Sewing: hood separate

I didn’t take any process photographs, for a change.

I had read about this hood design as a result of some investigation of medieval cosplay and SCA authenticity.  And it seemed complicated, but — what do I know? I knitted a first hat that had resembled a frisbee-cozy (you need a nicely knitted cozy for your frisbee, right?), and I knitted a second hat (much better) specifically because I’ve spent entirely too much time at outdoor events this spring where it was cold.  

But… I also noticed that a number of people were wearing cloaks that were too warm, and coats that were too warm, when really all you needed was something to keep the rain off.

Medieval hood.  This one is based on a find in London, combined with one from a Viking site. Loosely based, in both cases.  More a case of conflation. I didn’t get my measurements right for historic accuracy and purity, so this must be labeled a modern take on the design: The lining is cotton, and the stitching is all machine work, and  the bib in the front is smaller than in the back.  I read the story of a woman who uses a hood like this for bicycling in bad weather.  Seems reasonable.

Things I’ll do differently next time.

  • I used a 12×12″ as my pattern base.  To get a wider face-hole for me, and to cover my shoulders, I’ll have to use a 15×15″ grid, I think .
  • Trim the lining pieces and the shell pieces to the same size.  All of the challenges, from hemming to first assembly, can be traced back to pieces not being the same size.

The major insight — absolutely critical — is that the there’s a slice through the body of the fabric to make the hole for the face, which should be immediately stitched to the same hole in the lining. This means that the cuts don’t have a chance to become misaligned: cut both, sew both.  Then the lining has to be pulled through that hole to turn the garment.  But then, the lining and the shell are assembled as mirror images of one another, as if the face-hole of the hood were pressed against a mirror.

Not much to look at…

The design has some challenges to it, but it’s within the range of skills a beginner-to-intermediate student would want to have. the biggest challenge is the face-to-face construction of the lining and the shell. That challenge could be avoided simply by assembling the shell and lining separately, and then only marrying them during the hemming process.  You just have to remember to reverse the construction so that the hems of the lining will wind up pressed against the hems of the shell on the inside of the two layers.  

Seems like it could work… and it uses less fabric than the Jedi robe.  Does it go with anything else I’ve made? Not sure yet, I’ll have to consult someone instead of just a mirror.  Does it look good on me? Comments below.



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  1. You mention things you’ll do differently next time. How do you organize those insights? I started a notebook, but found I didn’t note things often enough, and if I did there was so much to jot down, and then I’d forget to look at it again next time.

    For the most part I make new and original mistakes on each piece. I usually make two of a thing at this point, and remember the details of last time, but then I’ll have a gap before the next time I make something.

    I’ve started to jot notes on the pattern about specifics – “don’t backstitch the gathering threads”, or “needs to be an inch higher here”.

    I’ve checked out some library books with techniques, but find I can’t retain them by reading, or don’t recognize what they’re talking about until I get there.

    Are these blog posts how you’re making the learning stick?

    • I jot notes on the pattern too: “left and right sleeves and cuffs are DIFFERENT” is my current least-favorite note. 🙂 I disassembled both sleeves twice before I had both a left and right sleeve. I think that notes on the pattern instructions work best, but it’s still not ideal. Mostly I have to try to remember what things mean. I also find that looking up terms and watching a couple of YouTube videos helps: “stitch in the ditch”, “ease”, “gather”, “fold a dart”, and “understitch” were some of the terms I learned in recent projects. Our failures, unfortunately, teach as much or more than our successes.

      I have found that at about 6-8 of some thing, I have learned it well enough to make radical adjustments. And I make minor adjustments to all the designs: adding trim or adjusting length, putting in a pocket, adding ties or a buckle or snaps.

      And yes— the blog posts help me structure what I’ve learned.

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