Thursday 26 September 2013

New shoes

A couple of years ago I bought a pair of 18th century shoes from Harr. It is a German company that makes shoes for theatre, film and dance and they make the shoes after your own measurement. They have a large number of styles, and then you can choose material, colour, shape of toe and heel as well as heel height. The blue shoes I bought are now my most comfortable pair of shoes I own. I'm very particular about my shoes and Always know what I want, which makes it hard as what I want usually isn't available in the stores. So I decided to order a pair of brown shoes from Harr and now they are here:

20-11 Lace-up shoe with perforation
Or rather, they are at the store were I ordered them, I'm still not well from my bronchitis and can't pick them up until I feel better. And though not planned, I have now also another pair of 18th Century shoes from them:

18-19 Ladies tongue shoes
 They are the same model as my blue ones, though the heel is a bit lower and the toe more pointy. My friend Anna had bought them and then sadly realised that she can't wear heels anymore, so she asked if I was willing to give them a new home. Which I was, of course! Though they are not made for my feet, they still fit me very well, and as they are made of leather they will shape themselves after my feet and fit even better. I'm currently using them at home to walk them into shape.
My very blue shoes

Wednesday 25 September 2013


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Meet Pandora, a fashion doll of 1600

Livrustkammaren 77 (56:15) 260
I posted a picture of her some years ago, but now she is finally going to be displayed again at Livrustkammaren, the Royal Armoury, at least for a time, so I take the opportunity to show my favourite doll ever. As a kid I wanted her much more than I wanted a Barbie! She is attributed to a daughter of Karl IX, princess Katarina, and may have been made by her, or perhaps just owned. It sems quite likely that she was a fashion doll, made to show of what was fashionable. She is dated to around 1600, which probably made Katarina a bit too old to play with her, as the princess was born in 1584. The doll is also in a very good condition, which makes it a bit unlikely that she was used as a toy. Adorable she is, nevertheless! And my friend Caroline who provided the gorgeous pictures in my last post, has kindly let me use more the following pictures of Pandora as she was unpacked.

She has a body and legs made of wire and skin-coloured silk tread. The gown is made from purple silk, decorated with gold lace. The sleeves are made of red (now faded) silk, embroidered with goldthread and pearls. The muff is also embroidered in red silk and gold- and silverthread.

The first petticoat  is in, now brownish, cut and uncut silk velvet decoarted with silver lace. The second is in pink silk taffeta decorated with gold lace. Gown and petticoats are lined. She is just 16 cm tall and wighs 91 gram.

Her face is in pale silk taffeta with eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth embroidered with silk thread.

The hair is real human hair in a darkish blond shade. The hairstyle is raised around the face, at the back it is pleated and pinned up decoratively. It is decoarted with a row a Pearls  at the hairline and a diadem of goldtread and Pearls at the hairstyle's highets Point.

Both dress and hairstyle are vey much in the style of the lats 16th-early 17th Century which makes me think that the hairstyle is quite authentic. This is very nice as one rarely get to see the back of heads on paintings and I have been wondering how there, sometimes quite high hairstyles, looked from behind. The only thing missing is a ruff, but she may have had one that has now disappeared.

A fashion plate from 1595. Apart from the headdress and missing ruff, the gown is very much in the same style as the doll's. There is even a muff!

Album Amicorum of a German Soldier, 1595

A range of hairstyle from the decades before and after 1600 which are quite similar to the doll's hair.

Jennet Parkinson by George Gower, 1580
Queen Elixabeth I by an anonymous painter, 1592

Unknown woman, previously thought to be Cecilia Vasa, princess of Sweden, early 17th Century

Friday 20 September 2013

17th century embroidery at the Royal Armoury in Sweden

I have a little treat for you today, at least if you like embroidery. My friend Caroline is an intern at the museum Livrustkammaren right now and she, lucky girl, gets to handle things and also take photos of them. When I saw the gorgeous pictures I asked her to guest blog here, but she declined and said I could post them anyway. All the photos you see her are hers, though and I think you should pop over to her DevinatArt page. She is a very talented seamstress!

Gloves, thought to have belonged to Maria Eleonora, Gustaf II Adolf’s queen, dated 1620-1632. Made in golden brown goat skin. The collar is stiffened and covered with brown and purple silk. Embroidered with goldwork, red and white silk, spangles, pearls and gold lace.

 I don’t know much about these gloves, but they are to be exhibited with the ones above, so probably date to the same period. Multi-coloured silk embroidery and goldwork.

The oddly modern looking red and white thing is something that decorated a horse at a tournament. I haven’t the slightest idea what to call it. Anyway, it is made of white taffeta with appliqués in silk, with some additional gold and silverwork. The fringed is made of silver and brown silk and it is lined with black linen. The colours are Maria Eleonora’s and it was made for her wedding to Gustaf II Adolf in 1620. It was made by the court tailor Baltzar Dinet and a man called Anders Pärlstickare (Pearl-stitcher). I don’t know why there are French lilies on it; Maria Eleonora was a German princess.

A never finished jacket in chamois leather, embroidered with brown silk and unspun blue silk. I think it’s a men’s jacket that was meant for Gustaf II Adolf.


Thursday 19 September 2013

The cut of Gustaf III's national gown

I’m not going to allow myself to start on the Robe de Cour project until next year. I need to budget in a lot of white silk and I also want to finish as much as possible of my project back log until I start this. As I’ve mentioned before I’m going to make the gala version of Gustaf III’s national gown. It was originally meant to be red with white decoration to honor his Danish queen Sophia Magdalena, but I think it was realized before it was ever sewn, that a bright red gown wasn’t he most flattering one. Imagine a whole court of with red ladies! So instead the gala version became white with blue decorations, nicely complimenting the male suit which had those colours reversed.

J looking snazzy in the male version. I think I will compliment him very nicely in a white gala gown!

The national suit was planned and probably also designed by Gustaf III in 1778. There was a design competition and the winner was selected by the king- and he chose a design by some bloke called Anonymous… For ladies the gown consisted of three parts, regardless if it was the common version for ladies not presented for the king, or the court version.

The original pattern showing the first cut, the two different kind of sleeves, two of the collars, the bodice and the placement of the trim of the petticoat. As the robe was looped up in the back, the back of the petticoat had to be in silk and trimmed as well, making it more expensive.
A petticoat decorated with two rows of pleated trim in the same fabrics. It was to be worn over pocket hoops, which made it easier t wear than the former Robe de Cour that demanded large paniers. It was also used with ordinary stays and not the heavily boned bodice of the Robe de Cour was just about the only thing about it that the ladies of the court liked.

A sleeveless bodice laced in the back and with a pleated trim

A robe with sleeves rather fuller than the current fashion and made into two puffs. On the common version the sleeves were in the same fabric as the robe, but the court version had sleeves made in thin white fabric with a lattice work in the robes fabric. The first version of the robe was cut a la polonaise, but it seems that it was eventually cut a la anglaise. It was decorated with the same pleated self-fabric trim. The common version had a shorter train than the court version and it was also looped up a bit differently.

The cut of the extant common gown.
For all versions a collar was to be worn, two that was high, akin back to a fashion nearly 200 years out of date, and one lower, more like a trim than a collar. The court gown was either the white gala version or black. Depending on which court the ladies belonged to, sash and ribbons were in red (the king’s court), blue (the queen’s court or yellow, (the widower queen’s court). There was also a version for country wear that was yellow with pale blue decoration. For older ladies it looked like the ordinary national gown, but for young ladies was cut like a riding habit.

The common version could be made in any solid colour and so could the sash and ribbon. The national gown was never very popular with the ladies, and there is only one extant example left, a common version worn for a wedding. There is, however, extensive documentation on it as Gustaf III was a bit of a control freak and wanted things to made just so after his wishes.
The Card Game by Pehr Hillestrom, 1779.
One of the seated ladies is wearing the black court gown and the lady beside her is wearing a common version in grey. The lady arriving is also wearing the national gown, through as her sleeves are hidden, we can't see which version it is. The two seated men are wearing the men's national suit in the court version, and the man kissing the hand is wearing a grey common version.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Sewing plans for September and October

2013 has three and a half month left, and, once more, I have revised my sewing plans. I feel I have made a good dent on my ongoing projects, when I look back I realize that I have finished quite a lot this year. But with such a great backlog of projects, well, I guess one year isn’t enough to fix it. Many projects are still in the “almost done”-category and my goal for the rest of September and October are to finish one project every week. That is my ambition, at least.

Week 38, this week
The striped 1790’s gown. The sleeves needs to be hemmed and drawstrings to be attached.

Continue to work on:
The reversible raincoat. Pockets to attach, hemming and closure.
Matching wool skirt. To be hemmed
Brown silk noil blouse. Sleeves left as well as zipper and hemming.

Week 39
The reversible raincoat

Continue to work on:
Matching wool skirt.
Brown silk noil blouse
1640’s purple bodice.

Week 40
Matching wool skirt

Continue to work on:
Brown silk noil blouse.
1640’s purple bodice.

40’s style fake fur coat

Week 41
Brown silk noil blouse.

Continue to work on:
1640’s purple bodice.
40’s style fake fur coat
18th century blue stays. Needs some additional boning and to be bound at the edges

Week 42
18th century blue stays.

Continue to work on:
1640’s purple bodice.
40’s style fake fur coat
Brown wool jacket. Second fitting

Week 43
40’s style fake fur coat

Continue to work on:
1640’s purple bodice.
Brown wool jacket
Maroon wool skirt. Needs to be hemmed

Week 44
Maroon wool skirt

Continue to work on:
1640’s purple bodice.
Brown wool jacket

Grey wool blouse

I’m going to focus more on my ordinary wardrobe than my historical one, but I still want to finish a few of those as well. You may think that there are a lot of projects to work on in one single week, but I know from experience that I need to change projects as I tend to get bored when just working on one. Some of them are in need of machine stitching and some hand sewing, which is another reason for the need of more than one project. I always sew when I watch the TV, so I always need something that is suitable for hand sewing. I will start a few new projects, but they are still projects that have been planned for a long time and fits well into my winter needs when it comes to clothes.

By the end of October I will need to plan the last two months of the year and also look back and see how much of this I will be able to accomplish.

Monday 16 September 2013

17th century frog purses

I was idly looking through a book I have on embroidery, when I stubled on this deligtful little frog.

Asmolean Museum
Another view.
It is dated to the 17th century and is made of needlepoint stitches in silk and metal threads on green silk over a stiffer foundation, probably leather and decoated with coiled gold wire and glass beades. The legs are made out of wire and silk thread. It has an inner bag made of cream silk. It is small, 7.5X6 cm and was probably used for carrying around a scented satchet. I found it completely adorable and after a quick search on the Net I realised that it isn't the only around. It seems to have been quite a trend to carry around a decorative froggy. Sadly there are no pictures of the underside, but it looks mottled due to green silk floss in patches.

Another 17th century frog ingold thread and yellow taffeta with a cord drawstring 
Royal Collection Trust

A back view
A sweetmeat purse, dated 1601-1630, made in yellow, lime green, pink, tan silk thread and gold metallic thread. 


This one is padded and covered with silver gilt thread in a detached button hole stitch. The wire legs are padded and covered with embroidery as well.
Museum of London
Neddle case frog in silk and metallic thread.


Another view

As you can see the museums gives the bags different purposes, for scented bags, candy of needles. All of tehse may apply, I think the main purpose was really to wear it as a kind of jewelry. regardless, I felt a strong and urgent need to have a frog purse on my own and as I have long wanted to try goldwork, I thinka frog purse would be the ideal thing to make.
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