Friday 25 December 2009

Bah, Humbug or A Christmas in Scrubs

I've been working the past two days, and I'm working tonight as well. As I've said before, in Scandinavia we celebrate on Christmas Eve, so this means I've spent Christmas alone with the cat in the mornings, and at work in the afternoons and evenings. I thought I'd feel very lonely and sorry for myself, and so made the decision to pretend it wasn't Christmas at all, somewhat in the style of Ebeneezer Scrooge. I even told my family not to call me on Christmas Eve, because then I'd probably start crying.

As it turned out, I had a very nice Christmas Eve, it felt very Christmasy, cosy and everything. I wasn't even all that homesick. Most patients went home for a few hours, so for a great part of the afternoon it was very quiet and almost sleepy. Me and the other nurses watched Christmas shows on TV and ate way to much chocolate and cookies, and tried to make it a special day for the ones who had to celebrate Christmas in the hospital, and their families. It felt good to spend Christmas serving others.

This is an embroidery I drew and made a couple of years ago, and take out in the beginning of December. I like the quiet mother-child moment. I'm sure Mary must have been an extraordinary woman, to be given the great responsibility to take care of the Savior as a child. At the same time, she must have been like most other loving mothers in the history of this world. I wanted to show that side of her.

Tonight, after work, I'll be going home to my family for a few days, and then I'm of to Stockholm. The New Years dress is not finished, so I'll have to do that at my parent's. Finishing at the last moment..... again.
A Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday 23 December 2009


So, I should have concentrated on making the skirt for my New Years dress yesterday, but I got distracted by something else. So annoying when that happens….

What caught my interest were the medieval embroideries on this blog, based on German finds from the 13th and 14th centuries. I use thick woollen yarn, which is nice, since it covers the surface quickly. I don’t think it’s really period in this kind of embroidery, silk would have been more appropriate, but since the fabric isn’t period either I don’t mind. I won’t be using this in a period setting anyway. I think I might decorate a pillow with it… only it doesn’t match anything in my home.

Because of the colours I call this my Medieval Gryffindor Embroidery. Usually I don’t really like to embroider all that much, but this is fun to work with. A bit addictive, really. I think I might use this technique again sometime, in silk, for a purse to use at re-enactments. That would probably be a bit to nice for my social status though… hmmm.

I did make some little progress with the skirt yesterday, but not close to how much I needed to get done. I’ll hopefully get a little sewing done after work tonight. A good thing is the skirt turned out quite good at the first try, I took in a seam a little, and that was it. Here’s another teaser picture, where I’ve pinned the sleeve to the bodice.

Looks rather good so far, in my opinion.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Tiny Update on the Velvet New Years Dress

Yesterday was a beautiful, cold, winter day. I went out to buy a present for my youngest brother, and I must say that, even though I was prepared for it, I was a tiny bit disgusted with the amount of money people spend on presents. The woman in front of me must have spent more money on the presents for (as far as I understood it) two children, than my parents will spend on all seven of us. Ridiculous. Anyway, the weather was lovely, with the trees all white with frost, so I came home satisfied with my outing.

When I came home, I all but finished the sleeves of my New Years dress. As with the bodice, I made the pattern for the sleeves myself (well, for the sleeves I just measured and cut, really), and they are made in three (four?) layers. First a tight fitting lining, then a satin and a tulle layer, sewn as one, gathered to the lining at the top, bottom and where the horizontal blue band goes. Then the bands, making up the lattice is sewn on. There will be five vertical, and one horizontal, bands on every sleeve, and then the band at the bottom of the sleeve. The ribbons are made of strips of fabric, folded and sewn by hand. The band running horizontally round the middle of the sleeve is sewn onto the sleeve all the way, but the vertical ones are just sewn to the top and bottom of the sleeve, and where they are crossed by the horizontal one.

Actually, so far the sleeves are entirely hand sewn. I won't sew them on the dress until I've sewn on the skirt. I might have to make a few changes on it, and if that's the case, I don't want to be restricted by sleeves. I have no mannequin, so I have to do all fittings myself, while wearing the dress. That is a real pain sometimes.
Not much of an update, but I'm really tired, so that's all I feel like doing. I'm happy Sunday is a day of rest :)

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Velvet New Years Dress

So, my funds being a bit low, I could not buy the fabric I needed for the 1911 dress. I have to work with what I have at home, so that makes a dramatic change of plans.

The dress I have decided on making is very much inspired by Swedish court dresses. The court dresses was introduced by King Gustav III in 1778. The history about how it got introduced is a bit complicated, so I won’t go into that. The dress has looked pretty much the same all the time it was in use, only the silhouette changing with the fashion. This is how it looked when it was first introduced (the lady to the right):

And as worn by Crown Princess Desideria in the 1810’s:

Crown Princess Josefina in 1825:

And again in 1837:

Three generations of noblewomen in 1944 (the two girls about to be presented at court):

The dress was always black, full length, and very simple. Pretty much any black dress could be made a court dress by adding the lattice sleeves. Even though the dress was simple, it was very desirable to be allowed to wear one. Only the royal ladies, and ladies presented at court was allowed that privilege. The last time the court dress was used officially (to my knowledge) was in 1974 (when it looked like this),

and since they’ve not be in use for more than 30 years, I think I can get away with wearing a dress much like it.

My dress will be made out of dark blue velvet (old curtains really), and the sleeves will be in thin, white satin with soft white tulle over it (both fabrics are leftover scraps from other projects), and the lattice in some semi-shiny, blue, polyester fabric, cut from an old dress. The zipper will be salvaged from that dress as well, so I won’t spend anything at all on this gown.

So far I’ve all but finished the bodice, and am now working on the sleeves. I’m too tired to take pictures of it now, so you have to be patient. I have always liked the look of these dresses, and think it’ll be very pretty. Not sure what other people will think, though my brother sort of liked it.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Christmas Meme

I too saw this meme on Sarah Jane's blog. It’s always interesting to find out more about people, so here is mine:

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate. Never tried eggnog, it’s not something we drink here in Sweden. And I really like hot chocolate.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa never really had anything to do with our Christmases, but we wrap the presents and put them under the tree.

3. Coloured lights on the tree/house or white? White. No coloured lights will ever be in my tree if I can help it. I want a peaceful Christmas, and the coloured lights make me nervous, like looking at a shop window….the blinking kind is even worse.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but it looks nice. It’s not tradition here, but some people do it.

5. When do you put the Christmas decorations up? On the Saturday before the first of Advent.

6. Favourite holiday dish? The Christmas ham, I think. I like it best cold, on a piece of bread with strong, sweet mustard on. Yummy.

7. Favourite holiday memory as a child? The Christmas Eve breakfasts.

8. When did you learn the truth about Santa? We never believed in Santa. Our parents didn’t want to make us believe in something that turned out to be a lie – what would that do to our faith in the Lord, which they taught us about? We were never allowed to prevent other children from believing though.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes, in Sweden everyone opens their presents on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day.

10. How do you decorate your tree? So far I haven’t got a tree this year, but last year I had a wee thing in a pot, decorated with tiny white lights and home made tags with scriptures and extracts from Christmas songs on them, speaking of the Saviour.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? For my own part I love it! It makes everything so much lighter, a definite improvement to this dark time of year.

12. Can you ice skate? Yes, but I’m not very good at it.

13. Do you remember your favourite gift? Last years gift from my parents was one of my favourites; a large glass cover, very much like the one in Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast.

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you? Remembering why we celebrate. The family is very central in my faith; I believe it’s the whole point of the Saviour’s salvation, to enable us to live with our families forever. So being with my family is a part of it. I listen to a lot of Christmas music the month leading up to it, to keep in mind why we celebrate. But I think it’s important to not only remember it on Christmas; we should always keep in mind what the Saviour did for us.

15. What is your favourite holiday desert? Don’t know…

16. What is your favourite holiday tradition? On the morning of Christmas Eve some of the family members (these past years usually me and some of my siblings) get up early and make Lussebullar. It is sweet wheat bread, seasoned with saffron, always eaten at, and around Christmas. Usually you make them in individual rolls, in fancy shapes, but for the Christmas Eve breakfast my family put the rolls so close together they become one, big bread when baked. My Grandmother did this when my Dad was little, and when the children asked her why, she said it was tradition. My Dad, or one of his brothers, couldn’t say tradition, so he said badilon, and so that’s the name of our Christmas saffron bread: Badilon. That's our Christmas Eve breakfast, and I think that’s the best part of Christmas.

17. What tops your tree? Well, when I get a big tree, it’ll be a star. We’ve always had stars in my family’s trees.

18. Which do you prefer – Giving or Receiving? It’s very nice to give presents that’s appreciated. To receive something that shows the giver knows you well are nice too.

19. Favourite Christmas song? Told you that in this post.

20. Candy canes – Yuck or Yum? Again, we don’t have the American kind here, so I don’t know really. I like the Swedish kind though.

21. Favourite Christmas show? I like two very different shows: A Christmas Carol from 1984, and Little Women from 1994. I like the first because of the message, and the second for the loving family relationships.

22. Saddest Christmas song? Hmmmm…. I don't like sad Christmas songs.

That was it. Hope you enjoy :)

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Hemstitching a Collar

My Dad is home again, and feeling much better. They finally figured out what’s the matter with him. It’s not really an uncommon illness, so I’m surprised it took them so long. This new doctor came in, took a look at him and said “I know what it is”, and that was it. It can be cured with antibiotics, so he should be well soon. But before antibiotics were discovered it was usually fatal. Scary. I’m so relieved it’s nothing to worry about these days. Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.

The past week or so I’ve been working on the collar to my Swedish folk costume blouse (called opplöt in the local dialect of the time). In the part of Sweden where I'm from, the collar was made out of a long strip of fabric, gathered or cartridge pleated to the comparatively wide neckline, and meant to lie down on the shoulders, like this example from the 1830's:

While the opplöt will be made out of linen, the collar is made of fine (30x26 threads/square cm, or 77x66 threads/square inch), white cotton. The reason for this is that cotton was a new, expensive, and very fashionable material at the time (early to mid 19th century), and most people could not afford to make the whole opplöt out of it, but they used it in the collar since that would be seen. The opplöt itself was made of the cheaper linen, since it would be hidden under a knitted woolen sweater (for want of better English word), like this:

Mine is sewn with a waxed cotton thread, plainly hemmed at the short edges, and the long side sewn with hemstitching. Contemporary examples seem to have anything from plain hems, elaborate drawn thread work, edgings of simple lace, or a combination of these. I’ve seen one example made of embroidered tulle. It would seem the women of the time decorated their collars the way they had the taste, skills, time, and money for. What the opplöt was to be used for must have had its weight as well. I’m sure an opplöt used every week for church would have had a plainer collar than the one used on ones wedding day, for example. I'm not sure collars like this was even worn for every day work. The width and length of the collars seems to have differed a bit as well. Mine will be 144,5 x 11,5 cm (56 15/16 x 4 7/16”), and the hems will be the same width as in the extant examples I have information on, 6 mm (almost 2/8”) at the short edges and 17 mm (11/16”) at the long side.

I had never tried hemstitching before, so I’m making a simple one. It turned out to be so easy and fun, that when I make another opplöt, I’ll make a more elaborate drawn thread work on the collar. This is what the process looks like on the one I’m making now:

From the left: (1) the plain fabric, (2) a single thread drawn out, (3) the first side sewn, hemming the collar at the same time, and then (4) the other side sewn. I pick up three threads in every stitch, and twist the thread around them to make the tiny holes.

I think it looks very pretty with the contrast between the single layer of fabric, and the double layers at the hem, and the darker line made by the hemstitching.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Christmas Music

First I want to say thank you for the prayers! I talked to my Dad yesterday, and though they still don't know what's wrong with him, he's in tolerably good spirits, though impatient to go home. Hopefully whatever-it-is will be quickly cured. So now, all I can do is to pray, and live my life as I usually do. So here's a post I had planned to post the day I got the news of my Dad.
I love Christmas carols! Music has always had a power to make me feel the greatness and beauty of God’s love for us. I believe a song, or a hymn, can be a prayer. One of my favourite carols is a Swedish song, first written in 1812, and rewritten in 1817. It’s actually alluding to when Christ entered Jerusalem just before passover, and His status after his Resurrection, but it’s always sung on Christmas. I think it very fitting, for without the Atonement He made for us, His birth would have been no more different or significant than any other persons (which of course are all little miracles of themselves). I have tried to translate it, but I’m afraid there might be some errors, and the poetry is lost in the translation. Still, I think the spirit of the song is clear enough.

Prepare the way for the Lord

Prepare the way for the Lord!
Mountains: sink, Depths: arise!
He comes, He, whom in times past
Was revealed as our Hope.

The First One of Righteousness,
The Greatest of the House of David.
Be He blessed who came in the name of the Lord!

People of God, He comes forth, an Eternal King.
Strew palm leaves, spread out garments,
Sing your fulfilled Hope.
The promises of God are true, now shout Hosanna!

The First One of Righteousness,
The Greatest of the House of David.
Be He blessed who came in the name of the Lord!

Widen your gates for the Holiness of the Lord.
Behold, the nations wait around You, to attain Your salvation.
In all the countries of the world
This song of praise will ring out:

The First One of Righteousness,
The Greatest of the House of David.
Be He blessed who came in the name of the Lord!

The throne He ascends is in the house of His Father.
The realm He dedicates is love and light alone.
The praise sung by tender voices declares grace and peace.

The First One of Righteousness,
The Greatest of the House of David.
Be He blessed who came in the name of the Lord!

This song can be sung to two different tunes. My favourite is a Swedish folk tune, which can be heard here, sung at a traditional St Lucia celebration (which I will explain in more detail later). They only sing the first two verses though.

I love this version, since it combines my faith in Christ with my Swedish culture. Though I must say, I prefer spiritual music to be sung by people who actually believe in what they’re singing. Otherwise, to me, it’s very close to a lie, even though it might be beautiful. Is that very harsh thinking? Perhaps, since the songs rings in my heart when I listen to them, they become true, because I believe in them? Hmm, I got all tangled up in my own musings here. Better stop :)
Anyway, enjoy the music of the season!

Friday 4 December 2009

Need Your Prayers

My Dad has been admitted to the hospital today, and they don't know what's wrong with him. He's in pain, he's got a temperature, and from what my Mum said, he was a little disoriented. They've taken a lot of tests, some kind of scans, and they've put him on a strong intravenous antibiotic. I'm worried, of course, and both he, my family and I could really need your prayers right now.

I hate not to know what's going on! In my profession I'm usually one of the first who get to know things, but now I don't even know if it were a MR or a CT they did, nor which antibiotics they give him or anything.

We've seen so much illness in this family already... I pray this will be easily cured.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

18th Century Underpinnings

The reading frenzy has passed for this time, and I'm sewing again.

Last night I finished my 18th century shift (dug out of the ongoing projects-box, half finished), after a couple of day’s intensive sewing. It’s made of fine, bleached linen, and sewed with waxed linen thread. No pattern was used, I just looked at all the pictures, and read all the descriptions I could find, and went from there. I had planned to add ruffles to the sleeves, but I like them as they are, so I won’t.

The shift is cut without shoulder seams, and width is added to the sides with gores, and with gussets in the sleeves. One of the side gores was pieced together from two halves, to save fabric – very period. All the seam allowances are folded in and sewn down, so that they won’t ravel when washed.

The fully boned stays (known as a corset nowadays) were made several years ago, and are a bit too large. They’re comfortable and give me close to the right shape, so they will work for now, but the new ones will be smaller. I’ll keep these though; I might (sigh) grow into them in the future. They’re made of cotton twill, and bound with cotton bias tape (so the materials aren’t period either), and completely hand sewn. Perhaps I’ll cover them in another fabric in future, and then they’ll look period enough.

It’s a bit of a project to lace myself into them; I can’t do it without looking in a mirror. My new ones will probably have front lacing as well as back lacing. Not as common in the period, from what I understand, but much easier to lace oneself into. I used a 1/8 scale pattern I got from one of my teachers in high-school, that I scaled up and changed to (hmm, somewhat) fit me. No idea how period the pattern is, but since I’ll never walk around in public without wearing clothes over my stays, they’ll do. The 18th century is not a period I usually do, anyway. Oh, and we all know what a push-up effect 18th century stays gives…. I exhaled in all the pictures so I wouldn’t look downright indecent. I have no intentions of showing of my eeeh… assets to the world. When I’ve finished the whole costume I’ll definitely wear it with a fichu tucked into the neckline for modesty.

The under petticoat was sewn a couple of years ago, and is made of a coarse, unbleached linen. Very simple, but the outfit I plan to make will be lower middle class at the highest, so I think it’s all right. It is mostly hand sewn. The front and back are pleated to two separate waistbands; the ties of the back waistband are tied in front, and then the front ones are tied in the back. This is a period way to close petticoats, and makes them very easily adjustable in case of changes in waist measurements, due to pregnancy, weight gain/loss, or a new pair of stays.

Now I have the underpinnings done, I’m really looking forward to making the rest of the clothes. I’ll need a pocket or two, an outer petticoat, a jacket, an apron, a more period correct cap (for the pictures I just took one I had lying around), and a pair of knitted stockings. The stockings are nearly done; I just need to find the inspiration to finish them. I’d like a straw hat and a pair of period shoes as well, but I won’t be able to afford that for a long time. Never mind, I don’t really have time to work on this costume right now anyway….

Friday 27 November 2009

"She is too Fond of Books, it has Turned Her Mind"

The past two weeks have been worthless as far as sewing goes. One reason is I've had another cold. The other reason: I've been reading. I always read a lot, but sometimes it gets much worse, and then reading is all I do, when not sleeping or working. Now, I've read so much I'm almost (but not quite) sick of it. I'm not really sick of the reading in itself, but my body is stiff, and almost aching from being still so much. When I've finished the book I'm reading now (only about 200 pages left), I'll hopefully get some serious sewing done. The silly thing is that I've already read these books before, more than once. It's not that I don't know whats going to happen... but a good book can be read innumerable times, and be just as interesting every time. There's always something new to catch your attention, or the words are so familiar that it's restful to read them.

On Sunday it's the first of Advent, a very much looked forward to time in Sweden. In many windows, in both homes, schools, hospitals and companies, the typical Advent candlesticks and lighted stars have appeared this week. It makes the darkness of this time of year bearable (in this part of Sweden it gets light at about eight am, and by four pm it's dark again - in the north they only get an hour or so of light). Most people don't see the light but through the windows at school or work; it's dark when you leave home in the morning, and dark when you go home again. The lights in the windows really cheer things up.

Today I've been doing laundry, cleaning, and taken out some of the decorations of the season. Doing this I realized my cat is an absolutely worthless protector of damsels in distress. I hate spiders passionately (especially when taken by surprise), and suddenly I found one in my hair. Shudder. I must have been a sight for the neighbours, jumping around, screaming, and repeatedly brushing over my hair, face, arms and clothes to get rid of it. When I tried to set the cat on the eight-legged monster, he thought I was playing and didn't even see the thing. When he finally noticed it, he touched it very hesitantly, and backed away when it moved towards him. Sigh. I had to save myself in the end. Well, if he's not a great warrior amongst cats, at least he's loving and very cuddly, which after all is why I got him in the first place.

I have got a little bit of sewing done these past two weeks, with heavy emphasis on little. The third group of cording in my petticoat is done, and I've sort of started on the fourth.

This evening I took out a long forgotten project (new 18th century stays) from the "ongoing projects" box, and did some work on them. I really should stick to one period for a longer time, but it's so difficult. Since I usually don't have an event to wear my period clothes to, I don't have the pressure to get one set done before starting the next... But then, just like with my reading, sometimes I get obsessed with a certain project, and then it can be finished quickly. The "moderation in all things" I wrote about recently does not always come naturally....

Monday 16 November 2009

This and That

A while ago my cat broke of a rose from the plant in my living room window. I put it in a vase, and, as so often happens with me, I forgot to remove it when it had wilted. A few days ago I got tired of it, and picked it up to throw it away, when I noticed it had begun to sprout roots! I already knew that this plant is resilient; it’s almost died on several occasions, when I've been away for a while, but I have always been able to nurse it back to strength. So I’m making an experiment now; I've put the twig in a pot of soil, and then I’ll see what happens. If I’m lucky, I will have a baby rose as well as a big one. It still looks good after three days, so I think it might work.

On Saturday I had planned to start a new project, and I had three options; a 14th century kirtle, an opplöt, (a sort of shirt) for my folk costume, or a dress for New Years Eve. I never got round to any of them. I didn't feel like making a pattern for either the kirtle or the dress, and the fabrics for the shirt was not pre-shrunk yet. Instead I found myself working on a Disney costume (Jane in Tarzan – there’ll be a post on that costume sometime) I made last year, but wasn't completely satisfied with. I will have to alter the sleeves a little, but I couldn't find the fabric, so the main thing I did was to remove the basted-on linen collar to starch it.

I thought I’d try the potato starch again, but instead of doing it like last time, I mixed it in cold water, which I then stirred into boiling water. That worked, it all became a sort of smooth, thick liquid.

After starching the collar and hanging it up to dry, I still had starch left, so I starched a couple of other things as well, like this 1830's cap.

And, finally, I have taken down the veil I was trying to bleach in the sun. It’s not white white, but it’s much lighter than it was, so I’m well pleased.

I tried to pin in to my coif, and it worked very well indeed. The veil is rather sheer, so you can just see the coif through it, but I think it looks nice. I love veils! I like having things on my head (veils, kerchiefs, coifs, caps – all depending on the period I’m dressed for), and a coif won’t be enough in summer. The sun gives me headaches, and a veil protects from the sun better than a coif or a kerchief tied round the head.

It frames the face in a nicer way as well, and since make up is a big no-no while re-enacting most eras, anything that can make you look prettier, in a period way, is a good thing.

Thursday 12 November 2009

A Feminine Appearance

Lately I've been thinking about what it means to be feminine, and today I'll share my thoughts on a feminine appearance. This is what I think and what I do to feel womanly, so if you don't agree, there's no reason to bite my head of. This is just for you to get to know me better.

There's a movement amongst some women out there to dress in a more feminine way. I like it, and want to be part of it, but it will have to be in a way that works for me, where I live. I could dress in skirts and dresses all the time (that would be nice, I had a period when I did that), but sometimes jeans are just more practical. There's also the thing of not appearing too weird - I have enough geek labels stuck on me as it is :) Besides, in the LDS church we believe in moderation in all things. For quite a long time I wondered what I could do to look feminine, despite wearing jeans, and the best example I came up with was Princess Leia in Star Wars .

She lives in a world (or galaxy) where a lot of the time it would be impractical or dangerous for her to wear skirts, but her hair is always put up in very feminine ways. As soon as she's in a relatively safe and combat-free environment, she dons dresses or cute tunics.

That's what I try to do. No matter what I happen to be wearing, I can always have my hair put up nicely, and that is a comfort in this women-should-be-more-like-men-and-men-should-be-more-like-women era I'm living in. (On a side note, I believe that is one of the reasons why I, and many other people like living history and reenacting - it gives men permission to be men, and women permission to be women.) Beautiful hairstyles are also something I can have at work, where I have to wear the pyjama-looking, less than pretty scrubs. Besides, wearing jeans doesn't mean you have to wear them with a t-shirt - I never do. I wear soft, feminine shirts or cardigans, often with some nice, but inexpensive, jewellery. That way I feel somewhat well dressed and lady-like even in jeans.

Another important thing about being womanly is, in my opinion, to be modest. I'm proud of being a woman, and I would never flaunt what I've been given to all the world. According to the Bible, the body is a temple, and as such, should be treated with respect. For me, that means I will keep it healthy, clean and tidy. I will not have anything tattooed on it, and I will not be used as a pincushion for multiple piercing jewellery. I won't wear sleeveless or low cut shirts or dresses, and my skirts always cover my knees.

That being said, this is the skirt I'm wearing today. It's made out of checked wool, in blues and greys, trimmed with grey wool. I actually began sewing it two years ago, but then I forgot about it. I took it out last week, and finished it today. I like wearing wool in the autumn and winter.

So, that's my serious thoughts for the week :) Never you fear, hopefully it'll be a sewing related post next time.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Report on the Wedding

The wedding last Friday was absolutely wonderful. Two of my best friends getting married, that's a pretty good start, and everything was so well and carefully planned. The grooms family and relations are many of them friends of mine, and many of both the bride's and grom's friends are also my friends, which made it fun and comfortable.

These pictures were taken after the wedding, outside the Latter Day Saint Temple in Stockholm, Sweden. I didn't get any from the reception, my camera died long before that. The dress fit perfectly, and the bride was so very happy with it, her mother-in-law told me. I was very happy with it too, I felt like a little girl who's just dressed a beautiful doll in a pretty dress, and now admire the effect... silly, but that's how it felt. The groom liked it as well, as did a lot of other people. Even the groom's youngest brother said he thought it pretty - now, that's praise!

A picture of the bodice of the dress. The bouquet was made by the groom's mother. It was the first wedding bouquet she ever made, and it was just lovely!

The groom preparing to pick the bride up.

Practice before carrying her over the threshold.

The back of the dress, and the beautiful hair, made by another of the bride's friends.

After (literally) hundreds of pictures had been taken, we all drove back to our town. Being hungry, some of us (including the bride and groom) stopped at a burger bar and had lunch. As they were still in their wedding clothes, they got a lot of looks. Not a very romantic meal, by way of a wedding lunch, still I thought it was nice. To me it showed that the promises they'd given, and the life they would have together were more important than an illusionary romantic world created by so many couples on their wedding days.
The reception was the most fun I've ever been to, a good combination of romance, laughter, mingle and speeches. I will use it for a model when I marry. The cake was made by one of the groom's brothers, a pretty and yummy chocolate thing covered with white sugar paste. The cake topping was a bride running away, and the groom stopping her by stepping on the train of her dress. The bride picked it, because, though good friends, she was so not interested in the groom that way at first, and it took him a couple of years to make her fall in love with him. What do they say, slow and steady wins the race?
The very best of wishes to you both!

Thursday 5 November 2009

Wedding Dress Finished

Two hours ago I finished it, and the bride tried it on an hour ago. I was terribly nervous, in case she would be disappointed. The dress looks exactly like the drawing we made before I started, but I was still anxious.

She was more than pleased, and said it looked exactly like her dream dress, and she got tears in her eyes. There's no higher praise than that.

In a couple of hours we're leaving for Stockholm, and tomorrow I'll get to see the dress in action. I am very much looking forward to the grooms reaction (and I must confess, the reactions of everyone else).

My back aches something terrible after sewing so much, and I have only slept for four hours tonight, I had so much left to do on the dress. I am very, very happy with being finished with the dress, now I can work on my own projects again, with no time pressure. I'm glad I made this dress (the bride being such a sweet, loving, and truly wonderful friend), but I think it'll be a while before I make a wedding dress again....

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Almost There.....

The wedding dress is getting close to finished! I had to do a slight alteration on the tulle skirt, but the rest is straight forward enough. Good thing too, we leave on Thursday (the wedding is to be in Stockholm on Friday morning, and then we'll drive back here for the reception) so it'll be done at the last minute. Very much in character for me, I have to say.... This is how the hem of the skirt looks like in the back, it turned out better than I thought, after worrying so much.

I've prayed about it quite a lot lately, asking for the Lords help with it. When I did the cutting last night I wasn't nervous at all, and it turned out well. The Lord truly help us when we ask Him to, even in small matters like these.

Poor Lord Wellington will be happy when all this is over, he's very confused by my not allowing him near me while sewing. Sometimes he's just a little monster, trying to rip everything to pieces, and at those times I have to shut the poor thing in, and hear his pitiful meows. Most other projects will not be as delicate, so it won't matter so much if he is curious then.
Tomorrow I will get the N1H1 vaccine. Not looking forward to it, but what can you do. I've been thinking about it, with all the pros and cons, and I'm now resigned to taking it. I'm not really afraid of the flu for myself, but I have patients that could get seriously ill if I carry it. I'm not really afraid of the vaccine either, though by no means unaware of the risks people associate with it. Well, it'll turn out the way the Lord meant it to do, and what more could I ask for? I don't believe in "Ooooops....." as being a word used in Heaven.

Saturday 31 October 2009


Not much to tell, really. I went to a Halloween party last night, which was fun, but I'm coming down with a cold, so I was a bit tired. Most people had made a good job at finding/making costumes. You could meet Napoleon, a vampire and it's victim, a cat, a lumberjack, a couple of very different superheroes, Fred and Ginger long dead, Snow White, Tia Dalma (from Pirates of the Carribean) and a male fairy (not pretty, I can tell you...).

I went as a troll, which in Scandinavian folktales are not usually the big, hairy monsters most people think of. In the stories they can be ugly, and they can range in size from much smaller than humans, to giants. But most of the times they seem to be very close to human in appearance, sometimes more beautiful than any human (mostly the young females). They were believed to live their lives pretty close to the way humans did, with cooking, brewing ale, tending to animals, getting married, sewing (female trolls had a reputation of being extremely good at spinning and weaving). They usually lived in/under mountains, or under mounds, not in houses. They could be very friendly with humans, but could also be malicious. They were believed to steal human babies and leave their own young in the cribs instead (used as an explanation for deformed or mentally handicapped children), and they hated the sound of church bells. Steel was thought to protect against the trolls, so people often carried knives, and put nails or knives in babies swaddling.

Some people thought I was skogsrået, the Swedish word for a female creature, who guarded the forests. She was supposed to be very beautiful, capricious, and dangerous for men. It was believed that if they treated her respectfully, she would help humans find lost cattle, have good luck at hunting, etc. If they were disrespectful, she could be quite cruel, making people get lost, forget their wives or destroy the work they did in the woods. In some parts of Scandinavia she was thought to have the tail of a fox or a cow, and in some areas, her back was as hollow as rotten tree. I've never seen one, so I had to do the best I could ;)

Anyway, this is what I wore; a green wool tunic, really a child's long sleeved medieval cotte (worn by one of my sisters a few years ago), but it's wide enough for me to wear. Over that a wool-poly blend skirt, which I made as a "medieval" dress a long time ago, before I knew better. I cut the top portion of, hemmed it, added patches here and there, tore it in a couple of places, and frayed it a little. I sewed my tail to the back, so it looked like it was poked through a "tail-opening". I had a strip of leather wound round my waist, and added a pouch to carry my camera in (I didn't take a single picture...). Didn't get a good picture of the tail, sorry. You have to see my last post for that. The tail is made of fake suede, from an old project, and a bit of fox fur.

My hair was a tangled mess of frizzy curls (it took a long time and a lot of conditioner to wash it out today), and I wore a headband made from a flexible pine branch, complete with a nice, tight row of pine cones, to which I added a few other things, like rowan berries. To hold it all securely in place (silky, Scandinavian hair, remember?) I used a lot of hairspray, besides the hair pins. All in all, I think it turned out well.

The bodice of the wedding dress is coming along nicely, I just have to add sleeves and a zipper. Only, I can't do that till I've finished the skirt. I can't cut out the tulle for the sleeves 'till the skirt is cut out, since there's so little fabric, and I'll have to sew the bodice and skirt together before I sew in the zipper.... Meanwhile, here's a picture of how the back looks with the row of buttons. I would have liked the buttons a little smaller, but then it's not my dress.

Thursday 29 October 2009

The Press is Building...

Lately I've had so much to do and think about that I've had no time to update my blog. The wedding dress is the thing that's taken most of my time of course. The wedding is a week from tomorrow, and the dress is to be finished a few days before that. Yesterday I lined the bodice, and today I've put in the buttons at the back. The dress will be closed by a zipper in the left side, so the buttons are purely ornamental, though I want them to look something like real buttoning. I don't just sew them on to the back of the dress, since that make them stand out in all possible angles, which don't look tidy at all. Instead I use the old method of carefully poking holes through the fabrics, pushing the shanks of the buttons through, then securing them with a ribbon running through all the buttons, and sewn to the inside of the dress. That makes them sit nice and tight, and very straight.

I am getting just a little stressed now... but so far I've never missed a deadline, and I really can't miss this one. My cat (named Lord Wellington by a friend) doesn't help, but he's much better at letting me be while sewing then he was.

On Saturday it's Halloween, but since my friends bridal shower is that night, we have a Halloween party on Friday instead, hosted by the brides soon to be cousins in law. It's a dress-up party (yeay!) and I've been preparing a costume for that. I had to make it very quickly, since I don't have much time. I will not tell what I'm going as though, I'll do that when I have pictures of it. Here's a teaser though.

For the rest, all is well. I've visited my family a couple of days this week, and celebrated four birthdays at once; my Dad's, one of my sister's, one of my brother's and my eldest niece's. Tomorrow and on Sunday I'm working. I haven't worked day-shifts for almost two months, so that'll be interesting.

Monday 19 October 2009

Plans for a 1911 Dress

I got all the bodice pieces of the wedding dress sewn together, and the fitting went well. I'll have to take in two seams a little, but then the bodice will be perfect!

I've been planning to make a 1911 (or thereabouts) evening gown for years, and now the time might have come. I'm most likely going to a ball at New Years Eve, and I'm thinking of making the 1911 dress for that. I bought a cherry red/pink tabby weave silk when I first thought of making the dress, and it's been in my fabric stash ever since. The dress will be in the narrower, almost hobble skirt style, popular at the time. The plan is to make a rather plain dress out of the rosy silk, and sew a black, draped, beaded "tunic" over it. I will add some accents like velvet and maybe lace as well. A silk tulle is most period for the tunic, but it tears so easily (what with the weight of the beading and all), that I'm going to use chiffon instead. This is the drawing I made of what I want it to look like (I've been drawing a fair few versions of this dress over the years, but the one I made today is the one I like best):

Some details might change, but this is my plan so far: The greater part of the bodice will be in black velvet, creased to look like it's been wrapped around the body. It might or might not have hanging ends in the back. The slit in the skirt of the tunic will be edged with an embroidered organza ribbon I've got lying around (I will add a lot of beading to it), and the hem of the tunic will have a beaded fringe. The neckline of the tunic will be edged with that same beaded ribbon, and the sleeves will (perhaps) have a beaded fringe as well. The front I'm not sure of yet, perhaps a soft black tulle with woven in polka-dots I've had for years, mounted on another fabric, and then beaded.

This photo came out really blurry for some reason, but you can get an idea about the colours. The velvet is black, but looks blue in the picture (I will probably bye some new, really black velvet for this dress), and the rosy silk is darker in real life. I like how the dress will look dark, almost wine red, and then there's a really bright color at the hem, and peeking through the slit in the tunic. A bit like me; not to interesting at a first glance perhaps, but if you take the trouble to get to know me, I can actually be rather fun :)

The problem is, I also have a dark blue velvet that I could use instead of the rosy silk.... That would look something like this:

Dark blue and black seem to be a period combination.
This is a rather big project, for not only will I have to do the beading (which will take a long time), I also must make the appropriate underwear, especially a corset and a petticoat, or the look of the dress will be wrong.
But then I usually change my mind as to what style I want to wear to a ball a dozen times, before I even start making a dress, so I might be wearing something completely different in the end.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

First Day of Snow

First things first: it was snowing this morning! The air looked sort of fuzzy when I woke up, and when I looked closer, it was snowing! It stuck to the ground, but it didn't stay long, as it's a few degrees above freezing. So note to self: first snow of the season - 13 October.

I have worked so much the past two weeks, I've hardly had time to sew on the wedding dress. I wasn't working yesterday, so I did some sewing then. I had planned to do more, but I didn't feel well, and spent most of the day sleeping on the sofa, with the cat curled up close by. Still, all the front parts of the bodice is now piped and sewn together.

I did some sewing on my corded petticoat yesterday as well. I was tired, and didn't feel like the wedding dress was the right project for me right then, but the corded petti is a safe thing to work on when tired, not really a risk of getting it wrong. I've now finished the 26th row of cording. It was so fun to work on it, and I love the look of the pattern the rows of cords make. I really want to get that wedding dress finished, so I can work on my own projects again, with a good conscience.

Hopefully I can sew all the bodice pieces together, so that we can have a fitting later this week. Then there's the most difficult part on this dress: the tulle overlay of the skirt. I'm not kidding, it scares me. The hem of the dress need to be curved to look nice, but I'm using the embroidered edge of the fabric, so I just can't curve the hems on the tulle layer. Somehow, I'll have to make it work anyway.....

Sunday 11 October 2009

Folk Costume Shift

I continue my present interest in my folk costume, so be patient. My interest will most certainly turn to something else in a little while. (That's my curse; I can never stick to one project for too long. My interest changes, but it always comes back again. So I finish most of my projects.... eventually.) Today I'll show you my shift, or särk in Swedish. This sleeveless kind is called, in the local dialect, hankasärk. I made it a while ago, and it's to be worn as the first layer of the folk costume. I will not post a picture of how it looks when I wear it, since it has a very low neckline.

It's made of a bleached, rather coarse linen, and is based on an extant example in the museum Kulturen in Lund. I found a very good description and pattern in the book Skånska Särkar (Scanian shifts) by Margareta Bergstrand. All the pieces are the same shape as the original, but scaled to my size, and the stitches are the same as in the original, sewn with waxed linen thread.

The shift comes down to about 8" from the floor. It is made out of three different kinds of rectangles: one for the "bodice" (with a hole cut out for the head), two small ones to form the sides, and three large ones that make up the skirt.

There's no shoulder seams, and the seams in the skirt are placed at the right side, off-center front and off-center back. Oh yeah, and there's the waistband. It's whip stitched to the pleated skirt, and the finished bodice is then whip stitched to it as well. The waistband has a line of back stitches sewn to it, for strength.

In the lower right hand corner of the bodice my initials are embroidered with red cotton yarn. The letters are based on ones from real shifts from my area. S is for Sarah (obviously), A is for my fathers first name, and D is for dotter, daughter. Sarah A.....s Dotter - Sarah A.....'s Daughter. That's how most people where called back then in Sweden, their own first name and then their fathers name, followed by Son or Dotter (yeah, son is the same in Swedish and English). They still have this practice in Iceland. So, that was today's history lesson.

I like this shift very much, and put in a good deal of research and work into it. Some people think I'm wasting my time, since it won't show once I have the rest of the costume on, but every layer adds to the right look of an outfit. As all who wear period clothes will know.