Monday, 31 December 2018

#costumingyearinreview favorite look

Theme of the day: Favorite look.

It's always so hard to pick, but in the end I have chosen my two favorite looks, one historical and one cosplay.

Favorite historical look: My 1520s Master Miner's wife

I love this outfit, even more now that I have an even better apron compared to when this photo was taken. It's also very emotional, since the early 16th century is my absolute favorite time period and to base a costume around what people you have read so much about would have worn is a lot bigger than just picking a dress and recreate just because it looks nice.

Favorite cosplay: Melisandre

Melisandre is something totally different. I chose the costume even if I don't like the character, I just wanted to be able to wear my natural hair and not bother about wigs, extensions or basically any styling. It's not even finished, since I wasn't able to dye the fabric for the outer coat but I still love it anyway. I look good in it, it's a fun character to cosplay and it's so comfortable.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

#costumingyearinreview achievements

Theme of the day: Achivements

For my historical costumes I think my biggest achievement is definitely that I finished all 12 HSM challenges this year, and I had fun doing them.

For cosplay I think my biggest achievement was to start playing around more with makeup. I'm not the kind to wear make up, but it has been fun playing around with contouring and what effects you can do. I am a novice, but the fact that I started to work with it was an accomplishment.

Melisandre's dramatic make up is fun, I need to learn to make more natural faces as well
In general I also think it was an accomplishment to finally organize my attic storage to better accomodate my costumes.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

#costumingyearinreview biggest regret

Today's theme: Biggest regret

This one is also fairly easy, and it's my TLJ Leia coat. I rushed it because I really wanted something new to wear to Stockholm ComicCon, and then I managed to forget it at home so I still couldn't wear it. The rushing is evident, and there is a reason that I haven't posted about it here. I will see if I will take the time in 2019 to fix all the mistakes.

Friday, 28 December 2018

#costumingyearinreview new appreciation

Today's theme is: New appreciation

This one is easy for me and it was regency fashion. I have admired those beautiful light and airy regency gowns that people post about, but I've always figured that they would not fit my bodytype. I'm way too curvy and short. When I made my 1790's roundgown I realised that if you work with proportions it actually looked good, and was comfy and easy to wear. Now I do transition rather than pure regency fashion, but it's a totally changed point of view compared to what I thought before 2018.

Thursday, 27 December 2018


Over on instagram there is the hashtag #costumingyearinreview going around, and I figured it could be a new way of summarising my costuming year. I'm a day late, but I will do the December 26th and 27th posts in this one. I will also mix my historical costumes and cosplay projects.

My costume plans 2018 were:

1520's outfit
Admiral Daala (Star Wars)
Updated Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)
Melisandre's travelling coat (Game of Thrones)
Resistance Girl ('Allo, 'Allo)

My costumes of the year

The first costume that I finished was Admiral Daala, and I could bring her to Nordsken in May.

It is a great con costume. It's comfy, I don't have to worry about my hair, and even the boots are nice to walk in for long distances. The downside is of course that nobody recognizes her.

The second thing that I finished was my 1520's outfit. I had made different shifts and accessories so that I could style it both as either uper class or middle class.

One of the local master miners estates had been restored to its 18th century appearance, and that gave me a chance to finally finish my pet en l'air. I also retrimmed one of my straw hats.

The summer was one big heatwave though, and wearing a longsleeved wool gown, with a kirtle under it, was too much. For Tuna Ting I quickly threw together a late 15th century shortsleeved gown in a very thin wool. It's not the most accurate, both when it comes to fabric and the fact that I sewed most of it on the machine. It was needed to survive the summer though.

A surprise when it came to comfortable costumes was the fact that I just loved walking around in my Melisandre gown. I failed totally in making her travelling cloak, but I got good use of the gown both at NärCon and at Stockholm ComicCon. It's totally like walking around in a big bathrobe, and I don't have to do much about my hair. I can even hide a pair of sneakers under it to be able to walk all day long.

I went to Medieval Week in Visby for the first time in August, and I realised that I would need some more clothes. I had been jealous of all the vikings at the Leksand Medieval Market, they looked so cool and comfortable compared to my 16th century clothes. So I quickly threw together a viking. The shift is great, the apron dress so so, but it worked. I'm not aiming for anything perfect for my viking, I just wanted another set of clothes.

Then in a very quick project, that still turned out really well I made a 1790's roundgown. Hildasholm in Leksand had a Jane Austen day, and of course I wanted to dress the part. Earlier in the year I had been given a lot of 18th century reproduction fabrics, so now I could make use of at least some of them. I have never really liked regency clothing, and I have claimed that those highwaisted column dresses aren't flattering for me, but I might have to change my opinion. I really enjoyed wearing this gown. Also it was fun to make some rediculous accessories, like the snow cone reticule and the chemisette.

All year my plan had been to finish updating my Luna Lovegood for AvestaCon in October. I had updated the shoes and the shirt, but my Hogwarts robe arrived the week after. Luna is another costume that is perfect for conventions, everybody recognized it from Harry Potter, and it's so easy to wear.

The one thing I didn't do from my list was the Resistance girl from 'Allo, 'Allo. It's going to be a low priority. If I find a suitable and cheap trenchcoat I can throw it together, but I'm not going to go searching for it.

Outside of this I have made a lot of small things, mostly for the HSM challenges, and a separate post for them can be found here

Best acquisition:

Costplay - My Hogwarts robe

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

HSM 2018 recap

We have come to that part of the year when it's time to look back and see what I have actually done. I will start with my Historical Sew Monthly challenges. I've participated in the HSM for several years, but most of the years I only finish a few challenges. This year I did manage to enter an item for every challenge. I have mostly made different kind of accessories, since they are the kind of small things that are easy to finish on short notice, and I also mostly use material from my stash.

This year the HSM has really challenged me, and I can definitely say that I have never entered things from so many different eras, even if I thought I would only be making 16th century this year.

Here is the list of the year:

January - mend, remake, refashion
Mend or re-shape one of your previously made historical clothing items, or refashion a new one out of something not originally intended as sewing fabric.

Original plan: none

I took the challenge to heart and used a pair of net stockings to make a hairnet.

February - Under
make something that goes under the other layers

Original plan: High necked 16th century shift.

I made my base 16th century shift. I haven't had very many opportunities to wear it though, preferring to use my low necked shifts, I'm keeping this one for special occasions.

March - Comfort at home
Make something to wear around the (historical) house

Original plan: None, but an apron is always a good idea

I used some quite coarse linen to make an apron that could work for many different eras, and it was used a lot over the summer.

April - Buttons and fastenings
Create something where the closures are the start of the show

Original plan: Maybe a gollar with an interesting fastening

I made a 16th century gollar, I even made the buttons myself. I failed a bit with the challenge though, since I covered the buttons with a fur edge. This is probably one of my favorite projects of the year, and I'm happy with everything with it. 

May - specific to a time (of day or year)
Historically, some garments were worn year round, and for a range of events. Others were exclusively for certain times of year, or specific times of day. Make one of the latter.

Original plan: None

I made a 14th century night cap. It turned out to be a bit small, and not as warm as I had hoped, but it was a night cap.

June - rebellion and counter culture
Create an item that pays homage to fashion rebels and clothes that flaunt their place on the fringes of standard sartorial society, or that was signature to a rebelling cause.

Original plan: the use of slashing in my 16th century gown

I finished my 1520's gown for this. I didn't do any slashing, but since I'm aiming for the kind of dress worn by the rebellious people of Dalarna in the 1520s I still fit it within the challenge.

July - sleeves
There are some amazing examples of historical sleeves styles out there. Put the focus on the arms and shoulders in your creation for this challenge.

Original plan: none

Ok, I didn't do an amazing style, but I made a pair of loose sleeves that I could pin to my late 15th century gown.

August - extant original
Copy an extant historical garment as closely as possible.

Original plan: none

This was a really fun challenge. I made a Skjoldehamn hood based on the MA thesis that has been written on the Skjoldehamn find. This was a very useful challenge, in that I learnt a lot about how badly many historical garments are made, and that I don't have to worry too much about my own quality. 

September - Hands and feet
Create a fabulous accessory for your hands or feet.

Original plan: gloves or mittens

I did not follow my original plan, instead I made a pair of sewn woollen hose.

October - fabric manipulation
Take fabric to the next level with any kind of historical embellishment or manipulation: smocking, shirring, embroidering, beading, pinking, ruching, printing, painting, dyeing etc.

Original plan: a smocked 1520s apron, or a ruched 1790s roundgown

I did the less complicated project and made a second apron of the year, this one looks a lot better than the one from the March challenge though.

November - purse and bags
You’ve got your arms covered in July, your hands in September, now make something amazing to dangle from them.

Original plan: None, but maybe an 18th century pocket

In November I ran a bit out of steam, but I was not going to give up on the challenges with only two left. The problem was of course that I had already made 1790's reticule and a medieval pilgrim bag earlier in the year. In the end I found some scrap  pieces of leather and decided to make a pouch. Working with leather was new for me, and the execution could definitely have been better, but it fulfilled the challenge, and I had a practical pouch.

December - neglected challenge
Was there a challenge this year (or, if you’ve been doing the HSM for a while, in a previous year) you missed? Or didn’t create quite what you’d wanted for? This is your chance to make it up!

Original plan: none

I had planned to do mitts both back in 2016 and for the September 2018 challenge, so finally after several years I finally hade an 18th century pair of mitts. They are so comfy, so I really ended the HSM on a high note this year.

Here is a recap when looking back

Favorite thing I did as an HSM challenge - My gollar from April
Most unexpected thing I did - the Skjoldehamn hood from August
Most used thing - the loose sleeves from July
Most used fabric - I really have gotten a lot out of that red wool fabric my mother gifted me
Eras done - Viking age, 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 18th century

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Merry Christmas

In Sweden we celebrate on the Christmas Eve, so this is the last day before Christmas. I have just finished up a new festive skirt and I want to wish you all a very, merry Christmas.

The skirt was a remnant I found in a fabric store in Uppsala, it's alot more emerald green and blingy in real life. I've simply made a wastband and pleated the whole length of fabric to it. I was lucky and found a green zipper. The fabric doesn't ravel so I haven't even hemmed it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Building your historical wardrobe

By now I have a lot of historical clothes in my wardrobe, and I usually talk about having what I consider a good 16th century wardrobe and a good 18th century wardrobe. On the way there are some things that I have learnt and here I will try to give you some advice when you plan on doing an historical wardrobe. There are plenty of advice out there on the importance of fabric choices and the right underpinnings, I'm going to talk more about other choices you can make when building your wardrobe.

1. When will you wear your historical clothes?

 Will it be for a fancy party or will be clothes that you need to wear a full day and do chores in?

My 18th century wardrobe grew out of my wish of going to fancy parties. I started off with silk gowns and fancy trims. This also means that I had no problems making tight corsets, or stays, and bumrolls and panniers. Those are underpinnings that I can wear for an evening, but it's nice to get out of them after a couple of hours. It's also the kind of clothes that are a bit complicated to put on, it definitely helps to have access to a fullbody mirror and a friend or two.

On the contrary when I've made my 16th century clothes I know that the events that I am most likely to attend are fairs and markets. At those events I will be in my clothes for a lot longer time, and I will probably do more than just stand around, sit or dance. I have chosen to do clothes that are not quite as tight as my 18th century clothes, and I am staying away from the silks and fancy details, preferring to make clothes that are more working class or lower upper class compared to my 18th century wardrobe.

My instinct for 18th century clothes is still "Oooh, that's pretty I want to wear that", while my 16th century  is more along the lines of  "I need this to be comfortable".

2. Make more shifts and chemises

When starting an historical costume you should always start with the underwear, but once you have done that first layer, you should make another one. If you are just going to an evening event one shift or chemise is enough, but as soon as you start attending events that are longer than that it is so nice to be able to change your shift every day. For Medieval week in Visby I brought four shifts with me, which also made it possible to wash and dry one while I was wearing the others. A basic shift can be worn during many eras as well, the Viking shift that I have made can work up until the 16th century, and my oldest 18th century chemise, with a drawstring around the neck, has doubled as a 16th century shift just as well. In fact both the Viking and 18th century shifts are constructed the same, it is just a matter of different arm lengths and how big the head opening is, and if you have a drawstring you can adjust that size.

Since the shifts are usually under all the other clothes I have no bad conscience when sewing them by machine, and zigzagging the raw edges instead of felling the seams.

3. Mix and match and make separates

I like to vary my wardrobe, and think it's boring to show up at events in the same clothes. Instead of making a full new outfit every time I have now built my wardrobes so that I can mix and match pieces.

For the 18th century this is pretty easy, since the gowns and petticoats are separate. As it is I only have two different skirts, and a white petticoat that can be used as an outer skirt.

 The same skirt is used with both my 1760's pet en l'air and over pocket hoops, but I've also worn it my 1780's anglaise, over a bumroll. Pocket hoops and bumrolls are totally different, but with some creative use of safety pins, and enough width in the skirt, it can be use for both.

Two of us are wearing pinned on sleeves
For earlier centuries, when it was still a matter of full gowns instead of separate gowns and skirt it is
trickier but still possible.  I can transfer my social class to a working woman and just walk around in my undergown, which means that I have two outfits, even if only planned to make one full outfit with both undergown and outer gown.

Loose sleeves that can be pinned onto the gown are great to add variety to your medieval wardrobe. They are easy to make and don't need a lot of fabric.

Sleeves can be seen as an accessory, which brings me to my last point.

4. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize

Or simply learn how to style your clothes in different ways to create variety. I skipped on the accessories when I made my first costumes, it was the gown that was the main purpose with a costume project. It was thanks to the Historical Sew Monthly that I started to make accessories, and realized that it was fun to switch them around and style outfits differently. For the 18th century wardrobe I have 3-4 different caps, 3-4 hats and two aprons. For my 16th century wardrobe I have two hats, 2 different veils and a wulsthaube, and can play around with them. Here it is also possible to make a few generic accessories that work over several time periods, I'm using my plain linen apron for everything from the 15th century and onwards, while a smocked apron or an apron made of printed cotton is more limited in use. The veils can be used for all things medieval, and even double as an 18th century fichu in a pinch. When it comes to styling different head covers, whether it is a veil or a cap, are great for hiding your hair so you don't have to worry about making a complicated historical hairstyle.

Here is an example on how I have styled my base 1520's wardrobe in three different ways.

My full outfit represent lower nobility and landed gentry. I wear a smocked shift, furtrimmed gollar, a hairnet and the skirt is long. The undergown doesn't show.

I changed from a smocked shift to a lownecked gathered shift. I switched the hairned for a wulsthaube with veil and added a hat on top. I hooked up the skirt of the outer gown so that the undergown is visible. Now I looked more like a trossfrau than a respectable lady.

Finally I took off the outergown and only wore the undergown and shift. I also removed the wulsthaube and just wrapped the veil around my head. Now I look more like a working woman.

 So to summarize here are my advice on building your historical wardrobe.

1. Adjust it to the kind of historical event you will wear it to. This affects how comfortable and sturdy you want to make the clothes.

2. Make more than one shift/chemise. You can never have too many, and if your wardrobe is made for an era where the shift is visible, it is an easy way to change your outfit.

3. Mix and match pieces. If you are making more than one outfit, make the pieces interchangable so you can create combinations of the items that yo have.

4. Add accessories. Different caps, veils, fichus, purses and other accessories are great to bring variety to your wardrobe, and are usually cheaper and more easy to make than a whole new outfit.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Faking 1695

Every year my work organizes a big Christmas fair. This year I got the mission to come up with an historical pair that could act as hosts for the fair. The challenge of course was that we are not a museum with a big costume department or budget. What I had to work with were some things that have been collected over the years for other projects, what I had in my private costume wardrobe and some small things that I could buy. I realized that the hardest thing would be to find something for my colleague Carl. After all I have enough historical clothes that I could probably wing something together for most eras. There was also the little challenge of having to be outdoors in the Swedish December, when most of my clothes are for summer events.

One thing we have in our storage is a big black wool coat, and I decided to build the couple around that.

This is an illustration from a map of the Falun Mine in 1683, or rather it's a water colour copy, but I have access to a very high resolution image of the original, and it's very close to this. I have said for years that I want to make a costume based on that woman, but now I had to come up with something without the time or budget to make a totally new outfit. The couple in the illustration are a well to do master miner and his wife. The master  miners were upper class, but not nobility and they were hard working, meaning that the master miners were expected to know and be able to work in the mine or foundry and the wives were organising and working on their estates. From the 1690's they were very strongly influenced by pietism, and we know that they kept a fairly low profile and were not into showing off by wearing too fancy clothes, except for visits at the court and similar events.

I decided that our couple should be Harald Lybecker, who was a master miner and appointed as head of the whole mine, and his wife Emerentia in 1695. There are a lot of reasons why I picked the year 1695, and not the year of the illustration, one of the biggest is that the mine drastically changed in 1687 when two smaller open cast mines collapsed and created the Great Open Pit, that is the hallmark of the mine still today. It would have been hard to make a believable interpretation, and pretend that there isn't a big gaping hole in the centre of the area. We wanted to place our interpretation in a year when the rebuilding after the collapse was going on, things were improving, and the family life of the couple was quite good as well.

This is our version of the couple. For him we used the black coat, I bought a long wool cape, a pair of wide linen pants that we could fasten around the knees and a pair of knee socks. From the stash in the museum we found a felt hat and a long white shirt. The cravat is simply a long piece of cotton voile, and the shoes were his own. The most important thing is his walking stick/probing axe that only master miners were allowed to use. The museum has a replica of it that he could use.

I'm wearing a mix of clothes from different eras.

I started off with my 16th century low necked smock and undergown. In the museum I found a white apron. I had my new mitts, and the cap is one of few things that is actually a 17th century model.

I found the Marquess of Winchester's guide to living history Which is concentrating on the English Civil War, it's a bit earlier than our late 17th century goal, but I decided to make the cap nr 4, which seemed like a rather good common cap. It's handsewn from cotton, and to up the status a bit I also added some lace to the front. The lace is a modern polyester lace, but it was needed to give the cap a bit of flair.

In the mseum I also found a jacket, which I would date to more 18th century, but it was fairly netural, and I was happy to find something that fit with all the other layers under. I also wore my new leather pouch, which worked perfectly for holding my phones, keys and insulin pen.

The final outerwear was a white square piece of cloth that I wore as a neckerchief, a wool cape for warmth that the museum bought, my 18th century muff and a hood. The hood is a generic 17th/18th century pattern, basically a long piece that is folded together, the back is sewn together and gathered to shape it, and it has two long pieces of fabric to tie with. The only fabric that I found to work with in the museum was a quite stiff broadcloth, I would have preferred something softer. Also to upcycle it a bit I added a piece of fake fur, it's actually the collar from a modern jacket of one of my colleagues. The fur was really needed, most of the time I wore the hood down and it was so nice to have the fur around the neck to keep warm.

I am actually pretty satisfied with the result, if I consider what I had to work with. Now having spent a lot of time researching 1690's clothing, I can't help but feeling the need for a wool mantua, but we will see what happens. I have done enough research about Harald and Emerentia Lybecker, that I hope we get more opportunities to do interpretations based on them.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

HSM Challenge 12 - Finally a pair of mitts!

Hurray! I've done it. I have finished all challenges for the Historical Sew Monthly 2018, which means that I have 12 new items to wear. I will do a ful recap of my HSM projects later.

The last challenge was:

Neglected Challenge: Was there a challenge this year (or, if you’ve been doing the HSM for a while, in a previous year) you missed? Or didn’t create quite what you’d wanted for? This is your chance to make it up!
Having done all the challenges this year I wasn't sure what to do for this last challenge, and I didn't want to go through and look at all the old challenges that I have missed. I had one event left in December though, the traditional Christmas fair at Falu Gruva where I was going to do be outside in some historical clothes. An issue though is that all my historical costumes are done for the summer, I hardly have anything that would keep me warm. With that I decided to make a pair of 18th century mitts. A pair of mitts have been on my to do-list for a really long time, and going back I discovered that I had it on my HSM 2016 list under the challenge "Protection". I'm putting this project both under the neglected 2016 challenge, and under the "Hands and feet" challenge this year. I made a pair of hose for the challenge, but in January when I posted my HSM plans I wrote "gloves or mitts perhaps".  Having had mitts up for two challenges, I can definitely call them my "finally" pair.

I made these at our Craft Tuesday with Cosplay Dalarna. The downside was that I hadn't brought a pattern, so I had to wing it, and when I couldn't figure out the thumb I started sewing them together anyway, so I basically did them in a much more complicated order than I should have.

I started with pinning a muslin on my forearm to get a pattern for the main part of the mitt.

When I sewed them together I had to fit them more. I cut out the thumb hole, but it turned out too big. I think it stretched quite a lot while I was trying the mitts on before sewing. The smart thing is of course to attach the thumb first, and then sew the mitt together.

I couldn't figure out the shape of the thumb though, so that had to wait until I got home and could check the pattern in American Duchess guie to 18th century dressmaking. The thumb hole was too big when I attached the thumb and causes some wrinkling issues, but it's ok.

As an after thought I decided to add a silk flap lining. Since it was an afterthough I couldn't just trace the shape of the flap. Instead I cut out a rather large piece of silk and pinned it to the flap, sewed it on and then I cut away the excess fabric. The flap was turned to the inside, and I hemmed and attached the loose sides of the flap to the mitt.

The finished pair of mitts.

And I wore the mitts to the Christmas fair. They were really comfortable and nice to wear. Together with my muff they kept the hands nice and toasty.

Me and a colleague as Mr and Mrs. Harald Lybecker, hosts of the fair.

The Challenge: 12 - Neglected Challenges. (I had planned to make mitts both for the HSM 2016 challenge "Protection" and the 2018 challenge "Hands or feet"
Material: 0,5 m wool, 20 cm of silk taffeta 
Pattern:  My own,
Year:  General 18th century
Notions: waxed linen thread, silk thread
How historically accurate is it? The execution isn't perfect, but it's made with period materials and in material techniques, they are all handsewn. I would say 90%
Hours to complete: Two evenings, so maybe 4 hors
First worn: Falu Gruva's Christmas Fair, December 9
Total cost: Everything was from my stash, (the wool is a leftover from my 1520s gown and the silk is a leftover from my Gold Handmaiden costume)