Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Poetry - When Stretch'd on Ones Bed

I promise - there will be a sewing post soon! I just run into all these poems when trying to find one that may suit the mid 19th century baby petticoat I'm working on.... (Btw, if any of you have just the thing, please share!) This one struck a note, as I've had head aches on a regular basis since I was a young teenager, and knows how tough it can be. 


When Stretch'd on One's Bed 

By Jane Austen

 When stretch'd on one's bed
With a fierce-throbbing head,
Which preculdes alike thought or repose,
How little one cares
For the grandest affairs
That may busy the world as it goes!

How little one feels
For the waltzes and reels
Of our Dance-loving friends at a Ball!
How slight one's concern
To conjecture or learn
What their flounces or hearts may befall.

How little one minds
If a company dines
On the best that the Season affords!
How short is one's muse
O'er the Sauces and Stews,
Or the Guests, be they Beggars or Lords.

How little the Bells,
Ring they Peels, toll they Knells,
Can attract our attention or Ears!
The Bride may be married,
The Corse may be carried
And touch nor our hopes nor our fears.

Our own bodily pains
Ev'ry faculty chains;
We can feel on no subject besides.
Tis in health and in ease
We the power must seize
For our friends and our souls to provide.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Poetry: Somebody's Mother

Browsing the internet for something else I stumbled on this lovely piece of poetry. I’m not a great reader of poetry, but I suspect that might be because I have so many other things to read…. This one sounded very familiar to me though – I wonder if I’ve heard it before? The LDS General Conference? Anyway, when I do read poetry I enjoy it. 

I hope my sons will be as nice, compassionate young boys and men as the boy in this poem. Their Dad is certainly s good example and role model for them – and for me. Not wanting to loose these beautiful words, I thought I’d better post them here. Hopefully someone else might enjoy them as well.

Somebody’s Mother
By Mary Dow Brine (1816-1913)

The woman was old and ragged and grey
And bent with the chill of the Winter’s day.

The street was wet with a recent snow
And the woman’s feet were aged and slow.

She stood at the crossing and waited long,
Alone, uncared for, amid the throng

Of human beings who passed her by
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eyes.

Down the street, with laughter and shout,
Glad in the freedom of “school let out,”

Came the boys like a flock of sheep,
Hailing the snow piled white and deep.

Past the woman so old and grey
Hastened the children on their way

Nor offered a helping hand to her -
So meek, so timid, afraid to stir

Lest the carriage wheels or the horses’ feet
Should crowd her down in the slippery street.

At last came one of the merry troop,
The gayest laddie of all the group;

He paused beside her and whispered low,
“I’ll help you cross if you wish to go.”

Her aged hand on his strong young arm
She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,

He guided the trembling feet along,
Proud that his own were firm and strong.

Then back again to his friends he went,
His young heart happy and well content.

“She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know,
For all she’s aged and poor and slow,

“And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand,

“If ever she’s poor and old and grey,
When her own dear boy is far away.”

And “somebody’s mother” bowed her head
In her home that night, and the prayer she said

Was “God be kind to the noble boy,
Who is somebody’s son, and pride and joy!”

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Manuscript Challenge

My friend Maria has started a project called the Manuscript Challenge on Facebook. In short it’s about choosing a medieval picture, statue, effigy or similar in colour, and try to recreate an outfit as closely as possible.

As I don’t have too much of neither time nor money, I decided to do something simple, and something that needed doing. I chose this stained glass window of Adam and Eve working. It was made in the late 14th century, and was originally from Marienkirche, Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, but after WWII it was taken by the Soviet Union and is now in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

This picture is great (though not very pretty) for four reasons: 1) it is from my period and 2) also from my geographic area (Sweden had lots of influences from Germany through both trade and politics), 3) it portrays things I want to make for both myself and Tobias, and 4) I only have to do a little sewing to have all the clothes in the picture. I have planned to replace the short sleeves in my red dress with long ones for quite some time, and that wouldn’t be too much work. Of course I have veils already, and Tobias has green hose and shoes. The only thing I need to make from scratch is the greyish-blue tunic, and I have wanted to make him a longer, fuller, more old fashioned tunic for a while, so this is perfect.

Not that I have time to start sewing on it just yet; I have more pressing projects first.

Friday, 22 August 2014

1840's(ish) Crocheted Collar

For the 1840’s dress I just began working on I’ll need a collar. I want to make one in whitework, but as I’ll have to learn how to do it first it will take too much time at present. I do however have basic skills in crochet, and after finding mention of crocheted collars, seeing reproductions, and original doll’s collars, I decided to give it a go.

 The collar lying on the back of the bodice of my 1840's-dress-in-progress.

As I’m not very good with crochet terminology in English, I won’t try to write about the collar in detail. Pictures will have to suffice. I used DMC Cordonnet 50 that I once got in a charity shop for hardly any money at all. It is mercerised cotton, which, though not common for another 50 years, did first make an entry in 1844, so it’s acceptable but not preferable for what I have in mind.

I didn’t find any period crochet descriptions for collars, though I've heard there are quite a few. But even if I had, I have enough trouble reading the modern ones – the period ones would probably give me a fit. Instead I looked at period examples and the reproductions people more talented at crochet than I have made from said period descriptions. I had to go with trial and error, so this one is actually the second collar. It’s still not perfect, but it is wearable. 

The inspiration for the lace edging was taken from the doll's collar below.

These are the originals I used for inspiration (and this reproduction): 

 Doll's collar, Sweden, 1840's. Nordiska Museet, nr. NM.0114827
Swedish, a bit to late - 1860-80 - but with the same kind 
of open, net like base. Nordiska Museet, nr. NM.0028970

Though this collar (Swedish, 1840-60) is made from bobbin lace I took 
the inspiration for making mine striped from it. Malmö Museer, nr. MMT 000406

Is it possible that these young ladies (ca. 1845) 
have crocheted collars? Possible, but hard to tell...

I think mine is rather cute, and not too far from the originals. I’m not quite sure how to attach it though: by basting it to the dress or by sewing a bias strip to it, and baste that to the inside of the dress? Opinions? Also - would matching cuffs be a good or bad idea?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Simple 1840's Shift

Edit: I discovered I could use this as an HSF entry, so the challenge info was added 22 August 2014.)

Recently I made a mid 19th century shift, that I mainly intend for 1840’s. It is very simple, as the evidence I was able to find of Swedish shifts from that time indicates that they were still constructed in a very basic way, while many shifts in other countries had become more advanced. 

This evidence is mostly doll’s shifts from the 1850's and -60's, as there are hardly any extant ones for real people. As the rest of the wardrobes from which these doll’s shifts come are very true to the fashion of the time, I suppose that the shifts must have been as well. 

The rest of the wardrobe here

Upplandsmuseet, nr. UM 15700
The rest of the wardrobe here.

I would have preferred a linen shift, as that would have been most common, but I didn’t want to use any I had in my stash, as I have other projects in mind for some, and others are not in appropriate weights. Instead I used an old cotton sheet I once got in a charity shop.

While this bothered me slightly I now got the chance to use it for the terminology challenge in the HSF. Calico, in the UK, New Zeeland and Australia meaning a plain tabby woven, white or cream cotton fabric, is what I’ve used for this. In Swedish during the 19th century this kind of fabric would have been called lärft (originally – at least as far back as medieval times - lärft was used for plain, densely woven linen fabrics, but were later used for the same quality cottons as well). A printed cotton fabric were in the 18th century and into the 19th called kattun in Swedish.

The shift is constructed from rectangles, squares and triangles, the same way shifts and shirts had been made since before the Middle Ages. There is no shoulder seam, and one of the side gores are pieced from two halves. 

I used back stitches for joining the pieces, slip stitches for felling seams and hemming the neckline and sleeves. The bottom hem is sewn with running stitches and a back stitch every now and then.

For closing the slit in front I made a thread button. It has a base of waxed, thick cotton (linen could also be used) thread, as many originals do. It should hold up well in the wash. Wavy braid is used as trim. You see it used in many Swedish mid century petticoats, and I’ve seen it on doll’s shifts from both Sweden and other countries, and at least one extant woman’s chemise from the States. I think it’s more than plausible here as well. It should survive laundry better than most kinds of lace, while still adding a bit of elegance.

The shift reaches to just below my knees – I’d have liked it a bit longer, but this is what the fabric allowed me to do without adding shoulder seams. And can I say again how much I like that button? :)

The Challenge: #16 Terminology (calico)

Fabric: Cotton.

Pattern: My own.

Year: 1840’s. 

Notions: Cotton thread, cotton wavy braid.

How historically accurate is it? As good as it gets without studying originals in person. Material, construction and stitches are all period.  

Hours to complete: Not sure…

First worn: For the picture.

Total cost: 30SEK ($4,35; £2,61; €3,27) for the wavy braid; everything else was in my stash. It would probably have cost about 80SEK ($11,59; £6,97; €8,72) if I bought all the materials now.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Elvish Maiden

Eleven years ago I made a dress to wear to the premiere of the final part of the LoTR saga, The Return of the King. I took my inspiration from the Elvish styles in the movies, but both the dress and the embroidery was my own design.

The dress is made from a semi stiff and rather heavy fabric with a woven in pattern. The sleeves are lined with linen. The neckline and sleeves of the mock under dress are made from raw silk.

It is a lovely dress, but sadly I never got any pictures of myself wearing it, and now I can’t fit into it anymore, as I have a rather more Hobbity shape than I had when I was twenty. I’ve been thinking for some time that my sister E might be able to wear it, being of a similar height to me, though a bit more slender than I was when I wore the dress. As she was staying with us for little over a week, and the dress fit her well enough, we took the opportunity to have a photo shoot.

She was wearing a piece of hair jewellery I made myself for the premiere of The Two Towers, twelve years ago, obviously based on Arwen’s beautiful one from Fellowship of the Ring. It was more striking against my darker hair (which back then reached passed my tail bone), but looked pretty against E’s fair hair as well. 

Her hair looked a bit like that of Legolas, so we thought that if he’d had a little sister, this might be what she’d had looked like. Or it could just be any young Elvish maiden.

While taking the pictures we discussed elves and wondered how quickly they grow up. How fast do they mature, intellectually and physically? When are they considered being of age?  I like to know such things - even when it is a make believe people in a story….

Sunday, 6 July 2014

1840's Cap II

Almost four years ago I made an attempt to make an 1840’s cap. I was tolerably pleased with the result, but now I wanted to have another go at it. When I found some nice scraps (which from the burn test I think are cotton) amongst the fabrics I was given a while back, I knew at once that they would become different kinds of 19th century caps.

Quickly and not very neatly trimmed with silk ribbons - it can be made much prettier.

I have looked at many more pictures of 1840’s caps since 2010, so I had a somewhat clearer idea of what I should try to achieve. There are several examples on this Pinterest board. I used the same basic pattern as I used last time, and added lots of frills.

 Left untrimmed you see the basic shape better.

All the pieces were hemmed with narrow hems, and then whip stitched together. The frills were gathered by pulling the thread of the rolled hems tight, if that made sense. They were then sewn to the cap with one stitch in every tiny gather.

The frill stitched to the cap - inside.
And outside.
The frill over the top of the head at first looked too, well, frilly. It resembled the earlier styles of the 1820’s and 1830’s more than the more elegant ones of the 1840’s. I didn’t want to undo all the work I had done, so I was considering ways to solve the problem by working with what I had. I then recalled a cap in Nancy Bradfield’s Costume in Detail, where the lace edging a cap had been folded back and stitched down over the top of the head. I tried that, and it worked brilliantly. The small frill left was just enough to add visual interest without being too dominant. For the 1840’s the frills one should really notice are the ones by the jaw bones, even if there might be others.

The ruffle over the forehead folded back and stitched down. 

In the hem at the nape of the neck, a drawstring made from thin cotton cords help with the fit.

I was inspired by this painting when making my cap – it’s a lovely picture and a pretty cap, though you can’t see the sides. I’d also like to make that dress sometime.

"A Peaceful Interlude" by Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans, 1849.

Fashion plates like this one, as well as extant caps helped as well.

World of Fashion, February 1843.

For the pictures I used ribbons I had in my stash, but as they are only pinned on, they can easily be changed to match the dress. For anything more active than just taking pictures I'd probably tack on the ribbons though, not pin them. Quite a few extant caps still have the ribbons attached – I wonder if they were always meant to be permanent, or if they could sometimes be exchangable the way mine will be? 

I like how this kind of cap looks on me – I have slightly long face, and adding width to the sides like this makes that less obvious. The cap is very light, I can hardly feel it – I could wear it all the time without being bothered by it.

The Challenge: #13 Under $10

Fabric: Cotton

Pattern: My own.

Year: 1840’s. 

Notions: Cotton thread, and cotton yarn for the cords. Silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it? Reasonably - I haven’t had the opportunity to study real caps in person, but the overall look is similar to the ones you see in period art, photos and extant caps. The materials are period enough (I'm a bit unsure about the dots in the fabric), and the sewing is done by hand with period stitches.  

Hours to complete: Lots and lots. As the fabric was so fine and unravelled easily I had to be very careful while hemming. As I could only sew a little here and there, counting hours was difficult.

First worn: For the pictures.

Total cost: None at this time as everything was in my stash.