Saturday, July 4, 2009

Of "Dagging" & "Slashing"

Dagging & slashing. They sound like primitive combat tactics, don't they?

But these terms are not meant to invoke either violence or bloodshed. For they refer to two fancy tailoring techniques that became popular in Europe from the 14th to the 16th centuries for the embellishment of elegant garments.

Dagging is a decorative hem created by pointed motifs, or dagges, that are cut into the edge of a sleeve or the bottom of a blouse or tunic. These could be simple U or V shapes or sometimes more complex designs.

Slashing (also known as "slash-fabric" or "faux chenille") is when multiple layers of contrasting fabric are sewn together and the upper layers artfully sliced open to reveal the colors beneath. The story is told that the technique originated when certain soldiers of the Swiss army sought to keep warm by cutting scraps of material from tents & banners and stuffing them into the chilly holes in their clothing. Upon their return home, the colorful effect of this act of desperation sparked a whole new fashion trend!

Whence comes this sudden interest in tailoring techniques from so long ago? Note the following remark from the pattern notes, explaining the unusual design of the Margaret Tudor sweater:

Slashing is a sophisticated facet of the tailor's art that became extremely fashionable throughout Europe in the 1500s. I have transferred the concept to knitting, together with the strong emblems of The Thistle and The Rose.

So that is why the pattern consists of many individual narrow strips that must then be carefully sewn together. The undulating edges of the thistle panels are designed to overlap the rose panels in such a way as to create "windows" or frames that display the openwork underneath.

As the photo shows, I finished the second thistle panel yesterday. It will be the center front. Notice that unlike the back it ends with a complete motif at the top.

Since the front and the back each have two rose panels flanking the center, and the sleeves each have one down the middle, these first two thistle panels are the only ones with the undulating edges on both sides. The remaining ones will all have that pattern on one side, with the garment shaping of sleeve edge or armhole on the other.

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