Wednesday, 29 August 2018

A very simple chemisette

My new roundgown has a very deep neckline. It's very flattering to the bust, but not really suitable for daydress. I decided to make a chemisette to cover the bare skin. For the chemisette I looked at the chemisettes in Arnold and in the American Duchess guide, but I mostly improvised on my own. It's not my most beautiful work, but it's ok.

It's made of a very thin cotton voile. The front is made of two pieces, wider at the top and tapering down. Now for a nice early chemisette I shouldn't have tapered the front so much, the originals were more square. The sides have, not very even, rolled hems.

The back is just one piece, and not very tapered.

The bottom hems of the fronts and back are wide enough to thread a cotton tape through to keep the chemisette in place. From the side it's very obvious that the whole chemisette is pretty loose, but it will stay in place under the gown.

The collar was a cheat. Instead of making several layers, I cut one fairly wide piece of fabric and folded it in not quite half, to offset the edges a bit. The collar was sewn to a cotton tape and then sewn onto the main chemisette.

I am thinking about trying to starch the collar to make it stand up a bit more, now it's quite flappy.

The chemisette is handsewn, mostly because it's been nice to do something while talking to people or watching TV.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Am I a regency convert?

While waiting for the material for my Melisandre coat I got bored, and since I have a problem with a stash that is bulging I decided to use up some of my fabric. Next week there is also a Jane Austen Garden party that I would like to go to, so I started to think about updating my gaulle in some way. The easiest way would be to make a half-robe or open robe, out of the cotton curtains that I brought home for free earlier in the year. With a half-robe I figured that it would be possible to raise the waist on the half-robe, and thus make the whole ensemble look a bit later than the mid-1790s.

I started with cutting out the fabric and linen lining, using the gaulle pattern but cutting it shorter to raise the waist.

I mainly used the half-robe from Janet Arnold's Pattern of Fashion (p, 44). To make it cross over I freehanded the bodice lines in front.

The linen lining is fitted closer to the body and closes with three sets of ties. All the photos on the progress are taken on my dress-form, which is not working when I'm doing historical fashion, so it fits better on me than on the dress-form.

For the sleeves I used the roundgown sleeve pattern from "The American Duchess guide to 18th century dressmaking" as an inspiration, but I cut it out a lot bigger and then draped it until it fit fairly well It's not my most well-fitting sleeve, but I really wanted the sleeves to be roomy and comfortable, and the regency allows for a bit of puff on the top of the sleeve.

To set the sleeves I first sewed on the bottom  of the sleeve. For this project I'm using the machine for all the invisible seams.

I then sewed the top of the sleeve to the lining, by machine, before I folded the outer fabric over te sleeve and sewed it on, covering the raw edges under the outer fabric. For this I did by hand, using a small backstitch.

Then it was only to hem the neckline of the lining and ouer fabric.

The fine tuning of the neckline shape is done with the help of two buttons and straps.

To make selfcovered buttons I cut out a round piece of fabric and made small gathering stitches all around it.

I pulled the fabric around a round shanked button, and then sewed it on to the gown.

I made a small loop of cotton ribbon and attached it to the inside of the lining.

The loop goes around the button and ruches the neckline to create the final shape.

When I had started working on the gown, and the bodice was done, I decided that since I had so much fabric, then I could just as well make a full roundgown, and not just a half-robe. I used to widths of the curtains, but I had to cut away around 10 cm on each side because they were really worn and sunbleached.

Most of the fabric was pleated into the back piece.

I pinned the rest of the fabric all around the bodice, and the excess fabric was gathered into two small pleats at the side seams. On the Arnold half-robe there is only a pleat on one of the side seams, but I rather have two pleats than cutting off fabric, also with my wide hips I figured that it wouldn't be bad to have some extra fabric there.

The last thing was to make a half belt, that goes from side seam to side seam. It fastens with a hook and bar.

While working on the gown I think I might have become a bit of regency convert. I've always said that I don't like regency and that it's a fashion that is not flattering to my figure. When I have tried it on during the process I have gotten quite surprised on that I feel really comfortable and nice in it. The simplicity of the construction, the use of cotton and comfortable sleeves have definitely made me understand why it's so popular with regency fashion.

Now it should be said that this dress is still mostly rooted in the 1790's, with the waist just a bit above the natural waist.

Now I hope that the weather will be nice and that I will get to that Jane Austen garden party.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Her Universe Endor Landscape dress

This is my newest addition to wearable cute Star Wars dresses, It's not really new though, in fact I bought it as a birthday present for myself back in February. Since it became possible to buy Her Universe products in Europe I have bought quite a few, and the site that is selling them has sales quite often. This is good because my opinion of Her Universe is really that it is hit and miss when it comes to both size and quality, and I'm very hesitant to buy them for full prize.

Official Her Universe photo
Back in March I posted about the Bespin dress that I had bought, and that I thought it was too big. I had gone up a size when ordering it to be on the safe side, I had bought it in a 2XL. The reason why I had sized up was this Endor Landscape dress, when it arrived it was way too small. In fact it was missing around 15 cm of width in the back for me to be able to close it. This is where Her Universe is inconsistent when it comes to sizing. Their jersey and stretch items seems to run big, while the Endor Landscape is a woven fabric and is quite small instead.

The quality of the dress is also so so. It is made of a thin cotton, that feels like sheeting. The print is really nice though. The stitching is sturd, but it is uneven. In the back one of the straps is fastened at the top of band going around the edge, and the other is fastened halfway down on the band.

Of course I got disappointed that I couldn't wear the dress, but I wanted to at least salvage the print and make it into something useful. Before going to Närcon I decided it was time to turn it into a wearable summer dress. I ripped away the zipper in the back. I then took a bit of black jersey and fastened it to edges, just big enough that I could stretch it enough to pull it over my head. I then took a purple satin ribbon and made thread loops that I fastend where the zipper had been, I also used the same satin ribbon as lacing.

At NärCon I wore it with my turqoise petticoat. It's needed to give the skirt a bit more flare. It fits great over the bust, with the cup being perfect for my C-cup, larger busted women might have problems though.

Once again my opinion of the dress is that it is fun, but you need to be weary of the sizing, and I recommend that you buy it at a sale rather than paying fullprice for it.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

HSM Challenge 8 - A Skjoldehamn hood

The August challenge for the HSM is "Extant originals - Copy an extant historical garment as closely as possible". When I first saw the challenge I really thought that I was going to skip this challenge. I knew that I would be busy sewing for Medieval week and NärCon during the summer, and to be honest there aren't that many extant originals for the 16th century, or rather not extant originals that are possible to make with a limited time and budget. When preparing my Viking costume I realized that it could be good to have something warm, and I had seen a lot of hoods called Skjoldehamn hoods, and then I also realized that they are actually based on an extant original. 

Not only was this a preserved original that would fit my Viking costume, but there has been a whole MA thesis in archaeology about the Skjoldehamn find, and it was available for free.  It is in Norwegian but with a lot of pictures and illustrations.

Nye tanker om Skjoldehamnsfunnet by Dan Halvard Lövlid

First an introduction about the find. In 1936 they found a body buried in a bog in Skjoldehamn, northern Norway. The bog had preserved the clothes, and gave unique insights into a male viking outfit, or is it? Dan Halvard Lövlid has in another essay, The Skjoldehamn find in light of new knowledge argued that it is likely that the clothes worn are more likely of a Sami origin, Sea Sami to be precise, and that even if it's likely a man it can't be dismissed that it is actually a woman that was buried in Skjoldehamn. What is clear is that the burial is dated to the 11th century and that the clothes have elements that point to both Norse and Sami traditions.

In the rest of the post I will go through what Lövlid writes in his thesis, and my choices and execution of the reconstruction.

Fabric and thread
The original is made out of a dark brown wool twill and sewn with wool threads in different shades of brown and gold.

I did not have acess to brown wool, so instead I have made it out of red wool twill. I have used wool thread in brown, gold and white. This makes my stitches very visible, compared to the originals, but they also show clearly how I have made them. Since this is a reconstruction I think it adds some interest to actually see the seams.

The cut out fabric


The pattern consists of three pieces, and here I made a mistake. I didn't understand how it was made just from reading the text, until I was well into reconstructing the hood and it was too late to change my pattern mistake. The original is made out of a square main piece and two smaller squares. I have made mine from a long rectangle and two squares.

I did a miniature version of both patterns to show the differences.

My shape of the pattern is to the right and the original shape is to the left. As you can see there are two cuts in the square piece, but it is not completely cut through.

The original was folded, the cuts acted as one opening for the face and one opening to add the front gore into, the hood is then sewed together at the top and the back. My rectangle is simply folded and leaves the front open, and you only need to sew the back together, since the top is a fold.

The different way of approaching the cutting of the pattern is due to saving fabric. For me, using a modern fabric on 150 cm width it's more economical to cut one long and narrow strip all along te width of the fabric, but fabric woven on a handloom is not as wide and then it is much more economical to use a square piece of fabric.

Lövlid has the measurements of the hood in his thesis. The body that was buried was between 155 and 160 cm, and since I am 162 cm I decided to reconcstruct the hood with the original measurements. Now the hood has been distorted and the back is not as well preserved as the front. I have made all the missing fabric symmetrical with the front, and I have also made the square gores symmetrical, even if the original today is not perfectly symmetrical.

The main piece is 1 m long and 25 cm wide. The two gores are squares with a side of 25 cm. The distortion of the original shows one side of 23 cm and one of 28, I decided to use a measurement between them.

The gores

The front gore is attached to the main piece by placing it under the man fabric, and fold the main fabric over the gore. It is then sewed together with fairly big stitches. On the inside the raw edge has a whip stitch with a filler thread to protect the edge.

The main piece is folder over the gore.

The seam from the right side

The felled seam on the back
The back gore is different. The left side has the main fabric folded over the gore, but on the right side the gore is folder over the main fabric. Lövlid mentions that the right side is a selvage and that this could be a reason for the different fold. I didn't have a selvage edge on my fabric, but I would also like to add another possible reason. I'm right handed, and it was easier and quicker for me to sew the seams when they were folded in the same direction, compared to the mirrored folds on the front.

The top  and back seams

The original has the edges of fabric folded down and then whipstitched together. Since I only had a fabric fold it wasn't really necessary for me to sew them together, but I simulated the top seam with a pleat and then I added a whipped seam on the top of the hood.

Under the top seam there are several distinctive seams. One seam go all along the front, one seam goes just a third of the way, and a third seams goes all along the top, but then loops around the shorter seam. They are all done with running stitches.

The back seam is sewn with big slanted stitches. My stitches actually ended up too small compared to the original.

The top seams gives the hood a distinct mohawk-like style, but they also fit the hood closer to the head of the wearer. That there are more seams in the back could be a sign that it simply was too big for the wearer and that it had been adjusted for the fit.

Face opening

The face opening has the raw edge turned  once and then whip stitched down with a filler thread. The original has filler thread in different colours. It is unclear if it is done for a decorative effect, or of it it is simply a case of using left over pieces of thread. 

I used white filler thread for most of the hood, but switched to a more golden colour for the last third. I used pieces of thread that had been leftovers from the other seams. The fact that the change in filler thread is in no way symmetrical makes me think that it was not a design choice, but simply a way of using up small pieces of thread.

Bottom edge

The bottom edge is left unfolded. The raw edge is whipped down, with stitches that wary considerably in size.

Smaller stitches to the left, bigger to the right

Some stitches were 1,5 cm big, but most stitches were between 0,5-0,8 cm. I actualy thought the edge with the bigger stitches looked better than the smaller ones.

One of the sides of the front gore has small buttonhole stitches, the other side is not preserved but I chose to continue the buttonhole stitches on the other side of the gore as well.

Braids and tassels

On both sides of the hood there is a braid, that ends in a tassel. The left braid is preserved in its full length, the right side is shorter and lacks the tassel. The original is a four double stranded braid, meaning that in total 8 threads are used, made from brown and green wool thread. I used brown and white thread to make the braid. The original tassel is a heavily fulled green fabric. I used a piece of wool flannel. Since it wasn't heavily fulled I dunked it in some warm soap water and squeezed it to full it more. The tassel is sewn to the end of the braid with large stitches.

Dunking the tassel in water and soap
The left braid is 19 cm, including the tassel. I chose to use the same measurements for the right tassel.

The finished braids.

The braids with tassels are sewn to the front of the hood. There has been an argument about their purpose. If they were made for tying under the chin, then the right tassel would have needed to be a lot longer than the left one. Lövlid argues that instead they were possibly tied behind the head of the wearer, to open up the hood and make it easer to see. It is also possible that they were just there for decoration.


On the original hood there are a few strands of thread left quite high up under the top seam on both the left and right sides. They are not connected to any other seam, and the thread is clearly visible against the fabric. The thread is very loose.  Lövlid speculates there might have been some kind of decoration added to the hood. I chose to add a small glass bead on each side. This is in style with Norse decorations, but if the hood is more connected to the Sami culture I think that some decoration in silver would have been better.

The finished hood

Me wearing the hood with the side braids left hanging

 Me wearing the hood with the braids tied in the back. The tassel also helps so that I didn't need to make a full tie or bow, I simply twisted both braids around each other and the tassels kept them from unraveling.

The fit of the hood

The hood is tight, it will possibly loosen up with wear, but now it's snug. I should not wear any elaborate hairstyle under it, since it is going to be ruined when I pull it on and off. The snug fit will be comfortable when it's cold and windy. To tie the braids behind the head definitely helps with making the field of vision bigger.

The collar portion is not very well fitting. Even if I am about the same height as the person that was buried, I have a bigger chest, and possibly wider shoulders. It bunches up and doesn't lie flat around the upper body at all.

Some reflections

This was an interesting project. I would actually say the quality of it is worse than what I would normally make. I would not do such big and uneven stitches, and I would use waxed linen thread instead of wool. Copying a piece that I feel is of not the best workmanship was a good experience though, and it made me realize that the quest for perfection that a lot of us costumers have, actually isn't always the most accurate method of working. Seams can be badly done, but still serve to keep the garment together, and then they are good enough. 

Just the facts

The Challenge: 8 - extant original

Material: 1 m of red wool twill
Pattern: From Lövlid's thesis on the Skjoldehamn find
Year: 11th century
Notions: thread: wool thread, yarn, two beads
How historically accurate is it? This is the most accurate piece that I have ever made, it still has some speculation in it and I am not sure on how my thread would hold up to VIking age thread. I will put it up as 90% accurate
Hours to complete: 10 hours
First worn: August 11th at Medieval Week in Visby.
Total cost: From my stash

Final thoughs
Accurate, but not good looking. That was the general reaction when I wore my hood on the one cold and rainy day in Visby. At the moment I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it in this state, or if I should remake it into something better looking. I would lie to make a more even bottom edge, add some larger gores and possible change top seams. At the same time it is fun to have a garment that's ugly, but it's supposed to be that way. We will see what happens with it in the future.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Medieval week in Visby

I got home after Närcon, made a viking costume, set out to visit a lot of castles in Sörmland, and then I headed off to Medieval week in Visby. The Medieval week takes place in the beautiful walled town of Visby on the island of Gotland. It had it's heyday in the 13th and 14th centuries, was besieged by Danes, Swedes and pirates in the 15th and 16th centuries, and has a lot of the medieval city centre still intact. It is a world heritage site as well. Every week in August they host the Medieval week, which is the biggest Medieval event in the historical costumers calender. I had never been there though, but when I got offered a bed in a house within the walls I never hesitated.

The view from the house, with one of the church ruins just beside it

The part outside the wall where most unofficial events took place
Just like NärCon this is basically a festival, with loads of concerts, courses, lectures, a big market, and a lot of official and unofficial event organized by different groups. It was not a very historically accurate event, the majority of people were dressed in different kind of LARP-clothes or fantasy inspired gowns. Of the historical fashions present you mostly saw the vikings and the German landknechts, with a bit of 14th century thrown in.

A typical scene at Medieval week are a group of people sitting down drinking and eating and just hanging out.

A lot of my clothing choices were depending on the temperature, it was just as warm as at NärCon.

 I mostly wore my shortsleeved teal 1490's gown, but on Tuesday, when it was just 24 degrees, I started out in my full green 1520's gown. I did knechtify it a bit with the wulsthaube, hat and hiking up the skirt, to blend in with all the other knechts and trossfrauen.
 I spent Tuesday and most of Wednesday with Anna and Henrik, and Anna had chosen to go as a pirate during the week. She ended up in the stock though.

 On the hottest days I wore y 1520's undergown, with my big sleeved shift. Together with a wet linen scarf it made the temperatures bearable, the ice cream helped too. The breeze from the sea also helped if you sat down along the waterfront.

 The only photo of me in my viking is from the the Gotland Museum. I'm thinking that I'm going to shorten it. It is a correct length, but the length traps the air under the skirts and if I want to use it as a hot weather alternative a shorter skirt would be better. I also added some beads that I had picked up on the market.

 On Wednesday it was the day of Knecht march, and it was impressive to see almost 150 people marching by in full costume.

A lot of the events that go on aren't on the official program, but I managed to find a link to an unoffcial program.

 On Wednesday evening there was a nerd quiz at a bridge.

 On Thursday I managed to see a group representing the Roman Senate trying to conquer the Scots, the Scots had even built a wall around their picknick area.
 Just after the Romans had tried to conquer Scotland there was a kind of football gae between "barbarians" and "saracens". This has of course nothing to do with historical accuracy, but it was really fun to watch.

On Friday I felt quite full though, and I spent most of both Friday and Saturday days at the house, mending things and just reading book. I didn't feel that I "had" to go any specific event. In that way it was the most relaxing days of my holidays this year.

A rose in the evening on the way home through Visby.