This is incredibly modern to be me, I know! My latest infatuation has totally been the 18th century pattern drafting, mainly jackets, gowns and a whole bunch of skirts. And hats. Who doesn’t love hats?
Anyway, after my first attempt making a 18th century ballgown, I wanted to dive deaper and learn more about 18th-century pattern making and clothing styles, so I have spent the last couple of years on learning a bit about different 1700styles on my free time.
First out after the corset, shift and petticoats came these two jackets, based on an original piece and a drafted pattern from Costume Close-up (which is an incredible interesting and fun book that I recommend). I altered the pattern a bit, both to fit my measures but also to another style that fitted the extant pieces and fashion plates I was inspired from. Then I made a jacket in printed cotton, lined with linen and with linen ruffles on the sleeves. It came out really well both in pattern drafting and seams, and I was happy…
So I just had to try to make it in wool to experience the difference in fabrics. I choose a scrap from an old project; a thin wool twill that I lined with striped linen from another project. I love small but complex projects that means lots of sewing on a small fabric budget!
Since I found the pattern with the stomacher pinned onto the jacket difficult to put on fast, I tried another style for the wool jacket with the stomacher fastened behind the ribbons in the front. To make it even easier, I basted the stomacher to the jacket on one side, and added two hooks and eyes to the other side to be able to fasten it before pinning and tieing the ribbons. The hooks are not a historically based solution as far as I have seen but a very convenient and fast one.
The cotton flower jacket was laced in the front before pinning the stomacher over, covering the lacing and the corset. It is perfect for adjusting the size and the lacing strips with the eyelets where fun to made.
I made a whole outfit to go with the jackets (except shoes, I need to get me good shoes)
bergere hat in wheat straw
linen cap with a lace edge
cape/cloak in red fulled wool
white fine knitted socks
The linen shift and corset are the same that I made for my ballgowns, but since they are not showing I intend to go with them until I do more serious 18th century adventuring than a photoshoot or a picnic.
The underskirt is a simple cotton skirt, and the overskirt in wool is slightly longer and wider to make the silhuette nicer and make sure the undergarments are not showing. I had to piece the skirt together from several scraps of fabric, which of course is historical even if it doesn’t show in photos. I am planning to make an apron to go with the outfit in the future.
The fishu (scarf) is a trangle of thin silk which you tuck into your jacket to look modest and warm (and fashionable too!) The hat I made with wheat straw and silk fabric cut and sewn (and maybe a bit of glue too) to the hat in a fashionable pattern, and then I added broad pieces of silk fabric to tie it in the back.
The linen cap pattern comes from the American Duchess book, but I adjusted it a bit to fit well. The cloak pattern comes from a pattern diagram from Costume Close-up but I had to adjust that too, to be able to use it with the piece of wool fabric I had left. I also added slits for the arms and a small, almost invisible closure with hooks and eyes at the front in order to be able to wear it closed while doing things outside.
The garments are handsewn with the exception of some longer inside seams machinesewn to save time, and I used linen thread and silk threads for everything.
The redrafted pattern for the jackets in size Eu 36-38 is available, send me an email if you are interested!
After my project with the Luttrell Psalter, I got interested in earlier medieval times and clothing and fell for the Morgan/Maciejowski Bible. The illustrations are so awesome! Also, the 13th century really is quite fashinating with its garments and ideal style differing so much from the 15th century that I have been into the last years. So here’s a short fashion/garment summary based on my studies of some mid-late 13th century manuscript.
Quick caracteristics of the mid 13th century female dress:
Overlong dresses: Reach the ground even with belts. The wearer hold the skirt up with their hand or drape it over the belt when moving.
Loose fit: The folds created in artwork indicates a loosely draped dress with lots of fabric.
Large armholes: Loose armholes on garments both with the sleeves sewn on, with partially open armholes with the sleeve half attached, and with open armholes without sleeves.
Sleeves: Loose upper sleeve, with tightness around wrist. S-sleeves and regular sleeves are both represented in finds (Söderköpings kjortel/kirtle was constructed with S-sleeve)
Shift (probably in linen) wool dress and wool overdress/gown, silk for elite society. Hose or socks in wool, shoes in leather. Apron (probably linen) when working, doesn’t appear to be a fashionable item. Hood and cloak for warmth, as well as overdresses lined with another fabric layer or fur. Lots of different headstyles; loose hair, hairnets, caps, wimple and veils, fillets, barbettes etc. If you want to check out more sources, my SCA mentor wrote this Interesting blogpost about Isabella de Bruce’s wardrobe from the end of 13th century.
Before I started this project I collected notes on ways to achieve the correct look:
Make the dresses and gowns much longer than usual.
Make the garment wider than my usual simple dresses, but with a fitted neckhole, shoulders and sleeves. Or rather; make the front part wider to drape across the body, but keep the width of the back piece to avoid bulkiness over the shoulder area.
Add gores both in the sides, front and back of the skirt. Lots of width is needed for the upper class look.
Add width to the garment from the armhole, instead of starting at the waist.
Choose a thin, tightly woven fabric with a dramatic drape; the folds should be deep and clearly visible.
Make the armholes and sleeves wider than you need, and then finish them snugly by the wrist, or add buttons for tight closure.
Here is my construction adjustments; the drawn lines is the blue 14th century dress, and the dotted lines are the adjustments I made while drafting this dress. The sleeve hole is larger, the dress front piece wider, and the dress longer than full length while standing. To save on fabric, I decided to not widen the dress from the armholes but make the front and back panels straight. The width of skirt is made with the help of the 4 gores.
The silhouette is rather straight, without female curves or visible bust, and the easiest way to spot a woman is to look for the pooling dresses, My SCA mentor told me that women seldom show their feets in period artwork, while the men have gowns leaving the feet visible. I found that interesting and so far everything I have seen from this period fits with that description!
So far, I have mainly focused on the gown. I used my 14th century linen shift, wool hose and shoes to complete the outfit enough for wearing. I also made a belt from tablet woven silk and a buckle and belt end in brass. This was also made for the 14th century outfit, but it does well enough here. The brooch is made in brass and coloured glass, and the hair band is tablet woven in the same silk colours as the belt, backed with silk and decorated with small fittings in brass. The veils seen in the photos is my old ones from my 14th and 15th century looks. A future step would be to create a fun headwear typical for the period, if I want to explore it further. The belt bag is an old one in historical brocade from the late 11th- early 12th century if I remember correctly, with silk tassels and cord.
To achieve the right silhouette a loose garment is the best, as well as wearing the belt below the natural waist and arrange the folds to drape nicely. If in need of a modern bra for support, choose one that doesn’t separate or enlarge the bust, but rather a soft bra.
A note on linings: Used in overdresses, gowns and cloaks. Fur, wool or linen are mentioned in sources, and also blends; wool/linen and cotton/linen which might be an option for cooler garments. The patterned linings in white and gray/blue is a representation of squirrel fur, the white being the stomach of the winter coat and the most expensive. (Actually, squirrel fur was so popular that the poor animal went extinct in areas during the medieval period.)
Would you like to check out more from this period? Kongshirden is a reenactment group focusing on the start of the 14th century in Norway, and they have some great clothing guides for free on their website! (in Norwegian, but there’s lots of pictures to check out).
18th century ball gown in silk taffeta, embroidered with sage green wines and leaves in silk thread. This is one of my latest projects I have been working on, and I wanted to post it here as part dress-diary and part inspiration for those of you that also like the 18th century!
I made this 18th-century gown for a fancy dress ball that never happened, but I am sure we will have the opportunity to go have fun together in the future! The gown is based on 1750-1760 fashion and pattern construction and is decorated with fabric ruffles and gold ribbons. Underneath I wear a skirt in the same fabric.
When I found this fabric in a sale I fell in love and wanted to make a gown with it, and keep the decor simple to let the fabric shine. The embroidery is not a reproduction but similar to other embroidered dresses from this period, so I let that decide the decade from which to get my inspiration.
The model is an English gown with the back bodice flowing into the skirt without a dividing waist seam. I based the sleeve pattern on my previous dress sleeves but remade it a bit to get the seam to angle the same way as the gowns I based the dress on.
I like handsewing a lot, but I wanted to see how I could make this kind of gown on a sewing machine to be able to cut down on production time (not all my customers wants to have handsewn garments) so the whole gown is actually lined and put together on my sewing machine. The finishing touches like hemming, decor and back seams are sewn by hand. It turned out neat, though it is a bit more complicated to make the fit perfect when I had to make all seams from the inside instead of sewing them as I fitted the dress on the body form.
Along with the gown I wear a skirt in the same fabric, and underneath a linen shift, corset, cotton skirt and side hoops. A silk fichu around my neck was needed to add warmth, and a fashionable hat for outdoor strolling.
Men kolla! En adventskalender från Handcrafted History! Nu kanske du tänker att det är superlångt till advent, men det är det ju inte. Bara lite mer än en månad, faktiskt. Så köp en rolig och vettig kalender till dig själv (eller någon annan?)
Vad innehåller den? 24 påsar med hantverksmaterial/redskap för den medeltidsintresserade textilhantverkaren, blandat med lite projekt och bling. Färg och användbarhet är ledorden.
1300 kr inklusive frakt inom Sverige (värde ca 1560 kr). Vill du samfrakta med andra för att spara på miljön, eller hämta på min ateljé utanför Sundsvall? I så fall bjuder jag på en extra present!
Boka din genom att maila email@example.com och skriv din adress och telnr för avi. Du får en bekräftelse med betalningsalternativ att välja mellan och ditt paket skickas sedan ut veckan innan advent!
(Jag kommer inte ha möjlighet/tid att göra massor av kit, så först till kvarn och jag meddelar om bokningen blir full. Det låter lite exklusivt nästan? Mvh egenföretagaren)
This year, I am able to offer an Advent Calendar filled with handcrafting materials, tools, some project ideas and shiny things.24 bags will be filled with useful and colourful items, and to book you just send me an email with your address, name and email for traced shipping, and I will confirm your booking with a payment link. International price is 1400 sek (approx 127 Euro) incl insured shipping and payment by Paypal. I’ll happily ship several calendars in one box for environmental reasons (and will include an extra gift for you if you choose to order with friends to the same address)
Unfortunately, the shipping time outside Sweden/Europe is still uncertain and I can only offer my Swedish customers delivery before the end of November. However, if you are still interested- feel free to send me an email!
This is my journal notes and photos from a fun project from the 18th century.
This gown took a really long time to finish! I have worked on it on and off for two years I think, while learning about 18th century tailoring technics and different models. I find it more fun to learn as I go along handcrafting, the problem is when you learn too much too fast, realise your mistakes, and have to start over.
I finally landed in some kind of Italian style gown, based on 1770-1780s fashion plates. The gown is made in silk taffeta and the skirt in silk satin- (Also based on fashion plates but made in 2019 when I was on my first 18th-century inspired ball. )
The back of the body does not continue down into the skirt like in a english gown, but is sewn as a bodice piece with the skirt gathered and stitched in place all the way around. Silk taffeta always shows every little wrinkle, but I am satisfied with the fit.
Wool would have made a better drape, but since the silk is so light, the skirt does not pull the body straight after I have moved around with my arms or twisted the body. This was also a new experience- my earlier medieval silk gowns are looser and heavier than this one. It was also really interesting to model a gown on a corset instead of my own, softer body. Both easier and more difficult.
The front is overlapped and closes by pinning the opening, which I found useful as it allows the size to differ a bit. Say, if you for example loves snacks better than exercise…
I also made loose lace ruffles to wear by the elbow, they are basted in place when I need them so I may use them on different dresses. It got a little more bulky than sewing them into the sleeve, but I think they will work fine as soon as they have bent to the shape of my arms a bit.
I am not finished with this look quite yet; I don’t have proper 18th century shoes and my hair is styled with silly amounts of hair spray as I don’t have fake hair/hair pieces and correct styling tools for hair (yet?). The hairstyle is based on American Duchess book on 18th century beauty, but my hair is too short right now. I will have to get some good false pieces and more hair pins. And shoes. And maybe a pair of good socks too. Then I will be ready for…ehm, another project?
In Sweden, the historical camping season has begun, and with that lots of clever reenactors are sitting at home, working on their packing lists and piling their things in large heaps. For your convenience and enjoyment, I have asked around after the best packing tips, clever hacks and what-not-to-forget as a beginner.
Here it is, the Ultimate Packing List! Containing everything and more, just what you need to plan your event. Just adjust after your preference and need, and print it out!
I could call myself somewhat of a pro at living in historical tents, or more accurately, sleeping bad and freezing in historical tents… Therefore, I present to you a guide on how to choose your tent and live comfortable in that!
(This turned out to be a really long blog post- I have apparently missed talking to you. I marked all my personal thoughts and anecdotes with cursive, for easier reading)
Different models are based on finds from different periods, so if you are going on viking adventures the Geteld or A-frame models are most often used. For medieval adventures, Getelds and Pavilions are good choices. Small shelters called “Soldier’s tents” are also often used.
When looking at websites selling tents, many will show you models that are not based on finds or pictures but called “historical” anyway. The openings could be placed in new ways, the seams made to save fabric widths or moved to be able to sew on a machine. The poles and ropes holding the tent up might be done in different ways that can not be seen in manuscripts and so on… These tents may still be good tents, but it is always good to know what you buy, and what it is based on for the future. If you are unsure about a model, ask!
What says finds and historical pictures?
Viking type tents are based on ship burials which have included a tent with a wooden frame and canvas. We don’t really know if people actually slept in these on land as well, and they probably did not bring them to different markets all summer… But what to do, when you are a modern person wanting some comfortable living?
Medieval type tents are seen in numerous manuscripts and paintings, both used by nobility and commoners. Brightly painted, large tents are used for festivities, tournaments and for avoiding that pesky sun, while small sleeping tents and shelters can be seen in military settings. A quick search gave me this board.
Where are you going?
Many events have lists or recommendations about what tent models are allowed on their events. Mostly, you can bring Getelds and A-frames to viking events, as well as small canvas pieces as simple roofs. To medieval events, Getelds are often allowed, as well as square, round and oval-shaped Pavilions. Materials may also be advised to be linen or wool.
The event organizer will want to have as pretty a camp as possible, but at the same time, they know tents are really expensive and that guests will stay at home if their living investment is not allowed. The same is true with market tents; most of them are not strictly historical since a modern seller will need light loads to carry and transport, as well as a big enough tent to be able to bring enough products to earn a living. Not everyone can sell jewellery and candy, so some will need big, bright and roomy tents.
Other things to consider are the campgrounds; is it rocky and hard to put down tent pegs? Then an A-frame tent might be good. Is it often stormy and windy, then perhaps a smaller tent with a sturdy frame and long tent pegs is a good choice. Have you ever seen a jumping A-frame tent in a storm? I have, they can really get quite far…
Cotton, linen or wool?
Cotton is by far the most common tent canvas today since it is cheaper, lighter and easy to come by in the right thickness and waterproofing. I use cotton in my Pavilion to be able to lift the canvas pieces myself and to have a tent that is bright enough for customers to see my products, even if it is rainy outside. But oooh, my old linen pavilion was prettier!
Linen is heavier but more resistant to mold, and unbleached linen will keep your tent cooler and darker. Perfect for sleeping in, not so good if you are a market vendor selling fabrics. Linen gets bleached over time in the sun, giving the canvas a really good look.
Wool is mostly used in A-frames and a good, felted wool fabric will keep you dry, cool and comfortable in all kinds of weather. May be waterproofed with modern products, or with lanolin (wool fat) which is more historical.
Consider this when choosing your model:
Packing space available (how much space do you have in your car for a tent canvas and wooden frame?)
Storing space (where will you keep the tent off season?)
How many people and how much stuff do you need to fit?
Is it important that you can put up the tent fast?
Is it important that the tent is easy to lift/carry? (consider a canvas in several pieces)
Should the door be big (welcoming/good shop) or small at one edge (more sleeping space)?
I have always been partial towards Geteld models since they are often economical, easy to transport and fast to put up and down.
With that said, after living for weeks in this model you will get really tired of the sloping walls, giving you almost no space to hang clothes for drying (except in the middle). Storing all your things around the base of the tent will save lots of space to allow you to walk around in the middle, but it will also mean you crawling around on your knees looking for things every day.
A-frame tents also seem very practical and I am slightly jealous of my friends when we are putting up camp at rocky, hard grounds. While I am sweating and swearing trying to put down the tent pegs in the ground, they simply fold their tent in place, secure the canvas by the frame and move in. I usually get my revenge when the carrying distance between car and camp is long since I can carry my poles in one go…
A-frame tents are practical, economical and if you have the storage and packing space for the frame it is a good choice. It is also considered the easiest tent to make yourself.
Pavilions often have a roof with separate walls, allowing you to open up different sections of the tent if you want the breeze to get in, or want a nice display area. Straighter walls with poles or wooden wheels mean you can place furniture along the walls, and hang clothing from the wooden frame, which is both practical and pretty. More sloping walls on the other hand might ride out storms better.
Round and square pavilions may be sensitive to hard winds and storms; during the Medieval Week in Visby you may see knocked down tents of these models, or tents laid down by choice before a storm. If the round pavilion has a sturdy roof frame, you can remove the middle pole, fold the walls and secure the roof down to the ground covering all your furniture and belongings while you wait for the storm to pass. You might not fit inside, but your tent will survive…
If you only want a sleeping place, tents called “soldier’s tent” or one-man tents might be the right choice for you. I would advise you to get a tent big enough to fit a bed inside, then you will always have a dry space, and can store your things under the bed.
Will I get wet?
A good tent will keep you dry even in heavy rains, as long as you can stay of the ground (in a folded camp bed or wooden bed for example). Also, never put clothes or bedding up close to the canvas, ideally, nothing should touch the canvas walls except the framework.
Our oval pavilions have kept out heavy rains on several occasions, with the single drop or two from a slacking corner joint between roof and wall. During one event, the rain was so heavy that small runlets formed and travelled through the tent. Everything above ground kept dry, but a turn shoe almost floated away…
Look for a tent construction that has sloping roof/walls, and a canvas that is thick, sturdy and treated with a waterproofing agent. Even so, after some years out and about the canvas may need to get additional waterproofing.
How to care for a historical tent:
Let’s start at the beginning; oil all your wooden poles upon arrival, and once a year after that (or when needed). When you put up your tent; find the right way to do so without adding unnecessary tension to the pole, canvas or ropes. The same goes for taking down the tent; do so slowly and controlled, and get some friends to help you in the beginning. Always mend loose ropes, or broken seams at once. Make sure the tent canvas is really dry before folding it away in the storage, and that it is reasonably clean since rotting mud, grass and insects may cause damage to the canvas over time. Brushing away loose bits before folding the tent is good. I also brush off the dirt from the tent pegs and ropes. The canvas should be stored in a dry space, outdoor sheds are not ideally. I can give you several examples of people having their tents destroyed by mold and rats during winter…
More tips to be comfortable in the tent:
Furniture like a bed, table and chairs (so you don’t have to sleep and sit on damp ground)
A heater for those chilly events (if you live in an area with cold nights and rains). We have a portable gasoline radiator (the same type you might have in a trailer van).
A mosquito net to drape over the bed at night
Look for opportunities to hang things inside the tent; a lantern and a rope for drying clothes make life easier.
Things to ask (or look for) when buying a tent:
What material is the canvas made of, and is it waterproof? Treated to withstand mold? Treated to slow fire down?
How much does the canvas weight? Does it come in 1 or several pieces?
How long are the frame/tent poles?
Are rope and tent pegs be included?
How should you take care of the tent?
If the tent canvas breaks, is it possible to buy additional fabric for mending?
Historical tents are expensive. Or at least, there is lots of money involved. The cheapest way is often to make one yourself if you have the time, space and skill. The second-hand market is also a really good choice, when people get tired of their small, practical tents and want to level up, they will often sell them for a good price. But try to inspect the tent yourself before you pay for it (ideally put up) to avoid bad canvas, mold, rips or a cracked frame.
A short sneek view over the camping ground at Double Wars; here you can see many different kinds of tents!
Welcome! Today I’ll show you some of my favourites from my historical wardrobe and give you my best advise on what to choose for your own outfit. Let’s start with veils.
My current favourite is the semicircle veil in different sizes. It is easy to drape and style, and the semicircle cut gives it a smooth and flowing drape. Here are some examples:
The measures on my different veils:
small: diameter 85 cm (the straight front edge) length 55 cm (from front head to the back).
medium: diameter 100 cm, lenght 58 cm.
large: diameter 140 cm, lenght 60 cm.
This is a larger semicircle veil in wool muslin fabric, worn over braids, cap and wimple. Pinned in place by the temples and in the back of the neck:
To make one: Use a thin tabby linen (90-120 gram/m2) with an even weave. Presoak and wash before sewing to avoid shrinking in the future. I draw the measures directly on the fabric; a semicircle shape following the measures above. The reason for not making a mathematical semicircle is more a matter of taste; how long you want the front edge to be and how much fabric you want in the back. Try it out and see what you like!
I make small double folded edges and whip stitch them with silk sewing thread or 60/2 thin linen thread, vaxed before sewing.
The rectangular veil is a very useful veil that can be worn in several ways. It has a straighter fall than the semicircle, but is ideal for wrapping or draping around the neck, like this:
If you make the rectangular veil longer it becomes what I call a Great veil:
The great veil above measures 55*250 cm and is great for creating turban styles seen in the 15th century.
The measures of some of my veils:
Simple rectangular veil: 55*150 cm
Veil with a decorative edge in linen: 50*150 cm
Great veil: 50*250 to 55*350 cm
Use the same quality linen fabric as above, and the same seams.
When sewing veils for wrapping, I find it easier to use them if they are not to wide. 50-55 cm is enough.
Square veils are the hardest to style in my opinion. This model was the first I tried out, but we never made a great team. I do have one left though; my silk veil with freshwater pearls. Silk veils are high status veils, and look great. They are also very light, so you barely feel them on your head.
If you want to make a silk veil for yourself, use a fabric with a heavy drape and thin enough to be a little transparent. Sew the edges double folded with running stitches or even better; make a rolled hem with invisible stitches. (Or buy one ready-made from me with an email/pm).
Measures for a square veil: 80*80 cm or bigger (the silk one above is around 90*90 cm.)
This style is actually two or three different pieces: a cap with a folded strip of fabric pinned on, and a great veil on top. It is a simplification of the large head dress the fashionable woman wore during a preiod of the 15th century. Painting shows headwear with many folds or layers, held in place with pins, basting (or some kind of magic). But since I live in a tent during summer events (and not a comfortable house with a maid) I need simplified ways to dress myself. This was one option that came out nicely, it is both easy to pack and manage during medieval camping, and easy to dress myself in. It should be more tightly pulled in the neck though- contemporary pictures shows no such fabric volume in the neck.
This is another way to style the Great veil, for that “I am hard working but yet fashionable” look. The veil is pinned directly around the head without any shaping braids, padding or cap, and wrapped around the head a couple of times. It is then pinned down to the layers below, and the end left hanging.
To avoid bulky fabric in the neck, I have found that it is better to pin all models of veils in place instead of tying them.
Veil measures: 55*250 cm, thin linen with double folded edges.
Buying fabrics for veils?
Thin linen 90-120 g/m2 with an even weave, a semitransparent and drapey silk, or a fine wool muslin fabric are the materials used above. There’s no find of wool veils, but I use the fabric when I need to stay warm, and for its beautiful colour tone and drape. It is hard to find linen good enough for veils today.
Threads: I use 60/2 thin linen thread for linen veils, and silk sewing thread for wool and silk veils.
Type of stitch: Hand stitching is a good choice for veils since they are very visible, and the drape will look very different with a machine seam. I always fold the hem twice, as narrow as I can before sewing. Whipstitching is always a good choice, but running stitching will do the work faster and create a more discreet seam. Perfect if you have a very thin fabric, or are in a hurry. Silk fabric edges I like to roll and sew with an invisble seam.
You can vary your veils in many different styles to fit different periods, fashion and status. Above is the rectangular veil with a decorative edge, folded twice and pinned onto a birgitta cap.
The best way to find your styles is to look at contemporary paintings and portraits and try to replicate the look in front of the mirror. When satisfied- take some photos to remember how you did it. I always end up in early spring wondering what veil style I should wear for which outfit…
Back in 201something (2016 maybe?) I made this outfit with a brown woolen overdress, based on Drei Schnittbücher by Katherine Barich/Marion McNealy. I wrote a research post to summarize my background research and thoughts but never got around to writing about the finished outfit. The research focused on middle Europe in the early 16th century, but when I found the book with pattern drafts I took the sidestep to try and make the gown after one of the models presented, even though it might be more probable to have made a dress with a waist seam like my trossfrau dress. But who can resist a fun pattern draft from a medieval tailoring book?
Since then, I have been wearing this outfit several times and even adjusted the dress with a lower neckline and a piece of mending over one of the skirt folds. I like this outfit since it is both pretty and comfortable for working, so I thought I would share it with you.
I start with a basic linen shift in half bleached linen, based on my tutorial. It has a square cut neckline to match the dress and kirtle, and long sleeves.
Over that, I wear a kirtle or middle dress in wool, sleeveless and simple. This is a really practical working garment, and allow me to roll up the shift sleeves when doing dishes. Back then, I had a yellow sleeveless dress, that got sold to make a new one, one size larger.
Unfortunately, I got sidetracked when making that and decided on an Italian styled dress that is also shown in this tutorial. After that, I realised I really needed a middle layer to make this outfit complete, and made another kirtle in grey-blue wool, with a decorative fabric strip in black wool.
Both the middle layer and the overdress is rather tight fitted, giving me bust support when worn.
(This is what it looked like at first before I moved the neckline down a bit)
The overdress is made in brown wool with decorative borders in amber coloured wool. I liked this dress pattern since it is quite different from others I had tried, and I fell for the challenge. Sadly, the tailor books do not come with much information about how one should assemble all the pieces, so you could best describe this as a try on a medieval pattern, rather than something strictly copied.
I adjusted the cutting out of the fabric pieces to fit the fabric I had available, which was around 300*150 cm of wool. I also choosed to widen the skirt at the back to make it look more like the artwork from the period. The tailoring book shows the centre back (and front) straight, but that does not give the desired folds seen on women. Maybe a gore was supposed to go in there, or some other adjustment that was so obvious none bothered to write it down? To accommodate for the skirt width, I had to piece the sleeves with three different fabric scraps to get the dress together.
The overdress (well, the entire outfit) is sewn by hand, and on this dress, I only used linen thread, a choice I based on research for the period. Sadly, I have misplaced many notes and sources so the only reference I have left is a note saying “linen thread common for working-class clothing, do not bother with silk or wool). Ok, I apparently did that…
The skirt panels and some longer seams are made with running stitches, and the rest of the dress is sewn with backstitching, and the seam allowances are sewn down with whipstitching. The decorative fabric pieces are also whip stitched in place. On the inside, the dress is lined with a piece of sturdy linen fabric in the body, and the front closing is reinforced with a piece of linen canvas and closed with hooks and eyes. Another possibility would be lacing, but I like how fast the dressing is with hooks and eyes!
I found this model harder to fit than the 16th c models with waist seam, since you can’t adjust the waist placement during fitting. It has to be cut out at the beginning. I like to raise the waistline 1-2 cm above my natural waist to achieve the early 16th c silhouette, and that was more difficult here. But the dress made up for it by being really fun to assemble with the skirt folds.
I folded the skirt part that stretches outside the body in several folds and fastened these to the sides and centre back of the body. This gave a lot of strain on specific parts of the dress, causing the folds to rip when someone accidentally stepped on the dress hem. So I mended that side with a piece of fabric.
If I were to remake this whole pattern, I would choose to cut a slit between the body and skirts and fit the skirt in folds as you do on 18th c clothing. But this was several years ago and I hadn’t tried that technique yet.
The greatest thing about this pattern was the drape of the skirt. It is full and generous and the folds look great in the centre back and sides. The front on the other hand is straight, with just an extra 15 cm overlap to allow for getting out of the dress. I just fold the gap shut and wear an apron above, but you could pin or hook it in place, or make a slit in the front. The straightness of the front makes the skirt great to work in; when I bend forward the skirt rearrange itself towards my legs, avoiding any flames or obstacles before me. Someone gave this thought “back then”!
The gollar I already made a tutorial for, and you can find it here. The early photos show an amber coloured English broadcloth gollar, fully lined with fur. The red one only has fur strips, enough to add some warmth but still be conveniently small for packing in a suitcase… Erh, I mean historically stylish yet cheap. Yeah?
The cap is a simplified Birgitta cap, and should be worn with a veil on top to be considered “well dressed for the public”. These caps are unusual in contemporary finds from the 16th century, I have seen a model doll and some “maybe” examples in art- it could be a cap but could also be a folded veil or other headwear. Hairnets, veils, braids, straw hats and other kinds of headwear are also visible. The most important is to have your head “dressed”; either with a hairstyle or headwear appropriate to the period.
The hoses are the same knee-high wool hose I use for other outfits, and here is a tutorial to make your own.
The apron is made in handwoven linen and smocked with linen thread. Two double folded strips of fabric were sewn shut to form the bands that I tie the apron with. The rest of the apron is only double hemmed and sewn with whipstitching.
When I went back to my old research post I also remembered that I wrote that I needed a jacket and a cloak, amongst other things. I actually made several examples of wool jackets, but they never made it to the blog for some reason. A black wool jacket based on the same tailoring manuscript book as the dress got photographed at an event, but then I sold it to make another one and try out some variations.
Phew! So this was a lot of thoughts, and sewing, and years gone by without finishing up the writing on this project. I seldom return to old projects like this one, but since I still like it I thought it would be fun to share it with you. It is not a tutorial of any kind, more of a diary or a presentation of a project done.
Sometimes when you see others on the internet doing cool projects and posting photos of fancy dresses it is easy to feel like you don’t get anything done, but sometimes the road to finished projects can be long, windling and a bit unsure. It is ok too!
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In Swedish tradition, Lucia comes at the winter’s darkest night, bringing light and hope. But the night is not only hopeful and joyous but also dangerous. It is best to stay awake, keeping watch over the darkness and your loved ones.
Lucia is the bringer of light, but also a fierce and strong soul, being murdered for her faith and her belief. She is sometimes depicted with a sword or a dagger as well as a light; symbols of her martyrdom. Her role as a light bringer, today often overshines her darker side; that of a dark magical being bringing trouble during the night in Swedish folklore.
In Swedish folklore, the night before Lucia was dark and full of magic; the animals might talk to you and many people stayed up all night- a tradition that still remains today. The celebration of Lucia as a turn of the year (Midwinter) toward lighter times is older than Christianity, and Lucia exists somewhere between an ancient goddess of light, a Saint and a white-clad girl coming with lights and cakes in the morning. With the modern calendar, Lucia is no longer at the Midwinter night but is celebrated 13th December.
The history of Saint Lucia (or Lucy) comes from Syracuse, around the 3-4th century CE. Lucia is the patron saint of the blind, as well as a number of professions, and the patroness of Syracuse in Italy. If you want to learn more about the Christian martyrdom https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy is a good start.
This is my Lucia, a being existing somewhere between a magical place and the everyday life of people. She comes dressed in clothes from a thousand years ago, with both candles and a sword. She is a strong soul, bringing both light and darkness at the same time.
I have always loved the traditional Lucia celebrations with song and cake in the early morning, coming together to enjoy the light and music as well as longing for brighter days. To me, Lucia is both the Lightbringer and the Dark magical being. A reminder to both enjoy the light and the darkness of the year.