12th century grey light-wool tunic,  12th century projects,  Hand-Sewing,  How to secure stress points of necklines,  Projects

12th century tunic for my husband – how to secure & strengthen the stress points of a 12th century neckline

My husbands christmas gift - a grey light-wool 12th century tunic – neckline stress pointsIn my last posting  “12th century tunic for my husband – spotting the stress points of a 12th century neckline” I showed you how to find and identify the most vulnerable points of your neckline – or “stress points”, how I tend to call them.

Most of the basic 12th century neckline styles – like a simple round or keyhole neckline – don’t really require any extra strengthening. Due to their lack of real stress points (round neckline) or because their only stress points get exposed to a little bit of extra tension from time to time (keyhole neckline), it is not really necessary to take extra action…

But this turns into a completely different story when you attempt to recreate the more fancy and spiffy neckline shapes of the 12th century. Suddenly you have to face corners and the ending points of slits which expose the fabric to a lot of extra tension and eventually might cause the fabric to rip… This is why I call this points “stress points”.

12th century slit neckline with surface couching - Medieval embroideryWhile I was working at my 12th century red silk dress project, I suddenly got aware of this problem for the very first time. It took several weeks and a lot of surface couching embroidery to create the lovely 12th century pattern for my slit neckline.

And as I prepared to apply the embroidery to my 12th century dress, I suddenly realized that the silk fabric of the neckline band as well as the very thin silk fabric of my dress might not be able to handle all the tension which would apply to both ends of the slit of the neckline.

Aware of this possible problem and determined to protect my dress as well as my embroidery from future damage, I took it upon myself to find a proper solution. Well, it took some time and research but I finally found the perfect solution for my stress points problem and used it ever since.

And now let me show you how I secure and strengthen the stress points of my 12th century necklines – enjoy! 😀

2016-05_Racaire_12th-century-tunic_dalmatica-neckline_1_01Ok, first take a look at the neckline of my husbands new grey 12th century tunic with the blue Dalmatica inspired neckline again. As you can see on the picture on the left, this neckline has 3 possible stress points.

Two stress points are located at the right-agnled corners of the top line of the neckline and the third stress point is located at the bottom of the side slit. Though the stress point at the bottom of the side slit might not really need any strengthening as it only gets exposed to tension while dressing and undressing, I decided to also take care of this stress point because I know how my husband handles his garb. 

And this stress point at the bottom of the side slit of his neckline is where I started:


As you can see on the picture above, I decided to work with a double thread. This not only speeds up the process a bit but also helps to add additional strength and security at this point. The use of a double thread instead of a single thread is nearly always a good idea whenever you need to add more security and strengthening to your embroidery or sewing project.

You might ask now, why isn’t it always a good idea? Well, I used the terminus “nearly always” with good cause as there are some restrictions which you will have to face from time to time. You will encounter materials or projects where the usage of a double thread won’t be possible – for example: if the holes of your pearls or beads are not big enough to get a needle and a double thread through at the same time…

Btw. speaking about pearls and double threads – you might remember my rather recent posting about my pearl embroidery for my 12th century belt where I also used a double thread in order to add extra strengthening to my pearl embroidery. However, using a double thread is just “half the rent”, as we tend to say in Austria. If your thread is quite old and/or of not good quality, even a double thread won’t add the desired extra security and strengthening you are aiming for.

But enough about double threads and let’s get back to the treatment of stress points. Similar to the process of creating extra strong eyelets for lacing, I first “laid” some rather long threads along the border of the bottom part of the slit but without stitching through to the front side. This extra threads help to strengthen the border and furthermore also help to spread the tension more evenly. To add even more strengthening to the bottom part of the slit neckline I also make a rather big “X” shaped stitch underneath the slit – as you can see on the picture above.

Then, starting at the left side, I made small buttonhole stitches along the border of the corner. This buttonhole stitches were quite small but still big enough to cover the rather long stitches I just made and a little bit extra of the adjacent fabric in order to add some more substance for the strengthening at this point. Furthermore I always took care that I placed my stitches deep enough to provide substance for the strengthening but not “too deep” as I didn’t want them to show up at the front – stitches like this wouldn’t look good on the decorative side of the tablet woven band.


Depending on how much extra strengthening you want to add at this point, you can either make just one layer of buttonhole stitches or, if you want to secure it even more, simply add another line of buttonhole stitches over the initial one for reinforcement.

And here a close up picture of the strengthened and secured stress point at the bottom of the slit opening:


Well, my work at this stress point might appear a little bit sloppy at the picture above but if you take a look at the picture underneath, you will see how small my stitches actually are compared to the size of my fingers:


(Btw. please excuse my dark fingernails but I have done a lot of work in the garden before I made this stitches.)

And here a picture of the front of the reinforced stress point:


As you can see on the picture above, all stitches are well hidden at the backside and nothing is showing at the front of the neckline.

After I strengthened the stress point at the bottom of the the slit opening, the strengthening of the next stress point was quite easy to execute because this point was much easier to access and work with. In order to strengthen and secure this stress point located at the top part of the neckline, I again made some rather long basic stitches close to the border and then covered them with some buttonhole stitches along the edge.

…and here a close up picture of the secured and strengthened stress point of the neckline located at the top of the neckline on the left side:


…and here a close up picture of the secured and strengthened right top stress point:


…and again a picture from a little bit more distance to show you the size of my stitches for this stress point:


…and here a picture of my reinforcement taken from the top:


As you can see on the picture above, I worked my buttonhole stitches as far as possible to the backside of the fabric to assure the highest amount of strengthening and support possible. At the same time I did my best not to stitch through the tablet woven band at the front. This way I achieved two goals at the same time – I secured and strengthened my stress point while keeping my reinforcement work nearly invisible. The buttonhole stitches are very small, done with a thread which matches the color of the fabric of the tunic and are quite hidden behind the tablet woven band – this makes them nearly invisible on the outside. [emember_protected not_for=3-4 do_not_show_restricted_msg=1]

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Though small and rather invisible detail work like this might not bear much value concerning the overall appearance, I feel like my personal level of craftsmanship and pride demand me to also take care of small details like this properly. I just can’t help it – I like to keep my work always as neat and proper as possible. In my opinion little hidden details like this are just as important as the visible embellishment work at the outside of a tunic – especially if they are able to prolong the life of your project.

I hope you enjoyed todays posting about how I strengthened and secured the stress points of my husbands new 12th century tunic. I still have a little bit more to write about stress points but first I need to prepare some new pictures for my next posting about this topic… 🙂

Best regards Racaire