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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Cravat of one Hans Pfaall

The cravat is finished. I finished it on Tuesday, so it's a day late.

Here is the inspiration quote:

"Having, as I thought, sufficiently collected my ideas, I now, with great caution and deliberation, put my hands behind my back, and unfastened the large iron buckle which belonged to the waistband of my pantaloons.  This buckle had three teeth, which, being somewhat rusty, turned with great difficulty on their axis.  I brought them, however, after some trouble, at right angles to the body of the buckle, and was glad to find them remain firm in that position.  Holding within my teeth the instrument thus obtained, I now proceeded to untie the knot of my cravat.  I had to rest several times before I could accomplish this manœuvre; but it was at length accomplished.  To one end of the cravat I then made fast the buckle, and the other end I tied, for greater security, tightly around my wrist.  Drawing now my body upwards, with a prodigious exertion of muscular force, I succeeded, at the very first trial, in throwing the buckle over the car, and entangling it, as I had anticipated, in the circular rim of the wicker-work."


From The Unparalleled Adventure of one Hans Pfaall, 1835 by Edgar Allan Poe.

My fabric was a fine silk twill, which was very shifty and slippery. It came in the same bag of inherited silk as the flowers on the silly hat. I'm not sure if Hans' cravat was made of silk since he was a poor bellows mender. But he had acquired a great deal of money for his balloon project(He borrowed it from many different people with no intentions of paying them back), and he was smoking a cigar while preparing the balloon for lift off, so I think silk is quite plausible.
Terribly uncooperative, but pretty, fabric.
I cut a 92 cm square, which was the entire width of the fabric. I pulled one thread out to cut it because that was the only way to get the ends straight.
I sewed it with thread pulled from the end of a slightly stiffer piece of very fine silk. This was the most evil thread I have ever sewn with, it was just a bunch of silk filaments with no twist at all. The thread was so light that it floated around and got snagged on many things. I went slower than usual to avoid snarls.

Look at all the evil little filaments.

 On the first side I hemmed I ironed and then pinned the whole thing at once before sewing it up. It came out wonky.
Wonky hem. Also, I finally have a cover for my big ironing board and have returned the smaller, stained one to the laundry room, which is why the background is a geometric print instead of splotchy muslin.
For the next side I tried folding the hem as I sewed, holding it in position with my thumbnail, with one pin and no ironing. It worked much better.
There was a bit of puckering after ironing, but overall it was a great improvement.
I hemmed the selvages too. They didn't need it, but I wanted all four sides to be the same, and the square to maintain it's squareness.
I folded it in half diagonally and rolled it up from the corner so that two of the corners were at the ends and the other two were hidden in the middle, along with most of the hems.
I tied it in the same way Edgar Allan Poe's cravat is tied.
Poe in 1848. (source)
I got my little brother to model it for no good reason. (please forgive the shirt, I know it's horrible. The cuffs are the wrong way around, the collar is too small, and it isn't even hemmed. I threw it together about a year and a half ago using some cotton scraps and a pillow case, it's embarrassing and will to be taken apart soon but it was the closest thing I had to an 1830's shirt.)
My younger brother Simon. Doesn't he have nice hair?


I was quite surprised at how so much fabric could roll up into so little space, it gives it a shape just like the one Poe is wearing. Another great surprise was that when I unfolded it, it had fold marks just like the linen one from The Met!

The story had no description of the cravat itself, so I am obliged to show a picture of this cravat, tied in the same way the one in the story was.
One end of the cravat made fast to a buckle, and the other end tied, for greater security, tightly around his wrist.
It's long enough to use as a rope, therefore it is just like the one in the story. It wasn't my intention to choose a project so open for interpretation, but it did work out well.

The Facts

The Challenge: #10, Literature

Fabric: one 92 cm square of white silk twill.

Pattern: None

Year: 1835, but it would work quite well for the preceding 3 decades.

Notions: 8 lengths of thread pulled from the end of another piece of white silk.

How historically accurate is it? Probably the most accurate thing I have ever made. It's 100% silk, totally hand sewn and the square shape is my very best guess based on both portraits and extant cravats(see previous post).  The silk is pretty good quality too.

Hours to complete: Nine and a half.

First worn: I haven't worn it yet, but I will once I have a decent shirt and waistcoat to go with it.

Total cost: $0, the silk was inherited from a friend of my mother's, which is why it is such a nice quality. I certainly couldn't afford fabric like this.

Even though silk is evil, I want to sew lots more with it. It seems like the sort of evil that can be defeated if you make small enough stitches.
Hopefully I shall make a larger garment for the next challenge. I feel like I've been using the "you can never have too many accessories" trick for too long.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent workmanship, you are a thrifty designer and a little goes a long way. I'm impressed by how you cleverly you used the pulled silk thread to hand sew the border.

    Your model is very handsome and also a good sport for modelling your creations.

    Hugs,
    Mamoo

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