Silk Road garb (Part 5 – Collar)

Gown on the dress form - close up.

Gown on the dress form – close up.

I love the big collar that seems to define the look of the Byzantine costumes, so it was high on my list of things to make for this costume. I really wanted to use the gorgeous trim that I bought at Bhatia’s Cloth House a while ago, but I couldn’t use it as-is.

In this post I’ll write about the collar, the wrist cuffs, and some of the other accessories that are part of this costume.

Superhumeral

This garment item seems pretty iconic for the Byzantine costume, so it was pretty high up on my list of must-haves…

It’s described as an “elaborate embroidered and jewelled collar. Often edged in pearls.”

I started out using the cut-out from my gown’s neckline to make the shape for the collar – this way it would fit as closely as possible to the neckline. I extended the pattern to full-size and then I cut the pattern out in the interlining fabric (a sturdy cotton which I was given by a former teacher) and tried it on, made a small adjustment to the fit in the shoulders, and finished the pattern.

I then marked it VERY roughly with chalk on my dress fabric…

Marking the general shape of the collar onto my fabric

Marking the general shape of the collar onto my fabric

… so I’d know where to block print!

I used the same geometric block that I used on the sleeves of the gown to do an overall print on the collar fabric, not so much to give it bling, but to give it texture and dimension. The fabric is the same fabric as the dress – a polyester that is the perfect colour for what I had in mind, since I couldn’t find the right colour in silk. The polyester has a good hand and drape, similar enough to silk… at a fraction of the price. (and more importantly, in the right colour!)

Cutting out the collar after block-printing the fabric

Cutting out the collar after block-printing the fabric

From there I cut the collar out for front and back. I didn’t print the lining.

The front and back of the collar cut out of my block-printed fabric

The front and back of the collar cut out of my block-printed fabric

The individual who taught me block printing this past spring/summer reminded us in class to not attempt for perfection – still I knew which of the printed pieces I was going to use as the front and which one as the back – some of the printing was uneven… on the piece I’d use for the back!

At this point I also basted the fashion fabric to the interlining.

Next I took my gorgeous embellished trim, and cut it apart… separating different motifs. I wanted to use as much of it as possible as efficiently as possible so I’d have lots left over for other parts of the costume, so I picked out one set of elements for the front, and used the “remnants” for the back. I auditioned them (in the photo below) to see how I might arrange them…

Once I picked a style I liked, I hand-sewed the motifs on using thread that matched the blue. I also used fray-check on the motifs to limit any fraying, though the collar won’t be getting a lot of laundering or abuse, so I’m not especially worried about them.

Next was coming the red “silk” trim for the edges of the collar.

Four stages of preparing the red trim for the collar

Four stages of preparing the red trim for the collar

I used the original collar pattern to make the inner and outer bands, and did a stay-stitch line to clip and press the edges.  In the photo above, the four steps are from the bottom up:

  1. stay stitching the trim
  2. clipping the trim up to the stay-stitching
  3. the clipped edge pressed under
  4. the trim stitched to the collar
The reverse of the inside of the collar, showing the interlining

The reverse of the inside of the collar, showing the interlining

I also basted the trim on the outer edges to the fashion fabric, so that when I went to line the collar it would be fine to lay flat.

Next I sewed the lining, bag-style, leaving one of the shoulder edges free.  I clipped the collar, interlining, and lining to the stitching lines so that I could cleanly press the collar flat. Theoretically I should have pearled/beaded the collar before lining it, but I wanted to be able to press the collar without worrying about melting the (fake) pearls.

From my Instagram account, one step was using large fake pearls between the main motifs of the collar.

Next, I did a string of pearls along the edge where the red trim meets the collar – I used a technique from another class I took from an SCA member this past spring/summer.

Hand-beading the collar with small fake pearls

Hand-beading the collar with small fake pearls

Below is a nearly-finished view of the collar…. just awaiting alternating hooks-and-eyes at the shoulder to fasten it. It does slip over the head, but since I’d be wearing this with a big huge hat.. I figured a second way of taking it off would be good.

The front and back of the collar, in progress

The front and back of the collar, in progress

Want to see more from this costume?

Visit all of the posts about this costume through the Byzantine link here!

Stay tuned for the next part of the Superhumeral!

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One comment on “Silk Road garb (Part 5 – Collar)

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