Linen is a great fabric for historical costuming. It’s sturdy, versatile, takes color well and washes ever softer and softer. And it’s historically accurate – ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Ireland, Israelites, the Mediterranean, Cornwall, as armor, in the Renaissance, Victorian England and beyond, until cotton became cheap to manufacture.

Elizabeth's late 1500s Italian working class costume via FabricsStore Chronicle

My favorite linen source, Fabrics-store.com has a piece on enthusiastic historical costumer and author, Elizabeth, who works in linen. Elizabeth enjoys working in linen for it’s more practical allures (as opposed to the upper class fru and bling that usually gets all the attention). It’s both fun and challenging to work in linen and portray the often under-represented middle class. This is exactly what the Rogues of Thread have been working on since early this year, and accomplished with some accuracy (and just a little fru) in the form of the Lord Mayor and Sheriff’s new costumes for the San Luis Obispo Renaissance Faire.

Elizabeth rides the fine line of period vs. fantasy, accuracy vs. practicality, but is dedicated to research and education, which is the best attitude the historical costumer can have. I find her practical construction comments helpful, while being slightly aghast at purple damask for a 16c middle class costume and the mention of faux-suede. Not that my own fabric choices are always period accurate. =) Wearable period costumes often require representing the spirit of the period with practically wearable or constructed garments. She is dedicated to quality hand stitching and the small details and pieces (such sleeves – and I do agree wholeheartedly!)  that are not often seen in mass manufactured modern clothing, but make a period piece. More of her costumes, notes and excellent research information can be viewed on her blog.

Thanks Fabrics-store.com and Elizabeth!

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