[HNW] What do I use???

amreid@qbe.com.au amreid at qbe.com.au
Thu Jan 3 16:09:49 PST 2002

Roscelin wrote:
"What kind of frame do I use? Should I even use a frame? If I don't, how do I
stretch the fabric to keep it on grain?

and Robert wrote:
"As was noted, using a frame with velvet/velveteen can crush the nap.  I found
that you can "refresh" the nap using a soft brush (the ones used to clean your
fingers work very well) and gently brushing in the opposite direction of the nap
(fluffing it if you will).  Velvet is much more slippery than the velveteen (in
my experience), so stretching it can be an exacting science."

I have made a number of doublets with couched designs (working on one at the
moment in fact) and would add that I always heavily interface the fabric I am
using for the body of a doublet.  This has the added benefit of minimising any
kind of stretch and provides a good stable base for couching, plus in terms of
costume construction it makes the doublet sit smoother without bunching and
wrinkling.  Whether you use an iron-on or sew-in interfacing depends on the
fabric and your method of working, but I cut out the pattern pieces with some
excess and then couch through both layers.  I just use a round frame, and if you
wrap your hoop in bias tape or ribbon first and take your fabric out of the
frame each time you finish a stitching session, I find that there is not much of
a problem with crushing the nap.  Most velveteens (at least the ones we get in
Australia) have such a short nap that it is less of a problem than with better
quality velvets.  Robert's tip about a soft brush is a good one, and it helps to
moisten the fabric slightly with a light steam.

Robert also wrote:
"When I have done doublets, I worked with the pieces already cut out but not
assembled.  I've not done any pattern that passed from the front to the sides or
back, so you might have to put the pieces together first if you do have a
pattern that goes around more than the front."

I would attempt to do as much as you can before putting the piece together as it
is so much easier to couch on a flat surface, and especially in a frame.
Perhaps stop a few inches from the seam edges and then when the piece is
assembled finish just that small area if you want the join in the design to be
minimised.  What I have found though is that most seams in this period (and
especially a bit later in Elizabethan times) where finished by covering them
with braid or cord, so if you have minor mismatches in the design these can be
minimised in this way.

I have read a number of articles on garment construction where the writers have
looked at surviving garments, and it seems that the norm was to fully finish
each garment piece by decorating them, adding the trims etc, and then turning
under and finishing the raw edges.  These pieces were then assembled by
overcasting or slip stitching the seams together.  It makes sense then that they
would cover these potentially messy seams with a line of braid, which would also
strengthen what could be quite a weak join.  This is generalising a bit of
course, but it seems that many garments were made in this way.  I guess it means
that a number of people could work on one garment at a time also.
Andrew Reid
Sydney, Australia
(SCA - Bartolomeo Agazzari)

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