Handcrafted History

Historical and modern handcraft mixed with adventures


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The 16th century working woman part 1- The research

This is a post about (one of) my 16th century outfits; and due to several years of research, work and sewing experiences it will probably be more than one post- with different focus. In this, I will give you an overview and some background research. The outfit is already finished, worn, mended and in line for some redoing, so I will be able to share the whole process with you; both good and bad outcomes and what I could have done different.

My aim was to make a good recreation of a whole outfit for a woman from early 1500s German (or possibly southern Scandinavian area, since this was influenced by German fashion at the time). She is not poor, but works for her living, maybe on a larger farm or in a smaller city. She is well dressed; as is the ladies on all the art I have studied, but like other working women, she own practical clothing with a skirt short enough to stay out of her way, and a cut to the clothing that is both economical and practical. Contrary from the trossfraus (the women who follows the mercenary armies) she does not wear slashed and mismatched clothing, but items that belong to each other and to a certain class in society. She follows sumptuary laws and does her hair in the braided fashion, or covers it with a simple cap and veil while working.

I wanted to show you some interesting images of 16th century women in art so I put together some examples for you;

Three women; wearing work tools but also lots of interesting clothing. The shoes are practical and the skirts reach the foot, not the ground. 

A painted glass piece showing the milking and making of butter. A (probably) younger woman has her hair in two braids, and a covering apron to protect her clothing. The older woman has a veil, a jacket and a dress hiked up in her belt.

This lady is described as a dancing farmer and has probably done her fine dress for a festive occasion, with her hair braided in a nice up do and what looks like a headband around the head. She wears a dress, and a gollar that looks fur-edged or with a whole lining in fur.

Another dancing farmer- with a gollar fastened by her neck, and an apron around her waist. The shoes look sturdy and practical (but nothing like the cowmouth shoes you can se on trossfraus) and she has some kind of decorative border at the hem on the skirt, and on her loose sleeves. No slashes though!

This piece shows the women working with flax, the process from plant to fabric demanded both time and hard work in numerous steps. The sitting lady wears a cap or veil around her head, with hair showing at the front. Her jacket is fastened at the front and is cut in the fashion of the time; low and square. The standing lady has her hair in braids around her head, and has rolled up her sleeves while working. The dress has a decorative guard at the front, and is hiked up at the waist. Clearly, she is doing some heavy work!

Dressed for cold weather? She has done her veils around her head, chin and neck, and wears a short cloak against the cold. She wears both shoes, socks and hose, and a bag at her belt.

Ah, time for cutting some fleece! The sheep does look dead, but is probably just laying at a convenient working pose for the woman, who use a shearing scissor for the work. She wears a simple cap or tied veil over her hair, and a dress with decorative guards at the front. It is hard to say if the brown skirts are part of her yellow dress, discoloured by time, an apron or a piece of cloth.

Festivities again! Do peasants and workers anything else than working and dancing? This lady has the common braids, a gollar and a dress. What is so interesting with this picture is that you can se the back of her dress, which is clearly more dense pleated than the sides. Uneven pleating in the skirts is visible in more pictures, and seems to be the result of a tailor work.

Summer time, and work in the fields this time. Now we can see her shift; a plain linen shift with a long sleeve, and either a high collar, or more believable, a thin gollar/linen cloth to protect her against the sun, as is seen on the woman with the red dress. She wears a straw hat, and her dress is sleeveless; it is a tight-fitting middle kirtle or under dress that gives you the bust support you need, without being in the way for hard work. This layer can be found on other women too; plain, sleeveless and intended to be worn under the woolen over dress. It is only during heavy outdoor labor such as field work, washing and shoveling it is openly worn, older women and richer women always have their overdress on.

Based on my research, I have found that I needed the following items for a whole outfit:

  • linen shift
  • kirtle or under dress
  • wool dress as an over dress
  • apron
  • belt
  • purse (and maybe a rosary to, it is mentioned in some written sources but doesn’t appear on peasants often)
  • cap, veils, a straw hat and/or a braided hairstyle
  • hose
  • shoes
  • gollar
  • jacket
  • cape/cloak

This much? I wanted to make a whole outfit, that would be practical during different kind of events with both cold and warm weather. I also wanted to try to make all the pieces of clothing and accessories that I have found during my research, to better understand how they worked together.

For more research, I have a Pinterest board on the theme if you want to learn more!


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Slashing and cutting fabric- a tutorial

During the 16th century it became high fashion to slash or cut fabrics in a decorative manner, and this was taken up by landsknechts and their women as well. Being a fashion for richer or high-born persons, it was quite the dare for mercenaries to wear, but such a good way to show that you were a high earner with lots of status and gold on your pocket…

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So, I wanted to share with you all my best tips for getting that slashed and cut look that you may want for your outfit!

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But first, some good things to know:

  • The most important thing is the material to work with; wool is by far the easiest. In finds and manuscripts you will also find garments made by linen, silk or a mix of these and wool, but those garments will have very small cuts (also called pinking) made with a knife, and is a whole different story. So; chose a wool fabric. A felted, dense and tightly weaved wool is the best, this will give you a sturdy garment that wont fray easily.
  • The slashing is not hemmed. I know many people do this because they chose a sensitive fabric, they are afraid it will fray and tear, or they have just been told that all raw edges should be hemmed or sewn. Right? While there are examples of special kinds of garments being hemmed at cuts, the standard is to not hem or sew the slashes. They should be raw, made with a very sharp tool, and yes- they will wear out faster than a garment that is not slashed.
  • Yes- slashed and cut garments may not last as long as more sensible ones, or look very pretty after using and washing, that is the point with this fashion! You’ll have to be rich enough to order fine materials, pay a tailor to sew it for you, pay even more for the slashing and cutting, and then don’t mind that you will have to exchange the garment once it looks worn. If you are a more economically laid modern person, pick a wool fabric for your outfit, since this lasts longer than silk or linen.
  • Almost all slashed garments that I have seen have been lined with a second layer of unslashed fabric. This could be a regular lining, or a whole garment that holds together the one laying over, providing stability and fitting. I often use a linen fabric for wool and silk fabrics, but in the case with slashed guards (strips of fabrics) I place the guards on top of the main fabric, to make it visible through the slashing.

Feeling ready for some slashing now?

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The pictures are mainly from my trossfrau dress project, this from a woodcut that I have copied and coloured to get a feeling for the dress to be.

I usually wash my wool fabrics, iron them and then cut out the pieces I want for the garment. Before I sew them together I draw out my slashes on the wrong side with a fabric marker, and then cut them before I put the garment together. If you are not sure about the fitting, it is good to baste the garment together and try it on before this, since it is difficult to adjust fitting after the slashing is made.

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I usually also draw out helplines during this stage; everything that helps you make good sharp lines placed exactly were you want them is good. A ruler, some mathematics and a marker goes a long way. I also like to make a template to use while drawing out the slashes.

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Do not slash all the way to the edges, remember the seam allowance and leave 2-3 cm along the edges to make it easier to sew the pieces together.

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This is a larping outfit (only inspired by historical fashion) as an example of a durable slashed garment. The arms have slashes, but not the armpits or body, and the slashes ends some cm before the seams. Sewn in melton wool from Medeltidsmode.

If you want the garment to be sturdy and hold together, slash less along the armpits, side seams and crotch; all areas were the fabric gets more wear. If you look at historical woodcuts and painting, you may notice that tight fitted pants has no slashes at the backside of the legs near the seams, neither over the butt (there might be exceptions, as always)

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The finished dress, a hot day in Visby a couple of years ago

 


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Fur lined gollar- step by step

Fur can be tricky, so here’s some help on the way if you are going to fur line your garment (like this late 15- early 16th century gollar).

I don’t know how the fur lining were made historically, but I am guessing that you either treated the fur like a garment of your own (sew the fur together to a garment, then attach it to the outer fabric) or as a fabric lining (cut out the pieces of fur and stitch it to the seam allowances of the outer fabric once this is sewed together). A mix of these two might also be the case, due to the different challenge you face when fur lining a garment without it getting bulky.

If you only want a strip of fur on your garment, I find it easiest to cut out the fur pieces, and treat them like fabric lining; cut them straight and clean, join small bits if necessary before sewing them to the outer fabric. In contemporary art the fully fur lined garment seems to be the most common one, it is more like you could interpret some pictures as only having trims in fur. Fur was both fashionable and warm and used in many garments, and I have a fully lined gollar. This one becomes to warm during summer, and also take a lot of space in the bag when packing, so I though this new one would be a good alternative; fashionable, with the fur to warm me against wind, but lighter in both warmth and packing space.

I started with my wool gollar; I cut out the main piece and the collar, and sewed them together with running stitches. The most common thread for the period seems to be uncoloured linen thread, so I used unbleached linen that I waxed to make it more durable while sewing. After the pieces were joined together, I pressed down the seam and cut down the seam allowance on one side, to get a laid down seam. This makes the seam more smooth, and adds durability to the garment.

I tried to lay the gollar out flat, for you to get a good look. Note that it is not a full circle, you want it to lay flat against your back and shoulders in a tight fit. The fit on the gollar you’ll have to try out for yourself; so make one out of scrap fabric if this is your first one.

I then measured the collar and the front where I wanted the fur to be, and cut out strips of fur to match them. I then sewed them into place with linen thread and a small, regular needle. A thinner needle makes it easier to sew in fur, and pinning the fur into place makes sure it doesn’t stretch or slides.

At the corners I just sew the fur to the fabric, and leave the left over fur for later. Note that I treat the fur like fabric; sewing the furry side to the right side of the fabric.

When the fur is sewn onto the fabric, I cut away the left over and trim the edges down.

At the corners I trim away enough fur so when I fold the fur inside the garment it will not get bulky but fit together edge to edge.

At the bottom edge I want the fur to follow the curved front of the gollar, so I mark this with a pen, and then cut it away.

After trimming down the fur, I fold it to the inside of the gollar, and pin it in place. Make sure it lays flat when wearing the garment; fur can be tricky and does not adjust the way fabric do. When you are happy with the fit, sew the fur in place with whip stitches, or attach it to a lining. In the corners the two pieces of fur should barely meet, the hair will hide the seam, so just sew them together loosely.

I chose to have a lining inside my gollar in a thin woolen fabric, to add warmth, make it easier to sew the fur down with no visible stitching, and because a fully lined gollar can be seen in art. For the lining, I cut out another gollar, without collar (because the fur strip for that part covered the inside of my collar) and without the parts that would be covered with fur. When fastening the lining in the gollar, pin it in place and then sew it at the same time as you attach the fur on the inside. Start with the collar, and then the front opening going down.

Sewing in fur is time-consuming and quite tiring for the fingers. Nice company or a movie is good to have!

When the fur (and lining) is attached around the gollar I stitched the lower hem with whip stitches. To make the seam smooth, I cut away some excess lining fabric, as can be seen at the photo. So; adjust the lining, cut of excess seam allowance, pin and whip stitch.

To fasten the gollar you can use dress pins, small fabric strips, ribbons or lucet braided strings, hooks and eyes or do as I did; add a fancy clasp at the throat. At the end of the sewing I didn’t really like that the fur was so visible at the bottom, so I trimmed it down quite hard. Another option would have been to let the fur finish on the inside of the gollar, so it was not so obvious that the gollar was not fur-lined all the way around. Cheating is hard sometimes…

The clasp is a late 15th century find from Sweden, with A standing for “amore”. It added nicely, but for a commoner a hidden fastening would do better.

A note about fur; I recommend you to put some thought and money into the purchase of fur. There are still many fur-fabrics and farms that treat animals like shit, where the animals suffers greatly to become your hobby-based garment. If you buy rabbit skin for 7-9 Euro/skin you probably support these farms, even if not buying directly from them. A better option would be to buy fur from local farms where you can visit the animals, and get to leave the skin at the tanner yourself. You can also find good choices on internet, buy second-hand or choose fake-fur from the fabric store (not the most historical accurate, but I rather go modern than use unethical furs)

Some examples of gollars being worn by 16th century common people during dances. Some of them clearly seems to have a fur line around the hem as being fur-lined, while others could be unlined or lined with fabric.

 


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Träffa min vän Linnea!

Det här inlägget är en gästpost, skriven av min vän Linnea. Hon har återskapat trossfraus/kvinnor i landsknektsarmén från 1500talets Tyskland i nästan tio års tid. Hon berättar om sin dräktresa, saker hon lärt sig, och vackra dräkter hon sytt. Läs och inspireras! (fotografer är angivna där Linnea har haft namn på dem/tillhör mig.)

This is a guest post by my friend Linnea. Since she chosed to write in Swedish, I will publish it accordingly- but use google translate to read about her journey as a handcrafter and 16th century camp follower from the German areas. She presents her different outfits and things she has learned along the way!

Linnea:

Jag gick med i SCA, Styringheim på Gotland, 2008. Det var en kompis som sydde min första klänning, tidigt 1400-tal, i ett tjock mörkblått ylle med en ljusare blå underklänning i linne. Den ligger undanlagd i gömmorna sedan länge. Kanske använde jag den bara vid två eller tre event. Redan på mitt första event fick jag syn på en klänning som skulle sätta så djupa spår i mig att jag för tio år framöver inte skulle ha några andra stilar. Det var en klänning som tillhörde Jovi, som skulle komma att bli en av mina vänner, och hörde hemma i det tyska 1500-talet. 2009 gick jag med i landsknektsföreningen Proknekt och var under två år föreningens ordförande.

Efter den första egensydda dräkten har det blivit betydligt fler och i dagsläget har jag sytt 10 klänningar i samma stil. Det har varit min egen utveckling, en strävan efter att hela tiden förbättra kläderna, utan att för delen ha en önskan om att forska djupare. I början var klänningarna inspirerade av andra klänningar jag sett och med tiden har jag för varje klänning gjort en förbättring. Jag anser att alla måste lägga sig på en nivå som känns bekväm, vi har alla varit nya och måste få ha rätten att börja någonstans. Det här är min klädresa.

Första klänningen syddes i ett tungt mörkblått, nästan svart, ylletyg med orangea detaljer. Den är sydd på maskin och eftersom jag tröttnade på att sy i det alldeles för tjocka yllet, är slitsarna till viss del limmade. Kjolen består av två raka stycken, vidden blev 3 meter. Klänningen har synlig snörning, något jag förstått senare inte är historiskt riktigt. Men så stolt jag var första gången jag hade klänningen på mig! Om jag inte minns fel så var det på Knäckekriget 2009. Skjortan är sydd för hand med en smockad kant. Kanten fick inget stöd och viker därför ner sig på ett mindre smickrande sätt.

Andra klänningen syddes i ett något tunnare mörkgrönt ylle med mörkblå detaljer. Klänningen är helt handsydd. Ärmarna var löstagbara och med en kant som gick att vika upp. Kjolen består av två raka stycken, vidden är 3 meter. Här hade jag gjort en ny underkjol i blekt linne. Den här klänningen var färdig 2010, och jag gjorde samtidigt en ny smockad skjorta.

När jag sydde klänning nummer tre valde jag ett tunnare ylle än för klänning nummer två. Det är fortfarande mörka färger som gäller, blå med röda detaljer. Klänningen består egentligen av kjol och jacka. Ärmarna är fastsydda och har en kant som går att vika upp. Slitsarna är alla sydda för hand, liksom klänningen i övrigt. Kjolen består av två raka stycken, vidden är 3 meter. Den här gången hade jag lyckats få en bättre form på ringningen både på fram- och baksidan, mer fyrkantig i likhet med originalen. Den här klänningen var också färdig till 2010. Här är också första gången som jag har korrekta skor, så kallade oxmular, till kläderna istället för ett par vikingaskor. Delarna syddes ihop till en klänning 2017 för att sen säljas. (Fotograf Ulf Ekberg)

Klänning nummer fyra syddes i ett tunt kostymylle som jag fick billigt. På grund av att kostymyllet var så tunt blev det detaljer i ett brunt syntettyg för att matcha. Men den är helt handsydd. Ärmarna är avtagbara. Kjolen består av två raka stycken, vidden är 3 meter. Klänningen saknar slitsar, något som jag alltid varit mycket sparsam med. Överlag tycker jag att många återskapade klänningar har för många slitsar om man jämför med originalen. Klänningen var klar till Peter und Paul festival i Bretten 2011.

Klänning nummer fem är sydd av ett petroleumblått ylletyg som jag hittade på en militärloppis i Tallin, och svarta detaljer. Ett helt suveränt tyg men kanske inte 100 % ylle. Det regnade under en eldshow på Medeltidsveckan för ett par år sen och regnet bara rann av istället för igenom. Den är handsydd och jag har dagen till ära sytt en ny hatt, i orange ylle. Ringningen är också fyrkantig i likhet med originalen, något jag inte alltid fått till. Kjolen består av två raka stycken, vidden är 3 meter. Klänningen var klar till Medeltidsdagarna på Hägnan 2012. (Fotograf Kim F Rehnman)

Klänning nummer sex var en klänning i linne att fäktas i. Slitsarna är alla nedsydda för hand men i övrigt är klänningen sydd på maskin. Kjolen består av två raka stycken, vidden blev 3 meter. Den var klar till 20th Anniversary of Drachenwald på Ludwigstein Castle 2013.

Klänning nummer sju är sydd i Historiska rums ylleflanell, ett tyg som är tunt och svalt samtidigt som det ganska fort får en lite sliten patina. Den är handsydd, vilket inte var helt kul med tanke på att det är 12 meter handsömnad i varje rand i kjolen… Snörningen är gjord med korsettband, ett mycket bekvämt fusk. Ärmarna är löstagbara med slitsade överärmar. Kjolen består av två raka stycken, vidden är 3 meter. Jag lämnade här min trygghetszon med annars så mörka färger för en ljusare blå. Underkjolen är av oblekt linne. Klänningen var klar till medeltidsveckan på Gotland 2014 och såldes vidare 2017. (Fotograf Bella Ekström)

Till 2017 syddes en underklänning i Medeltidsmodes råväv. De skjortor jag haft under klänningarna har inte varit helt korrekta. Det ska, enligt mina vänner som lägger mer tid på forskning än vad jag gör, vara en underklänning mellan skjorta och överklänning. Det blir varmt och därför har jag den sällan, men här, vid matlagningen på Landsknecht Hurra i Tyskland, passade den ypperligt. Den är handsydd efter samma mönster som mina överklänningar men utan dekorationer. Snörningen är synlig med handsydda snörhål. (Fotograf Torbjörn Walberg)

Klänning nummer nio är sydd i brunt engelskt kläde från Historiska rum med krappröda detaljer. Kjolen är sydd i våder vilket ger 5 meter i nederkant. Inga slitsar här heller, bara dekorbanden. Den här klänningen sitter ihop med hyskor istället för snörning, väldigt bekvämt! Jag har gått från starka färger till en mer nedtonad färgskala, beige och krappröd, något jag föreställer mig är lämpligt för en mindre bemedlad kvinna i trossen. På bilden har jag också en jacka i rött ylletyg med oblekt linnefoder. Jag har också sytt små tossor i linne som skyddar strumporna i stil med tossorna som återfinns på träsnitten. Under överklänningen har jag underklänningen som syns tydligare på bilden ovan. Alltsammans blev klart till Landsknecht Hurra i Tyskland 2017.

Klänning nummer tio syddes också under 2017 och var klar till Medeltidsveckan på Gotland. Det här är den första klänning jag syr efter ett specifikt träsnitt. Den är sydd i ylleflanell från Historiska rum, i bärnsten och krapprött. Kjolen är sydd med våder vilket ger en vidd på över 5 meter. Den stängs med hyskor. Nedre delen av ärmarna är lösa i enlighet med träsnittet. Jag slyngade snörena med slynggaffel. Det var ett test från min sida, jag har hört att det kanske var vanligare med fingerflätade snören. På bilden har jag också en ny hatt, en ny huvudduk i ylle och nytt smockat förkläde. Strumporna är från Kapitelhusgården och väskan från Craft Hive. Banden på kjolen finns inte på träsnittet, jag tyckte det blev snyggare med band än utan. Klänningen ska egentligen också vara rosa med röda detaljer. Men trots att jag har gått från mörka till ljusa färger ligger rosa utanför min gräns… (Fotograf Erika Hernlund)

Blev du inspirerad? Under min sida “tutorials” kan du lära dig att göra en knekthatt, eller spana in högerspalten och klicka på Lansknecht & Trossfraus för att läsa mer om knekt och trossfraudräkter, hur du gör egna och var det finns inspiration. Jag har också länkat till föreningarna som Linnea pratar om, och till de inköpsställen hon använt sig av direkt i texten.

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