leather and fur


Surfing the net a million years ago, before I started with all the medieval stings I did do a lot of looking at other peoples work, wishing that I would find the courage to staring doing it myself.
Then I found this webpage with all of the fantastical reproductions. He had a photo of a extant medieval pouch from Norway that looked like no other purse I had seen. So when it came to me making my own money pouch a couple of years ago I knew I wanted to make that kind of purse. It says that the pouch is from late 13th to early 14th century but as money pouches does not differ that much and in “purses in pieces” Olaf Goubitz writes that the circular cut pouch is the most common type of coin purse in medieval times and that the use of them continues at any rate into the 20th century.

I have made my purse slightly smaller then the reproduction I was inspired by but as I girl I guess I have smaller hands and I did not want to have a too large pouch anyway.

I start of by cutting the leather out, you need the circular piece and also you need two long thin strips one that is 50 cm long and one that is 65 cm long, I made both mine 1 cm wide but to make it look even more as the extant purse you could cut them thinner. I have used a piece of a old leather jacker, but any soft leather will do fine.

Norwegian money pouch - 1
Norwegian money pouch - 2
In my paper guide I have punched holes, these I use to transfer the markings for the holes on the leather. I use a regular drawing pencil that I wet slightly, it gives just enough marks and is something I had lying around at home. You are cutting the dots of so you can use anything to make your markings with.

Norwegian money pouch - 3
Then I punch all the holes out.

Norwegian money pouch - 4
Take the longer leather strip and make it pointy in one end.

Norwegian money pouch - 5Norwegian money pouch - 6
Start threading it through the holes.

Norwegian money pouch - 7
All the way around

Norwegian money pouch - 8
I round the other end of the strip of and cut a hole in the middle.

Norwegian money pouch - 9
The pointy end goes through.

Norwegian money pouch - 10
Pull your pouch together a bit.

Norwegian money pouch - 11
As much as you want to have it open when it is finished.

Norwegian money pouch - 12
Thread the pointy end on a big blunt needle.

Norwegian money pouch - 13
Now we are going to do the nice wrapping around the purse.

Norwegian money pouch - 14
Continue around the purse and make sure that the strip of leather lies nicely and evenly around the first round of the strip.

Norwegian money pouch - 15
Norwegian money pouch - 16Norwegian money pouch - 17
Norwegian money pouch - 18
I did not my strip long enough, but you can easily make it longer like this, make sure that the joint end up on the “backside”, this will make it invisible.

Norwegian money pouch - 19
Then when you have sewn all around the pouch.

Norwegian money pouch - 20
Take the needle and go down the hole.

Norwegian money pouch - 21
See, it looks like it continues all around.

Norwegian money pouch - 22
Now you have the rest of the strip on the inside.

Norwegian money pouch - 23
Cut it of a bit and split it in half.

Norwegian money pouch - 24
Norwegian money pouch - 25
Thread one end on the needle and go under the inside strip.

Norwegian money pouch - 26
Make a knot and cut of the excess.

Norwegian money pouch - 27
Norwegian money pouch - 28
Then take the other strip of the leather, make one side pointy and thread it through the top holes.

Norwegian money pouch - 29
Go all the way around.

Norwegian money pouch - 30
And knot the ends.

Norwegian money pouch - 31
Norwegian money pouch - 32
Norwegian money pouch - 33
And now the purse if finished!

Norwegian money pouch - 34
The pattern is in cm, as always.

Good luck!

For medieval week I wanted to make a leater case to keep my mobile phone in. It always feels nice that when you open your pilgrim bag you can be sure that nothing modern is seen.

leather case - 1
leather case - 2
When reading Purses in Pieces by Olaf Goubitz I found a big leather case that was made for wax tablets. It says in the book that it was probably used by a hunter and it is slightly bigger then the standard wax tablet case. But what caught my interest was the leather tooling, it features dogs hunting hares with floral vines. I love hares, so naturally I had to use them on my leather case. Leather cases were very often adorned with different kinds of leather tooling, all from simple lines to complex pictures.

leather case - 13
leather case - 14
I sewed the leather case when wet around a wooden form, this makes the case nice in shape and the leather tooling is easy. I first drew the pattern before I sewed it and when it was dry, then I cut the pattern with a knife to make it easier to do the tooling. I made my tooling with a leather stamp and I love how clear the tooling is.
I also made all the holes for the sewing before I let the leather soak in water. Then It was easy to sew it together, making sure to sew it so that I would not cut the thread of when cutting it open.

leather case - 3
leather case - 4
My leather case tooling is inspired by the leather case with the hounds and hares but I only used hares and made my case a lot smaller, the size is about the size that most wax tablets was made in.

leather case - 5
leather case - 12
The hares themselves are inspired by my all time favourite designer, Klaus Haapaniemi, I have a scarf designed by him that I love and wear all the time so I picked the shape of my hares from this scarf.

leather case - 6
leather case - 7
I had my phone and also kept some drawing paper and pens in it, as I said, it is nice to keep all none period objects out of sight.

leather case - 8
leather case - 9
leather case - 10
leather case - 11

I took some photos of two dresses with headgear to them for a exhibition application. And I thought that I would share them with you.

This is a headdress of raw hide that have been painted to look like metal with fabric flowers and lava stones. The dress is totally see-through and is made in tulle and tulle based lace fabric.

Rust
Rust
Rust

Cajsa wearing a cotton voile dress with leather yoke, the leather is really thin and nice and is tanned with “wet and white” one of the more nature friendly tanning methods.
The headdress is filled with fake flowers and have real deer antlers attached.
Spring
Spring
Spring
Spring

Summer season = medieval week and a for medieval week I really need a bag for my German dress. Looking at a lot of pictures I saw a model that seemed to be used by both males and females and also used in a very varied social status.
And as I work this way: see pretty thing, make pretty thing. I just had to make myself a bag and as I like to share I also made a pattern diagram.

But first, the finished bag.

16th century German - bag
It is made in Swedish bark tanned reindeer, the lid and strap is in 3mm vegetable tanned cowhide and the red is chrome tanned goat. I usually try to stay away from the chrome tanned leather because of the chrome, but this red is just so beautiful that I can’t stop myself.

16th century German - bag back
As you can’t really make out the backside of the bags from pictures you have to make something up. I decided to use the same shape as on the lid, as that makes it both a bit sturdy, gives me something to put a inner pocket on and it looks pretty. Also when cutting leather I find that you get the most useful scrap pieces if you try to keep your work in rectangles that you then cut down. For example, the things I cut away on the lid and strap can easy be used as other straps or perhaps a bracelet.
Here you can clearly see the seam that fasten the inner pocket. The inner pocket is a modern convenience things, for a more period correct bag you should probably leave it out

16th century German - bag - lid
A close up on the lid. The button is made with a wooden core that have been covered in leather.

16th century German - bag - strap
16th century German - bag -  side strap
Something that I have not done yet is to sew the strap closed, so that you can open the bag without it slipping of your belt.

16th century German - bag - with open lid
When you open the lid you can see that it has two external pockets and a drawstring to keep it shut.

16th century German - bag - button
The button is fastened in the front piece of the bag.

16th century German - bag - button
To make sure that the button stays on, the leather that is used to cover the button is the leather that becomes the piece that is sewn on to the front piece of the bag. I also used extra long threads that I wrapped around the neck of the button to make it more secure and long lasting.

16th century German - bag - inner pocket
On the inside there is a pocket, I have no historical sources for this, but a bag needs its bag for “girl stuff”. I first sew it onto the back piece, through both lid/strap and the back piece and then sew the seams on the sides, the seams that form the pocket. Before sewing it on I also put some water on the front bit of the inner pocket, and stretched it a bit just at the front piece, this makes it easier to put stuff into the pocket, and you can see how it is slightly looser on the picture

16th century German - bag - pockets
Here we have the pockets, the pattern piece is sewn on so that it forms a pouch, my leather is a bit thick so it does not drape as well as it should, but it will become softer with use.

16th century German - bag - pocket detail
The drawstring on these pockets are well thought out, pull it open easy.

16th century German - bag - opening pocket
Put stuff inside.

16th century German - bag - closing pocket
And then pull on the long ends to shut it again.

And now on to the pattern.
The + marks where you should punch a hole, this is most practical to do just after cutting out your leather before any sewing is done. Except at the centre back were the holes should be through bot lid/strap and back piece and therefore is better to punch after you sew it on.
The dotted lines are your sewing lines, where your seams should be or where you should place your other pieces. I use a needle and punch tiny holes through the paper pattern to mark these lines.
The pockets have no seam lines as there is such a small (2mm) seam allowance, and on the front piece the dotted lines is how you should put the pocket pieces to form pouches.

16th century German - bag - overwiew

16th century German - bag - front and back
16th century German - bag - strap
16th century German - bag - pockets
16th century German - bag - inner pocket

And so, some inspirational picture as well.
Amorous_Peasants
As you can see she have only one pocket, it is shaped differently at the bottom and there is tassels.

soilder and his whife
One with a smaller lid and three pockets.

bagmaker
two other variety.

inspiration
My bag is kind of the same size as this nice girl.

So I am at a new school now, studying tailoring in Uddevalla, direction woman.

I wanted to share some pictures I took last weekend of my friend Bella in my raw hide crown and a lace dress I made.

princess of the forest 1
princess of the forest 2
princess of the forest 3
princess of the forest 6
princess of the forest 4
princess of the forest 5

In school we had a project where we should find an architect/building to take our inspiration from. I have had a picture of Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí in my inspiration folder for ages so I choose to go with Gaudí as my inspiration. And then down the road in the research process I found Mucha, how could I have missed Alphonse Mucha for all these years.

I wanted to use the bone like pillars that hold up Gaudís buildings and the draped fabric and flowing hair of Mucha to make a dress.

bone dress - draping
bone dress - paperbones
paper bones to play around with the bone design.

bone dress - toille
several toilles was made to make sure that it fitted my friend Isabell that had promised me to model it for me. It is interesting that a small bust is in need of so much work with the toille, and that that work is in such a different way from a large bust which is what I normally work with.

bone dress - drying
The bones that I used is chicken bones that is leftovers from a bunch of nice meals. They have been cooked and cleaned and here they are drying, later I painted them and lacquered them. I could have bleached them as you normally do, but chicken bones are so brittle so I did not want them to be more fragile then what they already was.

bone dress - detail
bone dress - deail back
To be able to sew them onto the dress they have been filed down to be flat on the backs and thinner and the small holes was drilled to enable the sewing.

The top of the dress is made out of white leather that is prepared with a new kind of tanning process called “wet white”. It is a organic tanning process which is much better for the environment than ordinary chrome tanning. Where chromed tanned leather can make it’s wearer allergic and is highly environment damaging, wet white leather can be recycled and it can also used as fertiliser if prepared right. Another plus is that it comes in white naturally, chrome tanned leathers are grey, vegetable tanned leathers are a really light brown at best. To achieve white the leather these must be finished heavily which makes it loose a lot of leather character and almost always turns out looking like plastic.
Another plus is that it is not as sensitive as vegetable tanned leather, I was able to press the seams with with a hot iron, something that a vegetable tanned leather really do not appreciate.

The leather is amazingly soft and drapes just like fabric, it is truly amazing. One downside is that people do not think it is leather at all due to it looking so soft and white without a coating.
I have lined the top part of the dress with cotton coutil, to make sure that it holds the breast in place and do not stretch the leather and making it to big.

The bottom part is a really light and see-through silk fabric and the skirt has about 8 meters of fabric in it, I wanted it to be light and flowing.

All the pictures are taken by me in an abandoned house that is just around the corner from where I live, click them so see them in a larger format.
Model: Isabell
bone dress - 1
bone dress - 2
bone dress - 3
bone dress - 4
bone dress - 5
bone dress - 6
bone dress - 7
bone dress - 8

not 100% sure how to translate the title of the project, “bära” is Swedish for carry, but also to wear, and “bäras” is to be carried, oh well we’ll just leave it at that I think. This is the big project of the autumn.

So this project was about being inspired by a character or a fairy tale/folklore, and then make one garment for protection, one practical accessory  and one jewellery for beauty.

This is what I wrote about my work:

One reality
I have picked the best from fairy tales, folk costumes and turn of the century (1900). To reflect on a person from my world, “make pretend land”.

My reality created to be worn in your reality.

This is how it looked at out exhibition, at least my corner.
bara baras - exhibition text
bara baras - exhibition process book
bara baras - exhibition gloves
bara baras - exhibition coat
bara baras - exhibition cirkle
bara baras - exhibition fox close up
bara baras - exhibition fox
bara baras - exhibition clothing
bara baras - exhibition circle2
bara baras - exhibition book

I decided not to pick a specific fairytale or person but to make my own character and I also wrote some text to it and made an actual book that I illustrated.
bara baras - illustration 1
Once upon a time there was a girl that had no clear place in our world.
-Home is where my heart is. She said to the white bunny.
-The life of a rose seem so dull, a rosebud is always forced to become a rose. What if actually want to become a dandelion?
– A rose is never just a rose my friend. There are not two roses that are exactly the same; they are all different extraordinary individuals.
Answered the white bunny.

bara baras - illustration 2
She was a traveller, always on her way somewhere but never in a hurry.
Taking the time to see every flower and stone she passed on her way, always willing to take a break and lay on her back and listen to the world around her.
-Dear Mr. Fox, I do so wish that one could take a photograph of a feeling. That way one could go back and feel the same thing again and again. That way one could always be happy.
-If that was possible, some people would always be sad my dear friend. Said Mr. Fox

bara baras - illustration 3
She was a peaceful being both in her mind and heart. Always trying to treat all beings with respect and curtsey
-Dear Calf, sometimes I think that everything around me is moving so fast. That people are living their lives only to get to the next day, weekend or year. How do the people have the time to even breathe today when they are so stressed about tomorrow?
-Yes Dearest said the calf. Very many people in our world need to learn that today is just as important as tomorrow. That living everyday full out and not just live to come to tomorrow is important. You can never get back a lost day, living everyday gives you the opportunity to actually live a full life. If one is not careful one will perhaps end up with having lived only half a life.

bara baras - illustration 4
-Dear foxes, I am so truly happy. Here we are with the opportunity to lie on the grass and breathe fresh air. There is nothing more in life that I wish for than happiness.
-We are fortunate in this part of the world to have that opportunity. Remember that not everyone is as lucky as we. Answered the foxes.

bara baras - illustration 5
Only people without imagination escape into reality

And here are my pieces, I did more pieces then what we were asked to create.

A bodice made out of 1,5mm vegetable tanned leather that first have had a lace fabric pressed into it with a hydraulic press and then colours and distressed.
bara baras - bodice front
bara baras - bodice side front
bara baras - bodice side
bara baras - bodice back
bara baras - bodice side detail
bara baras - bodice bow
bara baras - bodice lacing

The coat is made out of wool and have a skirt that one can drape if one want it. It also have the same kind of leather that have been through the same process as the bodice. The leather parts have been hand sewn onto the coat.
bara baras - coat side
bara baras - coat side front
bara baras - coat  front
bara baras - coat draped front
bara baras - coat draped back
bara baras - coat draped side
bara baras - coat front draped
bara baras - coat  cuff
bara baras - coat  button
bara baras - coat  collar
bara baras - coat close up front
bara baras - coat sholder detail
bara baras - coat back detail
bara baras - coat back close up
bara baras - coat  back

The dress is made out of cotton have have a lot of different lace sewn onto it. It is meant to be like a diary, that the lace have been collected over time and that the dress is not finished yet.
bara baras - dress
Ibara baras - dress lace
bara baras - dress back
bara baras - dress front
bara baras - dress  front close up

The bracelet is made out of two silver spoons and leather. I wanted to use metal in my project but as I don’t know anything about working in metal I chose to go with the theme of collecting things.
bara baras - bracelet

The glove is made out of wool and is edged with white rabbit fur, the embroidery is also in wool and the motive is inspired by Scandinavian folk costumes
bara baras - glove

The fox collar is made out of a real fox. It is a wild Swedish fox hunted by a Swedish hunter, it does NOT come from a fur farm.
I understand that fur upsets a lot of people, I understand peoples reasons and I probably shares a lot of those arguments. But I ask of you not to scream murderer at me or write abusive things to me about it. This is a animal that have lived happy in the forest all its life and is is shot by a trained hunter. Please understand that hunting does not work the same way in all countries, keep in mind that Sweden is a small country and that we have very strict rules about animals and hunting. And because we are such a small country it is so much easier to enforce the laws then for example in such a big country as the united states.

The face had been destroyed in the tanning process so I decided to embroider the face with small glass pearls in stead. Every pearl have been sewn on by hand, one at a time. The fox have also been sewn so that it lays again the body in a good way.
bara baras - fox detail
bara baras - fox nose
bara baras - fox head
bara baras - fox collar
bara baras - fox side
bara baras - fox back
bara baras - fox side tail
bara baras - fox front

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