Friday, 26 December 2014

Looking back and looking forward

2014 is drawing to an end and it is time to see what I accomplished this year and what I plan for the next. Looking back I realise that I have finished fewer projects than I thought, but I won’t fret. Especially since I don’t know when I will want to sew again. In early December a close relative died, very unexpectedly and my family and I are still reeling from shock and grief and for the moment I don’t want to sew at all. Meanwhile I’m cleaning my sewing room and sorting through projects.

Finished in 2014

1780’s brown linen stays.

18th century plain linen cap

1770’s blue silk stays. (Unfortunately I don’t have a better pic yet.)

Embroidered stomacher

Small 18th century linen cap with lace ruffle. You can see it on the pic above.

1940’s skirt in brown silk noil.

Of course, I started a few projects that I haven’t finished this year, so my UFO list is suddenly quite long again:

1740’s black wool jacket. Almost done, but I need to attach the basque and the cuffs.
Silk banyan for J. Also on homestretch.
1630’s purple bodice. Setting sleeves and needs a stomacher
Late 15th century brassiere Working on the toile.
1630’s plain linen collar Need to make a few more pleats, then sew together the pattern pieces.
The embroidered polonaise. My oldest UFO. Let’s hope that 2015 will see it finished!
Gustaf III’s national gown in white. The bodice is done, the petticoat needs to be decorated and then there is the gown…
1916 skirt. Needs waistband, buttons and hemming.
Regency stays. Another oldie…
1940’s raincoat. Another “almost done” project
Faux fur. Need to put ibn the lining.
1940’s wool jacket. Still working on the toile
1940’s dotted rayon dress. I made a mistake at the neckline. If I can collect myself and put that right, the dress will be finished.

At least 13 UFO’s in other words, though many of them have little left. Seven projects was started during 2014, so bad me. When I want to sew again I plan to finish the 1740’s jacket first and then continue to work on at least one UFO. The goal is to not have 13 UFO’s around at the end of 2015.

Plans for 2015

Too many, I’m afraid.

J’s mid-17th century outfit.

The 17the century sewing challenge, which I actually have to make an effort to do, as I started it all up… I need to make a shift, bodice, petticoat and the chignon/cap.

Then there is The Manuscript Challenge. This will be a late 15th century outfit. I have started on the supportive underwear that I feel I need, but then there is a shift, kirtle, loose sleeves and headdress to make. And hose, shoes and belt…

The Dreamstress is holding The Historical Sew Forthly again this year, only this year it is Monthly, instead, so only 12 challenges. I’m in two minds here. I love the idea but I have dismally failed to keep it up. But with only 12 challenges it may feel more do-able. I need to go through the challenges and ponder a little here.

What I would love to make as well is to make the petticoat for the 1630’s purple gown, a 1916 jacket to go with the skirt and an early mantua.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Read my article on 17th century hair

Earlier this year I wrote an article for Your Wardrobe Unlock’d about the “spaniel ear hairstyle” that was hugely popular in the 17th century. I have now posted in on Madame Isis’t Toilette, so this is a shout-out for you who doesn’t follow that blog but are interested in the 17th century.

Part 1covers the history of the hairstyle and some 17th century hair care advice.

Part 2: step-by-step instruction for how to create the hairstyle.

I sent a mail to the woman I bought the wool yarn for my stomacher from to show her the result and she posted a very nice post about it at her blog Broderibloggen.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The embroidered stomacher

I finished the embroidered stomacher last week and all in all it took almost exactly a month to do it. But then I was ill for two weeks and didn’t have energy for any other kind of sewing. So the black jacket the stomacher was made for, that one I still not finished. It looked quite good with my old green velvet gown, though. Last Saturday we went to Finland for the Christmas ball at Suomenlinna and we had a good time this year as well. We also had time to see a Hilleström exhibition on Sunday and a walk in Helsinki.

One of these days I’m going to make the planned velvet petticoat for the gown, but hey, it is only seven years old! It is really made for a panier rather than pocket hoops, but the former is such a hassle to travel with. You can, however, see a picture of it worn with a panier on this post at Fashion Through History. I need to wear it with yet another petticoat, though.

For once I remembered to have a Picture taken of the back.
I’m really, really, really pleased with my stomacher! I had great fun making it and there is a certain danger that I will only make stomachers from now on… Well, perhaps not, I have promised J to make an embroidered waistcoat for him. Here are a few pictures of the finished embroidery and a few progress pictures taking with my mobile phone. There have been virtually no sun throughout November, but when the light gets better I plan to take some better close-ups.

With Merja from Before the Automobile and Sanna from Rococo Atelier.
The stomacher I was inspired from and my original drawing can be seen here. Then I draw the design on a piece of silk organza, using water proof ink. The organza was then basted to the back side of the wool and the basting lines provided outlines for the embroidery.

I contemplating using a tambour hook but then I would have needed to frame it and I wanted a project that I could carry with me, so I decided on chain stitch instead. The yarn I used is called Mora redgarn that I bought from Just as the design isn’t an exact copy of the original stomacher, the colours aren’t exact matches either, even if I tried to get them as similar as possible. It was a very nice yarn to work with.

The vermicelli-like design in the background is made in back stitch.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Embroidery and jacket update

After two weeks of sewing I need to attach the sleeves, basque and cuffs. I have the day off tomorrow when I plan to sew that, apart from the cuffs which will have to wait. I have also done quite a lot of the embroidery- so much fun! I think I may be finished in two weeks after all.

Friday, 7 November 2014

An extant robe de cour bodice in Sweden

The museum Nordiska in Stockholm has a large collection of costume related items and though a lot can be found at Digitalt museum, not everything has any photos. However, only recently pictures of a robe de cour bodice has come up and I am sure that will interest many of you. The four robe de cour’s preserved at Livrustkammaren were made for weddings and coronations and are quite sumptuous. This bodice is much plainer, though it is cut in the same style, a fully boned bodice, laced in the back with short sleeves. It is dated to 1770-79 and is made of white silk drouget (a Swedish article on this kind of silk can be found here.), probably produced in Sweden. The silk is cut and sewn together from nine pattern pieces.

The lining is made from coarse unbleached linen, boned with whalebone, though it is reinforced with vertical iron boning along the top front and there is also an iron busk. There is probably a layer of glued paper between lining and the silk fabric.
The short sleeves are made of ten small pieces and are pleated.
At the waist there is a thin cord meant to attach the trail.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Black 1740's jacket

After much debating with myself I decided to make the 1740's jacket that I mentioned here, in black wool. There is something neat about it that I like, though to be fair, I am going to a ghost themed 18th century party on November 15 were more somber dress is welcomed. So far it has been quick work, so I guess a setback is due soon. The stomacher is finished, the sleeves as well and I'm putting the last stitches in the lining of the bodice very soon. I need to finish the pieces for the basque (they are half done) and then attach them to the bodice as well as set the sleeves. After that it is just the cuffs left.  The jacket is in fairly lightweight wool twill which I inherited from my grandmother. The bodice will be lined in black linen, the basque, sleeves and cuffs in black silk taffeta, which are the same materials used in the lining of original jacket. The front of the bodice, the basque and the cuffs are also interlined with black wool felt. also something from my grandmother. Everything in this project comes from my stash, which is quite satisfying.

Everything cut out. Or so I thought, but of course the cuffs has to be cut out four times, not two. Duh!

I plan to wear it with my black taffeta petticoat, the same fabric I use for the lining. As it can be nice to have some colour I also plan to make an extra stomacher with some colourful embroidery. I have been lacking an embroidery project for some time and I think a stomacher will make for a nice manageable project. After some searching I fell in love with this stomacher from The Metropolian.

Stomacher, Metropolitan Museum
It is dated to the first quarter of the 18th century which will make it a little early, but I have decided to ignore that and imagine it has been inherited. I like the design and I like that it is mostly in chainstitch, which will make it a quite quick project. I haven't opted for copying the stomacher, obviously, but I tried to follow the design quite closely.

I have decided to use the same colours, there are 12 (at least) different shades in the original, but I will make it in wool yarn. If I can get into an embroidery-flow I hope to have finished the stomacher on November 29. We have decided to go to Finland for the Christmas ball at Suomenlinna this year as well. We had a great time last year, but being on an island was a bit chilly, so a wool jacket would be rather nice to wear. You can find information of the ball in English here.

I realise that I suddenly seem to be part of a trend- people are suddenly making 1740's jackets all over. All due to Outlander I am sure and I don't mind. I love the 1740's and wouldn't mind it it will get a bit more love, even if it might not be the most flattering period for my figure.

Close-up on the embroidery.
Other sewing news; I have finished a small cap with pleated lace to go with the jacket. I'm still struggling with J's banyan, but it is slowly progressing. I'm also redey to set the sleeves on the 1630's bodice.

Monday, 27 October 2014


An odd sight, no people at all.
We have had our vacation and what an intense, exiting and plain wonderful trip it was! It didn’t start so good, though. We arrived in Venice quite early on Monday and the very first thing that happened was that J’s bag didn’t arrive. We had planned to not check in our bags at all, but they turned out to be too heavy, so we had to. Unfortunately none of us thought through that implication and left the tickets to Don Giovanni and the Orient Express in J’s bag instead of removing them and carry it with us. So here we were, in Venice, but without any clothes for J and without our tickets. It really didn’t bode well and we felt a bit panic stricken. However, at the hotel we phoned the London office for the Orient Express and they were immensely helpful and sent us a pdf with our tickets and also promised to call the Italy office and explain our situation. We also went to La Fenice and though they said that quite a few people try to get tickets with the I-have-lost-my-luggage-at-the-airport-ruse, we did get our tickets as J knew the date he paid for the tickets and also knew where our seats were. What a relief!
A lovely perfume shop were I utterly failed to buy anything. Bad me!
On our two days in Venice we mostly walked around, though we did a museum and also went to Caffe Florian at the San Marco Square and had the most expensive cup of coffee ever, but with the music and presentation it was all worth it.
As J’s bag still hadn’t tuned up on Tuesday, he also had to buy a dark suit for the opera. Don Giovanni at La Fenice was absolutely fabulous! The best Don Giovanni I have ever seen, actually. It had a very clever scenography, in a way it all looked the same, a blue rococo room with period furniture, but they used a revolving stage and created a number of different rooms, small cabinets, corridors, bedroom and so on. It was very dynamic and not the least boring. The cast was rather young, but very good and the interpretation of a Don Giovanni who is living harder and harder and in his self-destruction also destroys the life of every single person he interacts with was quite great. We came back to the hotel to find that J’s bag had finally caught up with us, which was another relief. 
Outside La Fenice
It was nice with a trip were it was suitable with wearing an evening gown not once, but twice!
We had great seats, basically straight opposite the scene.

I have never been to Venice before and I must say that I really liked it. It’s been a tourist attraction since forever and it is clearly very tuned into tourist as an income, but I was surprised that the souvenirs generally seems quite well made, especially considering the plastic crap that goes for souvenirs in Stockholm. Venice itself felt quite magical and somehow quite unconcerned by the hoards of tourists. It was a bit like one had stepped into a completely, not time, but a  different reality, with all the canals, the water who had a strange turquoise shade even when the weather was grey and no cars. I would love to come back; probably later in the autumn when there is a little bit less tourists.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

What ordinary people could wear in the 18th century

Carl Michael Bellman by Per Krafft, 1779
Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795) is probably one of the most important cultural personalities in Sweden. He wrote a number of songs, many of them revolving around a set gallery of persons, most which can be identified as real persons. In the late 18th century Stockholm these very unglamorous people dance, fight, make love, get sick, die, enjoy picnics or have children, in short, doing the things everyday people have always done. The songs vary a lot in tone, some are rowdy, some achingly beautiful. I could write a lot about the songs in general, but this post is just about one of the things that makes Bellman’s’ poetry such great snapshots of 18th century life, the clothes. In most songs there are descriptions of the clothes, glimpses of cut and colours worn by people who weren’t on society’s highest levels. The examples here are just a few of them, but I hope you will enjoy them. All the examples are taken from the collection called Fredmans’ Epistles.

Epistle n: o 13, dated to 1770. At a ball, a young woman, Jeanna, is wearing a salopp and red shoes. A salopp was a short cape, often cut round, in silk or some other lightweight fabric with no sleeves, but with slits for the hands and with or without a hood. Father Berg who is one of the musicians,  is wearing a striped banyan and is generally very old fashioned in attire according to the text with shoes “like those the forefather’s wore”, a neckcloth of leather, a wide belt and a cut, or cauliflower,  wig.

Woman's cape, c. 1775. Museo del Traje

I'm not completely sure, but I think this is the kind of wig father Bergström is wearing:

Charles-François Pinceloup de la Grange by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1747

Epistle n: o 16, dated to 1770. Father Bergström is playing oboe while wearing a banyan, open to show breeches in leather (probably chamois leather) and the neckcloth is unbuttoned, but he is keeping his hat on. Caisa, one of the maids at the bar “Ormen” (The Snake) is wearing shoes with white heels that have been re-painted. She is also laced into stays.

Epistle n: o 59, dated to 1770. At the bar “Lokatten” (The Lynx). Two women, not of the best class, are described. The first is called a troll with a black flannel petticoat, no stockings and worn out shoes made of taffeta with a woven pattern of flowers. She is also wearing earrings with red stones of a model called boucles de nuit, a round stone on top of a tear shaped one, with two smaller stones set on each side of the point where the two larger stones meet. The other woman is wearing a calamanco bodice over a petticoat in yellow damask and no shoes. Calamanco was a thin wool fabric in bright colours, often striped and glazed. It was very popular for bodices and waistcoat in Sweden in the 18th century, though it was illegally imported from England through Norway.

Bodice in calamanco, 1760-80

Epistle n: o 28, dated to 1771, is all about Ulla Winblad, the most important woman in all the epistles, sometimes described as a muse, a goddess, or a common prostitute. In this song she is definitely the latter, she is walking through the narrow streets of Gamla stan, the oldest part of Stockholm, trying to escape the police, and she is dressed in a black jacket, laced very tightly and with some kind of decorations. She is wearing many petticoats and a hat with a veil as well. She is also wearing suede gloves. The real Ulla was a woman called Maja-Stina Kjellström and this song have a parallel in her life were she was arrested in 1767 for wearing a  red silk cape, which poor woman wasn’t allowed to wear, though she was acquitted as she could prove she worked for a silk manufacturer.

18th century jacket in silk, Lund, Sweden

In epistle n: o 33, dated to 1771, Ulla is having a lot more fun; she is taking a boat trip to the part of Stockholm that is called Djurgården, which in the 18th century was largely unpopulated.  She is wearing a sun hat with rose-red ribbons. We are not told what she is wearing on her upper body, but we are told that it is very figure hugging and that she is tightly laced. She is also wearing a corsage at her breasts. Her petticoat is made out of nopkin, a cheap lightweight fabric that could be made of linen or cotton. The petticoat has a ruffle and she is also wearing an apron. 

The steps on Skeppsbro etching by Elias Martin (1739-1818), 1800
The woman in the middle is supposed to be Ulla Winblad.

Sample of nopkin fabric, dated to 1731

Epistle n: o 66, dated 1773-81). An unknown woman, very possibly Ulla is being painted. She has dark hair in curls that are bound with a pearl string. She is laced and her breast is high and she is wearing a cross made of rubies which flashes as she breathes. Her jacket is made of crimson red fabric and she is wearing both flowers and gauze around the neckline. She is also carrying a fan. The painter eventually gets quite exited by all this beauty, especially after painting in her nipples behind the gauze.
Quilted taffeta jacket and petticoat, 1780-85, Collections Galliera.© EPV / J-M Manaï, C Milet

Epistle n:74, dated 1773-80. Madame Bergström, the owner of a bar is being painted. She is obviously quite wealthy, even if she belongs to the middle class. She is wearing a “bindmössa” a small hard cap which is still part of many traditional costumes in Sweden. It is made of green silk moiré and is decorated with silver lace. Underneath the cap she is wearing a "stycke" piece of finely pleated linen which goes down the sides towards the back. Her hair is braided with a rose-colored ribbon. She is wearing ruby earrings and a neckerchief with narrow stripes in yellow and green, which opens up at the front to reveal her breasts. She is also wearing a gold chain wound several times around her neck from which an emerald is hanging. She is wearing a jacket and petticoat made of white silk taffeta and shoes made of gold brocade. She is also very beautiful with black eyebrows, blue eyes, a red mouth and very white skin.

"Bindmössa", dated to 1767
"Stycke", dated to 1780-1820

Epistle n: o 80, dated 1789-90. Ulla Winblad is invited out to the countryside just outside Stockholm. Fashion is changing and Ulla’s petticoats are radically narrower than they used to be. She is wearing a jacket made of Nankeen cloth, a lightweight cotton fabric imported from China and made from a yellowish kind of cotton, though there were also cheaper dyed imitations. She is wearing a neckerchief and her she is no longer wearing shoes with a white heel. She is also making herself a flower wreath.

If you are interested in listening to Bellman in English there are two albums by Martín Best available at Spotify. To Carl Michael With Love and Songs of Carl Michael Bellman

Carl Michael Bellman by Pehr Hilleström, 1781 or 1790

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