Friday, 20 June 2014

A Hobbit Woman’s Outfit

At long last I got the hobbit costume I started last year finished! The bodice and skirts had been finished for months, but then we moved, and after that I had other things that needed doing before baby arrived. Now though I’ve had the time to work on it, when the children have been sleeping. The other day I finished a shift I’d been working on now and then for a couple of months, and put the finishing touches to a straw bonnet. Everything is hand stitched, partly because Hobbits “did not understand or like machines more complicated than a forge-bellows, a water-mill or a hand-loom” and partly because I am much the same – I usually prefer hand sewing to using the machine.

The shift is made from a thin twill cotton fabric that was in one of twelve banana boxes of fabric I received from a friend a while back. (After going through the contents I kept three or four boxes worth of fabric, and gave away the rest. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that amazing gift, as I can see it being used a lot.) I had to piece it here and there to get a shift from it, and it’s still a bit shorter than I’d have liked. It won’t show under the bodice and skirts though. It uses classic geometric construction (with rectangles for the body, sleeves and cuffs, gussets for under the arms, and gores at the sides), and has a drawstring neck.

The bodice is made from several scraps of linen and cotton fabrics in my stash. It’s trimmed with finger loop braids, boned with zip ties and have sewn eyelets for lazing up the back, where a modesty panel covers the gap. 

The top skirt is made from what once were cotton curtains from the charity shop. It works the same way as 18th century petticoats, with the front waistband tying in the back, and the back one tying in front. The ties are made from cotton tapes I wove myself, just because I felt like weaving. The bottom skirt is one I made for modern use. It doesn't show in the pictures, but it's in olive green raw silk.

As hats and hat sizes are mentioned quite a few times by Hobbits in the books I decided I wanted one. If my hair turned out badly it would also hide the fact that my hair doesn’t like being curled. I could just arrange whatever hair did get curly to frame my face and hide the rest under the bonnet. (It worked very well.) The bonnet is made from an old straw hat, found at a charity shop. It had some severe rifts at one side, so after wetting and reshaping it, I folded and stitched down part of the brim to hide the rifts and make the hat a bit more bonnet shaped. I trimmed it with strips of cotton fabric – the heavy trimming in the back is obviously to hide the rather crude fold in the brim.

When everything was done I pinned my hair up in the hope of it turning out curly over night (sadly, it did not turn out too successfully, but the bonnet saved the day), so I could have a photo shoot of the finished outfit. As it threatened rain we stayed close to the house – in fact we only stepped out in our small garden. We grow potatoes there, which felt like as good a setting as any for a Hobbit.  

As you might tell by the surrounding buildings, I portray a Bree Hobbit, with Men for neighbours. Hobbits would never build such tall houses ;)

The outfit has a lot of greens and yellows in it, as those are supposed to be colours favoured by Hobbits. I’m more of a blue, brown and wine red person myself, so I guess I just have to make more Hobbit outfits… I would like one that is more muted, so it could be worn in my modern life without looking too odd. One with a front opening bodice would be good, to make breast feeding easier. A fitted bodice would be nice to wear in my modern life, as it gives some shape and structure to my present post pregnancy fluff. 

Monday, 16 June 2014

14th Century Clothing for Pregnancy, Motherhood and Infancy

When the last week before my due date was coming up I thought it would be fun to see if my ordinary yellow kirtle could still be worn. It could, after a fashion. Laced loosely, and hitched up over the bump it worked well. It did look quite a bit like some medieval images of heavily pregnant women.

Four years ago to the left - before marriage and children.
A week before the due date of my second baby to the right.
While I was at it I thought I might as well take a few pictures, so I improvised a tolerably 14th century looking (or at least neutral) corner in our bedroom. I did the same thing all over again a week after our second son was born (Announcement!), now with both my little ones as models as well. Baby didn’t mind being swaddled at all – the fact that he slept through the whole thing might possibly have had something to do with that. How he would like it when awake I can’t tell. B liked his cotte that he never got round to wearing last year, as all our events were cancelled. This year we haven’t even planned any, what with the baby being so little and all.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures, telling the story of a heavily pregnant, late 14th century woman, the beginnings of her labour, the quiet time after baby’s arrival, and her being back on her feet. 

The skirt is quite a bit shorter in front as it's hitched 
up over the bump, but the dress is still quite wearable.

Ready when you are - come out baby!

Baby is wearing a linen coif, swaddled in one of my linen veils, wich is secured by wool tapes. 

The "14th century bedroom", with a baby on the bed.

Mother of two, the older one wearing a long cotte, the little one swaddled.
Mum is wearing the same old dress...

I had wished to have done something more, like being in a real location, having my friends pose as helpers, like in so many medieval illustrations of childbirth, but this was better than nothing. I call it a study of taking tolerable pictures of ones historical clothes, without any location and hardly any props.

Our youngest son is so far an easy baby to care for. He's a dear, and fits well in our family. I can't help but kiss him all the time. The labour and delivery was easier than the first time, and well functioning breast feeding has been established much quicker. Having two children to love and care for is a true gift. Tobias and I have been greatly blessed.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Baby Quilt II

I managed to finish the patchwork quilt for baby before he comes, thanks to him being overdue. I’m feeling better than I did with B, but still, it’s a bit heavy, painful from time to time, and generally uncomfortable. As my last delivery was difficult I’m a bit nervous about this one – if you are a praying person; do keep me in mind, if not; keep your fingers crossed :) 

Anyway, the quilt. It’s made from 28 different fabrics, like B’s quilt taken mostly from scraps; old clothes worn by family members, scraps from other projects and the like. Some fabrics are found in both quilts. I have had to do a bit of piecing here and there, as I save even the smallest pieces of fabrics I really like, but it adds character. Everything, both fabrics and batting, is taken from my stash. 

It’s all hand stitched and hand quilted. Though it’s made in a different basic design, it has the same colour scheme as B’s quilt, but as many of our clothes and home textiles are also in those shades, this is not very strange. The quilting is also similar, if not identical.

As I had to work from stash, it didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted it, but I still think it’s a rather sweet little quilt, and I look forward to tucking in my baby under it. I hope it will be as well loved as the last one I made.