Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Witches Bonnet

I finally got some pictures of my witches bonnet for the Historical Sew Fortnightly. Tobias comes home from school so late every weekday that it’s already dusk, so I haven’t had the opportunity until today. The whole family went for a little walk, and then we stopped for pictures in a nice place. I got the odd look from passers by, wearing a bonnet like this in a perfectly normal neighbourhood :)



The bonnet was originally an ordinary woman’s felt hat from the charity shop, nothing special at all. I got it years ago, and had already cut away a piece at the back, stitched the brim back up, with millinery wire inside the fold, and steamed and slightly reshaped the crown to give it a slightly quirky look. 


Now, the only thing I had to do was line the brim and trim the thing. Simple enough. I didn’t want the lining to differ too much in colour from the bonnet, and I was lucky enough to have an old, worn out blouse in my stash. It was brown, with a woven in pattern. I just cut a straight piece from it and stitched it to the inside of the brim, with the width taken up in pleats where brim and crown met. 


For the trim, I cut a curved piece of organza, left over from a previous project, twisted it slightly, wound it round the crown, and tied a bow. I twisted and interlaced an old necklace made from organza ribbon and glass beads round the fabric and pinned some feathers under it. Done! Simple but effective. Now I only need some proper witches robes…


What the item is: A witches bonnet.

The Challenge: #20 Alternative Universe.

The Alternative Universe: The wizarding world that creates the backdrop for the Harry Potter books.

Fabric: Wool felt hat, cotton, synthetic fibre organza. 

Pattern: None.

Year: Somewhere between 1830-2014: the wizarding world doesn’t really follow Muggle fashions. 

Notions: Organza ribbon, glass beads, feathers, cotton thread, pins.

How historically accurate is it? Not a jot. It’s loosely inspired by 1830’s bonnets though.  

Hours to complete: Remaking the hat and lining the brim took a few, but adding the trim only took minutes.

First worn: For our Halloween party last week.

Total cost:  Nothing at this time, everything was in my stash.

Monday, 3 November 2014

A Harry Potter Halloween Party

Celebrating Halloween with parties and scary costumes is not tradition here in Sweden. We have a much more quiet remembering of our departed loved ones on (after several changes through history) the Saturday falling between 31 October and 6 November. We light candles on the graves, and that’s it, really. However, through popular media the awareness of how Halloween is celebrated in other countries has risen and a desire awoken, and now you can actually find the odd trick or treaters on your doorstep. I, who always loved dressing up, think this is great fun. Of course I would host a Halloween party!


My first idea of generic, not too scary Halloween decorations (we’d invited five families with kids between ages 3 months and three years) soon evolved into a Harry Potter wizarding world theme. It would have to be a low budget affair, but being the nerds we are, we have enough odd things to make a decent show of it, with some craftiness. Here are some pictures of my decorations and food. Once the guests arrived I pretty much forgot about my camera, so I never got pictures of their costumes or of the nice things they brought - everyone brought a dish or something to drink, and thus food was sorted.

We have a soft toy badger from IKEA: with yellow and black ribbons added I had a Hufflepuff mascot, as a memory of former school days – I was sorted into Hufflepuff House on Pottermore.


Potions ingredients, in bottles and jars. I especially liked the “salamander blood” (water with red and green food colouring and cooking oil) which moved in a decidedly icky, half clotted, bloodlike way. 


There were also some quills, spellbooks (or was it really The Collected Works of Jane Austen, The Pilgrim’s Progress, a Bible from the 1870’s, and a book of male etiquette and skills from 1946?), and other odds and ends.


To keep our big marble mortar company we added a few small brass ones: clearly the material used in your mortar might affect your potions ingredients, and thus the potions. 


Our post owl (a stuffed toy hubby got when he graduated High School), is patiently waiting to deliver a letter (a real one I received from a friend some time ago), perched on top of a kitchen cupboard. In the foreground some plants, meant for potions, drying. 


The staircase was full of bats, made from egg cartons, and
I cut out silhouettes of a cat and several mice, to give the children something fun to look at. 

 
I’d made some bread, and some Cauldron Cakes. Both were yummy, but as little H was really loosing his patience with me preparing for the party, I was stressed and messed up a bit, and the Cauldron Cakes didn't turn out as pretty as I'd have hoped.  Better luck next time

 
The Cauldron Cakes were inspired by these two (1, 2), but I filled mine with mashed raspberries gently folded down in whipped cream. They were even more delicious a day or two after I made them. 


All in all it turned out really well, considering the limitations I had as to time and economy. I hope in time to be able to turn our whole home into a wizarding house at Halloween, hiding from view everything that is decidedly Muggle. If I add to my stock of odd things and decorations a little at a time, I may get there in the end.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of us. We were dressed as a wizarding family, of course. I’ll have a photo shoot when time and the weather allow, because I really love my witches’ bonnet, and it was a HSF challenge.

Friday, 17 October 2014

American Duchess Giveaway

This is not a period I currently do, but it's only a matter of time - I've been thinking of it for a while, admiring the work of others. Having the right shoes would certainly be a good start - or I might just go for the gift card and order a pair of Gettysburgs for the 1840's impression I'm currently working on.... tough choice.


Oh yeah, I would have to win first.... :)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Baby’s Mid 19th Century Petticoat

For the HSF challenge # 18 “Poetry in Motion” I didn’t have a poem suitable for the project I needed to work on. So I cheated.

When I thought of the baby dress (and the petticoat that will go under it) my littlest one need for the 1840’s event in November I couldn’t help thinking of Anne Shirley Blythe in Anne’s House of Dreams: the horrid day when her wee daughter died, and the happy one when her son was born. They both always make my cry. I also thought of her reaction to her sons shortening, thinking that he grows up too quickly. I imagine that, though the story is set 50 years later than what I’m aiming at, those feelings might have been shared by many a mother in the 19th century – I feel the same when my children have outgrown a size and all the clothes are put away. One would think the sentimental Victorians would have written one teensy poem about the shortening of baby’s dresses, or mentioning baby dresses at all, but I came up with nothing….

The petticoat is worn over a medieval shift – the difference isn’t that great,
and as I don’t have time to make a baby shirt just for this one event….

This is not poetry, but the writing of L. M. Montgomery is often very poetic prose – she, hardly surprising, did write proper poetry as well – this one is appropriate for the theme.

So here are the passages I was thinking about in the book:

One morning, when a windy golden sunrise was billowing over the gulf in waves of light, a certain weary stork flew over the bar of Four Winds Harbor on his way from the Land of Evening Stars. Under his wing was tucked a sleepy, starry-eyed, little creature. The stork was tired, and he looked wistfully about him. He knew he was somewhere near his destination, but he could not yet see it. The big, white light-house on the red sandstone cliff had its good points; but no stork possessed of any gumption would leave a new, velvet baby there. An old gray house, surrounded by willows, in a blossomy brook valley, looked more promising, but did not seem quite the thing either. The staring green abode further on was manifestly out of the question. Then the stork brightened up. He had caught sight of the very place—a little white house nestled against a big, whispering firwood, with a spiral of blue smoke winding up from its kitchen chimney—a house which just looked as if it were meant for babies. The stork gave a sigh of satisfaction, and softly alighted on the ridge-pole.

………

“…wondering whether she should hemstitch or feather-stitch little Jem's "short" dresses. He was to be shortened the next week, and Anne felt ready to cry at the thought of it.”

……….

Anne and Leslie had another cry the next week when they shortened Little Jem. Anne felt the tragedy of it until evening when in his long nightie she found her own dear baby again.

"But it will be rompers next—and then trousers—and in no time he will be grown-up," she sighed.
"Well, you would not want him to stay a baby always, Mrs. Doctor, dear, would you?" said Susan. "Bless his innocent heart, he looks too sweet for anything in his little short dresses, with his dear feet sticking out. And think of the save in the ironing, Mrs. Doctor, dear." 

When planning this petticoat I tried to find pictures of extant baby petticoats. I found two that would work well; one dated 1800-20, and the other dated 1860. They were very similar in construction, so I felt ok using the same design for the one I was making. 


The petticoat has a simple bodice, with drawstrings at neck and waist. They tie in the back, where a thread button helps in keeping the bodice closed. The skirt is gauged to the bodice, with tiny pleats.


 The bottom of the skirt has a deep hem and two tucks. 



What the item is: Baby petticoat.

The Challenge: #18 Poetry in Motion

The poem: Passages from Anne’s house of dreams.

Fabric: Cut down from an old shift and petticoat of mine, originally made from sturdy old cotton sheets.

Pattern: None; I improvised from picures of period petticoats.

Year: Aiming for the 1840’s, but could pass for several more decades.

Notions: Cotton thread, cotton tape, thread button made by me.

How historically accurate is it?
As good as I could make it without looking at an extant example in person. The materials are ok, as is the hand stitching.

Hours to complete:
Difficult to say, as I’ve only had a few minutes here and there… 8-10?

First worn: For the picture.

Total cost: None at this time as everything came from the stash. The materials might have cost 50 SEK ($6,94; £4,31; €5,49) if bought at the charity shop today, and would have plenty left for other projects.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Poetry - When Stretch'd on Ones Bed

I promise - there will be a sewing post soon! I just run into all these poems when trying to find one that may suit the mid 19th century baby petticoat I'm working on.... (Btw, if any of you have just the thing, please share!) This one struck a note, as I've had head aches on a regular basis since I was a young teenager, and knows how tough it can be. 

 

When Stretch'd on One's Bed 

By Jane Austen

 When stretch'd on one's bed
With a fierce-throbbing head,
Which preculdes alike thought or repose,
How little one cares
For the grandest affairs
That may busy the world as it goes!

How little one feels
For the waltzes and reels
Of our Dance-loving friends at a Ball!
How slight one's concern
To conjecture or learn
What their flounces or hearts may befall.

How little one minds
If a company dines
On the best that the Season affords!
How short is one's muse
O'er the Sauces and Stews,
Or the Guests, be they Beggars or Lords.

How little the Bells,
Ring they Peels, toll they Knells,
Can attract our attention or Ears!
The Bride may be married,
The Corse may be carried
And touch nor our hopes nor our fears.

Our own bodily pains
Ev'ry faculty chains;
We can feel on no subject besides.
Tis in health and in ease
We the power must seize
For our friends and our souls to provide.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Poetry: Somebody's Mother

Browsing the internet for something else I stumbled on this lovely piece of poetry. I’m not a great reader of poetry, but I suspect that might be because I have so many other things to read…. This one sounded very familiar to me though – I wonder if I’ve heard it before? The LDS General Conference? Anyway, when I do read poetry I enjoy it. 

I hope my sons will be as nice, compassionate young boys and men as the boy in this poem. Their Dad is certainly s good example and role model for them – and for me. Not wanting to loose these beautiful words, I thought I’d better post them here. Hopefully someone else might enjoy them as well.


Somebody’s Mother
By Mary Dow Brine (1816-1913)

The woman was old and ragged and grey
And bent with the chill of the Winter’s day.

The street was wet with a recent snow
And the woman’s feet were aged and slow.

She stood at the crossing and waited long,
Alone, uncared for, amid the throng

Of human beings who passed her by
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eyes.

Down the street, with laughter and shout,
Glad in the freedom of “school let out,”

Came the boys like a flock of sheep,
Hailing the snow piled white and deep.

Past the woman so old and grey
Hastened the children on their way

Nor offered a helping hand to her -
So meek, so timid, afraid to stir

Lest the carriage wheels or the horses’ feet
Should crowd her down in the slippery street.

At last came one of the merry troop,
The gayest laddie of all the group;

He paused beside her and whispered low,
“I’ll help you cross if you wish to go.”

Her aged hand on his strong young arm
She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,

He guided the trembling feet along,
Proud that his own were firm and strong.

Then back again to his friends he went,
His young heart happy and well content.

“She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know,
For all she’s aged and poor and slow,

“And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand,

“If ever she’s poor and old and grey,
When her own dear boy is far away.”

And “somebody’s mother” bowed her head
In her home that night, and the prayer she said

Was “God be kind to the noble boy,
Who is somebody’s son, and pride and joy!”

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Manuscript Challenge

My friend Maria has started a project called the Manuscript Challenge on Facebook. In short it’s about choosing a medieval picture, statue, effigy or similar in colour, and try to recreate an outfit as closely as possible.

As I don’t have too much of neither time nor money, I decided to do something simple, and something that needed doing. I chose this stained glass window of Adam and Eve working. It was made in the late 14th century, and was originally from Marienkirche, Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, but after WWII it was taken by the Soviet Union and is now in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.


This picture is great (though not very pretty) for four reasons: 1) it is from my period and 2) also from my geographic area (Sweden had lots of influences from Germany through both trade and politics), 3) it portrays things I want to make for both myself and Tobias, and 4) I only have to do a little sewing to have all the clothes in the picture. I have planned to replace the short sleeves in my red dress with long ones for quite some time, and that wouldn’t be too much work. Of course I have veils already, and Tobias has green hose and shoes. The only thing I need to make from scratch is the greyish-blue tunic, and I have wanted to make him a longer, fuller, more old fashioned tunic for a while, so this is perfect.

Not that I have time to start sewing on it just yet; I have more pressing projects first.