Friday, 17 October 2014

American Duchess Giveaway

This is not a period I currently do, but it's only a matter of time - I've been thinking of it for a while, admiring the work of others. Having the right shoes would certainly be a good start - or I might just go for the gift card and order a pair of Gettysburgs for the 1840's impression I'm currently working on.... tough choice.

Oh yeah, I would have to win first.... :)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Baby’s Mid 19th Century Petticoat

For the HSF challenge # 18 “Poetry in Motion” I didn’t have a poem suitable for the project I needed to work on. So I cheated.

When I thought of the baby dress (and the petticoat that will go under it) my littlest one need for the 1840’s event in November I couldn’t help thinking of Anne Shirley Blythe in Anne’s House of Dreams: the horrid day when her wee daughter died, and the happy one when her son was born. They both always make my cry. I also thought of her reaction to her sons shortening, thinking that he grows up too quickly. I imagine that, though the story is set 50 years later than what I’m aiming at, those feelings might have been shared by many a mother in the 19th century – I feel the same when my children have outgrown a size and all the clothes are put away. One would think the sentimental Victorians would have written one teensy poem about the shortening of baby’s dresses, or mentioning baby dresses at all, but I came up with nothing….

The petticoat is worn over a medieval shift – the difference isn’t that great,
and as I don’t have time to make a baby shirt just for this one event….

This is not poetry, but the writing of L. M. Montgomery is often very poetic prose – she, hardly surprising, did write proper poetry as well – this one is appropriate for the theme.

So here are the passages I was thinking about in the book:

One morning, when a windy golden sunrise was billowing over the gulf in waves of light, a certain weary stork flew over the bar of Four Winds Harbor on his way from the Land of Evening Stars. Under his wing was tucked a sleepy, starry-eyed, little creature. The stork was tired, and he looked wistfully about him. He knew he was somewhere near his destination, but he could not yet see it. The big, white light-house on the red sandstone cliff had its good points; but no stork possessed of any gumption would leave a new, velvet baby there. An old gray house, surrounded by willows, in a blossomy brook valley, looked more promising, but did not seem quite the thing either. The staring green abode further on was manifestly out of the question. Then the stork brightened up. He had caught sight of the very place—a little white house nestled against a big, whispering firwood, with a spiral of blue smoke winding up from its kitchen chimney—a house which just looked as if it were meant for babies. The stork gave a sigh of satisfaction, and softly alighted on the ridge-pole.


“…wondering whether she should hemstitch or feather-stitch little Jem's "short" dresses. He was to be shortened the next week, and Anne felt ready to cry at the thought of it.”


Anne and Leslie had another cry the next week when they shortened Little Jem. Anne felt the tragedy of it until evening when in his long nightie she found her own dear baby again.

"But it will be rompers next—and then trousers—and in no time he will be grown-up," she sighed.
"Well, you would not want him to stay a baby always, Mrs. Doctor, dear, would you?" said Susan. "Bless his innocent heart, he looks too sweet for anything in his little short dresses, with his dear feet sticking out. And think of the save in the ironing, Mrs. Doctor, dear." 

When planning this petticoat I tried to find pictures of extant baby petticoats. I found two that would work well; one dated 1800-20, and the other dated 1860. They were very similar in construction, so I felt ok using the same design for the one I was making. 

The petticoat has a simple bodice, with drawstrings at neck and waist. They tie in the back, where a thread button helps in keeping the bodice closed. The skirt is gauged to the bodice, with tiny pleats.

 The bottom of the skirt has a deep hem and two tucks. 

What the item is: Baby petticoat.

The Challenge: #18 Poetry in Motion

The poem: Passages from Anne’s house of dreams.

Fabric: Cut down from an old shift and petticoat of mine, originally made from sturdy old cotton sheets.

Pattern: None; I improvised from picures of period petticoats.

Year: Aiming for the 1840’s, but could pass for several more decades.

Notions: Cotton thread, cotton tape, thread button made by me.

How historically accurate is it?
As good as I could make it without looking at an extant example in person. The materials are ok, as is the hand stitching.

Hours to complete:
Difficult to say, as I’ve only had a few minutes here and there… 8-10?

First worn: For the picture.

Total cost: None at this time as everything came from the stash. The materials might have cost 50 SEK ($6,94; £4,31; €5,49) if bought at the charity shop today, and would have plenty left for other projects.

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.