Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Come and sew 17th century with me!

As you may remember I recently joined the Manuscript Challenge on Facebook in the hope of finally making a medieval outfit. I thought they idea of the challenge were excellent, you choose a picture, upload it and from the date you do that, you have one year to complete the outfit. So I asked Maria who created the challenge if I could borrow her idea for a 17th century challenge and she very kindly gave me permission. So I have started a 17th century sewing challenge, which you can find here. I hope you will come and join me in creating a fabulous 17th century outfit! The rules are Maria’s, though slightly tweaked to fit into the 1600’s.

1. Choose one picture from a painting, print or similar. The picture must be in color. Time frame: The 17th century, 1600-1699. The picture must be an original; a later interpretation/re-drawing does not count. An extant garment can also be used. State your image source. Choose carefully before you decide what image to use, since you will have less time to complete your project if you change your mind and pick another picture later on. You are allowed to use a painting/garment even if someone else has chosen it already. 

2. Publish your image and tell us which outfit (if the image contains several) you plan to make. Create a photo album for your particular challenge. The first image is the image you have chosen to recreate. In your album, add pictures of your creative process. Ask for help if you need it, we are happy to help.

3. Create your outfit according to the wearer’s outfit, as shown in the picture. This means the entire outfit! You are not allowed to mix and match garments worn by different individuals appearing in the same picture.

4. Let us in on your progress! You might upload pictures of how you proceed, or notes on your thought process. You can also blog about it!

5. Ask for help, tips and advice if you feel the need and wish to do so. We’re all here for you, to support you if necessary, and to cheer you on if you get stuck.

6. It’s entirely up to you whether you wish to use plant-dyed, hand-woven fabric, or polyester. The idea is to recreate a visual copy of your chosen image. Your level of hard core technique and materials is up to you. You set your own goals here – we do not judge or look down on anyone due to their choice of project execution mode.

7. You have one year to finish from the day you upload the picture.

Bonus – No rules, this section is optional! 

8. How long does it take? It would be interesting to know how much time you spent working on your project. 

9. What did it cost? Did you work from scrap fabric found in the trash, or did you splurge on the most expensive silk you could find? How do our budgets differ?

And here is my chosen picture:

A Young Woman at Her Toilet with a Maid by Gerard ter Boch, 1650-51, Metropolitan Museum

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Supportive underwear in the 15th century

Konrad von Ammenhausen Hagenau, 1467
Art isn't the surest source as a painter can paint what he or she want, but the clevage suggest
support and I really like the side-lacing.
As I mentioned in my previous post on 15th century clothes, my first step will be to make supportive underwear. Some comments recommended me to make a snugly fitted shift/kirtle instead and I am sure that can be a very functional breast support. Not for me, though. I have made plans for medieval clothes before and even started, trying this method and it just doesn’t work for me. I have a large bust but a very narrow ribcage, my under bust measurement is actually the narrowest part of my torso and the difference between bust and under bust is 35 cm (almost 14 inches). To give me support I need to overfit the garment up to a point that it looks silly and feel uncomfortable and it put a lot of strain on the fabric. This is why I want to solve the support problem with a separate garment so I can fit my kirtle to look nice instead of too tight. Perhaps separate supportive underwear wasn’t very common, but as there are textual evidence on some kind of support, paintings of women in garments that looks like they could have a supportive function, and, of course, the extant clothes found in Lengberg Castle, which is enough for me. Especially as I will never make any clothes before from 1500 without it.

So, the Lengberg brassiere. Or, rather, one of them as there were actually four found in Lengberg Castle in 2008 among a whole cache of textile fragments. Two of them have been carbon dated to the 15th century. So far no close examination have been published, though one can hope that it will be available in the future along with, of course, patterns. Here is a quote by Beatrix Nutz from Medievallingerie from Lengberg Castle, East-Tyrol

Four linen textiles resemble modern time bras. The criterion for this classification is the presence of distinct cut cups. The two more fragmented specimens appear to be a combination of a bra and a short shirt. They end right below the breast but have additional cloth above the cups to cover the décolleté, and no sleeves. Both “bras” have decorated lower ends. Finger-loop-laces (laces worked in loop manipulating braiding technique) are sewn onto the hem with lace-stitches resulting in simple needle-lace. Besides its decorative function - one that cannot be seen anyway when worn under a dress - this also serves as reinforcement for the hem and adds further support to the breasts.
The third “bra” looks a lot more like modern bras with two broad shoulder straps and a possible back strap, not preserved but indicated by partially torn edges of the cups onto which it was attached. The knot in the shoulder straps is secondary. This “bra” is also the most elaborately decorated with needle-lace on the shoulder straps, sprang-work between the two cups and, like the two aforementioned “bras”, a finger-loop-lace and needle-lace at the lower end.
The fourth “bra” is the one that resembles a modern bra the most.  At the first assessment this garment was referred to in German as “Mieder” (= corselette in English) by the excavating archaeologists. It can also be described with the term “longline bra”. The cups are each made from two pieces of linen sewn together vertically. The surrounding fabric of somewhat coarser linen extends down to the bottom of the ribcage with a row of six eyelets on the left side of the body for fastening with a lace. The corresponding row of eyelets is missing. Needle-lace is sewn onto the cups and the fabric above thus decorating the cleavage. In the triangular area between the two cups there might have been additional decoration, maybe another sprang-work.
She has also written Medieval Underwear which contains some more information. 
However, the most detailed information by Beatrix Nutz can be found in Bras in the 15thcentury, A Preliminary Report. You will need to register at to download the article, but that’s pretty easy to do. 
Medieval Silkworm has two interesting articles at her blog with lots of quotes and pictures:

By My Measure also has an interesting article: On cleavage and Breast Mounds

I don’t know, yet, if this kind of supportive garment will work for me, but I think there are good chances. Katafalk has a similar figure to mine and her version of the Lengberg brassiere seems to giver her good support as well as being comfortable. 
A few other recreations:
By My Measure: Breastbags and Kerchiefs
Crafty Agatha: 15th century Lingerie 
Renikas Anachronistic Adventures: All dressed up Housebook style 
Deventer Burgerscap: Making My Bra Shirt, part 1 
Mady’s SCA Sewing Thingy: Under There!






Monday, 25 August 2014

A tenative step toward the 15th century

My weekend plan was to work on J’s banyan that I almost finished cutting out a long time ago. An old UFO in other words. I had a nagging feeling that I hadn’t cut all the pieces because I didn’t have enough fabric, but as it turned out I do have enough, only I have to pierce the lining. And the lining is in very slipper silk satin, hence my lack of enthusiasm. I have now finally cut out everything and started to sew it all together, currently muttering over the gussets over the arm, but then a looming cold drove me into the arms of a welcoming sofa instead. So instead of sewing I spent two days under a blanket draped with a cat, or two or a stray dog. 

I also joined The Manuscript Challenge on Facebook. The idea is to choose a garment from a manuscript, or similar from any medieval period up until 1500. From the day you upload the chosen picture to the challenge you have one year to complete the complete outfit and you have to make visually as close to the picture as you are able to. There are no rules about material though. This is very challenging for me as I find it extremely hard to keep to one visual source when I make my costumes. So that alone will be a new experience. I am also venturing into a completely new time period, which is why I joined the challenge. I have wanted to make a late 15th century outfit for some time and I hope this will make it happen and a year seems to be plenty of time. (We’ll see what I will say about that in ten months…) I’m not a complete novice in the 15th century in theory, I do know quite a lot about fashion history outside my comfort zones, but I don’t have the fine-tuning. So I want to make something that a) I like and b) is something I can pull off. So I decided on this outfit.

It is from a depiction of The Massacre of the Innocents, part of The Adoration of the Magi by Hugo van der Goes dated to the 1470’s. You can see the whole painting here. It is not from a manuscript, but the challenge to add or similar and no one has protested about my choice, so I guess it is all right. The outfit seems quite simple with some interesting details and is giving me a few things to puzzle over. I guess those of you who know the period finds it all very easy, but remember, for me it is all new. Another point in its favour is that it would be fairly easy to build up a small wardrobe from it. Another set of loose sleeves, an apron, other headdresses. I also quite like Burgundian gowns, which I figure would work well to wear over the kirtle.
Found at On Cleavage and Breast Mounds
What kind of pattern should I use for the kirtle? On the painting it seems virtually seamless, which of course isn’t possible. A fitted garment like that need seams and other paintings show them. Being much curvier than the woman on the painting I need to figure out what would be the best pattern for me. 
Add caption
How do the blue sleeves stay put? I confess that I didn’t realize until after I choose this outfit that the sleeves aren’t pinned on top f the short sleeves of the kirtle, but goes underneath. My assumption is that they are basted to the kirtle, or possibly, to the shift.
The artist, the girl in White have sleeves that seems to go underneath the short sleeves.
Diptych of The Fall of Man and The Redemption by Hugo van der Goes, c. 1480
What about the shift anyway? They seem to have had long sleeves and there are pictures of women with no loose sleeves. But there are also this version with a sleeves and snug bodice.
Friedrich von Schwaben, origin: Stuttgart(?), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. Germ. 345, f 247r, c. 1470 found at Medieval supportive underwear
One of the reasons I have balked for pre-corset fashion is that I really need breast support. I have tried the snugly fitted shift-method and found it both uncomfortable as making me look like a sausage. After the Lengberg brassiere was found a new vista has opened up for me and Katafalk has made a really lovely version that seems to give good support as well as looking remarkably like the pictures. She has smaller breasts than I have, but I still think this would work for me and as she so kindly offer her pattern for free, I have a pattern to start from instead of doing it from scratch. What I’m wondering about is if this brassiere was worn instead of a shift or with? Obviously the pictures of women in just shift and kirtle shows long sleeves on the shift.
Bat-Sheba bathing
Except this one...
And on “my” painting the shift is obviously a bit more disarrayed at the neckline than something that fits tightly. As for now I’m inclined to make booth, opting to make the long sleeved shift in finer linen to avoid bulk.
 I also Think that it's pretty clear that the kirtle should be laced up properly, I'm not going to go around half-laced.
I also wonder what the black that is visible under the blue sleeves are. Another pair of sleeves? Black cuffs? Though not cuffs for the blue sleeves and I have never heard of black cuffs on shift. There is also a possibility that we are seeing liberties of the artist, I guess it is possible that the black is there to really make the hands pop out. It might also be meant as a shadow from the blue sleeve, but I mighty odd shadow, if you ask me.
The headgear baffles me as well. Is it a sewn cap or is it just a piece of fabric that have been pleated and pinned? Oh well, I have some time to figure it out.
Then there is the belt, which seems pretty straightforward, but what is the most likely object hanging from it? A purse?
You see that I have a few things to ponder. I also need to figure out stockings and shoes, even if we can’t seem them on the picture.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

18th century in sveltering heat

One week of my vacation is over, three more to go. As I only worked four days the forthnight before my actual vacation, I feel like I have had vacation for three weeks already and is pleasantly surprised when I remember that I have a lot of vacation time left. Stockholm is in the middle of an unusually hot heatwave, so last week was spent at the summer house in the archipelagio with lots of bathing and reading books in the shade. Very restful. We also spent a weekend at Skansen at their annual 18th century weeks, naturally on the two hottest days of the year. My clothes were decided after the need of NOT wearing a wig and as my batante isn't finished so I decided to "play dairymaid" and went without a gown. Yes, I was practically naked in just shift, stays, three petticoats, apron, cap, hat, stockings and shoes. Quite shocking, wouldn't you say?

I swear, if it is as hot next year, I will make myself a bathing shift and place a tub in the garden!

J went back to nature as well and scraped daikons for dinner.

While the wife had fun with the workers in the hay. I also realized that I badly need a busk.
Then the master arrived...

But evidently the oppressed workers rised in revolution.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Future plans

I went through my sewing projects and realized that I have only 10 UFO's left from last year. More than halfway done, it other words. I still plan to have none at the beginning of 2015. Which mean that I can actually start to think ahead and plan for the future. Once, before I got caught up in the 18th century I dreamed of having a historical wardrobe from every century. I don't have such grand plans anymore, I merely would like to have something from the 15th century forward. I won't be able to make that many gowns next year, but I can at least start to make a dent. And here is what I dream of, in chronological order, but not in the order I will make them.

15th century

I have never been able to muster much enthusiasm for the fashion during the Middle ages, but it would be nice to be able to attend Medieval events. After delving into the fashion mysteries of the Dark ages a bit I feel that I actually can feel enthusiastic for the 15th century and mostly for the type of gown that is often called Burgundian.
Detail from The Donne Triptych by Hans Memling c. 1475

Of course that would also mean that I need to make a shift.
Detalhe de um quadro por Boccace, Le Décaméron, Flandres, século XV. Mulher de camisa a vestir porvavelmente uma saia.

And I would probably also make breast support. I do need something to keep them in check and a snugly fitted shift doesn't make it. And now we have the Lengberg brassiere which Katafalk has made and as her bosom is almost as large as mine I Think it will work well for me.

A kirtle.
Detail from The Raising of the Cross found here.

And suitable headgear. I find myself quite attracted to these cut-off cones, for some obscure reason.
Portrait of A Lady by Rogier van der Weyden, c. 1460

Portrait of A Young Woman, attributed to Hans Memling, second half of the 15th century

16th century

I like a lot of 16th century fashions, but I would probably go for a German gown from the first half of the century..
Katharina von Bora by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526

Lucas Cranach or his workshop, 1525

Or a very late style, which actually would work on both side of the year 1600.
Johann Jacob Firnhabers stambok, 1614-1620

Regardless of style I would, of course, need the suitable underpinnings.

17th century

I've already started, but I want to make a mantua as well. No, I want to make two, one early from the 1670's and one that could work for either side of the year 1700. I find it facinating that a T-shaped garment imported from the East could evolve into the iconic gowns of the 18th Century. I recently bought a whole bolt of japanese kimonofabric in thin striped wool and I Think it would be interesting to make an early mantua out of it. The fabric is only 35 cm wide, but the front pieces of the extant garments I have seen the pattern of has that width. It isn't too farfetched that the first mantuas were made up from sucj narrow wirdths and I want to make one just to see how I would need to pierece that fabric. And then I want to make a later style to compare.
Eleonore, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg, German school, dated 1658-1680 but I think it can be narrowed down to the 1670's when one consider the mantua and the hairstyle.
Lighweight wool in brick red with White and yellow pattern. The pattern is not period correct, but as stripes were popular I think it can work anyway.

Embroidered mantua c. 1700

But before I make either of them, I need stays. Yay, I new reason to make stays! I want to make the pink ones in V&A, only not in pink.
Silk stays, 1660-1680

I also need to make a shift to suit and the later Mantua needs to be topped of with a fontange.

19th century

For all the changing fashions of the 19th century, very few tempts me. I do like the fashion in the late 1820's/early 1830's. The waist is more or less back to there it is supposed to be, the skirts and arms are getting fuller.
Green velvet evening gown, 1830's

Also, some seriously crazy hair was going on.
Lady In Brown Dress with Fur Collar by Etienne Bouchardy, 1832

Eugenie Hortense Auguste Napoleon de Beauharnais by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1826

I have an-almost-completed Regency corset and from what I can gather that style would work a bit later as well.

And, of course, I would need a chemise. And for every period I need proper shoes and this and that to complete it all. So clearly it will all take some time to make it all. I will start with the 17th Century stays and then the early Mantua and then we'll see. It seems likely to be 19th Century as there is a rather lively 19th Century Group in Stockholm. For the summer I will focus on the robe battante and my 40's wardrobe, though.

Monday, 9 June 2014

New article on 17th century makeup on Your Wardrobe Unlock'd

My second article on mid-17th century beauty is now up. Makeup trends, skin care and ingridients and I also do two makeup tutorials with period makeup. I thought it was interesting to see how different makeup can look depending on ingridient and was of application.

If you subscribe to Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, then you can read the article here.

Monday, 2 June 2014

A few pictures from the 18th century erotic calendar

You may remember that Gustafs Skål produced a calendar for 2013 and both I and J were involved. The theme was erotic, but the 18th century way, with a raised hemline there and a stolen kiss there. 2013 is long since over, so I thought I should show you a few of the pictures. They were all based of period paintings and pictures, but we did not set out to copy the pictures.

The photographer is Staffan Huss, you can find his web page here. All the models were, at the time, members of Gustafs Skål and none of us are professionals. All the clothes and some of the props belonged to us. All the pictures were taken at Kristinehovsmalmgård, an 18th century manor house in Stockholm.

A stolen kiss, originally depicted by Nicolas Lafrensen.

Models: Barbro Hellmin, Natalie Hulsin and Henry Wölling

The original is called The Indiscrete Wife and I don't know who originally created it.

Models: Agneta Stehager, Carina Rosén and Henry Rosén

This is one of the best photos. You wouldn't believe what a mess the attic was, but it turned out amazing!

Model: Caroline Eklund
Le Lever de Fanchon by Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, 1773
I was a bit shocked when we looked through the pictures and I realized that our picture was the raciest of them all! The painting, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, can be found in several version and the one we used is called The Beautiful Servant Girl. Other versions, however, are called The Useless Resistance... My first model experience, so the stiffness isn't only due to the stays.

Models: Elisa Edgren and Jan Schmidt

Take a peek at Anna's shoe. She is a shoemaker and have made it herself!

Models: Anna Lindqvist and Henry Rosén

Elégante à sa toilette by Michel Garnier, 1796
The title of the original painting is Mme. de Bouvillon Tempts Fate by Asking Ragotin to Search for a Flea. We tried to find a way to incorprorate a dog and a cat because of the great symbolic value, the dog stands for fidelity and the cat for female sexuality (note the cat on the attic painting above), but unfortunately we couldn't.
Models: Martin Lejon and Marianne Berndt

Jean-Baptiste Pater

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