From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fit to be Dyed

Cloth for cloaks


Today I bought two 4'x15' canvas dropcloths, and I'm in the process of dying them royal blue in my washing machine. I have a large capacity machine, and it does handle 10 yards of 48" fabric. I've put in five packets of Rit Dye (dissolved in hot water), a whole container of salt and a couple tablespoons of laundry detergent. This is a modification of the recipe given inside the box -- I hope it turns out all right.

The cloth has to stay in the dye bath for 30 minutes. Then after the final rinse, it must be washed again with laundry detergent. Then, I have to run the machine through a complete wash and rinse with laundry detergent and chlorine bleach. And even after all that, I think I'll make sure the next wash load is dark colored clothing.

I bought these dropcloths to sew into medieval cloaks. Keely's SCA group is hosting an event ("Shadow of the Wolf") in April, and I'm hoping to make a modest debut as a merchant there. I've been collecting things at the thrift shops that I hope look medieval enough that people will buy them -- brass candlesticks, metal plates, woven market baskets, non-plastic costume jewelry and so on. I also have some wool and linen fabric (important fabrics of the Middle Ages) that I've picked up here and there. Some of it is reclaimed wool that I got by ripping apart large, pleated wool skirts. Pleated skirts can contain an amazing amount of fabric.

A French cloak from about 1580-1600, Wikipedia image.
I hope also to sew a few garments so I can try to sell them. I want to make a few simple generic men's shirts (tunics), a couple of underdresses (chemises), and a couple of cloaks. The cloaks will be made from the canvas that I'm dying. Cotton canvas is not really medieval, but it is a stout natural fabric, and it can be waterproofed.If the clothes don't sell, I'll keep them for the family garb collection. I really should have started this sewing a long time ago, but I've been busy doing lots of other stuff!

I think the SCA and their historic reenactments are something Dennis might get interested in after he retires. After all, it involves a couple of things he enjoys -- history and camping. When you go to these SCA events, you dress in your garb, do, watch or study medieval things, eat medieval food and camp in your tent. If I could make a small amount of money being a merchant, it might be fun to start going to some of the SCA events in this part of the country.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.