Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Working women in late 18th century Sweden

It’s not quite true that I haven’t been sewing this year, I have worked on a couple of small cap and embroidery projects. But that is just about what my energy level has been up to. I haven’t blogged much either, but hopefully both sewing and blogging will work better for me now. So I thought you would be interested in seeing some of Pehr Hilleström’s (1732-1816) painting of working women I have seen this summer. Most were seen at an exhibition at Sven-Harry’s art museum and two at Julitta manor house. The picture quality is reflected by the fact that most were taken with my mobile phone.
Some of you may remember that one of my costuming pet peeves is when a garment is dismissed just because it wasn’t worn at one particular place. The costume world is, for good reasons, turned toward England, France and North America, but there are a number of regional clothing differences and the working woman’s clothes often reflected that. For example, the dreaded sleeveless bodice and shift combo, was actually a perfectly acceptable for a peasant woman in Sweden during the 18th century. And coloured caps were also worn, something I was once told didn’t exist during the 1700s. This laundress is wearing a bodice that seems unboned and a simple shift. Her blue cap is what in Sweden is known as a “bindmössa”. It’s a cap made of a coloured, often expensive fabric and in the 18th century it could cover the whole hair or just be placed on the back of the head. It often was (and is) stiffened. It’s still an important feature in many Swedish traditional costume. Originally this cap was worn over a white linen cap, but in the 18th century the cap was worn on it’s own. It could, however, be worn with a “stycke” (meaning piece) made of fine linen or lace and attached to the cap in a way which made it look like a separate cap was worn underneath. A ribbon bow was often attached to the back of the cap.

A "bindmössa" could be worn by the middle classes as well. Bellamn mentions the rather wealthy Madame Bergström who is wearing a cap made of  green silk moiré and  decorated with silver lace. Underneath the cap she is wearing a "stycke" On the picture below you can't see much of the actual cap, but you can see the "stycke"

This woman has very nice cuffs, I Think. She's not wearnig a cap, but a "klut", a neckerchief folded into a triangle and wrapped around the head.
As is this woman

Another bodice, this one clearly unboned. There are several extant ones and they range from being completely unboned, having bones in strategic placed up to half-boned.
Of course white caps were worn as well

These close-ups are from a large painting showing a party outside Svartsjö castle, showing a variety of clothes. Lots of stripes!


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