Life has been a rollercoaster lately with too many things going on, but here is one thing I can tell you about:
I am part of the team that will reconstruct the Masku coverlet – a 15th century intarsia (inlaid) embroidery found in the Masku churh in the late 19th century in a project that is a cooperation between historical textile enthusiasts and the National Musem in Helsinki. You can read more about it on my friend Elinas blog Neulakko (here) and about the Swedish project done a year ago that sparked this reconstruction (here).
As the title of this blog post indicates – I will be working on one of the deer patches.
Today we got to visit the museum vault where they are doing conservation of the extant textile in preparation of the exhibit when the recunstruction we’re making will be unveiled.
We got to spend 1,5 hours with the extant piece taking notes and photos to help us do the project. While we work on the pieces we’ll share snippets and peaks – but no more than that.
So here is a first peak behind the curtains of this incredible project! This is a picture that Elina snapped of me during the day and it sort of sums up the geekyness so completely!
Pictures were taken with phones and cameras, we looked at seams (both front and back) with loupes, measured, took notes and made sketches.
Since I have dabbled in the intarsia technique before I also got the honor to teach – well, rather give a short introduction – to the technique, to all the other participants and then everyone did a small test patch just working out the kinks of doing wool jigsaw puzzles.
This is the actual workshop where you’ll find us at the National Museum in Helsinki the following dates:
• 16:th of October
• 19:th of November
• 17:th of December
• 21:st of January – Unveiling of the original and new textile at the museum.
They sit on the inside of garments and are rarely visible — but it feels oh so good to know they are hand made and fashioned after archeological finds.
On top of this they are super easy to make.
Here are the tools you need:
A small ruler to measure the wire, a round rod to bend the eyes around, pliers to cut the wire with, round jewelry pliers to make the tiny loops at the ends of the wire and flat jewelry pliers to squeeze the wire together.
I use the cutting pliers to hold the bits that will become hooks while I squeeze the wire with the flat jewelry pliers.
Here are the different stages of making hooks:
And here are the different stages of making eyes:
I use 1 mm brass wire and I cut the hoos bits to 4,5 cm and the eye bits to 3,5 cm (measurements that my friend Tece de Kaxtone figured would work best).
These hand made hooks and eyes do hold the garment together brilliantly and as you can see it is not rocket science and goes super fast to make.
I have based mine on finds from Kempten in Germany.
Today I finally finalized the pattern for a new Rock. I am basing it on the pattern from the Leonfeldner Schnittbuch and a diagram of the pattern can be found on page 246-247 in Drei Schnittbücher.
Using a modern fabric on a modern width I still decided to cut it on a more authentic width. That means I needed to try to lay it out on the fabric leaving as few scraps as possible and accomplishing this means deviding pieces of the pattern.
A good renaissance tailor left very little scraps — called cabbage. Back then you bought a fabric that you took to the tailor and the tailor had to give you all the cabbage when you picked up your ready garment, since you were the owner of the fabric. A good tailor handed back an amount of cabbage that fit in one hand.
I can’t say that I succeeded with very little cabbage, but it was fun trying to lay the puzzle in real size on the fabric. But it was a real work out since I first made the full size pattern, and then laid it out — cutting off bits that didn’t fit on the fabric. Then I placed all the cut off pieces of the pattern trying to waste as little fabric as possible. Tomorrow I’ll cut it out.
In 2005 I visited Lübeck for an SCA event. Before flying home I visited the ”Kulturforum Burgkloster”, and there in one of the show cases were the two front pieces of a silk lining from a womans 16th century Frauenwams. There was no back piece nor sleeves or gussets.
This was super exciting, but the museum had no postcards of these textiles, nor did they have any kind of publication with a picture of it.
When I came home I tried contacting the museum but never got a response. Eventually I asked a friend in Germany to help me, and a few months later I had the conservation documentation in my hands.
I don’t have permission from the museum to publish any of their pictures or share the conservation documents, but I will write up what I know about this find for you, and below you’ll find my drawing of the pattern of the front panels.
• The two front panels of the silk lining were found in the inner city of Lübeck. The conservation was done at the Storstrøms Konserveringscenter in Næstved, Denmark. The find has the catalogue number 1402/2 K1.
• While the textile find was cleaned they managed to take some samples of fibers which were examined under a microscope. The fibers are pure silk from the silkworm of the Mulberry tree (Bombyx Mori).
The fibers were in surprisingly good shape and only had small damages.
• Once the textiles were cleaner some interesting observations were made. There was a forgotten pin fastened in the original position in the lining and there were traces of top coat wool fibers on the part of the panels that would be positioned to the rear of the person wearing the jacket.
• The edges were all folded and stitched down with silk sewing thread, the original thread remaining.
• The pieces were of the typical brown shade that organic finds from a sewage milieu have and all indications point towards that someone has made changes and adaptations to the original jacket and the no longer needed front panels of the lining have been disposed of.
• The silk is of a regular tabby weave.
What I did
With the support of the notes from the conservation I drew the following conclusion:
The jacket obviously had a silk lining, and the find from the wool fibers indicates that the outer fabric was wool. The top coat of a sheep is a thicker fiber than the under coat also indicating that this jacket was not made out of the finest quality of wool.
The shape of the front pieces of the lining is very interesting since it has a v-neck cut, something not seen in any of the picture sources I’ve seen from either German 16th century art nor the English art (I looked at English fashion since waistcoats/jackets were rather popular there as well). There is one embroidered waistcoat at the V&A that has a v-neck, but it is cut much wider than the v-neck on the lining from Lübeck.
The German art mostly shows rather high cut rounded necklines or earlier in the 16th century, square necklines.
A difference noted is that the curve at the back of the front panels is larger in this German find than in the English finds, making the back piece of this outer garment very narrow.
Since the textile find only included the front panels I had to make up the shape of the sleeves, and I assumed that the jacket had at least 4 gussets since there are two slits cut in the front pieces for gussets and then to make the jacket fit at the back it would be safe to assume that another 2 gussets had been inserted in the seams joining the front panels to the back piece of the jacket.
My favorite inspiration over the year has been artwork from the Nürnberg area and even if it is far between Lübeck and Nürnberg I really wanted to try the puffed sleeves of the house maid jacket depicted in Hans Weigels Trachtenbuch from 1577. That Frauenwams also seems to be of a corresponding length to the find from Lübeck.
Most of the depictions of women wearing these Frauenwams show maids or farmers. Upper class women are more often depicted wearing longer schaubes or gollars, but there are a few examples in Weigels Trachtenbuch. They seem to be made out of brocade and not be embroidered like the English linen waistcoats.
Some very talented friends of mine (in the SCA known as Mistress Helwig Ulfsdotter, Mistress Lia de Thornegge, Viscountess Philippa Birgersdotter and Viscount William of Richwood) helped me create a pattern for the jacket.
I chose to use a rather thin blue and black herring bone twill out of wool for my outer fabric and a yellow/blue tabby woven silk for the lining. The sewing threads used were all silk.
Originally I had planned to make all the hooks and eyes myself but in the end I had to realize that my hands were not up for that task back then so I asked my friend Riku from Swan River Crafts to make me some hooks and eyes.
Then I did some more research on jacket/waistcoat constructions by reading Seventeenth-century Women’s Dress Patterns – Book One – Edited by Susan North and Jenny Tiramani, especially looking at techniques for inserting gussets and stitches used in the jackets and sequences of assembly of the different pieces.
The conclusion being that all jackets have the gussets inserted pretty much in any technique the maker saw fit and that went for stitches used too, however back stitch and running stitch dominated.
I inserted my gussets by backstitching them in – the ones in the seams at the back were easy – and the front ones were back stitched almost to the top and once both sides were almost stitched in I stitched the top in place from the outside.
The sleeves were back stitched together (pattern is the S-curve sleeve that was extended at the top to make a puffed sleeve) and then the lining was sewn in place at the wrists and the whole sleeve (lining and outer fabric) were stitched into the armscye of the outer fabric.
I took one step away from the indications of the actual find from Lübeck by sewing the lining of the body together with the outer fabric leaving it open at the neck and then turning it. (The find had the edges of the lining all stitched down with the original silk thread and I did not stitch down the lining seam allowance around the edges – I only felled all the seams).
Once the frauenwams was turned I closed the hole at the neck and then I stab stitched the edges all around the jacket. At the front where I would add the hooks and eyes I did three rows of stab stitches to reinforce the closure.
After that I stitched down the edges of the lining around the armscye.
The last thing was to add the 23 hooks and eyes to close the jacket.
What can be done better?
I am happy with the result but version 2.0 will be tweaked a bit.
• I will not use a herring bone twill since that weave is not common in 16th century finds.
• I will refit the gussets on the jacket since the jacket was originally fitted over a dress with much less fabric around the hips making the jacket wrinkle at the back since the silhouette of this heavy woolen dress is different than the thinner dress the jacket was fitted on.
• The next version will have a plain sleeve as is seen in lots of the woodcuts and other depictions of Frauenwams.
• When assembling the jacket I will make it with the turned seam allowance to be more true to the find.
And here is the final result – me in my sleeveless dress with the jacket based on the extant find from Lübeck but with the Nürnberg puffed sleeves.
It might just be me, my Social Media walls and my surroundings – but lately I have only seen lots of negative posts about the SCA and events that people have visited. It seems that only bad stuff is happening and nothing fun, inspiring or good ever occurs anymore.
As we all know – what we see is what we get – so if we only see all the bad and negative aspects of an SCA event we will go home and write an update on Facebook of how boring the event was and only shitty stuff happened. The food was bad, someone was an ass, the landed people made the most outrageous requests, it was cold, the wrong people got the awards and on top of that the laurels bashed everyone who doesn’t hand sew, the knights rhinoed and the pelicans didn’t lift a finger.
An update like that will not really spread any joy or inspiration for others to want to join in or to get excited about the next event.
In any large gathering of humans it is impossible for everyone to get along. However – we all still have the choice of behaving like adults.
Will it really make things any better if you are rude to someone that hurt your feelings once? (Before you answer yes to this, let me just tell you that you being rude hurts the other person AND it steals of YOUR energy and it will put you in a negative mindset that might influence the amount of fun you have at the event.)
So here is a challenge for ALL of you for 2016:
The next time you go to an event, look around you and notice all the positive and good things that happen around you.
When you get home from the event – don’t write a negative status update or just a general thank you to all who arranged the event. Write a post and list three things that happened at the event that made you happy, made you smile, gave you inspiration or moved you in some way.
Let us all make 2016 into a much more positive year!
If you want to use hash tags I suggest that you use #SCAthreegoodthings or #SCApositive.
I know the last one sounds a bit like being positive for a disease – but I am actually happy to be infected with the SCA virus. 🙂
Are you with me on this?
This blog post is way over due!
My former protégé Viscountess Whilja de Gothia was elevated to the Order of the Laurel in the SCA in May this year.
I couldn’t make it all the way to sunny Caid from my home in Drachenwald, but I knew I would see Whilja at Midsummer Coronation in her homelands of Nordmark so I helped out with a few small surprises for her vigil in Caid (like teaching the people speaking for her how to say ”I speak for Whilja” in Swedish, which is ”Jag talar för Whilja”) and then we planned an open little post vigil for her at Drachenwald Midsummer Coronation.
We wanted to give her a chance to hear from all her friends in Drachenwald so during the afternoon fika (look that up – it is an awesome Swedish daily necessity!) at the event, we set up a little table, arranged a little vigil book and she got served coffee with her favorite liquer Lakka. Lady Aelfwynne had painted a pretty laurel banner and we brought our vigil gifts for Whilja.
I made Whilja a gollar with a slashed laurel decoration to go with her landsknecht clothing.
It is made out of a madder red tabby wool, flat lined with white linen and the decoration is made from green silk and a white wool twill that was apliqued on the madder red gollar.
My gollar pattern is a 4 part pattern with a center back seam and the collar is part of the 4 panels.