Category Archives: Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge

HSM #6 – Yogi Lace (not a comfortable way)

Today was the day when I transferred the pictures of June’s challenge to the computer. And it’s November now. Let’s just say that I will not be able to finish this year of HSM, because I’ve completely lost track of time. This blog will probably be in hibernation for a bit longer as well, but I’ll be back whenever I can. This also means that the Liebster Blog Award that I got nominated for has to be put on hold too (I don’t know how the time limits are on this one). I did get very happy about that nomination though, and the person who nominated me have done some of my favourite entries of all the HSF/M. So I really recommend that you check out Stella’s blog – she’s doing awesome stuff!

So now onto the final blog post of my half-year of HSM: Out of your comfort zone and the Yogi Lace.

Bobbin lace has always fascinated me as a technique, but I’m not a very lace-y person, so I haven’t really had a great excuse to learn it since now (i.e. the June challenge). This also required some creative thinking, since I got the bobbins as a gift from my mum, but I didn’t have a roll or a cushion or anything. But as you see in this post, you can make do with what you’ve got. You may not be entirely comfortable though…

My main source for this project was a Swedish web course in bobbin lace, which I found here. The lace I tried was the absolute beginner lace (udd och stad) from the Swedish Lace society, but I made it a bit larger than the original lace with help from an ordinary checkered paper (which also was used as my pattern). (This was really a budget style project, come to think of it!) I was helped by the videos on the course page to set up my bobbin work place.

Work place ready, paper pattern taped to rolled up yoga mat and threaded bobbins pinned in place

Work place ready, paper pattern taped to rolled up yoga mat and threaded bobbins pinned in place

I can’t claim that the progress was as fast as I’ve seen it done by others with mad skills and proper tools, but all in all I was helped by the videos, and after a little while I got into the rythm of it. I think that to make a better lace, you’d probably need a better thread too, the flax thread I used wasn’t smooth.

Close-up on progress

Close-up on progress. You can see it being slightly wonky.

The finished lace was rather twisted when I took it from the mat, and I’m still not sure what to do with it, but I liked the whole bobbin lace technique and I might try my hand at this again in the future. Though perhaps with a more suitable workplace. My back hurt a bit after the bobbin sessions on the floor.

Twisted lace

Twisted lace

The end result lace pattern looks like this. But to even have a claim towards historical accuracy, the pattern and the lace should have been much, much smaller…

Not so twisted lace (with help)

Not so twisted lace (with help)

Bobbin facts:

The Challenge: Out of Your Comfort Zone

Fabric: None

Pattern: Svenska spetsars udd och stad

Year: Not entirely certain which year this particular pattern comes from, but it’s rather simple, so it might also have been constructed rather late in the history of bobbin lace, as a beginners project. A lot of the preserved/extant lace dates to the 19th century, but there is an extant bobbin lace from the early 1500’s in today’s Sweden (but was then Denmark). According to one source I’ve found (also in Swedish), the technique of bobbin lace dates back to the Italian renaissance.

Notions: Linen (flax) thread, bobbins, checkered paper, yoga mat, sticky tape, and pins.

How historically accurate is it? The finished product isn’t historically accurate at all. But the technique itself is ok (except for the yoga mat)…

Hours to complete: I’ve forgotten. It was finished about 5 months ago.

First worn: When I’ve figured out what to do with it. Perhaps it will be a bracelet of some sort.

Total cost: The bobbins were a gift from my mum and the other things were in ”stash” (or at least in the house!) so I’ll count it as free.

Annonser

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Moving in…

Sorry for all the hibernation lately, life got in the way of projects. I hope to soon post the story of the lace (which has been finished since June) and then we’ll take it from there. Moving approx. 1500 km, finishing one job and starting another in less than one week’s time is rather exhausting, but I hope I’ll soon be back on track again!

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Documentation in hibernation

I did actually finish the June project on time (the yoga mat is now once again a yoga mat and not a bobbin roll) – but I’m terribly behind at taking pictures, putting the pictures into the computer, and writing the blog post about it. I will probably be late with the July project too – due to my usual excuse of moving house. While having peak season at work. So unfortunately the whole ”documenting finished projects-project” will have to wait a bit…

But a quick summary of the ”Out of your comfort zone” challenge: Bobbin lace was a cool technique. The yoga-mat-on-floor-as-bobbin-roll was a technique that did leave something to be desired. I think I’ll start looking for a proper bobbin roll/cushion – but not before moving!

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Bobbin lace – yogi style

Make do with what you've got

Make do with what you’ve got

For the challenge of June in the HSM, Out of your comfort zone, I’m trying bobbin lace. It’s a technique that I find really cool, but being a non-lace-y person, I’ve never found an excuse to try it before now. And as I haven’t got a proper bobbin lace roll (in Sweden there’s a roll, in the US – and UK? – I think it’s more common with a cushion, but I haven’t got a bobbin cushion either…), I have to make do with what I have. I have a yoga mat. It actually works.

However, the work position of a yoga bobbin mat is definitely out of my physical comfort zone! There is room for improvement here… (Oh. That’s why they invented the roll… 😉 )

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HSM #4 – Warriors and peasants

For the War & Peace challenge of the Historical Sew Monthly (link leads to The Dreamstress’ introduction), I chose to go quite simple, and make a coif out of leftover fabric. I’ve heard somewhere that the medieval man’s coif originated from a warrior fashion – the hat to keep the hair out of the chainmail hood – and then got to be everyman’s hat because the knights were cool. I haven’t been able to find a source for that though, so I can’t claim it as a fact. If anyone can say yay or nay to that theory, please let me know in the comments! Medieval manuscripts are however quite full of pictures of men wearing coifs, both warriors and peasants, as well as almost all other classes, quite often under other headwear. So that means that I could perhaps claim that both themes of War and Peace fits into this rather modest headwear – which to our modern eyes probably looks mostly like a baby cap.

To find medieval images, I usually go to the Larsdatter links page, and here is a full page with links to men’s coifs. Images in the Maciejowski Bible depicts both knights and warriors and farmers wearing coifs. I recommend zooming these pictures, you’ll discover amongst other things soldiers dressing for battle in a hurry.

Now, onto the sewing. I cheated a bit with the pattern and used another coif from ”Say it with a coif” (Säg det med en coif), which I got last year when I donated some linen to them. The coif speaks in medieval runes. Can you guess what it says? (Suggestions can be left in the comments – and I will reply to them! 🙂 )

The coif pattern (traced from another coif)

The coif pattern (traced from another coif)

So, the coif is basically sewn from two pieces – as easy as it gets, really. I found some white linen thread too, so the stitches are quite hard to see on pictures, but here’s the inside:

Trying to show the stitches

Trying to show the stitches

The two sides are sewn together and then the seam allowance is felled to the side. Then I hemmed it all with a narrow hem. Done! (I didn’t take any work shots. Sorry about that. I’ve not been very good at documenting things these past months…)

Finished coif on ironing board

Finished coif on ironing board

The Challenge: War & Peace

How does it fit the challenge? It is an item that was worn both by warriors and more peaceful people, but I find the theory that the fashion originated from the need to have something under a chainmail hood rather plausible. People without coifs tend to get their hair stuck when they try on chainmail hoods. At least in our days. (I saw it happen only yesterday…)

Fabric: Hemp/nettle blend

Pattern: Taken from another coif

Year: Medieval – from at least the 12th century onwards to the 16th, according to the images on Larsdatter’s page.

Notions: Linen thread, bees wax

How historically accurate is it? On me: Not at all. On a guy: Fairly, say around 70 %

Hours to complete: About 3 or 4. Handsewing is not something I can do fast…

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost: Leftover pieces from other projects, so not much, but difficult to say.

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HSM #3 – Stashbusting (part 2)

The stashbusting challenge of The Historical Sew Monthly was for me a chance to sew a coat or a kaftan that has been waiting to be since 2008. I actually bought the fabric with a different coat in mind, in the style of late 15th century, but that coat would require much more fabric, so a couple of years back, I changed the idea into a Viking style kaftan. My stash and the beginning of the sewing process is described and depictured in this post.

Whenever you tread onto the road of Viking garments, you realize that there is not much to go on in the area of primary sources. To be honest, I’d like to replace the term ”historically accurate” with the term ”historically plausible” when it comes to recreating Viking Age garments. I don’t deny that there’s a lot of knowledge even in the small pieces of disintegrating cloth that has been found. I’m an archaeologist, and small leftovers from the bountiful artefacts that once was is usually all we have to go on, and especially if you also know the craft that made the pieces you’re studying, you can tell loads from small pieces! But when those damaged, small pieces of cloth is reconstructed into whole outfits, with the help of how buttons, brooches and other ornaments are placed in excavated graves, and sometimes, if you’re in luck, with period depictions of humans/deities, then a lot of conjecture will naturally come into play. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, since the alternatives are to either ignore the archaeology and other sources altogether, or not to re-enact at all and ignore the practical knowledge base from experiments and re-enactments. Neither of which is a scenario I’d like to see. I just think that in these circumstances, the words ”accurate” or ”correct” give a false impression of absolute truth, and can we please just call the same thing ”plausible” instead! Or to put it in other words, this rant is my personal pet peeve about the words we use, not the actual actions behind them, since everyone I’ve come across who has discussed the level of accuracy in historical re-enactments are perfectly aware of – and always state – the fact that 100% accuracy can never be obtained. So again, I campaign for the word plausible!

Sorry about that little rant. Let me show you some pictures instead!

Layout of the whole kaftan

Layout of the whole kaftan

I based the pattern on the simple ”geometrical figures pattern” for clothes. It’s very similar to the diagram presented in Skogsduva’s blog post. I didn’t do it exactly after this diagram though, but made some changes. I did not divide the front and the back piece, making it one long continious piece. The sleeves were made by one measurement on top and one for the wrist, making them shaped by those means rather than that described in the blog post. Also I didn’t do a gore for the back, but only for the sides. The reason for this is simple: I wanted to save fabric. Fabrics were expensive, and if you weren’t making an even number of kaftans from the same fabric, you would get unnecessary fabric waste from three gores, as you get two triangular gores from a rectangular piece of fabric. On the other hand, the same logic might have caused a fashion to show off your wealth by your clothes, and take care to add that back gore…

Two gores from one rectangle

Two gores from one rectangle

So how does the whole thing look then? Well, it won’t be entirely ready until the Accessorize challenge in July, but here’s how it looks midway through.

The classic image of this blog, a garment hanging on a door...

The classic image of this blog, a garment hanging on a door…

If you look closely at the hem, you can see that it’s rather wonky. The lowest hem is folded double, which was unnecessary with this thick fabric, so I will pick it up and (hopefully) make it better before I’ll consider myself completely done with the sewing.

The kaftan is perhaps more of re-enactment fashion than a part of a Viking woman’s warderobe. The evidence for the male kaftan in the Viking Age is a little bit more supported by the source material such as depictions, but the female kaftan is pretty much guesswork. The kaftans on Vikings were probably also a fashion connected to the eastern Viking routes, so it’s perhaps more probable in places like Birka, where there are many eastern influences in the material. Here is one page I found about re-enactment kaftans, and the different interpretations that can be made. The idea that women only wore a shawl fastened by a brooch is however in my view made by someone who never spent a few months in the Scandinavian winter… The shawl may very well have been the outermost garment, but the snow and rains of the Scandinavian winters would, in my opinion, have meant that there was need for a fairly waterproof and warm outer coat, perhaps made by vadmal, for both sexes… As a side note, if I remember correctly from environmental archaeology studies, the Bronze Age Scandinavia was warmer than present day, but during the Iron Age the climate got cooler, and the Viking Age is the last part of the Iron Age here in Scandinavia, so the winters would have been rather cold. Another, less serious side note is that when I was a young teenager living in Northern Sweden, you did not wear a hat until it was below minus 15 degrees celcius. This fashion was however disregarded when I got older and wiser, and less concerned about admitting that I was cold… So perhaps it was the same thing with the shawl vs. the coat/kaftan…? 😉

The Challenge: Stashbusting (it was due March 31st, I’m so behind on the documentation!)

Fabric: Dark madder red wool. In stash for 7 years, which makes me feel a bit better about the 2 months delay of the blog post!

Pattern: Rectangles, rectangles made into triangles, and squares.

Year: Broadly aimed towards the 8th-11th century CE

Notions: Linen thread, bee’s wax

How historically accurate is it? Not a clue. Perhaps more of re-enactment fashion, however it’s historically possible (or even plausible) in fabric (madder was imported early, and there are native plant roots that also give a red colour) and pattern. It’s also hand sewn, but I don’t think my skill of hand sewing matches the skills of a woman my age in that time…

Hours to complete: More than I’d like to admit… (I didn’t keep count, but it felt like ages…)

First worn: Not yet. It’s not completely finished yet either…

Total cost: I don’t remember. Does 7 years in stash make it free? 😉

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Stashbusting part 1

I’m late with the challenge, once again, since my stash project was too big to bring on travels. So I’ll just give you some pictures and get back to it when it’s completely finished! As luck would have it, my War and Peace idea is faster to make… (I’ve already seen in the Facebook photo album that somebody else had the same idea as me, so it’s not unusual either!)

Anyways, back to the stash. This is my stash. I was extremely proud of my not-so-large stash, until I remembered that there are some boxes in the basement too….

Stash. Some of it.

Stash. Some of it.

This is once again a rectangles-triangles-squares project, but this time it’s all hand-sewn and I’ve gotten a new favourite stitch, which you will get to see in the more official post of the project. I need to finish one side and then onto the hemming, then it’s done until the Accessorize challenge. What is it, you may ask? Well, it’s for a Viking outfit, a much popular but not un-disputed kaftan for women. The disputes are really interesting too and I’ll write a larger post of it in the near future, since I think it’s a really interesting but in fairness also a rather tiresome debate, so I don’t have time to do it justice right now.

Squares and rectangles, some of which are waiting to be triangles...

Squares and rectangles, some of which are waiting to be triangles…

I have come a longer way than shown on the photo above, but I seem to have misplaced my camera somewhere so I don’t have the other progress photos on my computer yet. So until next time, scatterbrain over and out.

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