Friday 27 September 2013

Hobbit Outfit - Part Two: The Bodice

As I wrote in my last post I finished the bodice for my Hobbit outfit last week. I’m tolerably satisfied with it, though I will make a change or two on the next one (lowering the neckline a tad in front, taking it in more so the back doesn't meet). I’ll also add some more boning in the back of this one, as it wrinkles in an unsightly way. I might very likely have made it slightly too long, and must remedy that at some point. 

I obviously won't wear a tricot shirt with the finished costume...

I wanted to go for classic Hobbit colours, green and yellow, but as blue is my favourite colour, I wanted that as well. All theese colours also look good with the skirt fabric. The bodice is made from five pieces: two in the back, two side-front pieces (all from herringbone woven cotton) and one centre front piece in a contrasting cotton fabric. That is decorted with a lattice from finger looped braids. All the sahaping of the bodice are in the seams, so no darts.

It’s lined and interlined with a medium weight, checked cotton fabric that can be glimpsed in the top of the above picture. The lining, interlining and fashion fabric are treated as one when stitched together. The bodice is boned in the back on each side of the hand sewn eyelets, at the sides, and at regular intervals on the centre front panel. The bodice is bound with straight strips of linen, and is laced up the back with cotton tape – the colour in this picture is not at all representative of the real one.

Most of the sewing on the bodice is done by hand, as I doubt Hobbits had sewing machines: “They do not and did not understand or like machines more complicated than a forge-billows, a water-mill, or a hand loom, though they were skilful with tools.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, Prologue I - Concerning Hobbits). Only some of the interior seams, that will never show, are machine sewn. 

All of the materials but the tape for lacing is taken from my stash, which is always nice. As for the rest of the costume, the first skirt is mostly done; I’m currently weaving tapes to tie it with, and when they’re attached the skirt will be ready to wear.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

A Hobbit Lunch

This past Sunday, 22 September, was Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday, now more commonly known as Hobbit Day. I wanted to have a second breakfast party to celebrate - well, I wanted a Hobbit second breakfast and this was a good excuse…  Now, we always go to church on Sundays, so it wasn’t a good day. Tobias and I decided to have it on 21 September instead, which is not a bad day either, as The Hobbit, or There and Back Again was published on that date in 1937. 

Plums, scones and pickled gherkin.

We invited some friends, two families with one little child each, but due to other commitments amongst all, we decided to make it a lunch instead, which also worked better with all our young children’s nap times.

Anders and his family. Our camera didn’t co-operate, so nearly all pictures are from them. 
I’m very grateful, as this post would otherwise have been very dull.

My Hobbit bodice was finished, and the skirt was almost done as well, but not enough for them to be worn. We all improvised Hobbit-y clothing (I wore my livkjol), and looked rather well. 

Tobias and I looking very tired: he’d been helping a friend to 
move all the coming winter’s wood supply before lunch, and I’d been 
whirling around trying to finish the last food and make everything look nice.

My hair turned out in quite satisfactory curls (except for the hair in front), and for me, who have very straight hair, usually refusing all sorts of attempts to be curled, that’s saying something.

An attempt at Hobbit hair.
The only picture I've taken, and you might 
tell from the quality our camera is on it's last legs.

The party was Dutch treat, and we all made food we thought might suit a Hobbit lunch table. I made a field mushroom pie (with tomato, sweet pepper, leek and cream), rösti/hashed brown potatoes, some nicely decorated carrot bread and small cookies, and provided butter, whipped cream and raspberry cordial.

Carrot bread.

The others brought apple pie, three different kinds of sausages, jams and jellies, mustard, butter fried chanterelles with shallots, apples, plums, tomatoes, sweet scones, home made apple juice, cheese, dried bacon rand and pickled gherkin. 

Sausages and cheese.

The table groaned, and we almost did the same after the meal was finished.

In the foreground: home made apple juice, 
mustard, mushroom pie, apples and rösti.

It was a delightful little party, of a kind that we’re sure to host again. The only thing that I found to complain about was that it’s really too late in the year to go barefoot - it was rather chilly. 

The second mushroom dish; butter fried chanterelles with shallots.
You can't have a Hobbit party without mushrooms. 

I guess we just have to arrange a Lithe party. Lithe is the three Summer days outside the Shire calendar between the months of June and July, that were - together with the two Yule days between December and January - the “chief holidays and times of feasting” (The Return of the King, appendix D), an altogether much pleasanter time of year to go barefoot here in the North, and with the added advantage of being able to have it outside, which would be a much more suitable location than our flat.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Hobbit Outfit - Part One

I love Tolkien’s history and stories of Middle-earth, and since I saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy I’ve wanted a hobbit outfit. I made one try at it many years ago, but never finished – I was then too busy making pretty dresses and a coat with wide, hanging sleeves, inspired by Elvish and Rohirrim clothing. But I feel like a Hobbit at heart (and certainly look more like a Hobbit than an Elf...), much preferring a quiet life at home - sewing, baking, reading and spending time with my family - than going abroad seeking adventure and renown. A Hobbit hole would be the most lovely home imaginable.

For the past year or something I’ve been itching to make a Hobbit outfit, drawing many different designs, but have had too many other projects to work on to do this as well. But enough is enough – last week I finally began my outfit.

I’m basing it on the costumes in the "The Lord of the Rings" movies, as I loved them from the first glimpse. This is the design I’m going for this time (I have several others that I hope will some day be made up), based on materials I had at home. I’ve changed the colour of the binding, and I’m not quite sure what to make a shift of just yet, but other than that, this is pretty much what it will look like:

This is the first “mood board” of the fabrics I’ll be using, made the same day I did the drawing above. The checked fabric will be a skirt; the materials at the top are currently being made up into a bodice, with the blue herringbone as the main bodice, the green as the front panel, but with mustard coloured linen as binding instead of the green ribbon. I also made finger loop braids from cotton weaving yarn.

The braids are sewn on the front panel of the bodice in a lattice pattern – I love those. Here’s a close-up: 

I still have quite a lot to do on this outfit, but so far it's looking good enough. Yellows and oranges are not colours I generally like, or wear, but they are kind of Hobbit-y, so it'll have to do...

This costume is not copied from any one in the movies, for, beautiful as cosplays or movie reproductions often are, they loose their charm after seeing the same outfit in many different versions (I don’t know how many Arwen and Èowyn dresses I’ve seen, or how many Frodo/Sam/Merry/Pippin/Rosie Cotton-costumes for that matter. Now, not surprisingly, there seem to be a lot of Dwarf costumes showing up, and not so few cosplays of Thranduil.) I prefer seeing original Middle-earth costumes, influenced by the books and movies. I'm sure I can’t be the only one – there are a lot of nerds out there – so I talked to Sarah Jane about it. Her beautiful Hobbit outfit has been very inspiring, and not helping at all in my trying not to make an outfit for myself. We soon started a facebook group called “Taylors and Seamstresses of Middle Earth”. Anyone interested in making LotR costumes inspired by the cultures, but not copied straight of off movie costumes, are more than welcome to join the group. I dearly hope to see a Dwarf woman’s costume made up, beard and all…

Thursday 5 September 2013

Söderköpings Gästabud; a Medieval Fair

Last Saturday we visited the medieval fair in Söderköping. We were not there as a group (there being an event in Ronneburg, Germany, at the same time, which most members attended), but several members of Albrecht’s Bössor met there anyway. Two of them stayed the night, as they had a bit to travel. From one of them, Lisa, who’s a goldsmith, I received six pins to hold my veils – such a lovely gift; I had just been contemplating getting new ones.

We all wore our late 14th century clothes, of course. Little B got to wear his shoes for the first time, and they worked quite well. He was so adorable, and we were stopped and asked for pictures several times. The marketplace was round an old church, which is situated by a creak with deep, steep banks. It was charming (in a “most-things-aren’t-historic-at-all-but-the-atmosphere-is-nice” kind of way), but we had to keep a close eye on B so he wouldn’t get to close to the water, or get lost in the crowd. 

 The pilgrim's satchel I made proved to be exeedingly practical - 
it could hold much more than you'd think when looking at it.  
It was also good to hang the baby sling from, when not in use...

A couple of things made an impression on me that I don’t get often enough when doing living history. First I was visiting the church, and inside four women where singing religious music in Latin, in several parts. The music was beautiful, and it was ringing and echoing from the high vaults. I got a fleeting impression of what it could have been like to enter a church in medieval times, and hear music of a beauty not often met with in a time with no way to record and replay it. It must have been like entering a small piece of Heaven. 

The other thing happened when we were walking along the street, and were met by close to a dozen people on horseback. Though their fine clothes were not so much medieval as fantasy, I still felt almost intimidated by them, being physically so high above me, and riding with such a natural assurance of the fact that everyone would give way to them, as if they were truly in a different league than me and my small family, walking in the dirt left by their horses. I never have been too impressed by mounted knights at fairs before (some of them being a bit of a joke to the serious living historians, with knitted mail and polyester crushed velvet or cotton sheeting clothing), but now I wondered how it would have felt to meet a group of the high and the mighty in a time when you were more or less at their mercy. 

 I tucked the skirt of my overdress in the belt worn between the layers,
to make it easier to walk. Overly long skirts may have been fashionable, 
but they're not practical when having little children.

I felt quite humbled – I have hardly begun to understand the life and feelings of these people, my ancestors, at all. Sure, I try to make items as close as possible to those they might have used, but that is only to scratch the surface of history. It was a very welcome experience, and one I hope I can build and deepen my living history on.