Wednesday, 30 October 2013

On Project Plans: A Herald's Tabard

Now that there opens something of a gap in my schedule (hello, end of undergraduate study), my thoughts turn to the sewing projects I've been putting off for one reason or another. The first of these is my own spiffy herald's tabard.

I've had possession of a great many types of tabard, from the Politarchopolis Baronial Court Tabard, a confection of velvet and brocade with a satin lining - guaranteed to make winter courts toasty warm and summer courts brief, to the standard crossed trumpets and green, both the quick cotton drill versions to the somewhat nicer appliqued damask.

So, in deciding on this plan, there are a few things to decide: Shape, design, and material.

For shape, I've found a few examples in period illustrations of tabards which are joined under the arms, just a little way, such as in this illustration, or this one. I think this is a wonderful idea, especially given the number of times I've had to herald in a windy situation. Some shaping will be required around the arm holes and shoulders, and I'll probably flare the body out a bit, to give more room for display.

For the design, I am quite set on using the Lochac royal arms - not the populace badge, and certainly not the crossed trumpets.

As for the question of using the royal arms on a tabard, the argument is simple: As a pursuivant in good standing of the Lochac College of Heralds, I serve the Crown of Lochac in all heraldic business. In period, a herald of any rank wore a tabard of the arms of the noble they served. Often the king, but sometimes other varied nobility who chose to have them in their employ. There were freelance heralds, with a variety of designs, but I do not consider myself one of their number.

The populace badge? I certainly have the right to bear the populace badge of Lochac (the royal arms sans crown and wreath) as a member of that fine Kingdom, but for a herald's tabard? That would be rather like seeing a herald in the English College of Arms wearing a tabard of the cross of Saint George. Such tabards did exist, certainly, but they were worn by crusaders, not heralds.

And as for the trumpets... Heralds wearing the arms of the College of Arms is a distinct oddity. I can think of no real circumstances where I might, as a herald, want to identify myself as being in service to the College of Arms or of Heralds. Perhaps, if presenting College business in court, I may wish to do so. However, when going about the business of the College in the service of the Crown? That is rather like an English herald wearing a tabard of "Argent, a cross Gules between four doves, the dexter wing of each expanded and inverted Azure." (the coat of arms of the College of Arms of England).

Finally, for the materials, I am planning on having the main body of it pieced together - the field and cross each joined together at the edges - with the crown, wreath, and stars affixed using appliqué. For the basic fabrics, I believe that a nice damask or brocade, of the appropriate colours, would be the best. Each side of the field should be the same, of course. The cross would be best in a contrasting textured fabric, possibly a satin or velvet. The charges, then, all in white, would be best in a contrast to the cross (as most of them are on there). Velvet, or satin, depending on which was used for the cross.

There will also be an interlining (possibly of a light canvas) to make it drape better, onto which the other layers will likely be quilted - a thin layer of padding over the canvas would highlight the quilting to great effect. Behind this, a lighter backing - most likely black, to seal it in and hold things together.

I would also aim to have some level of affixed pearls as decoration, given my late period preferences and love of sparkly objects (my household badge, currently under design, features a corvid). Edging the charges with strings of small pearls is one possibility. The crown, in particular, could have jewels attached, possibly in the style of those of the true Lochac crown. The laurel wreath, as well, could actually be formed almost entirely of pearls and other beading, as an alternative to such fiddly appliqué.

In all, I think the deciding factor on these materials will be what I can find, and what I can afford. Given the level of work involved in making the tabard, I'd like to start from as fine a base as possible.

These are my plans, and may take any amount of time from a few months to the rest of forever to complete. I'm aiming for somewhere within a year, though, depending on other projects and available energy.

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