Friday, 5 January 2018

A Plaid Skirt

I’ve mentioned that I was gifted twelve boxes of fabric several years ago, of which I kept about a quarter of the fabrics and passed on the rest. Having been in tight financial circumstances for most of the time since, it has been a welcome addition to my stash. When I needed a new skirt for church, a piece of plaid mystery fabric (possibly a cotton/poly blend) was just large enough to become a full, rather 50’s looking skirt.

The skirt is made up of two straight panels, pleated to a waistband. It has a pocket in the right seam, and closes on the left with buttons and buttonholes in the waistband – I can’t be bothered with zips in this full kind of skirt, the placket is mostly hidden in the folds anyway. The hem is finished with a deep facing of dark blue cotton, as I think it gives a nice body to it. I’m sorry about the poor quality of the images, light indoors in winter isn’t the best (especially not when facing the windows – but I wanted a shot with the Christmas tree before we took it down), and we didn’t have time to go outside for pictures. Bit annoying, as I had taken the trouble of curling my hair, but Baby was hungry and very tired, and he has priority over photos. The plaid is mainly navy, white and black, with narrower forget-me-not blue, bottle green and custard yellow stripes.

And with that, my sewing year has started! We’ll see if it gets more productive than last year was.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Paper Star Ornaments and a Free Printable

Last year I made these paper star ornaments, and took step-by-step pictures with the intention to post a tutorial, but, you know, life. Looking at the pictures now, some of them are not as clear as I’d hoped, so while I’m still chuffed about the ornaments themselves, instead of posting a full tutorial, I’ll just refer you to this video on YouTube. There are several other videos on there on how to make these stars as well.

Depending on what paper you use the stars will come out looking very different. I used pages from an old book for my stars – of course I didn’t use a book that was unique or in any way valuable. They are quite simple to make, and require only the most basic tools (paper, ruler, pencil, scissors, glue), so you don’t need a full array of crafting paraphernalia to give them a try. You can use them as is, or put some kind of trim in the centre.

I finished mine off with small silhouette images I drew of the Nativity story. Here’s a free printable if you’d like to use them in one of your own crafts. If you do, please comment, link, or tag me on Facebook or Instagram.

We still haven’t unpacked after our move, and my fingers are itching to sew. I have one event I hope to attend next spring, and I need to get started on the things Baby and I will need for it. Hopefully there will be some historical sewing next year!

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Eagle's Ravenclaw Scarf

Tobias has a big carved wood eagle that he got as a kid. He rather likes it: I think it’s creepy. It usually lives in his office/man cave, that doubles as home for my fabric stash and historical wardrobe, but we recently moved, and the ceilings here are too low for it to fit on top of the office bookcase. The eagle will have to live in the book room, as some of the bookcases there are lower. After thinking it over, I decided I would be okay having it there if I made it part of the book room’s planned nerdy decor.

Tobias is a Ravenclaw, and, fittingly, the House symbol is an eagle. If our wood eagle was to wear a Ravenclaw scarf, it would accentuate Tobias’ House allegiance, and make the eagle look less fierce. Said and done, I started knitting one night when the baby was feeling poorly. I used thin, one-ply wool in blue and bronze (brown), as we use the House colours described in the books, though the scarf style seen in the later films. I was glad to have appropriate yarn in stash. 30 rib stitches made a 5,5-centimetre-wide scarf. I knitted 22 rows blue, 2 rows bronze, 4 blue, 2 bronze, and repeated.

When the knitting was finished the scarf measured 65 centimetres. I made fringes from the remaining blue yarn – I didn’t have very much of it to start with, and I used it all for this project.

I’m not sure the eagle looks any less fierce, but I still like him better with the scarf than without it. When the other decor is up, I think he might actually look quite nice on top of the book cases. 

I have long planned to knit a Hufflepuff scarf for a soft toy badger I have, and now I really want to do it…

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Onion Shaped Paper Ornaments

It’s been a few months since I posted, and to bring those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram up to date, I had my third baby boy in September, and we moved to a new flat at the beginning of  November, and I'm still working on getting everything organised and tidy. For obvious reasons, I haven’t made many Christmas decorations this year.

I did however make these paper ornaments way back in July, realising that would likely be my only chance this year, and as I took step by step pictures, here’s a tutorial. 

I worked with what I had in stash, and that determined how full my ornaments would be, and how many I could make. You can of course make yours fuller by adding pieces, and make as many ornaments as you want. The three 12x12” scrapbooking papers I had, from a Swedish 2006 Christmas collection, was enough to make eight ornaments of six pieces of paper each.

I started by making a template (you can use almost any shape you want, as long as it's left and right sides are symmetrical), then copied that on the back of my papers. I wanted to get as many pieces as possible from my material, with minimal waste, so I adjusted the shape of my template accordingly.  

Cut out your shapes.

Fold each cut piece of paper lengthwise; make it a sharp crease, a bone folder may come in handy if you have one. 

Repeat for all of the shapes you've cut out.

I used all three paper designs in each of my ornaments, so for every ornament I was working on, I made sure to lay them out in the right order so as not to get them mixed up.

Next, glue two of the pieces together.

Make sure the folds align neatly.

If, despite aligning the folds perfectly, the edges are uneven, don’t worry. We’ll trim them later.

Keep gluing your shapes together, until you’ve added the last one. Leave the end ones open for now.

Now trim your ornament, so it looks neat.

If the top is too pointed, you can cut off the top and bottom slightly, thus making any beads you might add sit more nicely.

To hang your ornament you can use a number of different things, from string to ribbon. I used a linen thread, and added beads to give a neat finishing touch. Start by putting a small bead on the thread. This will make sure the thread is more safely secured to your ornament, and won’t slip loose.

Double the thread, and put on a slightly larger bead.

Add another large bead and a small bead – they will sit at top and bottom of the ornament.

Put the thread inside the still open ornament, make sure the beads end up in the right places. Glue the ornament shut.

Your ornament is now finished!

These make good ornaments if you have limited space for storage, as they can be folded flat when not in use. Have you made any ornaments this year?

Friday, 11 August 2017

Baby Quilt III

As I did for my first and second babies, I’ve made a quilt for the one I’m expecting in little over a month. Like I did with their quilts, I’ve only used fabrics from stash, many of them remnants from clothes and old projects, though only 14 different fabrics this time. Am I getting lacy? The boys where fascinated during the whole process, comparing the new quilt with their own. 

I stitched the top together on my 1924 Singer treadle, a little now and then when I had good days. I’ve had lots of contractions this pregnancy, much more than with the others, and have been prevented from doing pretty much anything in any way physically taxing. I was on partial sick leave from 20 weeks and on full sick leave from 29 weeks. Good thing I like to hand sew and read, or I would have gone nuts by the forced inactivity. Anyway. This is a patchwork style I’ve liked for a long time, so it was nice to try it. It turned out pretty well I think.

The binding is made from the same fabric on all three quilts, and some of the fabrics show up in all three as well, while some show up in two, or only in one. Sort of symbolic of how siblings are similar and unique at the same time.

The quilting is done by hand, again in a similar fashion to the other baby quilts. Quilting was by far the most fun part of this project.

And that’s that. I’ve also made some comfort blankets for baby, but that’s about as far as I can allow my nesting instinct to run, as I can’t go crazy with all of the cleaning and organising I’d have liked to do. More time for reading, eh?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Making an 1840's Straw Bonnet

About eleven years ago, when I lived in my first flat, I picked up a straw hat in a charity shop, stitched with cotton thread. I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of how it looked, but imagine something closely akin to a “dixie cup” sailors cap. I realised that when unfolded it would form a good base for a 19th century bonnet, but I didn’t yet know if I wanted an Empire/Regency one or an 1840’s one. So, like many other “someday I’m going to make something really nice from this” items, it ended up in my stash. I took it out from time to time, but never felt brave enough to get started.

And then I had an event coming up, the opening of an exhibition of women’s fashion from the 18th century to today. I was, with some others, invited to the opening and asked to come in clothing from any of the periods represented in the exhibition. I decided on the 1840’s maternity dress I made three years ago. The dress is nice, but I felt I needed a bonnet to look properly attired, so I finally got to work on transforming the straw hat into a bonnet.

First I unpicked the stitches holding the straw braid for a few feet, so I could use that to edge the finished bonnet with. You can see the crease where the brim was originally folded upwards.

Then I dunked the bonnet in water to make it less brittle and cut out a piece for the neck. I had a plan for the cut-off pieces of braid, but later I thought I should have curved the brim down towards the chin instead of cutting it straight. You live and learn.

The pieces of braid just mentioned I used to make a sort of bavolet at the neck.

When the shape of the bonnet was what I wanted it to I started stitching the braid I removed previously to the edge. It turned out I didn’t have quite enough, so I took another braid I had in my stash for the inside. I stitched them both on simultaneously, making sure the straw was wet the whole time.

This is how the bonnet looked when I’d finished the sewing, but before blocking. I shaped it while wet and set it to dry, with a pot of honey at the bottom of the crown to make it flatter.

Then it was time for trimming. This was an all-stash project, so I picked out a scrap of green silk dupioni. Taffeta would have been better, and taffeta ribbons best of all, but I didn’t have any. I hemmed strips of the silk for ties and trim. I wasn’t quite happy with the straw bavolet, so decided to cover it with a silk one that I gathered to the proper length using whipped gathers.

I wrapped a long strip of silk round the bonnet, arranging artful creases here and there. Silk ties were also attached.

The silk was attached with very untidy stitches on the inside, as seen in period bonnets. Makes it easy to change the trim if wanted.

Then I was a bit unsure if I should leave it as was – after all, it looked very pretty that way – or add ostrich plumes. As I was dressing as a close to middle aged, married bourgeoise woman, I decided more was more in this case. I had some ostrich feathers that had fallen out of my feather duster and been saved for a moment like this. I picked out four, and stitched them together two-and-two with silk thread to make them fuller.

Then I attached them to the bonnet, again using long stitches on the inside. They turned out looking pleasantly fluffy, adding just the right oomph to the bonnet.

But the bonnet snagged my hair, so after consulting knowledgeable people I made a half lining using a thin cotton fabric. Not the most historically accurate fabric for this, but it had to do.

And that was that, all finished. I hadn’t added cheek ruffles to the inside, so I wore a cap under the bonnet instead to give a similar effect. It might be an old-fashioned thing to do for the 1840’s, but it looked nice enough. I felt very Cranford.

But woe! I wasn’t quite happy with the size! 1840’s bonnets usually hide the profile completely from view when seen from the side, and mine doesn’t. It annoys me no end, even though I love how the bonnet turned out over all. So disappointing…

Maybe I’ll just sell it - without the plumes it would look lovely on a girl - and try again.

My Pinterest board of extant 1840's bonnets.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Early 19th century Swedish Farmwife’s Everyday Dress

Back in April I attended an event held at the open air museum of Fredriksdal. It focused on Swedish civilians and soldiers ca 1800-10. We got to live in the houses, cook in the fireplaces, even sleep in the beds. I didn’t do the latter, as the weather was cold and windy, I’m having a bit of a tough pregnancy, and to top it off, had just had pneumonia. I thought it safer to sleep in my own warm bed, and just stayed the one day, but still had a good time. The event, which was rather small and intimate, still attracted participants from the whole country, and even a few from Norway. Fredriksdal is located in the county of Skåne (Scania) and most of the houses are from there, so those women in attendance who, like me, are from this part of the country, chose to dress according to the local fashion, which in this case meant folk costumes, still in daily use at the time. Our feast day clothes wouldn’t do, so we tried to tone it down for an everyday look. Trickier than you might think, as very little evidence remains as to what was worn then. When it comes to the fancy clothes, much is known, but as usual, no one really cared to document what people wore when working in the kitchen garden.

I made a brown wool skirt for the occasion, which I intend to also use as a petticoat for my fancy folk costume. Brown wool skirts from my parish are mentioned in estate inventories, but are far from as common as the usual blue and green, or the reasonably common black. I had a suitable fulled, twill woven wool at home though, so it had to do, even if it was brown.

It is constructed from straight panels. My fabric was 150 cm wide, but as the extant skirts I know of are usually made from narrower widths I cut my panels in half, and stitched them back up again, making four narrow ones in total, and a width of close to 3 metres. The hem was faced with a strip of unbleached linen. 

The skirt is smooth in front, as seen in extant skirts, and has the fullness taken in by stroked gathers at the sides and back, that are secured with rows of stitches, seen only from the inside. 

It closes by a sturdy brass hook and eye half way to the left side. 

I don’t know how they did about pockets – in some mid-19th century folk costume skirts there are stitched in pockets, like in modern skirts of the time, but for earlier decades I’m unsure if they wore loose pockets or not. I left a slit open in the right side seam anyway, so if need be I can tie a pocket round my waist.

In the end the brown skirt ended up used as a petticoat at the event, as I decided I wanted two skirts for warmth, and wore my usual blue skirt on top. In the period manner I flipped the blue skirt up over my shoulders to keep out the wind every now and then, so I didn't make the brown one in vain.

I also made a new bodice. I intend for it to be trimmed with blue silk ribbons, and replace my old fancy silk bodice as that one has become rather too small. For the event I used it untrimmed though. It’s made from fine brushed wool, lined with unbleached linen, and closes in front with three pairs of brass hooks and eyes, but most of the closure is hidden beneath the skirt. The wide opening would be held by buckles and a chain for best, but for everyday was likely left as was. 

At the bottom of the bodice a rather thick, padded linen roll is stitched, on which the skirts rest. Having a full figure was considered attractive by the country folk at this time and place, and you do feel rather important in an "I break for nobody" kind of way when you come walking along the road in all your matronly fullness, especially when you wear several wool skirts on top of each other. It's far from what is considered an attractive figure today, which make rather few people recreate it as close to the originals as I try to, but go the more 'inspired' route. I'll post more detailed pictures of the bodice when it's trimmed and have the buckles attached.

As for the apron, I didn’t want to use my fancy one, as I expected to cook and do greasy dishes – a good decision it turned out. Instead I whipped one up from a piece of cotton fabric that I had intended to purge from stash. It’s not perfectly period, the fabric isn't quite right and it's much too narrow, but woven stripes were popular, and the fabric had a sort of washed out, sun bleached, worn look to it that I thought would do for everyday.

I never got any decent pictures of myself from the actual event (though I can be seen in a couple of these), so I took proper pictures the other day. The weather is a lot warmer now than in April, so I could ditch the knitted spedetröja I had to wear to the event, despite it feeling too fancy. For the pictures I wore the bodice and skirt over just an unbleached linen shift (for an everyday shift I’m not sure if it should have a collar or not...), and accessorised it with the ever present apron and head kerchief. As the temperature is pleasant I went without stockings or any form of shoes. I want a pair of wooden clogs, but all in good time.

The outfit might have been a little later than the event called for, as most of the sources I base it off are from Ca 1825-50, and I generally aim for the 1830’s-40’s in my fancy version of the folk costume, but ah well. I’m still not quite sure how historically accurate this outfit is, but at the very least I think it's plausible and believable. I may have to revise it in future, but then we always do, don’t we?

My Pinterest board of extant clothing and period images from the area. Mostly fancy versions.
Allmogedräkten i Oxie härad, (1978) by Helge Andersson.