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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A guide to easily understanding the 16th century female outfit in Northern Europe, focusing on women from lower social standing.This guide is made as a collaboration between me Cathrin Åhlén and Andrea Dolores that runs the blog “The Vulgar Crowd”

Before you begin it is vital to think about what kind social class, or type of woman, you want to recreate. This has nothing to do with LARP:ing (live action role playing) or acting. It is simply to do with making a construction that feels historically relevant. Woman differs from each other in the 16th century, not only due to social standing. Even women from the same social class dressed differently according to her place in society.

That is why it is a bit unfortunate to put all these amazing women together in the same group as many tend to do today. It is important to know that women of the tross which followed the mercenaries, such as the landsknecht, were not female landsknecht, they were not soldiers. They followed the tross because of what the soldiers may need during military campaigns: help with domestic chores, as companions, whores, and different professional craftswomen. The captain’s wife did not have the same function as for example the wine maker/seller, but instead holds a different status in the group.
That is why it always is good to know who you want to recreate and what her role in the tross might be. First when you know this can you move forward and build your wardrobe. It might seem really boring, but this is only to help you make the right decisions for your outfit and should only be seen as something positive; as a helping hand.

Something that is worth thinking about is that the women in the tross during early modern time chose to follow a dangerous, erratic and by the society excluded group; the landsknecht. During this time in Europe the landschnecht was associated with violence, terror, and bloodshed. The society both hated and feared them. That is why it is most likely that the vast majority of the women, which in spite of this chose to follow them, came from the lower classes of society without any higher social status.

As these women, as we have discussed, are not a unitary group, calling them for “kampfraus” is of course incorrect. Instead we should look at what these women really were. By stepping away from the far too generalized mold “kampfrau” and instead start to think “lower class women” you in a way get a lot more freedom in your creativity, as you now choose to create a person with a profession or role in the camp and not only a platitude. That is why the word “kampfrau” is such a bad and foremost historically incorrect word to use. The word kampfrau have long been in use in different societies and have because of its popularity spread beyond these societies, so far that people are not aware that it is a made-up word. To with one word smooth out the diversity of the women of the tross feels incredibly sad and also disparaging to the history of the women.

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Underwear

As you might have noticed, the figure in the picture is only wearing a pair of hose. There is a reason for this, and that is the fact that this is the bottom layer. Corsets, stays, panties and bloomers came much later in history. The earliest extant pair of stays are from late 16th century and panties are a much later invention; they appear a bit into the 20th century, when skirts become shorter they started looking as what we are used to seeing them.

If your aim is to be as correct as possible, this is your bottom layer.

The hose are made out of wool fabric and cut on bias to give them as much stretch as possible. As you can see it has a sewn sole that continues up on the leg in a gusset. It also has a seam in the back to make it possible to shape the hose after the leg. As a woman you wear knee high hose that is fastened with garters which are tied around the leg. The hose can both be of solid colour or vertically striped, but the solid coloured hose seems to be most common on women of lesser means.

Watch out for

Modern underwear – It is hard to build a historical silhouette when you are shaped by modern underwear.

Corsets and stays – Not everything from the 16th century is Tudor. If you look at art from the period you will see that the silhouette of the dresses from England, Italy and Germany differs from each other quite a bit. In Germany you can see that you have a more rounded bust, not the more cone-like shape an early stay will give you.

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Shoes

Shoes during this period vary widely and simpler and heavier shoes is a marker of a person of lesser means. The most visually prominent and fashionable shoe in the 16th century is the cow moth shoe, a flat shoe with a square shape in the front. The shape ranges from slightly rounded to more extravagant versions.

Something which is worth mentioning about the shoes in the 16th century is that they are welt sewn unlike the earlier shoes, which were turnshoes.
This means that they are sewn on the last with the right side out and have an insole which the upper is attached to, and then have an outsole which is attached under this. The outsole is attached to a strip of leather called welt. The welt is attached to the shoe in the same seam which binds the insole and upper together.
In turnshoes this piece of leather is called rand. The use of a welt and outsole makes it a lot easier to change the sole of the shoe when it is worn down without actually interfering with the construction of the rest of the shoe.
When the outsole is sewn to the welt you will get a visible seam, much in the same way which you can see in a classical dress shoe.

The cow moth shoes are not the only shoe worn at this period of time, there is a plethora of shoes. That is why it is important to look at the shoes in the area which you have chosen to recreate. Also look at the class from you have chosen to work within. Farmers are often depicted with heavier more rounded shoes and finer folk seem to be using daintier shoes, both more decorated and slashed.

Watch out for

Wrong shoe on the wrong person – Just because a shoe model has been in use in England in 1520 does not mean that that shoe can be used when you are doing Italian or German 1520s.
This is the same way as the fact that an English farmer did not wear the same shoes as an English king.

Visible seams – There are no seams visible on extant shoes. Neither the heel counter nor side seams are sewn with a seam that is visible from the outside.
The only visible seam on welt shoes is the welt seam that attaches the outsole.

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Chemise

There is a large variety in the shape of the chemise, all from very simple with only a little width to garments where it is obvious a lot of fabric was used. The chemises comes with both high and low collars and I have a hard time seeing that either one is more common in any social class. However, taking into account the quality and the quantity of the fabric can say a lot about the social class which you are aiming for.

The collars varies from beautifully embroidered with tiny pleats to simpler pleating where you have sewn a flat linen band of the same fabric as the rest of the chemise to keep the pleats in place. The same goes for the finish of the sleeves even if the most common thing seems to be simple string which you tie with small bows at the wrist.
The closure of the chemises are often not seen. Here it is very likely that they have used hooks and eyes to keep the collar together. A hidden closure seems to be very common but other ways of closing the collar are simple linen ties or decorated braided ribbons which might match the colour of the embroidery you might have.
There are also depictions of decorative clasps, buttons, and pearls as closures, but it is worth noting that these are most often found on the upper classes and might not be fitting for a women of the tross.

Watch out for

Too short chemise – Make your chemise to your knees or to your calf. Underskirts or petticoats are not in use yet so it is the chemise job to protect your body from the wools and vice versa. But do not make it all the way to the floor, a wet linen hem is cold and not at all pleasant against your legs.

Keep to your class – A poor soldier’s wife does not have a chemise with golden bands, embroideries, and beads. Think about what choices you make and you will get a more convincing outfit.

Raw silk – It might seem luxurious with a raw silk chemise and raw silk “looks like linen”. However, raw silk as a fabric for clothing is not correct for the 16th century and silk is also sensitive to sweat, something which is not optimal for a chemise.

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Under dress

As I mentioned, the use of modern bras and corsets came a lot later in history than the 16th century. However, of course they used some kind of supportive underwear. We have the Schloss Lengberg garments as an example of many different ways to support the bust in the shape of linen “bras”. The Lengberg finds are dated to late 15th century and there are a lot of images from the 14th century depicting similar “bra dresses”.
When we come to the 16th century these pictures disappear from the pictorial evidence and instead we start to see sleeveless wool dresses. We can find similar dresses all over Europe on women preforming physical labour. We do not see them on women outside the “home” or the private sphere for the simple reason that you wore a dress over it when you were in more public places.

The under dress sometimes had stripes on the skirt, especially if you were from a higher social status. With this comes all kinds of laws and regulations which tells you who are allowed to wear what kind of materials and how many stripes you were allowed to have on your skirt. The fact that these laws exist is because people broke the rules, but it might be worth thinking about; did the laundry woman have silk brocade stripes on her under dress? Almost certainly not.

There are no evidence that the under dresses were as stiff as corsets, it is common to see in images and woodcuts that the bust have a soft more rounded shape.

Watch out for

Underskirts and petticoats – There is no evidence for the use of underskirts. Many uses linen underskirts to get more shape over the hips and to protect their legs from the wool. Instead of doing that, make your chemise longer. This is something that we have pictorial evidence for and start using a full under dress to achieve those 16th century hips and to get a correct silhouette.

Modern brassiere – In the end it is simple, modern underwear will give your dress a modern silhouette. Sometimes you have to let go of your modern aesthetics to create a correct shape.

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Overdress

The classical 16th century dress in northern Europe had a high waist and low neckline. The shape of the dress varied depending on where in northern Europe you were. However, generally in Germany the square neckline and closure centre front was prominent. The dress had often just as low neckline in back as in front and had very often decorative stripes at the bottom of the skirt. The skirt was pleated and sewn onto the bodice as separate skirt and a bodice was not used.

It is easy to want to emulate the grandeur of the males, but the dresses of the women were generally a lot simpler in cut and details. The slashing that is so common in the outfits of the men is almost nowhere to be seen, you can perhaps slash the stripes of the skirts or in exceptional cases the guards around the neckline and centre front.

The sleeves of the dress are also in contrast to the male puffiness and extravagance. The sleeves are often very simple with a plain sleeve with a cuff that can either be worn folded up or folded down over the hand. You can also see simpler slashing of the sleeve at the shoulders and elbows but they are much less extravagant and as big as on the men.

It is just that, the contrast between the male and female, which is so beautiful when you see the tross together. Let the men have their big upper bodies and skinny legs and let the women be the opposite, wide hips and in contrast to the hips, slim upper bodies.

Watch out for

Too low waist – Many wear their dresses on their hips and the result of that is that they never get the right silhouette. Let the waist sit where it should, a good bit over your bellybutton, and you will automatic get those nice 16th century hips and a correct silhouette.

Too high neckline – If you look at woodcuts, the neckline is often very low, this does not matter much as there is always a chemise under to cover up and to make sure that the boobs does not pop out. Dare to go lower both in the front and back and you will get a dress with a much more correct look.

Gaping lacing – It is very unusual to see the lacing on the dress, The everyday woman did not show her face in society in a dress with gaping lacing. The dress should be completely shut in front either with hidden lacing or hook and eyes.

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On the head

When you look at the paintings and graphical pictures of women from the 16th century a clear picture emerges; grown-up women hid their hair. To wear your hair down is something which might have been done by extremely young unmarried women or, for example, prostitutes. However, the ordinary woman wore her hair up and almost always covered. To wear the hair up with some kind of covering is so common that you can find picture of women in bathhouses with their head covered while otherwise in the nude.

Even amongst prostitutes you see a great majority with their hair up and covered. If you don’t wish to cover your hair it should at least be braided and put up properly on the head. The visible cute braided hanging loops by the ears that peek out under the veil during the late 15th century is hopelessly unfashionable during the 16th century. If you wear a head covering, the whole hair is now covered.

A very common headpiece is the padded linen cap that is so typical for the northern European fashion. It most likely started with the braided hair being put up in the back of the head under the veil, but as all fashion it went to excess. People started to use padding of different kind, for example the wulsthaube, a padded cap, which you then draped you headdress over. The shape varies from small to enormous.

The veils can be found in all sorts of fashion, everything from undecorated linen veils and super thin silk veils to richly decorated and embroidered. As always, the question is who do you want to portray?

Watch out for

Cover your hair – the easiest way to enhance your outfit historically is to put on a proper headdress. Don’t be afraid of the padded cap, it might look strange when taken out of its context but nothing can beat it when used together with accurate clothing. If you do not want to use a wulsthaube you can choose to use a draped veil. Look at images and your will surely find something you like.

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Hats

The 16th century brings a lot of variety in hats. If you generalise a bit you find that two different kinds seem to be the most popular. One is a hat with a split brim where the brim parts overlaps each other a bit with perhaps a few feathers. The other one the one that looks like it has gathered fabric underneath and is filled with feathers.

When it comes to ordinary women, hats are not always worn and when you see a hat on a women it is often of a more simple kind. It is a more safe way to go to not wear a hat; a veil or wulsthaube goes a long way. There are of course images of crazily feathered hats but that does not make it the norm to wear a whole bird stuffed into our hat. Neither is it practical for a hard working woman in the tross. A fully feathered hat is more likely to be in the way for a simple washerwoman. It seems like it is more common with feathers among prostitutes.

When it comes to the choice of feathers we can see that natural ostrich feathers are the most common during the 16th century. We can of course play with the thought that other types of feathers were used but if you look at the pictures from the period we can see that the ostrich is in extreme majority. Everyone wore them; we can see them among landsknechts, wealthy merchants and even the noblemen, such as the very fashion interested Henrik VIII.

Coloured feathers are not at all common during the 16th century. If coloured feathers was used they were of course dyed with natural dyes. The process is technically hard to achieve and that is probably why it is not common to see the coloured feathers. Instead what we see is more than anything else white or naturally grey ostrich feathers, or alternatively, naturally black ostrich feathers. Think about who you are recreating and look at images from your time and you will soon see that the coloured feathers are absent.

Watch out for

Don’t slash your hat – The popular slashed hat crown cannot be found in the pictorial sources; you can slash the underside of the brim but it is much more common to not slash at all. Decorate instead with a few feathers and don’t slash at all.

Stay away from coloured feathers – They existed but were very uncommon. If can feel nice to be able to match your dress with synthetically coloured feathers, but it is not particularly historically accurate. Why not dive into the wonderful world of natural shades of ostrich. Beautiful in the 16th century, beautiful today!

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Gollar

The most common garment for keeping warm which you see in the pictures is the short cape called gollar. It can either have a high collar or no collar at all, and it can be either short or it can be more of a cloak and go down to the hips. It looks like a liripipe without the head part and can be lined in fur for extra warmth.

There are a number of images of women who wear their capes over what they carry on their backs, it is a good way to keep rain out of your packing. The gollar is as much a trending garment as it is practical and it is often decorated with contrasting borders.

On images and paintings of women from the higher social classes you often see them in silk brocade with fancy clasps, but on simpler women you almost always see no closure at all. We can presume that they were closed with hook and eyes, or that they simply lay on the shoulders. Alternatively they might have used hidden lacing which they tied together as a bow.

There are also examples of this kind of garment which looks more like short vests and are squarer in shape. Look at what is most common for the type of person you want to recreate, perhaps you have no need for a gollar.

Watch out for

Dress according to your class – It is easy to fall in love with a garment from the upper class, but as always; chose a garment that represent what you recreate. If you need to dig deep after evidence for a garment you want to make or a detail you want to recreate, you might need to stop and think for a bit. Perhaps what you are looking for was not something that was commonly done. A better starting point is to look at what the common thing to do was. Find what most people actually did. It will be a lot easier to make a believable outfit when you have cracked the code of what is probable and what was done. Just because something is from the lower classes does not automatic makes it boring and plain. Find that thing that makes your garment special.

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Accessories

At the first glance the 16th century can feel very “bling” with large golden chains, rings on all fingers and on multiple knuckle joints, many necklaces at the same time. However, all these things are most common among the nobles. As soon as you step down a step on the social ladder all this disappear, especially among women of less means. You might have one ring, but necklaces of precious metals are nowhere to be seen.
On pictures of prostitutes from this time we do find these kind of accessories. However, bear in mind that these were most likely copies in less precious metals, they wanted to mimic the nobility and be showy.

What ordinary women wore was much plainer, most of what you see are accessories hanging from the belt. Small leather bags of different kinds, sewing tools, and often a simple knife; sometimes you also see keys. It seems like it was the practice to wear two belts, one that you kept your things on and one that you used for draping the dress up when marching. However, you never see two belts worn at the same time. We can presume that they had a belt specially for the draping that they took off when they wore the dress down. As this belt never was visible it would probably not been decorated with more than a simple belt buckle.

Many speaks about booty from the battlefields but think about the fact that if there was any booty this was first and foremost for the men. Wives, hang-arounds or women without any social status in the tross were probably not allowed to enjoy expensive fabrics, gold or jewellery. In other words; it is not likely that the cook and laundry woman in the tross had gold rings on all fingers.

Watch out for

Less is more – Looking like a living Christmas tree with a million things hanging off your belt or on your outfit is never a positive thing. Do not carry more things in your belt than is logical. If you need to carry a lot of stuff, than take a basket to carry in your hand, a sack, or the things wrapped up in fabric which you carry on your back. Willow baskets on your back does not seem to be common at all in the tross.

Don’t put on all your fancy jewellery – We all want the fancy stuff, but as always, reflect over who you are recreating and what is practical. It is not likely that a women that followed the tross had gold chains and lots of rings, unless she was a particularly popular prostitute.

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And there we have it, the complete kit! With the help of another belt you can drape the gown up in this way, this makes it a lot easier to march and is a very common thing to see in pictures of women in the tross.

So a short recap.
Do not imitate the men, just because they look a certain way does not mean that you can copy it and put it in your women’s outfit. Also think about colours and colour combinations. Lighter colours were a lot easier to create. Perhaps it is not fitting for a poor soldier’s wife to wear a tricoloured bright purple dress with four contrast colours in the same bright colour scheme. Poorer women wore less contrast colour and lighter coloured fabrics.
It is good to think about fabrics in the same way. Silk, velvet and brocades belongs on the Saxon noblewomen in Cranach paintigns, not on the general women of the tross. To base you outfit on them is as far off as basing them on Elizabeth I most macabre feastgown.
During the medieval era and early modern time wool is the absolutely most common of fabrics both for high and low born along with linen.

It is a lot about dressing within your social class and not pick and choose details from other classes. Just because a noblewomen have pretty sleeves does not mean that your simple soldier’s wife had the same kind of sleeves; even if they both are from 1523. I instead dare you to make a simple woman, because these were the women who followed the landsknecht.

Let go of your modern ideals. The concepts of what is pretty and beautiful nowadays are not applicable in the 16th century. If you are recreating a period you are also going to have to recreate their ideal of beauty. It is also very important to keep track on what part of the 16th century you are making and were you are geographically. The fashion changes around every ten years and there are big regional differences in northern Europe, even among the simpler people and underclass.

Always check the title of your sources or image that you are using. Even if Pinterest tells you one thing does not mean that the title is correct. The original title may also reveal that what we see on the picture is actually a biblical motive or allegory. If that is the case then the picture is not suitable to base a simple German women clothing on. If something look extra strange or macabre on a picture, ask yourself the question; what type pf image is this? You cannot base your clothes on a caricature, not either a saint, queen or noble woman’s dress – at least not if you want to portray a women of the tross.

For this post in English please click here!

Detta är en guide för att enklare förstå 1500-talets kvinnodräkt i Nordeuropa med fokus på kvinnor från en lägre social status framarbetad av mig Cathrin Åhlén och Andrea Dolores som har bloggen “The Vulgar Crowd”

Innan man börjar på en dräkt är det viktigt att man funderar på vilken samhällsklass eller typ av kvinna man ska återskapa. Det handlar inte om att lajva eller rollspela, utan om att göra en konstruktion som känns historiskt relevant.
Under 1500-talet skiljde sig kvinnor mycket från varandra, inte bara mellan samhällsklasser. Även kvinnor från samma “skikt” klädde sig utifrån vilken position de hade i samhället.
Därför är det lite olyckligt att klumpa ihop alla dessa fantastiska kvinnor i en förenklad enhetlig grupp som många gör idag. Det är viktigt att komma ihåg att de kvinnor som ingick i trossen med legoknektar som tex. landsknektar inte är kvinnliga landsknektar, de är inte soldater. De är kvinnor som ingår i trossen på grund av militära behov, baserat på vad soldaterna behövde under sina militära tåg – hushållsfunktioner, följeslagerskor, skökor, diverse hantverk. Kaptenens hustru hade inte samma funktion som vinmånglerskan exempelvis, utan erhåller helt olika status i gruppen.

Därför är det en bra sak att fundera på vilken slags kvinna man vill återskapa, och vilken hennes funktion i en tross är. Först när man vet det så kan man gå vidare och bygga sin dräkt. Det kanske låter skittråkigt, men detta är för att du ska få hjälp att göra val för din dräkt och ska enbart ses som något positivt; som en hjälp.
Något som är värt att tänka på är att kvinnor i tross under tidig modern tid valde att följa en farlig, oberäknelig och av samhället socialt exkluderad grupp; landsknektarna. I Europa under denna tid var landsknekten associerad med våld, skräck och blodspillan – samhället både avskydde och fruktade dem.
Det är därför högst troligt att den absoluta majoriteten av de kvinnor som trots detta valde att följa dem kom från lägre klasser i samhället utan någon högre social status.

Eftersom dessa kvinnor alltså inte är en enhetlig grupp är det en direkt felaktighet att kalla dessa kvinnor “kampfraus”. Istället bör man se till vilka dessa kvinnor faktiskt var. Genom att gå från den alltför generaliserande mallen “kampfrau”, och istället tänka “lägre stånds kvinna” så har du på ett sätt mycket mer frihet i ditt skapande då du nu väljer att gestalta en person med ett yrke eller uppgift och inte en plattityd. Det är just därför som ordet ”kampfrau” är ett dåligt, och framförallt historiskt inkorrekt, ord. Själva ordet kampfrau har använts länge inom olika föreningar och har på grund av sin popluaritet spridit sig utanför dessa föreningar, så pass långt att folk inte vet om att det bara är ett “hittepå” ord. Att med detta ord släta över den mångfald som fanns bland kvinnorna i trossen känns otroligt tråkigt och framför allt nedvärderande mot kvinnohistorien.

How to Frau - 1

Underkläder

Som du kanske redan har noterat så har figuren på bilden bara på sig ett par hosor. Det finns en anledning till detta och det är faktumet att detta är det understa lagret. Korsetter, snörliv, trosor och mamelucker kommer in mycket senare i historien. Det tidigaste snörlivet som finns bevarat är från sent 1500-tal och trosorna är otroligt mycket senare, inte fören en bit in på 1900-talet i och med de kortare kjolarna börjar de likna det vi är vana vid att se.

Om du siktar på att vara så korrekt som möjligt så är detta ditt understa lager.

Hosorna görs i ull som är skuren på skrå (på diagonalen) för att få maximal stretch i tyget och som du ser så har de en sydd sula som fortsätter upp i benet och formar en kil. Den har även en söm bak som gör att man kan forma den efter benet.
Som kvinna bär man knähöga hosor som håller sig uppe genom att knyta ett strumpeband runt om benet.
Hosorna kan vara både enfärgade och vertikalrandiga, men mest vanligt verkar vara helt enfärgade på kvinnor av enklare sort.

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Moderna underkläder – Det är svårt att bygga en historisk siluett när du i grunden har en modern siluett på grund av dina moderna underkläder.

Korsetter och snörliv – allt 1500-tal är inte Tudor. Om du tittar på
samtida konst så kommer du att se att England, Italien och Tysklands siluetter ser otroligt olika ut. I Tyskland ser man helt klart ett mjukare liv med en rundad byst, inte konformad snörlivsform.

How to Frau - 2

Skor


Skor under denna period varierar – ju enklare ”klumpigare” skor, desto fattigare bärare. Den mest framträdande och moderiktiga skon på 1500-talet är dock oxmulen, en lågsko med fyrkantig form i framkant. Formen varierar från lätt rundade till mer överdrivna varianter. Något som är värt att nämna om 1500-talets skor är att de är randsydda, till skillnad från medeltidens vändsydda skor.

Detta betyder att de är sydda på lästen med rätsidan utåt och har först en bindsula där ovanlädret sitter fast i och sedan har de en slitsula fastsydd under detta. Den är fastsydd i en remsa läder som kallas just för rand, som sys med i samma söm som ovanläder och bindsulan, det som brukar benämnas “bes” på medeltids skor. Detta är såklart väldigt smidigt då man nu får möjligheten att helt enkelt byta ut sulan när den blivit för sliten utan att de egentligen påverkar resten av skon. Man får en synlig söm för slitsulan som är fastsydd, på samma sätt som klassiska herrskor.

Oxmularna är alltså inte de enda skorna som bärs vid denna tidpunkt, det finns en mångfald av olika skor. Därför är det viktigt att kolla hur skorna ser ut i det område som du har valt att återskapa och även klassmässigt. Bönder visas ofta på bilder med grova mer rundade skor medan finare folk bär desto nättare skor, både mer slitsade och
dekorerade.

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Fel sko på fel person – Bara för att en slags skomodell har funnits i England på 1520 -talet så betyder det inte att man automatiskt kan använda den skon när man gör tyskt eller italienskt 1520-tal. På samma sätt som att en engelsk bonde inte har samma slags skor som en engelsk kung.

Synliga sömmar – På historiska skor ser man inte några sömmar på skons rätsida. Varken hälkappan eller eventuella sidsömmar sys med en söm som syns. På randsydda skor är den enda sömmen som syns just sömmen som fäster slitsulan

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Särk

Formen på särken varierar stort, allt från väldigt enkla med ganska lite vidd till plagg där det är uppenbart att tygåtgången har varit stor.
Särkarna finns både med höga kragar och låga kragar och jag kan inte se att det ena eller det andra som vanligare inom något samhällsskikt, men det man kan tänka på är att mängden på tyg och finheten på tyget kan man koppla till den klass man vill återskapa.

Kragarna kan vara allt från vackert broderade med små veck till enklare former av veckningar där man helt enkelt har sytt fast ett slätt linneband av samma tyg som särken utanpå för att hålla ihop vecken. Samma sak är det även när man kommer avslutet vid ärmen, även om det allra vanligaste är enkla snören som man knyter som en liten rosett vid varje handled.
Det man ofta inte ser är vilken slags stängning som särken har, där kan man tänka sig att det är en dold hyska och hake stängning som det handlar om. Dold stängning verkar ha varit vanligt men andra sätt att stänga sin särk verkar ha varit antingen enkla linneband eller dekorerade flätade band som matchar den eventuella smocken. Det finns även bilder på spännen, knappar och pärlor som stängning men man bör tänka på att dessa oftast hittas på överklassens fina särkar och kanske inte passar in på en enkelt kvinna i en tross.

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Kort särk – Gör din särk knälång eller till vaderna, man har ännu inte börjat använda underkjolar så din särk är det som skyddar din kropp från yllet och vise versa. Men gör inte särken golvlång, en våt linnefåll är kall och obehaglig mot benen.

Håll dig till din klass – En fattig soldatfru har inte en särk med guldband, broderier och pärlor. Tänk över vilka val du gör så kommer du att få en mycket trovärdigare dräkt.

Råsiden – Kanske känns det lyxigt med en sidensärk, och “råsiden ser ju ut som linne”. Men råsiden som material är inte korrekt för 1500-talet, dessutom så är det känsligt för svett vilket inte är optimalt för en särk.

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Underklänning


Som jag nämnde tidigare så kommer moderna bh:ar och korsetter mycket senare än 1500-talet. Men självklart så har man använt sig av någon form av byststöd. Vi har tex. fynden från Schloss Lengberg som visar på många olika sätt att stödja bysten i form av linne- “bh:ar”.
Lengberg-fynden är daterade till sent 1400-tal och det finns många bilder från 1300-talet som visar på liknande bh-klänningar.

När vi kommer till början av 1500-talet så försvinner dessa ut bilder och istället så ser vi ärmlösa ullklänningar istället. Vi hittar liknade klänningar över hela Europa på kvinnor som utför kroppsarbeten. Vi ser dom dock inte på kvinnor utanför “hemmet” eller den privata sfären av den enkla anledningen att man bar en klänning över den när man skulle vistas i mer sociala sammanhang.

Underklänningen hade ibland ränder på kjolen, speciellt när man kommer upp i social status och med detta kommer även lagar och regler om vilka som får ha vilka material och hur många ränder man fick ha. Självklart så betyder det faktum att det finns reglerna att folk bröt mot dom, men man kan ta sig en funderare om tvätterskan verkligen hade sidenbrokadränder på sin underklänning. Med största säkerhet inte.

Det finns inga belägg för att underklänningarna var styva som korsetter utan det är vanligt i tavlor och träsnitt att man ser att bysten har en mjukt rundad form.

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Underkjolar – Det finns inga belägg för att man använde sig av underkjolar. Många använder sig av linneunderkjolar för att få mer form över höfterna och för att skydda benen från ullen. Mitt tips är att istället ha en längre särk, något vi har belägg för och börja använda sig av en hel underklänning istället för att få till de fantastiska 1500-talshöfterna och en korrekt silhuett.

Modern bh – I slutändan så är det så att moderna underkläder kommer att ge en modern silhuett till din klänning. Ibland måste man släppa sin moderna estetik för att få en korrekt form istället.

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Överklänning

Det klassiska tidiga 1500-tals klänningen i Nordeuropa har en hög midja och en djup urringning. Formen på klänningen varierar på vart i Nordeuropa du är men generellt i Tyskland så är en klänning med fyrkantig ringning och stängning fram vanligast. Klänningen är lika djupt urringad fram som bak och har ofta några ränder på kjolen. Kjolen är på veckad mot livet och fastsydd. Separat kjol och jacka förekommer inte.

Det är lätt att dras med i männens överdådighet här, men generellt så är kvinnokläderna mycket enklare i snitt och dekorationer än männens. Slitsningarna som är så vanligt på männens kläder lyser med sin frånvaro och man kan möjligtvis sträcka sig till enklare slitsningar på kjolens ränder eller i undantagsfall på den kontrasterande remsan som följer urringningen och öppning mitt fram.

Även ärmen som på männen ofta är överdådigt puffig är mycket enklare och relativt ofta ser man en helt slät ärm med en manschett på som antingen kan bäras uppfälld eller nedfälld över handen. Det förekommer enklare slitsning av ärmen vid axel och armbåge, men de är långt ifrån så stora och extravaganta som männens.
Det är just den kontrasten mellan männen och kvinnorna som är så vacker när man ser trossen samlad, låt männen ha sina överdådiga överkroppar och smala ben och låt kvinnorna vara motsatsen, breda höfter och i relation till höfterna nätta överkroppar.

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För låg midja – många bär sin klänning på höfterna och får på grund av detta inte riktigt till en bra silhuett. Låt midjan vara där den ska en bra bit över din navel så kommer du av naturen få snygga 1500-talshöfter och en korrekt siluett.

För hög urringning – om man tittar på träsnitten så är urringningen oftast jättelåg, detta spelar ju ingen roll för du bär en särk över så tuttarna kommer inte att hoppa ut, våga gå lite lägre både fram och i ryggen så kommer du får en klänning som har ett mycket mer korrekt utseende.

Glipande snörning – Det hör till ovanligheterna att man ser snöringen på plaggen, gemene kvinna visade sig inte i en klänning som glipade fram utan den ska snöras HELT stängd eller knäppas helt med hyska och hake.

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På huvudet

När man kollar på samtida tavlor och grafiska tryck blir det tydligt – vuxna kvinnor dolde sitt hår. Att bära sitt hår utsläppt är någonting som möjligtvis gjordes av extremt unga ogifta kvinnor eller möjligtvis prostituerade. Men gemene kvinnan bar sitt hår uppsatt och oftast täckt. Det uppsatta håret och huvudduk är så pass vanligt att man t.ex. ser samtida avbildningar på kvinnor i badhus med huvudduk på.

Även bland prostituerade ser man en övervägande majoritet med uppsatt och täckt hår. Vill man inte ha täckt hår så bör det vara ordentlig flätad uppsättning på huvudet. De synliga söta flätkringlorna som kikar fram under det sena 1400-talets huvuddukar är dessvärre hopplöst omodernt under 1500-talet. Nu täcker man istället håret helt om man har huvudduk.

En vanlig huvudbonad är den stoppade linnehätta som är så typisk för det nordeuropeiska modet. Det har med all säkerhet börjat med att man har lagt sitt flätade hår bak på huvudet under huvudduken, men som sedan modeenligt började överdrivas. Man tog hjälp av stoppning, och t.ex. ”wulsthaubes” en stoppad hätta, som man sedan draperade huvudduken över. Formen varierar från liten till enorm.

Doken finns i alla varianter, allt ifrån odekorerade linnedok och supertunna silkesslöjor till rikt dekorerade och broderade. Som alltid är det en fråga om vem man vill gestalta.

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Synligt hår – det enklaste sättet att historiskt förhöja sin dräkt är att sätta på sig en ordentlig huvudbonad, var inte rädd för den stoppade hättan. Den må se konstig ut tagen ur sitt sammanhang, men ihop med en tidigmodern kvinnodräkt så är den oslagbar. Vill du inte ha en wulsthaube på dig så finns det de vanliga draperade doken att välja på, titta på bilder, du kommer nog att hitta något som du trivs med.

How to Frau - 7

Hattar

1500-talet erbjuder en stor variation av hattar. Ska man generalisera så tycks två sorters hattar vara extra populära – den som har ett delat brätte där brättet går lite omlott varandra med eventuellt ett fåtal fjädrar. Eller den som ser ut som om den har rynkat tyg på undersidan och är fylld av fjädrar.

På vanliga kvinnor så är hattar över lag ingen självklarhet, och de hattar som man ser är oftare utav den enklare varianten. Det är ett säkrare kort att helt enkelt strunta i hatten, man klarar sig väldigt långt på huvudduken och den stoppade hättan. Det är klart att det finns avbildningar på helt galet befjädrade hattar men det innebär inte att det var någon norm att stoppa hela fågelns fjädrar i hatten. Det är inte direkt praktiskt för en hårt arbetande kvinna i en tross – en hysteriskt befjädrad hatt är nog snarare i vägen för tex en enkel tvätterska. Hos prostituerade kvinnor/skökor tycks dock fjädrar vara något vanligare.

När man kommer till valet av fjädrar så är ofärgad struts absolut mest förekommande under 1500-talet. Självklart kan man leka med tanken att andra typer av fjädrar förekom, men studerar man samtida avbildningar är strutsen i en extrem majoritet. Alla bar dem – vi ser dem hos landsknektar, på förmögna handelsmän och tom högadel, som t.ex. modekungen Henrik VIII.
Färgade fjädrar är ovanligt under 1500-talet. Om färgade fjädrar förekom var de i så fall naturligtvis växtfärgade, en process som är tekniskt svår att få till och troligen därför inte särskilt vanligt förekommande. Istället är framförallt vita eller naturligt gråa strutsfjädrar allra vanligast, alternativt naturligt svarta.

Tänk över på vem du återskapar och titta på samtida avbildningar, du kommer snart se att de färgade fjädrarna lyser med sin frånvaro.

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Slitsa inte sönder din hatt – den populära slitsade hattkullen finns det inga belägg för, man kan eventuell slitsa i brätten men det är mycket mer vanligt att låta bli. Pynta istället med ett fåtal fjädrar, eller varför inte strunta i att slitsa den helt?

Undvik färgglada fjädrar – de finns men är extremt ovanligt. Visst kan det kännas fint att matcha klänningen med syntetiskt färgade fjädrar men särskilt historiskt är det inte – varför inte hänge sig åt den naturliga strutsfjäderns underbara värld? Snyggt på 1500-talet, snyggt idag!

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Gollar

Det vanligaste värmeplagget som man ser är den lilla korta capen, den kan antingen ha hög krage eller ingen krage alls och den kan antingen vara kort eller så kan den vara mer mantellik och gå ned till höfterna.
Man kan se det som en struthätta utan struten och den går bra att fodra med päls för att få lite extra värme.

Det finns ett antal bilder på kvinnor med sådana caper som bärs över det man bär på ryggen, ett bra sätt att hålla vätan borta från packningen.
Gollarn är ett trendplagg lika mycket som det är ett praktiskt plagg, och det är ofta dekorerat med bårder i avvikande färg och/eller material.

På avbildningar av kvinnor från högre klasser kan man se att dem i brokad och med fina spännen. Men på enklare kvinnor ser man oftast ingen stängning alls, utan man kan istället förutsätta att man använde sig av antingen hyskor och hakar eller så lät man den helt enkelt bara ligga på axlarna. Alternativt dolda snören som man knöt ihop som en rosett.

Det finns även exempel på dessa värmeplagg som liknar mer korta västar och som är mer fyrkantiga i snittet.
Kolla vad som är mest vanligt för det du vill återskapa, kanske behöver du ingen gollar alls.

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Blanda olika klasser – det är lät att bli förälskad i ett plagg från överklassen, men som alltid, välj plagg som representerar det du återskapar.
Om man behöver leta sig blodig efter “bevis” för ett plagg eller en detalj man vill göra så kanske man redan där bör inse att det man är ute efter kanske inte var särskilt vanligt förekommande.
En bättre utgångspunkt är att börja med att leta efter det som är gemensamma nämnare i det samtida modet – hitta det som är ofta förekommande.
När man “knäckt koden” så kommer du att kunna göra ett plagg som känns trovärdigt. Bara för att något är från en lägre klass så betyder det inte per automatik att det är tråkigt – hitta det som gör ditt plagg speciellt.

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Accessoarer


1500-talet kan uppfattas som en era av bling – grova guldkedjor, ringar på alla fingrar och på flera fingerleder, flera halsband på samma gång. Men dessa typer av utstyrslar är främst förekommande bland adel. Så fort man kommer nedåt ett snäpp på den sociala stegen så försvinner allt detta, framförallt bland enkla kvinnor. Eventuellt kan man ha en ring, men halsband i dyrbara metaller lyser med sin frånvaro. På samtida avbildningar av prostituerade tycks däremot diverse smycken förekomma, men man bör hålla i åtanke att dessa förmodligen var i betydligt enklare metaller, med avsikt att kopiera adelns betydligt dyrare accessoarer och framstå som flärdfull.

Saker som vanliga enkla kvinnor bar på sig är alltså betydligt mer sparsmakat – framförallt ser man accessoarer hängandes i bältet. Små läderväskor av olika modeller, sybehör och ofta en enkel kniv. Man ser ibland även nycklar.
Det verkar som om man har två bälten, en som man har sina grejer i och ett som man draperar upp klänningen med när man marscherar. Man ser inte någon med två bälten synliga, så man kan tänka sig att “draperingsbältet” tar man av sig när man vill ha en hellång kjol igen och det behöver då inte vara dekorerat med annat än bältspänne eftersom det ändå aldrig syns.

Många pratar om krigsbyten, men tänk att de eventuella krigsbyten man kom över främst tillföll soldaterna – fruar, ”hang arounds” eller kvinnor utan större social status i trossen fick troligen inte njuta särskilt mycket av dyra tyger, guld eller smycken. Det är med andra ord inte troligt att kokerskan eller tvätterskan i en tross hade guldringar på varje finger.

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För mycket saker – Det är aldrig en bra grej att bli en vandrande julgran med tusen saker klinkandes i bältet eller på din dräkt. Tänk på att inte ha med dig mer saker i bältet än vad som är logiskt. Behöver du ha mycket grejer med dig så välj en korg att ta i handen, en säck eller inpackat i ett tygomslag som du bär på ryggen. Pilkorgar verkar däremot inte vara vanliga alls.

Mängder med smycken – alla vill ha fina saker, men som alltid, tänk på vem du är och vad som är praktiskt. Det är inte troligt att en kvinna som följde trossen hade guldkedjor och massa ringar, så till vida hon inte var en ytterst populär prostituerad.

How to Frau - 10

Så har vi det kompletta kittet!
Med hjälp av ytterligare ett bälte så kan man drapera upp klänningen på denna sättet, det gör det mycket smidigare att marschera och är en vanlig syn på kvinnor i trossen.

Så för att repetera lite kort.
Imitera inte männen, bara för att de ser ut på ett visst sätt så betyder de inte att du kan kopiera det till din kvinnodräkt. Tänk även lite på färger och färgkombinationer. Ljusare färger var betydligt billigare att framställa, kanske passar det sig inte för en fattig soldathustru att ha en trippelfärgad panglila klänning med 4 kontrastfärger i lika bjärta färgskalor. Ju enklare kvinna – desto färre olika kontrastfärger och desto ljusare tyger.

På samma sätt kan man även tänka på tyger: silkestyger, sammet och brokader hör hemma på en saxisk adelskvinna i en Cranachmålning – inte på den generella kvinnan i en tross. Du kan basera din dräkt på det lika lite som du kan basera den på Elisabeth I’s mest makabra festklänningar. Under hela medeltiden samt tidig modern tid är och förblir yllet det absolut mest förekommande tyget bland hög och låg, tillsammans med linne.

Det handlar mycket om att klä sig som sin klass och inte plocka in detaljer från andra klasser. Bara för att en avbildad adelskvinna har fina ärmar innebär det inte att din enkla soldatfru hade likadana ärmar – trots att de båda är från 1523. Våga istället återskapa en enkel kvinna, för det var dessa kvinnor som följde landsknekten!

Släpp dina moderna ideal. Konceptet om vad som är snyggt och vackert nu för tiden är inte applicerbart på 1500-talet. Ska du återskapa en period måste du även återskapa deras skönhetsideal. Dessutom är det väldigt viktigt att kolla på vilken del av 1500-talet så ska återskapa och vart du är. Modet ändras ungefär vart 10 år och det finns stora regionala skillnader i norra Europa, även bland enkelt folk och underklass.

Kontrollera alltid titeln på källor eller avbildningar som du vill utgå från. Bara för att det står en sak på Pinterest så betyder det inte att den titeln är korrekt. Dessutom så kan originaltiteln avslöja att det vi ser på bilden kanske i själva verket är ett bibliskt motiv eller en allegori! Då lämpar den avbildningen sig inte att basera en tysk enkel kvinnas kläder på.
Ser något extra knasigt eller makabert ut på en avbildning – ställ dig frågande till vad det är det är för en bild!
En karikatyr kan man inte basera sina kläder på och inte heller helgon/drottningar/adelskvinnors klänningar, i alla fall inte om man vill återskapa en dräkt som bars av en kvinna i en tross.

This post was originally written in Swedish for the amazing blog Som När Det Begav Sig. You should really go and check it out!

Wool really is an amazing material. One of its many properties is its abilities to clean itself in moist weather so that there is no need for constant washing.
If you care for your wool garment correctly there is almost no need for washing it in water at all. But if you happen to be sensitive for chemicals it might be a good idea to wash it in the machine before sewing.

Washing
Washing is best done on the wool cycle, 30 degrees Celsius with mild centrifuge. Warmth + mechanical action makes the wool full itself. That is something that you can use if you have a loosely woven fabric that you want to make a bit less loose.
but if you are satisfied with your fabric I recommend to only go with the wool cycle on the machine. Something that you need to keep in mind is that when washing the surface of the wool might change a bit. Some fabrics become fluffier by washing so if you want to keep the surface you can steam it in stead.

When washing wool (and silk) it is a very important to not use regular detergent as the enzymes are bad for the fibres. Use in stead specialised detergent for wool or silk or even a mild silicone and sls-free (sodium laurel sulfate) hair shampoo.

If you know that your fabric will bleed colour when wet or dry, a good way of stopping that is to wash the fabric with vinegar. After washing the fabric with wool detergent once, wash it one time again but this time add 1dl of vinegar in the compartment where you add liquid detergent (if there is on, else just put it in the regular washing powder compartment) and wash it on the wool cycle once more.

Using fabric softener on wool is a BIG NO NO! It coats the fibres and stops the small scales on the fibre from doing their work, something that destroys the good properties of the wool.

Steaming
A I have mentioned there is no real need to wash the fabric, but before you start cutting you will have to do something with it. When making fabric, the warp is stretched in the looms, the woven fabric is stretched when coloured and then when it is rolled for the shops is stretched yet another bit. That is why you need to either wash it or apply some moist to make the fabric “relax” again. If you don’t it might shrink later on when it is made into a garment, and we really don’t want that.

Put one end of the fabric on your ironing board, it should not be folded double. Most of the time your ironing board will be much to small for your fabric so you will have to steam it in sections.
If your iron have steam this is so easy. Only hold it just above the fabric, press the steam button and move the iron over the surface of the fabric. When you have done one area, move the fabric and keep steaming all the fabric.
If you do not have a steam iron this can be done in two different ways. If you have a delicate fabric you can put a big piece of washed white cotton fabric over your wool, then spray it with water and iron the fabrics together. Work your way over the width of the fabric this way.
If your fabric is not all that delicate and you are a bit lazy, you can just spray the fabric with water right on the surface and then iron it as usual.

Pressing
Many of you might not have put that much effort into pressing when you have made your garments before. As if it is not enough that you have to sew the seams and then perhaps fell them. That you then should use a lot of time to press the seams might seem like taking it one step to far. But I promise that it is well worth the time.

The secret of pressing is “let it cool down”. Note that I say pressing and not ironing. Iron is what you do with a finished garment, but when working on a garment you press it. The difference is that when pressing you add actual weight on the iron, pressing the seams down and letting it take its time. When ironing you only go over the surface lightly. That is also why pressing irons are so much heavier then ordinary irons, depending on what they are for they weigh from 1,5kg up to 5kg. But you can use a regular iron to press the seams as well, you just have to add the weight by pressing it down with your hand.

How to press the seams
Put your garment on the ironing board. I always press my seams without steam. In stead I have a bowl of water on the side. This is because it takes more time for the seam to cool down if you press with a lot of steam. A concentrated string of water will give you the moisture you need but cools down a lot quicker. Also it might depend on your fabric how much water it wants. Some need lot of moisture to become flat while other wants almost nothing at all.

Pressing wool - 1
Pressing wool - 2

I dip my fingers in the water and only put the water just in the seam, as I said; there is no need to put moisture on all the fabric, that is unnecessary.

Pressing wool - 3

Then I press the seam apart, I press slowly and put weight on the iron. I use a high heat setting (three dots), wool is not harmed by the heat. If you think that your fabric is a bit delicate, try the heat setting on a test piece. It it is to warm your fabric might become burnt, it will then be brown and dried out. If you are worried you can lower the heat a bit.

Pressing wool - 4

At the same time as I am pressing I put a piece of smooth wood on the seam, I use my sleeve board, but any kind of heavy and solid thing will do. Old books that you are not afraid of ruin for example, or any smooth wood piece. My wooden shoe lasts help me out as well.
It is very important that you wait until the fabric is TOTALLY cold until you move the weights, or else the seam allowances might “lift”.

Pressing wool - 5
Pressing wool - 6

If you have done right and pressed well this is how smooth it might become.

Pressing wool - 7
Pressing wool - 8

Really flat, you can almost not see the ditch where the seam is.

Pressing wool - 9

To show the difference of doing a quick job with the iron and letting it take its time I took these pictures. You can clearly see the difference, not at all flat and with a deep ditch where the seam is.

Pressing wool - 10
Pressing wool - 11
Pressing wool - 12

If you wish to fell the seam to one side, first press the seam allowances apart, and then cut down the seam allowance on one side to minimize the bulk.

Pressing wool - 13

Fold the larger seam allowance over and put water just on the fold and press again (slowly with weigh and then cooling down).

Pressing wool - 14

See it is so flat!

Pressing wool - 15

I always sew my garments with 1,5cm seam allowance, but I don’t want so wide seam allowances in the finished garment. When the seam is pressed I cut it down to 1cm, less bulky and it is more period correct to have small seam allowances.

Pressing wool - 16

A seam that is felled to one side will of course not be as flat as a seam that have split seam allowances as there is three layers of fabric on one side and one layer on the other. That will make one side lay a bit higher then the other side. Just think of how it would look if I had not pressed the seams first.

Pressing wool - 17

Then I fell my seams. As can be found in some of the Greenland findings I sometimes put a wool yarn at the edge of the fabric, under the overcast stitches. This will help the seam allowance from fraying, and it looks very tidy and neat.

Pressing wool - 18

If you thought that; now this bloody pressing must be over! I am sorry to disappoint you. When felling the seams it might become a bit bubbly on the right side of the fabric.

Pressing wool - 19

Put water on the seam on the right side of the fabric. If your fabric is delicate, use a pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric. Press as before with weight on the iron and put the weights on and let it cool down before moving along the seam.

Pressing wool - 20

And then it is super flat again!

Pressing wool - 21

Here follows some picture that will clearly show you the difference between a well pressed garment and a garment that is not pressed at all.
To the left we see the before press, to the right after press.

Pressing wool - 22
Pressing wool - 23
Pressing wool - 24
Pressing wool - 25

I hope that I have been able to convince someone to at least try to press the seams of their garments. The look of the finished garment will be a lot better and a pressed seam will make the garment look more as if it was one piece. The drape will be better and will of course look more worked.

The care of the finished garments
When you have spent so much time pressing  you need to be aware that if you throw it in the washing machine a lot of your work will be undone (even on the wool cycle). If the seams allowances are cast down to the fabric the seam allowances might not lift, but you will have to press the garment again, at least to some degree.

Then it is amazing that the wool fibre is “self cleaning”. Hang the garment to air, preferably when it is moist in the air after rain or at night. If you have no possibilities to air your garments outside, hang it in the bathroom after you had a warm shower and let that steam do the work. You will notice that after a night of airing the garment will be fresh again (smoke might take longer time to get out) and the best thing of all. The press on the seams is still there.

For wool garments it s always better to spot clean and then air it, it prolongs the life of the garment.

I saw this picture before Christmas, it shows different stages of hooks and eyes being made and is dated to 15th to 16th century.

I have until now used modern black or silver hooks for my 16th century projects, lazy as I am. But Seeing the picture it hit me that it is to easy to make them on your own to not be using them. So I dug out my pliers and 1mm bronze thread and did some testing. And sure enough, they are really easy to make. I never you the eyes, I do thread bars for my hooks in stead so I will only show the hook making part.

I use bronze thread as bronze seems to be very common to use in pins and needles, so using it for hooks and eyes should be period correct.

16th centruy hooks - progress
I start out with a 4cm long piece.
Using round nosed pliers I form the loops at the end
Then fold it in half
Press the wire together to make a nice shape, I use my needle nose pliers to do this.
Then I hammer it on an anvil to harden the thread a bit
Then it is time to fold, this was the tricky part and it is hard to get it even and straight. But practice makes more perfect.

16th centruy hooks

Now I need to exchange the modern ones I already have in place for these nice ones.

I often get comments that people really like my pattern weights, at least once every time I post a picture of a project where they can be seen on a photo or two so I thought that I would tell you how they are made, as they were dead simple to do!

Pattern weights - 1
They are made out of plaster, so they are kind of light, but for patterns they are just enough. I simply mixed plaster as the bag told me and poured it into this soap mould that I got of ebay ages ago.

Pattern weights - 2
When the plaster had dried over night it was simple to pop them out to let them dry completely and then I painted them black with acrylic paint. To make the pattern more visible I dry brushed some gold on the top.

Pattern weights - 3
And then as I wanted the bottoms to be smooth and to make them stay where I put them, I cut some faux leather and glued it to the bottom.

That is how easy they were to make, and kind of inexpensive as well, the plaster does not need to be the best quality as they are just weights and the acrylic paint have made them durable as it is basicly a layer of plastic. After seven years of use they only have some chips here and there.

So how do one use pattern weights anyway, I saw someone saying that I was probably one of those rotary cutting people. But I am actually not. This is how I use my patter weights.

Pattern weights - 4
I put the pattern on the fabric, making sure that the grain lines are right and all that putting my weights on strategic places. Here you can see my best friend, the grading ruler. Something that I simply can not live without as it makes it really easy to chalk with perfect seam allowance.

Pattern weights - 5
Then I chalk all the pattern pieces, this pattern was made with included seam allowances as I made it in school, but I am reusing it so there is a different neckline, as you can see by my chalk lines. If the seam allowance is not included (like I make my patterns at home) I use a ruler to chalk around my pieces. I never pin as I feel that the pins makes the fabric wobbly and shift. So I simply put my weights on the pattern and that keeps it in place as I chalk.

Pattern weights - 6
I thread mark darts and other important things and then remove my pattern all together. Then I can simply cut after the chalk lines.

Pattern weights - 7
You might ask if the fabric shift when I cut. But it actually don’t. I keep the bottom of the scissors to the table and cut in long cuts. It goes quick and rarely shifts a bit.

This type of textile bag with tassels can be found in manuscripts and pictures from the middle of the 13th century to the middle of the 16th century. This is the type of bag that women wore hanging from their belts in long ribbons and it was very often hidden by the over dress.

The look of the bag varies greatly, different kind and amount of tassels, colours and fabrics. The material of the edging and the materials in edging and tassels.

This bag I will show you is based on the simple three stranded flat braid. The look is very similar to the tablet woven edge but much simpler as you do not have to know card weaving to do it. Here is a extant bag with a similar braided edge.

The material of your bag decides how “fine” your bag is and it is possible to make the same kind of bag in silk and in wool, also embroidered bags can be found in the extant findings.

Start by cutting your fabric, I use a wool fabric for the outside that is 19,5*35,5 cm (7,7 * 14 inches) and the lining is a thin linen fabric that is 19,5 * 34,5 cm (7,7 * 13,6) note that the lining is shorter then the outside fabric, it should be so that the lining does not peak out at the top when finished. Seam allowances are included.

Medieval textile purse - 1
Pin both the short sides, with the outside fabric and lining right sides together and sew them with a small running stitch with 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance.

Medieval textile purse - 2
Press both seams open like this, you now have a tube of fabric. As you can see I have marked on both sides around the tube, 2cm (0,8 inch) from the edge.

Medieval textile purse - 3
Now you want to press in the 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance on both sides around the tube. This is very easily done as you can simply fold the edge until the raw edge meets the 2cm (0,8 inch) markings, what you now have folded in and pressed is your 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance.

Medieval textile purse - 4
Turn your fabric tube inside-out and put the wrong sides together, pressing the short sides flat and nice.

Medieval textile purse - 5
Now it is time for the braiding. First you need to cut all the yarn you need, how much depend on the thickness of yam you are using. I use a medium/thin wool yarn. You will do two braids, one longer and one shorter. For my long I have 18 threads that are 2m (2.2yd) long. To my short braid I use 9 threads that are 1,5m (1,6yd) long.

Medieval textile purse - 6
On one end, make a knot so that you have loops in the end.

Medieval textile purse - 7
Cut the other side open.

Medieval textile purse - 8
I use a door handle like this when I braid, to have something to braid against.

Medieval textile purse - 9
You are going to make a simple three strand braid so part your yarn into three equal strands. As you can see you always strive to put the outer threads in the middle. And as you move the outer threads to the inside the threads that where on the inside ends up on the outside. Like this a braid is formed, yes trying to use words to describe braiding is really hard, that is why I made this neat illustration of how you do it!

Medieval textile purse - 10
Start with the long 2m (2,2yd) threads and keep on braiding, as you braid the bottom will become tangled. So now and then make sure that the bottom is untangled, or you are going to have a mess of yarn in the end and a short short braid.

Medieval textile purse - 11
Braid the 2m (2,2yd) long threads until your braid measures 1,2m (1,3 yd)(measure when relaxed) and make a knot.

Medieval textile purse - 12
Trim the end roughly, the rest of the threads will be used for the tassels so save them.

Medieval textile purse - 13
Now take the shorter treads and do the same thing, knot in the end, cut the other side open, divide in three and braid. But this time you braid the full length of the threads.

Medieval textile purse - 14
Then cut the braid in half, unravel the ends a bit for tassels and make knots. there you have the two drawstrings for your purse.

Medieval textile purse - 15
Now we make the tassels, cut a piece of yarn and tie it around the middle of one of the leftover ends from the long braid folded in half.

Medieval textile purse - 16
Make a knot and pull the knot to the top of the tassel, so that you get this look.

Medieval textile purse - 17
Make all three tassels, don’t trim the ends yet.

Medieval textile purse - 18
Now we are back at the sewing, mark two lines at both the short edges, one that is 1 cm (0,4 inch) from the edge and then one that is 1,5cm (0,6 inch) from the first line.

NOTE

I got a question on what I was basing this type of drawstring on, an the simple and honest answer is that I did not look at the extant purses. I simply looked at manuscript pictures and did what felt right and what worked.
What I have found is two bags with the same type of drawstring, but the first a 10th century German relic bag is way out of my time span and the second one is also a German bag but from 1540 so it is a bit on he late side.
This was a stupid thing of me to do, because when I looked and asked around all the extant purses have simply the drawstring pulled trough the outer fabric and lining, no holes made and no eyelets sewn.

Like these extant purses show you.
14th century Sion
Mid 14th century France
1301-1400 Europe Here you can also see what looks like a linen lining.

But one should note that the extant purses have silk cords, and the shell fabric is almost always silk embroidered linen. For a purse like mine with wool strings and wool outer fabric I would suggest that one did sewn eyelets either with linen or silk thread to prolong the life of the drawstring and bag itself.

If you wish to do eyelets instead I would suggest to to them in two levels as this picture shows, as the braided wool cords are a bit on the thick side, or to do your braids a bit thinner. If you do eyelets you can also skip the part about skipping over the tunnel for the drawstring that will come further down, just sew the braid to the bag all the way to the top in stead.

END OF NOTE

Medieval textile purse - 19
Stitch along the lines with small running stitches.

Medieval textile purse - 20
Like this, on both short sides.

Medieval textile purse - 21
Fold the bag in half, lining against lining. Short sides against short sides and pin along the edges.

Medieval textile purse - 22
Take a longer piece of yarn and thread it on a needle. Knot the end of the yarn and starting from the inside of the bag, between the lining and outer fabric, pull the tread trough.

Medieval textile purse - 23
We are now going to attach the long braid, that also is your carrying strap at the same time as we sew together the lining and outside fabric. Pull the needle right trough your braid like this.

Medieval textile purse - 24
Make sure to catch both the lining and outer layers. Go straight trough the braid, and take a stitch right trough the bag, angle it slightly upward to the other side and pull the tread trough as far away from the first stitch as you choose.

Medieval textile purse - 25
Sew like this along the length of the bag, stopping only at the channel for the drawstring that you stitched before, there go trough the layers. Then when you have passed the channel continue your sewing until you reach the top edge, there fasten the treads.
Do the exact same thing on the other side of the bag, before sewing the braid make sure that it is not twisted.

Medieval textile purse - 26
Divide the bottom part of the bag in three and attach the tassels.

Medieval textile purse - 27
Take one of your short braids and tread it trough one side of the channel with the help of a safety pin, go under the big braid and thread the braid trough the other channel as well.

Medieval textile purse - 28
Like this!

Medieval textile purse - 29
To the same thing with the other braid as well. Now you have a functional drawstring!

Medieval textile purse - 30
Pull the bag shut and then trim the tassels all around. I like it when my tassels are bigger in the middle and gradually gets shorter to the sides, but that is just personal preference.

Medieval textile purse - 31
Now it is done! Put it on your belt and feel happy! I have mine hanging from a purse hanger that I got at Historiska Fynd.

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