variations on a theme- pain

I have not had a great day so have been avoiding creating a blog post but I’ve gone past into the “this is ridiculous” zone and so should be able to inject a bit of humour. If it doesn’t come across feel free to convert every full stop into a smilie.

My Rheumatoid Disease means I need to be very mindful of pain. Not just location, not just severity, but the type of pain. Pain as a result of trauma or inflammation is likely to result in damage and the sooner I can intervene the better.

So far so easy to understand.

However RA is not limited to the joints. It is systemic which means I can often attribute a pain symptom to something else and miss an opportunity to intervene.

Right now I am covered in small patches of welts caused by activity in my skin. I have nodules which are very well documented in literature, but I have been ignoring itchiness as a warning sign of activity. These welts last for months and only respond to steroid cream.

This is not psoriasis, though PSA is a related autoimmune disease.

It could be vasculitis which is bad so I’ll need to have them looked at. Do not google it. Really, don’t. Mine is not as bad as the images you’ll see immediately. There are some that it does look like- if you have ever grazed your knee on gravel it is much more like that, about the size and shape of forming an o with thumb and index finger. But a lot of them. Mine are very itchy, and I tend to forget that they are not just like regular itchy bites. They trigger it to be fair. But so has resting my elbow on my chair.

So itchy is a neurological and immune interaction that I need to add to my list of Things To Look Out For.

Fibromyalgia has been a very exciting layer of complexity. All the recommendations are pretty much the opposite of recommendations for RA. Which has meant learning the very specific causes of my different pain signals.

Muscular back pain usually triggers a bruised sensation in my skin. Other times and places it is burning, other times I get stinging like prickles.

These are not purely different flavours of pain they indicate what kind of intervention I need to employ. The bruised feeling starts to wrap around to the most common trigger points in the collarbone and hips and from there usually I have a very small window before I wind up with breathing issues and cramping. I think that these mixed up signals are related to fatigue; if they usually get particularly bad they lead to full limb cramping and a panic attack from that. It is very scary as the cramping pulls fingers and toes backwards far enough to hear cracking. This the panic and thus the escalation.

So while I do agree I have fibro I cannot just think the pain away but instead work out what the signal really means.

I can usually ignore the ghost pain in the toe I broke. That is very definitely a sensory illusion and one I can use CBT on very easily. The prickles and raw feeling is one I haven’t fully understood but it is easy to avoid when it starts as it is a touch response and only on specific patches.

The bruised sensation is triggered by touch and if it lasts only a few seconds after I can usually hydrate, stretch, move. If it lasts for minutes I have to apply heat immediately and rest. Or it will last for hours or possibly days.

It is very weird. And figuring out these patterns took a long time. And a lot of experimenting because none of this is in any treatment plan that I have seen. Not traditional, not contemporary, not alternative, nothing.

So this is a case of trusting the body but also learning how to interpret various signals.

css wrangling

Woohoo! I have been working on a new site to transfer all my research to- just to make it easier to find information, I’ll still be here with my own work- and finally have had some luck with being able to not only provide “raw” data (ie non-commentary images/text) but also my commentary and, and this has been the difficult part, a meaningful way to search through both for specifics.

So far I have got a timeline of NRW images up and have been able to use categories and tags on pages (including attachments!) and have been able to display archives as a grid. This at least lets me test the tags and categories until I figure out masonry to help with mobile viewers.

oh.. it already seems to be a bit responsive so that’s a bonus. I quite enjoy css so this is now a fun aspect of the process :0

Anyway. It’s not quite as nifty as pinterest (masonry) but is flexible enough right now to be able to add clothing terms to each image and if I decide that the term is perhaps not perfect I can update and it will update across all images. So much easier than adding a description to the content of each attachment page.

I was going to add new taxonomies but I’d like to keep it as simple as possible and not add too many functions.

But, all I need to do is add another level to categories for images.


While reorganising my NRW files a very interesting pattern popped up. I still need to find some way of getting that information sorted but I am sure this pattern is directly related to sumptuary laws.

Sumptuary laws obviously affect everyone but it is possible to have a change in circumstance that allows for a change in clothing allowances. What I think I can see is this change. I’m trying to work out if this is also then some indication of preference or fashion.

Part of the reorganising involved dropping all images into a single folder then separating by technique, then from there by subject, and from there into setting.

In this was I was able to find the same image in different files. But I then had to still sort and the next easiest way to sort was by specific clothing options.

So far I have managed to mostly get a solid timeline of portraits which than then be used to look at allegorical imagery as well as at illustrations.

So before sharing all that I need to cite each image and some some way to put all the information needed (year/artist/sitter/clothing items) and that gets a bit complicated.

Back to Mon Mothma

Crinkly fabric of a width to make the Rogue One tunic? I don’t think it is one width. The depth of the folds was striking when I went looking for my own fabric and it’s at least two widths if not more (crinkled cotton is about 105-110cm wide). On the upside these are not straight rectangles- which is pretty logical when one looks at the drape. So I should have more than enough. I do need to sort out lining.

Following the crinkles and how they interact with the hems of both garments show just how deep the curve is and can help work out the width in total. The skirt being shaped is great, it means there is less bulk at the waist and hips so that the tunic can flow nicely from shoulder to hem.

Compare this tunic hem to the original and it’s a very similar shape but the Rogue one version is fuller and the fabric has deeper crinkles.

And the full tunic image shows the folds of the tucks pleats is very deep indeed.

Also interesting is the chain is actual chain.

It’s a fantastic break for costumers as this is a fairly standard kind of chain, and is a nice easy ~10mm wide and there are 12mm chains out there for taller people and 9mm for shorter. It’s called a “rope twist” and is often sold on ebay as a hip hop style chain. 2 30″ chains should be enough to include the wrap around the shoulder.

Of interest are her shoes. There is a definitely platform but it even looks like there is a heel. By which I mean we can’t see the shoe extend under the arch which means it has a separate heel.

garsault to the rescue

As expected both the text and the illustrations are much easier to understand in Garsault than Diderot.

The Lingerie Stitches from Garsault, I think I need to use c. I was wondering if there were more variations on this- such as running the needle through the fold to hide stitches almost entirely but it looks like a slanted stitch as per the text.

A, Le Surjet.
B, Le Point noué ou de boutonniere.
C, Le Point de côté.
D, Le Point devant.
E, Le Point de chaînette.
F, L’arriere-Point.
GMH, Trois Figures pour la Couture rabattue.

A, The Overlock.
B, Knotted or buttonhole stitch.
C, The Side Point.
D, The Point in front.
E, The chain stitch.
F, The backstop.
GMH, Three Figures for Folded Stitching.

The Lingerie Stitches of Diderot

The Tailors stitches for hemming:


Of note is the upper of Fig 6; the thread is clearly seen passing through the underside to the top, then the thread not returning through the upper but between upper and lower then through the lower and back up.

Also of note is that k, or the same figure also shows this clearly as the under layer is set slightly under.

And this helps with the text:

Le point à rabattre sous la main.
Il se fait comme le précédent, excepté qu’ayant percé l’étoffe supérieure,vous allez par dehors piquer l’étoffe inférieure au travers; puis vous les percez toutes deux en remontant: on se sert de ce point pour coudre la doublure au-dessus quand il la dépasse : k dessus, n dessous.

The point to fold at hand.
It is like the preceding, except that having pierced the upper stuff, you go outside to stitch the bottom stuff through; then you pierce them both up: we use this point to sew the lining above when it exceeds: k, above, n below.

This is not as clear in the Diderot plate of the same stitches, the stitches do not seem to weave in Fig 16, and in Fig 17 there is no indication of the underlayer.


So that has made it much easier for me to not use this set of stitches for my mantua hemming as it is not formed this way.

I think a simple slanted stitch like I normally use will be fine for the seam allowances along the joins of the mantua petticoat and seen in the Lingerie sections will be enough.

mystery boning- physics and chemistry

Several years ago I managed to find several lengths of lovely rigid plastic boning. I have not found anything like it ever again. I do have some of the now readily available boning variously known as German Plastic Boning and Synthetic Whalebone (which may or may not refer to the same thing) but they just are very different for purpose.

I have a BSc in Biochemistry so plastics/resins hold a real fascination. I mean obviously I had to learn a fair bit about the resins used in fibreglassing because it changes how you use it. For example when to laminate and when to work the entire thickness- basically each batch you mix and cure becomes one giant molecule, each separate batch then only bonds to the surface- it’s more complicated but basically this is also why I like to use fillers and thinners with the same product- that surface bond is still not to be sneezed at. I am so allergic. To epoxy. Polyester is just nasty. But the pros of epoxy as basically safety; flex and resistance to flame.

So. I have a sample and I can do a few very simple tests to find out what the primary plastic is. But plastics are not pure, they may be made from several sources and may have additives and these will affect physical properties.

I don’t think I have enough for professional testing but I should be able to follow this, with a bit of help:


Of interest is this: melamines smell like fish and formaldehyde! I definitely have a few samples of this.

The cut edge is very similar to the cut edge of the Wissner product as stocked by all the main sellers. It goes opaque with compression in the centre of the cross section. It is not a pure clean cut either, the edge is somewhat flaked. It doesn’t crumble. So already that is a test.

I can easily test density-ish. If it floats in water (“room temperature”) or sinks.

So I will see how it burns- speed to catch, smoke, smell, flame, drip…

I can’t quite tell if there is pigment. It is cooler in tone than the other boning but it’s quite subtle. And it could be a matter of different pigments vs presence or absence of pigments. Zinc oxide vs Titanium etc. etc. There might be a bluing pigment?

I have been trying to find the boning online and the easiest way to identify it is the cross section. It is much more oval than what is readily available. And that cross section adds to the rigidity.

In part this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torsion_constant because it is harder to twist. But mostly because of

So sewing huh. Physics and chemistry do matter. It is not just an issue for support materials like this! Fabric is an exquisite interplay. The fibre content, the processing, the spinning, the weaving, the dyeing, the sizing.. it all affects whether you can even wash a fabric without losing properties. And that then affects what you can do to dye or stitch or store the fabric.

Cutting fabric is a calculated risk in very many ways. You cannot restore a fabric to precut. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. It will affect the kind of stitching and fibre content and thickness and twist of thread used to sew it back together. Hand vs machine is not even a given. The fabulous cloth of gold fabric from Sartor Textiles was a dream to machine sew with tiny stitches and the smoothest polyester thread I can use with a microtex needle. Slightly harder to hand sew and it really really needs to be pressed with heat.


Time for a break.

easy mantua cutting

I did manage to cut my fabric panels for my mantua, it really is pretty darm easy as it is all on the grain rectangles. It is pretty much exactly what I expect from a pre-1920s measure, cut, fit process. It looks a bit different but ultimately it’s a case of wait to floor, shoulders to waist and that’s it. Everything else is adjustable to suit.

I knew I wanted my side extensions to be only one full width of fabric (so two widths of a more in era width. I cut (tore) one width from waist to floor plus a hand width for turnings. Then folded on the diagonal to form the two side extensions.

The underskirt is cut from three drops of fabric as these tend to be between 5-7 widths of in era fabric widths. I will wind up with side openings which will allow me to wear pockets underneath. The Henri Bonnart illustrations show a lot of openings for pockets.

The front of the robe was cut from one full width of fabric as long as from my shoulder to floor plus two hand widths. One hand width is to extend the fronts over the shoulder, the other is for turning.

To cut the back panel I laid the extensions next to the front panels and lined up the remaining fabric from top of the front panel down to waist and then followed the diagonal of the side extensions.

I didn’t want a very long train so I cut a curve about 3-4 hand widths.

The rest of the fabric will be used for sleeves and facings.

Since these I have machine stitched the joins and pressed them back ready for stitching. I haven’t yet done so as I need to really look through the Diderot stitches. Okay. Not totally clear but:

The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.
Tailleur d’habits et tailleur de corps

Livre L’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Points de couture.

Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Elévation & places de dessus & de dessous du point de devanten piquant les deux étoffes de haut-en-bas & de bas-en-haut.
Fig, 4. 5. & 6. Point de côté ramenant le fil en-deffous par-dehors après avoir piqué les deux étoffes.
Fig, 7. 8. & 9. Point-arriere ou arriere-point, repiquant de haut-en-bas au milieu du point-arriere après avoir piqué de bas-en-haut.
Fig, 10. 11. & 11. Point lacé comme le point-arriere, lieu qu’il fe fait au- en deux tems, revenu en-hauton ferre le point, & retournant l’aiguille on repique en-arriere commeau précédent.
Fig, 13. 14. & 15. Point à rabattre fur la main piquant le haut-en-bas & de bas-en-hauten-avant les points drus espacés & également.
Fig, 16. 17. & 18. Point à rabattre fous la main commele dernier au-lieu qu’ayant percé l’étoffe supérieure on pique-l’étoffe inférieure par-dehors, ensuite on pique les deux en remontant.
Fig, 19. 20. & 21. Point à rentraire comme le point à rabattre fur la main se faisant en deux tems en retournant l’aiguille avant tout il faut joindre à point fimple les deux envers l’étoffe retournée on ferre de ce point les deux retours il faut pour cela très-peu d’étoffe &les points très-courts.
Le point perdu n’eft qu’un point-arriere ajouté au precédent.
Fig, 22. 23.& Point traversé, couture à deux fils croisés.
Fig, 25. A, premiere opération; point coulé ou la passe, c’eft la boutonniere tracée de deux fils. B, la passe fermée du point de boutonniere. C, la passe achevée & terminée de deux brides à chaque bout quel’on enferme de deux rangs de points noués

Google translated:

Sewing stitches.
Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Elevation & places from above & from the fronten point pricking the two fabrics from top-to-bottom & bottom-to-top.
Fig, 4. 5. & 6. Side point bringing the wire in-bursts from outside after stitching the two fabrics.
Fig, 7. 8. & 9. Point-back or back-point, pushing up and down in the middle of the back-stitch after dipping from below upwards.
Fig, 10. 11. & 11. Point laced like the point-back, place which it is made in two tenses, returned to the top, turns the point, and turning the needle backwards.
Fig, 13. 14. & 15. Point to be folded on the hand, stitching up-down and down-up in front of the thick points spaced & equally.
Fig, 16. 17. & 18. Point to be folded in the hand as the last one instead of having pierced the upper stuff, the lower stuff is thrown out, then the two are stitched upwards.

Fig, 19. 20. & 21. Point to point as the point to be folded on the hand being done in two times by turning the needle before all must be joined at the same time the two to the returned fabric we iron this point both returns require very little material and very short points.
The lost point is only a back-point added to the previous one.
Fig. 22. 23. & Crossed point, cross-stitched seam.
Fig, 25. A, first operation; cast point or the pass, it is the buttonhole traced two sons. B, the closed pass of the boutonniere point. C, the pass is completed & completed with two straps at each end which enclose two rows of knotted stitches

Google translate can’t really understand it. But I am no better off reading heh translation here: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/did/did2222.0000.178?view=text;rgn=main

Figures 13. 14. and 15. Overhand hem stitch piercing from top-to-bottom and from bottom-to-top in front, the stitches densely spaced and even.
Figures 16. 17. and 18. Underhand hem stitch [is] like the last, except that having pierced the upper fabric one pierces the lower fabric at the outside, one pierces the two together fortifying.

The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.


The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.

Livre L’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Points noués simples de neuf différentes formes.
Fig, 4. Points noués doubles de trois différentes sortes.
Fig, 6. & 7. Points croisés de simples & doubles de neuf différentes sortes.

Google translation:

Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Simple knotted stitches of nine different shapes.
Fig, 4. Double knotted stitches of three different kinds.
Fig, 5. 6. & 7. Cross points of single & double of nine different

To be honest it is the section on linen items that has nice clear hemming illustrated.

LivreL’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Livre L’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Fig, 1. Le point de surjet.
Fig, 2. Le point de côté.
Fig, 3. Le point-arriere ou arriere-point:
Fig, 4. Le point devant.
Fig, 5. La couture rabattue.
Fig, 6. Le point noué ou point de boutonniere.
Fig, 7. Le point de chaînette.
Fig, S. Le point croisê.
Fig, 9. Peignoir en pagode:
Fig, 10. Bonnet piqué.
Fig, 11. Coëffure de dentelle.
Fig, 12. Coëffure à deux rangs ou à bavolet.
Fig, 13. Grande coëffe en mousèline. A coëffure en papillon sur une tête de carton.

Google translation:

Fig, 1. The overlock stitch.
Fig, 2. The side point.
Fig, 3. The rear-end or back-point:
Fig, 4. The point in front.
Fig, 5. The seam folded.
Fig, 6. The lockstitch or boutonniere.
Fig, 7. The chain stitch.
Fig, S. The point crossed.
Fig, 9. Bathrobe in pagoda:
Fig, 10. Quilted hat.
Fig, 11. Scallop Coif of lace.
Fig, 12. Coeffure Coif with two rows or bolster.
Fig, 13. Large mussel cockerel mouseline coif. A butterfly coif on a cardboard head.

Working on the mantua

I finally put pencil and ink to paper and got my idea in colour.

Why? The direction of boning is as important as the shape of the pieces. If the boning is vertical it tends to follow the shape of the body more closely- it scoops in at the waist and out over ribs and bust and padding. On the diagonal it acts to channel soft body tissue into the seam with the V. So this gives us the variation in the conical shape.

I think I have found the perfect set of stays to mimic for my own. I am not sure about the breadth across the upper front for me but otherwise it is close.


Date: late 17th–early 18th century
Culture: French
Medium: silk, metallic thread
Credit Line: Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1975
Accession Number: 1975.34.2a–c

early 1700s – Auction House Coutau- Bégarie – Corps à baleines, début du XVIIIe siècle,en damas ramagé rose, piqûres rectilignes soulignant les baleines. Devant en pointe arrondie à effet de corset lacé matérialisé par des dentelles aux fuseaux en sorbec argent, basques gainées de peau. Laçage à oeillets dans le dos, (quelques usures).

I am mostly happy with my stays but I’ll unpick the front panels as I want them on the straight. A whole lot of stays in museums are just labeled “18thC” which is not really helpful given how much the engineering of these stays changed.

I used my Effigy stays for fit and redrew seam lines. I used the Garsault diagram not the Diderot pattern. Garsault is slightly easier to see all the seam lines.

Compare Art du tailleur : contenant le tailleur d’habits … Garsault, François-Alexandre-Pierre de (1693-1778):

with “Tailleur d’habits et tailleur de corps,” Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 9 (plates). Paris, 1771.


I also had Leloir in mind to look for consistencies and differences.

I also used the two sets of stays from Corsets and Crinolines to again look for consistencies and differences.

And also used Hunnisett as a guide, there is a pattern scanned out there labeled as from Waugh which is actually from Hunnisett.

This 1680s set has vertical boning strategically placed at CF CB and sides. This keeps the shape very straight and in fact with a little scoop and tilt back of the front. This follows fashion.

This from the 1730s has a lot of boning on angles to allow for the front to tilt forward every so much. There is still a sweep to the waist it is the start of the very lilted forward shape we see once busks really start to take hold.

Interestingly a very similar bit of engineering goes on for the S front corsets of the 1900s. A very rigid straight busk cases the hips to tilt back and the upper tilt forward, it’s not just the rigid straight busk that is similar but also the use of very diagonal, almost horizontal seams.

I need a nearly vertical front that curves at almost the same degree from top to bottom.

Maria Luisa of Savoy (1688-1714)

This portrait neatly shows the push up effect of the stays (narrow and tall with lots of vertical bones) but the start of a bit of a tilt forward due to the start of a very straight and rigid font.

I’ve cut them so that I can use the front of each panel for vertical support while the back is tapered more or less.

I love stays with a laced open front as it can allow for a pair of stays to be adjusted a bit to mimic some later styles- eras where length becomes defining. In fact there are a few sets of stays dated to the 1780s that use so many of these features- long skinny tabs that mostly have the boning going straight through, lots of vertical boning.

I do though need some new boning. It’s difficult because no two manufacturers use the same process. My favourite was very clearly extruded and so there are parallel lines running through it. It was very rigid, and was quite oval in cross section. This is important for structure as it’s harder to bend that shape than a more flat cross section.

But I do have steels to help support, once I can cut them. So many projects on hold as I need the support structure to start patterning. I can’t use the aviation shears that came with them. So I’m trying to get creative.


It’s been a week of extreme introspection, weariness, and wariness, so before I post about costumes I’d like to use whatever platform I have to connect.

For anyone in Aotearoa the 1737 support line is there. It is there for everyone. Any time. It is free (you may get a message from your carrier that a text could not be sent- they say it will be.)

If you would like to help there are a few official charitable accounts, please, please listen to local voices on this.


https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/christchurch-shooting-victims-fund (this is also the page our national support agencies are directing people to.)

For those still trying to contact families:


There is a direct link from there for those who need to travel here- visa information etc.

I am okay, emotionally I’m not, but right now and for some time if anyone would like to reach out, please reach out to the above first. The website has and is always intended as a conduit to teach or help others. This is no different.

new site

I have felt overwhelmed by my blog here for a while so I have been going through older entries looking for my “sharing” posts vs my progress posts and trying to categorise them all.

I think I now have a handle on what I want but it really is requiring a lot of prep. I need to create new categories and tags, I need to remove excess tags and bring those posts over to new tags.

I think I have a really good start to the system and a way to create media folders that match those categories. And thus also a way to get media content in the same date folder of any recovered posts from my older site.