All posts tagged: terminology

HSF/M ’15: Challenge #2: Blue

The theme for the Historical Sew Monthly 2015 Challenge #2 is Blue: make something in any shade of blue. I knew it would be a popular colour challenge choice because blue is simply the most popular colour: it’s more peoples favourite colour than any other. Historically, it’s also been one of the most desirable colours in many historical periods and cultures, because the dyes used to achieve it were comparatively expensive and finicky, and the harder something is to achieved, the more expensive it is, and the more people want it. In addition to being an expensive dye, blue acquired even more cachet in Europe in the Middle Ages when it became the colour associated with the robes of the Virgin Mary in devotional art.  Mary was painted in blue robes partly because blue was the colour of the heavens, but mostly because the most expensive paint available was ultramarine blue.  Mary was deemed worthy of only this rarest hue, this colour ‘from beyond the seas’, so was depicted in blue robes, often highlighted with the …

The Sewing Workshop, 1760 Musee Reattu - Arles, France.

Terminology: What is sewing carbage? (or cabbage, or garbage)

Carbage or cabbage, and more rarely garbage, is the name given to the bits of fabric left over from cutting out an item. You can see the box of ‘carbage’ under the tailors table in Amman’s woodcut. The term dates back to at least the 17th century, where it was also used for ‘shreds and patches used as padding’. In 1648 Robert Herrick wittily commented on tailors credit: Eupez for the outside of his suit has paid But for his heart, he cannot have it made The reason is, his credit cannot get The inward garbage for his cloathes as yet In another poem he complained of women’s fashions: Upon some women, Pieces, patches, ropes of haire, In-laid garbage ev’rywhere Some versions Herrick’s poems use carbage instead of garbage, and I would dearly like to know which were used in the original. Butler’s 1660s Hudibras makes clear how important cabbage was to tailors: For as tailors preserve their cabbage, So squires take care of bag and baggage In the mid-17th century play Hey for Honesty (usually attributed to Randolph, though this seems very unlikely) the character …

Terminology: What’s the difference between worsted & woolen wool fabrics?

If you have ever gone shopping for wool fabrics you may have seen some of the fabric described as worsted, and some of it described as woolen. If you are me, you may have wondered what this meant.  Aren’t all wool fabrics woolen?  I mean, they are wool, right? Not quite! In brief, worsted and woolen are different types of wool (long staple vs short staple), prepared in different ways, resulting in a different look and feel.  Under magnification, worsted yarns look smooth with long fibres, and woolen yarns are much hairier, with lots of short fibres and more pokey-out bits.  Worsted wools are slick when woven, woolen wools are knitted, crocheted, or woven into softer, fluffier fabric, or fulled fabric.  Worsted wools are better at keeping out the wind and rain, but woolen wools are warmer, because they are full of air which acts as insulation. Worsted is also used to describe a particular way of spinning yarn, or weight of yarn, but I’m not going to go into that because it’s a modern spinning thing, not …