Tuesday, 25 January 2011

"Medieval Garments Reconstructed" is out!

Finally the long-awaited book by Else Oestergaard is out: "Medieval Garments Reconstructed" (link goes to bookdepository.co.uk). The official release date is February 2, so you can still pre-order for a few more days, but I have heard along the grapevine that some folks who pre-ordered it when that became possible have already received their copy (mine hasn't arrived yet, though).

Cathy Raymond has already posted a short first-leaf-through review on her blog. I'm very, very curious to see how the team around Else Oestergaard made the garments, and looking forward to good renditions of the original patterns (which I do hope to find in the book). I am a good bit sad, though, to read Cathy's citation of how the garments were sewn (with modern sewing machines) and especially finished - with cotton bias binding.

If you know the original publication, Woven into the Earth, you will know that the original garments are finished with exquisite care and some techniques that have been forgotten in the meantime. Those edges show wonderful detail and beautiful finishings, and of course I had to try these techniques. Since then, I have become an utter fan of stab stitch edges (you just can't beat the neat, crisp line that stab stitches give an edge) and singling finishing (invisible finishing of a cut edge in thick cloth, with no bulky folded-in bit? That's unsurpassed, really). I have become such a fan that I regularly do my very best in courses and workshops to get more people addicted to these unknown and wonderful finishing techniques - in fact, I will still keep them in the programme when it is already clear that there is not enough time for the full nine yards of programme. So knowing that a quick, modern approach with a very modern material has substituted these wonderful edgings is a real letdown for me. I can understand, however, why the team opted to do this - if you've ever tried (or had to try, because I made you) stab stitches or singling, you will know how immensely time-consuming these two methods are. Add to that the expense of time necessary for the finishing touches often applied on the original garments from Herjolfsnaes - tablet-woven edging, footweaving edges or braided bands attached to the garment edge - and you are facing a real hardcore time-sink. In my opinion, those techniques are totally worth the time invested - but they are no quick finishes, and if you are working on a deadline, they might be totally out.

So... now I hope that my copy will arrive soon so that I can get a look at it myself instead of reading other people's first impressions - and I'll post a little more about the book once I have read it.


Francesco Lanza said...

I tried some whool braiding on a hat, and in fact it is terribly time consuming and tricky to figure out, but easy and very beautiful. I never tried singling, and now I'll have to get back to WitE to understand! In fact I never reasoned out how awesome is an invisible, non-bulky finish. It would be awesome with dagged edges!

Elina said...

Here is my review based on my first impressions: http://www.neulakko.net/?p=739

Turns out many of the same things disappointed me too.

The english translation is under all the text in Finnish.