Friday, 12 October 2018

HSM challenge 10 - my smocked apron

The HSM challenge for October is fabric manipulation - "Take fabric to the next level with any kind of historical embellishment or manipulation: smocking, shirring, embroidering, beading, pinking, ruching, printing, painting, dyeing etc." This was one of the challenges I was sure what I would do, already when I saw the challenges for the year. A very common accessory during the late Middle Ages and early 16th century was the smocked apron.

Of course I wanted a smocked apron for my 1520's outfit, and it would work for the whole 15th century as well. 

I used a length of unbleached linen. I started with hemming the sides, and then I smocked the top. I didn't mar out where I wanted the pleats to be, but instead I free-handed them, making sure that the gathering stitches were quite even by eye. I used 8 rows of gathering stitches.

I smocked the top with honeycomb smocking. To be honest I would have liked the pattern to be larger, this is perfect for a shift, apparently that's what my eye is calibrated to.

This is the back of the top.

When I had finished the smocking I made a long strip of double folded linen fabric and sewed the apron to it. I ended with hemming the bottom of the apron. That was a good thing. The smocking had also affected the length of the fabric. I had first planned to make a quite large hem, but I ended up with just double folding the fabric and do a similar hem to the sides.

It's a nice lightweight apron, and I am very happy with how the smocking turned out, even if it is a bit small. One thing I have done differently from the aprons that I have seen is that I have made the ribbons to tie it with so long that I can tie them on the front. I did it because my stiff shoulder makes it hard for me to work behind my back, now I can tie it a lot easier compared to my other apron with shorter ribbons.

The Challenge: 10 - fabric manipulation
Material: 1,5 m of unbleached linen
Pattern:  My own, after historical images
Year: 15th-16th century
Notions: waxed linen thread
How historically accurate is it? It's based on historical images and totally handsewn with appropriate materials, but the smocking pattern is a bit too large and I don't have any evidence for the long ribbons. I would say 75%
Hours to complete: 10 hours
First worn: I brought it to work on an SCA event first weekend of October and I had planned to wear it to the evening feast, but I didn't finish it due to the extra long ribbons, so I haven't worn it yet.
Total cost: Everything was from my stash, but bought new it would have cost around $15.

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