Handcrafted History

Historical and modern handcraft mixed with adventures


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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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The Herjolfnes dress

Last year I made a woolen dress, based on the cut, sewing technics and seams from the finds from Herjolfnes, Greenland. I really didn’t plan it, I just had this sudden burst of creativity and had to make a plain, undyed working dress… The fabric is from Medeltidsmode, and it is an undyed natural wool that was just lovely to work with, the seams went very well, and the drape of the shirt is really good to. It is based on two different models, but with my measures- so it is a historical reconstruction with a practical use in mind.

Cutting out the pieces

And sewing them together with running stitches in wool thread

Sewing gores from the right side of the dress, with a whip stitch

The hems are made by a single fold, whip stitched and then sewed with another seam according to the finds. To finish of the hems two times was a bit tiring, but the result went very well, with especially the neckline and wrist coming out nice and stable for wear.

All inside seams are felled and whip stitched down, to make them more durable and the inside smooth and pretty.

There are several gores in the dress, both in the shirt and in the sides, that goes up to the arm holes. This gives the dress lots of hem line, as well as a nice drape. If you would like to make a dress more modern flattering, you could begin the width in the side seams by the waist. My dress is lose almost under the bust, which makes for a warm dress, that is easy to get in and out of, and probably good for medieval pregnancy if you are interested in trying that out…

The dress is so comfy, and despite a rather smooth fit over arms and shoulders it is easy to move in it.

On these photos I have rolled up my sleeves a bit and you can see the linen shift, a good way of keeping your sleeves dry when doing dishes.

Definitly one of my favourite dresses right now, it being so simple and yet pretty!


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Houppelande tutorial -part 1

Since I made my first houppelande (late medieval overdress) some years ago, I have been thinking about putting together a tutorial for you, to make it easier to understand the construction techniques behind the dress.

As it turned out, the houppelande dress is a bigger project than I thought at the beginning, so I’m doing the tutorials in different parts so it will be easier for you to find the model you are most interested in, and to get a nice overview of the whole dress style.

I start with my first woolen houppelande:

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This was somewhat of an experiment trying out both pattern, if I would like the type of garment, and what it would look like finished. I could not find my original sketch for the pattern layout, but it did look something like this:

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Some notes; this type of pattern layout work well in a tabby weave since it doesn’t matter if you turn your front and back pieces, but you can also use a twill like I did. If doing this type of pattern on a patterned fabric, you can have the pattern one way on the front pieces and the opposite on the back pieces, which work really well I think, if you want to save on the fabric.

The amount of fabric needed for this layout, in size small, is 150 cm * 280 cm (I used 3 meters of fabric, so I had a slightly larger hem.

F=front, B=back and FM= front middle gore. S1 and S2 is the sleeves. I always recommend drawing out your pattern before you do it on your fabric, it gives you the opportunity to see if all the pieces have room, and if you can add some extra circumference to the skirt. I also use to draw out how the garment will look finished, to give you an extra idea of the result. The small cut out pattern piece I use to draw the pieces faster by drawing around it on the paper.

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This is what it looked like once I had cut out all the pieces. After cutting, baste your pieces together to try them on, or sew them at once. I used running stitches and back stitches for parts were there was more stress on the seams (like around the body, the armholes, and the top of the front gore). I also pressed the seam allowances down and whip stitched them. You can of course sew your dress on a sewing machine if you would like, just be sure to pin or baste the skirt lengths first so they don’t stretch uneven.

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Always pin or baste your pieces together when they lay flat on a surface. After this is done, you can have the garment in your knee, sitting comfy in the sofa and sewing without having the seams getting all uneven. I started with the front gore, then sew the front and back pieces together. The sleeves were made after the “fitted sleeve” tutorial.

The hem is folded twice and whip stitched down, and the sleeves and front opening is lined with a soft, cut sheepskin in a matching colour.

The dress is sold since some time back, and I moved on to make another kind of pattern construction (as I usually do). I liked this one because of its simplicity, it was very comfortable and not bulky around the upper body. another pro was that it didn’t take a lot of fabric to make it. I really liked the fluffy lining since it gave a lot of extra warmth.

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The style is somewhat unusual in art, but can be seen at the start of the houppelande period, though with a tighter upper body, the sleeves were full length and often somewhat tighter. For paintings and art inspiration, check out my Pinterest board about Houppelande dresses

What I didn’t like was that I dragged the hem of the dress after me everywhere, without getting the comfort of a warm and thick enough fabric to protect me from rain and chilly winds. So the next one became a bit sturdier in fabric, and with more fabric…


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Pin on sleeves- a quick tutorial

Here is how I make my pinned on sleeves for my 14th and 15th century outfits. Pin on sleeves are an easy and quick project, perfect for that spare bit of extra fancy fabric you may have stashed.

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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 wont 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.

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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 woolen fabrics.

I sew my sleeves with running stitches on the wrong side, and then fell the seams with whipstitch by hand, but you can of course use the sewing machine. The linings I usually fold twice and whipstitch, if I don’t line the sleeve or use a reinforcement piece.

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The sleeve should be quite tight fitted if watching 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 of with a whip stitched 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 tight fitted sleeve around my wrist, and if they get stained or worn I can cut of 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 a fabric (or if you need to piece out your sleeves on scrap pieces of fabric).

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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 doesn’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 woolen dress, you could just 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.

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Talking about delicate silk fabrics; it could be good to strengthen the sleeves by adding a lining, either line the whole sleeve with a thin linen fabric, or just add a strip on the inside at the upper hem. That may add to a more durable sleeve, get you a better lining 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!

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Spara


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A long time ago

About a woman living a long time ago, in a world close to our own- but different. Photos taken by Minna Nilsson a couple of years ago, but still lovely for a cold autumn day when one needs to remember summer.

The outfit is a 16th century trossfrau- a woman living with the army in the German regions of Europe, working in the camp.

With a sparkly necklace-

slightly wrong for achieving historical accuracy but good for the upcoming party at the event that summer.

Wearing a smocked linen shirt, linen headwear and a smocked linen apron. The dress is made of wool

The bag, made of thin leather, holds the coin, and the rosary shows she is a member of the (catholic) church, in a political unsteady time.

It also is a very nice accessory.

Period time drinking glass, period time drink… Ready for a nice party evening

 

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Min guide till Medeltidsveckan

Elin som driver Nevnarien.se gjorde en sådan himla fin guide till Medeltidsveckan i Visby, så jag blev inspirerad att skriva min egen. Elin älskar sagovärlden, schysst stämning och snygga fotomiljöer, och kanske märks det i hennes guide? Vad jag är insnöad på, det får ni veta här…

(this post is only in Swedish, and is a guide for the medieval week in Visby. Are you going? Use google translate to get some good tip about places to go!)

Varför ska du åka till medeltidsveckan?

För att det är en glad, kärleksfylld och inspirerande festival med medeltidstema. Passar både dig som gillar fantasy, sagor och medeltid; gammal som ung, turistig eller genuin. Du som är inbiten reenactare åker med inställningen att du kommer behöva dela allt magiskt med tusentals turister- men ju fler desto roligare?

Var ska du bo?

Om du har medeltida läger; I Styringheims SCAläger utanför murarna. Förutom att det är ett tryggt läger med vakter, mat, god logistik och nära till innerstan är det ett superbra sätt att hitta en medeltidsförening nära dig, träffa nya vänner och lära dig mer om medeltida hantverk, kämpalek, bågskytte och matlagning. SCAiter är kända för att strössla fritt med både kunskap och vänskap- bästa hänget, och bästa festerna händer här tycker jag.

Om du har ett modernt tält eller åker för att medeltidshänga avslappnat: Medeltidsveckans camping (som har två olika delar) har rykte om sig att vara en trevlig camping, och här behöver du inte gömma filpaket och icapåse vilket uppmuntras till i SCAlägret- där man gör sitt bästa för att hålla en illusion av den goda medeltiden under dygnets alla timmar.

Eller hyr privat- det kan bli lite av varje men definitivt mer personligt än ett hotellrum!

Var ska du äta?

Jag som är både vegetarian och allergisk blir sällan imponerad av krog eller restaurangutbud. Det brukar bli lite sallader, lite thai, en taccotallrik på Yoda (här snålas inte på tallriken) och häng på Munkkällaren, förutom de medeltida restaurangerna. Wisby glass säljer den bästa färska glassen, och Wisby ost (liten delikatessbutik) har bästa lyxsnacksen och superbra glutenfritt bröd.

Det finns alltså några guldkorn med bra mat inne i Visby stad, och några hak som lastar på smaskig mat sent på kvällen (gå dit ortsborna går!) men det bästa hänget får du genom att köpa med dig picknickmat från någon av mataffärerna utanför ringmuren. Bunkra upp en stor korg full av bröd, frukt, ost, korv och dryck och komplettera med pinfärska morötter och hallon från stora marknaden. Ta med allt till strandpromenaden, gräsytorna på marknadsplatsen eller en gratis spelning och få världen mysigaste picknick. Ni vet väl att picknick kan ätas minst tre gånger om dagen? Ps; extra choklad och jordgubbar lockar till sig nya vänner.

Eldshow och picknick. Passar ihop

Vilka aktiviteter är bäst?

Medeltidsveckan börjar redan på färjan över; ta med fika och något att sy på så kommer du passa in som en smäck bland alla glada medeltidsmänniskor som paniksyr in i det sista. Att sy på färjan över är liksom en tradition. På färjan hem syr du inte. Då sover du. Och förbannar alla barnföräldrar som släpper sina monster fria att härja som de vill.

Forum Vulgaris på marknadsplatsen har drivits av Proknekt under flera år, bästa stället att hänga på för att få se föreställningar. Spana också in programmet för att hitta små godbitar i form av öppna spelningar, dans och workshops som händer runt om i innerstaden.

Om man gillar det tyska 1500talsmodet så är 100 knektars marsch också ett måste- ja, för alla som gillar coola upplevelser! Trummor och musik ekar genom Visbys gator och vibrationerna från hundratals fötter känns i hela kroppen när över 100 knektar tågar genom staden. Gå med du också!

På Kapitelhusgården håller jag, och flera andra skickliga hantverkare kurser och föreläsningar under veckan; så kom förbi och lär dig helt nya hantverkstekniker! Många har hållit kurser i flera år, är riktiga proffs och framstående inom sina områden, så här finns möjlighet att gå på kurser du annars hade behövt resa runt halva Sverige för att få tillgång till.

Picknickhäng i samband med spelningar, köande till spelningar och som fest efter spelningar är mysigt.

Medeltidsloppisen är jätterolig och verkligen vad den låter som- men fler har upptäckt den så var beredd på att komma tidigt och köa!

Folksagosånger med David och Karro ska jag försöka pricka in; senast vi lyssnade på duon så var det både stämningsfullt, bra och underfundigt roligt.

Vackraste platserna:

Botaniska trädgården är ett av mina favoritställen under dagarna; vacker trädgård, fina bänkar och glada människor som strosar förbi. Kapitelhusgårdens lilla marknad + ett glas dryck under eftermiddagen innan det blir trångt här. Strandpromenaden under solnedgången, Trixs eldshow under onsdagskvällen (gå dit för stämningen lika mycket som för showen) och Visby innerstad med alla trånga gränder och vackra rosor som klättrar längs husfasaderna. Magiskt!

Utanför Visby finns vacker landsbygd på väg till rauken Jungfrun och Blå Lagunen, ett kalkstensbrott som bjuder på klart och varmt badvatten. Väl värt en dagsutflykt.

Hur lång semester?

Hela veckan, minst! Medeltid är det från lördag till nästa veckas söndag, och vill du ser mer av Gotland så kanske du behöver några dagar till. Jag kan aldrig fatta att en vecka kan gå så fort, och hinner aldrig se och göra allt jag har tänkt mig. Å andra sidan är jag ju en inbiten medeltidsnörd, och jobbar dessutom halva veckan. De senaste åren har det tagit mig några dagar att ens hinna mingla ned till marknaden…

Tänk på:

Det kan bli riktigt råkallt på kvällarna- ta med en varm mantel (eller jacka/tjocktröja).

Ett paket vätskeersättning, att blanda i dricksvattnet under varma dagar när du promenerar mycket, är bra att ta med. Ta också med en stor flaska att ha vatten i, fyller på gör du vid vattenstationerna på marknaden.

Visbys gator består till stor del av kullersten eller asfalt- ta med riktigt sköna skor att gå i så knäna inte klagar efter halva veckan.

Spara


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Medieval wedding outfits

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…)