Experimental Archaeology

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Tallswife

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One of the things that I do for demonstrations at events is to show historic spinning and fiber arts. Quite often the conversations with the public turn to clothing. Questions I often get are what was availiable to purchase, how was the clothing constructed, what fabrics were commonly used, and did people make their own clothing at home and if so, how long did a piece of clothing take to make. That last one I have not been able to answer to my own satisfaction. So, for the fun of it, and because I have nothing better to do with my time, I decided to recreate an 18th C wool petticoat from sheep to finished garment and document the process. As of now, i'm a little better than half way thru the process.

Fun facts of the project to date:

1 Moorit sheep fleece from a lovely ewe named MoMo
It took me 1 hr 10 mins to skirt the fleece
It took me 6 hours to pick the fleece and wash it
It took me 36 1/2 hours to comb the fiber into a spinnable form
I have spent 107 hours spinning so far and may need to spin some more
I filled 9 bobbins on my wheel with a single strand of yarn
I spun 6500 yards of 2 ply yarn
It took 7 hours to warp a 4 shaft loom with a 3-over straight draft pattern
The warp is 6 yards long
Ive spent 18 1/2 hours weaving so far.
I am not the fastest weaver on the planet. Ive been working on this project for about 2 years now, and we did move an entire farm in the middle of it.

Once the weaving is done, I will full the cloth. Then it will be cut into 4 panels and those will be stitched together to make the skirt part. I will also need to spin and weave the top binding/ties. The hem will be stitched up. All that will be done by hand.

Some pics of the project.

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Cannon
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What will the end product be ?

I recently watched wool socks being made on an old machine, very fascinating.
 

Artificer

Cannon
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WOW!!!! What a GREAT project!! I knew the labor involved was intense, but I had no idea.

No wonder it was such a huge deal when someone got a loom in frontier settlements and especially if they could talk a weaver into settling close by.

I'm reminded of what a huge deal it was in Colonial Virginia for Mothers to spin flax and make ONE new shirt for each of the children each year.

VERY interesting. Thank you, Dear Lady.

Gus
 

Tallswife

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WOW!!!! What a GREAT project!! I knew the labor involved was intense, but I had no idea.

No wonder it was such a huge deal when someone got a loom in frontier settlements and especially if they could talk a weaver into settling close by.

I'm reminded of what a huge deal it was in Colonial Virginia for Mothers to spin flax and make ONE new shirt for each of the children each year.

VERY interesting. Thank you, Dear Lady.

Gus
Thank you Kind Sir! When I have tried to explain to folks that you were lucky if you got one shirt a year, they really dont believe me. When the project is all done, I plan to create a paper document for folks to look thru to see the whole process.
 

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That would be SUPER to get it all documented. It may be the only such documentation on the whole process start to finish.

Gus
 

Mike Payne

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You do amazing and beautiful work! Would you post pics of the finished product? I would love to see it.
 

Hatchet-Jack

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That is very interesting. How do you full the cloth. I recently watched a series about the Tudor era, farming life in particular. The archeologist on the show took the woven cloth to a place that had a water driven contraption. They soaked the wool cloth in urine and put it down in the bottom of this thing. Opened the water gate and it crushed the cloth with large wooden hammers. When she removed it, it was fluffed up beautifully.
 

Tallswife

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That is very interesting. How do you full the cloth. I recently watched a series about the Tudor era, farming life in particular. The archeologist on the show took the woven cloth to a place that had a water driven contraption. They soaked the wool cloth in urine and put it down in the bottom of this thing. Opened the water gate and it crushed the cloth with large wooden hammers. When she removed it, it was fluffed up beautifully.
That is one way to do it, another way is called Waulking, where a group of, usually ladies. would save their urine and pour it over the cloth. They would then move it back and forth, beating it lightly on a table, while singing rythmic songs as they move the cloth along. I wont be going that far with this project. I'll be soaking it in hot water and giving it some agitation to tighten the weave. I dont want to turn it into a felted piece.

Below is info on Waulking

Wool Waulking
 
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