söndag 25 november 2012

To challenge myself

I just joined a new facebook group, the DW 30-day challenge, after having seen friend after friend joining. What a great idea, challenge yourself to try something new for thirty days. I have been giving it some thought, since that is about all I can at the moment, awaiting the surgery next week and the move in three weeks. But since I will get my own study in the new house, I will do as I promised myself years ago and make use of at least one of all the looms I´m housing. So that will be my new challenge for the new year, try out handweaving, aiming to make a piece of fabric big enough to then make into a garment for my self. But that is surely a bit more than a 30-day job. So on the same path, I do wanna practice weaving edges since I´m crap at it and it is needed for assembling pouches and the like. Also I wanna challenge myself into other techniques for assembling pouches, as they are described in Sweet bags by Jacqui Carey.

lördag 3 november 2012


So my friends, this week everything comes at the same time. We decided to sell our house and went searching for a new one, in town, so we can walk instead of drive and where we don´t get stressed out over the garden, the outhouses, the needed renovations... the list is endless. And guess what! We found our new house. And you know the feeling when entering a house and instantly see where you would put your own furniture? That must be the right house for us. And from my new bedroom window I can se the towers of the medieval town wall.

On the same day as we gave an offer on the house and got it accepted, I got the letter from the hospital saying I will do my breastreduction at the end of November. Great! But that means that everything I have to do getting our house in order for selling it must be done before that. Bummer. I will have no problem filling my days and weekends the coming month.

Well, since I´ve lost weight and will loose the boobs, time to clear out the closets and yes, I will sell most of my medieval clothes. It´s more fun sewing new clothes than altering. I might keep some stuff, like the dark green 14th-century dress embroidered with acorns and oak leaves, but other than that, no.

So my word of the month is downsizing, in almost every aspect.

torsdag 18 oktober 2012

Just cover it with fabric and call it medieval

Today I suddenly felt the urge for a small and easy project, and went searching for one of my goldwork-tryouts with 3D-hearts and a small box. Time for fabric-covering the actual period way - fabric covered boxes were and used during medieval times as reliquary boxes. You can see some examples here: http://medievalartcraft.blogspot.se/2010/02/treasury-of-basel-cathedral.html

I learned how to do this at Double Wars this spring and found it a very fun and quick project, not counting the time used for the embroidery part of course. It is also a perfect use for small-scale embroidery and try-outs. So with the green-gold and red embroidery for the lid, I wanted something nice for the sides and went through my stash of fabric scraps. Found a small strip of a two-coloured green handvowen diamond twill a friend made for me which turned out to be perfect! And some herring-bone twill in black for the lining and bottom piece.

So this is halfway through the assembly, I found the lining of the sides a bit tricky as I didn´t cut the fabric diagonally. This makes the lining folding and crumbeling a bit.

This is my two boxes, both made with try-outs from the goldwork class I took last summer and with  handvoven fabric made by friends. I am pretty pleased with the results and will for sure make more boxes in different shapes and sizes. Now pondering a larger square box for my sewing kit. And if you want to try it out your self, you find the description on Åsa´s blog: http://naama.textilverkstad.se/#post54.

måndag 8 oktober 2012

Our little summerhouse

We (my husband and I) long dreamt about owning a place, like a big barn, where we could host events and parties. Our house is big and we have a barn, but sadly it is not in good enough shape to make an event site of it.

But then, a couple of years ago, the husband suddenly told me that he wanted to buy a summer house. "Are you mad?" I thought. We barely cope with our house as it is. And could we afford another one? But as it turned out, we did. Because the place is beatiful and here we can fulfill the dream of hosting events. Just some weeks ago our local baronial tourney took place at our "little" summerhouse, that actually is the military field hospital of northern Gotland, complete with underground shelter, surgery halls and 1,5 acres of forest surronding it.

Perfect for small events!

And just as cream on the pie, it is also perfect for the sewing circle I hosted last weekend, themed "Sew something warm for our Lucia-event" taking place in mid December. With large tables, good lighting (surgery halls are good for handicrafts) and plenty of space and a fully functional kitchen so that I could serve everybody with food.

My husband found the amazing furniture at an auction, four tables and 16 chairs that came out of someone elses broken dream of hosting medieval events. And the bench was bought by my mother in law, it is an actual 16th century chest that was remodeled into a bench during the late 19th century. She never found a place for it so it ended up here and looks just perfect. The walls got clad with fabric for the baronial event and it has the lovely effect of making the echoes dissapear and the room to appear more period and more cosy.

We were six people in all last weekend, me, Daniel, Isabelle, Mona, Åsa and Martin, chatting away while making good progress at new and old unfinished projects. Isabelle cut out the pieces for a Herjolfsnes coat and started to assemble it, Mona learned naalbinding, cut out a cap and got the pattern for the Lödöse mittens, Daniel cut out and started putting a thin wool lining in his Herjolfsnes coat. I mended my hose, finished off one pair of children mittens and cut out and got quite far on a hood for the eldest son that has outgrown his. Åsa was making a new kirtle and Martin was working on a new pair of shoes. And we made plans for more sewing days like this one! With new themes of course.

lördag 1 september 2012

To honour those that inspire and teach

This posting is dedicated to the people that inspire and teach me new wonderful things or just the little tips and tricks that make everything simple and easy to manage.

I have for several years sewn a number of tight fitted dresses. I would never have been able to do this without the help from Felicitas Schwartzenbergin, who made the toille for me. That was the first time I saw toillemaking and it was a wonderful experience! OK, lots of pins in awkward places, tickles and giggles were involved. I have seen Felicitas making toilles for other people a number of times and it is a true art! She looks at a picture of a garment, looks at the person that wants to make it, grabs fabric and scissors and just creates magic. http://bippimalin.livejournal.com/

Another true inspiration for me is Åsa Vävare, professional handweaver and researcher in old techniques. I met her first in Gutars Bågskyttar, the medieval archer association of Gotland, where we worked together in aiming for the members to make better and more period garb. She is the main supplier for yarns and silks for embroidery and handsewing and a visit to her studio always get my juices flowing… She has taught me how to make woven edges on garments and purses, how to make a fabric covered box, shared her patterns for hoods and shirts with me, as well as gotten me the original patterns for the Herjolfsnes garments direct from the National Museum in Copenhagen. She tips me about new inspiring books and gets them for me and can tell how one decorated the home with textiles in medieval times, something I will try out at our next event. http://naama.textilverkstad.se/#home

My friend Tece is the most patient teacher ever. She is the one holding my hand and patting my back when I curse folded pleats or fabric that just won´t cooperate. She is the one that got me doing hats, taught me to do lucet-cords and the one I always turn to when having garb-related questions. And she got me to Finland for a class in 15th century dress that was just awesome! http://tecedekaxtone.livejournal.com/

Last year I took a class in gold work that was a true eyeopener for the versatility and possibilities of these techniques for Fia-Li at the Battle of Wisby encampment. The first results are seen on top of this page and I love it. The 3D-effects are a new favourite. Lots of tips and tricks were involved. And the little leaf with pearls is now on the lid of my fabric-covered box I made at Åsas class. http://natrixfiali.blogspot.se/

At this year´s Double Wars I took the Opus Anglicanum-class for Petronilla. I have seen here work before but never seen her in action. What a teacher! So calm, prepared and inspiring. She answered all my needle techniques-questions and her handout is now my bible. I see now how to make my own backgrounds in my almony purse, just need to gather the courage for it first… http://elishevaskitchen.blogspot.se/

So these are people I love and that inspire me. I link to their blogs/journals/websites so that you can see for your self. Some of them are not that active at the moment, but I´m sure they will be back on track soon! Of course there are so many others that inspire and help me out, both in real life and over the web and I cannot mention them all. I hope you know who you are!

fredag 31 augusti 2012

Toss it all and start anew?

It may sound a bit harsh and drastic, but I might just have to do that this winter, since I will probably go through some surgery that will definitely change my shape and appearance. And when I talked to some friends about it this summer, one of them asked the challenging question –Will you then make all new garb into one specific period and region?

I haven´t thought about it earlier, but this certainly is a great opportunity to do just that. To dig deep into one period and one place in time, as good as one can do with modern day goggles on, and explore it all. To make all dress details and accessories well documented and in good materials from the beginning. My chosen period is the late 1400-hundreds and the place northern Europe, mainly the Germanic areas. But now my wardrobe consists of that and viking age clothing, 14th century clothing and even some early 16th century clothing, apart from the things I mainly use nowadays.

Now you all wonder what is she going to do to herself? Well, with the risk of being a bit personal, I have applied for getting a breast reduction. This is not an easy decision to take, I have always been on the busty side and proud of it and taking that away will certainly change how both I and others perceive me. But it is motivated mainly by the fact that I suffer from carpal tunnel-syndrome and with the “dead weight” on the chest my shoulders simply don´t cut it. This makes my right arm to doze off every now and then, and I lose feeling of my fingers and all strength of the arm. Not a good feeling, I tell you! And to get it going again I pay ridiculous amounts of money every year for treatments that make my neck and shoulder hurt like hell for days. It is so bad I get noxious from the pain and no painkillers help.

So there’s my motivation.

Since the Swedish health care system always ask you to loose weight (if you are in any way overweight that is) before doing surgery I have already lost enough for my supportive tight-fitted dresses to hang loose but will of course not do any alterations or making new garb for now.

Back to the challenge! I will and can of course keep hats and headgear, stockings, shoes and the like, but almost all dresses will be hard if not impossible to alter. So I will start with challenging myself in this fashion:

Making a new toile for a tight fitted dress
New short-sleeved 15th century dresses
New sleeve-less 15th century dress
A pleated panel-Housebook-dress
A plain overdress with long loose sleeves
A schaube
A partlet if I find documentation for it in my chosen region
New pointy black leather shoes with a wrist strap
New purses after finds and paintings

The list will of course expand by time.

And for those of you that gasp for breath right now, no, I will not toss all my garb away. I will sell it, trade it and give it away. It is all handsewn in good materials and models so I think it will find its use with someone else.

söndag 26 augusti 2012

The pillow-case hat (a Mad Hatters production)

As some of you know my friend Tece and I started out making 16th century german hats some years ago. We held classes, lectures and made patterns for many of the different kinds of hats you´ll find among the early 16th century german paintings. (Tece made a whole lot more than me, I tell you!) And we called our selves the Mad Hatters after the character from Alice in Wonderland... Oh how much fun!

Since my eldest son has a hat his younger brother of course got envious this summer and wanted one for himself.

Alvins hat in red and brown wool

So I made one of the easiest, but since I haven´t made one myself before I had to check out how. Tece of course made an easy to follow-description (http://tecedekaxtone.livejournal.com/5599.html). And as you can see, this hat is also used by both men and women, but here it seems to be a bit more accepted since high status portraits are depicted with them. So, no need for me to rant any more, here´s the result:

Viktors hat in blue wool

måndag 20 augusti 2012

Is that a tarantula on your head or just a fashionable hat?

During the late 15th and early 16th century begins a trend in the Germanic countries, where hats and headgear not necessarily differs between men and women anymore as in earlier centuries. In paintings and drawings both men and women are depicted with the same type of hats. One particular form only seen there and then is what I call “the squashed tarantula-tophat” or simply the spaghettihat. It is basically a cap with a large tassel on top. Here seen on a young woman drawed by Master of the Housbook, a German master working approximately 1475-1495.

I wanted to make a striped version, as seen in one of the *oh my god I could just faint*-pretty selfportraits of the German painter Albrecht Dürer. This selfportrait was painted in 1498. I´m guessing that his hat is made in silk since it is just so thin and delicate in the tassels and fabric.

As you can see, his hat is worn and a bit torn in the seams, but being young, arrogant and good looking, that just is his style I guess. I made mine in wool, and choose to do it in dark green and white instead of black and white. So instead of looking like a football referee I now resemble a football supporter.

In the Dürer portrait the tassels are gathered together with a piece of string, so I made mine the same. Other pictorial examples show hats where the tassels have just been cut and hang straight down without being gathered at all, as in this one:

One question that arises during this little project is whether this hat actually is a gender-neutral hat from the beginning or if it just became a trend among young people where the men gave their hats to girlfriends thus creating a new fashion? Food for thought. I have no clue but find it fascinating. And in the pictorial examples I´ve seen so far it is young people that wear this kind of hat. Older people seem to prefer more conservative headgear, as white linen head-cloths in different versions for the women and hats for the men.

torsdag 28 juni 2012

I´m being framed...

Since my qoute of sleeves is filled, I decided to get started on a framed purse, 15th-century style. My main inspiration is this: http://weavingandcooking.blogspot.se/2010/08/late-medieval-burgundian-framed-purse.html. Beatiful! I did find a frame on the market at last year´s Medieval week here in Visby so I can´t blame lack of materials.

My aim is making it in wool instead of thin suede, but I´m a bit worried that it will be too thick and bulky. Need to scan my piles and boxes and see what I can come up with.

Meanwhile I´m making a toile in cotton just to sort out the size, where to fold and how to attach it to the hoop frame. Starting out with a strip 1,5 meters long and almost 40 cm wide gives a decent result but there´s room for improvement. I´ve folded it so that it makes two pockets and some extra material to put in a tightening cord in the middle of the hoop. Put some pins in so that I can get  hint of how it works. I think the width is just enough but the purse is a bit to big lengthwise.

So tomorrow I will try shortening it a bit and see how that looks. I´ll keep you posted!

måndag 18 juni 2012

Can a girl have too many?

People talk about women collecting shoes, handbags and the like. And yes, I have to admit that I love shoes, but since the garb-fitting-ones are so hard to find online and even harder to make, I have filled my closet with other accessories. But really? I think I have to find another obsession than sleeves. Or at least aim for more elaborate ones next...

Time to actually make those new shoes and finish off a number of pouches, I guess.

lördag 16 juni 2012

Pinned and ready

Yesterday I suddenly got a whole lot of time all to myself, and got lots of stuff done, and inspired by a friend that is trying hard to finish off embroidery projects, I finished my first piece of patterned darning. It is really small, 5 times 5 centimetres or so, and I thought it would make a lovely pincushion. I saw the Attack Laurel wearing small pincushions in blackwork pinned to her skirt and thought it was a great idea when sewing. No need to put pins in your sleeves and then forget about them, as I tend to do.

Said and done, I found a piece of dark purple wool fabric that matches the outerline perfectly and got going.

However, the embroidered fabric is a loose weave and I thought pins would easily escape, so I decided to line it with a little tighter woven linen fabric. I cut out a square and stitched it onto the backside. Then I cut a piece of the back fabric, turned the pieces outside in and pinned the together along three edges and stitched them together. Turning it inside out was a bit tricky but manageble. I stuffed it with scraps of wool fabric and then stitched the last edge, first putting in a cord loop in one corner for fastening.

I finished it off with a chain stitch edge and some small tassels. And it turned out rather pretty!

måndag 21 maj 2012


Head is spinning still after an awesome Double Wars, so many classes and so much inspiration! I was especially happy for the frilled veil-class, the starch-class and of course the one on Opus Anglicanum. And today I got Lias pretty picture of me wearing the frilled veil that I now can starch properly with barley starch. That will keep it in shape so much better than the spray starch.

Sadly the Dürer-inspired hat didn´t get done so I´m saving tha for another blog post soon...

onsdag 2 maj 2012

Better late than never

I started on a new hemd in January. It didn´t get done in time for the Carnevale in February. Ah well, I thought and brought the pieces on my journey to Finland, thinking that hours and hours of dreary ferry-travel would do the trick. But alas, no.

Now it is finally done and I´m pretty pleased with myself.

It is sewn in a rather heavy nettle fabric, a bit golden white, and is mainly inspired by the german-swiss embroidered smocked hemds seen on both men and women in the late 15th and early 16th century.

Dürers portraits is the main inspiration for the undergarment

This is the result, however it will look a lot less bulky with the tight overdress
 I wanted to try the techniques with letters and fancy patterns in white on white but had to give it up. The fabric is too heavy and the pleats in the inserted front panel is just to coarse. So I settled on a more easier counted geometric pattern in golden silk and some rows of white stitches to keep it all together. The back and side panels are flat so that they do not take too much room under a tight fitted bodice. The front is made of a panel out of the full width of the fabric (150 cm) folded in the top and then pleated it in rather big pleats (1 cm). This will show in a rather deep V-neckline.

I haven´t given up on the idea of a more elaborate embroidered smock but then I need a finer linen and time and patience that I do not have at the moment. This is however a lot more elaborate than my first attempt as seen on my profile picture, so with time I will get there for sure.

tisdag 10 april 2012

It´s all in the details

This Easter I got an offer I couldn´t refuse... Me and my friend Tece got invited to hold classes in 15th century clothing for the Hollola medieval society in Finland. All expenses paid and a possibility to hang out with really nice people.

So, we took the ferry to Turku were we got picked up by Saara and Temmu who drove us to Lahti, where we stayed at Mervi and Riku in their "sensual house". Just look at the sight of the kitchen when we arrived! Full of nice people having coffee, laughing and weaving.
Mervi was anxious to get started and soon we had three lovely ladies started on making their pleated swiss veils and getting fitted for their 15th-century dresses.

Mervi was real quick and soon had a number of pleats done and then we started experimenting with veils and folds and whatever fabrics we could get a hold of. Since I´ve shown in an old handout that there´s no way you can do wrong with a 15th century veil style, we tried with kitchen towels on top and even got a very elaborate look from a smocked apron.

We also got fed extremly well and really enjoyed this long friday in Mervis kitchen. After a while we realised we had spent 8 hours there just fooling around.

Kitchen towels may sound really quirky but there are images that really looks like they grabbed a bunch of whatever they found in the linen cabinet and pinned it on top. Fabric with red or blue stripes are common and they do look like classic kitchen towels.

The smocked apron made a very nice look as well, similar to the variations that look like the missing link between swiss veil and the vulsthaube. Frills can be seen in some depictions as well.

However we got real tired and went to bed in order to be in full working order the next morning when the real challenge started. In a day and a half we had to get 20 women fitted and inspired to do all kinds of accessories for 15th century fashion. We learned that one of the women had the idea that they should all do 15th century clothing for their yearly festival in Hollola, since the church was 15th century.

Me and Tece has held the show "It´s all in the details" a couple of times already, where we show how you can manage any number of styles with just one little black shortsleeved and frontlaced dress. We started the powerpoint and then dressed Tece from hemd to the kitchen maid and all the way to court garb just changing the accessories.

After the show we started everybody on making their own veils and soon the room was filled with sewing women of all ages. This turned out to be the saviour of the day, now everybody had something to begin with while waiting for their turn to get fitted. We forced them to first try either mine or Tece´s dress in order to see what pattern to start out with. They all then copied either mine or Tece´s bodice pattern, adding a number of centimeters of width for fitting. Then the fitting frenzy began! I would never have imagined that it was possible to do that many fittings in such a short time. Fifteen fittings done on saturday and the remaining five on sunday.

My blue dress soon got popular and it sometimes fitted like a glove!

The room filled with action and creativity, everywere women where trying out clothes, cutting fabric and looking in books and the powerpoint with hundred or more images of 15th century paintings.

We did manage a short break and took a walk around the beutiful 15th century church.

When it was time to leave on sunday afternoon we had managed to fit 22 lovely ladies into tight fitting bodices. And they where in the age span between 20 and 70! I really look forward to seeing pictures of their dresses progressing.

And for those interested, read Mervis blog Hibeernatiopesäke as well!

söndag 1 april 2012

Embroidery for the masses!

This weekend has been a joyful and inspiring one. My home barony of Styringheim hosted an embroidery event for all interested in historical embroidery. We were 12 people that gathered on saturday morning, shared some breakfast and then the four teachers each gave a short introduction to their embroidery techniques before the actual workshops begun.

First out was Helwigs blackwork, and for the likes of me that hates counted embroidery this was an epiphany! It suddenly got comprehensable and I actually got quite far on a small acorn border on rather coarse linen with easily visible thread count and some lovely orange hand dyed silk that I bought a couple of years ago.

After this I did my bayeux stitch introduction and the ladies seemed to enjoy the fact that it is an easy way to fill surfaces with colour and texture.

Lia got us all to appreciate the fine elisabethan couched embroidery and we saw acorns, seashells and flowers take shape. It reminded a lot of naalbinding but with a very fine needle and silk thread.

We had lunch and dinner as well in splendid company and continued on sunday with patterned darning embroidery that Åsa has made wonders with on pillows after originals now stored at the County Museum of Gotland.

So now I have, on top of all old projects, three new embroidery projects and a bunch of ideas for stuff I want to make for my self.

söndag 11 mars 2012


Event season has begun! First out this year was my own barony´s Gourmet feast, this year themed Carnevale. And this of course raises the expectations a lot, both on the food and the dress.

Since I had finished that wretched dress with the darned rolled pleats (and yes, I was frustrated a lot during the process of pleating! Not my mothers back yard, I tell you) I thought this a superb opportunity to break it in, so to speak. The new hemd that I started on two weeks ago sadly didn´t get finished, but I made an orange gefrens to match the mask, borrowed from my sister in law. She has a collection of venetian masks since she studied Commedia dellárte there.

It´s a good thing that we have so many talented photographers at events that generously let me use pictures. This is not a posing picture but used taken while I was in conversation with others. Thanks Danel!

lördag 25 februari 2012

Portable projects

When I travel on boat or train I find time I normally don´t have for projects. So I try to bring something, especially when I get away without the kids. Next week I´m going to a conference and I will have approximately 2 or more hours on are a train. Perfect project time! These are the candidates for accompaning me. Naalbinding is easy to bring and I have been without mittens for quite some time now. The yarn is dyed with birch leaves and I bought it from a lovely estonian lady on the medieval market on Medieval week here on Gotland a couple of years ago. And I always need more cord for dresses... Boring project and thus perfect for boring train rides or boat rides.

Booth the naalbinding needle and the fork for cords (don´t know an english word for it) I have bought at the same market as the green yarn, but these come from a very nice danish gentleman who comes every year vending lovely bone and horn things as well as glass beads. These tools are also very handy since they are not detectable by airport security.

He´s got a face!

So other projects and everyday life got in my way, but here´s an update on the fiddeling dude. He got hair and a face some weeks ago and then he was placed on a shelf waiting for me to show some interest in him again. I really must get going with this, it is fun!

måndag 9 januari 2012

Fiddeling with small scale embroidery

I had my mind set on making a blogpost of my new pink hose or the new little black 16th century dress with the wretched pleats. But once the last embroidery project was finished, I suddenly felt that now is the time for getting started on that dream project I have planned for so long. An almony purse, 14th century-style, covered with fine silk embroidery. The perfect way to find use for all the different colours of fine sewing silk I have collected over the years. So, said and done, I cut my self a nice piece of hemp and looked for a motif. This little fellow, playing the fiddle or something similar, spoke to me from an old book and wanted to be done. I´m not all satisfied with the turnout so far, but it might get better over time. And since the backsides of embroidery is up for debate, I have to show off mine because this time (and so far) I haven´t messed up as I usually do...

The whole piece is not bigger than ten by ten centimetres and it´s easier than I expected to work in tiny details. And it´s a good thing that it is so tiny since I have to cover it completely and also make one more.

torsdag 5 januari 2012

Blinged and ready to travel

This is as far as I will go... The den is now filled with jewels and some precious artefacts, just visible as outlines in gold thread. I just couldn't cover too much of the beatiful golden silk.

The dragon´s den

My contribution for the Dragon´s Needles new challenge is soon done and ready for shipping. This is how I do to get it as pretty as possible after taking it from the frame.

First I need to take the fastening stiches between top and bottom fabric away. Then the bottom fabric needs to be cut down.

This is how the back looks once the bottom fabric has been cut down.

Then the whole thing needs to be pressed in order to look nice and flat. Use a damp cotton or linen cloth and a really hot iron.

And this is how it looks all done. Now I'm just going to sew some glass beads and some gold thread to it and it will be done.