15th Century finery - slubbed dupion silk

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RottenCad
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15th Century finery - slubbed dupion silk

Postby RottenCad » Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:19 pm

Hello, all you knowledgable people. Many thanks with the steering for my query about brigandines. Now I'm (like Quayn!) after some revel finery. My cloth suppler is a very nice chap, and has been extremely helpful of late; he has sourced me some very nice slubbed dupion silk.

Can anyone reassure me that this is authentic to the c15? I'm fairly confident that it's not created through a particular technological process, but that it only differs from standard silk in that it's created from two cocoons instead of one.

Can anyone confirm that this is correct, and that I may indeed create a huopeland finished with dupion?

Many thanks,

Mike


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Postby Shadowcat » Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:53 pm

As a professional costumer I have always been assured that dupion silk was not available before the Victorian era. A lady in America has done some research which seems to prove that it was around during Tudor times, but I haven't read her paper.

Others may have other opinions.

S.



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Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:20 pm

We'd always understood that slubbed was wrong for the middle ages too. Remember that particularly in the 15th C, the important thing was the quality of the cloth. Who wants to look like their cloth has mistakes, or worse holes, in it?

Colin



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Postby Tuppence » Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:42 am

some silk was slubbed - but it was lower quality.

dupion is completely wrong.

sorry.

that said, I do use it for earlier stuff, as satin has a tendency to sag, and taffeta has a tendency to shatter.


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Postby RottenCad » Wed Mar 07, 2007 3:18 pm

Many thanks for pointing out the error of my ways (sighs) - guess it'll have to be the expensive option after all !!!

Never mind, eh?

TTFN

Mike


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Postby Nigel » Wed Mar 07, 2007 3:23 pm

If she gets time Debs may be posting a pic of a nice piece she has jsut finished

In silk


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Postby And So To Bed » Wed Mar 07, 2007 6:03 pm

OK, this isn't exactly the shortest post I've ever made :) but I thought someone somewhere might be interested.

Dupion as we know it now was invented in the mid-nineteenth century, when it was considered a cheap and slightly naff alternative to grown-up, un-slubbed silks like taffeta. It is woven with a thin, tightly-twisted warp and a thicker, more irregular weft. The weft was originally made from double silk, but these days any poorer quality silk may be used. The lustre of dupion is artifical, created by the slight difference in width and colour between the warp and weft.

'Double silk' is from the cocoon of two silkworms that were too close together, and it has an uneven texture. "100% pure spun silk" is a term often used these days to indicate high quality. I have no idea why, because spun silk is made up of shorter fibres, the surface is not that shiny and it's less strong. Silk noil is poorer quality still, more matte in appearance and spun from the shortest ends, leftovers and broken cocoons. The highest quality of silk is reeled directly from a single silk cocoon in one continuous length. High-quality reeled silk is even, shiny and very strong.

There is, however, evidence that weaves similar to dupion were in use by the sixteenth century. To the best of my knowledge no American scholar has published a paper on this subject but Luca Molà published an excellent book entitled "The Silk Industry in Renaissance Venice" in 2000. Small sections of this were summarised by an American costumer as The Use of Lower Grade Silks in the Renaissance.

Parts of the book discuss inferior grade silk fibres such as 'double silk', 'waste silk' or spun silk noil. These were made into threads, trimmings and materials, sometimes pure poor-quality silk, sometimes mixed fibre. This type of cheaper, coarser silk was almost always used for furnishings but there is a tiny amount of evidence it was used for less expensive clothing by less wealthy people. Some of the cheap fabrics being made were very similar in weave to dupion.

Why is renaissance Venice is relevant to UK re-enactors? According to Dr Molà, silks and mixed-silks from these inferior grade fibres were not only produced in Italy by the fifteenth century, but being imported to England by the sixteenth. And the mixed fibre cloths produced in England from the 1560s sometimes contained these waste silks too. The book is fascinating and I thoroughly recommend it!

This isn't proof that dupion-style silks were used for clothing by anyone in the British Isles. It isn't even proof that dupion is a suitable substitute for those silks in texture and weight, just that the weave is similar. So this definitely isn't a mandate for silk-crazed re-enactors to make cheap dupion costumes. Use dupion at your own risk for furnishings and possibly linings. But really, if you can't afford the more authentic, heavy-weight, un-slubbed silks like taffeta and satin, you should probably still wear wool, flax, hemp or cotton fibre material (or a mixture), depending on the period you do. I don't want to be lynched by an authenticity mob for encouraging fluorescent yellow dupion houppelandes :twisted:

A silk-crazed re-enactor


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Postby Tuppence » Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:42 am

The highest quality silk is monofilament silk (aka filament silk), but it's rarely used for fabric, and when it is - ouch!!.

Silk dupion doesn't have to be the cheaper option - if you're canny, persistent, and have a certain amount of luck, you can pick up taffetas and satins for similar prices as dupion, or in some cases less than.

a couple of Ebay sellers are particular faves of mine... got some gorgeous green and gold taffeta a while back for not much cash.


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Postby And So To Bed » Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:27 pm

Tuppence wrote:Silk dupion doesn't have to be the cheaper option - if you're canny, persistent, and have a certain amount of luck, you can pick up taffetas and satins for similar prices as dupion, or in some cases less than.

You're right, there are some good deals on silk around, but you need to know what to look for. Cheap taffetas often turn out to be too thin for living history. The period taffeta I've seen close-to - and I haven't exactly seen loads! - is much heavier than the 'Supreme Silk' and 'Thai Silk' weight often sold as taffeta. Quartermasterie have some lovely silks, I usually spend 20 mins in front of their stall babbling like a looney before I even start deciding what to buy.

Tuppence wrote:a couple of Ebay sellers are particular faves of mine...

You lucky thing!. I've bought taffeta on eBay before and it usually goes pear-shaped :P One seller advertises beautiful plain and shot pure silk taffetas in period colours. But it's 100% synthetic. High-quality and a good copy, but not silk. Another sometimes has taffeta that's pure silk but it's thin, suitable for posh linings or Regency dresses only. Only I bought mine for a C17 gown so not the best result :(
And one overseas seller has heavier taffeta but I always get hit with customs duty when I buy from them :cry:

Tuppence wrote:The highest quality silk is monofilament silk (aka filament silk

That's actually the same as reeled silk, isn't it? It's one continuous filament reeled straight from the cocoon without breaks. Be careful you get the high-quality stuff though. Even the 'double' silk often used for the weft of dupion is supposed to be a reeled, monofilament silk, just a poor quality one.


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Postby Tuppence » Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:55 pm

One seller advertises beautiful plain and shot pure silk taffetas in period colours. But it's 100% synthetic. High-quality and a good copy, but not silk.


don't forget, the sale is null and void if you can prove it's not silk.

That's actually the same as reeled silk, isn't it? It's one continuous filament reeled straight from the cocoon without breaks. Be careful you get the high-quality stuff though
.

yes - that's just it's proper name.

and I may sometimes buy cheap, but I always buy quality :lol:


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Postby Wiblick » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:08 pm

Tuppence wrote:The highest quality silk is monofilament silk (aka filament silk), but it's rarely used for fabric, and when it is - ouch!!.


would it have been used for fabric production in the 15th century do you think?

I'm a touch obsessed with noil at the moment. Just wondering what the date would be for its production. And would it have ever been used for clothing?




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