The Girdle Book

A long long time ago (4 years ago or so) I started a LiveJournal blog like seamstresses tend to do. It lasted for a couple months until I graduated college and then life took over, as it seems to have a way of doing. Now life has slowed down and I have time to sew again. I’m not a witty blogger or a very dedicated one but I’m going to try. At the very least maybe it will help me keep my projects and research a little more in order.

In the last week I have managed to make a girdle book, fix my stays which had several broken reeds, and finish some petticoats that needed hemming. The girdle book I made to accessorize my 14th century kirtle and surcoat for this years Costume College. I have no idea how I came to know about such a thing but the moment I saw one I wanted one. I think I read somewhere there are only 23 originals in existence but don’t quote me on that. A girdle book originally was for the clergy who would want their prayer books with them. They were bound with long lengths of leather that would be knotted at the bottom. The knot would slip under the girdle (what they called a belt) and then catch. This caught on with lay people, mainly women, who used a Book of Hours (a beautifully illuminated devotional book). This was also a status symbol because it proclaimed your literacy to all who saw you.

Since it wasn’t an 18th century product I wasn’t terribly worried about historical perfection so I used a linen/cotton blend for the cover and bought bookboard and some metal corners from Amazon as well as a small book about the Book of Hours. I used the girdle book in  MyHandboundBooks Etsy shop for inspiration. It was relatively easy to make although I discovered that binding a book so that it OPENS properly is harder than it looks and mine doesn’t open as far as it should. I used a leather knot and a cord I wove with some wool I had to secure it. It came out pretty well I think.


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