Wednesday 5 June 2013

Checked 14th Century Pillows

This is my 200th post! Hooray! I had hoped to have a giveaway, but there’s just no time to make anything for it. Hopefully there will be one later, when things calm down a bit.

For a while now I’ve been wanting medieval checked pillows, like in the pictures below, alla found in this database. They are tolerably common in pictures from the fourth quarter of the 14th century (and continue to show up in the 15th century), but not so much before. I did however find one pictured as early as the 1330’s. They are most often blue, but I’ve seen a few examples of red, black and green as well.

 Austria, 1330's.

Austria, 1350-75.

 Austria, 1370-72.
Austria, 1370-72.

Italy, 1370's.

Since I gave birth to little B 18 months ago I’ve had some slight problems with my hips. They are all right most of the time, but I need a pillow between my knees when sleeping or I get a bit of pain. The want for good looking pillows to bring to events have thus grown into need. Finding a suitable fabric for it was not easy though. I could have had it specially woven for me, like the one my friend Maria made for Isis, but that’d cost more money than I have to spend on pillows. So far I’ve stitched pillows into plain linen towels for every event. But then, a few months ago, I found a couple of linen/cotton blend tablecloths in our often visited charity shop, for 60 SEK ($9; £6; €7). The check is not a perfect match to the ones I’ve seen in medieval art, but will do very nicely until I stumble upon something even better. I could see pillows like this looking wonderful in soft wool.

 The pillows on a quickly made medieval-ish pallet.
This is what our sleeping arrangement will look like this summer.

For the past two evenings I’ve been sewing two pillowcases (by hand, with waxed linen thread, of course) but there’s enough fabric left for several more. I stitch up feather pillows in them, using rather large whip stitching. It’ll be a bit of a hassle to do that every time, and to take the stitches out whenever the cases will be washed, but I don’t know of a period way to do it. I don’t even know if loose pillowcases like these are period (I rather suspect they are not), so I think this imitation of pillows without cases will look nice and unobtrusive.

A good thing is that they look fine and modern enough to sit on our sofa when we’re not at events.
I wanted more blue pillows for our living room, so that’s two birds killed with one stone, and one project off of this summer’s list of medieval projects.

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