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
A while ago I made a pair of regency mitts. They were intended for an event last spring which I didn’t manage to attend as I went to Florence with my Chamber Music Orchestra instead. The mitts were the only thing of the ensemble that I managed to get finished, but I’m well on my way to produce the rest of the regency outfit as it is now. My goal is to attend the same event this year instead.
They are known from several regions in Europe, as well as Sweden. According to Berit Eldvik (an expert in Swedish “folk” fashion), the style is sometimes called “klaffhandskar” in Sweden, and the term is known from at least 1759 (see link in first photo below). The style is more or less the same in the Regency period, which means that the mitts are functional for a wider time-span than the intended one.
Förra året var min plan att åka på ett empir-event i Skåne, men en kammarorkesterresa till Florens kom i vägen. Jag påbörjade en ny dräkt, men kom inte längre än till ett par halvvantar. Nu hoppas jag på att kunna åka på årets version och är i full gång med min dräkt. Halvvantar i stil med mina finns i mängder, både från Sverige och Europa. Enligt Berit Eldvik kallas de ibland klaffhandskar på svenska och var en vanlig fästegåva (se länken under första bilden).
My mitts are made of a reddish-brown woolen twill, cut on the bias to fit snugly. They are stitched with a backstitch for both elasticity and duration, and the seam has then been felled to one side for extra strength. At the elbow there is a slit to accomodate for more mobility.
The thumb is attached to the mitt with an overlapping seam to reduce bulk, and is whip-stitched on the reverse side, but sewn together with a more decorative herringbone stitch on the right side. All seams discussed this far are sewn with two different kinds of waxed linen thread – an unbleached thread for the non visible seams, and a thinner, bleached thread for the herringbone stitch.
The herringbone stitch
A closer look at the top
Here you can see the slit
Mina halvvantar är sydda med lintråd och efterstygn i en rödbrun yllekypert. Sömmarna har sedan fällts åt ett håll. De går upp över armbågen, och just vid armbågen är det en slits. Tummen har sytts omlott med huvudtyget, från avigsidan med fållstygn och från rätsidan med en dekorativ söm av fiskbensstygn.
The lining is made of a piece of gold-coloured silk taffeta. They are only lined at the very end, so the lining can be visible when you fold back the top. It is sewn with self-fabric thread and then stab-stitched to add neatness.
These mitts are based on both extant examples from Sweden and Europe, as well as paintings from the period and the social class I’m hoping to recreate. The main inspirations are the mitts shown here above as well as the Copenhagen Girls, which are portraits of a social class, girls and maids, close to what my plan for my costume is.
Fodret är av gyllene sidentaft som är fastsytt med tråd från tyget. Mina halvvantar är baserade på svenska och europeiska bevarade original, samt på koppartryck från Danmark som porträtterar kvinnor från ungefär samma folkliga mode som jag försöker efterspegla.
These three ladies have the mitts, and some very pretty dresses and accessories. They are, together with campfollowers from the period, my main inspiration for my costume.
Dessa tre kvinnor har halvvantar som ni kan se, och även mycket fina klänningar och accessoarer. De, tillsammans med kvinnlig tross från härläger är min främsta dräktinspiration.
En av anledningarna till att jag har varit dålig på att blogga det senaste året är för att jag tycker att det har tagit så mycket tid att skriva på både engelska och svenska. Nu har jag bestämt mig för att fokusera på den engelska texten och istället bara skriva kortare sammanfattningar på svenska. Detta för att majoriteten av de som läser min blogg inte har svenska eller andra nordiska språk som modersmål. Förhoppningsvis leder det till en ökad uppdatering från min sida. Vad tycker ni om denna förändring?