HANDCRAFTED HISTORY


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Things you can do at home

With the world as it is today with covid outbreaks everywhere, a lot of us finds ourself at home, more or less bored and without our usual friends and pastimes. I know it may feel uncertain and depressing to not know how the world will be in a few weeks, months or even half a year. But instead of feeling down, I will do my best to lighen your mood and as a handcrafter, I will shamelessly take this opportunity to inspire you all to more handcrafting!

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I mean, lots of time (and internet) on our hands, and a season to look forward to with magical events, cozy markets, lots of friends… (Yes, I know it might be a late season, but the world will rotate back sooner or later.)

So, look at these photos- don’t you get inspired? Longing for some summer vibes?

 

What are your goals for this season? Do you need to update or mend your wardrobe? Or make some practical changes to your camping gear? Here’s all my shifts washed, mended and ironed. Ready for fun adventures! (Also, welcome to a photo of some sexy medieval lingerie. It is here you’ll get all the tastiness!)

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I have a long list of things I need to do before buying fabric or planning new projects. As I wrote the list in New Years, I kind of felt that I would Never Get It Done. But now, being home full time without any extra jobs, markets and uh, well…income I have decided To Get Things Done. Yes, all the things! Some serious sewing will happen in this home the coming weeks.

If you need more inspiration to get started, or know what to make, here’s some really good tips:

  • Pinterest might be full of advertisement, photos and medieval-ish things but there’s really good inspiration too. My favourite is to search for different artists or painters from the period I want to know more about, or for earlier periods search for different finds, like “Birka graves viking” and see what comes up. Pinterest will show you more of the things you click on and save, so as you go along you will find more and more. Check out were the sources come from, follow others with lots of good folders and get inspired!
  • Go through your historical wardrobe and sort things out. Clean/air, mend and iron things to make them look neat. Try them on if you feel like it, play, get inspired! Think back to the previous season- did everything work? Was those shoes comfy? Need to make adjustments to any garment or sew a new warmer one?

IMG_3859Mending might be boring, but feels great when it is done!

  • Sell things you don’t need or like. The second hand market for reenactor wear is large and you can find lots of groups on facebook for buying and selling things. Get rid of things from your wardrobe you don’t like, get some new money, use the money to make more things you really love!
  • Get yourself outside! No, I didn’t mean exercise, but even if there’s no historical events right now you can gear yourself up and bring a friend out for some fun playing time. Take photos of your outfit in the forest, go for a hike, or cook over an open fire for lunch. Share all those photos on social media and get new energy! (also, going out with your gear makes you see if everything’s working well or if you need to make adjustments.)

vikingclothingWarm and comfortable viking, ready for a cold event!

  • Get yourself some new handcrafting things! With more time on your hands, you will have time for a really fun and inspirational project. (No, you don’t need to make all those boring things first, sometimes it is more important to get new joy before being practical.) Also, you purchasing new fabrics, threads, tools etc from small businesses will make all the different for them now when many are struggeling with survival due to canceled markets etc.
  • And if you don’t feel like sewing everything for the coming season- consider ordering a new garment (pick the one you felt would be boring to make yourself) from your favourite business. It will support them, you will get a new fun garment, and new inspiration for the coming season.

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(Hey; remember that I have lots of free tutorials for you here on the blog? And also, on my Patreon you can access all my tutorials for a good deal that I also sell on Etsy. This is kind of a commercial for my own stuff you know. Buy some stuff!)

And remember that even if you can’t go out to fun meetings and events all those lovely people are just a few clicks away, so why not start a sewing circle with skype, join a fb group or facetime with your friends while handcrafting! Spread the joy and happiness- handcraft more!

 

 


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How to make medieval hose

This blog post was made possible by my Patreon supporters, thanks for helping me bring more free tutorials into the world!

Woolen hose was worn by both men and women during the medieval period, with the difference that the men’s was higher and usually tied to the belt/to the waist in some kind, and as the fashion developed became higher until joined to a pair of pants. Get it? A pair of hose- a pair of high hose- a pair of joined hose- a pair of pants. (I have never understood the english saying of a pair of pants but this make so much sense!)

Anyway, the women’s hose was usually tied under or above the knee. Here’s a quick view of some, but there’s lots of different models, colours and designs from the period. If you wish to reproduce a garment for a specific time and location, you’ll need some more research to choose what you need, this tutorial is more of a “here, let’s make a garment!”

I wanted to show you how you can make a pair yourself, using your body’s measures for drafting a pattern or constructing the fit directly onto yourself. Hose isn’t very difficult to make, not even to get a pair of closely fitted ones. It just takes some practise and patience to pin them on your body and adjust the fit until you are happy with it.

First, you need some wool fabric, preferably a twill with a nice stretch to it. Not to thin but neither fulled into a bulky cloth, I love Medeltidsmodes Melton Wool (shown above as the white hose). To calculate the amount you need you can either first make a mock up/toile or you can take measure 1 + measure 3 (as shown below) and draw them as a square on the fabric. Add some extra material around. The most stretchy part of the fabric should go diagonal over the hose. I usually make mine from left overs from other projects and fit smaller pieces together.

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You can start with a ready made pattern, or make your own. Either way you will have to adjust the pattern to you body, by fitting your hose onto your body for the perfect fit. Each wool fabric you use may be different, so if you are making several pairs in different fabrics adjustments might be needed for each pair.

Also note that I make my hose right and leftsided, you don’t have to do this but I find that the over all fitting is nicer when I mirror the pattern I have.

If you decide to make your own pattern from start rather than buying one readymade, I prefer to draw some straight lines on a piece of scrap fabric and then drape this directly to the body. Of course, a friend to help you is great but not necessary.

You can also create a pattern on a flat piece by measuring and draft lines.

Start with taking the measurements:

1. Length of hose

2. Width just under the knee

3. Width around calf (thickest part of leg)

4. Width around ankle (thinnest part of leg)

7. Measure around the heel like shown on picture

(5 + 6 will show up later)

To make a flat pattern, also take measurements between the numbers above. Take the measure along line 1; what is the measure between 2,3, 4 and 7? Then you can use this to draw up this starting pattern for your hose; draw line 1, and then horizontally draw the lines 2,3,4 and mark the placement for 7 with just a dot.

This is my ready-made hose pattern. Yours will have the straight lines now, but lacking the sole and the form of the foot as well as the triangular gore.

Make the sole by drawing your foot on a piece of scrap fabric/paper. Make sure you stand straight while doing this. Add 1 cm of seam allowance around. This is piece number 5, and you make it the same way for both methods.

Now you can either try drawing the upper foot part on the flat pattern, or cut out what you have and continue draping the hose directly on your body. If you want to draft the shape, line 7 is the width you need to fit your heel inside the hose. Draw that in a curved line like shown on the picture above. Then loosely draft the form of the foot and add some space needed for fitting around your drafted pattern. Don’t make any gores or slits yet (number 6) do these while you are trying on your pattern instead.

The measure of line 7 is worth taking into consideration while trying on your hose. You may pin it perfectly close to your body, but if you have a thin ankle you might not get the hose of because that measurement (4) is smaller than that around your heel (7). Remember to check this measurement while drafting the pattern or when trying on the mock up. The hose should just go on and of your foot.

Draping rather than drawing

I prefer the draping method and use it on my beginners workshops because I think it is effective and easy. If you would prefer to drape the whole pattern, just mark line 1 on a scrap fabric and then pin it to your body (use stockings, leggings or shorts but nothing bulky like jeans). To use the fabrics stretch, you should draw line 1 horizontally over a piece of tabby weave or along the edge on a twill fabric. The stretch should go over the hose, not alongside line 1. Does that make sense?

Step 1 of the draping method. A piece of scrap fabric pinned above the knee, hanging loose. Line 1 will go from the pinned point to the toes, straight down on the middle front of the leg.

Steg 2: Loosely pin the fabric to the leg, following the natural shape of the leg. Make sure you dont pin in fabric folds. The pins (the future seam) should be at the backside of your leg, running straight down over your heel. When you have an approx fitting; cut away the excess fabric leaving only 2 cm seam allowance. Stand with the leg straight, foot on floor when fitting the fabric.

Or you could get a friend to pin you in, while you stand on a table…

Step 3: Pin the hose more closely to the body. Pin on the sole from toe to middle of foot. To make the fabric lie smoothly on the body, stretch it gently in the directions of the darts. Toward the toes, down the side of the foot, towards the heel. Above the ankle you change the direction and smooth the fabric out upwards. Every little crease will not disappear yet.

Step 4: When the general fit is good, it is time for the heel and the slit with the gores (number 6). Cut this one while the hose is on the body, from were the heel meets the sole, straight up on each side of the foot. Cut a little at a time, and check how the fabric behaves.

Straighten out folds and creases by stretching the fabric and pinning it more fitted to the body. This step is a process, and your personal foot shape will decide how long you will have to cut before all fabric lies smoothly. When you are satisfied, pin the rest of the sole to the upper fabric, leaving the new slit open.

Step 5: Now you have the over all shape of your new hose. You can baste it together if you want, and try the fit by taking it on and of.

This step with cutting the slit and inserting gores I do on every pair of hose I make, when trying out a new fabric quality. If I work with a fabric I am used to, I still make the gores while fitting the hose on the body. Note; I don’t make two mock ups for left+ right, I just have one and then I will mirror that when laying it out on the wool fabric to get a left and a right hose.

Step 6: I find it easiest to just pin or baste a piece of fabric (generally triangular) to the hose while wearing it, and then cut of excess fabric. Then I can use that as a pattern for the other gores (notice that inner and outer gores might be slightly different in shape, that is normal depending on the shape of your foot and how you work with the fabric).

Step 7: When I have come this far I am content with my pattern, and take it apart (removing basting or needles) I also cut it clean, add seam allowance and label it with size and date. I also like to add some notes on the pattern for remembering things or if I lend them to friends;

Sewing the hose from wool fabric

Draw your hose pattern on a wool fabric, laying line 1 horizontal across the fabric if you have a tabby weave (making the most stretch across the width of the hose). Cut the hose out with 2 cm seam allowance, 1 cm around the sole. Baste your pieces together; leg first, then the sole to the foot from the toes and back to the heel. Try the hose on, make adjustments and cut out the slit + fit the side gores.

Then you can sew your hose with back stitches, and fold down the seam allowance with whip stitching, or sew it on the sewing machine if you prefer. The gores I set in last, on the inside with whip stitching. Fold the edge at the top, stitch it down, and add garters to hold the hose up.

Other designs on medieval hose.

The pattern with slits and gores are one of several finds on hose designs. You can also adjust your hose pattern to another design with a sole and a separate part for the foot, and a part for the leg. This saves you a bit of fabric and is quite easy to make. On the photo above I have marked this design with a dotted line straight over the hose. The grey hose below is made with that pattern.

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There is also variations with the gores as parts of the sole piece (shown above in the photo of a find), a hose with the foot and sole joined, and several examples of patching, mending, and seams for joining small scrap pieces when making hose.

You can also add a second sole made out of thin leather to be able to walk without medieval shoes on dry ground. Avoid adding a thick sole, that will only rip your hose and be uncomfortable.

Good luck sewing!

 

 


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Follow me to a SCAevent- DW 2019!

I want to take you with me to an amazing event; the SCA Double Wars in southern Sweden. This time I tried to take lots of photos to show you the camp and living grounds, all the amazing outfits people have made, and the magical setting that always occur during this event. Get ready for lots of photos!

For you unfamiliar with SCA I wrote you a short explanation and added some useful links. I really think this is the society for almost everyone doing viking/medieval/historical fun, and there is so much to experience. I am a member since many years, but I am also a larper, viking reenactor, market vendor and currently infatuated with the 18th century. One can have everything! Like this medieval camping ground, paired with open handcrafting meetings and picnics…

Also, to visit an event you don’t have to know a lot of people beforehand, you just have to have/borrow some basic things, pay for the event fee/food and then participate! There’s more blog posts about the SCA if you are interested, check out the tags on the blog!

Hanging out in the camp, preparing dinner and having a good time are all important activities during Double wars!

About SCA;

SCA is an international organisation devoted to recreating history before the 1600s (in Sweden viking age and medieval period are most popular) “SCA” stands for Society for Creative Anachronism, and the purpose is to create and participate together, rather than recreating the perfect set for educational or museum works. This means there’s many different persons, periods, and interests in the society, which I think give lots of energy and life to participating. I have only visited events in Europe but the soceity is worldwide and have lots of participants in the States.

Look at these awesome people with their medieval outfits! Handcrafting really is a big part of the society and many makes their own garments and learn as they go along. L for example has a very good blog about 16th c clothing; check out the link in the photo!

To know more and participate check out this links;

https://www.sca.org/

http://www.nordmark.org/ (Sweden)

https://www.doublewars.org/

I always find Double Wars so magical, the event takes place in a lush forest at the high of spring, and mixes modern conveniences like toilets and served food with the medieval camping grounds. During the event there’s lots of fun to do; practice fencing, armed fighting, archery, handcrafting skills, dancing, brewing, cooking over open fire, bathing, go to parties, picnics, lectures… and everything in a historical setting and with historical clothing of course!

During court we play a bit, gather together and salut friends who have worked hard for making everything work; event crew, staff, teachers…

This almost turned into somewhat of an advertisment for the event (yeah, you should totally come and play with us!) but the reason I wanted to show you all this is that it’s winter and dark here in Sweden, and I am hiding indoors this evening longing for the summer with all the medieval events and markets.

Looking back at good events always helps me through the dark months, and makes me want to start planning for the coming season.

And we are almost there, it feels like spring is getting closer for each day, the air has a certain smell to it, and I am dreaming about all the camp gear and dresses I want to get for this year (but that I probably wont have time to do) and planning for which events and markets to visit. Are you also longing for green spring outings and warm summer events?

 

 


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Working kirtle for the 15th century woman

This is a dress I made several years ago, to have as a simple working kirtle. I never got around to take photos and write a proper documentation about it, but now I got some feeling! In these photos the dress have been used for a couple of years and it has seen wear, washing machines and mending. So here’s my first tutorial for the autumn, and thank you for visiting and reading! (Both old friends and newcomers!)

This is a very simple working kirtle or dress, made to be practical as well as historically possible. The fabric is a plain wool weave, dyed to look like walnut dyed fabric. The skirt is partly pleated, partly flat sewn to the waist, and the upper part of the dress is fitted for bust support, side laced and has short sleeves.

I wear it with loose sleeves, pinned to the short sleeves and a gollar for warmth, under another fancier dress, or as it is if I am going to do lots of work or if the weather is warm.

The dress is hand sewn with wool thread in the same colour as the fabric, and it was one of my first garments made with wool thread instead of linen thread. I really recommend it! At first, I was a bit unsure if it was going to be durable enough, but after several years of using it, washing it in the machine (yeah, because lazy and dirty…) and treating it rather rough, it stays together really well, with only some minor mending.

I used running stitches on all long seams, and folded the seam allowances to one side before whip stitching them down. The waist seam and all edges was made with whip stitches, and the sleeves and upper body seams made with back stitches to be a bit more durable than the running stitch is. The running stitch is way more durable than many believe and common in extant finds, but for heavy support I like whip stitch and back stitching better.

The fabric is from Medeltidsmode, and I used around 3 meter for a dress. If you are much longer than me (1,6 m) consider buying another half metre. I did a quick pattern outlay for you, since it is old I’m not sure if I drafted the pattern along the selvage or across the fabric but you will get an idea of what pieces you need to make one for your self.

The dress was made using two front pieces (to have a supportive seam in the front was a good choice since I didn’t have any lining in the dress.) One back piece, two sleeves and the skirt panels. I drafted S-sleeves, but the dress is made with regular sleeves with the seam under the arm. That seems to be the most common in artwork from the time on short sleeves. Your choice!

Some thoughts on skirts:

Do you see that the skirt has way more fabric in the back, while the front is straight? This will give you a nice fall as well as enough width and volume, but if you bend forward to pick up things or work by the fire, this construction will make the skirts remain away from the flames closer to your body, rather than draping forward with your movement. Hard to explain, but try it! It gives you a very practical garment.

The front panels are marked C at the center front. The back piece is “upside down” to use as much of the fabric as possible. You could of course piece the skirt together with more panels if you like. On my dress the front panels lies smooth in the waist, with only a couple of pleats to allow room for hips and stomach, while the back part is pleated around the back.

Other ways of construction would be to make more panels/gores (see my green 15th c kirtle) or pleat the skirt fabric to the waistseam all the way around (like my 16th c trossfrau dress in purple and blue). Or just make a few decorative folds in the back, like on my blue Weyden kirtle. This is simply one possible way of interpreting contemporary art.

A tip on bust support:

This is (I think) my only wool garment so far that has bust support, but no lining whatsoever. This is possible only because of the plain weave, since it is not very flexible across and along the threads in the fabric. A twill weave would not have worked without lining.

The front piece has two arrows marking out small details in the fronts seams. At the center front there is a small bend going in under the bust, and at the side seams there’s another, making the seam run in a bend, and then changing direction after the bust and running straither over the stomach. This way of sewing will make the bust stay better in place, allowing for bust support without lots of sturdy layers. But the bust will have a rounder form and not as much steadyness as a garment with lining.

I did however put in a narrow strip of linen around the neck opening on the inside, to avoid it getting stretched. There is plenty of ways to make hems sturdier, such as a narrow strip of fabric, running or stab stiching or using another layer or quality of fabric on the inside, for example. You can find this in extant finds such as Herjolfnes and finds from 14th c London, as well as in paintings. It is an easy way to finish of your garment, make it last longer while being historically made.

The side lacing is made with sewn holes and a lucet braid in plantdyed wool thread. A wool thread will be a bit stretchy, and wont run as smoothly as silk, which makes it a bit slower to lace, but the cord will stay in place. On this photo you can see the lacing which starts by the sleeve and reaches to the waist seam, a gap were the shift is visible (did I have to much good food this winter?) and also some mending done on the sleeve. After the waist seam I tie the cord (I lace it from sleeve to waist) and the skirts are opened another 15 cm to allow for easy undressing. The skirt is not laced, it stays closed anyway, and by sewing some folds in the sides, the opening will not be very visible.

A note on fitting a dress like this:

I always make a fitting for every single item I make, and that is especially important if it is supposed to be tight fitting. I do have a basic pattern, drafted on my own body (a toile) but after I have basted the pieces together I need to try them on before sewing the garment. Every fabric you work with is slightly different, some more stretchy, some supportive and stiff, and by trying the pieces on you can adjust the garment to your taste.

The method for adjusting and fitting a dress like this is the same as I use while making a supportive upper body toile, and you achieve the support by taking in the upper body in the sides and front, sometimes also by stretching the shoulder seams upwards a bit.

A front laced kirtle is a bit easier to adjust to a bigger bust, but you can make it work with a side lacing as well, just remember to make the same adjustments to the laced side as the sewn together side, and maybe lacing it double one turn just below the bust for greater support.

For a complete outfit; linen shift, wool hose and leather shoes under the kirtle. A simple belt to hang the money purse from (change is very important for todays trader) and a veil on the head. Here I have a simple cap under the Great Veil, to have a base to pin it on. The veil can then be worn in many different ways, depending on how you like to wrap or fold it. 2-3 brass pins secure the veil to the cap under it.

Whoho! Finally documented this dress a bit, so now I don’t have to feel “bad” about forgetting it all the time. As you have noticed, this is not a complete step-to-step tutorial but rather a post with guidiance if you want to make a similar dress.

Many readers ask me to share more sources and such material on the blog, but according to copyright laws I am not free to post all the stuff that inspires me on the internet, and therefore you will often find links, reading tips and pinterest notions where you can find artwork and resources of your own. Hope you understand my take on this!

 


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Medeltidsveckan i Visby 2019

(This will be in Swedish, since I am mostly talking about workshops held in swedish during the Medieval Week)

Vill tipsa om årets kurser under Medeltidsveckan, eftersom jag är superpeppad på Visby och längtar efter en till vecka med massor av härliga människor, medeltid och nya upplevelser!

Jag har mina favoritkurser på Kapitelhusgården som vanligt (boka i förtid- de brukar vara fulla!) med mönsterkonstruktion av tajt sittande plagg (tisdag morgon), ärmar (onsdag morgon) och grundkursen i brickbandsvävning (fredag morgon). Kurser jag älskar att hålla, och som är fulla med kunskap, inspiration och nya vänner!

Nytt för i år är att jag också hänger på marknaden med tältet och har ett litet försäljningsbord i Craft Hives hörna av marknaden. Förutom bra hantverksmaterial och lite smycken kan ni titta in med hantverksfrågor om ni behöver tips i sömnaden, och på måndag + torsdag eftermiddag har jag en inspirationskurs i brickbandsvävning- perfekt för dig som provat eller gått grundkursen men vill komma vidare med vävningen och få ny inspiration.

(Just nu förbereder jag kursen genom att provväva lite band med individuellt vridna brickor, bläddra i ny fantastisk litteratur och packa silkestråd. Jag tänker mig en kurs med kantvävning, svårare mönster, olika tekniker och givetvis ett eget projekt efter deltagarnas intresse)

Visste ni förresten att den hemliga butiken har en egen webbsida nu med kalendarium? Sök på nätet så hittar ni den, och ps- den är jobbvänlig.

Ska du till Medeltidsveckan i Visby? Jag blir superglad av att få träffa bloggläsare, så kom gärna förbi mig och säg hej!


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Easy ways to make your medieval clothing last longer

I really love historical clothing, and fabrics, and sewing and trying out new things… But I also think it is important to care for what you have, and make your historical garments last long and look the part. This is also some good advise to those new in the hobby, and to customers wondering how to care for their new garments. Basically; a post with “good to knows” and things I try to think about with my own wardrobe.

Here is my best tips to care for and wear your garments so they will last longer!

Only wash if needed.

Ok, linen garments used as underwear need to be washed often, and they withstand the wear of the washing machine for years. Don’t tumble them dry, hang them to dry instead.Really dirty clothing can be presoaked in water before washing.

Wool garments will last longer if you only wash them when they are really dirty, and instead hang them out to air after each event. Grime, dirt, food stains and blood on the other hand need to be washed out after each use; sometimes it is enough to only wash the soiled part but other times a good hand wash is needed for the whole garment. Use a detergent for wool, and cold/luke warm water. If you are machine washing your clothes, use the wool or hand wash program.

Don’t step on the hem.

It is easy done walking in a camp or climbing a stair, but it will wear out the hem or cause seams to rip.

If you are wearing long dresses and skirts draping on the floor, it means you portrait a person that have the time and money to care for such a garment, and doesn’t have to do heavy work, instead strolling around and holding up the dress with a hand or two. Look at historical paintings; all the dresses that pools on the floor or has a train is worn by ladies holding them up while walking.

If you have your hands full, hike up the dress with a (extra) belt around the waist.

Getting dressed and undressed.

Historical garments often feels differently on the body than modern ones, and many persons experience that they moves differently while wearing them. This is a que to the action of dressing to; don’t jump into your hose like you would do with a pair of sweatpants. Instead, take time to dress carefully, adjusting the garments so they feels good on your body.

Never jank jackets, tunics or dresses down, instead carefully slip them on. If they are tight, move them slowly on and always unbutton or lace up the parts needed. Buttons and lacing are not just for show, they are essential parts for getting the clothes on, and then creating a smooth fit.

When pulling a tight dress over the head, ask for assistance when dressing or undressing. After all, the highly fashionable medieval person would have help getting dressed.

Care for and mend garments at once.

Most modern people are not used to mending clothes, but rather throwing them away. Create habits after each event when you wash, air and mend clothing at once. Don’t leave dirty clothing laying in the wardrobe, it could attrach moths, and remember to mend holes and ripped seams at once, before the hole gets bigger.

Store your garments well.

Hanging light clothing is good, but heavy dresses and coats should not be stored on hangers, they may be stretched. Fold or roll them loosely and put them in the closet. I also like to keep my clothing in plastic containers to avoid moths, and take them out to air every once in a while (like, autumn and spring).

What are you using the outfit for?

Weapons practice, heavy work, sweat and dirt will wear your clothes out much faster than strolling around on events and markets. I have dresses in mint condition that are 8 years old, while a customer of mine completely ripped his garment up in under a year doing weapons training and fighting. Consider what you will use your clothing for, and consider doing dirty work in your undergarments or a sturdy kirtle made for the purpose. Switch to your nice clothing afterwards or for shows (just like they did during the medieval times).

A sturdy and practical dress, made a bit shorter and with good stretch for moving


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Medieval camping adventures

Come with us on a trip through Sweden and see how we live in a historical tent for one week! (And get my best tip for making your camping adventure a success!)

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One of the things I really like with our hobby is the historical camping on different events and markets. During Double Wars we packed the car and a trailer with all our camping gear, a friend and his stuff, some extras, a picnic bag… and then began the drive down to southern Sweden.

Geographically we live in the middle of Sweden, but that doesn’t mean it is close to all events, this drive took us about 15 hours, and we chose to split it up on two days, with some sightseeing in the breaks. Because we traveled with lots of gear we chose to stay at a hotel along the road, where we could lock the car and trailer in a secure place.

  • planning breaks or overnight stays along the way makes the trip much more smooth, and you wont get dangerously tired while driving. Remember that you may want to leave your packing in a secure space during the night.

Finally at site, we could drive in to our designated place and dump everything out from the car and trailer. It is common that you may drive in and out from sites before and after the main event, but during the week/weekend when most people have come, you may not be able or permitted to drive all the way in to camp. This is both because the cars may not have space enough to drive in, but also because it makes the historical encampment much more boring if cars will roll by every day…

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  • check with the schedule when you will arrive/leave and if you may drive in your car close to the camp then. It is no small task to carry everything in by hand…

Once everything was out in the grass we could set up our pavilion and get everything in place. The new pavilion was way more expensive than our previous, home-made tent, but we are really satisfied with it, both the quality and how much room we have inside. Our friend E got a section of his own, and we hade a sleeping area with draperies and a double bed.

  • to make the building of camp run nicely; bring good shoes, gloves, a snack, something to drink and extra ropes, pegs and the like. A sledge/hammer, shovel and knife are good tools to have close by. Also bring a cover for your things; if it rains everything will get wet!

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Our new home is done! Except the tent we also had a small outdoor kitchen area with a sunroof, table, benches, a fire pit and cooking gear. We didn’t bring everything by ourself, we shared the camp with friends.

  • The question is always; what to bring and what will I need? Of course, packing space and the amount of things you own is an important matter, but always try to plan your trip for “worst case scenario”. What kind of clothing will you need if the nights are cold? For keeping dry? What kind of bedding to keep warm and comfortable during the night? Maybe some medicines if you get a cold or a stomach flu? To be wet, cold, sick or sleep bad during an event never makes it fun. Makes these things your priority when packing, and then fill up with pretty clothing, extra kitchen wares, nice flags and more.

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This is what the tent looked like inside while we were moving in. We like carpets on the ground to have something dry to put down items and feet on. Under the bed we also had a plastic floor (a tarpaulin) to protect camping gear and the bed from wetness. It is very practical to have a part of your tent that will always be dry no matter the weather outside! In the wooden bed we use two modern mattresses that is easy to pack, and makes us sleep very good during long stays. Over them we have our sheep skins and then sheets, covers, blankets and feather pillows.

  • Sleeping good is very important. I discovered that feather pillows and duvets covered in woolen blankets makes for the perfect warm and cozy bed. I make sure to cover the bed during the day with a woolen blanket to keep air moisture or rain out, and always bring a sleeping hat/cap, extra woolen socks, and ear plugs to have a good night sleep. Don’t survive outdoors, instead enjoy outdoors!

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And done! I like to be able to hang things inside the tent, to have a table to put things on, and some sort of storage for food, dishes and other items. Without storage the tent will be impossible to live in after a few days…

  • Outdoors I say? Yep; there will be bugs and small things coming inside. Avoid some of them by keeping the food stored away (we use plastic bins for that, hidden under the bed, under a cloth or inside baskets). I also hang my laundry or store it dry, keep the jugs and bottles upside down or closed and shake out my shoes before I put them on in the morning. A mosquito net over your bed can be a real saver, lets children sleep well, and take almost no space in your packing.

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Shared joy is double joy! (in Swedish a proverb; “delad glädje är dubbel glädje”.) Share the camp with friends (new or old) and bring what you have in furniture, kitchen gear, wood and the like. Maybe you want to arrange the best wild-onion-swinging-partycamp ever, the largest childrens-picnic or an elegant cocktail party theme? Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors of your ideas of beforehand and get their approval, to have all the festivities at the same time might be a bad idea…

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  • Try to make some activities with the whole camp you live in. Maybe cooking together, share a meal, have a small party or just hang out. During festivals, markets and SCA events there are lots of things to see and do, but some of the best memories from my adventures come from hanging out with people I like, without doing anything special!

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Getting to know new people. Maybe you don’t have lots of friends to share your historical adventures with yet? Well, go out and find some! Meeting new people and making new friends can be hard and tiring, but also rewarding. Here is my best actions to do so during SCA events. (The photo above is from a handcrafting picnic during Double Wars.)

  • Check out the schedule, and attend the activities that sounds interesting. Maybe you don’t have the right gear or knowledge; show up anyway really early and ask the organizer if there is anything you could borrow or some try-outs before or after. I like sewing meetings and picnics, archery and parties.
  • Join big gatherings like courts, open practices or handcrafting picnics. Ask questions, be interested, mention that you are new/would like to get to know people/love embroidery or whatever you like.
  • Don’t take a no or a turn down personally. Maybe you misunderstood and the meeting was just for kitchen staff, or that interesting handcrafter you met yesterday now has a terrible cold/migraine and don’t want to hang out. Thats ok, it is not you.
  • Help out. You don’t have to be a slave, but it is a good way to make new friends while doing things. Maybe the kitchen needs a helping hand (that is where the party is, right?), someone needs some help with carrying, or organizing a game/practice/cake eating contest or whatever. When people (especially swedes) work, they tend to be more talkative. And you have something in common!
  • Be generous. With your time, attention, knowledge, friendship and what you have. If you attend an open picnic; bring some cookies. If you are going to an open party; take something to drink or share. Maybe you don’t know shit about medieval clothing, but you know a really fast way to mend socks? Share around!

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Time to say goodbye? When the event comes to an end, it is time to pack everything together, say goodbye to all new friends you made and begin the journey home. Be gentle and kind to yourself when packing and traveling; nothing is worse than tearing down a camp with panic, being sick or tired after a party night that was a bit late. Allow yourself plenty of time, food and a good night sleep before a long traveling day.

  • Plan your travel with extra time if something goes wrong. A wet camp is slower to pack than a dry one, bad weather or heavy traffic can slow things down.
  • Consider when to pack and take down your tent. During the day the tent fabric dries out and the risk of mold is less, maybe it is possible to take down the tent during high noon? If early done, you can always attend one more picnic..?
  • Allow the driver a restive night, to travel safely. Plan snacks, and breaks or change of drivers if you travel far.
  • During some events, everyone wants to leave at the same time. This means it might get crowded, busy and hard to drive the car inside the camp. Check with the organizers what time could be good for packing and bringing out your camp.
  • Always clean after yourself. Clean your campsite, fill out fire pits, take away trash… and then lend a hand to cleaning some common space that you have used during your stay (like a toilet, kitchen area, sweeping). When everybody does this, things get really nice and efficient.

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And last but not least; when you have arrived home remind yourself about how awesome your adventure was while doing laundry, cleaning and unpacking. It might be a bit tiring with adventures…

 

 


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Sewing machine school- part 1

The sewing machine is a tricksy being, with a mind of its own. On the paper it promise to make whatever your heart desire, but home alone it tend to do as it pleases… Happened to you? It does not have to be like that!

In my Sewing Machine School I will give you all my best tips for making friends with the sewing machine. As a sewing crafts teacher I have great experience with dealing with struggling pupils… And struggling machines too.

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in the beginning:

  • Before sewing, make sure the machine is correctly threaded. It is easy to miss a part, get a loop or lose the tension. Use the instruction manual if you are unsure, or even better-check out youtube to find a video on your model! Older models may be available on internet as free pdfs, or check in with the sewing machine store.
  • To check the tension of the threads, pull carefully at the top and bottom threads. They should be moving but with a slight resistance. If everything seems fine, try sewing on a scrap bit of cotton fabric. Fine? Then try out a scrap bit of the fabric you intend to work on. Check to see if you need to make adjustments in the stitching length, or the presser.

A short note about caring:

It is very important to take care of your sewing machine! Wipe it down and clean it after each project. A can of compressed air is perfect for blowing away dust inside the machine, and a small brush can be used to remove threads etc.

You can also grease your machine with a special sewing machine oil, to make it run smoothly for longer periods of time, between the paid services. Do this after each sewing project or sewing period, and you will have a machine that runs smoothly. (Note; it is very important to use sewing machine oil, and to only apply small drops of it in order to not stain your fabrics after. If you are unsure if you might have applied to much, sew in a scrap fabric piece first.

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Change the needle after each big project (like a dress) or if you have accidentally pulled your fabric so the needle touched the machine going down. A sharp needle will make the seem prettier, more even and make the sewing easier.

While working:

Always start with a scrap bit of fabric to check the stitches and the tension. The threads should lock with each other in the middle of the fabric. If not, try adjusting the tension of the upper thread first.

Adjust the presser according to the fabric. Thick woolen fabric needs a lighter presser than thin silks. If the presser is to hard, your upper fabric will be pressed forward during sewing. If you have a problem with the fabric pieces always ending up different in lenght at the end of the seam, this could be your problem.

The feeder teeth underneath your fabric moves the fabric during sewing, but some machines also have an upper feeder that you can attach to the presser. Check to see if your machine have one, or if you can buy one. This is a very good device as it helps get the fabric even during longer seams. (If you dont have one, pinning the fabric pieces before sewing helps really nice too)

Use a needle fitting for your project. Thinner needles for fine linen and silks, a bit sturdier for wools.

Are you unsure about thick layers or sharp corners? You can always sew “by hand” on your machine. Instead of using the pedal, use the wheel on your right side, pulling it towards you. This makes the machine go very slowly and you will have plenty of time to check were you go and if the needle can take all the layers without breaking. Once past the hard part, just use the pedal again!

Be attentive to the sound of your machine. It should run smoothly and even, if everything is ok. When you have learn your machine, you will quickly discover if anything is amiss.

If sewing together two pieces for a dress (like a straight panel and a diagonally cut gore) always put the part that stretches the most (gore) under the other part. This will lessen the risk of the parts stretching out uneven, and make the seam a bit nicer.

To turn in a corner: Stop were you want to turn, and lift your fot from the pedal. Move the needle down into the fabric with the wheel, lift the presser and adjust the fabric to the new direction. Let down the presser, and continue forward with the pedal. The needle hold your fabric in place while turning and make sure the seam continue nicely.

This was my first part, and whenever I have the time I try to translate more sewing tip for you. Do you like it? Consider supporting me by Patreon, to make it possible for me to create more free tutorials!

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Kirtles and dresses during the 15th century

This post is about my work with 15th c dresses for the Golden Egg challenge I do in the SCA, and it will be something like an overview on dresses. If you want pattern outlays and sewing tutorials, check out my tutorial page!

 

What is really the difference between a kirtle, middle dress, dress, under dress and so on? Not much, except the words. All these can be used for the same garment, depending on the country of origin and the period. A kirtle refers to the main (upper body) garment for both men and women, which should be long (and loose at the hem). A tight-fitting, short garment with the same function is called jacket or doublet. A kirtle can be both a tunic and a dress. So it is more of a language term than a specific garment.

Dresses is basically what you think it is; long garments (for women in this post) worn in different fashions, styles and materials. The medieval women generally wore several layers of garments, so to better talk about these they are given different names.

 

  • The shift, chemise or under dress is your underwear, usually in bleached or unbleached linen, washed frequently as you would do with modern underwear.
  • The supportive shift is a sleeveless, tight underwear to support and shape your bust. You can se it in both pictures and as a find (lengberg). You can wear it on its own, under the middle dress or together with a shift with sleeves.
  • The kirtle or middle dress is the next layer, often in wool, but also in silk, cotton, velvet or mixes of materials. You can wear this in public, and during the 15th c it is often tight fitted. The cotehardie? That is french, meaning basically a kirtle but is referred to as a tight fitted 14th c garment for both men and women, often with buttons or lacing.
  • The dress or overdress is a warm layer worn on top of the first two, during the 15th century it is often loose, with lots of draping fabric. And as expensive as you can afford it. The houppelande? A certain style of overdress, with an opening at the center front, often elaborate sleeves and lots of fabric in the skirts.
  • The coat or cloak is a layer of its own, to protect the wearer from the weather (or for symbolic/religious use) or as a fashionable garment. Women and men both wear them and own them in sources, but they don’t seem to be high fashion during the 15th c, more like a practical choice.

 

 

During the 15th century, fashion seems to change quite fast, and you can also see many different styles of dresses at the same picture or geographical area during the same time. If you want to research different kind of styles yourself, I recommend diving into some artwork for the period. I have two pinterestboards to check out, one about my Golden Egg project here, and another on interesting 15th c clothing here.

I also wrote a post about research and artwork here. I could really go on and on about different models of dresses forever, but to keep it simple I am just going to show you some different examples I have tried to recreate from the 15th c:

For my wardrobe, I opted for the green kirtle, a simple dress with long sleeves, a waist seam and front closure with hooks and eyes. The sleeves can be loose enough to roll up to the elbow, or a tighter version like mine. The front opening continue after the waist for a bit, to make the dress easy to take on and of. Decorative clasps by the front, or lacing seems to be options for this style. It also seems like the kind of dress you can wear as both middle or over layer on your outfit, depending on how you fit it and the material.

But I also got curious and tried out the loose dress model with my dove blue dress, based mainly on a picture from Bohemia. These model can often be seen with a decorative closure at the neck, and is held together by a thin belt by the natural waist. The breast can be seen as two individual shapes; you need a lengberg bra version or a modern balconette bra to achieve this look! (or go natural)

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Before, I tried to recreate this kirtle with short sleeves and a waist seam with a plaited back, based on some artwork of Weyden. The sleeves have a seam under the arm instead of the more common S-sleeve, the middle back has a seam, and there is a strip of fabric around the neckline, as a way of giving support to the shape. The front of the skirts lay smooth to the upper body, but at the back there is plaits to add volume and a nice drape to the dress.

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The houppelande is such an interesting garment, and I have tutorials about the different pattern and outlay. These are some of my different versions I have made. I really am a fan of this green colour as you may have noticed, and my friends use to joke with me if I don’t wear green on events…

 

And here is my pinterestfolder on different houppelandes and overdresses.

This became a quite long post! I will try to keep up with making some more tutorials for the different models if you want to try them out yourself.

 


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How I make my 15th century braids

I took some quick pictures to show you how I make my braids for the 15th century outfit. I do not make them to all events, and they end up looking a bit different each time, but this is the basics for the look! (this is not a historically accurate way, but it is one that really works for me during work and camping events so I wanted to share)

You will need:

Longer hair, or hair extentions.

Brush, comb, hair wax (optional), rubber bands or thread, 2 bobby pins.

First, I divide the hair in two sections, and brush them out. Then I usually add some natural hair wax to get the hair a bit easier to work with. The hair is pulled to the front, and the braid is a regular 3 strand braid that begin over the ear.

Look at the start of the braid, it is really high up and almost at the front of my hairline:

 

Braid both sides, finish them off with a small rubber band or thread. I always use rubber bands, because I am lazy…

After this, it is time to fasten up the two braids in loops. I usually do this by pulling a bobby pin through the rubberband, so the pin hangs in the end of the braid. This is the hair from behind; you don’t have to make it perfect, but try to pull the braids tight from behind to avoid the hair falling down your neck.

After that, grap you bobby pin, fold the braid back and put in the bobby pin at the start of your braid. If you have extentions, you can pin it through one of these for extra firmness. Make sure the pin is secure, give it a small “twist” to secure it inside the braid.

Then it should look something like this. The loose hair ends lies against my head, behind the braids and under any cap or veil I will wear. The bobby pin and rubber band is also hidden. Note the lenght of the braid in different paintings when deciding how long yours should be. I like them to reach the line of my nose, it makes my face look cute.

And from behind

There, all done! I have discovered that the best way to hide the loose hair and the small hairs at the neck is to use a modern, thin hair band in fabric, that I pull over my head and smooth away the hairs with. I didn’t use that this time, and you can use hair spray, wax, bobby pins or whatever you fancy to hold your hair in check.

The result? This is what it looks like when styled with the 15th c great veil.