Blekingedräkt: An apron and a skirt

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.

See more images on my Pinterest board on Blekingedräkt

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.

A bridal skirt from Blekinge. Notice the linen piece, and also that the fabric below it isn’t the same as the rest of the 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.

Here the bride is wearing a red skirt and a white, see-through apron in the painting “Church-wedding in Blekinge”, by Bengt Nordenberg.

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

Regency (and late 18th century) mitts

First post at the new blog! ^_^

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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).

 

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Half-mitts from Småland, Sweden. Dated 1760-1800, now at Nordiska Museet

 

 

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A pair of yellow silk taffeta mitts, made 1780-1800, Great Britain. From the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum

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Linen mitts with contrasting lining in green, European 18th century. Now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

This mitt is made of yellow silk taffeta, with herringbone stitches. Probably French, late 18th to early 19th century, now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/mitt-46546

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.

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The golden silk lining

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. 

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Girls from Copenhagen, by G.L. Lahde around 1810 (image source)

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Tjenestepige (maidservant) by Johannes Senn and G.L. Lahde. Danish, Ca. 1810. “Klædedragter i København”. Københavns Museum.

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?