Fabric-Stores-art – 8/22/06
“Don't Fear the Fabric Store” by THL Rosalyn MacGregor.
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
[This article was first published in the “The Citadel”, the newsletter of the Barony of Cynnabar (Ann Arbor, MI). Other articles in this series can be found elsewhere in the Florilegium.]
Don't Fear the Fabric Store
by THL Rosalyn MacGregor
You saw the medieval martial arts and all the crafts from skilled artisans, and you can't wait for your first event. But, the thought of entering your local fabric store makes you weak in the knees. Not to fret! This series is for you.
Most fabric stores are divided into sections, and the store won't scare you if you know what they are.
The craft section -- This area of the store is where you'll see the fake flowers, the baskets, the paints, the decorative papers, etc.
The trim & notions section -- This is where you'll find pins and sewing needles, elastic, thread, zippers, seam binding, any kind of sewing aids, and all sorts of decorative trims.
The pattern section -- This is usually a collection of tables and chairs that are filled with thick color catalogs showing sewing patterns of all sorts.
The fabric section -- This section is broken down into further sections, based on the sorts of fabrics we're looking to find at the fabric store.
You'll see a lot of fabric called calico. These are cotton fabrics that have a design printed on one side. Calico doesn't work for our game. These fabrics are usually 45 inches wide.
Home Decor Fabrics
These are often on rolls placed horizontally on racks or vertically in bins. These fabrics will be in all designs, contents and colors. These fabrics are usually 54 inches wide.
These are corduroys, velvets, denims, duck cloth, wools, flannels, linens, shiny brocades and more. These are usually either 45 or 60 inches wide.
What to buy
The fabrics most suitable for SCA purposes are natural fibers, and either solid colors or fabrics with the design woven in. You can easily check plaids and brocades to see if the pattern is printed on by flipping the fabric over.
If the underside is lighter in color, and you can see the design but it's duller, then this is a print. If you see places where threads sort of jump from spot to spot, or you see a mirror image of the design that's as bright as the "good side," then you have a fabric where the design is woven in.
Natural fiber fabrics are made from wool, linen, cotton and silk. Silk and wool are the most expensive, typically, with linen and cotton following next in line. For me, I've found that linen and rayon blends really work for the summer heat. I would include rayon in that natural fiber list, as long as it's blended with another of the natural fibers.
Acetate, polyester, microfiber and other fibers like Tencel and Dacron are synthetic. They are made from petroleum, so you're basically wrapping yourself in plastic. This is fine in the cold winter months, but can be a problem in the summer heat. I strongly urge you to stay away from polyester fabrics when making fighting/fencing gear.
You can get just about any color that pleases you, but I would caution about picking bright, neon colors for your first SCA garb. You might want to go with something more modest while you're deciding on personas, clothing styles and which SCA activities you wish to do. Certain colors meant things in certain SCA time periods, but don't worry about that until you are very set with your persona and garb preference.
If you pick a plaid fabric, go with a symmetrical pattern--ie, pattern is the same vertically and horizontally. If you like corduory, go with the thin ridges and not wide. If you like denim, go with something other than blue.
How much to buy
The pattern companies have gotten into the costume market recently with better stuff than your father's first grade Christmas Pageant. If you find a pattern you like, the back will list how much fabric you should buy. It will usually give the amounts for 45 and 60 inch material.
If you don't have a commercial pattern, and this is the most common case for folks starting in the SCA, here are some general amounts.
hoods and tippets
sleeves (if a different fabric from tunic/bodice)
corsets/bodices (smaller sizes)
middle eastern tops
apron dresses (smaller sizes)
narrow leggings (smaller sizes)
corsets/bodices (larger sizes)
skirts (smaller sizes)
middle eastern sleeveless robes
apron dresses (larger sizes)
cotehardies (smaller sizes)
middle eastern pants
doublets with matching sleeves
skirts (very full or larger sizes)
cotehardies (larger sizes)
matching top and bottom of SCA outfit
really impressive court garb
Whatever fabric you bring home, you want to wash it before you cut it!
We'll take up at this point next time. Until then, email me with questions. Happy sewing!
Copyright 2006 by Pattie Rayl, 3442 Roosevelt Rd, Jackson, MI 49203. < rosalynmacgregor at comcast.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and 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.