A case for redefining standards ?

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Neibelungen
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A case for redefining standards ?

Post by Neibelungen »

A case for redefining standards ?

(updated after the fist few posts..... I'm not trying to make sewing machines banned... I'm saying our definition of what items made with them is, is too sloppy. Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word 'anathema' )

Personally I think the time has come for making a concerted movement to get the use of sewing machines made anathema for reenactment.

Quite simply put, it's wrong. There's no argueing with that.


It's exactly the same as using chromed tanned leather. It didn't exist then and there's an easily available alternative. Hand Sewing.

I'm not advocating the banning the using of sewing machines, but I think it's about time an effort was made to differentiate clothing and items made with a sewing machine and those made properly.

If it's made with a sewing machine it's simply theatrical or fancy dress.

Ok, it might be very, very good, cut properly and useing the right fabrics, but it's still incorrect.

You could say, but you can't see the difference. True, I don't deny that most of the time it's invisible. But it is on close inspection.

It's like so many other things in re-enactment. A sloppy habbit that's been accepted for far too long.

Cheap suede passing itself of as buff leather.
Chrome tanned leather
Cheap tinsel braid trying to be the real stuff
the list could go on.


My case is that items made on a sewing machine should be described appropriately. It's not reconstruction quality, it's not living history or museum quality. Unless it's late victorian onwards.

It's theatrical quality. It's fancy dress quality. And it should be called what it is. Is it just costume (no matter how good), rather than reproduction clothing ?

Maybe what's wrong is our definitions of those qualities are just too loose and sloppy ?
Last edited by Neibelungen on Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by Shadowcat »

So, you are going to be using original hand made tools, by candlelight if necessary, travel by horse, and wear only hand made, hand woven clothes while doing this then, Andrew? No phones, computers, postal service?

I agree that clothing, and other goods, should be properly described, but I think your idea could kill off the re-enactment business, as very few people could afford the kind of clothing you are talking about. (And that includes museums, by the way.)

However, as a way of stirring to get a reaction, well you win - I bit!

S.

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Post by Mark GRaves »

OK, for once I'm going to stick my neck out on this issue...just to see what discussion ensues :wink:

nice idea, however.....

Presumably, if sewing machines are to be "banned", there is a ready supply of seamstresses available (at reasonable cost) that are willing and capable of generally sewing to AT LEAST the same accuracy and regularity as a modern machine.

While a machine clearly does not use the correct stitch formation, it at least produces a visible (surface) representation to the untrained eye of certain stitch types to the probable quality and regularity of hand stitching by a seamstress who probably spent their entire life perfecting their technique.

Any assumption that "hand sewn" means "coarse and irregular" has not been validated.

Presumably the hypothetical supply of seamstressses will also be using hand forged needles, veg. dyed thread that has been spun using a drop spindle or similar, from correct breeds of sheep (OK, or organically grown flax) etc etc etc.

While extant examples of (in my case early/high medieval) sewing are rare, my understanding is that the quality is usually high (though possibly a skewed sample).

Take a look at a quality victorian glove, then try to reproduce that standard of stitching by machine, never mind by the modern hand.

Apologies for any flaws in my brief chain of logic, but it's an interesting topic to discuss - where is the boundary between "authenticity of representation" and "absolute authenticity of contsruction".

Enjoy!.

PS I sew by hand, using a 1948 machine that moves the needle for me.
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Post by Neibelungen »

I'm not advocating that everything has to be made in exactly the same way as the originals were.

What I'm suggesting is that the definitions we use are too sloppy themselves. The english language changes with use and within groups, so perhaps within the reenactment world it needs redefining so people can see what they are getting.

Chamber's defines Costume as :
costume noun
1 a set of clothing of a special kind, especially of a particular historical period or particular country.
2 a garment or outfit for a special activity • a swimming-costume.
3 old use a woman's suit. verb (costumed, costuming) 1 to arrange or design the clothes for (a play, film, etc). 2 to dress in a costume.
Notice the words a play, a film in there.

I would say costume is something made to look the part.
Now that could well be re-enactment, living history, museum etc.

Clothing is made to be what it is.
What it might be made from may not be 100% authentic, but at least it should be made right. Whether you define it as reproduction or a reconstruction is open to question depending on exactly what goes into it fabric/dye wise, but at least something as easy to change as sewing machine shouldn't be.

As to whether clothing is the most suitable term and some might prefer costume themselves for it, I don't know.

I've never come across historical clothes made with a sewing machine, but a lot a lot of historical costume made with them.
as Shadow rightly pointed out Victorian clothes can be made with a machine. As I said in my first post,
My case is that items made on a sewing machine should be described appropriately. It's not reconstruction quality, it's not living history or museum quality. Unless it's late victorian onwards.
Last edited by Neibelungen on Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Neibelungen »

Please note....


This is not about banning sewing machines.... OK I phrased the first message badly.


It's about defining what we call items made with them compared to what we call something made in a more appropriate manner.

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Post by Colin Middleton »

Neibelungen wrote:Chamber's defines Costume as :
costume noun
1 a set of clothing of a special kind, especially of a particular historical period or particular country.
2 a garment or outfit for a special activity • a swimming-costume.
3 old use a woman's suit. verb (costumed, costuming) 1 to arrange or design the clothes for (a play, film, etc). 2 to dress in a costume.
Doesn't point 1 say it all. Everything we wear is costume because it is not the clothing of this period, no matter how authentically it is made.

I agree that costume (all kit for that matter) should be correctly labled; is the costume hand sewn or machined, is the helm raised from a single peice or welded, etc, but we also need to be realistic. A sewing machine cannot reporduce the stitch quality that can be done by a skilled hand sewer. But how many people today can sew better than the machine. If we hand sew everything, it will push the price of getting into re-eacting beyond the reach of most re-enactors and it may actually result in costume that looks LESS authentic than if it were machine stitched!

Our group works very hard on authenticity and we are actually considereing a move from hand-sewn to machined seems as our recomendation as we don't feel that the hand sewing looks right!

Similarly, we shouldn't be using vedge tanned leather for anything as it did not exit either. We should use bark tanned or pit tanned leather (same thing), but I suspect that you'll be paying 10 times as much for materials (or more) if we're going down that road!

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Post by Shadowcat »

[quote="Neibelungen"

I've never come across historical clothes made with a sewing machine, but a lot a lot of historical costume made with them.[/quote]

Then your definition of historical clothing needs redefining. I have several Victorian bodices, and a man's suit, all of which by my definition are historical clothing, and all of which post date the invention and commercial use of the sewing machine.

S.

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Post by Neibelungen »

It's appropriate for victorian clothes to be made with a machine as they were.

I'm not argueing the veg tanned leather is wrong and should be replaced with oak tannage. It's the difference between a chome acid and a tannic acid.

What iIm suggesting it's that there should be a more appropriate term for something made with a machine when it shouldn't be. Dare I say even perjerative in comparison to a hand made item. It doesn't stop people useing a machine, but gives them an incentive towards a higher standand.

As to the idea of going back to machine because peoples hand-stitching isn't good enough. Come on.. that's a case of people not practising enough because they find the machine too easy. it's not like it's a difficult skill to learn, it just takes a bit of practice.

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Post by Shadowcat »

No, you missed my point. You said you had not seen machine made historical clothes. The Victorian clothes I have are original, and machine made. Therefore they are machine made historical clothes.

And your statement about hand sewing is far too sweeping. Some people cannot hand sew easily, practice or not, for various reasons. I have been hand sewing for over 50 years, which I would have though was practice enough, but I have carpal tunnel syndrome - therefore my hand sewing is no longer as neat as I would wish, not as strong.

S.

feeling very pedantic today.

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Post by Dave B »

However you make it, if it covers your nakedness either for modesty or warmth it is CLOTHING. any attempt to make the word clothing mean more or less is sophism (cheers alan) as far as I'm concerned.

Costume covers a lot of ground. Basically if it is for the purposes of imitation then it is costume, however low or high the standard. The standard of costume can be low or high.

Fancy Dress is a perjorative term in a certain case. But i guess that in reasonable usage it means a costume which is just for fun, and not intended to look 'real'. OK, some reenactors costume may be of such a low standard it appears to be fancy dress - that needs to be addressed.

So it comes back to the old chestnut of how accurate should a reenactors costume be.

I would argue that it depends on function and range.

For those that only do combat displays I would argue that machine stitching is fine.

For living history I would argue that 'no obvious visable machine stiching is the appropriate standard'

For those that specifically show off or talk about clothing, the standard should be as high as possible, EG the costume should be as close to a reproduction as possible

I think it is important to keep in mind what is important here. To me that is to give a realistic, educational and entertaining portrayal of history. there are far more important areas where we fail in that than hidden machine stitching

Too many lords and ladies.
Too many billmen, not enough archers and handgunners (WOTR specific but in toher periods there are to many of what are percieved to be 'elite troops'
poor historical knowledge passed on to public.
I could go on......
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Post by Neibelungen »

Shadow, I can symathise, I've suffered from Carpel tunnel and Tennis Elbow too.

Yes, your right, I should have excluded victorian clothes from that definition. I won't change it because it would reflect on your post.

Peoples sewing skills are poor because they don't sew. But then you wouldn't excuse an embroiderer for making sloppy work because people don't embroider as much by hand these days.



Quality improves because of the availability and demand for better or more accurate materials and methods. One tends to drive the other.
10 years ago you had trouble getting decently dyed threads or tablet woven braids. These days their available much more easily. and the use of horrible habedashery rayons is declining.

If we encouraged people to hand-sew more then their skills would rise to meet it.

It's like useing the term 'chain mail' for mail. It's not going to stop it's use as it's a common word, but it's become far more frowned at.

We frown at nylon and polyester satins, desert boots. romans using stirrups. Shouldn't we make the use of an innapproriate sewing machine the same to encourage people to move forward too. ?

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Post by Neibelungen »

You have to ask yourself, why are there too many lords and ladies, not enough archers and billmen.

Perhaps because it's too affordable for them to represent themselves as such.

If you only made £300 a meter silks and velvets available for lords and ladies, I bet you would see the number's dropping.

Yes there are times when 'theatrical' clothes are appropriate.. Dance groups aren't neccesarily about the clothing, but about the dances. Though they look and dance better when the clothes are right. A machined or hand sewn seam doesn't affect the dance, but the cut of the costume does.

A living history group maybe doesn't need hand sewn seams to make it's disply any 'better' I'm not saying it would.


The use of 'clothes' against 'costume' is probably sophism. But most of the english language is sophism.

We have 'costumed interpreters' but you rarely find the use of 'clothed interpreters' You can describe your interpreters as ' dressed in appropriate clothes', or costume for that matter. But doesn't that show that there's a subtle difference between what something appears like and what something represents.

We use words to differentiate between a battle re-enactment, a living history display, and a historical performance. We diferentiate between interpretation and re-enactment, maybe not very clearly.

I'm personally tired of seeing something decribed as 'museum quality' or reconstriction, when really all it is is an extremely fine version of fancy dress.
Maybe that is down to money and time, but it still annoys the hell out of me and our definition of things even more vague.

I don't know if the english language really has a term that would be appropriate, but aybe we need to think about finding something that might encourage people to think and make that little bit more effort with what they make.

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Post by Lord High Everything Esle »

I think we are talking of the difference between museum quality and six foot authenticity. The difference between £10,000 and £1000 for a four poster bed for example (to get away from costume).

We should strive towards greater authenticity but by insisting high authenticity on we bar the hobby to students and the poor.
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Post by Tuppence »

Personally I think the time has come for making a concerted movement to get the use of sewing machines made anathema for reenactment.

Quite simply put, it's wrong. There's no argueing with that.

Actually, as Shadowcat points out, that's neither accurate, nor true.

It's an assumption that re-enactment can only be about the period in history prior to the invention of the sewing machine in the mid 19th century.

That's undeniably wrong, and completely devaluing anyone who does later re-enactment.
Ok, it might be very, very good, cut properly and useing the right fabrics, but it's still incorrect.
But it isn't. Cut properly, yes. Using the correct fabrics, no. If you are going to frown on machine sewing, then you'd better frown on that machine made cloth. And while you're at it, the machine spun yarns.
Cheap suede passing itself of as buff leather.
Chrome tanned leather
Cheap tinsel braid trying to be the real stuff
the list could go on.
Modern wools, linens and silks passing themselves off as historical ones.

Modern military laces made from metallised polyester (and these ones aren't cheap) passing themselves off as real bullion laces......
It's theatrical quality. It's fancy dress quality. And it should be called what it is. Is it just costume (no matter how good), rather than reproduction clothing ?
That's snobbery - pure and simple.

There are good and bad theatrical and fancy dress costumes, just as there are good and bad re-enactment costumes.

I have seen both theatrical and fancy dress costumes that would seriously embarrass some re-enactors.

And, as it happens, you have failed to understand the definition that you yourself quoted. It's interesting that you make reference only to the later definitions, (on theatre etc) and completely ignore the first:
1 a set of clothing of a special kind, especially of a particular historical period or particular country.


In other words, by having a special set of clothing that you wear to do any activity, it is a costume. So a nurse in uniform is in costume. Does that mean s/he's not wearing clothes too??

And have you never read a historical text that refers to a "riding costume" or a "hunting costume" or a "town costume" or a "court costume" or a "theatre costume" (as in for going to see a play, rather than being in it).

I have read many, many of them.

As I said, snobbery. Admittedly quite a common type, but still wrong.
I agree that clothing, and other goods, should be properly described, but I think your idea could kill off the re-enactment business, as very few people could afford the kind of clothing you are talking about. (And that includes museums, by the way.)

However, as a way of stirring to get a reaction, well you win - I bit!
Precisely. From my experience, most museums are more worried about the cost than most re-enactors. Hand stitching not a huge priority.

And well done on the trouble making, cos me too.
Presumably, if sewing machines are to be "banned", there is a ready supply of seamstresses available (at reasonable cost) that are willing and capable of generally sewing to AT LEAST the same accuracy and regularity as a modern machine.
Weel there is a ready and waiting supply of seamstresses who'll make hand sewn stuff.
And at a reasonable cost for the work involved. The fact that most re-enactors would be unable / unwilling to pay that cost is appraently not relevant.

I would question why you say to "AT LEAST the same accuracy and regularity as a modern machine". In my experience modern machine stitching is generally much lower quality than good handstitching, even when done by someone who knows what they're doing. Handstitching (done well) is much finer, and generally stronger.
Any assumption that "hand sewn" means "coarse and irregular" has not been validated.
It's actually rather insulting....
Personally I think the time has come for making a concerted movement to get the use of sewing machines made anathema for reenactment.

This is not about banning sewing machines....


No, it's not about banning sewing machines.

It's about making the poor bloke who can't sew, and can't justify spending the cash to have somebody else do it by hand, feel like crap, and ultimately leave re-enactment.

Because that's what would happen.
Doesn't point 1 say it all. Everything we wear is costume because it is not the clothing of this period, no matter how authentically it is made.
Even if it were modern clothing, used to re-enact (say) something that happened last week - if it were worn specially for that purpose, it's a costume.

Likewise all clothing worn for re-enactment is costume, hand sewn or not.
Then your definition of historical clothing needs redefining. I have several Victorian bodices, and a man's suit, all of which by my definition are historical clothing, and all of which post date the invention and commercial use of the sewing machine.
Precisely. I have some things like that too, and I consider them all to be historical clothing.

Perhaps you should update your definitions to more than just the period of history in which you are interested.
It's appropriate for victorian clothes to be made with a machine as they were.
But that's not what you said. You said:
I've never come across historical clothes made with a sewing machine, but a lot a lot of historical costume made with them
So you're contradicting yourself.
Peoples sewing skills are poor because they don't sew. But then you wouldn't excuse an embroiderer for making sloppy work because people don't embroider as much by hand these days.
No.

But the implication in that is that machine stitching is sloppy. It isn't. It's the only really viable way of allowing anyone and everyone to be involved in re-enactment.
for example, I have a friend who can't sew - she would love to but just has no aptitude, despite practising lots.
She's a student.
And you expect her to pay for hand sewn clothes - how?????

Sloopiness implies a lack of quality, and a lack of care. In any costume, neither should be evident, whether machined or not.

And as it happens the use of the word is enormously insulting, and (a word i rarely use) offensive to every costumer (professional or not) who has ever used a sewing machine.

And as it happens, the workmanship in many surviving examples of historical clothing is incredibly sloppy, by modern standards.
10 years ago you had trouble getting decently dyed threads or tablet woven braids.
Then you were looking in the wrng places, because I didn't.
You have to ask yourself, why are there too many lords and ladies, not enough archers and billmen.
Again, you must be looking in the wrong places. There aren't in the good groups.
I'm personally tired of seeing something decribed as 'museum quality' or reconstriction, when really all it is is an extremely fine version of fancy dress.
Maybe that is down to money and time, but it still annoys the hell out of me and our definition of things even more vague.
And what I'm sick of seeing is people trying to kill re-enactment as a hobby without even realising they are doing it.

Most people today (re-enactors included) do not have the skills to properly make hand sewn costumes. Most also have jobs, and otherwise very busy lives, and to not have the time to acquire said skills.

Most costumers who make hand sewn clothes (including me), charge a fair price for the work, and the time it takes. Most re-enactors simply cannot afford it.

Thereby to make the use of machining 'anathema' would be to make an average re-eanctor feel ostracised. That's just unpleasant.

And by the way, you seem to have a hugely inflated idea of just what 'museum' quality is.
Based on my experience of the (repro) costume collections of many, many museums, their standards are far lower than those of re-enactors (as I said above - they're often more concerned about the cash).




I really do think that your initial posting wasn't just badly put- your whole arguement is badly thought out.

We are modern people. We live in modern times.

I know that some re-eanctors think they don't but it's a fact.

It's just not viable for machining to be "anathema". You may hate it, and that's fine. As it happens, all the costume I make for myself and Nige is hand sewn (when I have the time).

But it's just not available to some people, and it's not fair to those people to turn it into something that's frowned on to the extent that you'd seem to like.
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Post by Neibelungen »

LHEE

Yes, that's very true.
Insisting on higher authenticity will limit those unable to afford or have the time/resources to come into this hobby.
I think we are talking of the difference between museum quality and six foot authenticity.
This is my argument, it's getting difficult to diferentiate what's a 'museum quality' and what isn't. These days museum quality is a lot poorer than than half the '6-foot authenticity' items. If it ever was.

Most meuseum dummies are resined up and put together on a budget where the dummy costs far more then what it's displaying. I know, I've worked for the dummy companies and as part of them.

Personally I wouldn't say 'museum quality' meant anything these days, and eccept in a few cases would probably be something to avoid.

I don't think raising the bar as to what's acceptable or not really benefits re-enactment when it serves to exclude or make entry into it harder. What I feel we need to do is to make distinguishing whats an approximation, from what's a 'better' approximation clearer.


Colin commented that few people could match the type of hand sewing on victorian gloves with a machine these days. Yes, it's very hard if you havn't had that experience and long years of practise. What i think is importent, is not neccessarily the quality of the stitching, but that the fact they are trying to do it.
Actually, if you look at some of the stitching inside some original 17th or 18th century garments, you'd have trouble getting away with selling it because it's so bad.

You could argue 'who cares if it's hand done or machine done' ? But then who cares if it's vegetable dyed/tanned rather than chemical, welded or forged, plated plastic or gilt brass. Visually it doesn't, but it's the attitude behind these factors that matters.

The six foot rule or allowing living history to have no visible mached seams.. I don't have any problem with that. but it's the attitide of that I have a problem with. It says it's acceptable and isn't wrong, rather than 'could do better'

Is that a kind of elitism ? Perhaps, but it's not an exclusive elitism, it's inclusive. Your hand-sewing might be terrible, but at least you've tried.

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Post by Dave B »

Neibelungen wrote:You have to ask yourself, why are there too many lords and ladies, not enough archers and billmen.

Perhaps because it's too affordable for them to represent themselves as such.
True, but even if you could somehow enforce that then you would end up with the wealthiest playing lords and ladies and those who knew most, who are often of relatively modest means, relagated to peasntry. Idealy I would like groups to have a policy where everyone has to work thier way up, but it could get devicive.
Neibelungen wrote: The use of 'clothes' against 'costume' is probably sophism. But most of the english language is sophism.
That's a great phrase, although I'm not sure it tallies with my understanding of the word Sophism. (eg the ingeious but insencere use of a seemingly logical argument to win a debating point)
Neibelungen wrote: I'm personally tired of seeing something decribed as 'museum quality' or reconstriction, when really all it is is an extremely fine version of fancy dress.
Maybe that is down to money and time, but it still annoys the hell out of me and our definition of things even more vague.
Well here we agree (and perhaps we mostly do and it's all terminology)

If it's described as Reproduction/ Reconstruction / Museum quality etc, it should be as 'real' as possible. Handwoven if thats available etc.

If it says 'living history standard costume' then it should LOOK right, given the close inspection it is likely to recieve, which may differ from item to item (eg, IMHO visable machinestitching is OK on a tent but not a shirt)

If it is Battle Re-enactment costume then there may be further compromises either due to cost or safety/robustness, however the user should be aware of them (EG, if you're showing a MOP your blunt billhook, you need to point out that the real one was sharp, this means that a higher standard should generaly apply for 1st person work)

Neibelungen wrote: Maybe we need to think about finding something that might encourage people to think and make that little bit more effort with what they make.
It would be fabulous if you could get a universally accepted scheme to 'kitemark' kit as either

a) museum quality reproduction
b) Living history standard
or
c) general 6ft rule reenactment standard.
or
d) fancy dress rubbish

or even get everyone to accept a general definition of these. Good luck!

What I would really like to see some traders do is sell the kit with a 'provenance sheet' a couple of sides of A4 that describes the period of the kit, it's suitablitlty for different types of events, its materials and methods of construction, and shows extracts of the pictures/documentary sources used in its design.

I think that could really help newbies and raise everyones game, both reenactors and traders.
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Post by Neibelungen »

Tuppence,

For the most part I'll agree with you.
Personally I think the time has come for making a concerted movement to get the use of sewing machines made anathema for reenactment.

Quite simply put, it's wrong. There's no argueing with that.

I wasn't saying that later periods weren't re-enactment. They are. I did say my statement was a bit strong in it's choice of words.

Victorian clothes were machined, they had the machine, but nothing before then did. It was loosely phrased .
Ok, it might be very, very good, cut properly and useing the right fabrics, but it's still incorrect.
I was drawing the example that there are reasonable alternatives to a lot of materials that are still used that aren't unaffordable.
It's theatrical quality. It's fancy dress quality. And it should be called what it is. Is it just costume (no matter how good), rather than reproduction clothing ?
Maybe it is snobbery. I won't argue that that. But there's a difference between encouraging somebody to aspire forwards than to castigate them for sitting still.

I wasn't saying that there aren't many other areas and factors that could aslo be addressed. What I was saying was that it's one area that could be addressed with a look at the words we use.

I have said all allong that our definitions in english aren't really very good becouse their all emcompassing. I waqs asking in the question maybe we need to think about how the words aren't appropriate.
1 a set of clothing of a special kind, especially of a particular historical period or particular country.


Yep, all clothes are costume. in the way all cats are animals, but not all animals are cats.

I asked if we could differentiate between a reproduction costume and reproduction clothes, and suggested a couple of examples where it might be possible.
Presumably, if sewing machines are to be "banned", there is a ready supply of seamstresses available (at reasonable cost) that are willing and capable of generally sewing to AT LEAST the same accuracy and regularity as a modern machine.
That's a quote from somebody else and not my words.
Quote:
Peoples sewing skills are poor because they don't sew. But then you wouldn't excuse an embroiderer for making sloppy work because people don't embroider as much by hand these days.

No.

But the implication in that is that machine stitching is sloppy. It isn't. It's the only really viable way of allowing anyone and everyone to be involved in re-enactment.
for example, I have a friend who can't sew - she would love to but just has no aptitude, despite practising lots.
She's a student.
And you expect her to pay for hand sewn clothes - how?????
I didn't say machined work was poor, or that it wasn't allowable. I'm not advocating banning anything. I'm suggesting that an attitude of 'snobbery' as you term it, wouldn't be too much of a bad thing if it encourages people to aspire forwards.

You say that you don't find an imbalance of roles in the 'good' groups and that your and nigel's costumes are hand sewn. Isn't that the sasme kind of snobbery you say I'm advocating. ? Yes, that might be a personal choice, but isn't that saying our choices are because it makes us a 'good' group and anothers group bad?


I an categorically not saying machined work should be banned. Far from it. Or that there aren't many other factors that determine what people can afford, materials, time, level of commitment etc.

What I am saying is that our terminology between something affordable and something aiming towards being authentic is so clouded that it is almost meaningless.

I'll appologise to all if my very first posting seemed to be a little too overlyworded in a negative manner. But that doesn't make my suggestions invalid.. there's always going to be an effort to make standards look towards improvement.

I havn't gone back and changed the first post because it would make the rest of the posts out of context, but I would suggest people read through them before asking the same questions all over again.
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Post by Neibelungen »

Dave, I think you've grasped what i was trying to say, even if my first post was bady phrased and implied a lot more than it should.

Whether a kitemark system would work is another question and one often talked about. And a whole topic in itself.

How you control the overprevelance of an affordable role against one less glamerous is something within an individual society to work out. Or balance it with those that can afford a role against those that know the role but can't afford it.

But when armour got cheaper, there became a lot more tankies around.


Nobody expects people to get things right in their first few years, or to buy everything straight away.

But it would make life a lot easier for them if they knew what to aim for or buy.

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

You are a tit.
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Post by Dave B »

Tuppence wrote:
You have to ask yourself, why are there too many lords and ladies, not enough archers and billmen.
Again, you must be looking in the wrong places. There aren't in the good groups.
I would have to entirely disagre with you there. Certainly in the context of WOTR or thereabouts, which I think is what we are most likely to be talking about when we talk about archers and billmen.

I can think of maybe one group that gets anywhere near the percentage of archers they should for some major battles, which could have been in some cases maybe 80% archers, 18% billmen, 2% 'knights'

there are some otherwise excellent groups who field more like 20% archers, 70% billmen and 10% knights.

I even heard the commentator at a well respected groups even describing the drilling billmen and making up the bulk of medieval armies when the battle they were re-enacting is clearly documented as being mostly archers.

this sort of 're-enactor think' does a lot more to let down the public than a bit of questionable stiching.

Now, of course, I am in the wrong thread so to speak.

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Post by gregory23b »

To say that clothing is not clothing unless made absolutely in the correct way is fallacious, it is still clothing regardless of what or how it is made, its use dictates the term as much as the wearer, a bin bag is clothing in the right context.

What you are seemingly talking about Andrew is museum replication, that is a different argument, if you want to make claims that any given item of clothing is of a museum standard, by that I mean, made to match the quality and construction methods and appropriate flaws then yes, you cannot use a sewing machine and then make that claim. However 99% of reenactors do not achieve museum quality status in their clothes, they may achieve a pretty good visual representation, fit, hang, colour scheme, texture, smell etc to say without close examination of the stitches or weave pattern that they look 'right'.

I would further argue that museum replication is not (always) required, because at certain levels it requires specialist methods of inspection to tell whether something is 'right' or not, methods beyond the scope of eyes, ears, tongues and hands. So at some levels it is not necessary, at others it is, but {not} always all of the time.

There are very few items that can be made that required specialist (historical) tools that can only be made using those tools nowadays, as the tools used may or may not have a bearing on the finish of a piece, a knife blade is a knife blade, if the finish is replicated identically with another tool then it is fine.

It all depends on what the goal is.

I by the mid/end of this season will have:

hand dyed doublet, hose and jacket, hand sewn by me (hose) or by third parties (doublet and hose).
Hand made shoes (already have them). Alos one pair I now own is oak tanned (old pair of Plantagenet Shoes, no longer available)

That is for my own personal edification, most of that is not relevant to a MOP unless I feel it should be, ie if I had machine sewn clothes (some of what I wear is) I wont show them the stitching. That does not affect the other activities that I do. However if the aim is to show how clothes were made then I would be honour bound to show accurate makings.

Were those items made by machine and modern dyed to match known colours, at anything less than close inspection no one would know.

The authenticity of an item is not soley dependent on its method of manufacture, unless that method is so blatantly wrong (or materials).

So the argument is not about clothing, but everything that is made, however, as mentioned it is possible to use modern tools and methods to make an item that would pass muster, assuming design execution and materials were spot on.

Should we strive for museum quality in everything?

A: maybe and sometimes, depending on what it is


"I would have to entirely disagre with you there. Certainly in the context of WOTR or thereabouts, which I think is what we are most likely to be talking about when we talk about archers and billmen."

Yes I would second Dave, the archer/'billmen" thing is an old saw, irksome and somewhat perennial, like a bad leyland tree. One of the reasons Hastings was so good was the presence of archers in numbers that really don't occur in WOTR (for shame!!).
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Post by Neibelungen »

Gregory

I'm using the terms clothing and costume to try to differentiate between something domething done for ease, cheapness or convenience and something that takes a bit more care and time and maybe money. I've said all along that i don't think there's a right set of wording for it in english.

It's not about trying to get everything exactly perfect and 100% accurate, because that's never going to happen. It's not always required or neccessary.

There's an atitude in re-enactment that says if I can get away with it, then that's the least I have to do. True, the finish of a knife would look much like any other knife... but wack somebody with a bit of mild steel and a bit of tempered steel and you'll see there's a big difference between appearancees

Should we strive for museum quality in everything?

A: maybe and sometimes, depending on what it is
It doesn't take that much effort to put away a sewing machine and use a needle and thread. You can't sew like you can't ride a horse or fence. You spend your time learning how.

I would say 'museum quality' doesn't mean anything these days though, which was part of my point.
I by the mid/end of this season will have:

hand dyed doublet, hose and jacket, hand sewn by me (hose) or by third parties (doublet and hose).
Hand made shoes (already have them). Alos one pair I now own is oak tanned (old pair of Plantagenet Shoes, no longer available)

That is for my own personal edification,
Why would you want to bother ? As a lot of people have argued it's not neccessary. Maybe it is personal satisfaction to wear such, but isn't that a problem with re-enacting in general. It doesn't say 'tut' if you don't.

We might have moved on from the days of painters overalls and welders gloves. but has our attitude mearly gone on to what other things can be got away with ?

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Post by Neibelungen »

Marcus... very constructive comment

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Post by gregory23b »

"I've said all along that i don't think there's a right set of wording for it in english."

maybe just badly made (incorrectly) kit, because even crappy lazily made outfits can still be clothing, there is plenty of machine made tat out there in high streets with a shelf life less than the plastic bags they are carried in.

"There's an atitude in re-enactment that says if I can get away with it, then that's the least I have to do. True, the finish of a knife would look much like any other knife... but wack somebody with a bit of mild steel and a bit of tempered steel and you'll see there's a big difference between appearancees "
I totally agree and have often been engaged in high temperature discussions on that attitude, but that is not always applicable to issues like machine or hand stitching, more about really obvious nonsense, because as Dave B was getting at, there is a woods and trees situation going on in many quarters. It would be better overall for certain areas of reenactment if there was a better average that looked pretty good than the pizza we see of well made but badly designed kit, wrongly designed kit, etc. So someone in a given group wearing turnshoes will be eclipsed by a large group of people wearing trainers wrapped in hessian, far better if all had a median point to reach or better still was an absolute minimum standard from which there was only one direction to travel.


"
It doesn't take that much effort to put away a sewing machine and use a needle and thread."

Again, maybe and that depends on your objectives and time, not all reenactors will have the same quality or accuracy standards, one thing is for sure a needle and thread is a miniscule cost.

re my kit
"Why would you want to bother ? As a lot of people have argued it's not neccessary."

Because

1 - I have always wanted my kit to be like that

2 - our group is encouraging it, over a sensible period of time

"but has our attitude mearly gone on to what other things can be got away with ?"

Possibly, again, sorry to sound woolly and fence sittery but that depends on who you talk to, for example the Tudor Group have really high standards of make and finish of their kit because that is a cornerstone of what they seek to do, for other groups it is not, so we will see capes and odd things that really are made up (granted I think these are not reenactment groups as such).


"I would say 'museum quality' doesn't mean anything these days though,"

I think most things with that description are labouring under a major misapprehension, quality perhaps. Ironically there is more tat on sale in a museum shop than at any fair or market, so it is not much of an accolade from that angle. Museum quality in terms of accuracy, well so few things have real example to get any form of benchmark from. But, yes a rather vague and mutable term.

Marcus, Andrew has raised a discussion point not a doctrine or the jackboot of authentocracy, his points are valid and of interest.
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Post by MedicKitten »

The way I see it is that a sewing machine can be an invaluable aid in making kit work properly. I'm a student, and often haul bits of unfinished kit with me to large lectures where I can hem or seam them while listening. This gets decidedly harder if there are pins involved! Instead, I use the machine to BASTE all my seams, then go over them by hand, and locking down the edges.

Even where long straight seams have been machined (and then overcast by hand so that even inside out there is no visible machine seam), I feel that for a student this sort of compromise is VITAL to my ability to participate in reinactment. My fabric is all wool and linen, the dyes are the best I can get, et cetera. My general feeling is that use of natural fibers trumps machine vs. hand construction ANY day, as it would be far more glaring to see a noble lady in hot pink stretch velvet than in a suitable silk velvet with machine seaming.
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Post by Martin Cowley »

my aufenty hate is the "umble "billman with a burgundian tent, 4 poster bed, chests full of pewterand wooden stuff some nice glass ware and lots clothes (machined or not lol) 4 swords on a sword rack by the door :lol: . Though at the end of the day its a hobby,i would go so far as to say that its a game for many many more reenactors than those who do it to educate the public, is that wrong ? nope cos if it wasnt for the ones who started the hobby back in the mists of time (to have a laff with your mates, go camping, drink n fight) then the hobby wouldnt be here to start with,long and short of it is that this sort of issue will do nothing to improve standards, those that can afford good kit and really care about aufenticity will already be doing their best and those that have the cheek to not take it as seriously as others should be left alone to enjoy their hobby as they can otherwise they will be forced out of the GAME. :lol:

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

You are right greg and I apologise whole heartedly to the original poster.
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Post by Type16 »

Ah, Martin,
You would appreciate our abode then :D

A smelly 'humble billman' / archer, subsisting upon smokey overcooked cauldon gruel, having to rest his weary head on sheepskins, rusting armour and tarnishing falchion, only possessing what he stands up in, and sheltering in a plain rectangular tent.

Times is hard lad! When I was a youngster, this was the height of luxury. :lol:
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Post by Neibelungen »

I think from the comments and replies that there are far more important problems with re-enactment than merely the use of sewing machines as such.

I still stand by the idea that we need to redefine our terminology to some extent. 'Authentic' clothing can mean almost anything these days, and while questions of material and dyeing may perhaps be more important than the way seams are composed, I think seams are the easiest of things to correct.

Maybe it should be less about the hidden seams and more about encouraging people to wield a needle more readily. If for no other reason than to eliminate the horrible practise of 'bagging out' rather than felling an edge and stabbing a lining.

Museum quality doesnt mean anything any more, and really shouldn't be a compliment. Maybe it just means in comparison to original pieces from a museum rather than what a museum would commision.

Authentic can mean any level of idea without any kind of standard.

Living history standard.. well that depends on your living history group.

Battle renactment... depends on your group again.

Theatrical.. well, is it panto or is it the Globe

Clothes or costume. There isn't any real distiction, or definition. But I would still say in modern terminology theres a more negative element to the term costume, if only that it implies 'dressing-up'

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Post by gregory23b »

"my aufenty hate is the "umble "billman."

I would put a full stop, right there. :twisted:
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