Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Smocking the 16th century shift

I have finished the smocking of the shift now. Previously when I have worked with smocking I have used honeycomb smocking, but I felt that with the amount of very tightly gathered fabric that wouldn't be a good solution for the smocking around the neck.

I did use a lot of the information about pleatwork and smocking that can be found at The German Renaissance of Genoveva. Looking around at references it seems as if the stitching was mostly done in black or metallic thread. I am not a fan of that look though, so I decided to instead make a whitework embroidery, using unbleached wool yarn instead.

I did not use a specific garment or picture reference for my embroidery, but I was definitely influenced by the embroidery on the wedding gown of Maria of Habsburg from 1520.


I also found that I had a handful of small freshwater pearls that I added to my embroidery.



For the cuffs I used honeycomb smocking though. It's an elastic smocking stitch, so I'm hoping that will mean that it will be possible for me to sew the sleee shut all the way, and not having to fiddle with fastenings at the cuffs.


The things I have left is to sew the sideseams and sleeves, do some kind of fastening for the neck and of course hem the whole shift.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Working on my 16th cenury shift, and a magic pen

I have started working on the 16th century shift, and despite all my talk about doing something suitable for the local people, I couldn't help myself. I have started a shift with so much fabric that it's clearly an upperclass/nobility shift. I guess that only means that I need to make another more suitable shift, but I actually enjoy making them.

For the general pattern and instructions I have followed the tutorial from Katafalk. It gives a total circumference, and neck to be smocked, of 4,5 m. That's a lot of fabric.

This is where I have marked the dots for the smocking and sewn my gathering threads. For such a long length I have divided it into several parts, and I use different coloured threads to sort them out. It gets a bit complicated when it's time to gather them, but I rather to it this way than work with a single length of thread and all the potential for tangling and breaking.

Working with marking all the dots got a lot easier when I found a magic pen. I read the Dreamstress post about Pilot Frixion pens some time ago, and decided to try them. Frixion pens are erasable pens, the secret though is that they are erasable with heat. When you use a pen on paper you use an eraser to create heat with friction, but in the sewing studio there is another source of heat - an iron.

This is a video I made when I tested the Pilot Frixion pen, I didn't dare put bright red dots all over my white linen until I had tried it.


The Dreamstress has made a lot more tests with the pens than I have, so I really recommend reading up on them. For now though I think I will never use chalks or tracing paper again.

All that fabric was eventually gathered into a collar.

To keep the gathers in place I have fastened them at the top and bottom with a stem stitch in white silk. I keep the gathering threads in place, I will just remove them when all is finished and secured.

As of now I need to decide how I want to smock the collar, and with what thread. Until I have decided that I will smock the end of the sleeves.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Some thoughts around my 1520s outfit

I feel like I need to get down some of my thoughts around the 1520s project. This is going to be a wardrobe building projects, I already have several different ideas for gowns. I want to start off with a a fairly basic gown before going into more elaborate things. For me it's also very important that the clothes I make are suitable for the clothes in Sweden in the time period.

So with that I have singled down my time period to the 1520s and my geographical area to Sweden. This is problematic since there are almost no sources for the early 16th Century, not even for the higher classes and even less for the lower classes. For the first gown in my 16th Century wardrobe I want to make clothes suitable for a master miner's wife or daughter. The master miners the ones controlling the mining and copper production in Falun. They were a class with a lot of Contact with the trading partners in the Baltic sea, the Church in Falun from the 15th Century is more connected to North German architecture than other Swedish churches. The most successful were able to send their sons to higher educations, and in this time period one of them would rise to be both a Bishop and member of the king's council. At the same time their wealth was based on themselves being able to handle all parts of the copper production, and they were also farmers and needed to support themselves and their underlings with what they could grow. This gives us a class with contacts, and possibility to import fashions, well outside the local area but at the same time they needed to be practical and working people as well.

I've spent some time gathering, and trying to organise my pinterest boad for the 16th Century, but here I will summarize my thoughts around it.

The main Resources if you want Contemporary depictions of clothing are altar Swedish altar shrines from the early 16th Century, Before the reformation. The problem is that most Swedish shrines were imported from the low countries, so they don't need to reference the local fashion. In religoius imagery there are also Conventions on how to portray holy figures, which makes them timeless. I've tried to avoid looking at how the MAdonna or St. Birgitta were portrayed, due to those Conventions, and instead looked at women that are supposedly less holy.

Vain maidens on a shrine from Vaksala, medeltidbild.historiska.se/medeltidbild/
Most women seem to be wearing long gowns with wide skirts, a Square neckline and different kind of fabric rich sleeves, either with small puffs or simply just very wide.

The wide sleeves seems to get narrower closer to the 1520's though. Here I would like to add one of few portraits of an actual historical person. The portrait of Kristina Gyllenstierna on the shrine in Västerås.
This shrine was made in Antwerpen in 1516. Kristina Gyllenstierna was at this time married to the regent in Sweden, and the shrine was a gift from her and her husband. It is similar to other dresses, with a Square neckline and a skirt that pools around her. I'm Reading the photo to show a more pleated skirt than seen on the more religious figures, her sleeves are also tighter and there is possibly a little shift cuff at the end of the sleeve. Even if the shrine was made in Antwerpen, by a person who had never met Kristina Gyllenstierna, a rich and wealthy giver would probably have been disappointed if the woodcarver had shown her in old fashioned or odd clothes, so for that reason I still Think it can be an important reference.

For more Picture references it will be necessary to move outside of Sweden though. As I mentioned previously Sweden, and Falun, was well connected with the Baltic Sea trade. The main trading partner was Lübeck, more or less all copper from Falun was sold through Lübeck merchants, but from the late 15th Century Danzig, nowadays Gdansk in Poland, had started to challenge Lübeck as one of the major trading Towns on the Baltic. Looking at where the Swedish and Danish Royal houses chose to intermarry we end up with several states in northern Germany and along the German controlled Baltic coast. At the same time Sweden and Finland were one untied country and so one shouldn't forget the Finnish Resources.


This is a particularly nice portrait of a Young lady from Lübeck, dated to exactly 1520. Except for the interesting colourblocking she shows the same general elements of dress as Kristina Gyllenstierna, with a square neckline and a narrow but not tight sleeve. 

From Turku/Åbo there is this Little fresco of a couple, dated to around 1530. The woman wears a shift with a collar, the skirt is pleated with a wide band of darker material and the sleeves are tight. Overall the style of dress reminds me a lot of Cranach's portrait of Katarina von Bora, wife of Martin Luther.


Katarina von Bora, is interesting because of her social class. She came from landed gentry but not the richest nobility. She came to take a prominent role in the reformation, and as wife to Martin Luther she developed the role of the respectable, protestant wife. This fits well with the master miners social standing as well.

Finally there is a source that I find very fascinating and that is because it actually shows working women. In the middle of the 16th Century the German Agricola set out to write down all available knowledge about mining and metal production. His book, De Re Metallica, is filled with woodcarvings showing all aspects of the industry, includng quite a few women.





Even if the woodcarvings are later than the 1520s, they probably depict a fashion that wasn't quite modern. Most of the dresses show similar elements though, with their Square necklines, some with guards, shifts with low necks or non-pleated collars, sleeves are either narrow or non-existant showing off the shift instead, the skirts are usually pleated.

Taking all these sources into account I Think it will be possible to create an outfit that wouldn't feel strange in Sweden in the 1520s. I'm thinking of doing a gown with Square neckline, long narrow sleeves and a skirt pleated to the bodice. To the neckline and probaly down the center front I will add guards, but I will not have any decorations on the skirt and no puffed or slashed sleeves. The shift should either be low necked, or have small collar with standing lapels.



Friday, 26 January 2018

Historical Sew Monthly 2018 Challenge 1 - mend, remake, refashion

The challenge was:

January: Mend, Reshape, Refashion: Mend or re-shape one of your previously made historical clothing items, or refashion a new one out of something not originally intended as sewing fabric.

Since it was clearly said that one shouldn't just use a big piece of fabric, like an old curtain or tablecloth, I had problems coming up with what to do for this challenge. I figured I would come up with something.

I have spent most of January looking at 16th Century portraits, and one that I have really gotten fond of is this.

It's of Katarina von Bora, who was to marry Martin Luther. I found other portraits of women of upper middle class, or lower upper class, and even upper class, and they all are wearing that kind of hairnet. I looked up hairnets and realised that most available hairnets are crocheted and made of too thick yarns, and it seemed to complicated to bind a net from scratch. Well then it hit me, fishnet stockings!

On sale I found a pair of fishnet socks, and decided to see if I could turn them into a hairnet. Can someone explain to me why you would like a pair of fishnet socks? Not leggings or tights, just a sock. I guess it's not strange that they were on sale. 


I started with cutting them up, but saving the elastics on the top. Then I sewed them both together.

I cut out a long piece of fabric, some kind of red cotton brocade I had in my stash, and folded it to make a ribbon. I sandwiched the elastics of the socks between the edges of the ribbon.


Then I sewed the loose sides of the fishnet parts to each other to create a bag.


It's tight, but the fishnet is elastic enough to make it fit over my head. The ribbon is so tight that it stays on without any other ribbons or fastenings.

Tada, finished. Now if I did it again I would probably use a set of fishnet leggings, but it works for now.


The Challenge: 1 - mend, remake, refashion

Material: One pair of fishnet socks, a piece of scrap fabric

Pattern: none

Year: 1520s

Notions: thread

How historically accurate is it? It looks right, but the materials are all wrong, so 15%

Hours to complete: 2

First worn: Tried it out tonight.

Total cost: $2

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Gorgeous and glorious fabric for TLJ Leia

I haven't done anything about TLJ Leia since the premiere. One of the main issues for me would be to find a new and better coat fabric. Still even if I haven't prioritized it, I have casually browsed from fabric from time to time. And this week I couldn't help myself, I just had to buy this fabric, and when it arrived it was better than I could have dreamt of.

Now actually getting the fabric was a bit of a quest. I saw the fabric on an online store on Tuesday, but decided to wait until payday to buy it. When I then checked up on it again on Sunday it was sold out, and I was devastated. One of my Facebook friends, who knew the store, told me to send an email and ask them though, and so I did.

The fabric was sold out, and they were not going to get more of it, but they did find two remnants of it and offered to put them in the webshop for me. I didn't hesitate but bought it all. There were two remnants one 2,5 m and one 1,6 m, so in total 4,1 m. That will be tricky, for the premiere coat I used around 4,8 meters. I will have to measure very carefully before cutting, and possibly make another mock up with the changes from the premiere coat.

Still I am so happy about this fabric and I can't wait to make a final version of this costume. I hae set a goal to have it finished for Nordsken in early May.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

A special first troop of the year

Yesterday I was happy to troop at a hospital for the first time. The 501st Legion and Rebel Legion are invited from time to time to visit children's wards and children's events at hospitals to bring some cheer. In Sweden we have visited hospitals in Stockholm, Göteborg, Linköping and Umeå. They are usually during working hours and since I don't live in any of those places I haven't been able to do a hospital troop.

Now for the 13th of January (Tjugondag Knut) we were invited to the University Hospital in Örebro. The 13th of January is the traditional last day of Christmas, and nowadays it's usually celebrated with a children's party. This year the day was on a Saturday, and there is a direct train to Örebro with good times even on Saturdays. So I set off on a 6 hour roundtrip to be able to cheer up some children.

I thought that this would be a tough and emotional troop, that is what I've heard from people who have done hospital troops before, but I guesss the fact that all the children were dressed up and happy to be at a party made you forget that many of them are or have been very ill. The party was organised by a foundation that works with cancer patients and survivors.

It turned out to be exhausting though. I had chosen to wear my X-wing pilot outfit, since it's easy to move around in and I figured that with a lot of children around it would be good to have a good field of vision. That turned out to be true, and I did act a bit as a spotter for our helmeted troopers that couldn't see below their waists. Anyway one of the things you do a this party is to take the last dances around the Christmas tree, and of course I thought it would be great to do that with the children. I thought it was going to be the kind where everyone holds hands and walk/run a few circles around it, but it turned out to be a full 30 minutes dance routine. Thankfully due to my upbringing with Midsummer festivities in Dalarna I know the traditional children's circle dances, and it was really fun doing them with the kids.

I didn't get a chance to take any photos while we were out there, but here is a group photo of us together with Brolle (a well-known musician that also performed for the children) and the organizer of the foundation, who has won a prize as a Swedish hero for the work she does for the children.


Swedish TV was there and made a small report, and in the end you can see my orange leg and arm doing some dancing. Click here.


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Historical Sew Monthly 2018

The HSM 2017 was not a good one for me, I only finished the 18th century pocket hoops, so one out of 12 challenges. I'm hoping that I will do better this year though, and since I am throwing myself passionately into a new era, the 16th Century, I'm hoping that it will make me inspired to finish more challenges.

That being said I will focus the challenges on my 1520s project, and I won't desperately try to find projects to fit with the HSM 2018.

Since some of you might have started to follow my blog this year, when I hardly did anything HSM related here is the short description.

The HSM 2018 is a monthly historical garment challenge.  Every month in 2018 will feature a themed challenge.  Sew (or knit, or crochet, or tatt, or embroider, or milin, (or whatever it is you call making a hat), or otherwise create) a historical garment or accessory that fits the monthly theme.
The goal is to make one historical garment per month.

Well here are the challenges and how I'm thinking about them.

January: Mend, Reshape, Refashion: Mend or re-shape one of your previously made historical clothing items, or refashion a new one out of something not originally intended as sewing fabric.

- No idea yet

Feb: Under: Make something that goes under the other layers.

- perfect for the new highnecked hemd/shift that I'm plnning for the 1520s.

March: Comfort at Home: Make something to wear around the (historical) house.

- no idea yet, but an apron is always and option.

April: Buttons and Fastenings: Create an item where the closures are the star of the show.

 - maybe a gollar with an interesting fastening.

May: Specific to a Time [of Day or Year]: Historically, some garments were worn year round, and for a range of events. Others were exclusively for certain times of year, or specific times of day. Make one of the latter.

- no idea yet 

June: Rebellion and Counter-Culture: Create an item that pays homage to fashion rebels and clothes that flaunt their place on the fringes of standard sartorial society, or that was signature to a rebelling cause.

- the slashing of the 16th Century would perfect for this, but I'm not planning on adding any slashing to my outfit.

July: Sleeves: There are some amazing examples of historical sleeves styles out there. Put the focus on the arms and shoulders in your creation for this challenge.

- no idea yet

August: Extant Originals: Copy an extant historical garment as closely as possible.

- no idea yet

September: Hands and Feet: Create a fabulous accessory for your hands or feet.

- gloves or mittens maybe?

October: Fabric Manipulation: Take fabric to the next level with any kind of historical embellishment or manipulation: smocking, shirring, embroidering, beading, pinking, ruching, printing, painting, dyeing etc.

- a smocked apron for the 1520s outfit would go well with this outfit. If I did an apron for the March challenge, and depending on what fabric I have at home, I might up this challenge and make a roundgown with a ruched bodice of some kind.

November: Purses and Bags: You’ve got your arms covered in July, your hands in September, now make something amazing to dangle from them.

- no idea, but it's always easy to make another 18th Century pocket.

December: Neglected Challenge: Was there a challenge this year (or, if you’ve been doing the HSM for a while, in a previous year) you missed? Or didn’t create quite what you’d wanted for? This is your chance to make it up! 

- no idea yet

My goal will be to finish six of the challenges, I don't want to get too ambitious and feel forced to come up with ideas for the HSM.