Red and Black Wappenrock Construction Diary

At the end of April 2008, I was contacted by Baron Erich of Zweihammer Armory about making him a wappenrock for his Laureling ceremony. He was the Baron of the SCA group I played with while out in California for several years, and I was thrilled to be asked. As my schedule had opened up, I was able to take on the commission.

As he is progressing towards a more period appearance, he wanted something documentable, that he could wear without needing to explain anything, yet he wanted the German flash and over-the-top appearance that he sees on the German guilds in California. He also wanted to be able to wear it over armor and without.

Challenges of the commission:
- He wanted to able to wear it over armor and without, I wanted it to look great either way. Armor changes a person's measurements considerably in the shoulders, which the garment hangs off of. If the shoulders weren't made right/supported correctly by the tailoring layers, the garment would look slack.
- The armor he wanted to wear it over wasn't finished yet!
- He was losing weight during the whole process
- No fittings in person, he lives in California and I live in Virginia, 3000 miles away.

I asked him if I could keep a public diary of the project as I went along and he thought it would be a great idea.
I intend to do a full write up on my website at some point, but as I'm in the middle of revising it, I decided to put it up on Picassa for now.

Here is the construction diary, with the period images and extant garment that I used to base my design on.
Red & Black Waffenrock Construction Diary

The actual garment layers are
Upper body part:
Outer layer - wool flannel, invisably basted to an interlinging of 5 oz linen to stabilze the piecing.
It is interlined with linen canvas and wool flannel throughout the body in certain sections for the tailoring layers. He wanted to be able to wear it with and without armour, and I wanted it to look good on him either way.

The skirt is wool flannel, lined with linen. Although the structural seams are machine sewn, there's several hunderd hours of handwork in this, but a lot of that was due to trial and error on my part. There's no visible machine stitching inside or out.

I purchased the wool flannel from B.Black and sons, four yards each of red and black. The linen lining from Grey Line Linen.

Here are the best pictures I have of him wearing it. As you can see, he is no small man, and I made it long distance, no fittings in person.
Erich's Wappenrock, Red/Black

As for patterning and construction, here's what I've found works best.
The body is a basic man's wams body, but I pattern mine so that its distributed proprtionaly to the man. In other words, I measure his back chest and waist and his front chest and waist and draft the pattern to fit his figure, this usually means that the front has more width to it than the back.
Armscyth should be high, so he can move in it, and pitched more towards the front of the body.

Some people say that the armscyth should be low and deep, but I think that this is a mis-interpreation of the artwork and is not validated by the surviving evidence in the pattern books. The extant Rock in Berne (Textile Conservation and Research, WKK vol 46, 2004) does have a lower and not deeply cut armhole, but judging by the fabric (red silk satin) its not a fighting garment, and by the size and cut seems to have been made for a slender man.

The closure style varies by the Rock style, some of the fronts have a full double front, others, like this one, just have a small overlap on the side closure.

Sleeves, varies by the type you chose, but keep the sleeve cap pretty flat so that he can raise his arm.

The skirt... I've experiemented with several different ratios and pleat types and here's what I found works
A pleated full circle skirt, with a 2-1 pleat ratio, knife pleats. What this means is that unlike a typical pleated skirt on a woman's gown, the pleats are actually spaced a bit. So it goes --=--=--= instead of ======

This allows the Rock skirt to hang in the tubular folds so commonly seen in the artwork.

I had a lot of fun making this Wappenrock, and certainly learned a great deal doing it too.

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Comment by Marion McNealy on May 6, 2009 at 10:15pm
I never actually figured out the hem, I figured it would just be too depressing since I was doing it by hand...
Actually, sewing the skirt pieces together was the quick part on the machine. Sewing the stripes of the body was a bit more work but not too bad, the hand sewing was what took so long. Part of it was I'd never made a garment quite like this before, so I had to try certain techniques out and made a lot of mistakes.
If I made another one, it would be a lot faster!
Comment by Markehed on May 5, 2009 at 1:46am
How wide did you make the bottom of the skirt? Must have been a lot of work to sew all those pieces together.


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