This site is an online reference for re-creational medievalism, which involves making a sincere effort to reproduce the lifestyle of a race or region of the distant past. I am interested in researching and re-enacting life as a member of the Fifth Century (AD/CE) Irish Celtic nobility. If you found this page without checking my index page first, you will find more information there. Individual sections of this site may be linked to or reproduced for non-commercial purposes (including SCA events and publications), as long as proper attribution is included.

Works cited included in the clothing bibliography.

Echna's Celtic Garb Tips and Tricks Page

Some of the information on this page is my own, the rest comes from various subscribers to the 'SCA-ARTS' mailing list (dedicated to generic SCA crafts, including costuming), and the 'HIST-COST' mailing list (dedicated to historical costuming of all time periods). All direct quotes are reprinted with the permission of the original poster, as well as copywritten to that author. Spelling and other typographical errors may have been corrected.

Comments/explanations in SQUARE BRACKETS "[ ]" are my own!

Breast-Feeding In Garb

Poster: Melanie Wilson

I mentioned this in passing but as there's an interest, I'll mention some more. I did so [breast-fed] in both 5th Century and 15th century garb. The 5th I used traditional Anglian dress which consists on a T shaped undertunic and a tube dress (this is a piece of fabric folded in half, then sewn, part sewn or not depending on your likes down the 2 edges.) the resulting tube is then pulled up to chest level and you take the front and back piece and pin it at each shoulder. (this doesn't sound too clear but I have line drawings if anyone wants a copy emailed privately) To feed you simply unpin one shoulder. However it's not quite that simple as you now have the undertunic, if you are somewhere warm this can be discarded, but if not you need to do slits vertically which lie over each breast, these must be long enough to get at your breasts without constricting them, if not you could stop the milk flow and get mastitus. I did these in such a way as there was a pleat where the slash was so it stayed closed when not required. This design can be used under most early garments up to at least the 17th century I would think if necessary, with variations on the neckline etc.

Making Ghillies (Period Shoes)

Poster: Rise J. Peters

My impression is that they outline the foot then draw another outline about 2 inches outside the first. The heel is cut in two flaps on the side, meeting and overlapping a third blunt point in the back (like a moccasin heel). Then just in front of the heel of the foot, the "petals" start. Wedges are cut out of the leather to leave the "petals" basically rectangular and perpendicular to the sole. Then the petals are threaded on a shoestring and gathered up around the top of the foot. Usually the gathered petals are adjusted for comfort and then the laces tied off across the top of the arch, with another tie (or the ends of the same one) going back to the heel and tying around the ankle.
[You may need to increase the size to three inches to cover an adult foot. Experiment with sizing before cutting leather.]

Applying Trim Around Necklines

Poster: Lyssa

I've got a couple of suggestions, but I haven't tried them so I won't promise they'll work.

First, you could run the trim straight along the neck in front and back. Then sandwich the free ends in the seam allowance. Alternately, you could miter the corners at the seam and do a bit of hand stitching to blend the pattern and secure the loose threads. Kind of like this:

   |   |
   |   |
    \ /
If you have enough trim, you might want to continue the trim down the sleeves. I'd run the back as a short piece which blends at the shoulders and the front from cuff to cuff or some other pleasing point on the sleeves. That way the side that people will see most often when speaking will be the neatest part of the trim. This will also serve to cover the seam at the shoulders and sleeves and could be a nice design element.

If you have a lot of trim, you might run it from cuff to cuff on both the front and back. You'll wind up with parallel rows of trim along the sleeves which branch around the neck.

More Applying Trim Around Necklines

Poster: Eleanor of Leycestershyr

Two possible approaches...both difficult to explain in writing...I included a little sketch.

1) Taking two pieces of the trim, one to fit the back neck opeing, and another to fit the front neck opening...stitch them into a "facing" with seams on either side to match the shoulder seams, then apply to the outside of the garment with topstitching. If the shoulder seams of the tunica are already sewn, the only way to get the angle right with this technique is to lay it as flat as possible, one side at a time, and pin the angle to match the shoulder seam. Stitch, press flat, and appy to garment.

2) This option is the one I use most frequently. Lay the garment on your work table with at least one side of the neck opening as flat as possible at the shoulder seam. Begin your trim at one shoulder seam, allowing extra to extend beyond the seam. Fold under the end, until you have achieved a folded edge that will match the angle of the shoulder seam. Pin the end in place. Work your way around the neck hole pinning trim in place. When you reach the opposite shoulder seam, again, lay the seam portion as flat as possible. Pin your trim on both sides of the should seam, allowing enough trim over the shoulder so that you can make a sort of a dart. The idea here is to get the trim to lie flat on either side of the seam, and the dart is where you take up the extra fullness.

The small point of the dart would naturally be farthest out from the neckline (nearest the shoulder) with the bulk at the neck opening. Now, pin the small point of the dart in place to match the shoulder seam. Make a fold in trim on either side of the seam so that you can work the fullness evenly under on both sides, and allow the two folded edges to meet, and abutt neatly. This is picky work, but keep working at it until you have managed to make a smooth reverse pleat that allows the both the trim to join smoothly, and the line of the folded edges butting together to match the line of your seam.

Pin in place at the neck edge. Steam press the trim as pinned in place. Baste to secure. Work the rest of the trim around to the seam where you started and more or less repeat the process. This will be a little easier on the side that has the two cut ends. Now baste the trim in place, and topstitch your trim down, carefully. Remove the basting. Finish the folded miters by blind stitching together.

Alanna's Random Garb Tips and Thoughts

Poster: Ann Riley

While I like to be as authentic as possible, for everyday garb I don't feel like I have to do it on the same level of authenticity as I would for an A&S competition. That way, I can avoid sweltering in wool on hot days, and use linen-look cloth to save on costs. Everyday clothing that we wear as re-creationists is just a different category. Even I don't know any textile or costuming Laurels who restrict themselves to the standards you'd want for A&S competition, when it comes to everyday clothing! It's hard to accept that "no extant specimens" business sometimes, but, we just have to remember that we are trying to re-create to the best of our ability, with the best resources available. For garb ideas, look at information that does exist for your time period -- like other cultures up through 1000 CE. Much clothing was similarly shaped, no matter what culture it came from. Most of the differences are in detailing -- accessories, decoration, sleeve shape, etc. In true Celtic style, if you see an idea you like, you can "steal" it for yourself.

Echna's Sewing Tips

These are tricks I've learned myself and are passing on to others. I figure every little bit helps if you're a frantic novice trying to decorate your own garb... On the Cloak page, I discuss brat-style mantles and that they're fringed. Here's a short explanation on how to pull fringes along the two "cut" ends (non-selvege edge). You can do this yourself, as you sit and watch TV. I suggest purchasing a plastic children's yarn-weaving needle (in a craft/sewing store, they're usually baby blue plastic). This is sturdy enough to help you pull the threads, and blunt enough that you don't poke a hole in your hand. Thin (Japanese-style) chopsticks, old ball-point pens with no ink, and other fairly pointy (but not sharp) utensils can be used. Hold the cut end in your lap, fit your pulling utensil under the edge of the outermost remaining strand of wool near one side of the selvege. Push at the fiber until it pulls free of the selvege weave. I think of this is lifting "up". Move the puller over a few inches. Pull "up" again. Eventually, you'll work your way across the fabric. Some wool weaves are tighter than others. I would suggest NOT washing a length of cloth before pulling the fringes, as it is more likely to felt the fibers into place.

You could fringe the selvege edges by using the same needle to pull extra yarn (I would suggest a contrasting color, since the odds of you matching a commercial color are almost non-existant - even 'black' has dozens of individual shades) through an even count of strands (every one, every two, every three), and tying off in a double-knot (or decorative knot if you know how). This would be time-consuming, but, provide you with an attractive garment. Alternately, you can find someone who tablet weaves, and ask them to provide you with a pair of bands (of the same length as your cloak) with fringes woven into it along ONE side only. This is fairly easy to do as a part of the tablet weaving process. This wouldn't be cheap (unless you do it yourself), as tablet weaving is time consuming...however, you might be able to work out a trade. Finally, you can naalbind repeating rows of blanket-stitching along the two selvedge edges, and knot fringes off the stitches.

[ Guestbook ] [ Email ] [ Clothing Page ]

Updated: Thursday, May 5, 2005 4:29:22 PM