"Windscreens"

By Baroness Brianna Je Nell Aislynn of Blue Shadows

I don't know how period they are for western Europe, but many households and units use windscreens to mark boundaries of encampments at wars and other large events. They can be anywhere from3' high to over 9' high (possibly better known as sails?). Windscreens can be beautifully decorated with paint, appliqué and/or other forms of embellishment or left plain.

The only documentation I can find for them is Middle Eastern. The various nomadic tribes, most notably the Turks, used them to delineate various parts of their encampments. Even after they settled in Byzantium, palaces were still built in this style (most notable is the Topkapi palace). There is a watercolor in "Secrets of the Harem" by Carla Coco accompanied by this description:

"The great pavilion of His Majesty, which encompasses many other pavilions, with vast halls, richly furnished, with porticoes, galleries, kitchens, stables and all other things; a small tower on one side, situated on a slight hill, with a place for the guards and surrounded by great beauty" (Codice Cicogna, Memorie turchesche, XVII century, Venice,Biblioteca del Museo Correr).

These directions are sized for awning canvas, which is about 65" wide. If using a different width of fabric, more fabric will be needed to piece the width to 65". Or you may narrow the height of the screen, remembering to adjust the length of the Pole casings to the height of the screen piece.

MATERIALS NEEDED FOR ONE SCREEN (approximately 5' high by 9' long):

14 Tent (large) grommets and set tool

3-1/4 yards canvas or heavy denim (main screen color)

3-1/4 yards denim (contrast or complimentary facings and casings)

1 yard medium weight cotton or poplin (for contrast)

CUTTING DIRECTIONS:

Cut 1 piece 108" x 65" for the Screen

Cut 1 piece 108" x 25-1/2" for the Hem Facing

Cut 1 strip 108" x 7-3/4" for the Top Facing

Cut 1 strip 108" x 7-3/4" for the Contrast Strip (will need to be pieced)

Cut 1 strip 65" x 6" for the Middle Pole Casing

Cut 2 strips 65" x 7-3/4" for the Side Pole Casings.

CONSTRUCTION DIRECTIONS:

1. Turn under top edge of Hem Facing 5/8" to wrong side and press. With the right side of the facing to the wrong side of the screen, sew the unturned edge of the Hem Facing to the edge of the Windscreen. Turn and press flat. Pin the facing to the screen along the turned under edge. Sew down close to this edge using a zigzag stitch. Topstitch the edge of the screen with a zigzag stitch. Quilt the hem facing to the screen using a diamond pattern. This can be done with a 45 degree angle. Mark and pin the design before quilting. Diamonds do not have to be smaller than about 12" on a side. They are there to keep the hem facing from bagging and to provide strength to the bottom of the screen.

2. Turn both long edges of the Contrast Strip under 5/8" to the wrong side and press. Measure down 17" from the top of the screen and apply the strip by topstitching it. Use a zigzag stitch and pin down the strip before sewing.

3. Turn under one end of the Middle Pole Casing 1" to the wrong side and hem. Turn under both long sides of the casing 5/8" to the wrong side and press. Center the Casing down the center of the wrong side of the screen, and pin. Top stitch the edges to the screen using a straight stitch, stitching close to the edge. Run a line of parallel stitches inside the first line (about 1/4") to strengthen the casing.

4. Turn under one end of the Side Pole Casing 1" to the wrong side and hem. Turn under one long side of the casing 5/8" to the wrong side and press. With the right side of the facing to the wrong side of the screen, sew the unturned edge of the Hem Facing to the edge of the Windscreen. Turn and press flat. Pin the facing to the screen along the turned under edge. Sew down close to this edge using a straight stitch. Topstitch the edge of the screen with a straight stitch. Sew a line of topstitching 1-1/2" from the edge (This will form the channel for the grommets). Run a line of parallel stitches inside of all three sets of topstitching to strengthen the casing. Mirror the casing for the opposite end.

5. Turn under 1" of each end of the Top Facing to the wrong side and press. Turn under one long side of the Facing 5/8" to the wrong side and press. With the right side of the facing to the wrong side of the screen, sew the unturned edge of the Hem Facing to the edge of the Windscreen. Turn and press flat. Pin the facing to the screen along the turned under edge. Sew down close to this edge using a zigzag stitch. Topstitch the edge of the screen with a zigzag stitch, being careful not to catch the pole casing opening in the stitching. The Facing will have to be hand stitched over these areas!

6. In the grommet channel, center a mark 1-3/4" from top and bottom. Center a mark in the channel equidistant from the top and bottom. Center marks, 2 each on either side of the center, 9-1/2" on center. This should give a total of 7 grommet markings, mostly evenly spaced. Set large tent grommets according to manufacturer.

7. Using 6' or 7' 1-3/8" diameter poles, set up windscreens in portable holes. The grommets may be used to stake out the screens in case of high wind or to lace to other screens or fillers.

For making windcreen fillers:

Follow the above directions, but cut the rectangles and strips 54" x 65" and omit the Center pole casings. The side pole casings should be made to give the sides strength. The Contrast Facing may also be omitted. These fillers can be painted with devices, or appliquéd.

The windscreens in this article were engineered by the Abbey of Leng. The patterning and directions are mine.


Copyright 1999 by Je Nell Hays

Permission to reprint this article for use in the Society for Creative Aanachronism is granted so long as the complete article is printed with proper attribution to the author using both her modern name and SCA equivalent. Please notify the author if this article is included in any SCA publication or used as reference material in a class.

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