Saturday 30 March 2013

Blog Award and a Surprise Gift

A couple of days ago I received the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – thank you The Choll

The description of my blog made me vary happy, so I’ll copy it here: Sarah in Sweden is amazing! She weaves, sews, embroiders and just to give me an even worse inferiority complex, recently started another blog (in Swedish) to assist Medieval Reenactors with historical accuracy. Praise indeed – I’m not sure I quite deserve it, but as, to quote Jane Austen “nobody minds having what is too good for them”, I will bear it cheerfully. Though being one of 15 recipients lessens the quality of the award somewhat; it gives it the air of a chain letter.

Ah well. In accepting the award, I have to tell you all seven random things about myself. Hmm…

- I dislike the sounds of other people eating. It’s a family trait; my father, one sister and one brother are like me. When all of us are at the same dinner table woe befalls the poor person who don’t have the sense and manners to eat with his mouth closed. I try hard to raise my level of tolerance, with varying results.

- I don’t like wearing trousers. I usually find them uncomfortable, and finding any that fits my curvy figure is nearly impossible. The days I wear trousers each year can be numbered on one hand.

- I like too many things: reading, sewing, weaving, knitting, scrapbooking, baking, writing etc. There’s much I would like to do, and less time to do it in. The result: many UFO’s and too many possessions, mostly books and textile related things. A library and a sewing room is on my wish list for a future home.

You've all seen my textile projects, but not much of my baking: 
this is a cake I made yesterday. My first try at making marsipan figures.

- I’ve always wanted to be a Mum, even as a child. When all the other children answered “pop star”, “fire fighter”, “actor”, “police” and “nurse” to the question of what we wanted to be as we grew up, I always said “a mother”. I guess I never was very ambitious when it came to a career, but love my present life as a stay at home Mum.

- I love solitude. I don’t dislike company, but a little goes a long way. Some people gain energy by socializing, others have their energy drained by it. I belong to the latter category, and I suppose that is one important reason for me preferring the life of a stay at home Mum to that of a career woman. (Besides, if I bring children into the world, I want to be the one to bring them up to live in it.)

- I never was a very good student. Everyone has always supposed I was a Hermione Granger kind of person, but the whole hand-these-essays-in-by-this-date-thing never suited me. I like to learn, but I don’t work well under pressure.

- I often choose to do things by hand, rather than by machine (like whipping cream, mixing dough and sewing), as I prefer not listening to loud noises. I am however not a complete enemy to technology: I consider the washing machine one of the greater blessings of the 20th century, and am very happy to have a dishwasher. That I like the internet is obvious.

Now, I was supposed to pass this on to 15 other bloggers, but I can’t think of that many that truly inspire me, which have not already received it. I could think of nine blogs I want to pass this on to, and they are, alphabetically:

Battle ofWisby 1361-2013 – Ida (former of Idas Hantverk) is now hosting the official blog of Battle of Wisby 1361-2013, a large upcoming 14th century re-enactment here in Sweden. Ida is very talented in several crafts, and also reports on living history outings, and preparations for the upcoming event.

Creating This and That – My Mum, Monica, who’s an avid scrapbooker. I love scrapbooking, but don’t have much time for it with all the other things I want to do, so for now, I sort of live on what she makes.

Deventer Burgerscap – The blog of a Dutch 14th century living history group. A lovely mix of events, projects and original items.

Historisk Dräkt och Hantverk – My friend Mikael’s blog, a fellow member of Albrechts Bössor. One of the most talented costumers I know, interested in several periods.

In deme jare Cristi – My friends and also fellow members of Albrechts Bössor Peter and Maria blog about projects (Maria is amazing at most textile crafts), outings and 14th century subjects in general.

Kurage – Yet another friend and member of Albrechts Bössor, Anders, is also into 18th and 19th century living history. Good crafter and entertaining writer.

MedievalSilkwork – Talented ladies do research, write about and recreate medieval textiles. If you’re interested in 14th century living history, this is a must have in your reading list.

Neulakko – Elina is a 14th century living historian in Finland, and her clothing is always well made and researched, and her instructional videos on nalbinding are great.

SwedishHousewife Mafia - My sister Linda’s blog (in Swedish only). She’s a stay at home Mum, creative and full of energy. Though having different interests from me, I admire her ability to keep so many projects going at the same time.  

In other news; after posting about my improvised rigid heddle, I received a real one as a surprise gift from Vix! Pretty, isn’t it?

Happy dance!!!

Monday 25 March 2013

Swedish 19th Century Country Toddler's Cap and Apron

For the sixth HSF challenge I made a cap and an apron for a small country boy in 19th century Sweden. After swaddling (still very much in use amongst country people in Sweden at this time) was over, boys and girls were dressed in long gowns, called kolt in Swedish. To this day toddlers are still called “koltbarn” (barn = child) sometimes. I used little B’s 14th century cotte from last year, which still fits well enough, though a tad short. The kolt was worn with a cap tied under the chin (the same kind of cap that had been worn from birth) and an apron. 

These three dress elements were used by both boys and girls, but the construction was different. Girls koltar had a gathered skirt sewn to a bodice, a cap constructed from one piece reaching from forehead to nape of neck, and two sidepieces, and an apron tied at the waist, like their mothers'. Boys koltar on the other hand were cut in one from the shoulders, their caps were constructed from 4-6 gussets, and their aprons had bibs. To most people today they’d all look like little girls, but a person of that time and place could tell one from the other at a glance.

Girl's silk Christening cap, made from one 
middle piece, and two side pieces, c. 1810-1830.

Boy's silk Christening cap, made from five gussets, c. 1810-1830. 
It matches the girl's cap above - where they made before baby was born, or for twins?

 Boy's silk Christening cap, made from six gussets, c. 1800-1840.

Not much is known about everyday clothing of these children – the few surviving garments are all for festive occasions, and most are from the county Dalarna (Dalecarlia), as the people there kept their traditional way of dress longer than most others in Sweden. This means you have to think one extra time - is this typical of children in Sweden, or typical of children of Dalarna? Most extant caps are christening caps, and as such, are made from the most expensive materials the families could afford. I, who wanted a simpler outfit for my little lad, had to guess what to use.

For the cap I used cotton scraps I had in my stash. Seeing more than one fabric in these caps is very common, so I decided to do that. One is a sort of plaid, the other striped (scraps from making a baby wrap, that have seen much use, first with my youngest brother, and then with little B), the lining is a striped, much worn kitchen towel. I decided to put a stitched down tuck over each ear, for better fitting: I don’t know if it’s period, but it looks all right. The cap is bound with cotton tape from my stash, and the ties are made from the same.

The apron is made from an old pillowcase with woven in stripes (as stripes were so typical in aprons among the commoners here in the 19th century) that I bought at a charity shop. The ribbon used for ties is woven for the purpose – I had the yarn at home. 

I have a loom for weaving ribbons, but it’s in storage, and how I miss it! For making the ribbon I had to figure out something else. I decided to make a rigid heddle. I want a real wooden one, but that’s not a priority at this time, so I had to make do with an improvised one, made from a milk carton and a couple of pencils. 

It worked tolerably well, except that the pencils kept escaping. Now that I’ve used one (poorly constructed though it was) I really want a real one! It was such a pleasure to work with.

The skirt part of the apron is pleated to the waistband, and the bib sewn in flat. A loop around the neck holds it in place, just like in originals. 

The Challenge: #6 Stripes
Pattern: None, draped my own.
Year: About mid 19th century. If made from wool, they could be earlier.
Notions: Waxed linen thread, cotton/linen yarn for weaving, cotton tape.
How historically accurate is it? Tolerably, though I had to guess a whole lot. At least it’s hand sewn with period stitches.
Hours to complete: Good question…maybe 10 hours total, including the weaving.
First worn: The apron has been worn several times when B has been helping me baking, the cap was first worn for the pictures.
Total cost: 10 SEK ($1,5, £1, €1,2) for the apron fabric, the rest was scraps from my stash, including the cotton tape.

 And all that work just so that I can have a companion when being photographed in my common women’s dress for challenge 10.... 

Thursday 14 March 2013

New Blog

Last night I published my first post in a new blog

It’s in Swedish, and is a beginner’s guide to recreating the Middle Ages. Right now I focus on clothing, as that is where most beginners start out, but will branch out after a while to cover more aspects of this hobby. If you can read Swedish, please go take a look!  

Friday 8 March 2013

Folk Costume Head Kerchief

For the fifth Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge, Peasants and Pioneers, I went for something exceedingly simple: hemming my folk costume kerchief. It needed doing, I just never got round to it before. It’s hand woven, and has two selvedges, which, when you look at originals, are often left as they are. I did the same, and had therefore only two sides to hem. It went quick.

 From the left: finished hem, the less neat of the selvedges, 
the zig zag it had when delivered to me.
I posted a picture recently of my full costume. That time I was lacy and wore my hair in a bun. For these pictures I wore my ribbon bound hair coiled round my head, as it should be. 

Mark the difference the hairstyle gives the kerchief! It stays put better too. Hair is, as always, important in period costume. I much prefer this look. 

The Challenge: # 5 Peasants and Pioneers
Fabric: Hand woven cotton
Most of the 19th century
Blue linen thread, bees wax.
How historically accurate is it?
It’s woven after extant ones, and hand stitched with period stitches, so quite accurate.
Hours to complete:
Maybe 2
First worn:
For the pictures.
Total cost: Well, I’ve had it for a few years, so nothing at this time. Originally it cost me 600 SEK, which would be $94, £62 or €72. Folk costume fabrics are expensive, at least to my slim budget. Had it been today I’d never bought it, but I was single at the time and had no child to care for, and large expenses did not affect anyone but me.

Since this project was such and quick and easy one I’ve been able to start a couple of other fun projects, and even finished one of them. More on that later.

Monday 4 March 2013

Swedish Common Women’s Dress in the mid 1800’s - Accessories

I  posted about Swedish common women’s dresses a while ago, and about their underwear some time later. Now it’s time for accessories. This is the tricky part. There are several dresses in museums, but not many photographs, paintings or drawings showing what they would have been worn with, at least not that I’ve found. In many places in the country some form of folk costume was still in use, at least partially, and some elements of this older way of dress were still present with these dresses. 

Important to note is that Sweden is a very long, though not very wide country - from the South to the North there are about 1572 kilometer (977 miles), most of it covered in woods, that back in the days, before the train, were very difficult to travel through. There were significant cultural differences between the different parts of the country. This naturally had an effect on dress (especially the details), and I can't possibly cover it all in one post, even if I knew more than I do (which is little), so don't take this as exclusive truth for all of Sweden. It's nothing more than a scratch on the surface, really...

As mentioned in my last post on this subject, at least the country women would, as a rule, have been wearing an apron at all times, even to church and weddings. Aprons were often woven from wool and/or cotton in thin vertical stripes (though horizontal stripes and solids are not exactly unusual), but silk and printed or fine embroidered cotton could also be seen – of course depending on occasion, place, person etc. Ties and/or waistbands could be made from woven ribbons (plain or with fancy patterns), self fabric or another fabric. They seem often to have been tied (or sometimes hooked) at the side, or off centre front, not in the back.

She, very typically for the time, is wearing a combination 
of fashionable dress, as interpreted by country folk,
 and traditional elements like the apron and kerchief.
 "The Posterwoman", ca 1870. Lower class town woman in dress, 
apron and kerchief. County Västergötland. 
The very long ties are meant to tie in front. 
The selfedge of the fabric is at the top and bottom of the apron. Skåne. 

Ties are secondary. County Härjedalen.
 Printed wool, ca 1830-50. County Västmanland.

Cotton warp, silk weft, ca 1840-70. The apron is ment to tie at the left side, 
thus the uneven lenght of the ties. The fabric is only 50 cm wide, 
so two panels are stitched together. Västmanland.

A neckerchief was common in many places, of woven wool or cotton checks or cotton print – possibly silk or cotton lawn for best. I heard that neckerchiefs and aprons were also used by common town women for everyday, but have only found a few good primary sources, all drawings. 

Aprons and kerchiefs at neck and head on the women in the crowd.

Cotton neckerchief, ca 1830-60. County Västergötland.

Something was also worn on the head; and here what part of the country you lived in truly matters. In many places a sort of papier-mâché cap covered with silk, bindmössa, with lace framing the face, stycke, a left over from the 18th century, was worn. 

Several extant bindmössor here.

A kerchief tied under the chin was worn over it outside. I’m sure there may have been more varieties of headwear in our country, but I’m mainly interested in the far south of Sweden, Skåne, as this is where I’m from. The bindmössor mentioned above were not worn here, but different kinds of huge, white linen headdresses were traditional for married country women’s finest. 

Coloured, checked cotton kerchiefs were worn by most women for everyday and smaller festivities, tied at the nape of the neck or under the chin. Again, I’ve heard (but have no primary source) that common women in the towns often had their heads uncovered indoors, and depending on wealth, would either wear a kerchief or possibly a bonnet when going out. 

Bonnets, caps and kerchiefs can be seen on the female onlookers.

The difference between kerchiefs meant to be worn round your neck or on your head eludes me - perhaps there were none? In museum collections they are often named both, to be safe.

Short jackets seem to have been common as outerwear, at least for country women. Their details differed slightly between different places in the country, but the basic type is the same: black or dark blue, often home woven wool, tight fitting, round or square neck, closed in front with hooks and eyes. Some have a small basque, or a point in front, but most are cut off straight at the waist. Wool shawls can also be seen in drawings.

“Avskedspredikan för emigranter vid Tullpackhuset” – 
Farewell sermon for emigrants by the Customs House” by A. G. Hafström, probably late 1860's.  
Jackets and shawls can be seen, as well as aprons and kerchiefs.

Dark blue wool jacket, ca 1830-40. (I believe it might be later, 
as I've seen that style of sleeves in common women's
 jackets much later than was fashionable). Skåne.

Black wool, ca 1830-45. County Närke.

Shoes were made of leather, and were clumsy and heavy compared with fashionable lady’s silk or kid shoes, but less so than the clogs (all wood or with leather uppers) that was likely worn by many country women for every day wear. 

  Woman's shoes, ca 1800-1850. County Dalarna (Dalecarlia).
Woman's (bridal?) shoes, 1841. County Södermanland.

Stockings (which I should really have mentioned in the underwear post) were home knitted in wool. I’m not sure what colours they would have had; with folk costumes women’s stockings had different colours in different locations. Scania is unusual in that women had black stockings; white and red seem to have been common in other places, at least for best. Natural greys, browns and whites might very likely have been most common for everyday all over Sweden, both in the country and the towns.