Livstycke

Two years ago I took a short course in the sewing of the Blekingedräkt at Blekinge Folkhögskola, taught by Lina Odell who is part of Blekingelivet. As one of the parts of the course we went to Karlshamns Museum to look at preserved originals in their collection. What a treat that was, and what lovely pieces they had in the collection!

One of my favourite pieces in the collection is a livstycke, a waistcoat, in blue silk damask – KN 6656. There are some similar livstycken preserved in different museums, that all show off the beautiful pattern of the fabric on the back. I’ve posted some of my pictures of this particular livstycke below.

Livstycke from Nordiska Museet, beginning of the 19th century. NM.0061899

Already when seeing these beautiful pieces I felt the urge to recreate one for myself, so when my mum Annette and I went to Gotland in 2019 to attend Battle of Wisby we took half a day off to go to Sidengården and buy ourselves some fabric. Annette also made the incredible effort of weaving the lining fabric for both of us, which is a linen/cotton blend. I dyed a white silk ribbon with onionskins and oakleaves to get the golden orange colour below. Many extant pieces are edged with silk ribbon in contrasting colour, and I thought this combination would work beautifully.

Damask from Sidengården, plantdyed silk ribbon and handwoven linen/cotton

To assemble it all I used the way the extant pieces I’ve seen was sewn, which I noted in a little journal I keep for my Blekingedräkt. The outer fabric and lining was basted together, then the side and shoulder seams of the outer fabric was sewn together with backstitches and pressed down, and the lining was folded over itself over the seams and then sewn down with hemming stitches. Some of the pictures of the first original piece above show this beautifully. Then, all edges were folded in and sewn together with a whip stitch, except for the bottom which was lined with the outher fabric after the little gores were sewn in. The bottom instead was covered with the golden silk ribbon. Lastly, a couple of rows of stab stitching was sewn along the two mid front panels, and hooks and eyes were fastened. A good press later, and my new livstycke was done.

This is one of the pieces I’ve made that I’m the most proud of. I think it turned out beautifully, and I can’t wait to get to use it more!