Thursday, 29 November 2018

HSM challenge 11 - an ugly leather pouch

During the summer I made three different bags, two of them historical. When the HSM November challenge: bags and purses rolled along I really didn't have any inspiration at all to make yet another bag. Still I didn't want to fail a challenge when there were only two left of the year. When I organized my attic storage I had found some scrap pieces of leather, and since I need a leather pouch to wear on my belt for my 16th century outfits I decided to try and make a leather pouch or bag.

In my mind I wanted something like this woman has hanging from her belt.

Soon I realized that I wouldn't be able to do that though. The scrap pieces of leather that I had were too stiff and also I didn't have enough to make that kind of round bag with extra pockets. I was down to basically just cutting out as much of the leather as possible and assemble it into a more generic viking/medieval pouch.

This was the size that I could get out. It was based on me wanting a pouch that was big enough to hold my phone and my insulin pen, and since the pen is quite long the pouch had to be long as well. I also cut out a long strip of fabric to use as the side and bottom of the pouch.

I first sewed on the strap that is going to keep the bag on the belt. Here I discovered how hard and difficult it is to sew on leather, especially if you don't have proper leather needles. For the rest of the bag I used an awl to first make the holes before going through them with a needle. I used waxed linen thread for the sewing.

It was also a lot easier when I started using my curved upholstery needle, compared to using a straight needle.

Once I had sewed all the pieces together I wet the bag and turned it right side out. I left it to dry with a lot of plastic bags inside, so that it would keep its shape properly.

After this I discovered that I didn't have enough leather to make a flap to close the bag. Thankfully Niklas in Cosplay Dalarna gave me a piece so that I could finish the bag.

When all was done I oiled the leather with olive oil to darken it.

For the closure I used a piece of scrap leather, fastened it to the front and cut a slit in the flap. If I get my hands on a nice piece of wood or bone I would like to switch the fastening.

All in all I can't say that I really enjoyed working with leather. It's noticable on the quality of the bag as well, in the end I just wanted to finish it. It's a usable item, but not one of the things I particularly proud of.

The Challenge: 11 - bags and purses
Material: a maximum of 0,5 m of leather scraps
Pattern:  My own,
Year:  medieval
Notions: waxed linen thread
How historically accurate is it? It doesn't really look like any bags that I have seen, but it is a generic leather pouch, I would be surprised if there aren't similar bags to this one out there, or that they were used. It is handmade with correct aterials. I'm thinking 30%
Hours to complete: 15 hours
First worn: I'm planning on wearing it next weekend
Total cost: Everything was from my stash, I even got the last piece I needed as a gift.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Some thoughts about 16th century headwear

The 15th century was the century of crazy hats, turbans and veils. Then followed the first half of the 16th century where the wulsthaube with a veil was the primary style of headwear for women wearing German-styled fashion. The wulsthaube changed shape and size, until it shrank and was replaced by caps.

One of the goals of my 1520s wardrobe is to recreate this portrait of Kristina Gyllenstierna, from the altarpiece in Västerås cathedral.

It is a hard dress to recreate, since it's so vague, but I still want to try. My main issue is with the headwear. At first it looks like a big wulsthaube, but what are those darker elements of the headwear? It is also finished in a very square edge around the face, compared to wulsthaubes.

My firsr idea was that it could be something like this portrait of Barbara Wespach, from 1500.

It is a wulsthaube with decorations, and some kind of wreath around it. Or maybe something like the love couple by the Master of the Housebook

She is wearing two pieces to her headwear, a gold embroidered piece and in the back there is a plain white veil.

I wasn't quite satisfied with these kind of styles though, but after having trawled pinterest and digital archives for German paintings with different kinds of headwar I decided to go wider. The altar piece in Västerås was commisioned in Antwerp in 1516, what if the headwear shows a Flemish style of headwar instead? The basic Flemish headwear seems to be a kind of white cap, but finally I found an interesting painting. The birth of Virgin Mary by Jan de Beer.

The painting is a goldmine for headdresses, all the women in the painting are wearing different styles, and the lady in green in the center is wearing something very similar to the altar piece in Västerås. Jan de Beer belonged to a group of artists in Antwerp, and the painting above is usually dated to around 1520, so it's very close to the Västerås altar piece.

So far I haven't found any other paintings with this kind of headpiece, which makes me wonder how common or uncommon they were. There are two grave monuments in Sweden though were the woman is wearing something very similar.

This is from Sala, and shows Bråsta-Lasse and his wife. Bråsta-Lasse died in 1515. There is a very similar, but a lot more damaged, monument in Stora Kopparberg's church in Falun. I don't know the maker of these two grave stones, but they are the only examples of this kind of headwear that I've seen. Would they have put this kind of headwear on the woman, if it wasn't recognized as something fashionable? There is of course the option that if artist that made the two grave monuments was local, that he had been in Västerås, seen the sculpture of Kristina Gyllenstierna on the altar piece and decided that was a suitable style of clothing for an upperclass woman. Or do the grave moments also come from Antwerp? It is a bit of a mystery that outside of the Antwerp painting, the style seems to only be found in Västerås diocese, and all examples are dated to within five years of each other.

Trying to find out more about this kind of headwear is also made more complicated by the fact that it's a style that is present in folkwear from all over Europe. There is the southern German/Austrian goldhaube
This style developed in the 19th century though, from an earlier softer cap.

Then there is the Norwegian la and Swedish lad that is used as a bridal crown.
Women from Malung wearing lad
The lad of Malung can also be attested down to the 19th century, but I don't know how much older the tradition is.

Then of course there is the Russian kokoshnik, in all its different variations.

I tried to find a good history of the kokoshnik, but even if it's written that the kokoshnik has medieval roots, I couldn't find any pictures earlier than the 18th century.

All in all this shows that this kind of big, ornamental headpiece has been fashionable in different time periods and in different regions, it's not necessay that they go back to a common style ancestor. 

I have two pinterest boards in connection to headpieces - German style headwear and folkwear headwear. 

If you have any other examples of this kind of big headwear please share in the comments.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

A quick note about velvet

I'm hoping to soon start on my 1520's court gown. For that I'm going to use the wonderful silk velvet that I failed to dye correctly for the Gold Handmaiden gown.  It's been a couple of years and the pieces of velvet has been in my stash, just waiting for the right project.

Today I took them out of the stash, and of course they were really wrinkly. You can save wrinkled silk velvet though. After having read this info note about dyeing from Naergi, I'm no longer afraid of washing or drying my silk fabric. Silk velvet gets back to life by first being washed and then you throw it in the tumbler and let it tumble dry. I used the lowest heat setting, but had it go until the fabric was totally dry.

The fabric is wrinkle free, and I have now rolled up the pieces on a cardboard tube to hopefully prevent too much wrinkling until it's time to actually use the fabric.

I have not tried to do this with cotton velvet, so I don't know how that would work.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Photos from AvestaCon

The last weekend in October was AvestaCon, a small local con that was held for the second year. I wad down sick, but I still went. I had promised to be a judge at the Dalarna Cosplay Championships, which is the regional championship that is there to encourage people to try out cosplay, and it was also a chance to take some photos of my costumes. It did end up with me loosing two days of work afterwards though, since I was home with a fever.

I had finally finished my TLJ Leia and wore it as a judge for the cosplay contest. I loved walking around with it and just swosh with my big coat. Photo by: Tom Larsson

Being down sick I spent most of my time in Hogwarts uniform, since it's so comfy and easy to wear. Photo by: Tom Larsson

Another of my very comfortable costumes is Melisandre. It's like wearing a nice and comfy bathrobe, and with my own hair. And when Anne-Sofie had bought an Elsa cosplay, we felt that we needed to take some fun photos.

Ice vs. Fire
Photo by Peter Bergman
Red Island Media (instagram) , Red Island Media (fb)

The location of AvestaCon is gorgeous for dramatic photos. I haven't really decided if this is Melisandre at the wall or at Storm's End
Photo by Peter Bergman
Red Island Media (instagram) , Red Island Media (fb)

The big plan for AvestaCon was to finally assemble our Pokemon superhero team, but we think that it must be cursed, we simply can't all be in costume at the same time. This time our Captain Carp was down sick, but Bellossom Girl, Umbreon and Togepi was there at least.

Photo by Peter Bergman
Red Island Media (instagram) , Red Island Media (fb)

Photo by Peter Bergman
Red Island Media (instagram) , Red Island Media (fb)

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Winter is here

and for me that means working with other stuff than costumes. Like organising a big ski jumping competition with more than 120 athletes from seven countries, including some of the world's best nordic combined skiers.

Since this is a costuming blog I have some photos that goes with the blog.

First though the best view in Falun, and it's quite magical on an early morning when the sun is still rising.

Some times people claim that Dalarna, my region, is conservative and stuck in traditions. On the other hand, there aren't many places where video distance measurer does her job in a traditional folk costume. 
She double up with being a flower girl at the prize ceremony.

Last weekend I doubled up with trooping at a small event in the morning, and then I was at the jumping hills for some preparations, and it gave me a chance to take this photo.

Most of the day was spent doing this though

Looking out the window and be ready to fix things when they go bad.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

My cute wool garters

For the hose that I made earlier this autumn I of course need something to hold them up. At the event where I wore them I simply tied a ribbon under the knee, and that worked really well. Now I have something nicer though.

My mother actually knitted a pair of garters for me. Knitted garters are not accurate for the time period, but I like them anyway. They are made from wool yarn that my mother said was so tricky and uneven to work with that it's probably part of the stash from my paternal great grandmother. So now I have a piece that I can use that my mother has made, and that is made from yarn that has been in the family for probably almost a 100 years. That is much more worth it to me than accuracy.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

From generic to face character: Luna Lovegood

In my last post I talked about my generic Hogwarts uniform, for those days when you just want to be a background student, studying for your OWL rather than fighting Voldemort. That costume is so comfortable. It is a perfect con costume, to wear to the show floor when you just want to wander around and look at stuff, but still be in costume and be recognized as being in costume.

I don't want to be just a background character though, and since the basic uniform is the same you only need to add some accessories to turn the background character to a face character. In my case it was easy, I want to be my favorite Ravenclaw - Luna Lovegood.

Last year I made her distinct earrings and necklace. I also made a v.1 of her beetle ring. Since then I've remade the ring with tiny beads, but using the same tutorial. I have bought a replica wand, rather than trying to make my own.

The one thing I'm really proud about though is finding the perfect shoes.

This photo shows the shoes of Dumbledore's army. Luna being the character she is of course has shoes that are different from the rest. She is the one wearing the Mary Janes with assymmetrical straps.
I started off by searching for assymetrical Mary Janes, but it turned out I could only find shoes with the strap going in opposite direction from the ones Luna is wearing.

I then started to think about "how would a costume designer approach the shoes for Luna?". I set up a few parameters:
1. The shoes are off the rack. This is not a character that is special enough to have specially made shoes. Also since there were young adults playing the characters it would probably need to be easy to find the shoes in different sizes, if the actor changed shoe size inbetween the films.
2. They are probably high quality, but not too expensive
3. The soft leather and chunky sole is the kind of style that is popular with alternate/hippie/nature inspired fashion.

With that in mind I started searching for shoe brands with words like organic, natural and things like that, and I immediately found the brand "El naturalista". As soon as I saw the first shoes I knew that I had found the right brand, they had that distinct chunky sole seam that Luna has on her shoes. Then it was a matter of sifting through the catalogue of El Naturalista shoes until I found Luna's shoes.

They even have that little button that Luna's shoes have. The only thing that the costume designer has done is to cut off the little brown and green brand tag on the outside. Now of course until the costume designers confirm that these are Luna's shoes I can't be 100% that they are right, but I'm 90% that this is the actual brand and style worn by Luna. Once I had identified them I found the shoes on Amazon.

They are definitely the most comfortoable costume shoes that I have. They look a bit worn, and that is because I wore them all summer long because they were so nice to walk in, especially at Medieval week in Visby.

The one part I'm a bit unsure of when it comes to my Luna costume is the wig.

Luna's hair ranges from very curly and almost white blond

To a more yellow blond and straight hair.

As of now I'm using a curly and white wig, but I am on a lookout for something more yellowish and straight. The wig I have is good enough to do for now, I'm just wondering if I can find something even better.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Generic Hogwarts costume

So it's been around a year in the making, but I'm now finally happy with all the parts of my Hogwarts student costume. I haven't had time to take any photos of me in it yet, but I want to show you the components and also talk about how I developed it from a closet cosplay to an accurate costume.

Even if this is for a generic Hogwarts costume I'm going to use reference photos of the main characters.

My Hogwarts project started when I realized that I could make an easy closet cosplay from what I had at home. The main thing is that I own an official school cardigan, that I have bought from the Harry Potter Studio shop. I love it and it's comfy and I wear it a lot in the winter, and nobody knows that it's a Harry Potter piece. Overall I would say that official Harry Potter merchandise usually have a really high quality and is worth the price. The cardigans are pure wool, and are produced by the same factory that made the cardigans for the films.

This was my first try closet cosplay, I simply wore a black skirt and a white shirt together with my cardigan. I would say that Harry Potter is a great start if you want to cosplay. If you wear a school tie and a white shirt you will be instantly recognized as a Harry Potter character, without anyone looking closer on what kind of skirt or shirt you are wearing.

After the closet cosplay, I wanted something more accurate though, and I started with the skirt. For the girls' school uniform they actually switch skirt style. In the younger years they wear a pleated skirt, but in later films, or when they get older, they switch to a more simple version of the skirt. And looking at Ginny Weasly it seems to be ok for girls to wear slacks as well if they don't want to wear the skirt. The skirt is a wrap skirt, with a boxpleat to one side, and a fake boxpleat on the other side, that is the opening of the skirt. For the fabric I used a wool/polyester blend that I think is really, really close to the original. It's a suiting weight fabric that I found on ebay more than a year ago. has a great tutorial on the skirt, with photos to show off all the details.

This is the closure on my skirt, showing the pleat. The screen used skirts have a gold button at the closure and possibly one above the other pleat as well, they're not really seen though so I haven't added them yet, I might do that in the future. That would be more for me though, since it will never be visible.

The length of the skirt varies between characters, and can be anything from just below mid thigh down to just above the knee. If there is one thing with my skirt I'm not totally happy with is that is' shorter than I would usually be comfortable with, but that's the length that Luna Lovegood has.

The next thing that I switched was the shirt.

According once again to Rebelshaven the shirt is a man's shirt, with one breast pocked. The breast pocked is usually invisible, so that's not very important. It is important to note though that the shirt isn't white, it's that kind of hard to define colour that is somewhere between offwhit and light beige. I simply picked up a shirt at a local second hand store that was in the right colour.

To the skirt and shirt black or very dark grey tights are worn. After that it's time to add the house specific elements.

In my case it's my Ravenclaw cardigan and a Ravenclaw tie. The cardigan as mentioned is the official school cardigan from the Harry Potter Studios shop. Students are also seen wearing sweaters and vests, but I can't find the vest in the store. The store also carries official house ties, but they can be picked up a lot cheaper on ebay and other selling sites. It's important to note that the film ties did not have any house crests on them.

As for shoes there are a lot of options. This photos is also from Rebelshaven and shows Dumbledore's Army.
With one exception the shoes are not very specific to different characters. They show a mix of lace-up, loafers and Mary Janes in dark colours. I'm using a pair of soft black ballerina-shoes, simply because I already have them, I haven't bought them especially for the costume. 

Then of course no Hogwarts costume can be complete without some magic accessories, and I have my wand and my pygmy puff.
The pygmy puff was described here. The wand is made from a chopstick covered in black worbla and painted brown, it's still pretty dark though.

The final piece of my Hogwarts uniform is my Hogwarts robe. I was really deliberating if I should make my own or buy the official one. In the end I realized that the quality of the official robe is so good that I would not be able to make it cheaper and better. Last week when part of my sister's family was at the Harry Potter Studios they picked one up for me, so that I wouldn't have to pay for the shipping.

So that is my generic Hogwarts uniform.

From top to bottom it consists of:
Black shoes
Black tights
Dark grey wool wrap skirt
Off white man's shirt
Ravenclaw tie
Ravenclaw cardigan
Ravenclaw robe

It is a mix of thrift shop finds, things I've made myself and official products. I'm hoping to take some photos of me in it fairly soon.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Happy Halloween

Halloween isn't a traditional holiday in Sweden, but it is a good reason to dress up and play around with horror stuff. For this year the Falun Mine decided to do a scary tour of the mine on Halloween, and I jumped at the chance of portraying the spirit in the mine, the Lady of the Mine. Earlier in the autum we did a photoshoot to advertise the tours, and here are the photos.

The photo above has been on the billboards along the roads leading into Falun, so I've felt like quite a poster girl.

The tour was so popular that we had to put in three exta tours due to demand, two of them will be tomorrow but I'm not doing them. This was definitely a success so I'm looking forward to them next year.