I am Linda, and Handcrafted History is my one-woman business located outside Sundsvall, in the middle of Sweden. Follow me on my handcrafting and historical adventuring here on my blog!

Here you find my social media and more: linktr.ee/handcraftedhistory

On Patreon you can support the blog and influence the next tutorials.

My business offers You made-to-measure historical clothing, handmade by me with high quality materials, and designed together with you from historical sources.

During lectures and workshops from Iron age (Viking age) to Late medieval period I share my knowledge from more than 20 years of sewing and research, and help you create the outfit from your dreams.

You can also find historical hats here, or shop away from my historical tent during markets around Sweden, and abroad.

Here is information on How to order clothes, Book me for workshops or browse the free Tutorials on Sewing or Swedish Larping. Below, you find the blog that I’ve been writing for about 10 years. I share research projects as well as fun guides and inspiration for your handcrafting.

Please contact me by email at linda.handcraftedhistory @ gmail.com for invites to markets, ordering clothing, booking workshops or for collaborations regarding the blog.

I hope you will enjoy your time here!

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The National Gallery in London

Follow me to the National Gallery in London and experience great historical artwork! The bonus is you don’t even have to go there in person (even if it is amazing) because they have a great webpage where you can explore art and zoom in on details- great for all costume nerds wanting to know more about how a veil, seam or closing looks like from up close!

But if you do go here you get to walk through massive halls filled with art. Just saying…

And take selfies with celebrities! I asked if it was permitted to take photos/take a selfie and the nice, polite staff gave their permission. The Arnolfini portrait (Jan van Eyck, 1434).

Magdalen Reading (Rogier van der Weyden, 1435) was part of a larger artwork and this piece is all that remains from it, and it was so cool seeing it in reality. Here she is, with lots of details like the veil, the woven belt, the lacing on the dress… I could step really close and see all the details! You can also do that; here is a link!

To see the paintings for real is incredible, and you get to really experience them and the craftsmanship behind the painting. But as a historical fashion nerd, you can also see details that get lost in printing or are too small to notice on digital copies.

Look at her artful layers of veil and the small pins! A Woman (Robert Campin, 1435)
This great veil is incredible! Imagine all the layers of expertly crafted linen cloth, and the styling involved to make it look great. I also love her clasps on the front of her dress/coat, as well as the fur lining visible at the vrists and neckline. Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family (Swabian, 1470)
Beneath this lady´s sheir veil there is a visible fastening or support for the hennin (the basket-like headwear). Do you see it? Portrait of a Lady (Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden, 1460)
Portrait of a Lady (Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden, 1460)

Some paintings are not listed as made by a certain artist, but rather by his workshop. Artists during the medieval period belonged to guilds and learned their trade in workshops, rising from helpers to, if skilled and influential enough, eventually becoming masters themself. A master may not have made everything himself in a painting; often when studying artwork you can see there is a difference between the centre figures (the most important) and the background figures or landscape, these being made with another hand. for this reason, many artworks today are attributed to “the workshop of” an artist, rather than the artist.

An old woman (The ugly Duchess), 1513, Quinten Massys

The portrait above may be a satirical artwork, meant as a comment for contemporary society, but it is also full of details and fashion in an interesting mash-up. The dress is fashionable for the period but the headdress is old and compared to other similar ones, a bit on the big side. Maybe a symbolic way to portray vanity? But the dress is interesting with its lacing rings, what looks like a ladder lacing technique, and a shift peeking out from the neckline. The headwear looks embroidered and the veil is probably a long and rather narrow rectangular, as you can see the edge at the neck.

Detail of The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donors (The Donne Triptych) by Hans Memling (1478) shows this fashionably dressed saint wearing pinned on sleeves in red and gold, on a green kirtle. I realise I may have to make another dress soon, maybe a green one. And a bunch of cool 15th-century veils!

These were just some highlights from my visit- there’s much more to see if you browse the website of the Gallery. You could follow the links from above, or use the search function for titles or names of the artists. Often when I am looking for sources I actually start searching for artists from a specific period and then start to collect their artwork to get a feeling for the period choice in colours, silhouette, cut of clothes, accessories etc. If you look at lots of art you will get a feeling for the period of interest, and it will be easier to create a historically believable outfit from that period. But beware of saints- they might be depicted in clothing from “back in the days” when they were alive, or what the painter imagined they would have worn…


How to make beeswax cloths

Beeswax cloths are a really simple way of storing food or a picnic snack during your historical event, and they are also nice to cover bowls and jugs!

After this year’s Double Wars event when our encampments got overrun with aphids/lice, I really had it and promised myself to make some protective cloths for next year. And here they are! It was so easy and practical so we use them as everyday items at home, too.

To make some for yourself, start with measuring the sizes you want to have; I made two for covering jugs, a couple for bowls and some bigger ones for wrapping cheese in. I prewashed the linen fabric, cut it in squares, and hemmed the edges with linenthread and a whipstitch before waxing. (To be fair, I used scraps from earlier projects.)

You can wax cloths in different ways; by melting beeswax in a pot and scooping it over the cloths, or by distributing small pieces of wax on the cloth and then melting it in your oven or with an iron. The important thing to know is that beeswax tends to get sticky and may be hard to remove from your favourite pot, oven tray etc. Use baking sheets to protect your kitchen as well as your oven and iron. An apron might be good too, it is hard to get beeswax stains off your clothes.

I chose to melt the wax in a pot that I have already used for beeswax, this was quicker and allowed me to just dump in a big block of beeswax at once. I melted the vax on low heat and scooped it from the pot over the cloths with a spoon.

To save time, I stacked all the cloths on top of each other, poured over a generous amount of wax, and then covered everything with a baking sheet and used an iron on middle heat to help distribute the wax over and through all the cloths.

As soon as the wax is melted into the fabric your first layer is ready- remove it, put it on a baking sheet to cool, and continue down through your stack. You can do this task on your oven too, just make sure you protect surfaces with baking sheets. The cloths gets darker with the wax on, and while they are hot they look shiny and smell nice!

Don’t use too much heat- you want a generous layer of wax to remain in your cloth rather than soak through. Too much heat or too much time in the oven/under the iron will not give you enough wax in your cloth. If this happens, the waxed cloth will look uneven, and won’t stay in shape after cooling down (try to fold it or make a shape with the cloth, it should stay in place and stick to itself). If this happens, just repeat the procedure; pour on more wax and melt it down.

If you have to low temperature, the wax will not melt in properly but lay in cakes/lumps on your fabric. Try to add a little more heat! Beeswax is nice to work with because nothing gets destroyed if you don’t get it perfect the first time, it will just take a bit longer time.

I calculated 2-3 tablespoons of melted beeswax for a 40*40 cm cloth, but this depends on the thickness/weight of the cloth. In retrospect, I would have liked my fabric to be a bit thicker (around 180-250 grams/meter) than this 120 grams/meter linen. It was so fine it had problems holding enough beeswax, but turned out ok for this round of cloths. Next time, I will make them from other scraps.

If you want to make lids for jars, jugs etc. from leather you could also use this process much the same way. Make sure your leather piece is vegetable-tanned and undyed, and get some extra wax since it often takes more to wax a leather piece than a fabric piece of the same size.

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Medeltidsveckan 2023

This year’s information and schedule for Medeltidsveckan

Vi finns förstås på Medeltidsveckan i Visby som vanligt- du hittar oss på Kapitelhusgården med butiken fylld av handgjorda hattar, dräktaccessoarer, smycken, bling och bra hantverksmaterial.

Speciellt hattarna är jag extra stolt över i år; de i ullfilt gör jag själv utifrån medeltida fynd och källor (de säljer slut på nästan alla marknader jag besöker!) och flera nya stråhattar gör premiär på veckan. Jag har lyssnat på era önskemål och det kommer finnas stråhattar i olika material, modeller och storlekar efter historiska källor, och även hattar i barnstorlek. Flera av de nya modellerna är också extra hållbara och vattentåliga- perfekt för dig som lever det tuffa medeltida livet!

Den populära och oftast fullbokade Grundkurs i Brickbandsvävning kommer på onsdag kl 12 och fredag kl 08 (tips på fredagskursen om du vill ha extra hjälp, morgonkurserna blir inte alltid fulla) boka på: https://medeltidsveckan.se/programme/#
Grundkursen går igenom allt du behöver veta, steg för steg, för att du ska känna att du greppar brickbandsvävningen och kan fortsätta själv. Allt du behöver ingår eller finns att låna, och extra material mm finns att köpa. Ta med dig själv och ett snacks (inga nötter).

Nytt för i år är att toilekursen ersatts av en visning/föreläsning- perfekt för dig som är nyfiken på toile/mönsterkonstruktion men inte orkar med en intensivkurs i värmen. Du dricker kaffe och jag gör allt jobb och visar momenten steg för steg. Även spännande prat om den medeltida skräddaren, problemlösning av mönster och hur man tolkar en medeltida tavla till ett färdigt plagg. Passar alla kön/kroppar, och du behöver bara ta med dig själv! Torsdag klockan 10, https://medeltidsveckan.se/programme/#
(förutom föreläsningen kommer man få ta del av kompletterande material, checklista och bilder för att kunna göra mönster hemma i lugn och ro)

Kom förbi och säg hej till oss! /Linda och vikarien Henrik


18th century jackets

This is incredibly modern to be me, I know! My latest infatuation has totally been the 18th century pattern drafting, mainly jackets, gowns and a whole bunch of skirts. And hats. Who doesn’t love hats?

Jacket in green wool twill and skirt in deep blue wool twill

Anyway, after my first attempt making a 18th century ballgown, I wanted to dive deaper and learn more about 18th-century pattern making and clothing styles, so I have spent the last couple of years on learning a bit about different 1700styles on my free time.

First out after the corset, shift and petticoats came these two jackets, based on an original piece and a drafted pattern from Costume Close-up (which is an incredible interesting and fun book that I recommend). I altered the pattern a bit, both to fit my measures but also to another style that fitted the extant pieces and fashion plates I was inspired from. Then I made a jacket in printed cotton, lined with linen and with linen ruffles on the sleeves. It came out really well both in pattern drafting and seams, and I was happy…

Reproduction cotton printed fabric with flowers

So I just had to try to make it in wool to experience the difference in fabrics. I choose a scrap from an old project; a thin wool twill that I lined with striped linen from another project. I love small but complex projects that means lots of sewing on a small fabric budget!

Green wool jacket, front.

Since I found the pattern with the stomacher pinned onto the jacket difficult to put on fast, I tried another style for the wool jacket with the stomacher fastened behind the ribbons in the front. To make it even easier, I basted the stomacher to the jacket on one side, and added two hooks and eyes to the other side to be able to fasten it before pinning and tieing the ribbons. The hooks are not a historically based solution as far as I have seen but a very convenient and fast one.

Front lacing before stomacher.

The cotton flower jacket was laced in the front before pinning the stomacher over, covering the lacing and the corset. It is perfect for adjusting the size and the lacing strips with the eyelets where fun to made.

Pinning the front in place.
Fashionable autumn outfit to keep warm

I made a whole outfit to go with the jackets (except shoes, I need to get me good shoes)

  • linen shift
  • corset
  • under skirt
  • wool skirt
  • fishu
  • bergere hat in wheat straw
  • linen cap with a lace edge
  • cape/cloak in red fulled wool
  • white fine knitted socks

The linen shift and corset are the same that I made for my ballgowns, but since they are not showing I intend to go with them until I do more serious 18th century adventuring than a photoshoot or a picnic.

The underskirt is a simple cotton skirt, and the overskirt in wool is slightly longer and wider to make the silhuette nicer and make sure the undergarments are not showing. I had to piece the skirt together from several scraps of fabric, which of course is historical even if it doesn’t show in photos. I am planning to make an apron to go with the outfit in the future.

The fishu was great for consealing a modern tattoo

The fishu (scarf) is a trangle of thin silk which you tuck into your jacket to look modest and warm (and fashionable too!) The hat I made with wheat straw and silk fabric cut and sewn (and maybe a bit of glue too) to the hat in a fashionable pattern, and then I added broad pieces of silk fabric to tie it in the back.

The linen cap pattern comes from the American Duchess book, but I adjusted it a bit to fit well. The cloak pattern comes from a pattern diagram from Costume Close-up but I had to adjust that too, to be able to use it with the piece of wool fabric I had left. I also added slits for the arms and a small, almost invisible closure with hooks and eyes at the front in order to be able to wear it closed while doing things outside.

The garments are handsewn with the exception of some longer inside seams machinesewn to save time, and I used linen thread and silk threads for everything.

Dressed and ready for autumn!

The redrafted pattern for the jackets in size Eu 36-38 is available, send me an email if you are interested!

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Till Marknadsarrangören

This is an open letter, mainly to all organizers for historical events, and specifically new ones. I choose to write in Swedish since these are the grounds I know best, and to make it easier for new organizers to read.

Här är mina tips till dig som arrangerar (eller precis ska börja) historiska marknader och event såsom medeltidsdagar, vikingahelger och liknande. Jag skriver både utifrån mitt perspektiv som tidigare arrangör, besökare, volontär och marknadsförsäljare, med förhoppningen att du ska kunna undvika tråkiga misstag och få ett bra event!

  • Vilken känsla och period vill du ha på ditt event? Medeltid, vikingatid, vendeltid? Tänker du dig att lokala barnfamiljer ska ha picknick och titta på festliga framställningar, vill du ha återskapare som bygger en historisk marknad eller något av en festival? Bestäm tema och känsla och kommunicera sedan det tydligt!
  • Hur får man tag på marknadsförsäljare? I början måste du nog annonsera i grupper på sociala medier, men i takt med att ditt arrangemang återkommer borde försäljarna droppa in automatiskt, om du gör rätt. Gör de inte det? Då kanske du måste förbättra din service, kommunikation och det du erbjuder.
  • Hur får man tag på underhållare? Samma här, annonsera i början och hoppas på återkommande proffs. Har du en begränsad budget; var tydlig med det. Kanske finns det personer ändå som precis börjat lära sig gyckla, kommer från en ideell kör eller vill träna eldkonster, och som gärna ställer upp för en symbolisk summa eller gratis mat och boende.
  • Hur får man tag på volontärer? Hör av dig till dina lokala historiska föreningar, om det finns sådana. Fråga om de vill hålla i demos (såsom hantverk, bågskytte, fäktning) under ditt event, och erbjud något tillbaka: har ni liten budget i början kan gratis fika (och givetvis gratis inträde, parkering osv) vara lämpligt. Det viktiga är att visa uppskattning och respekt; var tydlig med er vision och vad ni kan erbjuda, och försök uppfylla behoven hos de som kommer och bidrar.
  • Inträde eller inte? Det här är nog främst en ekonomisk fråga, men se om du kan lösa intäkterna på andra sätt; besökare är mycket mer benägna att bara titta förbi, de handlar mer, och är ofta mer nöjda över en “gratis” upplevelse. (Ansök tex om bidrag från kommunen, stiftelser och föreningar.)
  • Logistik: se över behovet av parkering, toaletter, hygien, rinnande vatten, el och handikappanpassning noggrant. Ingen vill göra sig känd som arrangören som inte erbjöd rullstolsramper eller råkade ut för en eldsvåda. (Och ingen besökare vill upptäcka att det inte finns möjlighet att tvätta händerna ordentligt efter en småbarnsolycka. Det har hänt.)
  • Jag behöver logistikpersonal? Volontärarbetare som kommer från andra föreningar (tex scouterna) eller bara privatpersoner fungerar ofta bra för enkla uppgifter såsom att ta hand om parkering, fylla på vatten, tömma soptunnor och liknande. Ta hand om volontärerna; erbjud dem lokal, fika, dräkt eller väderskydd att låna och se till att schemat tillåter att de också får ha roligt. Då kommer de tillbaka! Till tyngre eller svårare uppgifter samt hantering av livsmedel kan det vara värt att ta in betald personal.
  • Sälj kaffet. Själv. De flesta erfarna arrangörer har upptäckt att besökare blir fikasugna. Väldigt fikasugna. Att vara den primära försäljaren av kaffe, enkel dryck och fika leder till stora intäkter. Om du inte kan täcka upp hela behovet själv; bjud in andra försäljare och se till att de kompletterar utbudet.
  • Kanske det viktigaste av allt: besök andras arrangemang och se hur de löser sina utmaningar. Hur många toaletter har de på området? Vilka avtal erbjuds underhållare? Hur har de skapat en trevlig marknad och hur fick de tag på de där uppstoppade drakarna som barnen klättrar på?

Marknadsförsäljningen då, hur gör man en bra marknad?

  • Var tydlig med tema, period och riktlinjer. Alla ska förstå vad som är ok och inte, så du slipper diskussioner med försäljare som anländer i blå plastponchos och vill sälja kaffe bredvid de anmälda honungsburkarna.
  • Fundera på vilken yta du har till marknaden, och kommunicera det till deltagare. I trånga inomhusutrymmet betalar deltagare ofta per bord eller meter, medan en stor äng gärna får fyllas ut med rejäla paviljonger, lägerplatser och långa rader med vackra föremål. Vad vill du ha?
  • Ta ansvar för utbudet; bjud bara in ett visst antal tygförsäljare, keramiker, korgmakare osv. Besökare vill se olika saker, och ingen försäljare blir glad över för mycket konkurrens.
  • Skäm bort dina försäljare! Besökare älskar marknader, och glada försäljare kommer igen (ofta tillsammans med sina volontärkompisar) erbjud vatten, toaletter, köp av el, duschar och en station där de kan hämta kaffe utan att behöva stå i 30 min kö. Kan du erbjuda boende eller ska de bo i sina tält? Finns det vakter under natten eller måste de spendera flertalet timmar med att plocka ihop varje kväll?
  • Be försäljarna att förbättra ditt event: bifoga länkar ifall de vill göra reklam och sprida ditt event i sina kretsar. Fråga om de vill visa upp hantverk/hålla modevisning/erbjuda kortkurser mm- massvis av extra aktiviteter för besökare kan uppstå med hjälp av rabatterat pris, en gratis lunch och möjlighet för försäljarna att tjäna in en lön.
  • Ska du ta betalt? Många som börjar med arrangemang erbjuder försäljare att komma gratis, dels för att man inte vet vilken statestik eventet har (hur många kommer totalt, hur mycket försäljning kan ske?) men också för att locka fler att satsa på ett nytt event. När du börjar ha siffor på antalet besökare och hur mycket varje försäljare omsätter (fråga efter eventet!) kan du lättare sätta priser för att stå på marknaden.
  • Om du tar betalt: informera om priser i förväg, samt ev servicekostnader (många arrangemang tar alltid ut en symbolisk avgift för sopor, el, vatten osv).

Det finns olika metoder för att ta betalt av marknadsförsäljare, vissa tar en viss procent (5-6%) av den totala omsättningen, eller vinsten. Är det trångt, kan du istället ta betalt för antalet bord/meter försäljarna vill ha, men räkna då med att medeltida tält osv kanske inte kommer brukas- har du marknadsstånd att låna ut? Tak? Vissa tar en symbolisk summa (serviceavgift) av alla som säljer för att de anser att marknaden lockar besökare och bidrar till eventets känsla. Ytterligare andra låter försäljarna stå för delar av eventets kostnad genom att ta ut höga avgifter av dem, och istället ha gratis inträde.

Det finns för och nackdelar med allt. Höga avgifter skrämmer bort små personliga företag, medan begränsad yta gör att inga försäljare av rustningar, tyger och tält kan närvara. Många arrangörer tillämpar individuell prissättning där ett grundpris kan sänkas med tex visning av hantverk, ett fint marknadsstånd osv, medan priset höjs om försäljaren behöver el eller säljer över en viss summa. I slutändan handlar det förstås om ekonomi; en försäljare har råd att betala högre avgifter om omsättningen är hög (tex medeltidsveckan) medan andra event erbjuder gratis plats, kaffe och boende för att locka försäljare till små event där de inte gör nog stor omsättning.

Tänk på att försäljare (och historiska volontärer) ofta redan haft omkostnader innan de kommer till ditt event. Transport, boende, mat, dräkter och tält är stora kostnader som historiska marknadsåkare måste få täckning för, om de ska kunna dyka upp och tillföra värde till ditt event!

Själv önskar jag att marknadsarrangörer i år ska börja uppskatta sina försäljare mer och underlätta för de som driver seriösa verksamheter och betalar skatt (och se oss som viktiga för marknadens liv!) Det är omöjligt att “konkurrera” med företag som dumpar priser i och med att de inte betalar skatt (vare sig här eller i hemlandet). Med det sagt har jag förstås också seriösa kollegor från andra länder som jag ser fram emot att träffa. Jag hoppas också på att få se många nya, seriösa hantverkare i framtiden. Kanske kan man underlätta för nya hantverkare genom att låta dem komma gratis första året?

Jag hoppas också på att arrangörer ska fundera mer kring vilken arbetsmiljö de erbjuder marknadsåkare i år. Korta avstånd för att slippa bära tungt, tillgång till rinnande vatten och tvål vid toaletter, närvaro på marknadsområdet i form av vakter/frivilliga nattetid och rimliga öppettider står på min önskelista. Många arrangörer gör ett bra jobb; Torpas medeltidsmarknad hade till exempel toaletter enkom för arbetare, för att man skulle hinna gå på toa utan att behöva stänga en längre tid. Oslos Middelalderfestival erbjöd ett säkert, upplyst område som gjorde att jag som ensam marknadsåkare kunde känna mig tryggare. På Kapitelhusgården fick jag en kopp kaffe eftersom jag inte hann gå och köpa dryck under arbetsdagen. I Skellefteå var marknaden vid boendeområdet så att det alltid rörde sig frivilliga i närheten. Sådana här saker gör mycket för att man ska orka arbeta på marknader!

Vill du veta mer? Är du en ny arrangör som vill få hjälp att lyckas med ditt event? Eller vill du också prova att sälja produkter på historiska marknader i år? Efter tunga pandemiår saknar jag många branchkollegor och hjälper dig gärna att komma igång eller bygga upp en verksamhet. Maila för att boka in ett digitalt möte!

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13th century France- the Maciejowski/Morgan bible Look

My yellow dress in thin wool with buttoned sleeves

After my project with the Luttrell Psalter, I got interested in earlier medieval times and clothing and fell for the Morgan/Maciejowski Bible. The illustrations are so awesome! Also, the 13th century really is quite fashinating with its garments and ideal style differing so much from the 15th century that I have been into the last years. So here’s a short fashion/garment summary based on my studies of some mid-late 13th century manuscript.

Quick caracteristics of the mid 13th century female dress:

  • Overlong dresses: Reach the ground even with belts. The wearer hold the skirt up with their hand or drape it over the belt when moving.
  • Loose fit: The folds created in artwork indicates a loosely draped dress with lots of fabric.
  • Large armholes: Loose armholes on garments both with the sleeves sewn on, with partially open armholes with the sleeve half attached, and with open armholes without sleeves.
  • Sleeves: Loose upper sleeve, with tightness around wrist. S-sleeves and regular sleeves are both represented in finds (Söderköpings kjortel/kirtle was constructed with S-sleeve)

Whole outfit:

Shift (probably in linen) wool dress and wool overdress/gown, silk for elite society. Hose or socks in wool, shoes in leather. Apron (probably linen) when working, doesn’t appear to be a fashionable item. Hood and cloak for warmth, as well as overdresses lined with another fabric layer or fur. Lots of different headstyles; loose hair, hairnets, caps, wimple and veils, fillets, barbettes etc. If you want to check out more sources, my SCA mentor wrote this Interesting blogpost about Isabella de Bruce’s wardrobe from the end of 13th century.

Before I started this project I collected notes on ways to achieve the correct look:

  • Make the dresses and gowns much longer than usual.
  • Make the garment wider than my usual simple dresses, but with a fitted neckhole, shoulders and sleeves. Or rather; make the front part wider to drape across the body, but keep the width of the back piece to avoid bulkiness over the shoulder area.
  • Add gores both in the sides, front and back of the skirt. Lots of width is needed for the upper class look.
  • Add width to the garment from the armhole, instead of starting at the waist.
  • Choose a thin, tightly woven fabric with a dramatic drape; the folds should be deep and clearly visible.
  • Make the armholes and sleeves wider than you need, and then finish them snugly by the wrist, or add buttons for tight closure.

Here is my construction adjustments; the drawn lines is the blue 14th century dress, and the dotted lines are the adjustments I made while drafting this dress. The sleeve hole is larger, the dress front piece wider, and the dress longer than full length while standing. To save on fabric, I decided to not widen the dress from the armholes but make the front and back panels straight. The width of skirt is made with the help of the 4 gores.

The silhouette is rather straight, without female curves or visible bust, and the easiest way to spot a woman is to look for the pooling dresses, My SCA mentor told me that women seldom show their feets in period artwork, while the men have gowns leaving the feet visible. I found that interesting and so far everything I have seen from this period fits with that description!

So far, I have mainly focused on the gown. I used my 14th century linen shift, wool hose and shoes to complete the outfit enough for wearing. I also made a belt from tablet woven silk and a buckle and belt end in brass. This was also made for the 14th century outfit, but it does well enough here. The brooch is made in brass and coloured glass, and the hair band is tablet woven in the same silk colours as the belt, backed with silk and decorated with small fittings in brass. The veils seen in the photos is my old ones from my 14th and 15th century looks. A future step would be to create a fun headwear typical for the period, if I want to explore it further. The belt bag is an old one in historical brocade from the late 11th- early 12th century if I remember correctly, with silk tassels and cord.

Aha, no feets!

To achieve the right silhouette a loose garment is the best, as well as wearing the belt below the natural waist and arrange the folds to drape nicely. If in need of a modern bra for support, choose one that doesn’t separate or enlarge the bust, but rather a soft bra.

A note on linings: Used in overdresses, gowns and cloaks. Fur, wool or linen are mentioned in sources, and also blends; wool/linen and cotton/linen which might be an option for cooler garments. The patterned linings in white and gray/blue is a representation of squirrel fur, the white being the stomach of the winter coat and the most expensive. (Actually, squirrel fur was so popular that the poor animal went extinct in areas during the medieval period.)

Would you like to check out more from this period? Kongshirden is a reenactment group focusing on the start of the 14th century in Norway, and they have some great clothing guides for free on their website! (in Norwegian, but there’s lots of pictures to check out).

photos taken by Elna /THFS at Oslo MF

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Golden gown with flowers

18th century ball gown in silk taffeta, embroidered with sage green wines and leaves in silk thread. This is one of my latest projects I have been working on, and I wanted to post it here as part dress-diary and part inspiration for those of you that also like the 18th century!

Strolling in the park, properly dressed in hat and fishu.

I made this 18th-century gown for a fancy dress ball that never happened, but I am sure we will have the opportunity to go have fun together in the future! The gown is based on 1750-1760 fashion and pattern construction and is decorated with fabric ruffles and gold ribbons. Underneath I wear a skirt in the same fabric.

billowing skirts in the wind

When I found this fabric in a sale I fell in love and wanted to make a gown with it, and keep the decor simple to let the fabric shine. The embroidery is not a reproduction but similar to other embroidered dresses from this period, so I let that decide the decade from which to get my inspiration.

Back with seams and tight fitted sleeves

The model is an English gown with the back bodice flowing into the skirt without a dividing waist seam. I based the sleeve pattern on my previous dress sleeves but remade it a bit to get the seam to angle the same way as the gowns I based the dress on.

back seams finished with silk thread and hand stitching
front decor with silk fabric and golden ribbons
Inside seams finished on sewing machine

I like handsewing a lot, but I wanted to see how I could make this kind of gown on a sewing machine to be able to cut down on production time (not all my customers wants to have handsewn garments) so the whole gown is actually lined and put together on my sewing machine. The finishing touches like hemming, decor and back seams are sewn by hand. It turned out neat, though it is a bit more complicated to make the fit perfect when I had to make all seams from the inside instead of sewing them as I fitted the dress on the body form.

The front closes with hooks and eyes. I got tired of dress pins and wanted a nice and easy solution.

Along with the gown I wear a skirt in the same fabric, and underneath a linen shift, corset, cotton skirt and side hoops. A silk fichu around my neck was needed to add warmth, and a fashionable hat for outdoor strolling.


Viking apron dress, part 2

Are you longing for that perfect iron age (viking) look of square awesomeness, yet still wanting to show off some womanly curves? Fear no more, this is how you make your apron dress fit really nicely! (Yes, we are going to be more serious real soon)

This apron dress is the same style as you can find in this tutorial, but back then I never guided you through the fitting, straps or stitching. Kind readers have asked for more details, so now this part 2 is here for you.

Ok, so let’s start with the dress already cut out and basted together (white machine thread). It looks something like this, hanging a bit boring…

Step one- try it on!

I pinned two pieces of ribbon onto the dress to be able to try it on easily. These will later be my guides for making the sewn linen straps.

In the back, I put the straps closer to the middle. I find them more comfortable and less likely to slip off my shoulders.

Now it is time to do some shaping! I like to wear my apron dresses higher up on my body, which means I get fabric bulk under my arms. To avoid that, I draft a curved line under my armpit and then cut away the excess fabric. You don’t have to make a full “arm hole”, just add some space for your arm.

Drafting the curved line in the armpit with a fabric marker.

The next step is to pin away fabric in the seam above the bust. Here the seam stood out a bit, so in order to follow the shape of my body, I pinned away a little fabric. As you can see in the photo it is not much, only to add a soft shape.

Marking the fitting with pins will allow you to feel the new fit.

Next are the side seams in the front. I pin away fabric under my bust, turn at my natural waist and continue out in a soft line to the basting line again. The goal is not to achieve a super snug fit, just to highlight that you have a body underneath.

Pinning the shape loosely.

Continue with the back seams and pin away fabric to add some shape to your waist here too. I hold my hand by my natural waist, and as you can see I did not aim to make the apron dress tight. Just removing a couple of cms to add shape.

My goal here was to be able to wear the apron dress with a woollen kirtle underneath, so I needed the fit to be loose. If you want a tighter fit you can try pinning away more fabric- just remember to try it on with new basting seams afterwards to make sure you can get it on and off. Apron dresses never have lacing or such.

Pinning the back seams by the waist.

Now it is time to check out the new fit! Mark the position of your pins on both sides of the seams, remove them to be able to take off your dress easily, and then bast along the drafted lines.

Basting can be done on a machine or by hand.

Here you can already see the added shape of the bust and waist, even without the seams properly finished. When you are satisfied with the fit, remove the old basting from places with double basting. This is needed to finish the dress by hand with a historical stitch.

Trying on the dress again to check the fit.

Press all seams with the basting still in place. (This step is important if you want to try out the seam below, but if you use a sewing machine for your dress you should first sew all seams on the machine, remove the basting thread and then press.)

Pressing the seam allowance to either side will make the sewing easier.
This is what the new shaping looks like after the pressing.
Sewing with wool thread.

Turn the apron dress so the right side is out (yes, we are sewing the dress from the outside) and start by the hem with a small whip stitch. Work your way up on the outside, fasten the thread on the inside of the garment as needed, and repeat with all four seams.

This is a sketch of how the seam looks, side to side with the actual seam.

The key to making this seam look neat is to make small stitches mainly running on the inside of the garment. I like to start from the bottom up, so I can try out the best thread tension and width between the stitches where it does not show so much. The pressing in the step before also helps a lot, as well as the basting on the inside, keeping the garment together while I sit comfortably on the sofa, sewing.

Close up on the seam. If you sew with wool thread, choose a thread with a high twist and 2-3 ply. Take shorter threads and a needle somewhat thicker than the thread. This will make the thread last longer when you work.

After the seams are closed on the outside, I remove the basting thread on the inside. Then I finish of the seams by cutting down the seam allowance on one side, and pressing the other seam allowance over this side. This way I just have to make one more whip-stitched seam for each long seam, instead of two.

Every seam is sewn two times with whip-stitching. This makes the seams sturdy and flexible!

Finish the dress with a double folded hem and whipstitches. Press all seams when you have finished.

When the dress is done, it is time to make some straps! Use the ribbons from earlier as your mockups /guides to decide how long your straps should be, but remember that the tortoise brooches will take some space too. Add seam allowance (3 cm) and extra for your loops. If you are unsure, make the strap 10 cm longer and then cut away the end you don’t need when you have made the loop and finished off everything else.

Linen fabric going to be apron dress straps.

The measure for my dress straps was approx 30 cm long and 4 cm wide. I made 2, and then 2 really short ones to make the loops attached to the apron dress above the front seams. Then I pressed the straps in the middle, folded them, and then folded in the edges. Very smooth!

Use waxed linen thread for sewing in linen fabric. Linen straps on wool dresses can be found in grave finds from the period.

Whipstitch the folded straps along the edge. When you have finished, press them again but with the seam in the middle. This way the stitching will be protected in the middle and the straps will be looking really nice and even.

Nice and even, I love pressing seams!
Making loops for the tortoise brooches.

To make the loop in the edge of the strap, finish the seam along the line and then fold the edge back and fasten it with some stitches. I like these loops, they keep the brooch in place and look neat. The small fabric pieces for the lower loops get treated in the same way. Double fold, press, whipstitch along the line and fold to a loop.

The loops are sewn to the inside of the upper hem, beside the front side seam.

Fasten the lower loops to the front, and remember to put them where you pinned your ribbons on in the beginning. The placement will help the shaping of the garment. If you wear a modern underwire bra, the placement of the loops is often towards the middle from the bra straps. Remember that your tortoise brooches should have a fairly even place to rest on your body.

Sewing the straps onto the back of the apron dress.

Before attaching the straps to the back, try the dress on with your tortoise brooches, to adjust the length needed for your straps. When you are satisfied, pin the straps in place on your back, and sew them with some waxed linen thread. I like to work my way around the strap and through the wool fabric to make them sturdy.

That’s it! We’re done with all the fitting and sewing, and owners of a splendid apron dress with a perfect fit! Did you like this post? Support me on Patreon to help me make more!

Advent Calendar

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Men kolla! En adventskalender från Handcrafted History! Nu kanske du tänker att det är superlångt till advent, men det är det ju inte. Bara lite mer än en månad, faktiskt. Så köp en rolig och vettig kalender till dig själv (eller någon annan?)

Vad innehåller den? 24 påsar med hantverksmaterial/redskap för den medeltidsintresserade textilhantverkaren, blandat med lite projekt och bling. Färg och användbarhet är ledorden.

1300 kr inklusive frakt inom Sverige (värde ca 1560 kr). Vill du samfrakta med andra för att spara på miljön, eller hämta på min ateljé utanför Sundsvall? I så fall bjuder jag på en extra present!

Boka din genom att maila linda.handcraftedhistory@gmail.com och skriv din adress och telnr för avi. Du får en bekräftelse med betalningsalternativ att välja mellan och ditt paket skickas sedan ut veckan innan advent!

(Jag kommer inte ha möjlighet/tid att göra massor av kit, så först till kvarn och jag meddelar om bokningen blir full. Det låter lite exklusivt nästan? Mvh egenföretagaren)

This year, I am able to offer an Advent Calendar filled with handcrafting materials, tools, some project ideas and shiny things. 24 bags will be filled with useful and colourful items, and to book you just send me an email with your address, name and email for traced shipping, and I will confirm your booking with a payment link. International price is 1400 sek (approx 127 Euro) incl insured shipping and payment by Paypal. I’ll happily ship several calendars in one box for environmental reasons (and will include an extra gift for you if you choose to order with friends to the same address)

Unfortunately, the shipping time outside Sweden/Europe is still uncertain and I can only offer my Swedish customers delivery before the end of November. However, if you are still interested- feel free to send me an email!

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Project; the 18th century ball gown

This is my journal notes and photos from a fun project from the 18th century.

Finally finished!

This gown took a really long time to finish! I have worked on it on and off for two years I think, while learning about 18th century tailoring technics and different models. I find it more fun to learn as I go along handcrafting, the problem is when you learn too much too fast, realise your mistakes, and have to start over.

Fluffy, yet elegant?

I finally landed in some kind of Italian style gown, based on 1770-1780s fashion plates. The gown is made in silk taffeta and the skirt in silk satin- (Also based on fashion plates but made in 2019 when I was on my first 18th-century inspired ball. )

Back of gown, and braids in the back section of the hairstyle.

The back of the body does not continue down into the skirt like in a english gown, but is sewn as a bodice piece with the skirt gathered and stitched in place all the way around. Silk taffeta always shows every little wrinkle, but I am satisfied with the fit.

Wool would have made a better drape, but since the silk is so light, the skirt does not pull the body straight after I have moved around with my arms or twisted the body. This was also a new experience- my earlier medieval silk gowns are looser and heavier than this one. It was also really interesting to model a gown on a corset instead of my own, softer body. Both easier and more difficult.

Worn with a shift, corset, under skirt, skirt and padding in the back.

The front is overlapped and closes by pinning the opening, which I found useful as it allows the size to differ a bit. Say, if you for example loves snacks better than exercise…

The ruffles by the neck, sleeves and skirt front are made with the same silk fabric, scalloped and handsewn in place. The decor easily took more time than sewing and fitting the gown, but it was kind of fun!

I also made loose lace ruffles to wear by the elbow, they are basted in place when I need them so I may use them on different dresses. It got a little more bulky than sewing them into the sleeve, but I think they will work fine as soon as they have bent to the shape of my arms a bit.

I am not finished with this look quite yet; I don’t have proper 18th century shoes and my hair is styled with silly amounts of hair spray as I don’t have fake hair/hair pieces and correct styling tools for hair (yet?). The hairstyle is based on American Duchess book on 18th century beauty, but my hair is too short right now. I will have to get some good false pieces and more hair pins. And shoes. And maybe a pair of good socks too. Then I will be ready for…ehm, another project?