Improving my LH sewing kit

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Sophia
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Improving my LH sewing kit

Post by Sophia »

I am looking to improve my LH sewing kit as I often sew as part of our display.

I currently store the majority of my stuff inside an oval wood box from Cezar the Pole.

Equipment which is (almost) sorted:
  • - 1 x 3 thread bobbin needle case (Tod's Stuff) contains steel and bronze period needles, wound with 28/2 logwood black, semi-bleached and unbleached linen thread.

    - 1 x small needle case - contains brass needles.

    - 1 x small linen emery bag

    - 1 x brass awl

    - 1 x fine bone awl

    - 1 x snips in sheath (Tod's Stuff)

    - 1 x large horn thimble

    - 1 x fine brass netting shuttle (Sweetness and Light) - for when I learn to net eventually.

    - 2 x pairs of pewter cloak clasps from Chimera

    - 4 x sets of pewter buttons, currently stored in ziplock bags - to be replaced with linen bags.

    - 1 x set horn buttons - also needs linen bag.

    - Various large turned bobbins, carrying 28/2 and 16/2 threads in various natural dyed colours.

    - 100 small brass pins - currently in a plastic box, should probably be in a small turned wooden box.

    - Points in plastic box - as above.

    - Lacing rings in plastic box - as above.

    - Beeswax on a string for coating threads.

    - Linen tape in various colours.

    - Tablet/Inkle braid in various colours.

    - Various lengths of lacings.
Problem Area:
  • - My very fine (100/2 and 80/3) linen threads which are currently on card board rolls.

    - My other linen threads which are either in hanks or on carboard rolls.

    - My embroidery silks which are either in hanks or on modern reels.

    - Need more pins, preferably slightly larger than ones I have currently.

    - Need larger pair of scissors which would be used to cut fabric

    - Period equivalent to tailor's chalk

    - Period equivalent to tailor's yardstick/tape measure
So, any information on where to source more bobbins without breaking the bank, or suitable alternatives, plus other items. Also comments on any glaring inaccuracies/omissions would be appreciated.

This sewing kit is to cover WOTR to end of Kentwell periods as these are my current planned events for the year.

Many thanks,

Sophia :D

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Re: Improving my LH sewing kit

Post by Dave B »

Sophia wrote:
- Period equivalent to tailor's chalk
Sophia :D
Natural chalk is often denser and harder than blackboard chalk, and can be split into 'wedges' actualy is works better than taylors chalk on dark colours. You can just pick it up from the ground in many parts of britain so I am confident it was used for marking of all types. I'll pick you up a couple of pieces if you like.
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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: Improving my LH sewing kit

Post by Karen Larsdatter »

I've got a few links to pictures of 15th & 16th century sewing kits at http://www.larsdatter.com/sewingkits.htm -- mostly they're useful in terms of looking at the sorts of containers that were used, rather than being able to see much of what's in 'em.

I keep my linen thread on a wooden reel from Historic Enterprises -- they also have a few sizes of scissors, too. My glass-headed dress pins all come from Pin Money (but I have other metal pins from various places, including Blackwood Jewellery, Billy & Charlie, and Historic Enterprises.)

For 18th century events, I keep thread on thread-winders like the ones at http://www.spanishpeacock.com/catalog/threadwinders.htm (since I usually have to bring a wider array of thread-colors, and these don't take up very much space in my sewing kit).

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Post by Tuppence »

ditch the brass needles, and use bronze ones. and if you can find them get some iron ones, and possible a couple of steel ones if you can justify having the second most expensive (authentically speaking) bit of sewing equipment.

personally I'd ditch the horn thimble and get hold of an open ended metal one. reasons are that a metal one can have dints put in it to stop the needle slipping - thimbles without them are way too dangerous - and if you're not doing sewing where you have to use the thimble to push the needle through the fabric you shouldn't need one anyway. (nb - should be authentically made - and sorry I can't recommend anywhere to get one, cos I picked mine up from the market years ago, and have no idea who from).

what are the brass pins like??? if modern and not hand made lose them asap. should be a huge deal, as most handstitching can be done either without, or with a minimal amount of pins (half a dozen or so should be fine for all but the biggest jobs). I recommend bodger for pins and needles. or the quartermasterie.

nothing wrong with having loosely wound hanks of threads of any kind, but get rid of the modern reels, obviously.

there was a guy at cresing temple doing wooden bobbins for not much cash - can't remember who (sorry - I just pick things up as I wander - he also had steel needles though, if anybody has a clue who it was - he might be at the rood fayre later this year).

he's not cheap, but andy kirkham does fantastic scissors and shears - well worth the money, especially if you look after them and treat them regularly with scissor oil. (and morgan hubbard made lovely scabbards for my shears.)

I cheat and use tailor's chalk (old and bashed up so it doesn't look too modern - they had compressed chalk, which is effectively what it was). that said, cuttlefish bone works ok too.

yardstick / tape measure - their isn't really one - only an authenti yardstick (ie a stick with numbers painted on it). but for simple measurements use you body parts (eg from one paticular point on my thumb to another is exactly one inch). trick that's still used by older tailors (nana taught me).

for measurements, strips of parchment or cloth were used, and the measurement marked on.

as you mention embroidery, (even if you don't use them) you should also have parchment, a mortar and pestle, cuttlefish bone and charcoal (pounce), some linen scraps and string to make pouncing bags, and a finepaintbrush or pen and ink, all for marking out the patterns.
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Post by gregory23b »

Tailors chalk is medieval, ie it is specified as something different from normal chalk. What you get is a consistent softness or hardness. Cennini talks about using it when drawing for hangings, he mounts some in a quill to make a pencil.

Drawing chalks are made from crushed and reconstituted chalks or gesso with or without pigment added, a glue size is used to bind, making it dusty ie a pastel.

Raw chalk can be too hard on some cloths.

Isn't tailors' chalk clay based? seems very clay like. <edited>

So you could use modern white or pink tailors chalk that has been cut to a shape you like and not be too worried. Or:

make a medium strength size and add gilder's whiting until stiff and mould into sticks or bars and let dry and use as needed.

If I get time I might make some for TORM, possibly as little presents for people I like. :D
Last edited by gregory23b on Sun Jan 21, 2007 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Improving my LH sewing kit

Post by chrisanson »

Sophia wrote:I am looking to improve my LH sewing kit as I often sew as part of our display.

I currently store the majority of my stuff inside an oval wood box from Cezar the Pole.

Equipment which is (almost) sorted:
  • - 1 x 3 thread bobbin needle case (Tod's Stuff) contains steel and bronze period needles, wound with 28/2 logwood black, semi-bleached and unbleached linen thread.

    - 1 x small needle case - contains brass needles.

    - 1 x small linen emery bag

    - 1 x brass awl

    - 1 x fine bone awl

    - 1 x snips in sheath (Tod's Stuff)

    - 1 x large horn thimble

    - 1 x fine brass netting shuttle (Sweetness and Light) - for when I learn to net eventually.

    - 2 x pairs of pewter cloak clasps from Chimera

    - 4 x sets of pewter buttons, currently stored in ziplock bags - to be replaced with linen bags.

    - 1 x set horn buttons - also needs linen bag.

    - Various large turned bobbins, carrying 28/2 and 16/2 threads in various natural dyed colours.

    - 100 small brass pins - currently in a plastic box, should probably be in a small turned wooden box.

    - Points in plastic box - as above.

    - Lacing rings in plastic box - as above.

    - Beeswax on a string for coating threads.

    - Linen tape in various colours.

    - Tablet/Inkle braid in various colours.

    - Various lengths of lacings.
Problem Area:
  • - My very fine (100/2 and 80/3) linen threads which are currently on card board rolls.

    - My other linen threads which are either in hanks or on carboard rolls.

    - My embroidery silks which are either in hanks or on modern reels.

    - Need more pins, preferably slightly larger than ones I have currently.

    - Need larger pair of scissors which would be used to cut fabric

    - Period equivalent to tailor's chalk

    - Period equivalent to tailor's yardstick/tape measure
So, any information on where to source more bobbins without breaking the bank, or suitable alternatives, plus other items. Also comments on any glaring inaccuracies/omissions would be appreciated.

This sewing kit is to cover WOTR to end of Kentwell periods as these are my current planned events for the year.

Many thanks,

Sophia :D
hello Sophia,
i could turn you some bobbins. PM me if you are interested
chris

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Post by Shadowcat »

I have a replica medieval hole-in-the-top thimble you could run past them as knows, which you are welcome to - I've never used it. I had some lump chalk my Mum used for sewing, but whether I threw it away, or still have it - who knows in my mess? Fancy a rummage to see if you can find it?

S.

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Post by Dave B »

gregory23b wrote: Raw chalk can be too hard on some cloths.
You might be surprised, have a dig about in a chalky area and it comes up in a variety of consistancies.
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Post by lidimy »

i use normal chalk because i dont actually have any tailors chalk... once you grate the sides down until it makes a fine edge (though not too much because it snaps easily; i think easier than tailors chalk) then it serves its purpose very well :)

lidi :)
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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

Hi Sophia,
I've had thread and needle holding bobbins made for me copying (and based on - I don't like everything looking the same) those on the Mary Rose. I insist on the same sort of woods as originally used. We used the technical drawings etc.
£2 plain bobbins
£2.50 patterned bobbins
£3.50 needle holding bobbins.

Jorge, Tuppence et al,
do you know where I can get madder coloured tailors chalk grund up fine enough to use for pouncing? I've tried grinding up commercial tailors chalk and that reddy brown chalky crayon who name escapes me from artists shops, but its not coming out fine enough to go through the pin pricked holes. Talc powder works a treat but its white. White on white is a little hard to make out.......
So I'm looking for reddy brown talc powder or reddy brown pouncing powder.

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Post by gregory23b »

I know dave, as I said 'can be'.

I collect various bits of chalks (sad eh) for my weird stuff, have some from I oW Needles and it is really hard and some from near me and you can score it with your finger nail.

But the point is it is really easy to make tailors chalk with materials that are easy to get hold of in a medieval setting, slaked lime breaks down into inert powder, and Bob is your uncle etc. Lime is a really common material, regardless of where the original source of chalk or limestone might be. etc etc. Also that it may well have been coloured.

That does not of course exclude the use of any soft material you may have to hand.


Annie, for pouncing why not normal chalk for use over darks and red ochre (ruddle/reddle for over lights), yellow ochre too. Debbie at Mulberry Dyer will sell some at TORM.
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Post by Dave B »

gregory23b wrote:I collect various bits of chalks (sad eh) for my weird stuff, have some from I oW Needles and it is really hard and some from near me and you can score it with your finger nail.

.
We are building a plant at Bridlington (NE yorks) and the chalk there is lovely, very pure white, and soft but not too soft - nice to draw with. Do you want some fetching to the NLHF?
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Post by gregory23b »

ooh Bridlington, I have been there.

I would have some, very kind of you Dave, only a bit mind, I try to see if there is any real difference between them when mixing mit various things, in the main they react the same way, except the local chalk is really easy to scrape. I will show you it in action one day (Skev and his mob have seen the wonders of chalk ;-)).

But I wont be at NLHF this Feb, will be at TORM in March though.

ta.
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Post by Sophia »

Many thanks to all for your constructive suggestions.

As I think of things:

Jorge - I will have to talk to you further about some chalk sticks both white and coloured in authentic stuff.

Annie - will talk to you at Guildford Drinks about bobbins. Sounds as though I need to order both large for the linens and small for the embroidery silks. Have looked at your website but would be grateful if you could bring a couple of samples along.

Tuppence - what names do Bodger and Andy Kirkham trade under, they sound like just the people I need to talk to? In return I will try and remember who I bought the steel and bronze needles from (he was trading at TORM that I do remember - in the same hall as Jorge was last autumn). My horn thimble is dimpled and I use it for very heavy work only, otherwise I tend not to bother as my skin makes good callous

Suzi - will talk to you about thimble later in the week. Have plenty of modern tailor's chalk in white, pink and black.

Karen - nice images, a few of which I had not come across before.

In general - sounds like I need to get another box from Cezar for the embroidery stuff and then a large basket of some description to move the whole lot around. I will also need to make up a course hand marked yard stick, will possibly also mark up some tapes. Hmmmm - need to get a recipe for ink from Jorge methinks, plus ask him about period paint brushes.

Many thanks,

Sophia :D
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Post by Tuppence »

oh - eek aargh - annie for needles and pins too!! (not that I've got you in the hook and eye compartment of the brain or anything - so-rry!!)

do you know where I can get madder coloured tailors chalk grund up fine enough to use for pouncing? I've tried grinding up commercial tailors chalk and that reddy brown chalky crayon who name escapes me from artists shops, but its not coming out fine enough to go through the pin pricked holes. Talc powder works a treat but its white. White on white is a little hard to make out.......
commercial tailors chalk (hancocks) might grind fine enough if you use a tailors chalk sharpener (I keep my multicoloured shavings in a little pot when I sharpen, and it seems to work reasonably well).

Drawing chalks are made from crushed and reconstituted chalks or gesso with or without pigment added, a glue size is used to bind, making it dusty ie a pastel.
wouldn't recommend using them either - some of the v good artists pastels might be ok, but the line will rub too easily I suspect (though haven't tried them) - and tried using kiddie chalk once in a chalk emergency (had been disorganised and run out - hence I now buy it in bulk boxes!) - and aaarrrggghhh!!!


bodger trades under the name 'boderarmour' which I think is spelled right, and andy kirkham under andy kirham - he'll be at the orm, and his contact details should be on the links page of the padded armour site (http://www.paddedarmour.com). afaik he's not got the net yet.
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Post by gregory23b »

"wouldn't recommend using them either - some of the v good artists pastels might be ok"


Me being daft, I was merely pointign out their make up, tailors' chalk uses the same principle, glue, chalk (or clay) and a mould.

I will make some up for TORM for you to play with if you likes Mss 2d?
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Post by Shadowcat »

Dave Hodgson Bodgerarmour - http://www.histrenact.co.uk/traders/viking/traders.php

Scroll down for info - no web site or e-mail. And a warning - he's often very busy, or was when I knew him.

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Post by m300572 »

Tape measure - you can use a lenth of authenti ribbon or tape - tape measures didnt necessarily have lengths marked but were used to measure round/across a bit of body then transfer the measurement direct to cloth.

Bobbins - carve some (whittle with a stanley knofe on any odd scrap of wood will produce a workable item) or use small bones.
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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

2d - you are forgiven as I'm sticking to brass needles. I had an abortive attempt at making angel pins - iron ones that are tinned and mourning pins - iron ones treated in a Medieval industrial secret way - and gave up as life was too short.

Sophia - a bigger basket - I make them too :wink: Customised to your shape and size at no extra cost.......historically researched .....specialise in Tudor.....there's only so much my brain can take etc. etc. etc.

Jorge red oche, ah...... T E Lawrence? or Debbie? or Google? I need a decent pot full and is it ground REALLY fine?

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Post by Eric the well read »

Hi,
I was under the impression that Bodger had retired.

Any confirmation on this?

Regards
Eric

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Post by gregory23b »

Bodger will be coming out of retirement due to his popularity as a maker.

Annie - ochre supplied by either Deb or Cornelissen etcare ground fine enough for use as pigment for painting. I have used them for pouncing, they are so fine that they are a dust hazard as it happens.
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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

How come I've never spotted Cornelissen? I get out at Tottenham Court Road when I'm on a spending spree = books, beads, haberdashry and a brisk walk to Hatton Garden for my jewellery toolses (say the last word like Golum would.......)

Anyway,
thanks.

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Post by gregory23b »

Because you probably walk via Holborn instead of via the museum, if you got out at TCR (assuming exit outside the theatre), you would take the first right, past the YMCA, carry on down, keep left and then you come to it.
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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

Perusing the A to Z I see, I see. I have haunted all the little backstreets between Oxford Circus, Cambridge Circus, Covent Garden, Holborn and Chancery Lane and I've completely missed out the bit North of Tottenham Court Road. It's still a bit odd as I've been to the Museum loads of times and my son works down one of those streets.

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Post by gregory23b »

Great Russel Street.
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Post by fishwife »

Tuppence, what is wrong with brass needles? They are very authentic and are lovely to use if properly made. John makes (and though I say it myself), does a fantastic demonstration of pin and needle making, and the resulting pins and needles are extremely accurate and tough! They are copied form the Museum of London book, York Archaeological trust books (small finds) and pins that we actually possess from the metal detectorists along the banks of the Thames!
He also turns wood to an extremely high standard!!!!!
I can supply the paint pigments and the chalk if required, haven't gone into slaked lime yet, but I bet you can get that through Tod of Tod's stuff!
My handspun embroidery silks have a handmade paper label (Griffen Mill type) so that you can use it as a bobbin, and still have a record of the colour!
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Post by Neibelungen »

There's not a problem with brass needles as such, it more a case of the choice of brass wire that their starting from.

A lot use the standard 12" rod wire to start, which is often only half-hard rather than a proper full hardened wire. Ideally it should be a drawn wire which increases the hardness rather than just snipped lengths and ground to a point.

Plus a lot of wire sold as brass isn't exactly a brass either, not to mention whether it's an alpha or a beta brass or leaded.

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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

Actually it's not (officially) called brass any more. The EU has declared it shall be called copper alloy.
Copper alloy varies widely in it's make up.
12" brass wire/rod is fairly easy to source.
The stuff on a roll that I bought was softer.
I have drawn wire down - and nearly had my eye out and sliced my hand in half.
Even if you start with brittle wire you need to solder the knob on the end of pins, and if you are not bone idle like me, heat the eye end of the needle to anneal it before bashing it flat in order to pierce the hole.......and so you will soften the wire ......but as every brass worker knows there is a way of hardening it up again.
Brittle is not necessarily good. Brittle snaps and snapped needles can slice your hand in half and worse still leave drops of blood staining your needlework.
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Post by gregory23b »

I had an original 'brass' pin, lost it though, wailie wailie.

I have two brass needles made by Robin Mitchener, superb work, plus a dainty little pin, ahhh.
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Post by m300572 »

The EU has declared it shall be called copper alloy.
Archaeologists have been calling bronze/brass/latten/etc finds Cu allowy for years - its only by analysis that you can tell what particular mix of metals is alloyed with the copper so its a good shorthand for finds, but it may not be so clever to use it as a catch all term in the modern world.
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