French Hood: Actually making the thing.

Beloved internet, I am not late period. Aethelflied lived and died before the year 1000. Yet I am led to believe that some of you insist on living after I died, centuries after even. And a few of you even have the nerve, nay the sheer bold faced audacity! To be people I like and want to give textiles to.  So for the purposes of this post, and the one previous on how I made Donovan’s floppy topper, assume Aethelflied found a time machine for the sole purpose of going forward in time to make awesome folks hats. So without further ado I present:

Apprentice Sister’s French Hood

I’ve already posted a lot of documentation for what a French hood is/looks like. So if you’re confused on where I’m pulling this from feel free to check my archives to refresh your memory. I’ll wait.

Back? Awesome.

Ok so, I wove this. So there are going to be a lot of steps here and this is going to be a Long Post. Brace yourselves, get some snacks, maybe a tasty beverage, and buckle up. First we need to figure out how much fabric we need. From there we figure out how much string we need to make the fabric. Then we’ll move on to assembly.

I guessed and patterned off of myself, but if you’re being more meticulous: You want to measure the circumference of the head of the person who is wearing this complicated hat. That’s measurement A. (there’ll be a diagram in a minute ’cause describing this is neigh impossible).  Now, measure from the temple (roughly on level with the eyebrow) down to the cheekbone. That’s measurement B. Measure from just behind the cheekbone, up over the forehead where you want the hat to sit, over to the same point on the other side of the face. That’s measurement C.

Now we’re going to pattern the paste (that’s the bottom headband bit the crescent sits on). It’s going to be roughly this shape:


Measurement A is the long bottom curve, measurement B is how far those two doinky bits come forward, measurement C is that front curve. Plot those measurements on graph paper and rough in the shape. Do your best, we’re building a pattern for a freaky shape with no right to exist. It won’t be utterly perfect but it should be symmetrical. Keep adjusting the angle of the doinky bit until the center of that measurement and the front curve are right. Then draw in those little side curves,  they need to be deep enough to go above your ear comfortably.

Cut this out of paper, yes I know this is the first time I’d advocating making an actual pattern, that’s how you know it’s a big deal. So, cut this out of paper and lay it on your head the way the finished piece will lie. The two long arms get wrapped around your head to meet at the bottom back, where your skull and neck meet. The doinky bits should lie on your cheeks, with the arch above your ears. Once you’ve mastered that magic set the paste pattern aside.


(See? Arching up and over the ear)

Now we’re going to pattern the crescent (the flashy headband bit). Measure from just in front of your ear (where the paste we just made starts to arch) up along your hairline (where the front of the paste lies when you’re wearing it), to the same front of the ear point on the other side of your head. That measurement is the bottom of your crescent. You’ll need to curve it slightly. The deeper the curve the taller your crescent will end up after you sew it on.

Once you’ve got that measured/drawn out, measure 2.5 -3in straight up from the center point in the arch and make a little mark. Make a second curve from the outer points of your existing curve up to that center point. That’s your crescent. Pictured in the first photo right below the paste.

Now to determine how much fabric you need.

Fabric for stiffening:

Enough to cut out two copies of the paste, and two copies of the crescent. For my sister’s hood that was about 1/2 yard of heavy weight linen. Some people will advocate using buckram. I’ve never used it before and didn’t have any. I had linen. So that’s what I’m going to walk you through, if you want to use buckram there are plenty of tutorials that will assume that’s where you’re starting. I suggest reading through them then coming back here and ignore the stiffening step. But I’m not referring to it again, got it? Good.

Fabric for shell/fancy fabric:

Enough to cut out a copy of the paste (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), a copy of the crescent (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), and a veil 1in wider than the outer curve of your crescent, and 22-26 inches long. This is what I wove on a table loom, so my measurements are a bit weird. That being said I needed one length of fabric that was 15in x 12in for the paste and crescent and one 45in x 12in that I cut in half and seamed for the veil.

Fabric for lining/backing:

Enough to cut out a copy of the paste (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), a copy of the crescent (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance). I used the same fabric for this as I did for the stiffening and got out of the same half yard.

So total fabric shopping list:

-1 yard of 45in black silk (if you’re buying commercial)

-1/2 yard of black linen

Additional needs:

-Sufficient beads/pearls to edge the crescent and the front of the paste (around the doinky bits and across the brow) For me that was 3 15in long strands of cultured freshwater pearls.

– a length of ribbon long enough to box pleat along the front edge of the paste (45in for me)

-18 gauge jeweler’s wire, enough to edge the entire crescent and the entire outer edge of the paste (10ft for me)

-Super strong thread

-A curved tapestry needle (I didn’t use one. This made me sad and my hands hurt. Trust me. Get one)

-Plain school glue. I used the clear gel kind.


So now we know how much fabric we need. I wove the shell and veil, which came out to a needing a chunk of fabric 60in x 12in wide, as well as a 1/4in wide ribbon 45in long. Because I was going to have to seam the center of the veil anyway I warped the ribbon as one of the selvedges with intent to cut that off and use the raw edge as the center seam of the veil and tuck the raw edge of the ribbon into the paste.


50 epi for 12 in = 600 strands.

60 + 10% (take up) + 18 (loom waste) = 84in (I rounded up to 100 because I’m paranoid.)

600*84 = 50400/36 = 1400 yards of thread needed for the warp.

50ppi at 12in long for 60in = 36000/36=1000 yards needed for weft.

Total: 2400 yards of 60/2 silk thread.

Spend the next two – three months weaving the fabric. Then move on to the next step.


(sewing pin for scale)


Making the paste:

  1. Cut out the two pieces for the stiffened inners of the paste.
  2. Make a solution of 1 part glue, 4 parts water
  3. Soak the pieces in the glue water, lay them flat (one on top of the other to stick them together) on wax paper and leave them to dry. Set this aside for now.
  4. Cut out the lining and shell pieces.
  5. Stitch them together along the interior edge (the part that goes around your head.) Set that aside for now.
  6. Take your dry stiffened bit and sew jeweler’s wire along the exterior edge. (from the back point of one leg, along the sides, along the doinky bits, along the front, and to the back point of the other leg. Use an awl for this. Trust me)
  7. Gently bend the stiffened, wired, internals into shape. Keep putting it on your head until it’s sitting comfortably in the right spot.
  8. Slide this into the shell/lining with the lining on the bottom side.
  9. Carefully, using as invisible a stitch as you can, stitch the open edge closed, tucking the raw edges into the internals. Set your paste aside.

Adding the wire^^

Making the crescent:

  1. Cut out the two pieces for the stiffened inners of the crescent.
  2. Make a solution of 1 part glue, 4 parts water
  3. Soak the pieces in the glue water, lay them flat (one on top of the other to stick them together) on wax paper and leave them to dry. Set this aside for now.
  4. Cut out the lining and shell pieces.
  5. Stitch the shell and lining together along the upper edge.
  6. Stitch the jewelers wire around the entire dry, stiffened internal piece.
  7. Gently bend the internal into shape
  8. slide the internal into the pocket made by shell and lining (lining to the back)
  9. Carefully, using as invisible stitch as you can, stitch the bottom of the crescent closed, tucking the raw edges in.


Crescent shell, ready to have the wire innards stuffed in ^^

Final assembly:

  1. Thread and knot all your beads or pearls onto a length of silk (OR! use very thin floral wire for about 174% less frustration later. I didn’t. This was a hint I got after my pearls were knotted on the silk)
  2. Align the center of the crescent with the center front of the paste.
  3. Gently bend the crescent into place
  4. Using the hooked needle (you bought one right?) sew the crescent to the paste. This will be a difficult, pain the ass process. Just go into it expecting it.
  5. Hem your veiling.
  6. Stitch your pearls or beads (this is called a biliment for a random factoid) along both edges of your crescent and the front of the paste.
  7. Pleat and iron the ribbon
  8. Stitch your ribbon along the underside of the bottom of the front of the paste
  9. Sew on your veil.


Done! Finally! This is a lot of finicky handwork. But, if you’re fond of late period hats then it’s worth the work. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting back into my time machine and going back to 950 C.E. when clothes make sense and hats take less than 3 months to make.


Floppy Topper

Beloved internet, I am not late period. Aethelflied lived and died before the year 1000. Yet I am led to believe that some of you insist on living after I died, centuries after even. And a few of you even have the nerve, nay the sheer bold faced audacity! To be people I like and want to give textiles to.  So for the purposes of this post, and the one following on how I made my apprentice sister’s French Hood, assume Aethelflied found a time machine for the sole purpose of going forward in time to make awesome folks hats. So without further ado I present:

Donovan’s Floppy Topper

What in the name of Alfred is a floppy topper?! A floppy topper is the super technical proper term (that I made up) for an Elizabethan men’s hat. You know the one. It looks like a half risen loaf of bread got in a fight with a non-rigid plate and the plate lost.  You can see them in several portraits. For example, this one by Ludger Tom Ring the Younger (Self Portrait – 1547)


So how do you make one of these stunning bits of fashion? To be honest I have no idea if any of what follows is technically correct, or how anyone else does it. I reverse engineered off of portraits because I was too impatient to wait to borrow my apprentice sister’s copy of Tudor Tailor; and I was making this in a time crunch so didn’t want to take too much time letting perfect be the enemy of good or good be the enemy of finished.  That being said, this seemed to work. So it’s at least plausible.

Because I wanted this to be entirely machine washable I skipped any kind of stiffeners. Normally I’d use glue, but I wasn’t sure how that’d hold up, and being able to wash it (as it’s intended to live in a gear bag, and those can get…fragrant) was more important than strict accuracy. That is also why this version is made out of cotton I had on hand.

First we are going to do math to figure out how much fabric you need. Yes, math is scary, but I’ll walk you through it I promise. I am not a math person (in spite of what previous posts would lead you to believe), which is why I tend toward early period; straight lines make for less math. But we will get through this ordeal together.

Step 1: Measure around the intended wearer’s head where they want the hat to sit. In my case that was 23.25 inches.

Step 2: look up how to figure out the diameter of a circle from the circumference because you forgot middle school math. Because I love you I did this step for you. Divide the number you got above by Pi (Use 3.14, don’t go further, you’ll drive yourself bonkers trying to get that accurate. This is fabric, not a life support system). For me this looks like 23.25/3.14 = 7.40.

Step three A: Take that measurement, add 4 inches (11.40 for me) and multiply by 4 (45.2). For the internal of the brim I will need a piece of fabric 11.40in x 45.2 in.

Step three B: Take that measurement, add 6 inches (13.40 for me) and multiply by 2 (26.8). For the shell of the brim I will need one piece of fabric 13.4in x 26.8in.

Step three C: to determine how big you need the flopsy loaf part to be take your brim shell diameter (13.4 for me), subtract 3 inches (so 10.4 for mine) and multiply it by 2 (20.8) that is the diameter of your flopsy loaf. So you need a piece of fabric 20.8in x 20.8 inches.

Total fabric needs: 11.40 + 13.40 + 20.80 = 45.6in x 45.2in if you’re doing it all out of the same fabric.

Interior fabric needs: 11.40in x 45.2 or a little less than ½ a yard of 60in wide fabric.

Shell fabric needs: 13.40 + 20.80 = 34.2in x 20.80in or a yard of 60in wide fabric to be safe because that math looks weird to me and I don’t fully trust it even though I did it 3 times. Better safe than not.

YOU WILL ALSO NEED: a 2-3in wide strip of fabric about 2 inches longer than your circumference/Pi measurement for an internal brow band thing.

Ok so we have our fabric. Now what? Cutting. I’m not going to lie, I hate cutting out circles. Circles are hard. Therefore my circles are not perfect because I do not own a compass (I know, I know, eventually I will get one, or make one out of a stick, string, and tailor’s chalk. But I’m lazy guys, you know that.)

To make/cut the pattern:

Interior brim:

Step 1: draw a circle 7.4in in diameter (or whatever your circumference/Pi measurement came out to)

Step 2: Draw a concentric circle 2in outside that one, or 11.4in in diameter with the first circle centered inside it.


Step 3: Cut 4 of these. Cut the center circle out of them too. You’ll end up with 4 floppy, hollow, Frisbee looking things.


Step 4: sew those together. I did a line around the outer edge, one around the inner edge, and a big zig zag to stabilize it. (If you want a stiffer brim and if machine washable isn’t a concern for you; feel free to stiffen this by soaking it in a solution of 1 part white school glue to 4 parts water and let it dry flat on wax paper. I did not do this, but I won’t judge you.)

Set that aside for now.

Make the brim shell:

Step 1: draw a circle 7.4in in diameter (or whatever your circumference/Pi measurement came out to)

Step 2: Draw a concentric circle 3in outside that one, or 13.4in in diameter with the first circle centered inside it.

Step 3: Cut 2 of these. Cut the center circle out of them too. You’ll end up with 2 floppy, hollow, Frisbee looking things


Step 4: With the right side of the fabric (if it matters) out run a line of running stitch along the outer edge, as close as you feel comfortable to getting, but aim for 1/8 an inch or less.

Step 5: Flip that inside out and run another line of running stitch ¼ of an inch from the edge. This will enclose the raw edges in a little tube of fabric. The astute among you will notice I just had you do a French seam. I did this because trying to flat fell in a circle, when you’re trying to avoid visible finishing stitches on the outside of the shell, is an exercise in self-hatred and I love you too much to put you though that.

Step 6: Flip that back right side out. Take your internal brim and stuff it in the little pita pocket made in the brim shell. Line up the centers as best you can, understanding that circles are fickle things and it will probably not be perfect and that’s ok. Don’t be afraid to trim the center disk if you need to in order to make it fit.

Set that whole 6 layer hollow Frisbee aside without sewing around the center.

Making your flopsy loaf:

Step 1: Cut out your circle (20.8in for me)

Step 2: Run a line of basting stitch about ¼ in from the outer edge. Do NOT tie it off at the end.

Step 3: Gather the fabric along that basting thread (if it doesn’t move freely your stitches are too small, pull your thread out and try again.) until the diameter of the gathered edge matches the interior circle of your hollow Frisbee.

Step 4:  Pin the gathered edge of your flopsy loaf around the interior circle of your hollow Frisbee.


Step 5: Take your 2-3 inch strip of fabric. Fold it into quarters long ways (hot dog bun, not hamburger roll). Iron it if need be. I didn’t.

Step 6: Pin your quartered strip along the interior edge of your hat (it looks like a hat now right?) sandwiching the raw edges inside the fold of the strip. Tuck the very end under when you get all the way around so you have no raw edges showing.

Step 7: Break your sewing machine needle trying to stitch the band/interior of hat sandwich. Skip this step if you’re smarter than me and realize your machine won’t go through 14 layers of fabric.


Step 8: Hand stitch the band into place around all the raw edges. Please use a thimble otherwise your fingers will be sad. Also use the stab stitch method, like you do with a bone needle, otherwise you’ll get super long/loose/ugly suture like stitches, sore hands, and a broken needle.

Step 9: Wear your floppy topper with pride you fancy late period person you. Or give it away and get back into your time machine and return to where textiles make sense.


(Yes I am wearing it, no it is not actually mine)

Mistress Aife’s KOE scroll

AKA oh look! Bard stuff. Aife is my SCA aunt so when I got asked to do the words for her backlog KOE scroll I jumped on it. I’d never written a scroll before, but darn it she’s family so I was going to, given the chance.

Now writing the scroll itself is the “easy” part. Easy for me because I am a cheater cheater head and using the poem I already wrote for her as my base to build off of. Doing this for someone else? Would be a wee bit more difficult. Especially if it is a style that I am unfamiliar with. As a reminder here:

Hear me eastern lands / now behold!

Before you comes a / bard of note

Named voice of a king / known to all

Aife here stands

Given gift of verse / grand her words

works stand highly praised / welcomed songs

silver voiced poet / sung of war

Wordfame gained

Summon we now this / rousing smith

Reward her well for / wisdom great

Green leaves given to / great lady

Laurel earned

Is the original poem. That is my base. Note a few things on style here. The second half line is three beats with a pattern of Stressed unstressed Stressed. This is the most simplistic beat pattern you can get away with with this style of poetry. It ultimately can be any beat pattern you want for the second half line BUT every one has to be the same.  I am going to stick with this pattern because it is the most comfortable pattern for me to follow. I am keeping the style of three full lines plus half lines with a verse end of a single three beat line.

The beat count before the second half line must be 5 for a total of 8 beats per line. However these 5? Can be in any stressed/unstressed pattern I want, so long as it ends in such a way as to stress the first beat of the second half line.

Note also the wrapping alliteration, the last word of the line sets up the alliteration for the line that follows. This isn’t a requirement, but I feel it adds a nice touch so I treat it as one anyway.

Now the way my writing process works is once I have an outline I pick my alliterations, write out what I want the poem to accomplish, and treat it like Medieval Madlibs. Don’t laugh, it works. Doing it that way helps break alliterative poems into bite sized pieces that makes them easier to tackle. I don’t know how well this approach would work with rhyming poems or sonnets. But it works really well for alliterative (for me anyway, who doesn’t love Madlibs?)


Here is the rough draft:

Hear me Eastern lands / now Behold!

Laurel ringed brow of / lady fair

Fierce fili giver of / fame of words

Called by King.


Well he knows her worth / wisely calls

Clever woman for  / Kingly grant

Gives great praise of work /Grant of Ollam

Honor high


The King’s Order of  / Excellence

Enhances name of / Aife bright

Bringer of wisdom / Brought knowledge

Work is known.


I’ll have a picture of the final scroll posted once I see it. I wrote this about a year ago, realized I didn’t save my finished copy anywhere (be smarter than me kids) so I’ve just kinda been sitting on it until it went out.

Diamond twill

Guys? Diamond twill is straight up sexy. It’s also found all over the place in period. And it’s easy to see why. It’s just as easy to set up and weave as any other 2×2 twill, and it creates this beautiful all over diamond pattern.

I mean, look at it. That’s what I have on the loom right now. It’s a 35epi purple and gold silk in a very basic diamond twill pattern. This is based on a find in Greenland mentioned in Woven into the Earth, believed to be an imported sample cloth as the small fragment was more densely woven than other textiles being produced in Greenland at the time. It also has four regular edges, and shows the full pattern, implying it was cut off just for that purpose.

Diamond twill works for, as far as I know, almost any early period persona. It’s that simple to make and prolific. But it’s especially easy to find in Northern Europe, we’ve got it from Sweden, through Russia, England, Greenland, ect.

Downside? It’s fallen out of commercial popularity. So good luck finding it for a reasonable price if you don’t weave it yourself. But! If you do weave you can find free pattern drafts for diamond twill and it’s sister broken diamond twill all over the internet.


So today I found myself in the novel situation of needing to size my warp. I’m working in silk. This shouldn’t be a thing I need, but the silk I have is loosly spun and fuzzy so it’s matting together. Sizing helps prevent this.

Right! Before I go further, sizing is some sort of coating on the warp threads to make them slip past each other easier without felting. Normally done on fibers like wool or alpaca, a good sizing should wash out fully once you finish the fabric.

Because a good sizing will fully wash out it makes it super hard to document. Things that could have been used include: wax, tallow, wheat goop, flax goop, oil? But it’s hard to tell if the residue on cloth is sizing or if someone spilled food on themselves.

I’d rubbed beeswax on my warp before when I was making the white belt and I was worried the cards were going to abrade my yarn. That is as close to sizing as I’ve gotten.

Before today.

Super fuzzy silk of irritating stickiness calls for sizing. So I decided to try my hand at making flax goop. Why? Flax seed is cheap where I live and the process​ seemed super simple. And it is! It’s also super gross and I am never making this again if I can help it. I will trade for my flax goop.


-boil 2 cups of water

-add 1/2 cup of whole flaxseed​s

-stir until a white foam appears (disturbingly quickly, just so ya know)

-reduce heat and simmer until the seeds appear suspended in a gel the consistency of egg whites

-cool so you don’t burn yourself

-strain through cheese cloth to separate the useful goop from useless seeds.

Guys? I am a tactile person. Handling gel that looks like seed speckled egg whites, and smells like half sour oatmeal, made me gag. More than once. Straining it got this stuff all over my hands, making them feel like I’d accidentally spilled hair gel all over. This was unpleasant. I got enough to fill a tiny jar, and maybe coat this warp.

You may not hate it so much. You may find it’s worth the hassle. I do not. Next time I’ll try wheat. Or, bribing someone else.

Project list

Seriously guys, just what it says on the tin. A list of projects on my plate for the next year or so. I’m not exaggerating. So if I go quiet for a while, please understand I’m working on the next one and I’ll post when I finish.

1. 12x24in strip of black twill (collaboration project)

2. 15in x 45 in veil of broken diamond twill

3. 2 sets of leg wraps

4. Roughly 10 yards of trim

5. Handspun, hand woven cloak

6. Hand sewn Birka coat

7. Headband

8. Handspun, handwoven, hand sewn dress

9. Two belts

10. A tapestry

11. A couple over dresses

12. Silk and nettle veil

13. A couple underdresses

The Cost of Clothing

AKA you want HOW MUCH?! For a HAT?!

Allow me to start with the following statement: You are underpaying for your clothing. Yes you. So am I.

We live in an era of cheap, mass produced, clothing that is inexpensive due to globalization. $1.00 goes a lot further in Togo (GDP for 2015 $4.08 billion) than it does in the US (GDP for 2016, waaaay more than that).  A happy side effect being that we’ve gotten used to $10 tee shirts and breaking $100 for special occasion or business garments. Heck, HAVING special occasion or business garments rather than one or two outfits you wash and/or air out frequently.

This does tend to skew our perception of what clothing costs to make and what textile work entails. I mean, I can go to Local Big Box Store and buy a skirt for $10, so offering $20 for someone to make it for me is more than fair. Right? I mean, if it’s someone who likes sewing anyway I can probably just offer them what I’d pay at BigBox and that’ll be super fair. Not quite, dear heart.

This gets even more pronounced (in my personal experience) for commission work for reenactment garb. When you’re used to spending $10-$50 on a single garment and suddenly you need to commission something you can’t buy at BigBox for your persona, $300 for a dress seems outrageous. And it is! Just not in the way you might be thinking.

(Note: this is just an example. More will follow at the bottom that include spinning and using period appropriate tools and less luxurious raw materials, as well as one entirely modern example.)

Remember that French Hood I made and posted pictures of? Here’s a refresher picture 18698950_1529308743760396_786930571_o.

Hand stitched, hand woven silk, linen, real pearls ect. How much would you expect to pay for that? $100? Maybe $200? Lets figure it out together.

Silk thread (60/2, 2 cones in white) $70.00

Pearls (3 strands of 15in) $90.00

Linen 1/2 yard @ $15 per yard.

Wire 10 ft $7.00

Dye (red and black) $10.00


Materials:  $184.50 (not counting shipping costs. To keep math simple lets say $200.00)

Great! That was on the upper end of what we’d be willing to pay for it, I’ll just hand a check to my weaver/fabricator and — hold up there tiger. You’re missing something very Very important in this calculation.


Without this you don’t have a French Hood, you have a pile of string, wire, cloth, and dye with some pearls scattered all over the table.

You may be asking: Why should I pay labor costs? This is someone’s hobby! It’s what they do for fun! I’m paying them to do something they like!

My darling, it is a hobby and for fun when the laborer in question is either A. Making something for themselves, or B. making a gift for someone else by their own initiative. As soon as you ask them to make something for you or a friend it becomes a commission and a job, and they should have their time compensated appropriately. Just like any other job or service. You don’t ask an accountant to do your taxes for free because they love counting, you don’t offer to just cover your plumber’s material costs because they like laying pipe, don’t be that guy that assumes you shouldn’t pay your artist.

Sewing and weaving *are* skills. Textile work *is* skilled labor.  Skilled labor with artificially depressed wages. Where I live skilled labor pays $25.00 an hour and up from there. So that’s what we’re going to use. It takes just as long to get good at textile work as it does any other kind of skilled labor so I’m not going to dip the price just because it’s a bit higher than we’re used to seeing for handmade textile work (which, if we’re being honest, is generally $0.00 – $1.00 an hour).

This took 112 hours of active work to make. 88 hours of warping and weaving, 24 hours of patterning, sewing, and dying.

112 hours at $25 an hour is $2,800.00 plus the material cost of $200.00 is a total cost of $3,000.00.

Ok! Lets say we bought the silk instead of weaving it.


1.5 yards of silk @ $20 a yard: $30

Pearls (3 strands of 15in) $90.00

Linen 1/2 yard @ $15 per yard: $7.50

Wire 10 ft $7.00

Dye (red and black) $10.00

1 yard silk ribbon $15


Material cost: $159.50 not counting shipping. So lets say $175.00

Great! We’re saving money already!

Now to add our labor costs of 24 hours at $25 an hour ($600.00) to that and we come up with $775.00. Which is, admittedly, much more reasonable than $3,000. But still way more than I’m betting you were expecting to pay for a hat.

Maybe that’s just silk and pearls though. I still want an authentic garment, hand stitched, but lets go early period just to keep it simpler.

Ok. Let’s run through the tunic I made my husband a while back. Not completely authentic because it was a cotton/linen blend rather than straight wool or linen. But it was hand stitched. I’ll show the numbers for the simple tunic, as well as the embroidery and trim and you can mix and match as you wish.

Fabric: 5 yards at $11 a yard = $55.00

Thread: $3.00


Material cost: $58.00, lets say $60.00 because round numbers are nice numbers. (add another $2.00 for thread for seam treatments, another $10 in yarn for woven trim).

Fitting/cutting patterning: 3 hours

Sewing: 20 hours.


Labor time: 23 hours @ $25 an hour $575.00 + $60 = $635.00 finished tunic. No embellishment.

Seam treatments: 6 hours (add another $150)

Woven trim: 20 hours to dye, warp, weave, and attach (add another $500.00)

For the heck of it lets figure out how much a completely hand spun, hand woven, hand stitched, embellished Saxon dress would cost to fairly produce. Why not go for broke? Literally. Baring in mind a Saxon dress is an unfitted tube with sleeves. Not anything super fancy or complicated.

Fleece (raw gotland): $100.00

Soap for processing:  $6.00


$106.00 in materials.


Washing fleece: 3 hours

Combing/carding fleece: 90 hours

Spinning fleece (at a rate of 20 yards of thread per hour): 1020 hours.

Warping (at a rate of 100 threads an hour – note this is fast): 18 hours

Weaving (at a rate of 2 inches an hour – also fast): 22.5 hours

Cutting/patterning: 2 hours

Sewing: 20 hours

Woven trim: 30 hours

Seam treatments: 6 hours.


Total hours: 1,211.50 hours at $25 an hour is $30,287.50 plus the material cost of $106.00 makes this a $30,393.50 dress.

Puts that $300.00 dress into perspective doesn’t it?

But ok, maybe you do just want a friend to make you the simple drawstring, cotton, skirt you saw at BigBox that you didn’t like the color on. A simple tube, with another tube on top, and some string threaded through the top tube. As dirt simple a garment as you can get.

Cotton cloth (1 yard): $6.00

Thread: $1.00

Drawstring: 50 cents.


Materials: $7.50.


Patterning, cutting: 1 hour

Sewing/serging/hemming: 2 hours.


3 hours @ $25 an hour = $75.00 + $7.50 = a total cost of $82.50 for a reproduction of your $10.00 BigBox skirt.

Next time you want to commission something, and the price tag makes you choke a little, remember this one simple fact:

You are underpaying for your clothing.