As I am making a simpler regency outfit I needed a apron. In Sweden patterned aprons are common for many time periods, both striped and squares. And I happened to have a piece of thrifted linen fabric woven in white, unbleached and blue that seemed perfect.

Also check these pictures out, blue checked regency aprons in art.
London 1803
British 1820
Dutch 1803

I also wanted some pockets on the apron something that also can be found in the drawings from this time even if this one from France from 1824 is a tad bit late.

Regency Apron-1
As my dress is not floor length but a practical working length the apron follows this, the apron is 93cm long and 87cm wide. And it is pleated at the sides with a smooth front.

Regency Apron-2
The pockets are of a reasonable size, 23*16cm and I choose to put them under the pleating in the sides. This makes them “open up” a bit and are easy to use.

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I decided after it was finished that I needed shoulder straps on it. I can easily see myself get really annoyed by the apron creeping down to my waist. Happily thin shoulder straps on aprons are not uncommon in this period. Just look at this apron from 1824 France.

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I used a woven cotton ribbon as a tie. To make the waistband in the apron fabric and to have it extend a bit to the back before adding a woven cotton, linen or silk ribbon as tie is a common practise on Swedish aprons from 17 to 19th century.
I tie it of in the front as can be seen on many drawings from the time.

Regency Apron-4

The 2016 gingerbread house - 20
You know when you end up at Pinterest and a few hours just swishes past. I searched for ginger bread houses without actually planning to make one, but then I kind of got stuck and this happened.

I wanted a complicated house, with the copy of my childhood home in gingerbread house that my family always made when I was a kid in the back of my head. Where one side of the roof was the size of a baking tray, well it was a massive turn of the century house and as a kid massive in gingerbread as well.

But I wanted it to fit on my window sill. So what about an American style Victorian town house? There I got both “complicated”, narrow and high, with a bit of tower and a good foundation to hide the battery packs in. Why not make a Swedish “Victorian” house, well to be honest the architecture around the turn of the century in Sweden is so much scaled back than the American one. No at all as much fun. I ended up using this house as my main inspiration.

The 2016 gingerbread house - 1
First of I made a cardboard model of the house.

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Then it was time to cut it down and label the pieces well.

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As there are many windows I wanted to make sure that there were light where the were, I made a cardboard base where I mounted two LED fairy lights to. The nice thing with LED is that you don’t have to worry about the bulbs getting to warm so you can just tape it right onto the cardboard.

The 2016 gingerbread house - 4
Then it was time to bake! I used this recipe for “Construction grade gingerbread dough”. And was very happy with the outcome. Lots and lots of small pieces!

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After I baked them and they cooled down I made sugar glass windows and after they cooled it was time to do some icing work on all the pieces.
After the icing was done I waited to the next day to put it together.
The small pieces was put together with royal icing and the big with melted sugar.

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The base was made with sugar cubes, mounted with royal icing on a cardboard piece, the base hides the battery packs and have a piece in the back that you can take away to change the batteries and switch the lights on and of.
Yes there is a 1890s carousel horse in the back, trying to be a part of the photo!

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Then it was assembly time. All the big pieces were glues together with melted sugar as it sets so fast, no need to wait and prop things up. After the sides of the hose was mounted I went crazy with the royal icing again. It is a good way to hide the things that does not turn out perfect. The decorative fence was pre-made the night before on a parchment paper with royal icing.
Then I waited to the day after to attach the roof and tower with melted sugar. The key is to wait until the icing is really dried, so that you don’t mess all your work up. The roof got a supportive structure of cardboard, as it felt hard to mount it properly. Gingerbread is nice but it does warp a bit in the baking process and things really do not all line up, the tower is so crooked from one angle. This is why you have icing, you can hide anything with icing and a good dusting of powdered sugar.

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And then it was done. Kind of small, but with lots of details!

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I love to guest play in historical periods where I don’t really belong. I love the challenge of blending in without knowing so much about the period.

Yellow regency gown - 7

Last autumn I was invited to a “Waterloo victory feast”, as regency is not at all my period I of course needed to make a whole new kit. I stole my 18th century shift to be a bit lazy, and machine sewed a pair of regency stays and also took my 18th century underskirt; but the dress is all new and all hand sewn.

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As it was autumn I wanted to make a dress in wool, most extant dresses are in silk or cotton but there is a original Danish dress in wool. I also happened to have some yellow thin twill at home that was actually going to become a 14th century dress that felt like a good choice.

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I draped the pattern on my self based on extant dresses and decided that the “drop front” dress was interesting and a good thing to start out with.

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The bodice is lined in a thin linen fabric but not the sleeves. I tried to aim at a shape of a 1810-1815 dress.

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I have always loved the regency style but have been put of by it being a bit off for my shape, my body shape is “better” for the 16th-18th century, but I might have to admit that I have been bitten by the regency bug. Fabric for a new dress is ordered and also a spencer is planned. A red wool spencer have been on my wish list for at least 10 years now, it is kind of stupid that I have not made one yet.

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Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 2

Earlier this year, Elina at Neulakko started the Herjolfsnes challenge on Facebook after a bunch of us realised that we all bought the same fabric with the intention that it would become a garment based on the extant garments from Herjolfsnes, Greenland. With the books “Woven into the earth” and/or “Medieval Garments Reconstructed” as a base and help.

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I decided to make a no. 39 based on the fact that there was no strange seams, no singling or tablet weaving involved. I wanted to take the “easy way out” as I always seem to make things harder and more complicated. I need to exercise simplicity.
Also I really wanted to make a short sleeved overdress and the double pointed gore in front and back is so pretty.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 8

The fabric is a white/gray wool twill fabric from Medeltidssmode.se it is a bit fluffy but not to thick. It was very nice to work with and for this dress I decided to not use any measuring while sewing. Trying to get over my tailor training of exact measurement but trust my eyes.

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The dress is sewn with wool tread using only running stitches as the original. All the seams are sewn to the dress with overcast stitches.

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Both in the neckline, hem and sleeves 1cm is folded in and cast down. The extant gown have no filler threads mentioned at all so I decided not to use any either.

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There is two rows of stab stitching at the neckline and sleeves and in the bottom hem there is one row of stab stitches. I also stab stitched the top part of the front and back gore as the original. It is a good way of defining and making a durable edge. Locking the seam allowances down and helps from stretching.

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The neckline have two pairs of eyelets, the text does not mention anything about what the were sewn with but as all the other seams are sewn with wool, I used that for the eyelets as well.

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sideless surcoat - 8
Being a trial member of the 14th century re-enactment group Fraternis Militia Carnis I was invited to the carnival at the annular meeting. I decided to dress up as a popular medieval saint, Catherine of Alexandria. For this I needed some “fancy clothing”. So I decided to make a yellow silk sidless surcoat, something that also have a home in my “normal medieval wardrobe”.

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sideless surcoat - 1
It is made in silk tafetta and is flat lined with a thin wool fabric to give the right drape of the fabric. I choose to machine wash the silk and wool before sewing, that was a good thing as I was spilled on after 30 minutes, meat on silk dress leaves a stain, but most came of after a go in the machine.

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I also made a front and back gusset even if all extant sidless surcoats are with only side gussets. But based on manuscripts the fullness seems sometime to also be in front of the sidless surcoat. But if you wish to make it without I would advice you to make the side gussets a bit wider in the hem.

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The whole dress is sewn by hand with running stitches with silk thread, back stitches are kind of unnecessary as there is no strain what so ever on the seams in this kind of dress. The seams are then sewn to the wool lining with not to big stitches.

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I finished the neckline with stab stitches and will probably do the armholes as well. I hemmed the neckline with a single fold, but the armholes with a small double folded hem, as you can see it when it is worn. The bottom hem is a wider single folded hem.

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This dress was made for me who is 176cm long, bust measurement 120cm, hip measurement 130cm.
The pattern is made in cm, click it to see a larger version.

sideless surcoat - pattern

I don’t know if anyone have missed the series Outlander. The series is about Clare Randall a combat nurse from 1945 that is thrown back in time to 1743. The set is the Scottish highlands and the costumes are even if they are not historically accurate really amazing. The series gave me a real craving for wool tartan in greenish tones so after binge watching the first season in one weekend I started looking at fabric options. I wanted to make a 18th century petticoat of the “apron style” inspired by all the wonderful outfits in the series. The “apron style” petticoats are handy as you tie the front and back piece separately making it a good skirt for both modern everyday wear and period wear as the waist is easily adjusted.

But yeah, I needed it to be a pure wool fabric as I don’t like mixed wool fabrics and I wanted it to be a reproduction tartan as I like the idea of reproductions. And that combination have a tendency to come with a high price tag so for a minute I started to think that this skirt might not happen. Also it usually is made in single width that would mean that I would need 4 meters for a skirt, far to expensive for “only a skirt”.

I had given up on finding a fabric when I stumbled over a end of bolt double width pure wool fabric on Ebay. 2,2 meters god weight and prefect colour, the price for the fabric + shipping was around the same as one meter of half width wool tartan from the sites that sell reproduction tartans. So I was very very happy.

I ended up with “ancient black watch” tartan, a tartan originating in the early 18th century and it is also not a clan tartan. I did think a lot about wearing tartan, having no connection to it at all. Black watch is a army uniform tartan so it is not connected to any specific clan. That felt good, not invading a specific family colours.

Making the skirt was pretty straight forward. Sewing two widths together to form a tube, leaving two slits in the top. Pleating the front and back to separate waistbands making sure that they would overlap a bit in the sides when worn.
I choose to make the font waistband wider then the back, as I have seen in original skirts and then both front and back is finished of with long ties attached to the waistbands. As I had just enough fabric I choose to face the hem with a linen fabric in stead of a ordinary hem, this helped the skirt fall very nicely.

Then I just had to take some Outlander inspired pictures, I had all of the other pieces of the outfit in my wardrobe already from my 18th century common woman that I made last autumn. I choose to not wear the chunky knitwear that Clair wears as I wanted to keep my look more historically accurate. Even if I as a Swedish woman from the 18th century never would have worn tartan in this way the cut of the skirt and the other pieces are true to the style of clothing a Swedish woman would have worn at the end of the 18th century.

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But mostly I wear this skirt for my “modern” everyday wear paired with modern or other parts of my historical wardrobe, my favourite combo is to wear it with a 1910 chemise I made and 1940 style knitted cardigan.

I love my blue dress, and I have redone it so many times now, but one thing was bugging me. It is to bright for what I want to do. I am aiming to do a lower class woman, a woman that could have been a follower of the German landsknecht tross. And for that my blue dress was to fancy.
I wanted to do something simpler, a lighter colour and a more “believable” dress. Then the idea of dying the fabric myself using a plant that would be easy to find and use.
There are plenty of birch trees around so I knew that I would be able to gather all the plants I needed to dye the around 4 meters of fabric I needed for this dress.

Betulapendulafrau - 1
I started of by getting a really big pot. I got my 70 litre brewing pot including a lid at www.storagrytor.se and then I ordered some mordants and iron sulphate from www.dengamlaskolan.se I choose to use the twill raw weave from www.medeltidsmode.se for this project. As I love the surface it gets after washing and I had heard that it would be nice to dye.

The raw weave is bought as the name implies “raw”. It is straight out of the loom, filled with spinning oil and the weave is quite loose. It is a fabric that is meant to be washed and fulled and should not be used as it is. It is inexpensive and kind of ugly with a dirty beige colour. But when washed in 60°C it fulls nicely and you get a soft cream coloured fabric with a visible twill structure and it becomes a sightly fluffy but not to thick fabric. You can wash it in 90°C as well to get a heavier, more fulled fabric, but I just washed it in 60°C before I dyed it. One should also note that it does shrink a bit when you dye it as well.

After getting a big pot it was time to add mordant to the fabric to make it possible to dye it. I added 10% of Alun and 5% Cream of tartar of the fabrics dry weight to a bit of luke warm water in the pot. Stirred it well to make sure it was all solved and then filled the pot up with water. Then the fabric was added and the heat was turned on. You need it to heat up slowly to not chock the wool but that really is not a problem with such a big pot. It took me around one hour to get it up to the 80-90°C that you need and I kept stirring the fabric around all the time. Then the temperature was held at 80-90°C for one hour and then the heat was turned down and I let the fabric cool down in the mordant water until the next day.
You can either dye directly on the wet fabric, or you can let it dry (no need to rinse it out) to have for dyeing later. I choose the first one.

Betulapendulafrau - 2
It takes a lot of time to get all the leaves. You need to collect t least the double amount of leafs of the fabrics dry weight. As I had around 1,5kg fabric I choose to pick around 4kg of leafs. Getting more then you need will perhaps not give you more colour but it can help with the light fastness of the colour. Better safe then sorry, also for birch it is good to know that if you pick the leafs after midsummer you can get a green tint to your dye, in stead of a clear yellow. This is what happened to me but I like it. You will want to get only the leafs and not any branches.

Betulapendulafrau - 3
When all the leafs was picked it was time to add it to the dyeing pot that was now emptied of water and rinsed out. I added the leafs and then poured on water until the leafs was covered. Then the leaf soup was brought to a boil and then boiled for one hour. Birch leafs does not smell bad, but they smell special.

After one hour it was time to take out the leafs. All the leafs need to be taken out as they can make stains on the fabric. Emptying a pot of 50 litres of warm water with leafs is a hassle. Really no that easy, but it can be done.
When it was empty of leafs I added more water. I had so much fabric that I needed as much water I could get and also it is a good way to get the temperature of the birch leaf soup down. You do not want to add the fabric if the water is over 50°C as this is bad for the wool fibre.

Then it was time to add the fabric. To make the fabric is even it is good if it is wet when you add it, mine came directly from the mordant bath so there was no need to wet it more. When the fabric is added you need to slowly raise the temperature to 80-90°C and you need to stir the fabric often to make sure that the colour gets even. When the temperature is at 80-90°C you need to keep it there for one hour stirring now and then during this time. When one hour is over I simply turned of the heat and let the fabric cool down to the next day. When cooled down I took it out of the bath and rinsed it well in cold water until the water was clear.

Next day I needed to dye my accent colour. As I had so much fabric the first round there was no space for that piece. There is kind of a lot of colour last in the bath after the first round, so adding a fabric to the after bath and redo the heating and one hour at 80-90°C would give a nice but lighter yellow. As I wanted to have the same strength but green I added the leafs to the water again and boiled them again, to get some extra colour into the bath. After the same procedure as the last time; straining of the leafs, adding more water to cool it down, I added the last piece of fabric to the bath and let it slowly go up to 80-90°C. When the temperature was right I let my fabric sit for 45 minutes in the bath, stirring well. Then the fabric was taken out temporarily and iron sulphate was added; 5g for each 100g of fabric. I stirred it well to make it dissolve into the water and then added the fabric again. This turns the yellow fabric green. But it is kind of bad for the fibre so I only let it be in the bath for 15 minutes. Then It was taken out and I let it cool down a bit before washing it well in first warm water that gradually was made cooler to not shock the wool.

Betulapendulafrau - 4
Then it was finished and I only had to wait for it to dry, and clean up the mess in the kitchen. Taking a good photo of the colours was hard, but it kind of what they look like but they do change in visual appearance if you are inside our outside, in the sun or the shade.

Betulapendulafrau - 5
Then it was time for the cutting and sewing part. Of course I had very little time to sew this as I wanted to make it for medieval week on Gotland. I only had a few days but I was pretty sure I could make it at least wearable for medieval week. The assembly for this is the same as for my blue dress tutorial. The difference is that for this dress I choose to not use the filler thread as there are no evidence that this was used in the 16th century and also I choose to try hooks and eyes and to not bone the front of the dress.

Betulapendulafrau - 6
Otherwise it was very straight forward sewing, I timed the dress as it is always interesting to see how much time it takes and for this dress it took me 25 hours and 5 minutes. Not bad for a totally hand sewn dress, and yes it was finished enough to wear for medieval week. What was left to do was to attach one more stripe on the skirt as I wanted two and the cast down some of the edges inside the dress but that is included in the 25 hours and five minutes.
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Under this dress I wear my wool under dress. A sleeveless wool dress lined with two layers of heavy linen that is laced in front. The under dress is not boned and I find that wearing the under dress and over dress is plenty of bust support for me. And also it gives you a proper silhouette.
To make this outfit better I will be making a new smocked shirt and veil, pure white and embroidered it not all that fitting for a poorer woman so I will be making them in non bleached linen in stead. And smock using a tone on tone thread in stead.

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I hope you like it as much as I do. I like the fact that it is so simple and not slashed at all. It feels very real and possible.