Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ruff Stuff

I'm sorry, I just couldn't help myself. I blame the punny title on ktlovely.

I managed to finish ALMOST everything I wanted done for this event! The only thing I didn't get to do was cut down the neckline of my smock from a high neck with neckband to a low square neck so that it could be worn with my new partlet. I ran out of time for that and just wore my 18th c shift and never took off my waistcoat!

I've been meaning to do a blog post on the finished waistcoat, partlet, and cuffs, but have had no time--and no cooperating weather!--to take good pictures.

What I do have pictures of are the ruff I made fully starched and ironed in the period manner! I demonstrated ruff making and setting for the event and it was so much fun. Visitors and other reenactors were just fascinated by the process. It IS a really cool process, and one you don't get to see very often.

16th and 17th century ruffs are works of art and craftsmanship... They require the finest hand sewing you can muster with rolled hems and stroked gathers (I had to gather 176" of fabric into a 12" neckband...), and then they require skill in starching and ironing. There are no wires, pins, or anything else keeping the ruff in this shape... Just starch and a hot iron!

I must give props to my ruff mentor, Noel, for being an all-around awesome human being and providing me not only with this incredible linen but also let me borrow his poking sticks and sent me wheat starch for the event.

The wheat starch is mixed with water, boiled to thicken it, and then worked into the linen. Once the linen has dried a little bit--you want it damp, but not soaking), it's time to "set" the ruff. I chose to set the ruff in big "setts" (the figure eights) so it would be appropriate for the late 16th/early 17th c. I think I rather look like the lady in the woodcut below!

Anyway, I am so happy with this ruff, although I will be putting it on a new neckband eventually. There are examples of ruffs set on neckbands of slightly coarser material, and I think doing that on my ruff would help it stand up even more!

So here's some ruff pictures, and hopefully I'll get pictures of my whole outfit soon... After the hurricane... :-P





Privatepen said...

Whoah, now THAT'S a thorough starch job! It sounds fascinating. Hope you all stay safe from the wrath of Joaquin...

Gina said...

176 into 12?????? Holy monkey! That's some crazy gather stroking! You have some mad sewing skills my friend!! It looks incredible on you! And no pins or wires? That's beyond fabulous and yes, I am going to ask one of those visitor-to-the-living-history-program questions, (but after ironing my newest heavily starched petticoat and knowing how truly stiff these things are)... does the ruff rub horribly on your neck or do you have something to protect your skin? Having never worn an outfit from this era, this inquiring mind wants to know!

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