dagging-art - 6/19/09
"Dag on It!" by THL Giles fitz Alan.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
You can find more work by this author on this website at: http://giles.freehostia.com/
Dag on It!
by THL Giles fitz Alan
The first documented occurrence of dagging that I have found was around 1125 in England when Empress Matilda of the Holy Roman Empire was recalled home from Germany. In her entourage were young men wearing dags on their skirts. I am inclined to believe that this style was already coming in vogue on the continent, at least in the German and Austrian states. These early dags were usually very long close scallop or square dags, some as much as two feet or longer.
Late in the 12th century dagging appeared on the hems of hoods. These dags were very short, more resembling gouges in the hem rather than dags. As the chaperones attached to hoods grew, the dagging became more obvious and made its way to chaperones without hoods and short cloaks. By 1230 dagging was commonplace on these garments. Shortly past the middle of the 13th century dagging started to appear on longer cloaks and mantles. Often this was the long, more elegant dagging that first appeared. The style never gained in popularity.
After the houppeland appeared, with wide angel wing sleeves, it didn't take long for dags to make their way there. Before the middle of the 14th century wide, dagged sleeves were fairly common on these garments. As houppeland skirts became fuller and longer, dagging was applied to them as well. Dagging on all garments started to disappear in the middle of the 15th century, and was nearly gone completely by the 16th.
One should note that these styles were worn primarily by the upper classes. Sumptuary laws forbade the use of certain styles and garments, and excesses of cloth to the middle and lower classes.
Dags have appeared in many designs and shapes throughout history. In general, the simpler dag designs appeared in earlier periods. When designing a garment to be decorated with dags, one of your first concerns will be the size and shape of the dags. Some of your choices in dag shape are illustrated here, but this is nowhere near a complete list. From top to bottom the illustrated dags are: square, point, close scallop, scallop, spear or arrowhead, diamond, and spoon. The height and width of the dag will dictate the required width of the pattern piece, and the length of the false liner that is required for un-lined garments. The height and width of your dags will become important when the pattern for the garment is designed. The illustration above shows how to properly measure the dimensions of the dag. The final size, shape, and style of the dags that you choose will depend on the period that the garment is constructed for, the function, and the intended appearance of the garment.
When the garment is designed with dagging as decoration, the size of the dagging will in part determine the width of the garment pieces along the dagged edge. This will cause the dagging to evenly span the garment. Trying to size the dags to the garment piece is more trouble than it is worth, and you usually end up with dags in a variety of widths. To produce evenly sized and spaced dags you must adjust the size of the dagged edge to a width that is a multiple of the dag width as measured above. Where this adjustment is made is just as important to the finished product as how it is calculated. The width of the pattern piece should be adjusted at the length of the dag plus any seam allowance above the hem of the piece. This process is essentially the same for chaperones and sleeves. The hem of these garments generally curve more than a skirt. This makes the adjustment slightly more difficult. Chaperones tend to be even more difficult. On occasion the design of the cape will prohibit altering the pattern piece. In these cases the dag pattern must be adjusted. If at all possible, alter the garment pattern rather than the dag pattern. When it is done the other way the dags never seem to fit right.
The construction techniques used for both lined and un-lined garments is about the same. When the garment or piece is lined, the liner should be exactly the same size as the outer fabric. If the garment is not to be lined a false liner will be required to stitch in the dagging. This false liner should be the same shape and width as the hemline of the garment, and should be at least 3" longer than the length of the dag plus any seam allowance. After all garment panels have been cut, stitch the liner pieces and outer pieces as for a normal lined garment. If the piece is not lined, assemble the false liners. Now slide the liner or false liner over the outer with the good sides of the fabric facing. Adjust the liner and outer so that the seams match, and the hemlines meet. Securely pin the liner to the outer along the hemline and just above the top of the dags (where you adjusted the pattern). Lay the piece as flat as possible, and lightly draw the outline of your dag on the hem of the liner. The dags should be arranged so that seams of the piece meet the hem at the top of the dagging. This will alert you to errors up to this point. If the seams do not match or you fall short you will have to adjust your dag pattern. If everything has been measured and stitched properly, this will not be the case. When the dagging is drawn onto the liner piece you are ready to stitch the liner to the outer. Before stitching you may want to pin the fabric to the liner along the proposed stitch lines to prevent the fabric from shifting. Stitch the liner to the fabric along the lines drawn using a single straight stitch. If you must double stitch for strength try to stitch on the same lines. Do not serge this seam or otherwise finish the seam in such a manner as to inhibit the expansion and contraction of the fabric along the unfinished seam. This will cause the edge of the dag to pucker when the liner is turned to the inside.
Trim along the stitching to leave about 1/4" to 3/8" seam allowance. Pinking will inhibit fraying along this seam. Next you will trim fabric from the seam allowance to prevent bunching when the liner of the piece is turned to the inside. To do this cut notches along the edges of outside curves, and cut slashes along the edges of inside curves. Trim flat or a wide 'v' at points on spear, square, and diamonds. A fray inhibitor can be used to stop fraying at the cuts is desired.
Turn the liner or false liner to the inside and push out each of the dags. This may require a tool of some kind to poke the dag through, especially in the case of diamond or spoon dags, which narrow at certain points. Make sure that the narrowest point in fancy dags is large enough to pass the required cloth through. Press the dags. If the piece is not lined, turn under the edge of the false liner and stitch it to the fabric.
If topstitching it desired always stitch in the same direction. In other words, do not stitch down one side of a dag, and then up the other. This will cause an interesting wave effect on the dags because the fabric will slip in opposite directions. If you need to topstitch your dags you should start at the top of each side of the dag and stitch to the bottom center, or start at the bottom center and stitch to the top on each side. This might cause the dags to curl slightly but it will help avoid puckering and waves.
Copyright 2008 by Curtis E. Conrad, 428 Scott St., Crestline, OH 44827. <gilesfitzalan at columbus.rr.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.