Friday, September 14, 2012

Leine Experiment

Leine Challenge

The challenge is to make as historically accurate a 16th century leine as possible using ~20 inch wide fabric and following the sumptuary laws (which limits the shirt to 9 yards) using as close to a historical cut as possible. Machine stitching will be used on the long seams but will not be externally visible.

Assumptions made:
  • The width of the fabric was homemade and the width of the person weaving it about 20 inches.
  • They would use standard square cut construction to avoid waste.
  • Fewer larger pieces are better in construction.
  • The sleeves are large and full and hang to around the knee, when hanging, the arm exits the sleeve just below the elbow facing forward, allowing free movement and leaving the forearms free.
  • The opening through which the arm extends can be faced and embroidered.
  • The neckline is either a boatneck (more common) or a simple keyhole.
Constraints on construction:
  • The leine length is to mid-shin on the man wearing it, and would be flared enough at the hem to allow free walking strides.
  • It could be pulled up to thigh length and be belted at that height, creating a bloused look but adding as little bulk to the waist as possible. This position should also create a Very pleated look.
  • The shape and construction of the piece must have a historical precedent in earlier and contemporary clothing from the region.
  • The sleeves are also capable of being attached or contained when the Ionar sleeves are buttoned up at the wrist, causing the sleeve to drape like bunting below the arm.

The sources that I will use for this are all drawings and paintings since there are no extant leines from this time period. Artists include Derrick, de Heere, the unknown artist responsible for “Irish chieftains after the Quick,” and Durer. There are also many literary references to the dress of the Irish, these describe the clothing in mostly general terms like full sleeves and lots of pleats. I am trying to remain with period sources (painting and drawings during the time) these are technically secondary sources which causes problems itself.
Upon starting this experiment I heard a lot of talk about how unreliable these sources are since most of them were taken from second hand sources or from first hand but months after seeing the clothing. The complaint was also raised that the drawings were made by the English to make fun of the Irish. This all may be true, the problem is that even if all of that were absolutely true and many other things besides, it ultimately doesn't matter. We have no other sources. There are no extant leines, only a couple of extant Ionars. So unless someone finds a surviving leine then we must use these and attempt to determine what the leinete of the period looked like based on the commonalities of these images. We simply cannot ignore them and claim that they are based on imagination. Distorted through a cultural lens they almost certainly are but they are all we have.

Square Cut Construction:
The construction technique used in this is called Square Cut, and for those unfamiliar with it a short description follows. Square cut construction is a historical technique that uses mostly squares and triangles to construct clothing. As a result of this there is very little waste but there is also very little tailoring, as a result these techniques are used either as a starting point from which further tailoring to bring the garment closer to the shape of the body in employed or it is used on undergarments as is the case here.
Square cut construction can be confusing at first to a person used to working with modern patterns as it really does not use a pattern per say, but it uses a cut diagram based on somewhat generic measurements that are changed if necessary based on the individual. While slightly confusing at first I would HIGHLY recommend that people wishing to recreate historical clothing really assimilate this into their thinking. It helps explain some of the "strange" shapes and seemingly weird seam placement in period clothing. It also uses the fabric most efficiently which keeps materials costs down, but be aware that it can increase construction time or complexity, especially if using a sewing machine. I think that it is worth the effort, I hope that some of you will agree. If you want more information I would recommend:

Layout & Cutting:
This is laid out for a man about 5'8" and the leine is intended to end mid shin when down. Most of the measurements will work for a few inches of height to either side of this height, then adding a few inches to the length or taking a few off.   

No comments:

Post a Comment