Monday, 3 September 2018

17th century frog purse- done!

I finished something during my vacation! And a UFO of long standing too- namely the 17th century frog
purse. I fell in this frog purse five(!) years ago and decided I wanted to make one. Apparently, frog
purses were quite a thing in 17th century England, and there are several extant ones. You can see a
post about them here.

I almost finished mine, but then I realised the back legs were too heavy and long, and I balked at re-making them. Until now.

It’s not a perfect replica of the original one. For one I had very few construction details, so I had to
guess a lot. What I did know was the measurements of the body, and how the legs and arms were
made, as well as the stitched on the body and the eyes. I tried to follow that as close as possible.

The body was made in green silk taffeta covered with needlepoint stitches made from gilt silk twist.
It’s padded with felt.

The arms and legs are made of wire and very thin millinery wire, which was first covered with linen
thread to bulk them up, and then they were covered with gold thread.

The eyes were made of vintage glass beads.

I attached the arms and legs on the front, then lines both front and back with gold silk taffeta, before
sewing it together. I still need to find a suitable cord.

It’s very small- I guess I could fit a lipstick inside it. Maybe.

Monday, 30 July 2018

An Artistic inspired gown.

Originally I had planned to make a white cotton undergown with a black wool overgown. the pattern coming from La Mode Bagatelle's Artistic Reform Teagown for Visby Baddagar, the Victorian sea holiday I attended. But time ran away for me, and the white undergown wasn't finished in time. Instead I decided to wear my green silk taffeta dinnergown under the overgown, qith a high-necked chemise. I also wore my reform corset during the day, changing to a proper corset for the evening.

I liked the effect of black and green, though I still want to finish the cotton gown to wear with it. The overgown is the B-one, and it was very easy to sew. I had to make the crossover in the back deeper than indicated as my back is narrow. and I opted to only have one ribbon as I liked how it looked like this.

Helping Lithia to hem her gown in the very last minute.

While my husband watched the lovely view of the sea.
The dinner dress was made from underdress B, but I redrafted the front to make it shirred instead of plain. I'm super pleased with it, even if I need to make a few small changes to improve the fit now.


Improvised hair- I simply hadn't had time to do proper research, but a lit of fake curls. The hair jewelry was made by Lithia, who you can see on this picture too.

A gaggle of friends, some of which I went to Versailles with. The lady in red is wearing an original bodice!
A glimpse of my corset, the wonderful Sanakor corset from Foundations Revealed. I have Lithia to thank for it, as she enlarged the pattern and generously let me use it. I need to tweak it a little over the bust, but it did what it was supposed to do and gave killer curves without lacing down much at all.

Friday, 27 July 2018

An 1870's bathing suit

Last weekend I attended a Victorian sea holiday, and had a spledid time. And for that, among other things, I needed a bathing suit. I really liked The Mantua Maker's Grecian style bathing suit 1870-1890, and made it up in dark green wool crepe. Strictly speaking this is not period as bathing suits seems to have been made in wool flanell or cotton, and in black, dark blue or pale grey. But I happened to have dark green wool crepe, and deemed it good enough.

I was quite pleased with it, but the pattern run a bit large, so I could have made it one size smaller and it would probably have looked better. As the pattern pieces are all more or less straight pieces I think I will unpick it and size it down. The bathing suit was not difficult to sew, but surprisingly time consuming. I also found the instructions rather confusing, as the instruction for lined versus unlined versions were mixed together, so you had to read very carefully to make sure you were following the right instructions. And some pattern pieces was called the same thing without the added information if it was meant for the front and the back. You had to look at the drawings and draw your conclusions from that.

Lithia and I in the same bathing suit but obviously in different colours and decorations.

Feeling peckish... The hat is true vintage and once belonged to my great-grandmother.

Before and after. It was actually very nice to wear after the bath as the wool kept you nicely warm, if wet. I didn't have time to make a matching bathing cap, but I plan to for next summer.

A gaggle of bathing Victorians

My husband opted out of the bathing.
The photos were taken by Lithis and Myra Lea. You can see more on their Instagram accounts; @lithiablack and @litenkrubba. You should also check out @efridis, and in case you didn't know, I have one as well; @isiswardrobe.

Monday, 28 May 2018

16th century headdress, fiction and fact

I found this when I was looking for images suitable for my 1520’s gown project. It had nothing to do with it, but it was too good to pass on.

Pretty door knocker, c. 1500.

Source; Wikimedia Commons
And what must be the same kind of headdress, the extant version.

Ladies head dress from the grave No.31 (1525) in Geiterkinden Church. Now in Kantonsmuseum, Basseland

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Resarch for a 1520's gown, part 4; resources

This is a list of books, articles, and blogs I have read, so far, and found useful. It is by no means a finished list, and I will add on it as I continue my research.

Books and articles

Dahl, Camilla Dahl; “Huffer till Theris Hoffueder: Sen-renæssancens Kvindehuer, ca. 1560–1630,” Dragtjournalen 2, no. 3 (2008): 21–52, pp 39–46 [n Danish. About caps and hats for women, with some references to the earlier 16th century)

Dahl, Camilla Luise; "Klædt i rigets borgerdragt. - stand, status og national identitet udtrykt i borgerskabets dragt i reformationstidens. Danmark-Norge og Sverige" [In Danish. About the clothing of townspeople in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in the 16th century.)

Johnson, Caroline, edited by Jane Malcolm-Davies and Ninya Mikhaila; The Queen's Servants: Gentlewomen's Dress at the Accession of Henry VIII, Fat Goose Press Ltd (December 1, 2011) [Focus on the English court with patterns and sewing instruction]

Blogs and web pages

16th Century German Costuming 

Costumekullan [A fellow Swede who also are making clothes for 2020]

Dragter på epitafier og gravsten i Danmark. [In Danish. “Clothing on epitaphs and tombstones in Denmark” spanning 16t-18th century. Lots of pictures!)

Elizabethan Costume Page [Huge collection of links, several of the useful for the early 16th century too.]

The Friesian Frock Girl 

The German Renaissance of Genoveva


Detail from "Blodbladsplanschen", a depiction of Stockholm's Bloodbath. The original was made in 1524, but was lost in a fire in the 19th century. This is from a 17th century copy.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Resarch for a 1520's gown, part 3; what money can buy

I can’t make shoes so I will have to buy them. Here is a number of links in an alphabetic order to
places to purchase shoes. The only one I have personal experience of is Harr, which I’ve always been
very pleased with, but they are also pricey. I want good shoes, but I also don’t want to spend a fortune
on what I probably won’t use much. It’s also unlikely I will end up buying shoes from the USA as the
postage combined with taxes can double the cost.

I will also need some bling. The lady in my painting is wearing a gold chain around her neck, a
diamond-shaped brooch, and four rings on the visible hand. I think it’s likely she is wearing rings on
the other hand too. I’m not aiming to find jewelry which is exact replicas, but I want it to work for the

I haven’t found any online shop for historical jewelry who sell this kind of heavy chain, but a quick
search on Etsy provided me with several suitable chains, so I don’t think it will be too hard to find a
suitable chain.

Armour and Castings have a few nice diamond shaped brooches.

As for rings I have found a Swedish company;Historiska Fynd who makes historical reproductions in bronze, which makes them rather inexpensive.

15th century:

16th century

Resarch for a 1520's gown, part 2: the other necessary clothes

The 16th century is a completely new period for me sewing-wise, but it was actually one of my first costume-loves, and I’ve always wanted to go there. I think I have a basic understanding of the period, but I still have a lot to learn. And I have a whole wardrobe to build! I mentioned Katafalk’s blog in my last post, and I will reference here several times because she’s worth it. She’s a brilliant Swedish seamstress and she has several excellent tutorials. I have, for example, found her post How to Frau, very helpful as it in a very pedagogic manner goes through the necessary layers and clothes.

I’m planning to build my wardrobe the sensible way; inside and outwards, so the first garment I’m going to make is the smock.

As you can see she is wearing a high necked, pleated smock which what looks like whitework around the neck. You can see similar smocks on many portraits of the period. At least I think they are smocks and not partlets.

For example, this portrait of Margareta Eriksdotter Vasa looks similar, but her gown is extremely low-cut, so it seem more likely it’s a partlet we see here. I include this because Margareta Vasa was Gustav Vasa’s sister, and the portrait is dated to 1528. It may have been painted in Lübeck, but at this point, Gustav Vasa was still unmarried, so Margareta was the most important lady in Sweden, and it’s likely her clothes reflect what was fashionable in Sweden. However, even if I the clothes I aim to make belong to a well-to-do woman, I’m not trying to be royalty.


Woman with a Carnation by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Ursula Ligsalz, c. 1528

I’ve found two tutorials for a high-necked smock, one by Katafalk and one by Genoveva von Lubeck. I’m going to use Katafalk’s.

As for stockings and hose, I’m going to sew a pair. I’m fairly certain you could get knitted stockings at this time, but I’m not very good at knitting, so sewn ones it is. I have found a tutorial at Melanie Schuessler’s webpage.

I’ve never seen any references for stays this early in the 16th century, and ladies seen in profile are often quite curvy. But I definitely need some kind of support, and the answer to that is an underdress or kirtle. The Queen’s Servant by Caroline Johnson, edited by Jane Malcolm Davies and Ninya Mikhaila talks about clothes at the English court in the early 16th century, so right time, but the wrong place. I still think the notes on kirtles have relevance for a wider area, and I will use the instruction in the book on how to construct it. The book mention kirtles interlined in the bodice by one, or for larger ladies, two layers of canvas to provide support, which I will do. I have not decided on fabric and colour yet. The Queen’s Servant has found that silk sateen and black was the most popular choice at the English court, and I’m tempted to use that. As I mentioned in my last post black and silk satin was in use at Gustav Vasa’s court, but I don’t know if it was used for undergowns. And I don't know how far down the classes the material went.

Three paintings which depict possible undergowns or kirtles.



Melancholy by Georg Pencz, 1545

The lady on my pictures is wearing a short shoulder cape, a gollar, in the same fabric as the gown.

You can see this garment on a lot of pictures, Like here, for example.

Part of an altarpiece in St Knud's Church in Odense, Denmark, 1510-19

Jakob Seissenegger

It’s possible this short cape could was a way for women to distinguish themselves as decent women when they didn’t wear a long cloak. In Denmark in 1522 prostitutes were forbidden to cover their hair and wear “kåber” (cloaks), and in 1529 the same law came in place in Sweden, though the term there is “kragekåper”. I’m aware I’m making assumptions here, but “krage” means collar, so I think it isn’t impossible “kragekåper” can mean a very short cloak. (Klædt i rigets borgerdragt by Camilla Luise Dahl)

And as Katafalk has a tutorial for one, I will use that.

Then we come to the cap. And I admit I have no idea how it’s constructed. Or rather, I have ideas, but I don’t know how close to correct they are. Input is most welcome!

You can see a very similar cap here.

Probably by Jacob van Utrecht, early 16th century.

And a somewhat similar one here:

In the style of Barthel Bruyn the Elder, 16th century

I assume it is actually in two parts. Or three. An inner cap, caul or forehead cloth which sits tight around the head. Then the wearer’s braids are would like some kind of pillow(?) at the temples. And then another cap or possibly wide band is placed on top of it. Women n at least Denmark wore caps with a wide band placed on top of it, so I think it may be what we see here (Huffer till Theris Hoffueder: Sen-renæssancens Kvindehuer, ca. 1560–1630 by Camilla Luise Dahl)

I’ve no idea what it looks like from the back. I would love to recreate this cap if I can only figure out how it was plausibly made. In any case, I think the inner cap may be similar to the one Genoveva von Lubeck has a tutorial for.

Another alternative is to make a wulsthaube with a veil. Katafalk has tutorials for it here, here and here, as has Genoveva von Lubeck, Amie Sparrow and The Fresian Frock Girl

Regardless of what kind of cap I make, I can also go for those nifty wide brimmed hats you see so often. Genoveva von Lubeck have a tutorial for that too.

The next post will be about the things I cannot make myself, shoes and jewelry.

And if you are interested in another take on the same problem, check out Costumekullan who is also planning a Swedish 1520’s outfit.

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