still woven with a fineness and quality, so much of what we used to be made is no longer available.

I'll suggest a few examples:
100% silk velvets
glazed woolen lining fabrics (often a kersymere) (or glazed linen these days either)
Linen with the same quality weave and finess of a cotton lawn
Silk taffeta with the weight of a 18th century dress fabric.
Woolen doeskins and superfines equal to a 18th or 19th C quality.
4% or more gold embroidery threads. (or vellum wrapped gold leaf threads aka jap thead)
Fish oil tanned buff leather. (or even leather sold by it's tannage weight)
I would have said floss silk (but have recently discovered a source)
Genuine (oil)(non-plastic) patent leather
Proper wrought iron metal. (I'm pretty sure mild steel sheet wasn't used much in the middle ages)

In the case of fabrics, this perhaps is a place where stitch-counts are a significant relevance in determining just how modern quality does compare.

On hand skills, it simply a matter of experience and developing the patience that comes with having worked by hand from an early age. There is no such thing as a lost skill, just ones that aren't used or as familiar as they used to be.

Personally, I feel that there is a valuable place for stitch-counters in re-enactment as they help improve the quality and accuracy of reproductions. Like all criticism and knowledge , it's how it's directed and conveyed that is significant, but the information still remains valid.

I'll be a bit controversial suggesting banning all use of a sewing machine in re-enactment costume, but it is the dividing line between an attempt at reconstructing the past and fancy dress clothing, no matter how good it's quality, construction and appearance. And such a simple change to make.

It's a shame, but like everything in life it always comes down to money and cost.

ps. prick stitch and stab stitch are interchangable

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Post by m300572 »

Historically, labour was always the cheapest part of making any item, and it was the materials that were the most expensive part
Certainly for cloth, prior to the industrialisation of spinning and weaving in the late 18th/early 19th century the labour that went in to making the cloth was the cause of its expense.

If you consider that a square metre of fabric with ten threads to the cm has two kilometres of yarn in it then you get some idea of how long it takes to spin that amount, let alone weave it, full it, dye it, shear it etc. The time taken to cut and sew a few square yards of material into a garment almost pales into insignificance compared to the time it takes to make these few square yards.

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Post by X »

It's also important to know details like thread count so that you can talk to people about the discrepancies between what you are wearing/using and the 'real thing'.

It's inevitable that there will be discrepancies (I for one can't afford hand spun, hand woven, natural dyed cloth, and I don't have the time for full hand sewing, just hand-finishing) because we all make tradeoffs somewhere between as authentic as our knowledge takes us and as authentic as we can afford (in either time or money).

If you can't afford hand-woven, natural-dyed cloth, fair play - but you should know enough about the differences between that and what you do have to make sure interested people aren't sent away with the wrong impression of 'what it was really like'.

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