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, I am not going to lie, I was still thinking of why not to get cheap elo boosting while I was there. 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.
So here is another SCA related post with some thoughts on how things work in our society. And this time my thoughts are related to our awards and what it sometimes does to us. The whole thought with the awards is to encourage people to continue doing good things – to continue teaching, working so that we all can have fun, to continue fighting or archery or woodcarving – or whatever is your favorite SCA poison. However – it is also easy to get blinded by it. And to get to focused on it.
I know – it is easy for me to say that awards aren’t important – having a bunch of awards. But here comes my question: If you do things only for the awards – will you continue once you get the award? Or once you have climbed all the steps and achieved the ultimate goal? When there is no more award to get?
To answer this question I think you need to ask yourself another question. What if there weren’t any awards? What would you be doing if there were no scrolls, no special bling and no cookies? And I know – this is generalizing things a lot. Not all people hunt awards and sometimes one award can be really desired and will really make a whole lot of difference in someones motivation. But from time to time I think it is healthy for all of us to stop and ask ourselves: If there were no awards in the SCA – what would I do? Would I hold sewing meetings at my house? Would I volunteer to autocrat or to hold an office? Would I do bone carving or is it really textile arts that is my thing? This could also be a good question to ask yourself when you are having an SCA low – because we all have those too. If there wasn’t an award system and if we never got attention for what we were accomplishing, learning, doing or making – what would I find most fun? What is it that makes ME feel good about this hobby and what motivates me? And the answers might not be the same every time you ask the question. And our motivations might shift. It is not always bad to want awards. But when awards are the only thing that motivates you – I don’t think you will ever be satisfied or feel good about this hobby.
A short while ago I read a column from the New York Times with the title ”Slaves of the Internet, Unite”.
Being a journalist by profession and having many artist friends I know the subject of that column way to well.
Lots of writers and artists are asked to do original work for free and for what usually is called ”great exposure”.
This made me think a bit about the SCA too.
We have a wonderful way of sharing knowledge and helping each other find new sources and get more and new knowledge.
What gets me is the times when someone walks up to me or e-mails me and asks me to just hand over all my research.
And the reason they usually feel entitled to my research is because they have been asked to teach or they have been told they need to write up some documentation if they want to advance, and they really don’t know much about the subject because they have up to this point just been making pretty and lovely things but not really studied the field.
Their interest focus has been on making the items – not knowing how the items really were made, who used them and from what materials the items were made.
I am not saying this approach is wrong! Not everyone likes to do research.
Usually I don’t think the person asking me to hand over my research does it out of malice and I really think that they don’t understands what they are asking me to do.
I think we are so used to the sharing and helping in the SCA that we have lost parts of the respect for what goes in to doing the research.
Would you ever come up with the idea and offer to teach a class/hold a workshop on a subject that you have no or very little knowledge about at school or at work?
Would you ever – in the mundane world – ask someone else to write up your assignment to hand in to the teacher to get a grade?
I don’t think so. Unless you belong to the group of people that cut corners by plagiating someone elses work.
And if you are not ok with plagiarism in the mundane world – then you shouldn’t be ok with plagiarism in the SCA context.
Stealing is stealing. People will get upset.
Using someone elses research as a base for your own – that is ok. Just as it is in the mundane world.
But if you are not prepared to do some research on your own – don’t say yes to teaching a subject you do not know and don’t participate in A&S competitions where a proper documentation is required.
The internet and the possibility to google just about anything and have someone else give us all the answers have made many of us lazy and made us think that well what the heck – I’ll just google it. And in the SCA – we sort of google by going to the person we know that knows the most about a subject.
Don’t get me wrong. We should share and we should help each other in the SCA.
But to ask someone who has spent YEARS on researching a subject to hand over all the research so that you yourself don’t have to do any work and then use that material for your own advancement and teaching – that is plain rude.
Some of my own research comes from material that I have gotten by contacting museums to get articles sent to me in languages like Czech, Polish and German and that I then have spent time on translating. Not to mention what work went into actually finding out that there was material to ask for…
In my work as a journalist I have to rely on other peoples information to get the basic understanding of a subject – but when I write the article – I do my own original piece.
Or when I see some other newspapers layout that is brilliant – I can of course lend the idea – but then adapt it for other content that suits my newspaper. I do not just take the entire subject and layout and do the exact same thing.
Inspiration and plagiarism are two very different things.
And this is what I wanted to get to.
I happily share my handouts.
I have posted a link to my LibraryThing where people can see all the books I own (or they will soon when I get the time to add the rest of the books) and hence see what books I have used to do my research. I like owning the books so I have invested quite a lot of money in my research materials.
I also happily teach.
I can even tell people in what book they can find the information they are looking for.
What I do NOT do – is to do the research for them.
I do not make handouts for others.
I also won’t put together classes for others.
If you want me to comment on your handout, your lecture structure and what you plan to bring up in your lecture – I will happily comment and help.
But you have to do the work yourself.
In the end – you will feel great about what you have accomplished and on top of that – you will have shown those who have done research in the same field before you, that you understand the hard work they have done and that you value their help.
So this is my SCA take on how I do not do original work for free for others.
I can help you, show you in the right direction – but the reading and writing I will not do for you.
Yesterday I went through a box with old pictures. And I found photos of me in my early SCA days wearing some of my very first medieval clothing. And I thought it might be good to make a post about the fact that we all begin somewhere.
Most of us have started this hobby while young and quite often a poor student.
Sometimes it is hard for new young members to remember that those who wear fantastic dresses out of silks and woolens they can only dream of – have been in that exact same situation.
So here are some of my early day clothing. When I was a poor student and when books on medieval clothing were almost impossible to find and fabrics were not something you could order online… 😉
This is me as Vicerine of Nordmark at Double Wars 1997. Picture was taken by Inger Iona Bladh.
I was 22 years old and studied Behaivioral Science at the University. The dress is made of a viscose/linen blend woven in some sort of vine pattern. I loved this dress! It was sewn on machine, had a rather long train and was laced in the back where I had put in about 60 metal eyelets. The belt was made of rough linen and I had sewn on parts of cheap necklaces that I took apart and I used gold colored rope like trim and some semi precious stones to bling it up. Oh and no underdress… 🙂
This is a dress I made during the reign as Vicerine of Nordmark. The Viceroy had a matching outfit.
It is a heraldic dress with the nordmark arms (per pale azure and sable, a chevron argent) made out of satin cotton.
All edges of the dress (hem, neckline and sleeves) were embroidered with cotton floss – just simple rather large crosses – and in between the embroidered crosses here were semi precious stones attached. And then I had the tipets out of regular sheet cotton. Everything was machine sewn. And still no underdress. 🙂 And the necklace I am wearing is a ”Robin of Locksley” cross that were rather popular when the Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner was brand new… 😉
This is my very first all linen dress! Having Polish parents I got access to some cheap linen from Poland.
A friend of mine (the very talented EvaJohanna), had a bodice pattern that we all absolutely adored. It was cut in one piece and in times when corset like bodices and skirts and big poofy shirts were the thing this pattern was really the roar! I was so happy when I was given the pattern and was allowed to use it by its creator! And I figured it could also work if it was cut open in the back instead – so this dress is the reverse of the one piece front laced bodice – it is backlaced instead. 🙂 And I used it to make an Italian style dress for an event in the town of Varberg where there was going to be a Crown Tourney and all the girls from my home Shire decided that the theme would be white so we would all have white dresses.
Under the bust I wore a linen belt laced in the back and embroidered with glass pearls in shapes I had seen in illuminated manuscripts. This picture was most likely taken at Double Wars 1998.
Double Wars 2000. I had moved away to study far away from my home Shire and I had also left the SCA. I started hanging out with a landsknecht re-enactment group and there everything had to be hand stitched. So This is me in my very first hand stitched landsknecht dress! At that time there were lots of ideas on how these dresses were constructed and most of those ideas were based on just trying to interpret woodcuts – and this was the result.
The dress is wool with raw silk behind the slashes in the skirt and the same raw silk is used in the jacket slashing and all was hand stitched with linen thread. I made hosen, a skirt, a shirt, a jacket, a slashed coif and a hat.
In 7 days.
I sewed all my time awake and slept possibly for 4 hours per night.
I do hope that this post puts a little perspective on development of the clothing in the SCA and also the fact that just because some people wear fancy dresses of expensive materials today, they might have started with polyester and cotton back when they were young and poor.
Now the access of information on medieval clothing was also very different and today the bar is much higher than it was back when I started playing, so new members of today most likely feel a lot more pressured to do accurate clothing than I did at the end of the 90’s.
But the bar is only so high as you set it yourself.