Handcrafted History

Historical and modern handcraft mixed with adventures


Lästips; 1400talsdräkt för kvinnan

Because the book is in Swedish; so will this blogpost be. It is about a new book about the late 15th century clothing for women.

Kommer ni ihåg att jag skrev om mansdräktsboken förut? Nu har även kvinnoboken kommit ut, och jag ville förstås bläddra i den också!

Boken påminner mycket om mansdräkten med samma lättöverskådliga layout, enkel och tydlig text, och stycken som efter en snabb genomgång ger dig koll på dräkten. Det är den typen av bok jag skulle börja med att skaffa om jag ville göra 1400tal, eller ge till en nybörjare som vet *ingenting* men gärna vill vara med. Det sena 1400talet är en komplex period med många samexisterande stilar och plagg, men jag tycker ändå att det känns som att den ger en överblick över det tyska modet, även om det inte finns plats för så många sömnadstekniska detaljer som jag skulle vilja- det är ju trots allt mitt intresse =)

Boken innehåller, förutom referenslistor, också massor av bilder från perioden. Bredvid varje avsnitt om plagg/material osv hittar du alltså både historiska referenser, bilder, skisser och materialförslag från ett modernt perspektiv. Dessutom finns ett uppslag om hur du får till 1400talslooken med en “turbanslöja”, jag förutspår att det här kommer vara nya innestilen till sommaren…


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15th century clothing part 1- Research overview from art

The last 1- 1 1/2 year the 15 century has been one of my main interest. It is a really interesting period in history, with lots of changes in both politics, society and how trade, money and people moved. My main interest has been the clothing in middle Europe, around what is today Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands (more or less, influences and fashions spread and yuo can see similar styles in areas boarding to these ones). From these areas came several great artists, there are lots of paintings and artistic work left, and Scandinavia were greatly inspired by the clothing and fashion movements from the German area.

To both challenge and inspire myself I decided to make a Golden Egg challenge on the topic of 15th century clothing. The Golden Egg is a household in the SCA; you can read more about it here. My goal is now to research and make a whole outfit from the late 15th century for myself, and the timeline is one year between start and presentation.

I wanted to share some of my research, as well as some good sources for you to read for yourself. My main interest is the clothing for women- but you will find lots of good inspiration for men’s fashion as well.

olika modeller

Some important points to remember when studying 15 c fashion (or any historical fashion really) is:

  • The diversity of the period. Fashion shifted over a certain time, and during the 15th c it shifted quite fast. It also differed over areas (such as towns, countries) as well as social classes. It is not possible to sum up the period by stating “a women wore this and this, in such a way” but some things are similar, like wearing a linen shift, middle kirtle and over dress of some kind. How these looked, what materials they were made in and how you wore them differed greatly, as did the accessories.
  • The art and paintings of the period is a really good source, since there’s a lot of them, and the fashion of art suggested a natural, realistic reproduction of the people living during that period, with lots of details regarding seams, models, fashion and materials. This was also the period when portraits became popular for others than the nobility, with the ever-increasing burgher class economy as a base for portraits. This give us a source of good depictions of people of the time, and also gives a good clue on what kind of clothing and headwear was in fashion. It is important to note that there also were sumptuary laws regarding what you could wear, and how you were to be portrayed according to your status in society, making the understanding of art and symbolic meanings very important.
  • Religious art was also very important, and great artworks were often the result of a whole workshop with different painters, studies and sketches from different areas and periods, as well as saints depicted with biblical clothing and symbolic tokens. This means that you can find different styles in one and the same painting, both considering fashion and the style of the artist, even though the master overlooked the work on each artwork. It also means that flowing robes and cloaks that appear might not be the fashionable items like the gowns and doublets right beside them, but more some kind of biblical clothing.
  • Colours, technics and styles regarding painting developed greatly during this century, with the use of different mineral sources etc as a way of getting vibrant, expensive and fashionable colours. But this does not mean that the colour tone on a painting was the same as the depicted garment from sketches and models; the colour was foremost the result of the client’s budget, where vibrant reds, dark blues and golden inlays were important for the fashionable and rich client. Does this mean that paintings can’t be the source for fashion studies? No- of course you can look at art for getting an idea of the clothing of the time. Just keep in mind that the colour that you see on your computer screen is the result of both a computer screen setting, the photography of the painting (with editing) how well the painting has withstood time (mineral paint tend to change over time) as well as the idea of what a really expensive colour looked like in art versus fashion.
  • Artists of the time was more handcrafters and less artists in our modern use of the word. They trained for masters, belonged to workshops and worked with paintings as a team, not as one expressive personality. The money came from churches, rich nobility and the burgher class who commissioned art pieces  (or bought ready-made pieces) such as piety paintings, portraits and, later on, everyday scenes from their home. This means that art was the result of society, fashion, study and individuals, greatly inspired by the ongoing social development as well as other painters. Of course there were room for personal style; compare Rogier van der Weyden to Durer and you will find style differences, even if you are not a trained art historian.
  • The artist had knowledge about the fact that fashion shifts; and that what was worn everyday when the paintings was made, was not the clothes of the time depicted in them. So in a painting of Christ’s birth; you can se both people dressed in the high of 1470’s fashion, as well as mythical and religious figures dressed in cloaks and robes that were meant to be seen as “some kind of long time ago clothing”. This might be pretty obvious, but to make it a bit trickier there is also paintings with 14th century fashions depicted (in a rather loose style) in 15th century paintings.
  • Dress for your age; as for society today, people tend to dress after their age, with the young girls and women of that time preferring high fashion dresses, loose hairstyles or flowing hair for the unmarried (or soon to be crowned queens) while older women seems to be more covered, with additional layers and more elaborate veils. Older women can also be seen in “unfashionable” garments; what was the thing 10-20 years ago at their prime seems to hang along.

Having this in mind, you can clearly se that if you aim to make an outfit as historical accurate as possible (…possible for your means, skill etc) an important start is to choose a certain time and period. The social standing is also important, so a good starting point could be a woman from south Germany (or a city of your choice) from the wealthy burgher class, who lived during 1450-1470.

1484,hans memling

I have chose to focus on the area of Germany, the Netherlands and the Flemish region. This because there were some great artists living there that I want to study further, but I also enjoy the fashion of that area and how the geographic areas and countries influenced each other. If you compare this areas to (for example) Italy or France, you will find that both style in art and fashion differs greatly.

Another thing to consider, is to search for sources besides art; like finds, surviving clothing items, sketches, written documentation etc. This will give a depth for your understanding of the period, where the beauty ideals and painting technique might touch up certain details to the point of it being difficult to interpret (like, how did all the women have those small round breasts sitting high up on the body?)


These are some important painters and artists from the German/Netherland/Flemish (Belgium)/Burgundy region during the century that I have chose to study in more detail:

(About the dating: Sometimes it is difficult to find the year of birth/death for individuals, so the dating in uncertain, but it will provide with a overwiev of when they lived and were active)

  • Limbourg brothers (1385-1416) Germany
  • Hubert van Eyck (1366-1426) Flemish
  • Jan van Eyck (1395-1441) Netherlands
  • Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464) Netherlands
  • Petrus Christus (1410-1476) Netherlands
  • Hugo van der Goes (1440-1483) Netherlands
  • Hans Memling (1430-1494) Netherlands
  • Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1504) Netherlands
  • Gerard David (1460-1523) Netherlands
  • Hans Holbein the Elder (1460-1524) Germany
  • Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) Germany

If you are interested in this period and want to learn more about the art, there’s some good books about different artists, and this really good (and free) article at Wikipedia about the subject.

I have also studied books on different artists, the Prestels “Masters of Art” series have been very interesting. There you can find both Van Eyck, Durer and many more.

Want to see more artwork from the time? Check out my Pinterest folder!


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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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Some of the clothes I’ve made this year

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.

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Lästips; handbok i 1400talsdräkt för män

Because the book is in Swedish; so will this blogpost be. It is about a new book about the late 15th century clothing for men.

Jag fick hem en helt ny bok, skriven på svenska, som handlar om den sena 1400talsdräkten för män. Det är så fantastiskt roligt att en sådan här bok görs, på svenska, av skickliga medeltidsmänniskor, med syfte att underlätta för andra att förstå och skapa 1400tal. Förutom att det är en lätt väg till kunskap så är det också ett tecken i tiden på att medeltida återskapande av olika slag blir större och större i Sverige!

Boken har en lättöverskådlig layout, enkel och tydlig text, och stycken som efter en snabb genomgång ger dig koll på dräkten. Det är den typen av bok jag skulle börja med att skaffa om jag ville göra 1400tal, eller ge till en nybörjare som vet *ingenting* men gärna vill vara med. Jag gillar att den tar upp en historisk överblick och talar om formspråk, för att därefter ge förslag på plagg som tillhör perioden. Det finns inga mönster eller steg för steg instruktioner för plaggen, sådana finns istället att köpa via reconstructing history eller görs själv med hjälp av en mönsterkonstruktionskurs eller Tailors assistant. Är du en sådan som vill forska vidare själv, så gräver du i referenslistorna som innehåller både bilder och litteratur. Det är helt enkelt en handbok riktad till återskapare som vill börja med perioden- så himla smart och häftigt!

Anna, som är en av två författare, har jag träffat flera gånger på event och hon är en skicklig hantverkare och återskapare, som också bloggar om mycket 1400tal (Willhelm känner jag inte än, men ring mig så tar vi en fika och nördar 1400tal!) Boken innehåller, förutom referenslistor, också massor av bilder från perioden. Bredvid varje avsnitt om plagg/material osv hittar du alltså både historiska referenser, bilder, skisser och materialförslag från ett modernt perspektiv. Mycket bekvämt med andra ord, eftersom mycket arbete som du behöver för att kunna återskapa dräkt redan är gjort i boken.

Rikard och Helena från Handelsgillet är också delägare i Chronocopia som ger ut boken, och arbetar (förutom att sälja material och produkter) med att sprida kunskap om återskapande. I boken finns det en del produkter från deras shop, vilket kanske kan ses som reklam- eller ett praktiskt sätt att få tag på bra material att fota för att belysa tygfärger, material och vad man kan hitta för att praktiskt återskapa perioden. Jag tycker att det är ett bra initiativ, jag vet att de gör mycket efterforskningar kring färger och val av material de köper in för att allt ska vara historiskt, och här är deras shop Handelsgillet för dig som vill hitta material från boken (den tunna kyperten som syns har jag använt till flera av mina dräkter).

Nästa bok behandlar kvinnodräkten- gissa vem som ska klicka hem den också…



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November update

A post about shopping, giving discounts and what I am up to now.

Today it is black Friday, and you are apparently supposed to buy lots and lots of things and all companies are having lots of sales, special offers and the like. Not me. Why?

As a small business runner, I have discovered lots of thing about selling and producing things, and about the market in general, so to speak. One of the things I have learned, is that to have sales and discounts on things, you will have to either 1. earn less (not an option for big companies) or 2. earn the money in other ways. So if your favourite store or brand have large discounts and sales all the time, it means that it isn’t really a discount but the regular price – the price they want for the product to sell it with profit. All the other times when they sell on full price is just an extra income; more profit for each product. It really is very logical; why should a professional company sell things that they do not profit on?

This means, for me to have regular sales, I would have to rise my prices with about 20%, and then sit back and enjoy every time a customer bought a piece on full price. But that doesn’t feel very honest. So every time I do offer something on sale the cut goes on my income; it basically means I have been working hours for free. Sometimes I take that cut; to sell items that has been in stock for some times, or to give a close friend or a regular some discount. But I will most certainly not do it because it’s a shopping day, on which people are supposed to buy things just because…

working at home is fun, but also tiring when the work spreads through the whole house

With second-hand things it is a bit different. I often sell items after just a couple of uses, and that is mainly because they are experiments on new materials, technics or garments that I really wanted to make, but maybe not needed. Also, some items is getting sold because they don’t fit, or don’t get used enough. These items I do not sell as a part of my business main income- but to give myself space and income for a new project to take place. For me it is really important to not just make pieces on order, but allow myself to get inspired and creative in order to grow as a tailor and seamstress. For this reasons, you can often find barely used garments for a much better price at my facebook page.

This time of year is a bit slow for reenactment business, and I finished my last orders a couple of days ago. So now I am writing on new blogposts, working on new tutorials, reading books and sewing some new things for myself and the shop. Like this hood; just a small piece that turned out quite lovely, and is going up on the fb page for sale.

Do you want a special item made for yourself, as a Christmas gift or for next years season? Now is an excellent time to order; by late spring I usually have quite a delivery time if not fully booked. Hope you are having a nice weekend- with more snow than drizzling rain.

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The green houppelande

I recently made (ok, rather recently…) this new green wool dress. It is an overdress for the 15th century outfit, and is commonly called a houppelande, which is like french for just ‘overdress’. The fabric is from Medeltidsmode, it’s a tabby woven fabric with a soft rich fall, and quite warm. The lining and the whole sleeves are lined with silk ( which is both fancy and in the case with the sleeves, very practical as the dress gets easier to take on and of) and the front is lined with a rabbit fur, that is from an animal/ecofriendly farm, and tanned with plants in an old-fashioned way. The dress is completely handsewn.

I wanted to show you this, because it’s a dress I’m very satisfied with, and also – I’m planning on a later tutorial about houppelandes and how to draft patterns for them. So, enjoy – here is a picture post about the green houppelande!

Great amounts of fabric gives you nice, deep and dramatic folds.

Under the houppelande I wear a blue silk dress, and rasberry-red shoes that I traded with Hans-Gunnar.

The belt is made of black leather and bronze fittings from a 15th century painting. The purse holder (to the right) is a way to be able to wear a purse in the belt- but I have not found that exact solution in any sources. It seem to be more common to carry your purse under the dress, in the belt of the kirtle. I had my Very-Fancy-Purse in the belt that day, but if you want to strive for a more historical accurate look- go without any visible purse.

Holding up the fabric is almost a must if you want to move around


Here you can see one of the gores I put in to save fabric, but expand the width.

The houppelande is a fancy dress, and should pool around your feet when you walk, if you don’t lift it of course! If you want to make one yourself- do it overly long. When I stand still, the dress arrange itself around me in deep folds.

Another thing is the width of the dress, and the amount of fabric it takes to do it. I had around 4 meters of 1,5 m width, but could definitely have used more fabric. As you can see, the dress gets very wide, and dramatic when hold up.