Saturday, 21 April 2018

What I have been up to

I haven’t updated here for a year and a half. The truth is I got rather burnt out on writing. I’ve been
blogging about my sewing since 2014, starting on LJ and eventually also here, so I guess it’s quite
natural to grow tired. There has also been a shift in the blogging culture. When I started you could
count on interesting discussions in the comments, while you now rarely get any comments at all.
There are far more blogs to follow, and everyone has a finite amount of time reading them. And a lot
of discussions has moved to FB, for good and bad. I’m not better than anyone else- I rarely find time
for reading blogs anymore. But it still isn’t all that fun writing for the crickets. I’ve been debating with
myself what to do with my blogs. Close them, delete them, or continue writing. I have three, after all.
When I started I wrote so much it was easy to fill them all with content.


I still haven’t decided what to do with the other blogs, though I think I’m going to merge them with
this blog, and only post here in the future. As for this one, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a practical
way to keep track on research on my sewing projects. Nevermind if those posts get comments, or not;
it’s still an easy way for me to check up on myself.


And I have been sewing. Since my last update I have finished, but not photographed; a 1910’s corset,
and one from the very first years of the 20th century. I’ve also made a Victorian chemise and trousers
set. And I also;


Made a late 18th-century apron for a common woman. It was a fashion to make aprons for festive
occasions of printed cotton. This one is a reproduction fabric from Duran Textiles, dated to 1745.


Cut off the too short skirt on a late 18th century round gown and made it into a jacket instead.




Added fake goldwork and a stomacher to my sleeved stays, and also re-made the petticoat. Then I
went to a ball at Versailles wearing it and had a lot of fun with my friends.







I also went to a few picnics, once in my 1740’s black wool jacket, and once in my striped 1790’s gown.



I made a mid-17th-century jacket in maroon wool and teal silk ribbons. I need to make re-make the
cuffs, though.



I finally made the early mantua I’ve talked about for so many years, out of a roll of Japanese kimono
silk. Wore it an amazing 1680's ball at Castle Salsta.


I realised I would never finish those Regency stays I started ten years ago, so I changed them slightly
into a late 19th-century reform corset.


Went as Flora to a masked ball in Bath, using the sleeved stays, without sleeves as a base, adding a
bunch of fake flowers.





And this summer I’m going to a Victorian weekend at sea on the island of Gotland. I’ve never done a
nything 19th century before, and it isn’t my favourite period. But a friend of mine talked it over and
came to the conclusion we really love the Pre-raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts Movement. So I’m
currently working on an artistic late 19th-century wardrobe. And, of course, a bathing suit.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

OMG, OMG, OMG, squee!

Today I received this:


A friend in Czechia told me about it earlier this year, and with her help got into contact with the university who had it published. You can’t buy it, but if you are researching historical clothes you can get it provided you send them postage. I wasn’t sure I would qualify, but clearly I did. There are a lot of pattern diagrams from the 16th- to the 18th century, for men, women, girls, horses(!), liturgical clothes and a few tents. The wool gown I made a few months ago comes from this book, and now I have so many things I want to make.

Like continuing on my late 17th/early 18th century wardrobe. I now have patterns for stays, riding habit and something I very much will look like the kind of loose nightgown you see on a lot of Swedish and Danish portraits from this period.

Unknown Swedish woman, late 17th century

Elizabeth Faltz, Sweden, late 17th/early 18th century


My old pet-en-l’air which is too small, basically has the same fabric as this one, only the pattern is smaller. Doesn’t it just beg to be re-made into it?

Christiane Marie Foss, Denmark, 1700-1709







I also strongly suspect that the riding habit I want to make will look very much like this one:

Hedvig Sofia, Princess of Sweden by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
 Also, there is the pattern for a riding habit from 1769 which includes the waistcoat. I haven’t seen an old pattern for that before.And, from the same year, patterns for two pair of stays, one which would look a lot like this one made up:

Late 18th century stays


You understand why I’m a bit incoherent of joy?

Also, I found a gown which looks very much like my wool gown on a Swedish painting.

Hedvig Sofia, Princess of Sweden, detail from a painting atributed to David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, painted in 1697

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Late 17th/early 18th century mantilla

What the item is: A stole, or mantilla.



There are two extant examples of this kind of garment in Scandinavia One in Denmark and one in Sweden. Both are made of black silk gauze and embroidered white silk. It’s a shawl, there the front is elongated with an extra panel. From the front this makes it look like a gown when worn. Both the extant mantillas have a stomacher made of the white fabric. The Swedish one is dated to the 1690’s, the Danish one to 1695-1709(ish)

Nationalmuseum, Denmark

Nordiska museet, Sweden


I’ve found very little information about this kind of garment. Ellen Andersen writes that this type of garment originated from Spain, and has been known since the late 16th century. In France it became popular in the 1720’s. Garsault mentions it in 1769, when he talks about how a lady should dress for court presentation:


If the Lady to be presented is not able to endure the heavily boned bodice [of a robe de cour] then she is allowed to wear a lighter one, covered with a mantilla, with the court train and petticoat.  As the mantilla covers the upper arm the top lace flounce, which would not be seen, is omitted.  The mantilla is made from any light material such as gauze, net, lace, etc.


I strongly suspect the boundaries between the kind of mantilla I have made, and one which is just a plain shawl, is very hazy. I have only found one painting where I’m almost sure the lady is wearing a mantilla. Christina Brodersonia, Carl Linneaus mother:

Source Linnè Hammarby, Sweden

It drapes the right way, but it may, of course, only be a shawl. There is certainly not difficult to find paintings of 18th century women wearing shawls. Most of them only show the upper half of the body.


It seems to me that this must be a versatile garment. It’s a lightweight wrap and worn over just stays and petticoats it must have been a good alternative for a hot day. It must also have been quite practical to wear during pregnancies.


The Challenge: Monochrome


Fabric: White silk brocade. Black silk habotai.


Pattern: I used the pattern in Danske Dragter , though adapting it to fit my own body. I aimed to keep the ratio between measurements the same as in the original pattern. In retrospect I could have cut the black silk shorter, but it still works. I omitted the stomacher as I realised I had enough brocade left to make a pair of stays, if I did so.




Year: 1695-1709, but can probably be stretched a bit further into the 18th century.


Notions: Silver lace and white sewing silk. I cut the lace down the middle to make it go further. Silk ribbons to bind the seams in.


How historically accurate is it? The pattern is made after an original garment. However, the original was made of white embroidered silk and black silk gauze. So I would say about 80%.


Hours to complete: I cut it all out just before Midsummer. It’s completely hand sewn and I have been sewing all summer, but I have no idea how many hours it took.


First worn: For these photos. I apologize for wearing a pair of 1780’s stays. All my other stays are in the attic, and I was feeling lazy. Period accurate makeup; pearl powder, burnt clove for the eyebrows and lip pomade coloured with alkanet. Reproduction earrings from Dames a la Mode




Total cost: 1045 Euro. One yard silk habotai: 13 Euro. Three yards of silk brocade: 60 Euro (but I will get a pair of stays out of it too). Fourteen yards of silver lace: 40 Euro. 18 yards of habotai silk ribbon: 32 Euro. Thread from my stash.


Sources: Andersen, Ellen, Danske Dragter: Moden i 1700-årene, Nationalmuseet, 1977

Brown, Carolina, Mode: klädedräktens historia genom fem sekler, Rabén & Sjögren, 1991
Waugh, Nora, The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1930, Routledge, 1984

Monday, 25 July 2016

HSF 2016 Travels: Wool gown, 1680-1712



I have finished a gown! And for once it also fitted into The Historical Sew Monthly!



The Challenge: Travels.

The pattern for this gown came to my attention thanks to a friend in Czechia. It was part of a small collection of pattern diagrams published there in 1712 and called “Swedish court clothes”. They are not, however, particularly fancy clothes, and the fabric notes indicates wool for all the garments except for a pair of stays. In the early 18th century, king Karl XII of Sweden and his army were, if not actually in present Czechia, not all that far north from it. Even if a king at war didn’t have a sumptuous court, there were still a number of aristocratic ladies travelling their officer husbands, so there was some kind of travelling court. My guess is that these clothes, which seems quite useful for travelling, came from that court. And the pattern themselves have done a bit of travelling.










Fabric: Double sided wool, striped in grey/blue/brown on one side, black on the other. Brown linen for lining.






Pattern: I adapted my basic 18th century bodice and sleeve pattern while trying to keep to the proportions of the original pattern diagram. The skirt is made of four half trapezoid pattern pieces. The skirt was drafted directly onto the fabric, using the same angles as the pattern diagram.



Year: 1690-1712







Notions: Gold braid. Sewing silk in black, brown, blue and pale gold. Grosgrain ribbon in pale blue rayon. Antique paste belt buckle.
How historically accurate is it? I would say 75 %. The pattern is based on original sources, but due to fabric shortage I had to do a few changes on the skirt. The original skirt length was the back bodice length multiplied with three, which would have given the skirt a longer trail. The measurements of the skirt was double the waist measurement, but the front has much less fabric, I’m sorry to say. I sew it all together on machine, but all other seams were made by hand.

The gown turned out too big, partly because I’ve lost weight, but probably also because wool is stretchy. Even if I’m quite pleased with it, I’ll need to do some changes for a better fit. I also need to drape up the skirt more toward the back when I wear it. The fontange cap was made after a self drafted pattern, using these instructions. I thought it was too narrow on top, but it looked fine when I actually wore it. I used fine linen and remnants of lace my grandmother made. I need to purchase lace for the lapels and add a bow on the back. I also made a first try for the proper hairstyle and I Think it turned out ok. Not as high as I wanted it, but I merely worked with curled hair. Next time I'll see what pomade and powder can do.












Hours to complete: Cant’s say. The cutting, fitting and sewing it all together took about five hours. Then came all that hand sewing.
First worn: Yesterday at an 18th century picknick.
Total cost:  4 meter of wool fabric; 77 Euro. Belt buckle; 7 Euro. 4 meter of gold braid; 23 Euro. The brown linen was the gift from an aunt and originally purchased in the 1980’s. The grosgrain ribbon and the silk thread was inherited from my grandmother. So I guess the total cost would be 110-115 Euro.


This kind of gown can be seen on paintings and fashion plates in the late 17th/early 18th century. Though the skirt is slit and draped the same way as a mantua, the bodice is smooth and not fitted with the help of pleats.












Anne Marie d'Orléans while Duchess of Savoy by L. Mariette, 1684

Anne de Souvré, marquise de Louvois (1646-1715) by Simon Dequoy, 1695



Anonymous portrait, 1680-1700, Nordiska museet

Recueil des modes de la cour de France, 'Fille de qualité', 1680

The Cryes of the City of London Drawne after the Life: Fair Lemons & Oranges, 1688

The Cryes of the City of London Drawne after the Life: Crab crab any crab, 1688









Friday, 22 April 2016

The HSM 2016: Challenge # 5: Holes


The fifth Historical Sew Monthly challenge is due May 31. The theme is holes and, of course technically, all clothes have holes, at least as soon as you go from a piece of material wrapped or draped around the body to a sewn garment. You simply cannot get into a garment if there isn’t openings in it. But holes can also serve a dual purpose combining utility with decoration. Or they can be there simply as an ornament. They can be punched and cut, the can form a circle or a slit or any other shape. There can even be more open space than material in a garment. I hope this post with a small sample of all kinds of holes will provide some inspiration.

Functional holes for lacing a bodice in blue glazed cotton, 1775-1800.


Digitalt museum


Holes necessary for adjusting the size of a corset.

Corset 1875-99, V&A

The buttonholes on this coat, dated to 1725-50, are both functional and decorative.


Metropolitan Museum of Art


A sideless gown where the necessity of arm holes also becomes a way to show off the garment underneath.


From Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany, 1603-08. Wikimedia Commons
Gown by Lanvin from 1938 where the neckline that also provides a design element.


Metropolitan Museum of Art
The more holes in a bathing suit, the more places to get a lovely tan.


1920s bathing suit, back view. Metropolitan Museum of Art



Red doublet with decorative slits and a row of lacing holes to keep the breeches attached.


Wool doublet worn by Gustaf II Adolf of Sweden, 1620s. Livrustkammaren
A child’s bodice from the early 17th century where the open sleeves are tied with ribbons to form decorative slits.


Digitalt museum

Yellow silk dress from 1819 with decorative slits on the sleeveheads.


Back view. V&A



Red evening gown, c 1934 with the traditional lacing converted into a design element.


Metropolitan Museum of Art

Full length sleeveless negligée in pink silk satin from the 1930’s.


V&A

We wouldn’t have lace if there wasn’t any holes...


A woman’s waistcoat in drawn and pulled threadwork, 1630-39.


V&A

17th century collar in drawn lacework.


Livrustkammaren

Cotton lace cap from 1829


Metropolitan Museum of Art



Linen petticoat with eyelet embroidery, 1860-65


Metropolitan Museum of Art



Bobbin lace bodice front, 1865-75.


V&A

And let's not forget shoes, that can provide many variations of both functional and decorative holes.


Chopines, 17th century. Livrustkammaren

A woman's silk shoe, 17th century. Livrustkammaren

Boots, 1920s. V&A

1930s shoes


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