sewing


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.

Regency Apron-3
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.

Regency Apron-5
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

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.

Yellow regency gown - 2

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.

Yellow regency gown - 1

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.

Yellow regency gown - 3
Yellow regency gown - 4

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.

Yellow regency gown - 6

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.

Yellow regency gown - 5

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.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 3
Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 4

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.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 1

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 13

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.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 10

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.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 11

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.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 12

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 14

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 15

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 9

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 6

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.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 5

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 7

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”.

sideless surcoat - 7

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.

sideless surcoat - 2

sideless surcoat - 5
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.

sideless surcoat - 6
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.

sideless surcoat - 3

sideless surcoat - 4

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.

sideless surcoat - 9

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 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.
Betulapendulafrau - 7
Betulapendulafrau - 8
Betulapendulafrau - 9
Betulapendulafrau - 10
Betulapendulafrau - 11
Betulapendulafrau - 12
Betulapendulafrau - 13

Betulapendulafrau - 14
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.

Betulapendulafrau - 15
Betulapendulafrau - 16
Betulapendulafrau - 17
Betulapendulafrau - 18
Betulapendulafrau - 19
Betulapendulafrau - 20
Betulapendulafrau - 21
Betulapendulafrau - 22
Betulapendulafrau - 23
Betulapendulafrau - 24
Betulapendulafrau - 25
Betulapendulafrau - 26
Betulapendulafrau - 27
Betulapendulafrau - 28

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.

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.

Next Page »