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?

Dahlin, I., 1937. Blekingedräkten. In: Lepasoonm U. (Ed.), Blekingeboken 1937.


Livstycke and jewellery

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!

A gift for Cathrin

This year,one of my dearest friends – Cathrin who runs Katafalk – turned 30. For the longest time I was thinking about what I would make for her as a birthday present, since she always makes such beautiful things for me (like the painted boxes). Then I realised that I hade a project lying around, a part of a trade, that I thougt I would not only finish my part, but also embellish it. If only I had the time to finish it…

As you know, my lust for crafts has been lacking this past year, but I managed to gain some energy to actually finish the project. What was it then? It was a filet/headpiece. My part for the trade was to weave the base for a filet for Cathrin, but I did not only do that – I finished the whole piece as a gift for her.

14th century belt
14th century tablet woven belt with metal mounts, from the Colmar treasure Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen-Âge) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi


The filet is constructed in basically the same way as my own piece, woven as the filet described in Textiles and Clothing. Check that post for more information about the weaving details, sources, and such. At Battle of Wisby 2016 I bought some belt pieces from Lorifactor that I intended for a tabletwoven silk belt, but I never got around to weave one (yet). That meant that I had some nice flowers and lady-heads to put on Cathrin’s filet, together with some garnet-beads and pearls. Fun fact – you know I am a geologist, and my favourite mineral is the garnet (group), so it was extra fitting that I could put some garnets on my gift.

Since the metal fittings are pushed through the filet and the ends bent over on the back, I didn’t want them to be bothering dear Cathrin when she was wearing the piece. Therefore I lined the back of the filet with blue, plant-dyed silk, which also covered up the stitches from when I attatchied the beads.

The finished piece came out very good in my opinion, and I think Cathrin was happy with it as well, which of course is the most important part. I delivered the gift at her 1930’s themed party, which was amazing as well!



Skicka vidare – Pay it forward

Som några av er vet så är jag med i en facebookgrupp som heter “Vi som syr medeltidskläder”. Ibland hålls en så kallad “Klapplek” som bygger på skicka-vidare-principen. Kort sagt så betyder det att man kommer få en klapp av någon som man inte har någon aning om vem det är och så kommer man få en person som man ska göra något till. Lite som hemlig tomte. Det finns ett par kategorier som reglerar vilken nivå och materialkostnad klappen ska ha (till exempel Historiskt Korrekt 50 kronor eller Inspirerat 200 kronor) och man väljer en eller flera kategorier att delta i.

As some of you know I’m a member of a Swedish facebook group for people who sew medieval clothing. Regurlarly that group host an event that is based on the pay-it-forward-principle. In short that means that you will get a gift from someone, not knowing who it is, and you get one person to make something for. There are a couple of cathegories stating what level and material cost the gift should have (for example Historically Accurate 50 SEK or Fantasy 200 SEK) and you choose one or more cathegories to participate in.

Den här gången hölls eventet för att fira att gruppen nått 3000 medlemmar och tillvägagångssättet var lite annorlunda, men grunderna var de samma. Jag deltog i två kategorier, båda Historisk Korrekt, 50 och 200 kronor. Mina klappar har nu nått sina nya ägare och det verkar som att de blev uppskattade.

This time the event was to celebrate that the facebook-group had reached 3000 members and the procedure was a bit different, but the main rules are the same. I participated in two cathegories, both Historically Accurate, 50 and 200 SEK. My gifts has now reached their new owners and it seems like they were appriciated.

Först – 50-kronorsklappen – ett brickvävt ullbälte.
Det är framförallt baserat på informationen som tillhandahålls i Textiles and Clothing och Dress Accessories. Bältet är vävt med ett tvåtrådigt ullgarn som varp och sysilke som inslag. Jag tycker att det blev stabild och bra, och färgen är väldigt fin.

First up – the 50 SEK gift – a wool tablet-woven girdle.
Based mainly on the information provided in Textiles and Clothing and Dress Accessories I made a girdle. It is woven with a 2-ply wool yarn as warp and silk as weft. I think it turned out sturdy and nice, and the colour is very pretty. 

I Textiles and Clothing skriver de att (fritt översatt) “i lagret hos en handlare i London 1378 så ingick ett svart ullbälte” (sidan 133) och det finns ett fynd från sent 1300-tals på ett bälte helt i kamgarnsull som fortfarande sitter fast i söljan. I boken beskrivs också ett brickvävt band som består av både kamgarnsull och silke i varpen med kamgarnsull i inslaget som är randigt längs med bältet.

In Textiles and Clothing they that “the stock of a haberdasher’s shop in London 1378 included a black wool girdle” (page 133) and there is a find of an all worsted tablet-woven girdle still attatched to its buckle from a late 14th century deposit. There is a tablet-woven piece that consists of both silk and worsted warp, and worsted weft, that is striped along the lengt of it as well. 

Nummer två – 200-kronorsklappen – en tofspåse i siden med ett radband
En tofspåse i två lager siden med silkestofsar tillsammans med ett radband med kvartspärlor och en blå silkessnodd och tofs. Yttertyget i påsen är sidentaft som jag har färgat med krapp och fodret är enkel, ofärgad, sidentaft. Snoddarna är gjorda av brickvävt silke och tofsarna är också silke.

Second – the 200 SEK gift – a tasseled silk bag with a rosary
A two layered silk bag with silk tassels together with a quartz rosary with a blue silk cord and tassel. The outer layer of the bag is madder dyed silk taffeta and the lining is undyed silk taffeta. The cords are made of tablet-woven silk and the tassels are silk as well. 

Radbandet är gjort av kvartspärlor, vilket kanske inte är det vanligaste, men det finns kvartspärlor bland fynden från London. Om ni vill läsa mer om radband under 13-1400-tal så kan ni göra det i det här inlägget. Det är väldigt likt mitt eget radband – det enda som egentligen skiljer är färgen på kvartsen och silket.

The rosary is made of quartz beads, which perhaps isn’t the most common, but there are finds of quartz beads in London. The rosary is made for a woman which is why it is circular. Read more in my post about prayer beads. It’s quite much like my own, the only difference is the colour of the silk and quartz. 

Jag tycker om att delta i dessa event. Jag tycker om att göra saker till andra och jag blir uppriktigt glad när mina saker blir uppskattade. Det är därför jag fortsätter delta i dessa lekar. Och såklart för att jag också får en del väldigt fina saker.

I like participating in these things. I like to make things for others and I’m really happy when my things are appriciated. That’s why I continue to participate in these events. And of course because I get some really pretty things in return. 

Bärnstensklänningen – The Amber Dress

Förra sommaren började jag fundera på om jag skulle piffa upp mitt medeltidsgear. Planerna började ta form då och nu är mitt projekt färdigt. För mig har det varit ett gigantiskt projekt där jag har fokuserat på att lägga ner mycket tid och energi på varenda liten detalj. Det här var projektet som skulle få ta sin tid. Ingen deadline utan bara jag som jobbat på – sakta – för att det skulle bli perfekt. Det kan ju förstås inte bli perfekt eftersom så himla mycket information har gått förlorad sedan dess, men jag är så himla nöjd ändå.

Starting last summer with me thinking that I would need to step up my medieval gear, this project is now finished. To me it’s a huge project because I’ve been focusing on putting much time and effort into the details. This was the project that was meant to take time, no deadline – just me taking it slowly to make it perfect. It can’t, of course, be perfect since lots of information has been lost since the end of the 14th century, but I’m terribly pleased with it anyway. 

Effigies of the wife of Francois I and weeper, 1360-1370. Note the buttons on her arm. Photo (c) –  Bertus Brokamp & Isis Sturtewagen

Jag har gjort en klänning. En tajt, snörad klänning med mässingsknappar på ärmarna. Det här är tänkt att vara grundklänningen till en ny persona jag har i Carnis tillsammans med Tove och Linda. Det är hustrun till riddaren Nils Svarte Skåning – Märta. Hon levde på slutet av 1300-talet och sägs tillhöra släkten Sparre över Blad, men jag måste hitta förstahandskällan på det påståendet för att kunna styrka det. Kort sagt – det här är fundamentet jag ska bygga hennes dräkt på.

I’ve made a dress. A tightly fitted, laced dress with brass buttons going up the arms, This is meant to be the basic dress for a new persona I have in Carnis together with Tove and Linda. That is the wife of the knight Nils Svarte Skåning – Märta. She lived during the late 14th century and is said to belong to the Sparre över Blad-family, but I have yet to find the original source of that statement. In short – this is the foundation on which I will build her garb on.

Uta of Teck, 1409, Wertheim Stiftkirche, Germany

Hustrun till en rik riddare behöver ordentliga, snofsiga kläder, och jag har massor av planer på vad jag ska göra till henne. Deadlinen för de flesta saker är såklart Azincourt i år och den här klänningen är det första som blir färdigt.

The wife of a rich knight needs proper clothing, and I have several plans of what to make for her. The deadline for most of the things is of course Azincourt, and this dress is the first thing to be finished.

Katherine, Countesse of Warwick, 1370-1375. Pictures from here

Här är mina tankar och resonemang kring mina val:

Here are my thoughts and reasons for my choises:

Snörning: Jag har valt att göra förstärkningen i siden och sy knapphålen med knapphålssilke. Min ursprungliga tanke var att kantväva snörhålsraden, men efter att ha tittat i Textiles and Clothing kände jag att jag inte kunde motivera det helt eftersom de enda bevarade snörhålen inte hade någon kantväv. Det är absolut tänkbart och rimligt att ha det, men jag ville göra som i fyndet. Däremot hade fyndet dubbla rader förstygn/pricksöm som förstärkning så det gjorde jag med.
Snöret är rundvävt med brickor med silke från Devere Yarns.

Lacing: I have chosen to make a facing in silk and to sew the lacing holes with buttonhole silk. My initial thought was to make tablet-woven edges along the lacing, but I decided not to do it after looking in Textiles and Clothing (T&C) since the extant lacing/eyelets in there did not have a woven edge. It is plausible that lacing would have edgeweaving, but I chose to make it as the extant piece. What I have done instead is two rows of stabstitches along the length of it which the extant piece in T&C also has. The string is tubular woven with tablets, woven in Devere Yarns silk.

My camera died and I have no charger so the quality of the photos is mixed. 

When one eyelet was done I let the thread continue on the back to the next eyelet. Here you also see the tubular woven lacing which turns on its on axis – just as described in Textiles and Clothing.

Ärmar: Jag har valt att ha mässingsknappar från Lorifactor i ärmarna på min klänning. Det är ca 30 knappar i varje ärm och de går upp över armbågen, som man kan se på en del gravhällar från min period. Knapphålsförstärkningen är av siden och har en brickvävd kantväv av silke från Devere Yarns. Knapphålen är sydda med knapphålssilke.
Jag har sytt en rad förstygn längst ned på ärmen som en förstärkning av fållen vilket också finns beskrivet i T&C.
Längden på ärmarna kommer från ett antal manuskriptbilder och gravhällar. Det verkar främst vara finare kvinnor som har den typen av förlängda ärmslut.

Arms: I have chosen to have brass buttons from Lorifactor in my dress. It’s about 30 buttons in each arm and they reach above the elbow, as you can see on effigies in my period. The buttonhole reinforcement is made of silk and it also have a fine tablet woven edge weave, woven with silk from Devere Yarns. The buttonholes are sewn with buttonhole silk.
I’ve sewn a row of stab stitches along the wrist hem, also seen in T&C.
The length of the arms is coming from different manuscript pictures and effigies. It seems to be a fashion for nicer ladies. 

The tablet woven edge. The colour of the edge doesn’t differ that much in daylight.

It’s more like this.

I did the same thing when sewing the buttonholes – let the thread continue from one buttonhole to the next.

Sömmar: Alla sömmar är sydda med efterstygn. Både för att det är en hållbarare söm och för att jag tycker det blir snyggare. Efterstygnen är i alla fall, utom i snör- och knapphålsförstärkningarna, sydda med vaxad lintråd. Där förstärkningen är vändsydd mot yllet så har jag sytt med vaxat sysilke. Efterstygn finns bland annat i Moy-Bog-kjorteln och i Drottning Margaretas gyllene kjortel. Sömmarna är sedan pressade åt varsitt håll och nedsydda med små förstygn, sydda med sysilke. Kilen mitt bak är sydd från rätsidan så som Grönlandsfynden.

Seams: All seams are sewn with backstitches. It’s a durable seam and I think it makes a prettier seam. The backstitches are in all cases, except for the button- and lacinghole renforcement, are sewn with waxed linen thread. Where the reinforcements are sewn with backstitches they’re sewn with waxed silk. The use of backstitches during the 14th century is somewhat debated, but I’ve found that it was used in the Moy Bog kirtle and in the Golden Gown of Queen Margarete. The seams are then flat pressed and felled with small runningstitches sewn with silk. The back gore is sewn from the outside as in the Greenland garments.

The seams looks like this on the right side

Halshål: Halshålet har en infodring i siden som först är vändsydd och sedan fastkastad på avigsidan. Sedan har jag sytt två rader med förstygn för stadga och snygghet. Det återfinns i både Londonfynden (sideninfodring och förstygn) och i Grönlandsfynden (förstygn).

Neck opening: The neck opening has a silk facing which is sewed down on the reversed side with hemstitches. I have then sewed two rows of stabstitches for strenght and because it looks nice. You can find that in the London findings (silk facing and stab stitches) and in the Greenland findings (stab stitches).

Silk facing and two rows of stab stitches

Fåll: Istället för att göra en vanlig fåll har jag valt att kantväva hela vägen runt. Dels för att få lite mer längd på klänningen och för att det ska kunna bytas ut allt eftersom det slits. Kantväven är vävd med bandgrind i ett handspunnet, entrådigt ullgarn som är färgat med valnöt. Bland annat Nörlund nummer 38 har en sådan fåll. Den har en förstärkningssöm först, kallad singling, och sedan har man vävt längs med fållen. Det är även ditlagt två fyllnadstrådar längs kanten. Jag har bara vävt på min klänning och efter att ha vävt en liten bit så insåg jag att garnet hade alldeles för lite tvist för att sy med så det slutade med att jag tvinnade garnet och sydde med tvåtrådigt som inslag istället. En varptråd gick av medan jag vävde, men det lagades snabbt.

Hem: Instead of making a normal hem I’ve chosen to edgeweave the hem. Partly because I wanted some more lenght in the dress and because I’m going to be able to change it when it’s torn. It’s woven with a rigid heddle in a handspun, one ply woolen yarn, which is dyed with walnut. Nörlund no. 38 has a woven edge along the hem. It’s first sewn along the hem as a reinforcement (singling it’s called in the Danish version of the book) and then woven with a couple of filler threads along the hem. I’ve only woven on my dress and after weaving a bit I realised that the yarn had to little twist to sew with and I decided to ply the yarn I used as weft. One of the warp threads broke as well, but that was easily mended.

Weaving 310 centimeters of hem with a rigid heddle from Glimåkra

The finished hem. You should be able to see where I switched from one-ply weft to two-ply.

Skärning: Jag har valt att göra en klänning med grande assiettes, lite efter Moy Bog-fyndet. Detta för att få så stor rörlighet som möjligt. En riddarfru måste ju kunna röra sig ordentligt när hon är ute på jakt. 😉

The cut: I’ve chosen to make a dress with grande assiettes, a bit like the Moy Bog-dress. This because I wanted to be able to move properly. The wife of a knight have to be able to move properly when she is out hunting. 😉

The back. 

Tyget: Tyget är en treskaftad, ”Tunn Engelsk Kypert” från Historiska Rum. Jag valde det baserat på färgen och glansen. Färgen går att få fram med växtfärger – jag har lyckats med det själv! Först ett sent bad med färglav och sedan ett förstabad med skal från gul lök så blir det nästan exakt samma nyans. Trevligt!

The fabric: The fabric is a 2/1 twill from Historiska Rum. I chose it because of the colour and shine of it. The dye is possible to get with natural dyeing – I’ve actually made it myself. First the last bath of  lichen (Parmelia Saxatilis), and then the first bath with yellow onion skins. That makes almost exactly the shade of my fabric. Nice!

The small piece on top is the one I dyed and the big piece below the two smaller ones is my dress fabric

Resultat: På det stora hela är jag jättenöjd. Det här var det projekt som jag skulle vara extra noggrann med, som skulle få ta den tid det tog och som skulle bli jättefint. Det blev det. Den är lite tajt nu, men jag räknar med att den kommer töja sig något och passa perfekt efter lite användning.
Den kunde varit något längre, men så blev det inte. Det funkar som tur väl är och det stör mig faktiskt inte nämnvärt. Nu saknas bara några snygga överklänningar!

Result: I am very pleased with my dress. It fits so nicely. This was the project that was supposed to take time, where I was supposed to be meticulous and that was supposed to turn out wonderful. It did. It’s a bit tight, but I count on it to strecht a little with some use. The dress could have been a bit longer, but it isn’t. It works anyway, and it doesn’t really bother me. Now I just need some fancy surcotes!

My beautiful dress

And from behind

Jag började på den här bloggposten redan i början av november och i slutet av 2014 så presenterades den nya formen och utmaningarna för The Historical Sew Fortnightly. I år kommer det istället vara en utmaning i månaden istället för varannan vecka och det kallas The Historical Sew Monthly istället. När jag såg första utmaningen – Foundations – så insåg jag att det här projektet passade perfekt. Det är ju grundpelaren till min Märta-dräkt.

I started to write this blogpost in the beginning of November and by the end of 2014 we got the new form and challenges of The Historical Sew Fortnightly. This year it will be The Historical Sew Monthly and the first challenge of the year is Foundations. I realised that this project would fit perfectly – the dress is the foundation on which I will build the wardrobe of Märta on.

The Challenge: HSM #1 – Foundations
Fabric: A wool twill from Historiska Rum.
Pattern: None – it was drafted on my body by my dear friend Cecilia Lång
Year: 1390-1410
Notions: Linen thread 60/2, bees wax, buttonhole silk, sewing silk, silk from Devere Yarns 36 fold, brass buttons from Lorifactor, wool yarn and silk taffeta for facings.
How historically accurate is it? Very much, except for the facts that most materials are machine made (like machine spun threads and machine woven fabric), but one could argue that we don’t weave like the masters of the medieval times anymore and the machine woven cloth is closer to the best fabrics of the time.
Hours to complete: Very many. The felling of seams took 8 hours and the hemweave took 5 hours for example. In total it’s maybe 60 hours – most likely more than that.
First worn: For the photos on January 15th.

Total cost: The fabric cost 900 SEK, the buttons were 800 SEK in total, the different silks were about 150 SEK together. The handspun, natural dyed wool yarn cost 15 SEK at a local second hand store but would have cost lots more if bought first hand. In total this is 1865 SEK (about €196, £153 and $232).

Crowfoot, E. Pritchard, F. & Stainland, K. (2001). Textiles and Clothing c.1150-c.1450. Great Britain: Boydell Press.

Dunlevy, M. (1989). Dress in Ireland. Collins Press.

A. Geijer, A-M. Franzén & M. Nockert (1994). The Golden gown of Queen Margareta in Uppsala Cathedral, Drottning Margaretas Gyllene Kjortel. Stockholm. Kungl. Vitterhets historie och antikvitets akademin.

Østergård, E. (2003). Som syet til jorden. Denmark: Aarhus University Press.