HANDCRAFTED HISTORY


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Thoughts on making medieval garments

I wanted to share some thoughts with you today; things I have learned and things I find important, when I design medieval clothing. Both for myself and for customers. Being new in any branch of historical reenacting or costuming can be overwhelming, and just like with all other things in life there’s no simple answers or an ultimate guide. “Just read this book, and then you will know everything”… I haven’t found it at least.

But don’t feel overwhelmed! It is such an interesting journey you have ahead, exploring and experiencing other times and new handcrafting. And there’s lots of others that love to share their knowledge in this field as well. Here’s some great things I have learned over the years, that I like to share whenever I can!

Choosing materials is clearly one of the more difficult things when starting with historical handcrafting, and often the simplest way to succeed in making a good outfit is to pay the price for good material, and buy the same as everyone else. Seems boring at frist, right? But instead of wanting to make that perfect deal on super cheap wool in a really unique colour; think about what historical look you want to achieve with your outfit, and what qualities you would like the garment to have.

The places that sells fabrics especially to reenactors often produce high quality fabrics, and their customers will come back to buy more if they like it. The chance will also be that they are knowledgeable in historical fabrics so you can find materials, colours and qualities that resembles the historical originals, whilst giving you a fabric that will last for a long time to an affordable price.

The quality of the fabric will differ with manufacturers, places of origin, type of material etc so make sure to read up a bit on what material would be good for your individual project. Look at what others say about the seller and the different fabrics they offer, and learn some useful words: tabby and twill are weaving techniques, and twill is often more stretchy. Felted means the fabric has been fulled and is often less stretchy, but more weather resistant and smooth. Thin, medium and heavy are different weights in wool fabrics, whereas 120 grams etc are the weight of a m2 fabric.

Fabric shopping at The historical fabric store

It is always best to be able to see and feel the fabric yourself, and now when we stay at home, fabric samples are a good choice. If you have friends, a group or other people around you that are good at different fabrics, ask them for advise (or use a forum online) and always state what kind of garment you would like to make (a kirtle) for what period (14th century) and for what kind of use (reenactment event during winter etc). That way you may save both money and effort instead of buying the first fabric you find, and then get disappointed.

Preparation of fabric

Wool and Linen

I always prewash fabrics before sewing, even for my customers. I know that many in the field claim that you can’t wash wool fabrics in water, but that’s just bullsh*t. Of course you can wash fabrics, at least good ones. Bad ones? Might shrink uneven, get to much wear or completely change the look, feel and even the colour in contact with water. But you know what? That is not ok for garment fabrics. They should be made to endure everyday wear and wet weather, washing, food stains and so on. Those things totally existed in the medieval ages, it would be strange if your medieval outfit couldn’t endure the same right?

Furthermore, prewashing fabrics will release the weaving tension in the warp, making it shrink slightly and give you the fall it will have after ironing/washing/a rainstorm. You could get the same result by steaming the fabric with an iron before sewing, but that won’t remove the…

Chemicals and anti-mold treatments. Fabric today needs to last for longer times during shipping and warehousing, and look good when arriving on the shelf in the fabric store. To achieve this most fabrics (and ready made garments) are treated with different kind of chemicals, which will wash out in the washing process. Or rub of on your body… Not a good thought, right? Always prewash your fabrics!

Linen: soak in water a while before washing, to get a smoother fabric. Not necessary, but worth it. Fold it loosely in the bathtub for example. Wash the wet fabric in 40- 60 degrees C (the temperature you would like to wash your linen shift/shirt in later) hang to dry and then iron on a high temperature.

Wool: wash by hand or use the wool setting in the washing machine. Use cold to luke warm water and wool detergent. If you don’t have that, use a little shampoo, because wool is hair, and will not look its best after strong detergents. Also, hot water might felt it and make it look dull.

Silk and silk velvets are the only fabrics I don’t wash before use, but rather iron very gently and hang out to air before use.

This dress has been washed several times in water, and still looks like new.

Which thread?

Thats depends on what fabric you want to use, and what you want to make. But I prefer natural materials and “same for same”: silk for silk fabric, linen threads for linen, and wool for wool fabrics. Oh, or silk and linen for wool fabrics too, because that is a historical choice and very easy to work with. If you prefer to use a sewing machine, cotton thread for linen and silk for wool garments work nice. Polyester thread is a bit to “sharp” and might lead to breakage in the fabric rather than the seam if you happen to get stuck in something with your garment. But yeah, it will work on a sewing machine if that is what you have, I just don’t recommend it.

Where to start?

It is always good to start with underwear like shirt, shift and breeches. They will make up the base, are often easier to make and linen is not as expensive as wool. Also, you’ll get to try out the fit, the seams and some techniques.

After that, it is more a question of what you need versus what you are inspired to start with. Remember, handcrafting should be fun and not only practical! I like to make a middle/base layer next, often in wool, to be worn on warm events or when I work. After this is done, I adjust and finish of necklines at under-garments so they are not visible (if that is not fashionable) and start with some accessories, and another layer for warmth and weather protection. The medieval period (and others too) often have an outfit made up of several layers, and that is really practical when going to outdoor events!

Wearing a thin wool gown on a summer event. Photo taken by Catrine Lilja Kanon

Other good tips is to make a mock up or toile, basically a try out on the garment you desire, made in a cheap/recycled cotton fabric. It might seem as you are doing the work twice, but this is really handy as you get to try out the pattern, fit and look on the garment without risking that really expensive fabric. And if the mock up gets really good, you just pick apart the basted seams and use it as a pattern!

Basting is also a good investment; long running stitches will hold together your fabric pieces enough for a final fit before sewing, and will make it both faster and easier to sew all the seams by hand. I will confess, when I started sewing medieval clothing I NEVER basted anything and rarely pinned the seams, but after several surprises (Whot, how come I got this fit?) I learned it was both better and faster to check the fit, before sewing the final seams…

How to decide on social class and status?

Ohh, don’t ask me, I always change between working class garments and fancy party outfits depending on the event, place and what I feel like… But generally, just go for whatever catches your fancy! Or pick clothing after your preferred activities; are you going to stroll around a market fair with friends? Visit a fancy banquet? Or do you prefer mud wrestling, archery, beer taverns or outdoor cooking? Not only will you look much better with the right kind of clothing, you will also find that your activities will be much more fun with the right garments! A short dress and practical hood for the forest archery, or a thin and cool kirtle with hose for the indoor festivities.

A well of working class doublet, perfect for active events…

And a silk brocade doublet for those fancy strolls in the garden

Garments you need

This is always a tricky question, as it depends on the weather, the type of event and the gender and social status you want to portray. I thought I did great at my first events wearing a linen tunic, shoes and a cloak, I neither froze to much or died, but nowadays I confess of having higher standards… Like, I want to both look like I fit in the historical context, being comfy, not getting to much mosquito bites, and not freeze during chilly evenings. I also like to change my linen underwear everyday to feel fresh, as well as having some change of outer wear/dresses just because I feel like it. Oh, now I’m babbling again. You would never guess hom much text I always have to delete because of babbling…

Getting dressed in the morning; linen shift, wool hose and leather turnshoes

1. You generally need linen underwear, and a change for longer events. Several changes, if you’re not going to wash the clothes during the event. We want to look medieval, not smell medieval…

2. A thin or medium warm wool layer for summer events, for working or for indoor events.

3. An outer layer for cold evenings, if you get wet or want to look well dressed. I recommend another layer of kirtle/dress/coat rather than a cloak to get more use out of your clothing.

4. Headwear like hats, veils, hoods etc. Both to complete the outfit estetically, but also because it gives you cover from weather and bugs.

5. Shoes! Don’t forget shoes, make or buy a pair that is looking good and feels comfortable. Hose (long or short) with thin leather soles is also workable on warm events, paired with pattens.

6. Accessories, both fancy and practical: belt, garters, bags, purses, cloaks, headwear, gloves… You name it. These can really set the style and time period, so check out sources before you decide on what to add to complete your outfit!

A 15th c outfit in 3 layers; shift, middle kirtle and overdress complete with shoes, headwear and accessories.

Wear it!

Historical clothing should be worn, because it is awesome and comfy and look great… You know that you’re allowed to wear it around the house right? Or take the great cloak for that chilly walk, or use the apron when doing gardening work. You shouldn’t need to be super careful with your garments, they will look even better when you have worn them a couple of times. My favourite shift is 6 years old and worn transparent thin over my shoulders and back after months of wearing, but I love it.

And make it last longer:

If you have long skirts, fold them up or pull them up into your belt when walking so you don’t step on the hem, or drag it through mud. That will make the fabric last longer. Protect the handsewn leather turnshoes with pattens when walking through rain or mud, and always mend holes and rips as soon as you find them on your garments. At the end of season, I always wash, mend, air and look through all my garments before putting them into the wardrobe. For this year though, I recommend taking them out for airing a time or two to avoid dust and bugs.

Getting dressed in historical clothing is actually a bit different than getting dressed in your favourite comfy pants and tshirt. If you are used to wearing stretchy clothing, you will need to be a bit more careful getting dressed and undressed with the woven natural fibres. Imagine it more like a suit, pull it carefully over your head, always open lacing and buttons before removing the garment, and never “jump” into your medieval joined hose. Another tip to make your hose last longer is to always pull them up before kneeling or sitting, and to wear garters under the knee to make them stay in place.

Early 14th c outfit with accessories

Yeah, I think I got the most parts down here, and it became quite the long blog post. Maybe I am tired of sitting at home, talking to the cats and love all the time? Who am I kidding? I am REALLY tired of sitting at home, I miss events, adventures and being able to go out and do fun stuff. But most of all, I miss you friends, readers and fellow history-travelers! Stay safe and take care so we can meet each other soon!

Love, L


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Viking woman’s coat

This tutorial was made 4 years ago, in Swedish, but my dear blog reader Eva Bolinder took the time to translate it for you. Thank you Eva!

Fancy blue coat in thick woolen twill, with silk decorations and woolen tablet weave

The existence of an open coat for women during the viking age is not a sure thing. We don’t know enough about the viking woman outfit to say for sure that this was what it looked like, or that they even were a thing. Why are they so popular in the reenactment world? They are practical for the kind of reenactment we do! A coat is easily added or taken of as we move between cold outdoors to heated housing, and excellent to add to your viking summer outfit for those colder events, without having to make a complete new outfit.

Coat nr 2, superfun to make! Woolen twill that was woven in two layers, I remember. Decorated with wool tablet weave, silk and fur. Not very practical though…

With that said, here’s the tutorial- feel free to make one if you would like one! Also, as a bonus you’ll get to see many different coats I’ve done during my years as a viking. Some more inspirational with freely designed decorations, some more historically believable.

(This description is shorter than for the Medieval Dress, since I skipped details and tricks that I describe there. So if you want a lot of extra tips, read that description too!)

I started with an inspirational sketch, very important. The sketch were four years older than the sewing project and not what I ended up with (I guess sometimes a project needs a really long thinking time, you know what I mean..?) On top of it are newly drawn pattern parts and a sketch of the coat when it is sewn together.

Sewing this coat is not so different from sewing a typical dress, with the difference that it is open in the front, of course. Since the coat is an over garment I also want a slightly looser fit, since I usually have two-tree layers underneath.

When I took measurements for the coat I based them on the ones below, changed “klänningens längd” (dress length) to the length of the coat. I also added 2-4 cm around the armhole/sleeve insertion to get more movement, as well as the circumference around the upper body. 4-6 cm extra will give you room for more clothes underneath.

The coat also has wider front pieces than half of the total circumference, since I wanted to be able to overlap the front pieces when it’s cold and rainy. I seem to recall that I added 6-8 cm for each front piece after I had calculated the circumference the finished garment would have, divided it into two for back and front pieces. The front pieces are thus a fourth of the total circumference + about 6 cm.

¤ Coat length is measured from the highest point of the shoulder “klänningens längd”

¤ Gore length = coat length – from shoulder to natural waist “från axel…”

¤ Coat width = the widest point of the upper body + extra width for clothes underneath “överkorppens…”

¤ Armscye is measured loosely around the arm/shoulder joint “ärmhål”

¤ Sleeve length is measured from the shoulder, past a bent elbow, to the wrist “ärmlängd”

¤ Measure loosely around the wrist to be able to easily take the coat on and off

¤ Add 1.5 cm seam allowance on all sides

Draw the pieces and write down all measurements on a piece of paper. The base of the gore (C) depends a bit on your other measurements, but don’t be afraid to make wide gores. 60-80 cm is needed to be able to wear the coat over several layers of dresses, and have a nice drape. If you have a larger size; choose the larger measurement to avoid having a square shaped garment with little body form. Generously made gores will give you a nicer drape and more shaping to the garment.

The sleeve (D) has a sleeve cap/shaped sleeve and the seam is underneath the arm. The sleeve cap is about 6-10 cm high, depending on your size and measurements. If you don’t have a sleeve pattern, make a mock up sleeve in cheap fabric to try it out. My sleeve (size small-medium) is around 46 cm around the top, 60 cm long, and the curve of the sleeve cap is around 6 cm higher than the edges.

The little square gore (E) is called a sleeve gusset and is in the middle of the armhole under the arm. It is sewn to both the sleeve and the front (A) and back piece (B) and gives width and mobility. It is a way to save fabric as the sleeve can be cut more narrow, and then gain width in the arm hole with the help of the gore. You can also sew the coat without a gusset, just make the sleeve a bit wider.

Sew the coat together in the following order:

1. Start by sewing the side gores to the front piece, cut up the back piece and attach the back gore, or sew the gore in a split back piece. Press seams.

2. Sew the shoulder seams, press.

3. Sew the sleeve gussets to the sleeves along one side so they are attached, press.

4. Pin the sleeves to the front and back piece while they are on a flat surface (no sewn in sleeve is needed here), sew them together and press.

5. Baste (or sew everything at once) the sleeves together into two sleeves, baste the gussets into the arm hole and then baste the side seam (straight piece to side gore). Try it on, and if it feels good- sew it. If you are new to the square gusset under arm thing- it can be easier to insert that one first, basting it into place before you close the sleeve and the side seam.

6. Sew the coat together in the sleeves and sides, press.

7. Try the fit of the neckhole and cutout in the front, fold the fabric first until you’re happy with form and fall, then cut away the excess fabric on the front pieces.

8. Hem edges, fell seams ( nowadays I usually fell the seams at the same time I sew them together if I hand sew the garment) and decorate your coat if you feel like it.

Simple and practical coat made in woolen twill

Tips:

All these coats are made based on the same pattern, with some variations. With or without sleeve gussets, with or without the back gore, and with different lengths, widths and hemlines. The fabric also matters a lot; a loosely woven twill will drape differently than a sturdy thick twill or tabby woven fabric. If you want a warm and practical coat; choose a heavy, fulled fabric that will protect you from rain.

The gores in the coat are wide, it gives a nice fall and makes it possible for me to wrap the coat around me even if I have several dresses underneath.

I cut the neckhole/neckline in the front piece when the coat is sewn together, before hemming. This way I can put it on and draw out the opening as I want it.

Don’t make the coat all the way to the ground, it will just get wet and dirty.

I think this was my first viking coat, green woolen twill with fantastic wool embroideries made by my friend Kim, inspired by viking age decor elements

This was the finished coat that I made for the blog post. It has been sold since then, and I now own a similar blue coat made in warm wool twill, with rabbit fur in the neck and hand openings. I use it as my go-to cozy, warm coat on events, for keeping warm when I don’t want to get dressed properly, and on larps as a middle layer. So practical!

 


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Åka på lajv del 1: Lajv och spelteknik

Det här är en post som handlar om lajv, olika sätt att lajva på och hur du bygger ett roligt och dynamiskt spel på ett lajv som gör att alla har roligt. Jag skriver främst utifrån min erfarenhet av historiskt inspirerade och fantasylajv. Den här texten förutsätter att du vet vad lajv är/har varit på lajv förut så om du inte har en aning- följ länken nedan och läs den först!

Foto från lajvet I Stormens Öga från 2020.

This post is in Swedish since it addresses the Swedish larping community, and larps are very different in other countries.

Vad är lajv? Läs mer om det HÄR om du är intresserad.

Hur fungerar då egentligen ett lajv?

Du skriver eller tilldelas själv en roll/karaktär som du sedan spelar hela tiden, utan brytningar, pauser eller omtagningar. Du ska agera och basera dina val på vad din roll skulle göra, umgås med de som din roll känner, och försöka uppnå de mål som står i din intrig/karaktär/i din grupps intrig. Det här gör du, tillsammans med andra personer som gör exakt samma sak; har skrivit sin egen roll och agerar utifrån den. Arrangörer står för att samordna lajvet, planera en ramberättelse och en värld, samt skapa intriger som fungerar som ett sätt att starta/skapa spännande spel.

Det finns förstås otroligt många sätt att göra det här på, och lajv är något man lär sig medan man upplever det. Det är faktiskt en av få aktiviteter där du som nybörjare kan kasta dig in och delta fullt ut utan att känna att du är sämre än andra, eller behöver lära dig lajvandet innan du kan vara med på riktigt. Däremot kommer du få roligare, och kunna bidra med roligare spel när du lär dig mer om hur lajv fungerar, vad som kan hända, och vilka möjligheter till spel som finns.

Foto från Eterna; Sagors Slut från 2014

Därför tänkte jag berätta om några olika sätt att spela under ett lajv, några termer som är bra att känna till och lite om hur olika spelare tänker under lajv. Det här är inte ett inlägg som går igenom allt som finns att tänka på; se det mer som en bra start!

360 graders spel: Allt man omger sig med, skapar och spelar ska vara så genuint i lajvvärlden som möjligt. Man undviker moderna saker, platser och stunder där man bryter spelet osv. Den vanligaste formen av lajv.

Blackbox spel: Omgivning, dräkt och saker är oviktiga, bara själva spelet räknas. Genomförs ofta under kortare perioder som test av roller, som workshops, eller som hela lajv.

Spela reaktivt: Du inväntar händelser eller motspelare som du sedan reagerar på utifrån hur din roll skulle reagera. Om inget speciellt händer din roll, inväntar du spel eller byter plats för att se om det händer mer spel på andra delar av lajvet. Exempel: “Åh, någon blev nedskjuten, sjukt spännande! Jag springer och hämtar en helare!”

Spela aktivt: Du skapar händelser och söker upp andra spelare som du sedan lajvar med. Oftast kanske du behöver vara något mer aktiv än din roll skulle varit “på riktigt” för att det här ska fungera. Exempel: “Åh, jag blev nedskjuten! Jag gick i skogen ensam med en påse guld (och kunde nog lista ut att det var en dålig idé, men kul var det).

Spela katalysatoriskt: Du planerar/skapar/bygger händelser och spel mot andra för att skapa fler spelmöjligheter och upplevelser för andra, även om det egentligen inte är troligt att din roll skulle göra så. Exempel: “Hah! Min plan att lura ut en person i skogen, anställa andra för att råna denne och sedan plantera bevisen hos en tredje part lyckades. Det hade varit enklast att gå och hämta guldet själv, och det krävdes en del offlajvplanering, men det var det värt”.

Foto från Nordanil 3, SLP-roller som bara spelades någon timme.

Spela SLP/arrangörsroller: Du tilldelas roller eller funktioner som arrangörerna tycker behövs för att driva spelet framåt, och spelar sedan dessa för bästa möjliga spelupplevelse för andra. Exempel: på morgonen är du budbärare som kommer med ett viktigt brev, sedan byter du om till kung några timmar för att hålla en rättegång, för att på kvällen istället vara ett monster som skrämmer andra i skogen.

Funktionärsroller: Roller som behövs för att driva praktiska saker under lajvet, till exempel kökspersonal, någon som tänder lyktor, håller kontakt mellan grupper eller mot arrangörer. Skrivs ofta som roller i form av värdshuspersonal, pigor, brevsändare osv.

Spela inåt: Du prioriterar den inre upplevelsen av att vara en roll, agera och tänka utifrån rollen, spela diskret eller uppleva saker som din roll under ett lajv. Exempel: den mystiske vandraren som då och då skymtas ute i skogen, men som ingen riktigt känner.

Spela utåt: Du prioriterar spelupplevelsen i kontakt med andra, hur andra agerar och reagerar mot din roll, hur din roll agerar på händelser. Exempel: vaktkaptenen som hela tiden konfronteras, tar folk till fånga, genomför förhör, skickar ut patruller i skogen.

Spelscen: En term som beskriver en kortare eller längre stund av lajvet då något ska hända/spelas ut. Kan vara mer eller mindre planerad i förväg av arrangörer, spelare eller en kombination av dessa som kommit överens om att vissa saker ska ske. Ofta är scenerna mer allmänna och kan upplevas av många på lajvet, men kan också planeras in av enstaka spelare för att spelas ut privat. Exempel: Ett bröllop mellan två spelare, ett förhör, en fin middag.

Under en spelscen är det oartigt att “avbryta” eller förstöra scenen, om man inte i förväg kommit överens om att det kan hända. Exempel: älskaren som fått en intrig om att förhindra bröllopet, spionen som hittat nycklarna till fängelset där den som ska förhöras är inlåst, tjänaren som fått ok offlajv på att förstöra middagen genom att spilla på en viss person.

Fördelen med en spelscen är att den kan planeras för att ge så bra upplevelse som möjligt, för så många som möjligt. Nackdelen är att för många scener på rad skapar en känsla av passiva/aktiva spelare på lajvet, där vissa får huvudroller medan andra får uppleva händelserna passivt. Alla arrangörer använder sig inte av förplanerade scener.

Foto från Skuggsagor 2020, en i efterhand återskapad spelscen

Spelyta mot andra spelare: Här syftar jag inte på en fysisk yta, utan de speltekniska möjligheter som finns för en lajvare/en grupp. Ju bredare yta, desto fler intriger, kontakter, möjligheter har en grupp för att hitta roligt spel. Exempel smal spelyta: Rövargruppen är fördrivna från byn, och kan nu bara smyga in på natten för att stjäla saker. Exempel bred spelyta: Rövargruppen är fördrivna från byn, men har en spion som är dräng. Dessutom förklär sig två till köpmän för att smuggla in vapen i byn, medan en annan mutar vaktkaptenen som den är syskon med. De rekryterar också två missnöjda bönder som rövare.

Arrangörer gör det största jobbet med att fördela och skapa spelyta genom att bestämma vilka grupper som passar in på lajvet, vilka de ska ha kopplingar till och skriva intriger. Men spelare kan också skapa större yta genom att i förväg planera kontakter med andra spelare, bjuda in till spel genom förslag (inlajv och offlajv). Det här är en spelteknik som man lär sig som spelare- ju längre du har lajvat desto fler bra spelexempel får du uppleva.

Döda spel: Var inte en sådan som dödar spelet för andra! Säg “ja, men” istället för nej. Exempel: Du förstår offlajv att planen är en dålig idé men gör den ändå för roligt spel. Exempel 2: Det vore logiskt för din roll att döda en annan roll, men det dödar spel för den personen så istället slår du ned denne/hotar den så den håller tyst. Här kommer också nästa nivå av att inte döda spel: att bemöta det sistnämnda med hån/likgiltighet/våld eller liknande “icke-reaktion” är respektlöst- spela istället med eller kom på en ännu roligare idé. Eller om det låser sig; gå offlajv diskret och förklara din spelidé för den andra.

Spela ned andra: Inte heller en rolig grej att göra. Exempel: att inte visa respekt för adel/kunglighet fast det vore logiskt att göra det. Att inte vara rädd för andras vapen/vapenhot, att inte följa med i maktspel oavsett om man spelar mot de med lägre inlajvstatus eller högre inlajvstatus. Vill spelaren som är din tjänare vara rädd för dig; spela så hotfull som du orkar/vill. Vill spelaren som spelar kung att andra ska bli imponerade; bli det så mycket du orkar. Ofta kan det kännas roligt att spela ned andra eftersom det direkt ger en känsla av status och framgång offlajv, men speltekniskt är det inte speciellt schysst.

Spela upp andra: Motsatsen till ovan, förstås. Du blir imponerad av de som spelar högre statusroller än dig, du blir besegrad av de som spelar skickligare i vapenbruk än dig, du blir lurad av de som spelar lurendrejjare (till en viss gräns, de måste förstås fortfarande göra ett bra försök). Spela upp andra kan man också göra i den egna gruppen: när vakterna är med i en strid blir du själv passiv, när besökare är där beordrar du runt dina tjänare, när den vise talar tystnar alla uppmärksamt. Skapar ofta energi, dynamik och en känsla av bjudighet.

Spela MED andra lajvare: att spela i en grupp, tillsammans mot ett inlajvmål. Eller; att möta och följa upp spel för att skapa mer spel för fler. Exempelvis gå med på att bli lurad, tillfångatagen, rånad eller liknande händelser som Inlajv inte för en närmare inlajvmålet, men som Speltekniskt ger roliga upplevelser. Exempel: Tjuven blir tillfångatagen, men lurar vakterna så att den lyckas undkomma (tjuven spelar med vakterna, vakterna bjuder tillbaka) bara för att snubbla på en annan spelares stav och hamna i bråk (tjuven bjuder in fler i spelscenen, som följer upp spelet) tills vakterna fängslar tjuven igen.

Spela MOT andra lajvare: att spela mot andra lajvare med andra inlajvmål, att försöka vinna, att vara fiender. Eller; att möta spel genom att presentera eget spel/andra förslag. Exempel: Tjuven blir nästan tillfångatagen, men vill offlajv hellre gå och äta. Erbjuder vakterna en muta som blir nöjda och går därifrån. (offlajvanledning). Exempel 2: Tjuven blir nästan tillfångatagen, men vill hellre klara sin intrig genom att leverera guldet till en annan grupp. Springer fortare/lovar vakterna en tjänst/lovar att stjäla något åt dem senare (intriganledning).

foto smygtaget inlajv under Nordanil; Profeten

Nu har du fått en massa speltekniska termer förklarade, och därigenom också olika sätt att spela på. De olika sätten att spela har ingen inbördes rangordning, det är inte bättre eller sämre att spela inåt än utåt osv (förutom att döda spelet då, gör inte det), men för att skapa bra lajvupplevelser är det bra om du som lajvare 1. känner till de olika möjligheterna och 2. vet vilka spelsätt du föredrar och förmedlar dem till arrangörerna och din ev grupp. Som arrangör krävs en bredare överblick; ett lajv blir speltekniskt bra och roligt om de flesta grupper har mycket spelyta, tillgång till spelscener, och grupperna består av en mix av aktiva och reaktiva spelare där ledarna i gruppen är skickliga på att spela Med andra lajvare.

Med det här sagt, så blir ju ändå de flesta lajv bättre med någon typ av antagonist. Om alla är bjussiga spelare som säger “ja, men” hela tiden finns en risk att Alla lyckas och blir bästa vänner, och även om det skapar en mysig känsla kanske arrangörerna hade tänkt sig ett skräcklajv. Som antagonist kan du gå in, säga nej, vara till besvär eller sätta upp mål för spelare att ta sig över, men det är också många gånger ett tungt spel. Som arrangör är det klokt att kontrollera vilka grupper/spelare som vill spela på det här sättet innan man fördelar intriger, eller använda sig av SLPstyrkor som antagonister (monster, rövare, onda ledare osv).

Om du har en grupp att spela med, oavsett om det är en kompisgrupp eller en grupp för dig okända, så kan också de här termerna hjälpa er att prata om vilken typ av lajv ni vill ha, hur ni ska spela mot varandra och hitta likasinnade att dela lajvupplevelsen med.

Och slutligen; vinna lajvet. Term som ibland används om att lyckas med sin intrig utan problem, att inlajv uppnå alla sina mål. Men som egentligen betyder: Att ha roligast, att bidra till att andra spelare har det roligt (tortyr, förhör och fångenskap kan ju också vara roligt…) och samtidigt spela ut sina intriger. Ut och vinn lajvet nu!

(är du nybörjare och vill veta mer om lajv? Den här länken innehåller många bra tips. Tänk på att olika saker gäller på olika arrangemang, så kolla gärna varje lajvs förutsättningar också)


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Åka på lajv del 2: Praktiska tips och packning

Förra gången skrev jag om spelteknik och nu tänkte jag bli mer praktisk genom att skriva om själva packningen, och allt du behöver ha med dig. 360 graderslajvande (den vanligaste typen av lajvande i Sverige?) innebär att du både omger dig med saker, spelar i en miljö och bär kläder som passar till lajvvärlden, vilket gör lajv till något av en prylsport. Men det är också det som gör lajvandet så speciellt; en omedelbar förflyttning till en helt annan värld.

This post is in Swedish since I am addressing the Swedish larping scene, which differs from other countries.

Jag har publicerat inlägg tidigare på bloggen som handlar om packlistor och packning, och de kan du återfinna här:

Förvaring på lajv och medeltidsevent; påsar, säckar och en hemmagjord ryggsäck

Min första lajvpackning, eller hur du undviker att frysa när du sover

Du kan också skriva in “lajv” i sökrutan för alla inlägg på svenska som handlar om lajv, eller klicka i kategorin “larping/lajv” för mer lajvrelaterat.

Det första du behöver veta, är förstås vad du ska använda din packning till. Var ska du? Hur länge ska du vara borta? Och vilka regler gäller på det lajv du ska åka till? Att skapa en helt generell lista är väldigt svårt, eftersom mycket av packningen varierar med roll (exempelvis dräkt, vapen, tillbehör) boende (tält, inomhus, kallt, varmt) och hur du ska lajva (svår terräng med mygg eller i en herrgård med serverad mat).

Foto från lajvet Nordanil där jag arbetade i köket; här fanns all köksutrustning redan på plats!

Du kan dela upp din packning i två delar: det du behöver för att sköta om dig själv och orka lajva, och det du behöver för att kunna delta i lajvet och göra en bra rollprestation.

Exempel del 1:
vatten + mugg
mat + tillagningskärl + matskål
filtar + varma strumpor + tält

Exempel del 2:
rollens dräkt
vapen eller annan rekvisita

Var inte rädd för att fråga andra lajvare, arrangörer och internet efter fler tips. Jag spenderade mina första 10+ lajv med att frysa under nätterna och sova dåligt innan jag lärde mig att hålla värmen utomhus under yllefilten, och hur jag skulle packa för att åstadkomma det. Lösningen? Att äta och dricka mer än jag brukar, samt att sova med underställ, mössa, strumpor, och täcke under filten.

Foto på Becky som spelade handlare; här behövdes mycket kläder att sälja (inlajv eller på riktigt)

Här kommer packlistorna som jag brukar använda mig av:

Sovplatsen:
lager 1: liggunderlag/fältsäng/uppblåsbar madrass
lager 2: får eller renskinn
lager 3: sovpåse i form av en hopsydd, stor yllefilt med ett duntäcke/sovsäck i + kudde

lager 4: extra filt om det är kallare

Närmast kroppen: underställ, mössa, tjocka strumpor. Om du vill se inlajv ut; det går bra att sova i lajvkläder, väl mjuka yllekläder. Tänk på att du behöver ett ombyte ifall du blir blöt under dagen.

Bra tips: myggnät att hänga upp för att slippa mygg, har du inget nät fungerar ett tunt bomullstyg bra att hänga över ansiktet. Öronproppar för att sova ostört. En hätta är bra för värme+myggskydd.

Tänk på: marken kyler, hoppa inte över skinnen som skyddar dig mot markkylan. Ullfiltarna skyddar mot kvällsfukten som kyler ner din sovplats, men också mot eld. Ersätt inte yttersta lagret ull med syntetfibrer, om ett ljus eller gnistor skulle falla över din sovplats.

Moderna saker:

Necessär med tandborste, hudkräm, ev mediciner och annat som används till vardags (man mår bra av att få borsta tänderna och ta hand om sig själv)
Skavsårsplåster, sårtvätt, handsprit, våtservetter, toapapper.

Mobil, kamera i en plastpåse.

Mat:

Välj den mat som du vet att du gillar, och packa lite mer än du äter hemma. Nu ska energin räcka till massor av äventyr och att hålla dig varm. Det är helt ok att förbereda matlådor att värma på plats, gör det bara diskret om det räknas som modern mat som lasagne.
Frukostmat som jag gillar + kaffe + kanna att koka upp vatten i på elden.
Lunch och middag i form av enkla rätter, piroger, paj som kan ätas kall, en snabb soppa eller dyl.

Vatten, minst 6 liter/dygn (om inte det finns på området). Tänk på att du behöver både dricksvatten, tvätt och diskvatten.

Snacks ifall du blir trött och hungrig; frukt, kex, torkad frukt, godis…

Kärl att laga mat i, slev, skärbräda… Allt du behöver för att laga mat, samt matsaker för att äta. Testa gärna hemma först om du aldrig provat att laga mat över öppen eld. Kolla med arrangemanget om det finns eldstäder, ved osv eller om du behöver ordna det själv.

Tips: både filtar, skinn, grytor och träskålar kan man hitta på loppisar billigt om man är beredd att leta. Börja flera månader innan du tänkt åka på lajv för att hinna förbereda din packning utan att den blir alltför dyr.

Tips: mat håller en hel helg med hjälp av kyla. Kylbag gömd i en säck, kylklampar, frusna matlådor, frusna vattenflaskor är bra alternativ.

Matlagning under ett SCAevent (medeltida läger) med massor av bra lägerutrustning synligt.

Packning:

Prova gärna packa några dagar innan lajvet för att se om du kan bära allting, kontrollera att du inte glömt skaffa något samt fundera på hur allt kan packas så bra som möjligt. Ska du bära långt kan en fjällryggsäck vara bra, men om du skaffar lajviga säckar och väskor så slipper du gömma saker på lajvet.

Boende:

Fråga arrangörerna om boende ingår eller går att köpa till/hyra, om du inte har ett eget inlajvigt tält eller kan dela med andra i en grupp. Tänk på att historiska tält är både dyra, tunga att bära och kräver skötsel, så blir du inbjuden att bo i någon annans tält så erbjud dem en slant som tack, hjälp till med att bära och ta med kakor att bjuda på. Då kanske du blir inbjuden igen… En del sover offlajv (utanför lajvets område) av olika skäl (har inget bra tält, vill åka hem och sova, sjukdomar osv) men då missar man en del av lajvet.

Transport:

De flesta lajv äger rum ute i skogen, så du behöver ta bilen dit. Vissa arrangemang erbjuder upphämtning av deltagare på stationer/busshållplatser. Ett annat alternativ är att samåka med andra. Planera hur du ska ta dig till och från lajvet flera veckor innan start; om du behöver matsäck samt boka hämtning eller samåkning med andra. Om någon erbjuder dig plats i bil; skicka en bild/beskrivning på hur mycket packning du har och fråga om den får plats- gör den inte det behöver du fundera på andra alternativ. Erbjud dig också att betala mer än bara din del i bensinen, föraren står ju faktiskt för hela bilen, kör den och hämtar/lämnar dig också på en plats.

Gruppen bestämde sig för gula västar för att visa att vi hörde ihop, längst ned till vänster i bild är vår nyanställde vakt som ännu inte fått en väst…

innan han förrådde oss!

Kläder:

En dräkt som passar till den roll du ska spela… men som också passar till tiden på året och vilken temperatur det kan vara. Som ett exempel har jag under flera år åkt på lajv i juli utanför Skellefteå, och där har temperaturer uppmätts på mellan +5 till +30 grader. Du behöver flera lager, och gärna ett ombyte om du blir blöt. Jag brukar försöka ha med mig två skjortor/tunikor i linne och sedan lager på lager med ullkläder. Som nybörjare känns det dyrt att köpa ulltyger till dräkten, men det kommer göra din lajvupplevelse bättre och är kläderna välsydda så kan du alltid sälja dem efter lajvet, för att köpa in tyg till nya dräkter…

Där har du min dräktkarriär i en mening, att sälja gamla kläder har gjort att jag har kunnat bekosta nya projekt och utvecklats. Om du inte vill sy själv, så säljer många lajvare begagnade kläder för billiga summor. Ett alternativ som är vanligt i andra länder är att du beställer dräkt av någon som syr upp lajv/historiska kläder på beställning. Du kan få exakt den dräkt du vill ha, i dina mått och med ett bra andrahandsvärde om du sedan vill sälja och köpa nytt.

Min första dräkt till kampanjerollen Sari, fotat 2006. Det är med skräckblandad skäms-känsla jag tittar på de här bilderna nu.

Hur tänkte jag överleva i skogen i 3 dagar iförd höftskynke, linnetunika och väst? Jag hade tur den gången, det varm varmt och soligt nästan hela lajvet.

Tips: kom ihåg underkläder och flera par strumpor.

Bra att veta: många lajv har krav på vilken typ av dräkt/färg/stil du ska välja till olika roller. Tänk på det när du väljer roll så du är säker på att du kan göra/få tag på rätt dräkt till lajvet. Många lajv hjälper nybörjare med att hitta/låna/sy/hyra dräkt till sitt första lajv- fråga arrangörerna.

Idag finns mycket gratis sömnadsbeskrivningar, filmer på Youtube och inspiration att hitta på Pinterest. Hur skulle din ultimata dräkt se ut till en viss roll?

Tänk på: att hitta/skapa en bra dräkt tar mycket tid och kostar pengar, men kommer också ge dig en bättre upplevelse och skapa rätt stämning för andra. Med hjälp av dräkten kan du visa andra spelare om din roll är rik, mäktig, ond, magisk, tillhör en viss grupp…

Mer om att skapa lajvdräkter finns här på bloggen, sök på “lajv” eller “lajvdräkt” i bloggens sökfält.

Samma roll, fast 2013 (längst ut till höger) byxor i ull och skinn, kjortel och handskar i skinn, kappa i ull och päls. Lite äldre, mycket klokare. 

Rekvisita och tillbehör:

Eftersom lajv är en aktivitet som man gör för sin egen skull men också med respekt för andra, så är rekvisita en viktig del av din och andras upplevelser. Många arrangörer lägger massor av resurser på att skapa bra miljöer, coola monster, fina skatter… du behöver inte vara sämre!
Olika typer av rekvisita:

  1. Skapa din roll och kommunicera vad du spelar till andra. Exempel: magikerstav, svärd och sköld, nycklar, heliga påsar, slevar och grytor- välj det som din roll borde äga!
  2. Rekvisita som inbjuder till spel. Exempel: en helig amulett (som kan stjälas), hemliga brev (som kan smygläsas) en förbjuden dolk (som kan hittas) är saker som du kan ta med eller plantera ut på lajvet. Hittar du/tar du andras rekvisita under lajvet förväntas du alltid ge tillbaka det direkt efter lajvet. Annars är det ju faktiskt stöld enligt svensk lag.
  3. Rekvisita som skapar miljö/stämning: Exempel: ljusstakar, dukar, möbler, flaggor, prydnadssaker, smycken, tavlor… Allt som inte behövs eller ska spelas med, men som förstärker upplevelsen för dig själv och andra.

Mysbelysning skapar stämning

Till dina första lajv kommer du förmodligen inte dra med dig så mycket saker; de flesta är rätt överväldigade när de börjar lajva och nöjda om de kommit ihåg Både mat, sovplats och kläder. Mången är den lajvare som drömt mardrömmar inför ett lajv om att anlända utan svärdet eller dräkten (och en del har gjort just detta).

Men gå gärna runt innan och efter ett lajv, hälsa på olika grupper och kolla hur de bor och vad de valt att ta med sig för att förstärka stämningen och sin grupp. Fota eller skriv inspirationslistor till framtida lajv, eller inspireras av miljöer i filmer.

Innan lajv är det fantastiskt att komma så tidigt som möjligt. Då hinner du se dig omkring på området, träffa medspelare och kanske komma överens om roligt spel med andra. Efter lajvet stannar de flesta kvar några timmar för att mingla och fota, ta tillfället i akt att lära känna folk på riktigt. Fråga gärna om tips på dräkt, spel och gå fram till de som tillfört spel till ditt lajv och tacka. Beröm någons coola kläder, och hjälp sedan till att packa (först dina egna saker, sedan din grupps saker) och städa (din egen lägerplats, sedan hjälper man arrangörerna).

Vapen till salu, en fana, färgglada drycker i små flaskor. Ingenting är nödvändigt för att åka på lajvet, men allt bidrar till känslan!

Extra tips: gillar du inte att skriva listor? Fota istället dina grejer, utlagda på golvet, för att komma ihåg vad du har och hur du brukar packa det!


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Medieval pattens (research post)

I wanted to buy myself a pair of really nice wooden pattens to protect my handmade medieval shoes during events, like 6 years ago. I didn’t find any, so then I tried to trade for a pair with some woodworking friends, but non knew how to make a pair or didn’t want to, so I set out to fix my non-pattens-problem on my own. That took a while; and believe me, I have gone through some bad options before I ended up happy.

patinor

Making a wooden sole with a leather strap, and then put it on your foot seems like a simple task, but in the end I didn’t get it right before I researched the extant finds, looked at artwork and then tried making a pair with some serious hands-on experimenting. I wanted them to both look good, feel right and be comfortable to move in. Now I have finally made a pair I am satisfied with, so I wanted to share my research and process with you! Because of the amount of research, text and pictures I ended up with, I am splitting the posts into research and step-by-step. Easier to read!

Period: Europe, mainly 14th to 15th century.

About pattens

Pattens are a pair of soles with straps, to wear with your everyday medieval shoe to raise the foot above the ground, avoiding snow, dirt and water. Though they might look like sandals their purpose was to protect the wearer and the expensive shoes all year around, and the thick soles meant you came up from the ground, keeping you dry and warm as well as making the shoes last longer. Pattens were shaped after the foot and the leather shoe, changing form as the shoe fashion did.

They may also be referred to as clogs or galoshes, all names for a medieval overshoe meant to protect the leather shoe, though I will use the term pattens like Grew and Neergaard does in Shoes and Pattens. There are finds of pattens from the 12th and 13th century, making them an useful accessory for the medieval person. Finds of 14th century pattens in London are often decorated for the higher classes, and gets more common later in the century. In the 15th century they become increasingly popular, with many different models and variations. Lots of extant finds show this trend, as well as the pattens being frequently showed in contemporary art. Based on this knowledge, I decided to focus mainly on the late 14th and 15th century variations of pattens.

Materials and models

Pattens can be found with soles in joined layers of leather, as well as wood, and with a solid sole or a two-pieced variant, joined with leather almost like a hinge. Examples with a wooden platform on top of stilts or wedges in wood or metal can also be found.

Examples of wood being used in finds; alder, willow, poplar and one example of beech. Aspen was prohibited for use in England in 1416 (which tells us it was probably a popular choise) but 1464 it was stated that it was allowed to make pattens of aspen wood not suitable for arrowshafts (Shoes and Pattens).

15th and early 16th century pattens, both wood and layers of leather was used for soles.

Straps made of leather

All extant examples I have studied have straps made of leather (vegetable tanned cowhide seems to be the choice), though there are lots of different strap fastenings. Some pattens have one strap over the front part of the foot, almost like flip flops, while others also have straps at the sides or behind the heel, joining in a strap around the ankle. The heel straps can be first seen in late 14th century finds.

Looking at contemporary artwork, many working persons from the period wear practical pattens with a sturdy strap over the foot, while higher classes have more formed soles with delicate straps, sometimes decorated, and sometimes with a buckle.

To adjust the fit of the straps there are examples of metal buckles, ties and leather strips secured with a piece of leather or a nail among other varieties. The leather used for straps are generally thinner than the one used to join a split sole, and to make it sturdier a seam, a binding or a folded edge have been used. Two layers of leather sewn together is another method. The leather could be decorated with dyes or edges of contrasting colours and stamps or cut outs in patterns.

To fasten the leather to the soles iron nails were used, both for the straps and the sole hinge. Sometimes a second leather strap was nailed down around the sole to finish of the look and protect the foot straps from wear. Other words used for the nails are dubs, pins and pegs but I choose to follow the item descriptions on the online database of the Museum of London naming them nails. It also seems that the medieval examples have the same shape and size as nails to other kinds of work.

pattens2

Metal buckles and other fastenings

There are several examples of metal buckles represented in artwork on pattens from the 15th century, and finds from the 14th and 15th century of similar buckles made in iron, brass, bronze and copper allow to mention some examples. Because most buckles are found loose it is hard to say which ones was used for belts, shoes, pattens and purses. I opted for some examples from contemporary artwork to show you, and if you want to further examine buckles from the period there are lots of finds on online museum collections as well as in Dress Accessories.

Examples of metal buckles in contemporary artwork

There are several finds from sites in Europe like London and Amsterdam as well as examples from Germany. If you want to see more extant finds, Museum of London online collection is a great source to begin with.

Hugo van der Goes, The Portinari Altarpiece/Triptych, c 1475

Sources:

Grew and Neergaard (2001) Shoes and pattens p. 91-101

Egan and Pritchard (2002) Dress Accessories 1150-1450

Goubitz (2011) Stepping Through Time: archaeological footwear from prehistoric times until 1800.

Museum of London online collection (20200416) https://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/search/#!/results?terms=medieval%20patten

Extant find at the top; Museum of London online collection. 15th c patten in wood with leather and iron nails.

A patten maker; (20200416) https://hausbuecher.nuernberg.de/75-Amb-2-317-106-v

patinor2


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Living at Birka

IMG_5639

In the beginning of August I took my camp equipment and moved to Björkön for a long viking-weekend. I had such a wonderful time, and wanted to show you some great photos and inspire you to maybe travel there yourself, when the world allows.

As many of you fellow viking-nerds know, Björkö was the place were the viking city Birka was situated, and it is very beautifully situated outside Stockholm, in Mälaren (so it is in the inner archipelago, not towards the sea) which makes for a great climate. Wild apples and cherry trees grows over the island, and sheep grass the ancient hills, grave mounds and ancient monuments still visible from the viking era.

There are still lots of grave mounds left as they were, but also a museum, a newly built experimental viking village with boats tied to it’s pier, and good paths to stroll to different sites on the island. As you can imagine, I got quite excited when asked to join some friends there!


When the sun set, we took a stroll around the pasture lands, enjoying the view over the water and the surrounding islands, with a small picnic basket with us. The path took us over viking age grave mounds, past the Black Earth (were the city Birka was situated) and toward the Homelands. When darkness came, we returned to the village to lit a fire, and enjoy the company of each other.

The village is built as an experimental viking settlement which allows a viking group to actually live in the houses, tend the gardens and the buildings, as well as sleep, cook and go around their daily life there- as well as greeting modern visitors during the day time. Not everything is 100% accurate with what we know about the daily viking life, but things get mended, rebuilt and used in a historical way, with old tools and knowledge (but modern safety measures…)

It was so cozy going around the settlement, with the sound of cooking and woodworking, the smell of fire and tar, and vikings going around their day tending to their business. I brought my market stall and tent, setting it up with a nice view over the water, were I spent some time drinking coffe and chatting about all things viking age. I also held a lecture about clothing and dress in the viking society, inside the interesting museum on site

My friends Joel and Josefin took me on a guided tour since they hade been here before, and we went to see the excavations going on near the shore a short walk away. This was so interesting and I learned a lot about archeology (which seems to be such a hard job, working on your knees for hours, patiently digging through the ground.) It was also very clear how much the field has developed since the early reports, that we base much of our understanding on when recreating viking age. I look forward to the reports from this excavation!

Outfit of the day; linen shift, apron dress in woolen diamond twill inspired by the Köstrup find, woolen shawl and tortoise brooches to fasten the outfit with.

In the photo below, I just have the blue dress and loose hair, feeling a bit undressed, but also happy to finally be cool enough…

I spent the days in the market stall selling some viking things, or strolling around with new friends in the museum, out in the landscape or by the fire. This was just what I needed after a summer of staying-at-home, and even though we weren’t many it felt really good to be outside again, doing things I love.

If you want to know more about how to visit Birka, here’s a link with useful info, there’s some lovely boat trips during the summer which will let you stay to see the interesting bits and take a swim before going back.


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Early 14th century outfit

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This is my early 14th century outfit, hand stitched and made with inspiration from medieval manuscript sources, like the Luttrell Psalter from early 14th c England.

I made the dress for my video project and wanted to put together a whole outfit that would fit in the same time period. It turned out super comfy, maybe I could wear it instead of my comfy pants indoors..?

I also made it so it would be usable in the viking outfit if I would be in need of a thin woolen dress/kirtle under the apron dress. Hence the looser sleeves, shorter length and not so wide neckline. It is certainly not the most fashionable 14th c outfit, rather an outfit for work, like in my market stall. (Uhum, much suitable, very nice thinking there…)

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This dress will be featured in my online lecture about Medieval Dress (only in Swedish right now!) and as I know that many of you readers are Swedes or understand Swedish, I will post a link to the lecture here. For you non-Swedish speakers; I have not forgot you, and will strive to translate interesting parts of the video to English and post it on a Youtube channel in the future.

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Until then, here’s a list of the materials used in the outfit if you get interested in making your own.

What items do you need?

For my outfit in size small-medium, based on fabrics 150 cm width

  • Linen shift, 2 meters. Linen thread and bees wax for sewing.
  • Wool kirtle as the visible layer. 2,6-3 meters of wool fabric. Wool, linen or silk thread for sewing.
  • Birgitta cap + linen half circle veil. 60 cm thin linen. Thin linen thread and bees wax.
  • Linen apron. 100*80 cm of sturdy linen, linen thread and bees wax.
  • Wool hose/socks. Around 70*100 cm wool twill.
  • Leather turn shoes.
  • Garters in wool or silk for the hose. Fabric scraps, vowen ribbons or braids can be used.
  • Purse, here in brick stitched silk with silk tassels and a silk tablet woven band. Made by my friend Jenny!
  • Thin belt in leather or fabric.
  • Decorative brooch in brass with stones.
  • 3 dress pins in bronze.

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Alnö Medieval Church

Alnö is an island just outside the town were I live, and there is a really amazing church with medieval paintings inside. But for some reason, I have never visited the church before. Last year there was a small medieval event with a market I attended, and then I finally took the chance to look inside.

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Isn’t it funny, how we dream about going to faraway and amazing places to look at old things. But the viking age runestone and medieval church and ruins I drive by regularly fades into the background of everyday life. Taken for granted and maybe not appreciated as they could be.

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Anyway, I wanted to share my visit with you in this blog post, so you also may se all the beautiful paintings and sculptures inside the church. A taste of a faraway and old piece of art, but close for me. Also, I tried to take photos of all the amazing clothing in the paintings still visible, because I am a historical garments nerd…

The paintings mostly depicted different saints and their life and martyrdom, but with an interesting mix of contemporary fashion. This is very common in religious art from the medieval time period; historical scenes made alive with clothing and accessory from the time they were painted. This makes them into an interesting source for understanding and recreating clothing items, but there might be traps too; some saints were depicted in out of date-styles, as well as angels often wearing “some kind of draped clothing” instead of real clothes.

Most female saints were also virgins and therefore represented in art as young fashionable women with their hair worn loose. Therefore, if you want to work with religious paintings as a source for your planned historical outfit, it is wise to take this into consideration and look for more sources of clothing, as well as study the history of saint and how they were represented. There are many interesting books in art history on the subject, but a quick walk through google and wiki are a great start too!

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The oldest part of the church was built sometime in the 12th century, but the wall paintings, the altarpiece and the crucifix was made in the 15th century.

Of course I wanted to match the church art, wearing my 15th c outfit for the market weekend! The church is open during the summer and I also had the opportunity to get a short guided tour when I visited. Some parts of the church are more modern, and I really adore the mix of the very old church with its massive stone walls, and later added decorations, interiors and attributes which shows how people continued to build and care for the buinding for a really long time.

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Outside the churchyard we put up our tents, and had a relaxed weekend selling medieval goods, talking to visitors and enjoying the cozy setting.

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How to make a Herjolfnes pattern

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I promised you some insights into the Herjolfnes dresses with the many side gores, and here’s my take to understand the patterns!

(This guide is a “make it work for you” guide, if you want to make a dress as similar to the extant finds as possible, you might want to use the published materials mentioned below instead)

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First, if you have “Medieval Garments Reconstructed”, it might be fun to try these patterns out. But remember that these are just general patterns, and they are not made for your body, nor your measurements. The risk is therefore that they will not fit very well, and you will be kept wondering what to do with this new and mysterious pattern.

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Furthermore, the original clothing (and patterns) were made to a very different person, with a different life style than yours, a body marked by another way of living, and the clothes were being worn and as a last thing, used instead of coffins for the dead last rest. Translating these clothing into patterns is important to understand the general pattern construction, but after this I believe it to be more useful that the dress you finally make is going to fit you well.

To achieve this, I recommend you start with a personal pattern; a mock up or toile. Once you have this one, you can then transform it into a pattern with as few or many side gores as you wish. To demonstrate this I made a model in paper for you. You can try out this method in regular paper first if you want, or go straight for patterning paper and 1:1 modeling.

Step 1: The shadowed picture is my toile/mock up for my upper body. I have made a start pattern with the skirt attached to these (by the waist line) and two integrated gores; middle front and middle back. On my standard dress pattern my back piece is whole (no seam along the spine).

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Step 2: I cut the front and back out, along with a side gore. This is the pattern for my red cotehardie.

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Step 3: Time to go sideways! I mean sidegores… I mean, just cut the pattern pieces apart like I did here. I place the cut where the arm holes start to bend, or around 10 cm in from the sides. The bigger size, the bigger piece you will get.

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Step 4: Cut the side gore in half, and tape each half to the new side pieces.

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Step 5: To make it easier, I draw the new side pieces on a piece of paper, and add some width to the other “side” of the side gore; where it is straight. I don’t need a lot, between 30-40 cm on a full pattern.

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Step 6: The front and back pieces also gets added width at the bottom hem. It’s illustrated by the orange part on the picture. The width gets added to both front parts and back parts. This will give you pieces that has no straight vertical lines on the skirt, but flared lines resulting in a lot of hem (fancy!)

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Step 7: Now I have a pattern with added side gores, 2 on each side. The gores at the front and back pieces have been added as a part of the pattern to simplify, but you could also piece everything together.

CF= center front (where my lacing is on the green dress) and CB on this pattern means you will have a seam along the back, since the gore is integrated. You could also keep the back piece whole, and insert a gore in the middle. I will show you how I do this in another post. (Also note that I show you a half dress in these photos; when you do your dress there will of course be another half of dress too.)

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Step 8: Want more side gores? Not a problem! Repeat the cutting-party, and cut each of the side gores in two. Here I have done it on the front side gore. I recommend marking your pieces with front, back, and arrows to show where they belong, and I also keep my waist line (dotted line). It can get confusing otherwise…

After this, you can add more width at the hemline to each of the new gores, drawing out more width from the straight side like shown above. You can also add A Lot More Width as shown below, if you want to have a fancy dress with a great amount of fabric.

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Step 9: Very important. After you have cut all your pieces and redrawn them, it is time to add the seam allowance. Add 1,5-2 cm of seam allowance around all pieces, either on paper or directly on the fabric. If your starting mock up had seam allowance integrated, do not add more to those lines that you have not touched this time.

Step 10: Whoho, a new herjolfnes based pattern has emerged! Cut it out in mock up cotton fabric to try out the fit, or just do like I did and cut out all the pieces in wool, with a bit of extra seam allowance. Extra? Just to be able to baste the dress together and try out the fit + if you are satisfied with all the new side seams. I did not need the extra seam allowance, but I intend to use the photos to make even another tutorial on the subject of fitting a dress pattern.

Remember that the side seams are not “princess seams” which are put over the bust to give it a modern form. The herjolfnes seams are more on the side of the bust, and gives you movement, a good drape and lots of hem.

I made the sleeves based on a regular S-sleeve pattern I already had, and for this construction method you should not need to adjust the sleeves much (if you have a working pattern), just check so the armhole doesn’t get to wide; measure your seam allowance when making the dress, and then insert the sleeves after sewing all the side gores and front + back panel together.

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The finished dress in medium thick twill wool fabric. The dress is actually quite loose, and I cut the sleeves short, and the hem above the ground, to make it into a good working kirtle for historical markets.

The original herjolfnes patterns doesn’t have lacing, but I decided to add that and take in the dress a bit to get a fit I am comfortable with. I also hate pulling a tight dress over my head as I always mess up my hairdo and cap, so the laced ones are my favourites. Once again, if you aim for a recreated pattern rahter than an inspired one, you might leave the dress a bit looser and skip the lacing.

Useful notes:

Remember to add seam allowance to your new pieces, I like to add a bit extra (2-3 cm) in order to easier make adjustments during the fitting.

When you have achieved your new pattern in mock up fabric (or cut it out in your wool fabric) baste all the side pieces together to try out the fit. The many side gores will adjust the weight and fall of the fabric and there might be more stretching that needs to be adressed.

You also have a lot of seams now were you can make adjustments to make the dress fit perfectly to your body. If you need to take it in; don’t take in all the extra width in just one seam, instead spread it out between the seams.

Also; remember to wear your medieval supportive garment or modern bra of choice when fitting the dress so the dress will fit the bust nicely.

Sources:

Woven into the earth, Else Ostergaard, 2004

Medieval garments reconstructed, Ostergaard mm, 2011

 

 

 


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My 10 best dresses

Hi! So nice of you to drop by to read! This time, I wanted to take you with me on a small tour to my virtual wardrobe, showing you some of my favourite dresses I have made so far. Be prepared to see some really old stuff now, because it wouldn’t be very fun if I just posted photos of the 10 most recent, high quality dresses I made right?

(Yeah, you wouldn’t think it was as nice sneeking a peek into my actual wardrobe, it’s quite full and maybe not in the best order. Have you seen my sewing box? Then you’ll have a feeling for what my wardrobe looks like…)

Let’s start at the beginning; my first buttoned cotehardie. This one is an old dress (the photo is from an event in 2010) long gone to someone else. It was my first try doing a 14th century dress with a closer fit. I can’t say I really knew how to make medieval fitted garments but somehow I managed this one and I was sooo happy with it. I remember looking up to others at the event, pondering how to make such awesome garbs like they wore, and how to manage a really good sleeve.

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This early in my erhm, blogging career (can you call it a career if you are not making any money..?) I didn’t get much photos of my own outfits, but rather took photos of everything I saw, trying to capture those magical moments and that cool things others wore. Like these outfits- I still remember thinking I would totally want to be that skilled when I grew up!

Oh, I had completely forgot about this one; the green herringbone twill wool was a really expensive (in 2011) fabric in an awesome quality, and I made some kind of Herjolfnes dress with lots of gores in the side and skirt. It was so comfy, fitted me well and I used it quite a lot before selling it. Actually still missing it. Here I am wearing it as a middle dress under my viking apron dress. Couldn’t find any good photo of just the dress.

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Oh, my green moy bog gown! Somewhere around 2010-2011 my real interest in medieval pattern construction techniques began and I wanted to try the moy bog sleeves. I remember that I first made a short sleeved one, wore that for a while and then remade it with long sleeves and better fitted gores in the skirt. Another dress I was really satisfied with at the time I finished it and wore a lot over several years. Then I wanted to make new experiments and sold it to be able to afford new fabrics.

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The 16th century trossfrau dress is one of my oldest that I still use (I tend to get tired of old projects and sell them of…) But I still like it. I put a lot of effort into research and actually making it historically accurate and fun at the same time and finished it in early 2015. It is hand sewn, the pattern and construction methods still holds up to my standard, and the colour is just sooo… fugly. The purple hue is actually based on a natural dye, so the thing that is least accurate with the whole outfit is the slashing on the hat; I was to fast and made it pretty rather than historical believable.

My wedding dress from 2017. This has a special place in my heart, I don’t know if it is the dress itself (it is rather plain) or the event it got used at… It’s a 15th century silk dress with open sleeves below the elbow, lined with a really thin wool, and decorated with silk cords and small freshwater pearls. I would like to redo it a bit as it doesn’t fit right know, and therefore I don’t use it. But I do feel a bit unsettled everytime I take it out from the wardrobe and think about cutting it apart to redo it. Maybe I am lazy, or a bit nostalgic. Yeah, I will probably remake it anyyy minute…

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I loved this one! It is a 15th century houppelande (overdress) in black velvet with moss green edges. The sleeves got lined with my last pieces of gren silk that I owned, and they made for a very good contrast to the rest of the dress I thought. The dress was only worn once during this photoshoot in 2017, and then I sold it to a happy customer abroad. I loved it, but I didn’t need it. I mostly made it to practice sewing in velvet and to try out the pattern, as it was my first try to make a full circular houppelande.

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My red 14th century wool cotehardie, completly handsewn, and with 20 pewter buttons in each sleeve. What is not to love? It is red, fancy, a really serious try on reenactment clothing and I feel Amazing every time I get dressed in it. Some time around here I also started to feel like handsewing a whole garment wasn’t such a big deal. Nowadays I handsew most of my wardrobe, with exceptions for some of my undergarments, and projects that has a short time frame.

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Ok, I know, it’s a whole outfit rather than just a dress (I can cheat right?) but I couldn’t leave this one out. The amber dress project was just that; a very serious and creative project which was so much fun to make. The process actually took several years, but somehow this outfit came to be a milestone where I felt that I had learned new things and evolved as a handcrafter.

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Yes, I have a thing for green. But you knew this one would show up here right? It is green, comfy, dramatic and 15th century. What is not to love? This was actually my latest houppelande after making several tryouts to explore drape, patterns, construction methods and different fabrics (you can see them below) and it is handsewn in a high quality woolen cloth, lined with a silk fabric. On this photo I wear it full “Weyden style” to portrait a well of woman from the middle 15th century, dressed in rich fabrics to the height of fashion of the time.

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Mmm, this is not a clear participant in this post just by the look of it. It is a really simple dress with panels and gores, handsewn in undyed ecological wool (in 2018 like so many of my other dresses). But it is one of those dresses that makes you feel awesome, comfortable and just warm enough whenever you wear it. It’s magical. If I was going to wear medieval/viking clothing everyday I would probably wear this one 9 out of 10 days.

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So, there you have it! Some of my projects over the years. It was a bit challenging to pick out favourites, and I know I left my new 15th century wardrobe out (but hey, you’ve seen that one a lot lately) as well as my viking apron dresses I’ve made that I really liked. Sometime I’ll have to put together another viking-wardrobe post maybe.

What do you think? You have any favourites that you would like to make a version of, or do you already have “the best dress ever” in your wardrobe? I would love to see it!