My gray Charles de Blois dress

Some times you have this GREAT idea! Or at least you have this idea that you can not get out of your head. This dress is one of those ideas, the idea of making a Charles de Blois inspired dress. I mainly wanted to try to make the huge “grande asiette” sleeves, I was thinking that it would be perfect on me with big breasts, that the lines going across my breast would be a easy way of fitting it well.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 1
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 2
So I did as I always do when the pattern is tricky to draft, I made a toille of my basic block that is already fitted to me and simply drew the lines where I wanted the seams to be. I do this a lot, It is a quick way of getting a rough pattern to work from.

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Then it is simply to cut the toille up following the lines that you have drawn. Here is where the real work starts.

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There is a lot of adjusting and cutting, taping together, drawing stuff again. Thinking on what happens if I take some away from this piece, should I add to this piece. I sometimes call this post apocalyps patternmaking. When you have it on a paper, it is all clean lines and you can use the eraser to remove things, this is more gritty and makeshift, you do what you have to do to make it work. You can be a bit violent and cut stuff of, pin new bits on like a Frankenstein monster.

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I had this pattern drawing of “how it should look” based on pattern drawings found over the internet, my goal was to make the pieces look kind of like this.

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After several hours this is what I ended up with, it looks kind of like the pattern…

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Now it was time to sew it all together again, to see if it worked. And yes, with only minor tweaks this really could work.

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My gray Charles de Blois dress - 17
So it ended up as a dress, “the insane button dress”, due to the fact that I “needed” to make tiny buttons, a lot of tiny buttons. It is completely hand sewn with linen tread, seams felled with silk, buttonholes are also worked in silk. I like that is is a subtle mi parti and that is is gray and I love the tiny buttons, all 94 of them. And I should sew the last buttonholes and buttons, as it is “missing” seven buttons on each arm due to lack of time, but that is not noticeable.

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I have worn it ONCE. I do have some problems with it. I would like to have it more fitted in the front, It looks nice from the behind but from the front it looks kind loose around the bust and waist. It is also wrong in the fact that women did not wear this in the late 14th century. There are 15th century pictures of women with grande asiette cut on the back of the dress, but never in the front. So I have made a dress that I can not with confidence wear while re-enacting, that was kind of silly of me, especially doing 94 buttonholes on a dress I can not wear in really nice fabrics.

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I do have a solution for my “problem”, I can wear it under another dress, a short sleeved or a sideless surcote that have a wider middle part. I can take the “bumpyness” of the buttons in the front that will be visible on the overdress, it would be silly to let the dress just hand in the closet.

St. Birgitta’s cap

I swear by my St. Birgitta’s cap, as you could see in the post “How I wear my veil” I use it as a base when I pin my veils. It can also be worn as it is as you can see in these pictures.

Here you can see it on the woman on the left
The cap have a long strap that is put over the head two times
A collection picture
There is also a extant cap

There is a lot of people that have written about this already, Isis post on it on Medieval Silkwork is a good read.

What I will show here is a simple version, without the fancy embroidery.

St. Birgitta’s cap - 1
If you have looked at other peoples patterns, you will see that my patterns differs slightly. Most patterns have a square lower front, my pattern have that part rounded of, the reason is that I find it easier to gather it when it is like that. I have tried the square pattern, but the rounded of corner works best for me.

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Start of by cutting your cap parts, you will need two parts. I use a medium weight linen fabric, make sure to make the marks both in the front and back, these are important later on in the process. As the pattern does not include seam allowance, you can choose what is best for you. In these pictures I have 1,5 cm seam allowance on the back seam and 1cm on the front of the cap.

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Pin the top seam, you will sew from the front to the marking in the back. To be able to put the cap on you will need a slit in the back and the back marking marks out where it begins.

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I sew backstitches with silk thread.

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Sew with backstitches all the way to the mark for the slit.

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Now you need to press the seam you sewed apart, I use my fingernail to simply scrape it open.

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Fold in the raw edges to make the cap neat on the inside.

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Then sew the felled seams down, I use small stitches and only pick up a few threads of the outer layer, this makes a almost invisible seam from the outside.

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Hem the other side as well.

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Now it is time to gather the lower edge, this gives the cap it’s shape in the back.

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I stitch with big stitches from the back up to the mark in the front.

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By sewing two lines of stitches you will be able to gather the fabric nicer.

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Now it is time to sew on the ties straps. I first take a strip that is 70 cm long and 5cm wide. On one side I mark out my 1 cm seam allowance and on the other side I press that seam allowance down.

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Now on to some measuring, on the centre of your 70 cm make mark, this is where the top seam of your cap will be. From the centre you will mark out the distance of the front of your cap, in this tutorial it is 26,5 cm, a total of 53cm. This will make it fit a head measurement that is around 56cm. The measurements is 3cm smaller then the measurement of your head to allow for stretching of the fabric and so that you do not pull the slit completely together. If the slit is completely closed you will have a hard time getting a snug fit on your head. You will have to experiment to find what measurement fits best on you.
Put the cap part and the strap right sides together and pin them together.

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The gathering should be as tight as you can to the back of the slit, sew the seam with backstitches.

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As the strap should be longer I now sew on the other strips. They are 65 cm long and 5cm wide as I made this cap without a special person in mind. Most common is to have one continuous strap, but you can also pin the strap ends together when wearing the cap. When trying the cap on you will find what length you will need and you can shorten your straps later.
These two straps I prepare by folding and pressing in 1 cm seam allowance on both sides of the strip.

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Then I sew them on on each sides of the strap that you have already attached to the cap with backstitches.

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Like this.

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I scrape the seam open with my fingernail.

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Now what is left is to close the straps up and to enclose the raw edge on the front of the cap.

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I pin and sew the entire length of the strap together, enclosing the raw edges.

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If you wish to pin the straps together when wearing it, simply fold in the raw edge at the end of the strap and sew it shut.

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And your cap is done!

To sew the strap together, this is how you both put the cap on and measure how long the ends should be. If you are planning on having a continuous strap, you should not sew the entire length of strap together out to the ends. Save around 10 cm on the ends and then do this next part before joining the ends with a backstitched seam. After that you can close the last bit of the strap up.

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Put the cap on your head, if you have long hair it is good to have it in braids in the back or to put it in a low ponytail. As I have short hair I generally just put it in a low ponytail and stuff my bangs inside the cap. This cap is to small for me, I have a large head so for my personal caps I don’t use these measurements, also I could not bother with putting all my hair in the neck inside the cap, I always wear wimples so I usually don’t bother that much about some hair sticking out.
Cross the straps in the back.

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Pull them to the front and cross again, make sure that the straps lay nicely and so that they are not twisted.

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Then pull them over the back of your head above the bag that have formed for your hair, the straps should be snug around your head, if not the cap will slowly slide of your head. If you feel that the positioning of the straps makes the cap slide of your head you could also put it under the bag that have formed for your hair.

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Put a pin where they meet, now you can see where you need to sew them together, or if you want to pin them in stead, you can now go along and putting on wimples and veil if that is what you prefer.

St. Birgitta’s cap - pattern
Here is the pattern, in cm as always, and not including any seam allowances.

Norwegian money pouch tutorial

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

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

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

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

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Then I punch all the holes out.

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Take the longer leather strip and make it pointy in one end.

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Start threading it through the holes.

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All the way around

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I round the other end of the strip of and cut a hole in the middle.

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The pointy end goes through.

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Pull your pouch together a bit.

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As much as you want to have it open when it is finished.

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Thread the pointy end on a big blunt needle.

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Now we are going to do the nice wrapping around the purse.

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Continue around the purse and make sure that the strip of leather lies nicely and evenly around the first round of the strip.

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I did not my strip long enough, but you can easily make it longer like this, make sure that the joint end up on the “backside”, this will make it invisible.

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Then when you have sewn all around the pouch.

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Take the needle and go down the hole.

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See, it looks like it continues all around.

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Now you have the rest of the strip on the inside.

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Cut it of a bit and split it in half.

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Thread one end on the needle and go under the inside strip.

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Make a knot and cut of the excess.

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Then take the other strip of the leather, make one side pointy and thread it through the top holes.

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Go all the way around.

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And knot the ends.

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And now the purse if finished!

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The pattern is in cm, as always.

Good luck!

Pattens

I like the extra things and sometimes I rather make a “unnecessary thing” than something that I would actually need. Well of course pattens are not really unnecessary, they are really useful thing to have in bad weather, but to make them for a summer event when you live in a apartment might see a bit unnecessary, at least to make them before you start a new dress that you needed.

But sometimes I can not help myself, I see a thing and then I need it. When I need something I make it!

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I made these for last years medieval week, my mothers boyfriend helped me to make the basic shape with the band saw and then I had a day of carving and filing to do. These I made using hand tools, it is funny since my mothers boyfriend did not really believe that I would pull it of, but I am stubborn.

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I carved out the sole of the patten, to make it a lot more comfortable.

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And I smoothed down the edges and then there was a LOT of sanding to do, I wish that I had the help from the belt sander but stubborn me said “well NO, I will use the sandpaper in stead”.

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But I love how they turned out, so smooth and nice, I also made some leather fastenings for it that I nailed to the wood.
The reason for the stitching is to make the leather not stretch when wet and therefore become to big.

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I glued leather to the undersides, to make it more durable. But after walking 10 meters with them the leather just fell of. The next year I nailed thicker leather to the underside, that worked better.

I also used to soft wood, walking with them for few days made me realise this, but I kind of knew this from the beginning. But I was a test to see if I could make them so I was not surprised. But they have lasted this long so I guess I will make new ones when these dies. I used my mothers old kitchen table for the pattens, which I believe is pine. But I have read on other blogs that alder, poplar and willow are better for pattens.

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When making them it is really important that the “platforms” ends up right for your feet, so that these is no stopping when taking a step, you need to be able to easily “tip” over in the front.
Walking in these makes you feel like a little pony, making the steps echo in the narrow alleys of Visby.

Leather case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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16th century German – the huge hat

After wearing a dainty little hat with my frau for two years my friends and I decided that this year for medieval week we would make ourselfs new hats, huge hats!

This construction is guesswork, I have no real knowledge on hat making, especially not 16th century hats, but I try, and if it in the end looks looks the paintings that it is nice.

I based my hat on several woodcuts and this style of hat is also worn by the Landsknecht.

A man on his horse

A woman with her dog

One other woman with this kind of huge hat

The pictures and several other huge hats worn by both women and Landsknechte can be found at my pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/katafalk/16th-centruy-fashion-huge-hats

My small hat is made in the exact same way, but smaller and for that project I bought a big macramé hoop at a second hand store as the base for the hat. For this hat a bigger hoop of similar type would have been ideal and my first thought was to ask a blacksmith friend of mine to help me to solder a thick wire together. But my friend had to much other things on his list so I was as usual left to my own devices and I started to look at my box of thin wire. I made a hoop skirt out of wire of this type once for a post apocalypse party by twisting lengths together to make a thicker tread and it worked for that so I had to try it. I do like when I can make things myself.

The huge 16th century German hat - 1

So twisting thin wire together I made a hoop as big as I wanted.

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Then I took a piece of wool fabric that when sewn together was slightly smaller then the circumference of the hoop, you want it to sit tight around the hoop. The width of the fabric needs to be shorter then the radius *2 to make it sit on your head and to make the fabric sit tightly in the hoop.

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Sew the fabric together, I used scraps so I have sewn it at two places.

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Put the hoop in your fabric tube.

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Put the wrong sides of the fabric together and gather the double fabric using a strong thread and big stitches.

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Sew all around the inside of the hoop gathering the fabric and making it sit tightly around the hoop. Pull it tight and secure the threads.

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If you use the same length of all your stitches the gathering will look even and nice.

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Then cut two circles that covers the hole in the middle, one is for the top of the hat and the other is for the underside.

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I cut decorative slashes in the top circle, using a wool that matches my dress to put under, I cut the blue wool the size of the finished top circle, this makes it easy to pin the seam allowances under.

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Then I pin the top circle to the hat and sew it with big stitches, one in each “pleat”.

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Do the same to the underside.

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Then I attached some linen ties so that I could tie it onto my head.

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Now it is time for feathers!

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I simply put the feathers into the folds of the pleats. I do not fasten them in any way they stay put anyway.

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I put them all around my hat. When I was at medieval week a whole bunch of people told me that when they had been at a event in Germany the German re-enactors had told them that the way that most of them wears their feathers, on one side of the hat facing back away from the face was not the way that the German Landsknechte was wearing them but the Swiss Landsknechte, but that the way to wear them was all around the hat, as I have mine or facing forward. It is always nice to hear that your hat is considered “right”, but then I have based my hat on several woodcuts so I knew that the look was “safe”. If there are any truth to this or if it is just a “myth” I do not know.

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Now it is finished but I want to have some shape to not look like a big pizza on my head so I bent it slightly over my leg

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And this is how it turned out, at first I did not know if this hat was for me. It is so big and loud and feathery, but I decided that I kind of liked it and after medieval week I am now sure that I like it!

Starched frilled veil

The trendy thing at the moment among re-enactors seems to be the frilled veil. Everyone makes one and after my try last year with my non starched frilled veil I was very exited to make a new veil. This time I wanted to try the nice starched kind.

I first read about frilled veils over at Medieval Silkwork and it was something I had never seen before. But after knowing about them I started to see them in so many pictures. It is often like that, that you don’t see things because you don’t know what to see. This is why it is so interesting to talk to other people about how they interpret a pictures, we all see so different things in the same picture.

Here is a picture of a four layer frill.
Four layers seems popular.
Layered frills.

Then I just had to figure out the best way for me to make them. First I wanted to do the measuring and marking before the sewing, but well I ditched that for this really simple “no measuring” way.

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First I cut a really really thin linen fabric into strips, I needed about 3,5 meter to make my frill that is about 80 cm finished.
The strips are 6,5cm wide before hemming. I cut them 100% straight by pulling out threads to use as guides for cutting. I also pull out a thread at 1 cm on one side, to guide me when doing the hem.
Then you sew together two strips using a really small felled seam and make a thin double folded hem. I do not hem all the way but leaves about five cm on each side of the long strip. When hemming and sewing the strips together I use silk thread.

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To make the holes when starching the veil I am using wooden dowel pins, these I also use when sewing the thing, here is where the no measuring comes in. I start by putting my first dowel pin in, I put the first in the middle of the sewn together strip. It is important that the felled seam is put as you see in my picture, this way it gets almost invisible in the finished veil.

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Then you add dowel pins and pin as you go along, one pin for every one dowel pin. Pull the fabric snug around the dowel pins.

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After a while you will notice that the pins are getting hard to handle, not is the time to do some sewing.

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Take the dowel pins out, now you get an idea of how it will look later.

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Where the pins are you are now going to sew together with some small stitches at the same place.

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To go to the next pin you can go in the hem without the threads showing.

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And then fasten the frill with small stitches again.

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Work your way through all the pins.

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Now it is time to make more frills. I put in three dowel pins in the frills I just sewed, this makes it easier to make the new dowel pins snug. Then you continue on, pinning and sewing until you get to the end of your strip.

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As you remember you did not hem all the way out on your strip, now you put the last dowel pins in, mark with a needles and then take it apart again.

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You can now cut of the excess fabric and hem the strip and the side of the strip.

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Then you can sew the last stitches on this side.

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Continue on the other side of the strips in the same way, and when you need to attach the third strip you make sure that the felled seam ends up like in the picture, in the middle of the fill. To make it more invisible. And you finish of the end of the strip as you did on the other side.

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Now you need to pleat the back of the frill. I do not measure at all, using the threads in the fabric and how the fabrics wants to lay you can get nice pleats anyway, and it is not deadly important that they are 100% exact and the same.

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I sew my pleats down with big backstitches, hare I used a waxed linen thread, but these will not be seen so it is not important what kind of thread you use, I had the waxed linen thread already on the needle so that is the reason why I used that in stead of silk.

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Then I took a strip of linen cut straight on the grain and enclosed the raw edges, just as you bind anything in a bias strip.

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Now it is done and time to starch.

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It was my first time starching anything and I decided to use a modern starch for this time. I used potato starch and water. I took 1dl cold water and whisked down 2 teaspoons of potato starch in a pot. Then I put the pot on the stove and kept whisking, it is supposed to simmer but not boil. And then with the heat it turns into slime.

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Then I applied the slime with my fingers to the fabric, generously on both sides. I let it sit for a few minutes to make the fibres soak up the starch. Then I took away the excess starch with my fingers, so slimy! Then it is time to put in your wooden dowel pins, my frilled veil took about 125 wooden dowel pins. Then you need to let it dry, I hanged it on my drying rack in the sun.

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When it is completely dry you can take the pins out.

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Sometimes the dowel pins stick to the fabric and you have to use some force to remove them. Look how crisp it has become.

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One stitch broke when I took the dowel pins out, but it is only to sew it back again.

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Then it is only to sew onto your favourite shape of veil, I put mine on a half circle veil of the same thin linen as the frill.

Cathrin Åhlén
And this is how it looks. The starching held up VERY well, I used it several days and at the battle of Mästerby it even held up to a light rain, I was quick to throw my open hood on but the ends of the frill was still in the rain. All I had to do when I came home was to take it of and put the dowel pins in again and to let it dry. The next day it was as crisp as when I starched it the first time.
As long as the starch is not washed away I believe that if the frills looks a bit flat you can mist it with water and put the dowel pins in and let dry, that would refresh the frills without having to re-starch it completely.