January 2014


After spending lots of hours of smocking, you wear your fancy new smocked garment on a event, afterwards you throw it in the washing machine.

resetting smock - 1
And it comes out looking all wonky and not at all that crisp and nice.
But there is no need to worry, resetting is easy, it just takes some time if you only have a ordinary ironing board.

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You need lots of pins for this, star of by pinning on the edge.

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Pin at every stitch for as long as your ironing board or garment allows.

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Then you pull the fabric under each stitch, see, now you can see the crispness again, and then you put a pin.

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Lots of pins, you need to have these without heads, as we are going to apply heat to them later on.

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If you do not have a iron with steam, you take a piece of fabric, I use a linen kitchen towel and make it really wet in one end, Use a old washed fabric to prevent excess colour from staining your work. Squeeze out some of the water.

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Lay the wet part of the towel over the smock.

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Then really lightly touch the towel with the iron just where your smock is. Do not apply any pressure, you only want the heat. The towel should now do a sizzling noise, the water turning into steam. If you happen to have a steam iron, you can just use a dry towel and then hold it over the towel and use lots of steam on the smock.

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Now take the towel away and wait for it to cool down and dry completely. If you have a vacuum ironing board this takes you no time, but for us without it can take several hours.

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I do the sleeve on the sleeve board.

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And this is how it turn out after cooling down, as good as new or perhaps even crisper. Now you can move on the the newt part of your garment and work your way around the whole smock, just to the same thing all over again.

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Here is a smocked apron that I have done the same thing to.

And now you can go out, wear it at en event, throw it in the washing machine and then do it all again ;)

Some times you have this GREAT idea! Or at least you have this idea that you can not get out of your head. This dress is one of those ideas, the idea of making a Charles de Blois inspired dress. I mainly wanted to try to make the huge “grande asiette” sleeves, I was thinking that it would be perfect on me with big breasts, that the lines going across my breast would be a easy way of fitting it well.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 1
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 2
So I did as I always do when the pattern is tricky to draft, I made a toille of my basic block that is already fitted to me and simply drew the lines where I wanted the seams to be. I do this a lot, It is a quick way of getting a rough pattern to work from.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 3
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Then it is simply to cut the toille up following the lines that you have drawn. Here is where the real work starts.

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There is a lot of adjusting and cutting, taping together, drawing stuff again. Thinking on what happens if I take some away from this piece, should I add to this piece. I sometimes call this post apocalyps patternmaking. When you have it on a paper, it is all clean lines and you can use the eraser to remove things, this is more gritty and makeshift, you do what you have to do to make it work. You can be a bit violent and cut stuff of, pin new bits on like a Frankenstein monster.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 13
I had this pattern drawing of “how it should look” based on pattern drawings found over the internet, my goal was to make the pieces look kind of like this.

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After several hours this is what I ended up with, it looks kind of like the pattern…

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Now it was time to sew it all together again, to see if it worked. And yes, with only minor tweaks this really could work.

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My gray Charles de Blois dress - 17
So it ended up as a dress, “the insane button dress”, due to the fact that I “needed” to make tiny buttons, a lot of tiny buttons. It is completely hand sewn with linen tread, seams felled with silk, buttonholes are also worked in silk. I like that is is a subtle mi parti and that is is gray and I love the tiny buttons, all 94 of them. And I should sew the last buttonholes and buttons, as it is “missing” seven buttons on each arm due to lack of time, but that is not noticeable.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 18
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 19
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 20
I have worn it ONCE. I do have some problems with it. I would like to have it more fitted in the front, It looks nice from the behind but from the front it looks kind loose around the bust and waist. It is also wrong in the fact that women did not wear this in the late 14th century. There are 15th century pictures of women with grande asiette cut on the back of the dress, but never in the front. So I have made a dress that I can not with confidence wear while re-enacting, that was kind of silly of me, especially doing 94 buttonholes on a dress I can not wear in really nice fabrics.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 21
I do have a solution for my “problem”, I can wear it under another dress, a short sleeved or a sideless surcote that have a wider middle part. I can take the “bumpyness” of the buttons in the front that will be visible on the overdress, it would be silly to let the dress just hand in the closet.

I swear by my St. Birgitta’s cap, as you could see in the post “How I wear my veil” I use it as a base when I pin my veils. It can also be worn as it is as you can see in these pictures.

Here you can see it on the woman on the left
The cap have a long strap that is put over the head two times
A collection picture
There is also a extant cap

There is a lot of people that have written about this already, Isis post on it on Medieval Silkwork is a good read.

What I will show here is a simple version, without the fancy embroidery.

St. Birgitta’s cap - 1
If you have looked at other peoples patterns, you will see that my patterns differs slightly. Most patterns have a square lower front, my pattern have that part rounded of, the reason is that I find it easier to gather it when it is like that. I have tried the square pattern, but the rounded of corner works best for me.

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Start of by cutting your cap parts, you will need two parts. I use a medium weight linen fabric, make sure to make the marks both in the front and back, these are important later on in the process. As the pattern does not include seam allowance, you can choose what is best for you. In these pictures I have 1,5 cm seam allowance on the back seam and 1cm on the front of the cap.

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Pin the top seam, you will sew from the front to the marking in the back. To be able to put the cap on you will need a slit in the back and the back marking marks out where it begins.

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I sew backstitches with silk thread.

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Sew with backstitches all the way to the mark for the slit.

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Now you need to press the seam you sewed apart, I use my fingernail to simply scrape it open.

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Fold in the raw edges to make the cap neat on the inside.

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Then sew the felled seams down, I use small stitches and only pick up a few threads of the outer layer, this makes a almost invisible seam from the outside.

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Hem the other side as well.

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Now it is time to gather the lower edge, this gives the cap it’s shape in the back.

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I stitch with big stitches from the back up to the mark in the front.

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By sewing two lines of stitches you will be able to gather the fabric nicer.

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Now it is time to sew on the ties straps. I first take a strip that is 70 cm long and 5cm wide. On one side I mark out my 1 cm seam allowance and on the other side I press that seam allowance down.

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Now on to some measuring, on the centre of your 70 cm make mark, this is where the top seam of your cap will be. From the centre you will mark out the distance of the front of your cap, in this tutorial it is 26,5 cm, a total of 53cm. This will make it fit a head measurement that is around 56cm. The measurements is 3cm smaller then the measurement of your head to allow for stretching of the fabric and so that you do not pull the slit completely together. If the slit is completely closed you will have a hard time getting a snug fit on your head. You will have to experiment to find what measurement fits best on you.
Put the cap part and the strap right sides together and pin them together.

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The gathering should be as tight as you can to the back of the slit, sew the seam with backstitches.

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As the strap should be longer I now sew on the other strips. They are 65 cm long and 5cm wide as I made this cap without a special person in mind. Most common is to have one continuous strap, but you can also pin the strap ends together when wearing the cap. When trying the cap on you will find what length you will need and you can shorten your straps later.
These two straps I prepare by folding and pressing in 1 cm seam allowance on both sides of the strip.

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Then I sew them on on each sides of the strap that you have already attached to the cap with backstitches.

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Like this.

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I scrape the seam open with my fingernail.

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Now what is left is to close the straps up and to enclose the raw edge on the front of the cap.

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I pin and sew the entire length of the strap together, enclosing the raw edges.

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If you wish to pin the straps together when wearing it, simply fold in the raw edge at the end of the strap and sew it shut.

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And your cap is done!

To sew the strap together, this is how you both put the cap on and measure how long the ends should be. If you are planning on having a continuous strap, you should not sew the entire length of strap together out to the ends. Save around 10 cm on the ends and then do this next part before joining the ends with a backstitched seam. After that you can close the last bit of the strap up.

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Put the cap on your head, if you have long hair it is good to have it in braids in the back or to put it in a low ponytail. As I have short hair I generally just put it in a low ponytail and stuff my bangs inside the cap. This cap is to small for me, I have a large head so for my personal caps I don’t use these measurements, also I could not bother with putting all my hair in the neck inside the cap, I always wear wimples so I usually don’t bother that much about some hair sticking out.
Cross the straps in the back.

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Pull them to the front and cross again, make sure that the straps lay nicely and so that they are not twisted.

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Then pull them over the back of your head above the bag that have formed for your hair, the straps should be snug around your head, if not the cap will slowly slide of your head. If you feel that the positioning of the straps makes the cap slide of your head you could also put it under the bag that have formed for your hair.

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Put a pin where they meet, now you can see where you need to sew them together, or if you want to pin them in stead, you can now go along and putting on wimples and veil if that is what you prefer.

St. Birgitta’s cap - pattern
Here is the pattern, in cm as always, and not including any seam allowances.