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    Several people asked me about garb ideas in preparation for the Trimarian coronation of Martin von Lochner and Islay Elspeth of Glen Meara , Fall 2006. Rather than trying to keep up with emails to everyone, I putt my working notes here.

    Alfonso X's Book of Games (Libro de Ajedrez, Dados y Tablas):

    A 13th Century Spanish Princess

    Moorish LadiesHer Highness will be wearing Moorish garb along with HRH Martin. The prior notes about the 13th Century Spanish Princess have been moved to a different page.

    As women's Moorish tunics were very similar to men's, the same cutting layout below. I tend to make the body and side gores narrower, and the "angel" sleeves more full.




    A Moorish Prince:

    Some overviews:

    Alfonso X's Book of Games (Libro de Ajedrez, Dados y Tablas) features some fine Moorish gentlemen playing chess:Miniature from Hadith Bayad wa Riyad

    A list of costume terms, including textiles and accessories


    The same wealth of artifacts did not survive for Andalusian costume as for Spanish. Islamic burial practices, which stipulate the body be wrapped in a shroud for burial, have a lot to do with the lack of remains. We know the textiles were probably similar to the Christians', since most of their fabrics were produced in Andalusian or Mudejar workshops.

    One garment survives, however, which is described as being of "wholly Muslim manufacture." This is the tunic of Archbishop Rodrigo Ximenez de Rada (d. 1244). While I have not tracked down the sources which explain this provenance, I have created several reproductions based on the proportions of this garment. The drape of the reproductions corresponds well to the loose and flowing nature of Moorish tunics in miniatures. The De Rada alb also reflects the Moorish preference for round necklines, rather than keyhole style seen in Spanish fashions. Based on these observations, I feel fairly confident in using the cut of this garment as a starting point for the layout of other Moorish tunics.

    Cut and Construction of a Moorish Tunic, Step-by-Step:

    Layout Options for a Moorish TunicThis is how I do it: YMMV. The Moorish tunic offers great flexibility in layout, while still making a tunic that looks great. The picture here to the left shows to possible layouts for a men's tunic, based on fabric width. Both will product approximately the same tunic showed at the bottom of the picture.

    The very flexibility offered by this pattern can be a challenge to tailors who are more accustomed to follow a paper pattern with a very specific cut. If the fabric is narrower, or the gentleman has a slender build, an inch or two can be taken off the body panels, and 1/2" to one inch can come off the side gores. Likewise, if this is a tunic for a manly man, add a few inches to the body panels, make the diagonal lines of the gores less steep (adding width to the tops of the gores), and rearrange the pieces as necessary on a fresh piece of graph paper.

    The sleeves can be cut wider, or narrower, angle in to a tight fitting wrist opening or sweep out to angel sleeves. The length of the tunic can be longer or shorter. Miguel always cuts his body panels in half, front and back, for a deep riding slit. (The riding slit, shorter length, and wider body transforms this into a great over-the-armor fighting coat.)

    Step 1: Cut out the tunic. Pick a layout which optimizes the usage of the fabric: this is a "medieval solution" to a medieval problem! Fabric was just too expensive to waste. If your fabric has an easily discernible "right" and "wrong" side, make sure your gores are cut out mirror image to each other. This is important enough to say again: MAKE SURE YOUR GORES ARE CUT MIRROR IMAGE. If that diagonal goes the same direction, rather than opposite directions, you will end up with "four left gores" so to speak. For a lot of fabrics, this won't ruin your tunic, but you'll forget, and one day you'll be cutting out fabric with an embroidered design on one side and OOPS. Sorry, Grainne! (Yes, I learned this lesson the hard way.)

    Step 1 1/2: Finish your edges. Miguel considers our serger to be "his" power tool, and this is his opportunity to shine! Other friends have found that hand finishing raw edges is easier before the tunic is sewn together - this is up to each individual.

    Step 1 3/4: Sew the shoulders, if your layout required the front and back panels to be cut separately from one another.

    Neckline of a Moorish Tunic-in-ProgressStep 2: Finish the neckline. Trust me (another hard learned lesson!) it's much easier to do this before the sleeves and gores are sewn on. The de Rada tunic has a neckline which looks like a half circle, and personally I was very skeptical of that it would fit over anybody's head. Not only does it work, it provides the same high, round neckline seen in the majority of the miniatures. (Keyhole necklines are only seen in Moorish undergarments, or in Christian garments; the Moorish necklines are almost universally semi-circles.) I cut mine slightly small, then pare slivers of fabric away until it just fits over my head with a little encouragement. When the neckline is finished, it will fit perfectly.

     This view shows what the "de Rada" style neckline looks like from the inside. This time I finished it with a facing of black linen (it won't show from the outside anyway), whereas normally I perfer to use bias tape.

    Step 3: Sew the tops of the side gores to the bottom of the sleeves in such a way that the off-grain hypotenuse of each gore will be View of the top of the gores sewn to the sleeveeventually sewn to the body piece of the garment. For this gore-sleeve seam, stitch all the way to the edge on the side facing the body; for the edge facing the side seam, only stitch to 1/2" or 5/8" of the hypotenuse of the gore. (Basically stop one seam-allowance-worth-wide from the edge.) This will make it easier to sew the side seam later.

    This photo shows how the sleeve and gores look once they are sewn together. Notice that the long edge which will be sewn to the body of the tunic is not (nor should it be) a straight line.





    Step 4: match top of sleeves to top of shoulders, and pin to body piece. NOTE: folding the whole body panel in half lengthwise will not Half the tunicnecessarily give you the "top of the shoulders". If you match the top of the sleeve to this halfway point (or to the shoulder seam, depending on how you cut the garment), the tunic will tend to ride back, and the neckline will choke the wearer. (While this is usually easily remedied with a belt, belts are exceedingly rare in period pictures of Moors.) Put the tunic body on (you cut and finished the neckline already, right?), and mark the true "top of the shoulders". Use that mark to line up with the tops of the sleeves. (Normally this mark will be an inch or two forward from the halfway point.)

    NOTE (yes, another one!): Be very careful when pinning those gores! Since they are off-grain, they will stretch if you pull on them while pinning and the resulting seam will pucker. Lay the pieces out on a flat surface and gently line up the edges to pin. When machine stitching, I recommend keeping the gore facing up, to make it easier to detect and fix if it does start stretching.

    Stitch & press. Depending on how you are finishing your seams you may want to stitch in such a way that they are free (if you are flat felling, for instance). I.e., stitch right up to the sleeve/gore seam, backstitch, then start stitching anew from the other side of the seam.

    Step 5: sew up sides and bottom of sleeves.

    Step 6: finish sleeves at wrist, and hem garment.

    Step 7: embellish as desired. (Tiraz, embroidery, etc.)

    To sew the whole garment with French seams: Account for at least 1" of seam allowance everywhere when cutting out the pattern. Sew tops of gores to bottoms of sleeves wrong sides together, using a scant 1/4" SA. Trim to even width, if necessary. Press SA towards sleeve, then fold along the seam right sides together , and stitch at 5/8". This new seam will completely encase the raw edges from the original seam. Next, sew the underarm and side seam wrong sides together at 1/4", trim, press, and turn and stitch at 5/8". (There will be some puckering under the arm, which would be fixed by clipping the seam, but that undoes the whole value of the French seam!) Then sew the side piece in its entirety to the body.


    Textiles in General:

    A selection of colors from Las Huelgas.
    A selection of colors from extant textiles at the Museo de Ricas Telas at Las Huelgas.

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