Love got some new garments for his 15th c outfit this autumn. Do you remember the wedding outfit he had, with the silk doublet?
It is a bit fancy for the everyday outdoor event, so now I made him a wool doublet with linen lining. It is based on period artwork, such as this painting by Rogier van der Weyden (St. John Altarpiece ca 1455-1460)
The doublet has a couple of bronze buttons in the sleeves so he can open them if he needs to pull up the sleeves when doing dishes, and the front is closed with lacing in silk. It is not as tight-fitting as the silk doublet, giving him more freedom of movement (or adding some weight in the gym)
He also got a wool coat with linen lining and fur trimming, based on several paintings by van der Weyden, like this one that is a portrait of Nicolas Rolin (Beaune Altarpiece ca 1450)
The black, fur-trimmed coat seems to be one of the most fashionable garments during this period, you can see it on several men in portraits and religious scenes.
The belt is similar to the one in the painting, made in bronze and black leather. It was mostly this detail that made me do the coat, and since the belt set was a wedding gift from our friend H-G it seemed like a good combination.
In combination with his black pilgrim hat the outfit gets quite striking, but maybe a bit black. A red hat or chaperone perhaps would do the trick? Or red pants?
This is the final layer I made for my wedding outfit, it is a silk velvet dress inspired by the late 15th century over dresses. The gown is open at the front to allow for easy undressing, and to show more of the white dress underneath. This can be seen in paintings, though a closed gown would have been more common.
This was one of the most difficult garments I have ever made. The fabric is a silk velvet, sensitive, very thin and extremely flimsy; I so understand why silk velvet has been replaced by synthetic alternatives on the market (and it is not just a matter of price). The gown is fully lined with silk dupioni for support and look, and has linings in black silk taffeta and on the bottom, the same black high quality wool as in my love’s joined hose. I opted for the golden coloured silk because it did so well under the velvet, and made the velvet shine even more. if using a transparent velvet; try out different shades of lining fabric to find the one that gives you the look you want.
The gown closes with a small hook and eye at the waist, and then this belt is added. The bronze buckle and strap end is made after a painting from the period, and can be seen on houppelandes and similar overdresses from the period.
Working with the fabric. Here you can see the silk lining being laid out at the velvet to act as a pattern piece. The velvet was very sensitive, so pinning was only an option in seam allowances.
The fabric being so thin and flimsy, pinning it to the sturdier silk lining was a good help for cutting, basting and sewing. I treated the two layers as if they were one when sewing, making the seam allowances visible on the inside of the dress. Since the velvet is transparent where the pattern is, it was not an option to have the seams between the both fabric layers.
Front and back pieces of the body being laid out. With a patterned fabric, you might want to consider where to put your pieces, and in what direction. I let the two front pieces have the pattern laid out in the same direction, and then turned the back piece upside down, since the skirt would have the pattern visible in the same direction at the back of the gown. The two fronts doesn’t have to be similar in pattern, all contemporary art depicts uneven patterns on the front of dresses.
You may also note that the front lining pieces have the selvage running along the openings, since the velvet was stretchy, and silk stretch when cut on bias, I laid the pieces out diagonally on the silk fabric to have a non stretchy front, and instead add some flexibility across the body. This way, there is some small movement allowed over the rib cage, while the front lays flat against the body.
I sewed the gown together on the overlock machine, this was one of my best choices ever since the seam both helped with protecting the seam allowance and allowed for some stretchiness in the skirt. After the gown was put together, I hang it on my doll to let the skirts fall out. Fabric cut circular like in this case always seems to hang out unevenly…
And yes it did! I ended up cutting away between 10-15 cm in some places, but only 2 in the areas running along the fabric length. I was quite nervous- cutting a little each time and allowing for the fabric to adjust. There was some massive pinning and measuring and swearing going on at this part and frankly, I just forgot to take pictures because I was so frustrated. Here you can see the velvet skirts hanging out, the silk lining behaving all nicely and staying in shape.
After this, I worked with the hems and inside seams by hand. All the seam allowances were folded down, basted to the lining and then covered by a strip of silk fabric, whip stitched down. No ironing though; velvet does not go along with pressing so the seams were just smoothed out by hand. The front opening and the sleeves were lined with black silk taffeta, the same as love’s doublet were edged with.
The bottom needed a little more heavy lining, and I wanted something that could take some more wear than silk so I chose a thin wool tabby weave. Here it is, laying on the floor.
One of the seams, seen from the outside when finished of. The whip stitches securing the strip inside is not visible on the outside velvet, neither is the machine seam that holds it together.
I am very pleased with the dress, I really plan on using it in the future on events. It was not easy to make, but hopefully some of my experience shared with you will make you want to try one for yourself if you wish!
I am sooo behind writing about my different projects. I kind of have a bad conscience about it too, and I really try to work through all of my drafts, notes and old photos. I guess it has been quite the autumn and winter here, I really never post about those parts of life, but I like everyone else have tough periods in life. Life, dead and bills happens to everyone, as the saying goes. I am not going to talk about that today; I am going to show you my wedding dresses!
I made three different layers for the wedding outfit. A linen shift, a cream-white silk dress and the velvet silk over dress. The linen shift is made tight fitted, with thin shoulder straps and a supportive body, and then a loose skirt. Over that I also wore a linen petticoat with a strengthened hemline. It never shows, but it adds important stability to the cream silk dress so the skirt drapes the correct way.
Over these I have the silk dress, cream-white and lined on the inside with a really thin wool muslin fabric. The silk fabric is a taffeta, and even if that quality is a lot sturdier than other silks, it still needed to be lined for a better draping skirt and a smoother upper body. Here you can see some of the effect the petticoat has; making the dress skirt stand out a bit instead of hanging down. The taffeta also helps a lot.
The sleeves are unlined, instead I have the thin silk sleeves that is shown underneath. I didn’t want another layer underneath the silk dress, so the thin silk sleeves are just lose sleeves, attached by the arm hole on the dress. The lacing is made with silk thread, the same as I did the lacing holes with, and also the white freshwaterpearl belt. Around the wrist small pearls are fastened, kind of like a bracelet but easier to wear.
For these dresses I made full mockups in cotton fabric to get a feeling for the pattern drafting and models. Usually I like to improvise a bit, but now I somehow was patience herself while drafting… The skirts in both dresses are based on a full circle of fabric, that is what gives the dresses that magical drape and the deep folds in the fabrics. The mock-up was then taken apart and used as a pattern, here is half the skirt on the cream silk. Yeah, I actually cut out my fancy white silk dress on the floor, with heaps of fabrics laying everywhere. Creativity, you know…
More fabric, this is the other half of the skirt.
To prevent the silk fabric from fraying I sew all edges with a overlock. You can use a zigzag as well, but it is good to prep them in some way. I would have liked to sew all our garments by hand, but neither time nor my fingers allowed for it, so edges and some inside seams were made with sewing machines. The overlock really was my best friend when it came to the fraying silk fabrics.
I also reinforced the hemline of the dress with a thin fabric strip. This was pinned around the hem, and then sewn with a machine stitch. After that the lining was added so the strip was hidden on the inside between outer and inner fabrics.
Here is a nice close up on the silk lucet cords, the lacing holes and the matching silk belt with freshwater pearls. I really liked how the cream-colored fabric, the silk thread and the pearls matched each other
The dress has a waist seam, so it really is a circular skirt, a regular body with side seams/side lacing and set in sleeves, all in all a simple dress. Here you can see the waist line, the seam done by hand to get a good drape of the skirt and because the different layers of fabrics really liked to slip against each other.
A good view of the laced up sleeves from the side
And a view from the back, while walking in to get married.
This actually became quite the long blog post, so I’ll get back to you with the velvet over dress in a post of its own!
Today I am sharing my best tips for making garments in velvet!
Velvet has a beautiful shine to it, with highlights rather than shadows. This can be seen in paintings, where the clothing is pictured with highlighted areas rather than darker folds. Like this; (though this may also be woollen cloth, it goes for illustrating highlights in fabric)
The choice of material is important. On the market today, you can find different kinds of velvets, of both high and low quality. The original velvet fabric was made of silk, insanely expensive, and probably also sensitive for wear and washing. To buy a good silk velvet for your project is of course historically accurate, but also very expensive, and you will have a garment that is sensitive. But the look and shine of the fabric will be outstanding.
Cheating? For a silk velvet look, you could instead choose velvet made of viscose, rayon or a mix of synthetic fibres. This fabric is a lot cheaper, more durable, and is (depending on the quality and materials) close to how silk velvet looks. Avoid fabrics made of pure polyester, since these will be warm and uncomfortable to wear; a mix based on viscose is often the best. You could also go for cotton or cotton mixed velvet, the look is a bit more matte than silk velvet but black is quite close in appearance. The good thing with cotton velvet is that it is made of natural fibres so it is easy to wash, feels good to wear and is durable and fire-safe (it will not melt on your other clothes if you are unlucky) as well as cheap. As an example; my wedding gown made of silk blended velvet costs 4 times more than medium cotton velvet.
Ironing velvet fabric is often unnecessary, instead, just hang it out. If you need to press seams or iron out stubborn folds, you need to iron the fabric on its wrong side, with a cotton cloth over and a bath towel underneath. This will protect the fabric, and the towelling (in Swedish; frotté) fabric with its pile will act as a soft bottom so the velvet pile doesn’t get flat and pressed down. Iron gently, and always try it out on a spare bit first.
Hang it before hemming; to make the skirt hem as even as possible; hang the dress on a doll for a couple of days to let the fabric hang out, then pin/mark the hemline and cut it. The skirt on my velvet overdress is cut in a half-circular piece (almost) making the fabric drape nicely, but also hanging out uneven in the hem. Look at this picture- this is the dress skirt before cutting the hem, it differs over 10 cm!
The pile is what makes the velvet special, and it is important to take care not to crush or flatten it out. When ironing; do so gently. When machine sewing, choose a foot/presser that is narrower and loosen the pressure on the machine a bit if possible. Or sew the fabric together on an overlock machine or by hand. When cutting out your pieces, don’t step on or lean on the fabric, as this may crush the pile unevenly.
Baste- don’t pin! Silk velvet is quite sensitive, the pins might rip threads from the fabric so basting with loose stitches is a safer way to go. If sewing in other materials, it is still better to baste because the pile of the velvet, when put together with another fabric, tend to “walk” over the surface no matter how much you pin it.
A picture from our wedding day, the velvet dress looking all nice and innocent, not at all like me and the dress really hated each other while making it…
More sleeves! If you have checked my “Pin on sleeves” tutorial, you will find some likeness with this garment, but I wanted to some nice tips when doing these ones. First some inspiration:
I started by drafting the sleeves from the pin-on pattern; the same as I used for my golden sleeves below (laying under them, you can see my original sleeve pattern for comparison)
First, I have tried out two kinds of sleeves that are tied at the arms; my wedding dress and lately, my 15th century Italian silk dress. The difference between these two sleeves is that my wedding dress is just opened at the seam in the arm and then closes with strings, while my green/black sleeves are cut out to make the chemise even more visible. Also, the green sleeves are tied at the shoulders and therefore loose; I can change them for others at any time. The wedding dress is sewn together, the sleeves sewn after the sleeve tutorial I have on my blog.
Here you can see the wedding dress, the sleeves are quite straight, and the chemise is puffing out between the laces. When making these sleeves, you just sew a regular S-sleeve but leave it open above the elbow. Hem the edges, and make lacing holes and sew on laces on the edges. These ends with a pearl decorated cuff, but a regular sleeve will do fine.
The green sleeves look like this when cut out:
I started with my basic loose sleeve pattern in scrap fabric, pinned it on my arm and tried out where the gaps with chemise sleeves visible should be, then I cut away the excess fabric, and here you can see the result. The sleeves are in pure silk fabric, and I wanted to make them reversible to be able to choose between green or black ones for my dress. So I cut out two identical pieces of fabric for each arm, here you can see the black sides. Remember to make them mirrored, one for each arm.
I then pinned the fabrics together and marked out where the ties were going to be. Here you can see both layers of fabric.
I decided to sew them on the sewing machine since they are going to be turned inside out afterwards, so the seams would not be visible. But if you like; just follow the steps but sew them with runningstitches or backstitches instead.
To make it easier; sew the ribbons at the same time as you sew the sleeves together. I cut out the silk ribbons (40-50 cm each) and then pinned them by the seam allowance around the sleeves, on the inside between the two fabrics.
And sew around the sleeves. Leave an opening for turning them; I left the wrist open. Here you can see the silk ribbons in the seam allowance, just make sure they don’t slip away or get under a seam when sewing.
All done! Trim the edges by cutting away tips and seam allowances at the corners, turn the sleeves inside out and iron them flat. Since I want them to be reversible, I will make sure the two layers of silk fabric lays smooth and even edge to edge around the garment so the black won’t be visible when turning the green out, and vice versa.
Now it is time for some hand sewing; start by making lacing holes for the ribbons. I make them with a sharp awl, and whipstitch them with buttonhole silk thread.
After that, fold the fabric edges at the wrist to the inside of the sleeves, and sew that side closed with small whipstitches by the edges. If you use fake silk ribbons, you may burn the edges carefully to make them melt and not thread. If using pure silk, you will have to sew the edges or finish them in some kind of way. I folded mine twice and sewed them down with whip stitches and a thin silk thread (for sewing machines). This part took the most time on the sleeves, with the making of the sleeves on around two hours and the ribbon hemming around 2,5 hours. I failed to photograph this part, apparently, there was some movie time on the sofa instead. But this is what it looks like when done:
The silk ribbon has two lengths and these are pulled through the hole and then knotted. Either a simple knotted loop like this or a regular bow can be seen on art. At the shoulders, the sleeves are attached to the dress by similar holes and ribbons, three on each shoulder.
And finally, some good advice when making silk sleeves:
Silk often needs to be lined to get that really good look, chose a thin fabric in silk, cotton or linen or a mix of these to get a historical lining which also works great.
Silk is not a stretchy material, so make your silk sleeves a bit larger than your woollen ones.
Try them on while working to be sure you get the look you want.
Straight sleeves lay more flatly on your arm (white dress), while cut out sleeves gives more volume, pick the model that fits your project.
Sometimes I get the feeling that I never get anything done, or that I haven’t made a piece for sale in like, forever. So I made a list of some of the things I have done this year, both for customers and for myself and love, and then I felt that yes- maybe I have been quite productive after all!
In the beginning of the year, I think I accidentally started this Herjolfnes recreation, all hand stitched.
I made our wedding outfits for our Midsummer wedding:
Supporting linen dress, white silk dress, velvet over dress, purse, belts and for love; silk shirt, silk brocade doublet and under west, woolen hose, bag and belt. Also, I remember sewing some tunics and dresses for our families for the wedding.
Did I sew this houppelande also, or did I finish it the year before? It is also all hand stitched, on wool, silk and rabbit fur.
During autumn, I apparently needed to redo my apron dress, make a whole new viking coat by hand and put it all together to a new outfit, along with some tablet woven bands.
Also, some commissions took place, like this coat…
… as well as a number of hoods, shirts and tunics (here’s some of them along with the silk cotehardie)
I also remember some viking hedeby trousers (baggy pants)- four of them i think.
As well as some hand sewn viking clothing…
I updated my shop and market stall during the spring with cloths, small flags and my own logo hand painted on a linen fabric.
Made a whole bunch of veils in linen and thin wool for different outfits;
I studied 16th century tailoring manuscripts and sewed two jackets for women, in wool fabric (one for my friend Linnea and one for myself)
Oh, and rosaries were totally a thing- I have read a lot about them, made a whole bunch of drawings, some pieces for sale and a folder about how to do them yourself, as well as holding some workshop on the subject.
This is far from everything I have made, and some pieces have not even made it to being properly photographed though I have been wearing them on several occasions. Also, quite a few items and commissions also are just on fb or my Instagram accounts, otherwise this post would be far to long.
All in all, I think I have; 1. made quite some things and 2. need to be even better at documenting them and writing about them here on the blog.
Here is how I make my pinned on sleeves for my 14th and 15th century outfits. Pin on sleeves is an easy and quick project, perfect for that spare bit of extra fancy fabric you may have stashed.
The easiest way to make a pinned sleeve is to base it on a regular S-sleeve, that is to say, a sleeve with the seam on the back of the body. Here is my sleeve pattern and my pinned on sleeves, do you notice that I make the upper part of the loose sleeve a bit flatter? Since I won’t be sewing on the sleeve to a bodice, I can cut away some excess fabric to make the sleeve laying more smoothly on my arm. In this case, I also make it a bit more narrow than my regular sleeves, to achieve a tight fitted look. These sleeves also have a cuff so the main piece is shorter than a regular sleeve.
If you don’t have a sleeve pattern that fits you, you can draft your sleeve on a piece of paper or scrap clothing first to make a toile. Measure your arm’s length, and then around your upper arm, your bent elbow, and last around your wrist. Add some cm or about 1 inch in movement space, add seam allowance, draft the sleeve, cut it out, and then try it on. Remember that silk fabric often is stiffer and less flexible than cotton or woollen fabrics.
I sew my sleeves with running stitches on the inside and then fell the seams with whipstitch by hand, but you can of course use the sewing machine. The hem I usually fold twice and whipstitch, if I don’t line the sleeve or use a reinforcement piece.
The sleeve should be quite tight fitted if watching North European paintings, and also long enough for your arm- be sure to try it on with a shift/dress under and bend your elbow.
At the wrist, you can just finish the sleeve with a whipstitched hem, or add a cuff with one to three buttons (for 15th century style). The yellow sleeves have a cuff; they make it possible to have a tightly fitting sleeve around my wrist, and if they get stained or worn I can cut off the cuffs and replace them with new fabric. It is also a good way to save some fabric if you need sleeves longer than half the width of your fabric (or if you need to piece out your sleeves on scrap pieces of fabric).
To fasten the sleeves on your dress; use dress pins to pin them on. Very simple and practical! If you have small children though, you might want to fasten the sleeves in a different way so the small ones don’t touch it by mistake. A way to do this is to sew a small hook on the inside of the sleeve, right at the top where you should pin it to your arm, and then fasten the hook in an eye sewed onto the dress. If you have a small enough hook, and a sturdy woollen dress, you may put the hook directly in the fabric. This may not be the most historic way (pinning seems to be the thing) but is a safer way for not accidentally stabbing yourself or someone small.
Also, if you have a very delicate patterned silk fabric, a sewed on hook will make the fabric last longer.
Talking about delicate silk fabrics; it could be good to strengthen the sleeves by adding a lining, either line the whole sleeve with thin linen fabric, or just add a strip on the inside at the upper and lower hem. That may add to a more durable sleeve, get you a better edge and make it easier to sew. Do you notice that the sleeve on the picture above has a visible line around the upper arm? (The fabric doesn’t lay smoothly) this fabric would probably have been better of with a reinforcement strip on the inside of the hem, instead of folding down and whipstitch it. This was a quite stiff silk brocade fabric.
So, learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make your own!
Since I’m still waiting for the photos from our Midsummer wedding, more posts about that will have to wait to. But we had a really great time, we got married all safe and good and had an awesome party, with all of our friends and family attending in medieval/viking clothing and helping us creating the most wonderful weekend. I did receive one photo of us from our photographer Minna, so I want to share that with you;
Our wedding outfits are inspired by Italian 15th century fashion. My hair is a modern take, but with the elaborate hairstyles of Italian early renaissance women in mind. The clothing really took some time to finish, and oh my, there was quite some problems involved…. But more of that later (when I can lay my hands on more pictures of details and such)
Now, it’s the beginning of July, and most of my friends post updates from their vacation. For me, July is a fully booked working month with lots of events, markets, workshops- lots of fun! Next week, I’m of to Skellefteå’s medieval days to hold a lecture, and some workshops. Me and B also will have a market stall to sell some goods. The week after that, I’m working on Hägnan’s medieval days in Luleå (my hometown) as a coordinator for the handcrafters (and selling my wares to) and after that, home a couple of days to rest and do laundry, and then Saltvik’s viking market is next.
Then, it’s time for The medieval week in Visby, and since love didn’t have any vacation to spend on Visby this year, I’ll be going with some dear friends, and we have booked an apartment to stay the week. So, for the first time ever, I’ll be sleeping indoors- which will be very good for getting good rest I think. Previous years, I have always got sick during the week, and it’s really a bother to hold workshops when you have the flu or a food poisoning…
Anyway, I’m holding workshops on Kapitelhusgården this year to- and now they have the workshops and lectures up for you to reserve a place on! Just follow the above link to se all their interesting workshops and such. Many of my workshops tend to get full before the week even start when pre-booking is available, so be sure to get a place beforehand! If you would like to attend one of my workshops, I can offer:
Gör en toile- medeltida mönsterkonstruktion (the drafting of a personal pattern on your body)
Mönsterkonstruktion av ärmar (patternmaking for sleeves)
Brickbandsvävning med mönster (tablet weaving with patterndrafting)
Medeltida brickbandsvävning (tablet weaving with fast warping and simple patterns)
Medeltida sömnadstekniker -fortsättningskurs (medieval seams and handcrafts for non beginners)
All this courses will be held in swedish, but on the workshop about seams and handcrafts I will have time for fast translation for those who would like to attend and are english speakers. During the weaving and pattern workshop, I will not have time to translate and many of the participants won’t be able to follow english instructions only- so that is the reason the workshops are in swedish.
So, that was some of my summer. More updates will follow, and of course I will keep you updated from the different events. Check out my instagram #handcraftedhistory to follow my everyday work, and my facebookpage Handcraftedhistory for updates, offers and pictures.
Working on my wedding outfit and thinking about all the accessories. Belt, purse, hose or socks, shoes, jewelry, hair-do. There really is a lot of choises, we have decided to not go all historical on this wedding, but I still want to keep the outfits based on historical paintings and finds. The most modern things will be my hair and makeup, since I wont be shaving my forehead and eyebrows…
A couple of days ago I finished weaving my silk belt, started half past nine in the evening… One should not calculate new projects during the evenings when one is tired. Lenght of belt; perfect. Threads left to weave; about 0,5 cm. I could tell you that this was all intentional because I’m such a bad-ass at weaving. But the truth is that I miscalculated and should have added an additional 10% of shrinkage to the varp threads. But, everything went well.
I have also finished of the belt with freshwater pearls and a strip of silk on the back, to make the belt more durable and stiffer. Bronze clasps is going on the ends, and then it’s all finished! I also made som pearl hangings to finish of the cords at my dress.
I have actually finished most of my outfit by now, with over a week left to the wedding. Of course I wont show you the whole outfit before midsummer’s day- that would be cheating. But undershift with extra skirt is all ready, as silk dress, overdress and most of the acessories. The shoes are already ordered from one of my favourite shoemakers; Stefan Eriksson and will be based on 15th century finds.
For hose, I have asked my grandmother to knit me some. It’s not historically accurate, but she really makes the best socks and I wanted to wear something she made since she is something of an idol on the handcraft area.
Also, I have found the perfect (ok, it’s a bit early in the history for pearl necklaces but it’s a wedding…) necklace to wear with the dress. Bought it at Double Wars SCA event. It is the one at the bottom on the picture.
Now, I´m up before 6 in the morning to have some internet time with a morning coffee, and then I will continue with love’s silk doublet, which he teared apart when trying it on. (“I hardly stretched my arms at all” he claimed when the arm seams at the back stretched apart and I got several hours of extra work trying to mend the extreme flimsy silk fabric. I don’t believe him…)
I’m in the process of making my wedding dresses, which will be from the late 15th century.
Of course I want a nice looking wedding dress, but at the same time I want to be able to wear the dress on more occasions than the wedding. So I wont be having a pure white dress, since that is really unpractical. Instead, I have bought some lovely green (yes, I know I already have that green shade on several garments…) wool, a darker green velvet and a creme coloured silk fabric. This combination will be the wedding dresses, but it’s hard to decide exactly want I want to do.
But I have started with the basic dress in the creamy silk (or is it more like ivory perhaps?) cutting out the skirt and drafting the pattern. Now I have a bunch of orders to tend to, but after that I’m planning to sew wedding clothes only for a couple of weeks!
I also plan to make H a new outfit fot the wedding. We will match, of course, so I’m looking at the late 15th century and planning a doublet in silk (see below), hose in black wool, and an outer garment made of the same green wool that I bought for myself. The shirt will be in white linen or silk.