Embroidered Neckline #1 – Rus based

I’m trying to expand my designs for necklines and wanting to base my patterns on period artwork.  The ones I like the most combine curves and plant elements.  I found this one based on a 10th – 11th century Rus sword. Making the design curve around the neck was trickier than I thought it should be, but I think it came out rather nice.

To use it, enlarge it until the neck hole is large enough for your neck. It will probably take at least two A4 sheets of paper, possibly 4.  Tape it together on the reverse side of the pattern.  I use Sulky iron-on transfer pens to get the pattern onto the fabric.

Remember, it is best to work the embroidery before doing anything other than cutting out the body piece.

rus sword design 10th c 2 wm

Matching cuff and edge trim.

cuff2

Updated 3/27/2016

Found the original picture of the sword hilt where the design came from.

Typical pattern of the Kievan Rus X-XI, this comes from the hilt of the sword, Kiev (Ukraine). Date about 1000 AD.
Kirpichnikov, AN Ancient weapon. Moscow: the Leningrad-Dep of Science, 1966. Archaeology of the USSR. p117

neckline 1

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Necklines Part Three

The Triangles and the Squares

Lately I find myself warring between writing well and writing quickly.  I want to share the information I have as quickly as possible, but my life is incredibly full and full of interruptions. Even though I used to be much faster, I am pretty slow at writing now.  As a mother of 5, a Gran of 1, and a constant host to many other children, I feel like my ADD only gets worse over the years.  Five solid minutes to myself, even when I’m in the loo, is rare.  Keeping one strand of thought in my head at a time is nearly impossible.

Long explanation to say please forgive me if my writing is lack luster and if there are frequent spelling errors, grammar errors, and the even more embarrassing malaprops.  I would not mind a correction now and then being sent my way. 😉

On to the goodies. . .

The basic information on measuring for and patterning necklines is in my last post:

https://maniacalmedievalist.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/not-your-normal-neckline-part-2/

This post is mostly about tweaking that method to make the not so round necklines.

Basic Triangular Neckline

The internal area of a triangle is less than a circular shape of a similar size.  Let’s start with our basic perpendicular lines with points A, B and C on it (see the previous blog post).

The opening for the back of the neck will be the same rounded shape. Go ahead and connect point to the point on the horizontal line in a very rounded way.  I often use a French curve to get that nice round shape, but that’s not necessary.

To give the hole more space for the head opening, add an inch or so under point C .  In this example, we are making a rounded triangular opening.  I usually start by making a straight line connecting the point below C to the point on the horizontal line. You can see a bit of the erased line on the image below.

triangle 1 wm

Like we did with the rounded necklines, fold the paper in half along the vertical line and cut out both sides of the hole at once.

To get a hole that has a bit more of a straight edge, do not round out the line as much or at all.

triangle 2 wm

Triangular Neckline with Center Slit

Again, start with your perpendicular lines and points A, B and C.  

triangle 3 wm

Below point C, add an inch or so.  Connect point C with the horizontal line. With a slightly slanting line, connect point C with the point below it.

Triangular Neck-hole Facing

To make a neck facing or a contrasting colored neckline, start with any of the principles above.  Outside of each point, add the desired width of the facing plus a hem allowance.  Connect all of the points together in the same basic shape as the original hole.

triangle 4 wm

Triangular Hole with Different Shaped Facing

Some period neckline designs combine different hole shapes  and  facing shapes.  It produces a really cool effect.  An example of a triangular hole with a square collar is below.  I like to keep the back edge of the hole round. Whether or not your follow that curve with the facing is up to you.

triangle 5 wm

Basic Square Neckline

The square neckline is constructed more like the round neckline than the triangular.  You have points A, B and C on your lines.  Round the back of the hole.  From the side point, go straight down until you are even with point B.  From the end of that line, make a rounded or straight connecting line to point C .

That’s it.  Fold the paper in half and cut it out.

square 1 wm

square 3 wm

Square Neckline Facing

Same principle as with the round facing, mark the desired width plus seam allowance outside of the basic points and then connect them.

square 2 wm

square 4 wm

 

“Batman” Shaped Neckline

I love this neckline shape and it is totally period!  I lump it in the same category as the squares since it is made with a similar method.

From the point on the horizontal line, go straight down until the line is even with or a little below point B.  From the end of that line, make a curved line joining it with point C .

square 5 wm

Take the same principle to make a square opening with a center slit.

square 7 wm

Tips and Tricks

Tip 3: Stay Stitching

Stay stitching is a basic straight stitch made along the edge of the fabric, usually a curved edge. This prevents the fabric from stretching out and distorting.

If you are not using a facing or contrasting colored neckline, make a stay stitch around the opening of your neckline.  Like in tip 2 (see previous post), you can do this before you cut out the neck-hole.

Tip 4: Embroidery First

If you are going to embroider the neckline or contrasting neck facing, do this before you put the neckline together.  A stay stitch along the edge of the contrasting fabric is also a good idea.

Next up in the neckline series . . . instructions and pictures of actually making a neckline.  This may be a while since I have to do it and take pictures before I post.

Until next time – go make some garb!!

Not Your Normal Neckline, Part 2

Patterning

Continuing on where we left off, we’re going to explore how to pattern necklines based off of your body dimensions.

Whenever I talk to someone about their garb, I always ask them what they do not like about the garb they currently have.  Rarely do they dislike how it looks.  Most often, it is the fit that makes them like or hate their garb.  About half of the time, it’s how the garb fits in the shoulder area, and the other half is the way it fits in the neck.

If the neck is too tight, it feels like it’s choking you. If it’s too loose, you get a sunburn in weird spots or you feel the need to keep adjusting it so it does not fall off.  Most people new to making garb fall into the trap of making the neckline too big, and it is very difficult to make it smaller again.

Over the years I’ve tried several ways of measuring and patterning necklines, from using the neck and head circumference in a long math formula to holding up a clear quilting measuring square and plotting out the neck shape from there.  I’ve not had much luck with these methods despite that they seem like they should work.

The neckline measurement technique I’ve had the nest luck with is based off of Mistress Margaret Bruce’s “Magic Neckline Trick”, which was a brilliant idea of using body proportions to create a perfect neck-hole.  You can find her original handout here:

http://www.chesholme.com/wfiles/2-2-Magic-Neckline-Trick-Pt-1.pdf
http://www.chesholme.com/wfiles/2-3-Magic-Neckline-Trick-Pt-2.pdf

I tested her trick out over the years and made my own modifications. Remember that this is a general technique that works with my family. You may need to adjust it depending on head shape and neck size.

With this method, you end up with the smallest possible neck-hole that will fit over your head.  If you want a larger opening or something that is scooped or shaped differently, use the method as a starting point. Begin enlarging by adding length to the front, not the back and definitely not the sides. Adding length and width to the back and sides will make an ill-fitted neck-hole.

With children, use this method as a starting point. Children’s heads are not proportional to the rest of their body and are almost always big compared to their other parts.  

Step 1

We are working with only one half of the neck-hole. Whatever pattern we end up with, we will fold the paper in half along the vertical line (up and down line) and cut out both sides at once.  This way, we have a neckline that is the same shape on both sides.  Left or right, it does not matter. I find it easier to work with my left hand because I am right handed.

step 1 wm

Take a large sheet of paper or tape several sheets together.  Near the center, draw a set of perpendicular lines.

Step 2

step 2 wm

On the top section of the perpendicular lines, mark the width of your first two fingers at their widest.  On my hand, my first two fingers are the widest close to the knuckles.

Step 3

step 3 wm

On the left (or right) side of the center, mark the width of your 4 fingers at the widest. On my hand, my 4 fingers are the widest where the fingers and palm connect.

Step 4

step 4 wm

On the bottom section of the lines, make a mark the width of the widest part of your whole palm, including your thumb.  On my hand, this point is just below the thumb.

Step 5

At this point, you have a mark on the top and bottom of the vertical line and a mark on either the right or left of the horizontal one.  Label the top mark A and the bottom mark B.

step 5 wm

Measure the distance from point A and point B. Write this number down somewhere.

Measure around your head where it is the widest. My head is the widest near my temple, but depending on your head shape you may need to measure over the ears or nose.  Write this number down as well.

Step 6

Take your head circumference and divide it by 3.  Take this new number and subtract the length of AB from it.  Add that amount to the bottom of your lines and mark it point C.

step 6 wm

If you are lost, that’s fine. I’ll show you what I mean.

Example

step 7 wm

After measuring my hand, the distance between points and B is 6 inches.  My head is 21 inches around where it is the biggest.

21″ ÷ 3 = 7″

I subtract the 6″ of my original AB line from the 7″.  7″-6″=1″

Just below point B, I add 1 inch and mark that point as point C.

If the circumference of your head does not divide evenly by 3, use a fraction. For example, 22″ would be 7 1/3″.  23″ is 7 2/3″.

This plot is what we will use to make all of your neck openings.

Making Round Necklines

Let’s start out with your basic round neckline.

round 1 wm

This is fairly easy. Connect point to the mark on the horizontal line. The tendency is to go straight across, but round it out instead.  I use a French curve to make sure that I’m getting the most rounded line I can.

Connect point C to the same horizontal mark.  Again round it out.

That’s it!  That is your neck-hole. For the basic round neckline, you will ignore point B. Do not adjust this hole for seam allowance or hemming.  The opening works best when it is opened a bit more by hemming it or sewing it to a facing with 1/4″ allowance and clipping the curves.

Now fold the paper in half along the vertical (up and down) line and cut out the half circle you drew.

When you unfold it, this is the smallest possible round neckline that will fit comfortably on you.  If you want it larger, start by trimming on the bottom.

008 Round

Round Neckline Facing

round 2 wm

Once your have your basic shape, you can use the shape to cut out your neck-hole or you can use it to make a neck facing or contrasting color of fabric.

How wide do you want the facing or contrasting fabric? How big of a hem do you need on the facing edge?  Add these two numbers together.  (I usually do a 2″ facing with a 1/2″ hem allowance, making my sum 2 1/2″).

From points A and C and the mark on the horizontal line, make a mark the length of your sum.  For me, that is 2 1/2″. Label these marks D, E and F.  Connect D, E and with a rounded line that follows the curve of your original half-circle.

Fold the circle in half and cut out both the internal and external circle, like this:

013 Round 2.jpg

The top line becomes the center back. The bottom line becomes the center front and the two side lines become your shoulder lines.

Round Neckline with Split Front

Many people like the tighter neckline, but they need a bit extra of an opening to get their heads through.  You can accomplish this with a slit in the front.

round 3 wm

Instead of connecting the horizontal point to point C, connect it to point B.  Then from B to C make a small diagonal opening.

That’s it! It gives you a tighter neck so that you don’t burn as much, but the slit makes it so that you can pull the tunic over your head.

round 4 wm

To make the facing, use the same technique as your did for the round neckline, but make a key shape around point C.

Tricks and Tips for Making Necklines Easier

Tip 1:  Do the neck first
Cut out and finish the neckline right after you have cut out the body and before you sew any side seams.

Most people do the neckline last.  Why? At this point you have to work with fabric that is not flat but is curved by the sleeves and side seams.  Why not start with the neckline?

If you cut out and finish your neck right after you have cut out the body and before you do anything else, you work with a nice flat piece of fabric. It not only makes it easier to sew, but it will lay better when you have finished the garb.

Tip 2: Don’t cut the hole until it’s sewn on the body
If using facing or a contrasting color, sew the neck and the body together before you have cut any holes out.

Yeah that sounds weird, but fabric moves. And once you cut a big hole in it, it will move even more.  Cut out your body.  Mark your shoulder points and center front and back  on the body piece.  Cut out your neck facing or contrasting neckline fabric. Mark the shoulder points and center front and back on the neck.  Using your paper template, mark the hole on the neck facing with tailors chalk or a water soluble fabric pen.

Pin the neck facing to the body piece. Sew them together right on or a 1/4″ outside of the neck hole line you drew.

Now cut the neck hole out, turn the facing over and stitch or hem it to the body.

You are welcome!

I have the diagrams for making the other shapes, but I’m done for the day. My kids, which I homeschool, need to start their lessons and it’s already 11:00.  More later.

Happy Garb-Making!!

Not Your Normal Neckline – Part 1

A survey of different styles of necklines from period sources.

Take a look around at the clothing most medieval re-creationists wear. The vast majority have the same neck-hole – round or round with a front slit. There are variations, but mainly in the decorative contrast fabric.

From what we know of period clothing, from both extant pieces and art, necklines were more varied than what we see. My purpose here is more to inspire than to educate. All of the necklines that I sketched are from period art sources, mostly manuscripts but also art such as monuments or paintings.

The necklines are divided into three categories based on the shape of the opening: round, triangular and square. I did not find many necklines that went outside of these categories, but within each category there is a-lot of diversity.

Round Necklines

Round wm.jpg

Triangular Necklines

Triangles wm.jpg

Square Necklines

square wm.jpg