Just a quick update for you – I’m obviously not very active here, but I have news for those of you that wan’t to follow my antics on a more regular basis; I have a Youtube Podcast!
I talk about my hobbies, which are knitting, folk costume, and of course reenactment. It also includes little snippets of my everyday life, such as apartment scale farming, hiking and the few travels that one can do in these times.
There will be themed episodes around for example Battle of Wisby or other events, about my folk costume, special items of clothing through the centuries and such, and maybe I’ll invite some of my friends to talk about reenactment and folk costume.
Subscribe to the channel if you want to follow me there – my channel name is Addelej (which also is my instagram handle). Click this link to get to the channel, and please comment on the videos with suggestions on what I should talk about in the podcast!
Below you will find the first two episodes of the podcast, and if you check out the channel you can also find a travel vlog (in Swedish) there.
I have had a bit of a slump going on with my medieval reenactment. The excitement of making new things and do research slowly faded to almost nothing some two years ago, and over the course of the last couple of years I’ve only made two new pieces of clothing. One hood for 14th century reenactment and my red 15th century kirtle for Glimmingehus. Other than that, my main crafting focus has been on knitting and my folk costume – both are areas that I hae been giving lots of love and attention.
Thus, the year of 2020 was very welcomed by me in terms of not going to any events, or to feel the pressure to produce things for my 14th century personas. To be honest, the whole year of being at home was rather relieving for me in many ways. Of course I would have rather it to be a normal year without a pandemic, without all the hardships that has followed in its footsteps, but to make the most out of the situation I felt like I really needed that break.
So, the result was that I was going into 2021 with a little bit more energy than before. Early in the year I was invited to join the local version of Company of Saint George’s event Pilgrimage 2021. A distanced 15th century pilgrimage taking place at the same time all over Europe (the world?). It felt like the perfect event. Hiking along the pilgrim trail in Kinnekulle, Sweden, together with some friends. I even felt like I had everything I needed, save for a pilgrim’s staff, which I was able to order early on, so – no extra pressure there. There is something very soothing in knowing that you are prepared, and can focus on only having a good time. I felt very good in the whole situation, with no stress at all.
Then, just shy of a month before the event I got that feeling again. That longing to produce something. To craft something new. I felt that I needed a simpler kirtle to go with my pilgrim’s outfit, as well as I kind of needed it for my kitchen worker impression at Glimmingehus. I scowered my fabric boxes for a suitable fabric and found three meters of a thin woolen twill in dark forest green. Maybe not the most suitable colour in terms of my goals of keeping it simpler, as I think the dye truly would have required overdying a yellow with woad/indigo, but it might pass as a grey fabric being dyed with birch leaves and iron to darken the colour to this green. I am no expert in plant dyes, so you tell me. What do you think?
My goal was to have a wearable, but perhaps not finished dress, by the time of the event. That is, a dress with maybe not all seams felled, that needed to be closed with pins rather than lacing. I could use the same pattern as for my red kirtle, which made things super easy. I did some changes to the sleeves in order to make it more of a working garment, which includes changing the sleeve head to have a little less of a difference in the curve to allow for more movement as well as giving the sleeve some more ease. I also made it a full sleeve, with wide ‘cuffs’, to allow it to be able to be rolled up when doing dirtier works.
With as few seams as this the sewing was fast. Really fast. I decided early that I would fell al the seams as I went to make sure that the job was done and not left undone for eternity, as is the case in some of my other dresses. The reason for this is mainly that the thin twill frays quite easily, so I wanted to protect the raw edges. This I did by felling both seam allowences to one side and covering it with filler thread as I was sewing it down with whip stitches. I am not perfectly sure that the technique with filling threads was used in the period, but it was a step I considered necessary as I didn’t want to add the extra bulk that would come with me folding the seam allowences over.
This time I made sure to not stress. I made sure to enjoy every single stitch in sewing the kirtle. Everytime I stuck that needle into the fabric it would be with a sense of calm and happiness. And so it was. In the first time in many, many years, I was sewing a medieval garment and enjoying the whole process. A huge step forward, in my opinion.
The result? I finished the dress in less than two weeks. Not to a wearable extent, but all finished. I’m very proud of myself! Do you think it will look nice at the pilgrimage?
For a little over ten years I’ve had a dream to recreate the everyday clothing of my female ancestors in the early to mid 19th century. On my fathers side we had a family farm during that time (it still exists today, owned by non-relatives), which lies in the small village (if it even can be called that) of Svalhult north of Bräkne-Hoby, Sweden. This link will take you to a Google Maps-pin close to that location. It’s rural, and as far as I know they were probably farmers or the like.
I have previously written about my folk costume, and how it mainly fits the cathegory of festive wear. Silks and the like were accesible to even the farmers of Blekinge, as the coastal towns of Karlskrona and Karlshamn (the latter is where I grew up) were busy with trade, which gave the people the possibility to buy fabrics. They were thus not limited to only handspun and handwoven fabrics, even if that of course existed and was used, even in their festive wear, though you would probably have wanted as much fine silks and cottons as you could have afforded for those.
Most of my pieces for my folk costume, both bought and recently made, wouldn’t fly under the radar as ‘everyday wear’, so my goal in the end has been to find out as much as possible about what they would have worn and how it was made. The ever inspiring Lina Odell of Blekingelivet brought my attention to a piece of clothing that I had not heard about before (at least not in the context of Blekinge), which supposedly was part of the everyday attire.
So what is the base for this piece of clothing? Stickärmaliv (eng. ~knit sleeve bodice/waistcoat) are present in the folk costume of several other areas in Sweden, but no extant garment has survived to this day in Blekinge. The only surviving evidence of these being used in Blekinge is an account of a woman that speaks the following (loosely translated to English by me):
At home they used ‘stickärmaliv’. It was like normal bodice/waistcoat with wide knit sleeves in black and green, red or black or so, and often in patterned knitting in squares or the like.
Jenny Samuelsson, Listerby, in Dahlin 1937 (p. 29)
Lina, whom I wrote about above, had made herself a Blekinge stickärmaliv, which is absolutely gorgeous. She based the pattern for the sleeves off a pair of mittens in the collections of Nordiska Museet which are knit in red and black with a square-ish pattern as described in the quote. I love that there are several visible mistakes in the pattern of the mittens, and in different ways too. That make me connect to the person who made them a little bit more than if they were all perfect. She based the bodice part on an extant piece in the collections of the school she works at and finished her stickärmaliv. Since then she has written up a pattern and very kindly asked me if I wanted to be a testknitter/pattern tester for her. I of course said yes in a second!
Lina was kind enough to provide me with yarn to knit the sleeves out of. Black and green yarn from Ullcentrum Öland, where the green is plantdyed with red onionskins. I used a black, felted, woolfabric in my stash for the bodice part, and handwoven linen for the lining. I even made my own hooks and eyes for the closure. Everything was sewn with unbleached linen thread, except for the small pieces of silk tape that covers some raw edges in the back which I sew down with silk thread. A very fun project, and I am very happy to have made it!
Next I will post about the headwear I’m wearing in these pictures – the spethätta.
Leave a comment in the meantime if you like! What is your latest obsession when it comes to history or crafting?
Reference Dahlin, I., 1937. Blekingedräkten. In: Lepasoonm U. (Ed.), Blekingeboken 1937.
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.
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.
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!
One of the more fascinating and beautiful pieces of the Blekinge folk costume is the Luvtallrik. It is a piece of headwear that was worn under the scarves, or by itself if you were a youngster. It is said that the bride should put it on on the third day of wedding, but it is not really clear in what way they were actually used.
If you are able to read in Swedish, or comfortable with using Google Translate, I suggest you head over to Blekingelivet and read their post on the Luvtallrik to get even more information as well as a short tutorial on how to put it on. You can find it here.
There are several luvtallrikar preserved in the museum archives, both at Nordiska Museet, the local museum in Karlshamn as well as Blekinge Museum. They basically consist of an embroidered circle of red woolen fabric, quite often decorated with metal lace, sequins and other shiny things. To keep its shape it is most often stabilised with a wooden plate, which could be a reason for the name, as tallrik is the Swedish word for plate (as in plate for food). Sometimes they are seen with bands hanging from the bottom of the piece, and it is thought by some that the bands only were attached when the headpiece was worn by itself. Most often they were covered with a thin white scarf, a scarf that would be a little bit transparent so the bright red would be seen through it. Kerstin shows a couple of ways to tie the scarf over her luvtallrik in the link above.
My luvtallrik is embroidered with silk from DeVere Yarns, which originally was intended for some brick stitch-embroidery, but I’m way happier with this. The addition of the gold thread is based of a luvtallrik at Nordiska Museet that can be seen both in the pictures above and on this page, and the flower in the middle draws inspiration from this piece, also at Nordiska Museet.
I rushed to finish it late at night, on the evening before I went out and took the photos in the snow that I showed in my last post. Here are some of the photos again that show of the luvtallrik a little bit extra!
You would think that we get white winters in Sweden regularily, right? Not where I live, which is in the city of Gothenburg, situated on the Swedish west coast. It is characterised by humid, mild, winters with little to no snow. The start of this year has thus far been different. Minus degrees celcius and a good amount of snow blessed us in the second week of January.
I spent my last vacation day by photographing my folk costume, my Blekingedräkt, as I had just finished my Luvtallrik – a piece of embroidered headwear. The Luvtallrik will have its own blog post, where I discuss the sources and my design choices, but here are some of my pictures from the photo shoot! Almost all the items I’m wearing in the photos are made by me, which I am very proud of. 🙂
For many years I’ve had two fabrics in my stash. One meter of a wonderful, white, printed cotton lawn, and a couple of metres of a vividly red, handwoven and plant dyed, woolen twill. Both fabrics has kind of a story to them. The cotton lawn I got as thanks/payment for allowing some of my photos to be shown on an exhibition, and the wool twill I bought on an online auction. The seller lived up north in Sweden and had wrote in the item description that the fabric was woven by her grandmother, and after a little email correnspondance I was told by the seller that her grandmother had lived in Blekinge – the county I grew up in! A wonderful coincidence.
I had always had a plan for the cotton lawn to become an apron, and the wool twill to become a skirt, but it wasn’t really until this year I properly decided that I was going to make an apron and a skirt for my folk costume of it. As always, I find a lot of inspiration in original garments and items, as well as from the amazing women who run Blekingelivet.
Högtidsdräkt – Festive wear In the mid 19th century – as today – people would dress up for special occasions. . Church on Sundays had its own particular dress, and everyday wear was something different. Weddings, some Christian festivals, etc., meant to dress up in the absolute finest.
The skirt Looking at what’s in the museums collections and in paintings from the time, it looks like red skirts are common for the absolute finest clothing. Often red skirts with woven patterns (i.e. this one that is seen to the left below), or with silk mixed in, but also some less fancy with just a plain weave, barely fulled wool (like this, seen to the right below). In written and/or oral sources, it is said that the red skirt could have been used by the bride, and otherwise when you wanted to look your best (Swe: “annars till fint”). (Nordlinder, E. 1987)
I have mainly based my skirt off of the left one in the photos above, with the exception of the fabric. My fabric is, as I wrote before, is a handwoven wool twill, with no pattern what so ever. The original has quite a big piece of linen fabric at the front – in Swedish called sparvåd, or djäknalapp. It is there to save the precious fabric, since it is not visible when you wear your apron on top – as you always should. In some instances they have also saved on some of the silk ribbon following along the hem in the same fashion. Smart right? Since I had a limited amount of fabric, I decided to do the same with my skirt. I picked out some handwoven linen scraps from my stash to act as the sparvåd, and sewed my skirt.
My skirt is entirely handsewn, as I prefer to sew things by hand. It has a waistband, and the skirt is sewn to this. In the front it is flat, with knife pleats going inwards over the hipbones. Over the rest of the skirt the fabric is gathered with what was supposed to be parallell gathers, but the gathering thread broke as I was fixing the gathers. Ah well, such things that happens – we’ll see if I ever get around to fix it. On the left side of the linen piece there is a slit, to get in and out of the skirt, which closes with hooks and eyes. In the future I plan to put a silk ribbon along the bottom, but otherwise it is now done.
The apron The fabric of my apron might not be perfect. Historically it would have been in a fabric called linong, a thin cotton weave with woven in pattern, as the gorgeous apron that is this museum piece, or this one that is held in the collections of Blekinge Museum – both pictured below. Mine is, as I stated above, a printed cotton lawn, but it gives the same expression as the woven one would.
My apron is quite simple. It is hemmed with narrow hems in the side, and a wide one at the bottom. The wide hem at the bottom is also mentioned in passing in Nordlinder, 1987, when an oral source tells about the aprons used at the Christian confirmationm, and also in Dahlin’s writing from 1937. My apron is gathered to a waistband that continues out from the skirt of the apron for 15 cm, and is then finished with ties. Much like the apron I made in 2015, except that this one is gathered all the way, and that the ties are different in length.
Now, I’ve been thinking a bit about the pairing of specifically these two items. I don’t really think that a see-through apron like this one would have been worn with skirt with a linen piecing, since part of the point of wearing it over a dark skirt is to have the pattern of the apron shine through. So, they don’t quite match in the end. I’m not sad though – I see it as a reason to make new skirts and aprons. Lucky me! 😉
Literature Dahlin, I. Blekingedräkten. Blekingeboken (1937). – New print from 1987 by Blekinge Läns Museum
Nordlinder, E. (1987). Kvinnligt dräktskick i Jämshögs socken i Blekinge. Stockholm
Hello everyone! Long time, no see. Honestly, I had a very hard time for many years with my blog, with a huge amount of writers block induced by self-inflicted pressure and anxiety, which mainly was rooted in me not thinking I was good enough. In short: A Whole Lot of Performance Anxiety and a Great Deal of Imposter Syndrome. That, in combination of always having something going on – study, work or crafting wise – made me very stressed and the fun of writing a blog disappeared. In the meantime, about two years ago, I took up knitting and have almost made no historical things since then. Instead I started a second blog, a knitting blog in Swedish which is called Med Ull på Stickorna (Wool on the Needles), where I share my knitting journey. Feel free to check it out! 😀
What I have done that is history related is to get myself a folk costume. I grew up in Blekinge, the smallest county in Sweden (or second smallest, depending on how you count), and it has a rich history of locally distinctive commonwear. The festive wear of these people in the mid 19th century is what then became the Blekinge Folk Costume. Or Blekingedräkt in Swedish.
My plan is for this blog to change it’s course a little bit. Of course still keeping to reenactment and my medieval journey when I feel like I have the want to both make things and write stuff related to it, but for now I’m so inspired by the whole folk costume thing that I feel that it is what I’ll get the most out of writing about.
But – your blogs name is Recreating History?! Yes! It is. And folk costume really ties in to that. For me, sewing and using my folk costume is basically the same thing as reenactment of any other period. I go back to written sources and extant originals to look at materials, techniques and how/when things were worn. In the beginning now I’m recreating the very best and fanciest of what a relative of mine could have worn for the finest occasions in the mid 19th century, and as my long-time goal I wan’t to make something that could be considered everyday wear of that same relative. Quite the same way as how I approach my 14th century reenactment.
In the coming months – i.e. when I feel like it – I will update this blog with posts about the different pieces and projects I have of my Blekingedräkt. In the mean time I’m sharing some photos from when my sister turned 25 and my mum and I gifted her as a birthday present her very own Blekingedräkt.
This year I have a lot happening – both reenactment and in my personal life. Many, many years of studying is coming to its end and this spring I will graduate with a Masters exam in Geology and start to work a normal day job. In fact, I’ve already been hired by a consultant company to work hours until my graduation, to then start working full time there. I’m very proud of myself, and excited for this year!
Reenactment-wise I will attend several events, with at least four different time periods. The usual 14th century with Carnis, with the big event being Battle of Wisby, hopefully 15th century at Glimmingehus again if the event will be on this year as well. Then, around autumn, it will be time for my first 17th century event. If I’m lucky I’ll even be going to Grolle in October.
Now, my first event of the year will be an 18th century pub-event called “Den Sprängda Husaren” – The Blasted Hussar. It is an event that I have wanted to attend the other times that it has been held, but never had the possibility to. This time around I decided that I would have to make it, and as it seems I will be going to the event now in February! Happy Andrea!
What do I want to wear for the evening? Something simple, something wooly – something that is not too far up on the social ladder. I already have stays, two skirts, half-mittens, a cap, and stockings. What I need for my outfit is something to wear as my outer layer on the upper body. I have some lovely striped wool that I’ve had for several years, without a project in mind for, which now presented itself when I was cleaning my sewing room. Looking through Pinterest for inspiration I found several Swedish short-gowns (tröja), many of them striped. I’m not entirely sure about translating the Swedish word tröja to short-gown – I’m not certain enough about the terms for this period, but I found the word translated to short-gown in a newsletter I linked below.
While striped fabrics are very poplular in the 18th century, the stripe in my wool isn’t really perfect. I have seen it here and there, in one or two fabric samples (e.g. in this sample book from 1771), so while it exists, it is not representative at all. I decided that it was okay for me, since this isn’t a time period that I really prioritise in my reenactment – though it is a beautiful period!
According to the book “Möte med mode” by Berit Eldvik, the style of these short-gowns were in fashion at the high society during the middle of the 18th century, after which the style wandered down in levels to be popular among common people at the end of the century. The earlier gowns were made up of silk, and the later ones mostly of different kinds of wool or wool blends. Many of the Swedish short-gowns were quilted, but not all.
My short-gown is inspired in particular by two extant pieces. The pattern is taken from a printed cotton short-gown from Källfors, Sweden, and has been written about on the Durán Textiles Newsletter in 2007. It is made up of two pieces, with the sleeves cut as one with the body without shoulder seams. In the newsletter there is a drawing of the pattern of this short-gown, which I scaled up and made a toile of. Trying it on with my stays I realised that it was a perfect fit, but I still decided to add 1 cm to the width of the sleeves to get a little more room to move.
The second short-gown that inspired my gown is featured in the same book as I wrote about before, Möte med mode, and it also features a simple construction. It had one feature in particular that I wanted to carry over to my gown – a printed cotton band sewn to the neckline of the gown. I had a long cut out piece of a printed cotton that I used to create a ball gown for my highschool graduation ball, that is a reprint from a late 18th century print block. This piece was perfect to put along the neckline of my gown.
My gown has two layers, the striped wool and a plain linen tabby as lining. I stitched the three main seams on the machine after tacking the pieces together to be able to treat lining and outer fabric as one piece. After that I sewed the rest of the dress by hand. I trimmed the lining’s seam allowances and split and felled the wool over those, thereby covering the only machine seams in the garment. To attach the lining to the outer fabric at the hem and centre front, I used a technique that was used on the Källfors short-gown, hiding the raw edges by sewing the lining down with slanting stitches that left ‘dotted stitches’ at the right side. On the Källfors gown this technique also was used to finish the neckline, but I instead covered the raw edge with the cotton fabric as I sewed it to the neckline. This is the same way the cotton is attached to the striped woolen gown.
To finish everything up I needed four ties to be able to close the gown. I decided to use an orange silk from my stash that I dyed with madder a couple of years ago, and cut it with a special pair of scissors to get the zig-zag pattern (I pressume that those scissors have a specific name, but I don’t know it). To use cut strips of fabric rather than narrow ware, I based on another Swedish short-gown, which has white silk ties with this cut zig-zag pattern. Using orange silk I think looks very nice with my historical eyes, but my modern self must say that it is not the prettiest next to the burgundy red in the cotton print.
From start to finish this project took me about 9 hours. It was a very fun project and I’m very happy with the result! When I’m wearing the gown it very much reminds me of a painting of an 18th century girl called Smultronflickan (Smultron translates to Wild Strawberries and flicka is girl, giving the English title of the Strawberry Girl). The stripes are different, but the way the gown falls is much the same.
Now I can’t wait to wear it at the event, and get some nice photos of it! I still have some minor things to make for the outfit, like a new rump or a quilted petticoat, because the one I have now doesnt really give me the silhouette that I would want, but it should be no problem to finish it on time.
After two fantastic months on Iceland I’m now back in Sweden. The rest of the summer will be filled with a lot of work before my studies start again and I realised that I wouldn’t be able to go to any reenactment event this year because of me working full time all summer. The only weekend that I had available for reenacting was this last one, and it so happens that I was invited to an event at Glimmingehus here in southern Sweden. Happy Andrea!
The only “problem” was that it was a late 15th century event, and I had no 15th century clothes. On top of that I was on Iceland, with none of my fabrics or sewing things, so I had exactly one week to start on and finish a set of clothes for the event. I ordered my fabric when I was still on Iceland and it arrived the same day as me. Then pattern making, cutting, and sewing! It was done enough to wear at the event together with a new veil. It is completely hand sewn and I’m very happy since it turned out well. There are still some things that needs to be fixed on it, but it’s completely wearable as it is.
The event was amazing! I met both new and old friends, and we were blessed with good weather even though it was a bit toohot at times. I mostly stayed indoors to help in the kitchen, and for once it was cooler in the kitchen than outside! How often does that happen? At times I was also inside the castle, spinning while sitting in the window niches. I felt very much at home at the event and will definitely make more visits into the late 15th century. Until next time I will have to make an overdress as well, and hopefully I won’t have to stress it over just one week…