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.

Friday, 22 August 2014

1840's(ish) Crocheted Collar

For the 1840’s dress I just began working on I’ll need a collar. I want to make one in whitework, but as I’ll have to learn how to do it first it will take too much time at present. I do however have basic skills in crochet, and after finding mention of crocheted collars, seeing reproductions, and original doll’s collars, I decided to give it a go.

 The collar lying on the back of the bodice of my 1840's-dress-in-progress.

As I’m not very good with crochet terminology in English, I won’t try to write about the collar in detail. Pictures will have to suffice. I used DMC Cordonnet 50 that I once got in a charity shop for hardly any money at all. It is mercerised cotton, which, though not common for another 50 years, did first make an entry in 1844, so it’s acceptable but not preferable for what I have in mind.

I didn’t find any period crochet descriptions for collars, though I've heard there are quite a few. But even if I had, I have enough trouble reading the modern ones – the period ones would probably give me a fit. Instead I looked at period examples and the reproductions people more talented at crochet than I have made from said period descriptions. I had to go with trial and error, so this one is actually the second collar. It’s still not perfect, but it is wearable. 

The inspiration for the lace edging was taken from the doll's collar below.

These are the originals I used for inspiration (and this reproduction): 

 Doll's collar, Sweden, 1840's. Nordiska Museet, nr. NM.0114827
 
Swedish, a bit to late - 1860-80 - but with the same kind 
of open, net like base. Nordiska Museet, nr. NM.0028970

Though this collar (Swedish, 1840-60) is made from bobbin lace I took 
the inspiration for making mine striped from it. Malmö Museer, nr. MMT 000406

Is it possible that these young ladies (ca. 1845) 
have crocheted collars? Possible, but hard to tell...

I think mine is rather cute, and not too far from the originals. I’m not quite sure how to attach it though: by basting it to the dress or by sewing a bias strip to it, and baste that to the inside of the dress? Opinions? Also - would matching cuffs be a good or bad idea?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Simple 1840's Shift

Edit: I discovered I could use this as an HSF entry, so the challenge info was added 22 August 2014.)

Recently I made a mid 19th century shift, that I mainly intend for 1840’s. It is very simple, as the evidence I was able to find of Swedish shifts from that time indicates that they were still constructed in a very basic way, while many shifts in other countries had become more advanced. 



This evidence is mostly doll’s shifts from the 1850's and -60's, as there are hardly any extant ones for real people. As the rest of the wardrobes from which these doll’s shifts come are very true to the fashion of the time, I suppose that the shifts must have been as well. 

The rest of the wardrobe here

Upplandsmuseet, nr. UM 15700
The rest of the wardrobe here.


I would have preferred a linen shift, as that would have been most common, but I didn’t want to use any I had in my stash, as I have other projects in mind for some, and others are not in appropriate weights. Instead I used an old cotton sheet I once got in a charity shop.

While this bothered me slightly I now got the chance to use it for the terminology challenge in the HSF. Calico, in the UK, New Zeeland and Australia meaning a plain tabby woven, white or cream cotton fabric, is what I’ve used for this. In Swedish during the 19th century this kind of fabric would have been called lärft (originally – at least as far back as medieval times - lärft was used for plain, densely woven linen fabrics, but were later used for the same quality cottons as well). A printed cotton fabric were in the 18th century and into the 19th called kattun in Swedish.

The shift is constructed from rectangles, squares and triangles, the same way shifts and shirts had been made since before the Middle Ages. There is no shoulder seam, and one of the side gores are pieced from two halves. 


I used back stitches for joining the pieces, slip stitches for felling seams and hemming the neckline and sleeves. The bottom hem is sewn with running stitches and a back stitch every now and then.


For closing the slit in front I made a thread button. It has a base of waxed, thick cotton (linen could also be used) thread, as many originals do. It should hold up well in the wash. Wavy braid is used as trim. You see it used in many Swedish mid century petticoats, and I’ve seen it on doll’s shifts from both Sweden and other countries, and at least one extant woman’s chemise from the States. I think it’s more than plausible here as well. It should survive laundry better than most kinds of lace, while still adding a bit of elegance.

 
The shift reaches to just below my knees – I’d have liked it a bit longer, but this is what the fabric allowed me to do without adding shoulder seams. And can I say again how much I like that button? :)

The Challenge: #16 Terminology (calico)

Fabric: Cotton.

Pattern: My own.

Year: 1840’s. 

Notions: Cotton thread, cotton wavy braid.

How historically accurate is it? As good as it gets without studying originals in person. Material, construction and stitches are all period.  

Hours to complete: Not sure…

First worn: For the picture.

Total cost: 30SEK ($4,35; £2,61; €3,27) for the wavy braid; everything else was in my stash. It would probably have cost about 80SEK ($11,59; £6,97; €8,72) if I bought all the materials now.