Friday, August 29, 2008

Rectanular Construction Tunics-Introduction the Birth of a Tacky Tunic

Many years ago when I was still in high school I received a copy of Tournaments Illuminated. In that issue there was this amazing article by Lady Muireann ingen Eoghain ua Maoil Mheaghna, about how to make a tunic with rectangular construction. I had never heard of such a thing before. I was amazed that this woman had taken measurements from a actual surviving garment from the middle ages, and made a pattern from it. A garment that wasted virtually no fabric. Since these were the days before I worked at a fabric store, I had no stash to speak of. Making the most of my fabric was a necessity. I devoured the article, copying down her cutting layout in my sketch pad. My little mind was spinning from this new idea, and I had to try making my own. So I pulled out some atrocious plaid knit that I had found at a second hand shop (taste in fabric was still a few years away), and I set about making my first "real" T-tunic. It was a functional disaster. I didn't have enough fabric to make the center gores out of the plaid, so I fudged it, and I used a lightweight lavender cotton for the center gores. It matched. . . in a way. I read the bit in the article of inserting points by hand, so I left the top inch of the gores un-sewn intending to come back later and close up the gap by hand. Well I never did, I never hemmed it either. You would think that it would have been falling apart after the first wash, but I wore that unfinished tunic for years. Eventually I stopped wearing it, and it lurked in the bottom of my garb box taunting me. I would proudly wear my newer creations all the while knowing it was there just out of site. Finally I gave it away, I couldn't stand taking it apart, and I had friends who could use the garb. Finally I was free if the curse of the Tacky tunic, that is untill I was sitting by the campfire, and across from me was my friend proudly wearing my old tunic.

I've gone on to make many more tunics using Rectangular Construction. Once I had mastered the formula for measuring they went together very quickly. I found that when I tried to take a shortcut, and use the quarter & cut method it never worked right. I would end up spending more time fixing the shortcut than I would have taken to just do it right the first time. Thus I was converted. When I sing the praises of Rectangular Construction I often watch peoples eyes gloss over. The number of pieces, inserting gores, math!?! Quite a few people looked at me like I was crazy, and went back to their preferred way of cutting. I was not discouraged. I wanted more people to use this method because it's the right way! OK so there is no right way to do anything, but I really loved the way that this worked, and just wanted to share. So what was I going to do? I started making them for friends. Then I guided a few friends through making their own. Next thing I knew I was teaching my first A&S Class. I find myself popping into costuming forums and giving advice, I even started a photo tutorial On my Livejournal. Sadly that never got finished because I moved, and the half finished project has yet to resurface. Well I still want to spread the love of Rectangular construction.

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