30 Dec 2009

More forum information

Hi all forum members,

I hope your Holidays have been great and I also take the opportunity to wish you one heck of a New Year!

And on to the business: not only the forum but the server as whole are experiencing problems, as you may have noticed.

I have contacted support and was assured things would be back within 48 hours. Those hours have not yet expired so I will will try to keep my patience and also keep in mind that there were and are holidays going on which may slow things down. Annoying, but everything IT-related is or so I' starting to believe.

But I hope we all will meet again in 2010, with or without new costuming resolutions!

Take care of yourself and have a smashing New Year's Eve!

10 Dec 2009

Info to the members of Historical Sewing Forum

...the rest of you can simply disregard this message...

The forum is being transferred to another hosting service and is therefore unavailable at the moment.

I had no idea that the transfer would occur so soon after I signed up with the new host, so I hadn't even time to inform the moderators, even less so the members.

But everything should be back to normal within 24 hours, I hope.

The good news is that the domain historicalsewingforum.com now has been purchased and should be up and running soon. So bookmark it now!

9 Dec 2009

Mini-project completed. Now onto a big one. Of madness.

I started on this little linen fichu yesterday and completed it today. It's rather smallish since I only had scraps left of the fabric.

One day I want to make a BIG one, the kind that wraps around you! But that will have to be in a time when I have forgotten how tedious rolled hems can be.


And tonight it was time to start on my new project of madness...

It is going to be a dress heavily inspired by an extant gown belonging to the museum of Gothenburg.

This gown was in its turn inspired by the National Costume that was launched by king Gustaf III in 17778 (Read Isis's great post on it here), but this gown's first owner must have been a fashion-conscious lady for this gown shows very few traces of the National gown, like this one,

but the much more fashionable profile of the 1780's.

What I like about it are the simple lines and the lack of embellishments (I am going to leave out the bow in the back, I think) and that it's black! When I stumbled upon this dress I had had thoughts about a black robe á la Francaise but I quickly changed my mind.

So tonight I made a working toile for the bodice (I had a pattern I could alter so it wasn't too much work) and I then cut out the lining for the bodice. Then I went on an extended break, lasting until tomorrow evening, post-dinner.

The lining is of grey linen and I have lots and lots of black silk taffeta for the gown itself.

What I can't tell from the museum's vague description is if the back is cut en forreau or not. I think it is and I have decided to make it that way because it will look awesome!

So the only cloud on my sky, and the madness part of this project, is the deadline. 12th night. Yeah, I'm crazy but if there's hope and all that. I may be able to hire my poor relatives for some sweatshop work if things get out of hand.

Wish me luck?

7 Dec 2009

Yesterday's Christmas dinner - with pictures

Yesterday evening was very pleasant.

The weather was most un-Christmasy with rain but that's how most winters are in Stockholm nowadays so it was only to be expected.

But the house, Kristinehovs Malmgård, was lit up both on the outside as well as within, which helped my spirits up. And they continued to rise with the aide of good company, entertainment, drinks and - food!

The traditional Swedish Christmas food is very rich and plentiful! It's served buffet style and with dozens and dozens of different dishes, it's next o impossible to try them all - especially when in stays! I was pretty full after only the cold dishes (pickled herring, salmon and other lovely things) and then there were tons of dessert!

Christmas trees was not too common in Sweden in the 18th century but not unheard of.

Someone spoke of a written source from 1741 mentioning a decorated tree with present beneath so the beautiful tree was not out of place.

There were many children present and I don't know if it was them or me who was the most fascinated by Gustafs Skål's mascot, the tiny rooster Gustaf!

He popped in for a quick visit, but thought himself better off with his three chicks in the hen house.

And I did finish my pet-en-l'air in time, althiugh I made the last stitches only withing hours from the start of the event.

Miss Ellinor did my hair and I think she did a pretty darn good job too, if you consider she never did anything like it before!

I wore my new stays for the first time (for more than just a couple of hours, that is) and believe I'm very pleased with them. They were really comfortable, even after a heavy dinner and that must be a good sign? And my shoes did not fall apart, although they weren't too comfortable. But a girl can't have everything...

The next event is Gustafs Skål's 12th Night Masquerade and there is this gown I desperately want to make but will I have the time? More about that later; tonight I'm working on a mini-project, a linen fichu, and I just finished 320 centimeters of rolled hems - fuuun!

Für Elyse

Some of you already follow Elyse's fascinating blog Gillray's Printshop of Historical Absurdities and the rest of you has a very pleasant discovery to make.

The last updates have had a very Napoleonic theme to them, and I immediately thought of them when I rummaged through a drawer the other day.

I didn't find what I was looking for, but I found the Napoleon incense I bought in Krakow this summer!

That's right - Napoleon incense! Of course I couldn't pass it up.

So what does it smell like? Well, a great part of gun powder and Austerlitz, with a hint of Waterloo and Joesphine's unwashed body.

Or, to make a long story short:

"Such a blend can never be again."

Indeed not. We keep all our Very Important Papers in this drawer together with the incense sticks so they too smell like Napoleon. This amuses me a bit (in the pictures you also see a couple of miniature portraits of the late pope John Paul. He was born in a little village outside of Krakow so this is just the town for all your pope memorabilia needs. They had everything but T-shirts and ashtrays I believe).

4 Dec 2009

Shoes, fabric and a cat

Three lovely things indeed: a pair of shoes, lengths of fabric and the cat in my life!

Me and the cat are all by ourselves tonight. My DH is out with a friend (they were actually going to see Pete Doherty, but I just got a text message informing me that the sweet boy never showed up. Surprise, surprise...) and my stepdaughter is acting as a hostess at a Christmas dinner in an 18th century building (in costume of course!) just like I did last year. Sniff! They grow up so quickly these days...

That means that I can do lots of sewing without getting bad conscience for being anti-social on a Friday night. I really am going to have the pet-en-l'air finished on Sunday!

Anyhow - in the picture above you see the shoes I recovered about 200 years ago. They now have buckles (modern buckles, alas) and will also be worn for the first time on Sunday. I do hope that the heels will carry me all night since they're glued on. Maybe I should bring a spare pair of shoes, just in case?

You also see a newly-bought fabric (actually curtains) that found at one Salvation Army thrift/charity store. I'm quite in love with it and there's lots of tit but I haven't the slightest idea what to do with it. There just isn't that Instant Image in my mind when I look at it, but time will tell. Ideas and inspiration always welcome, of course!

And last, but not least, sweet Börjesson. I love him but he eats shoes and that's the truth! Only my shoes, and only dressy shoes. I don't know what's up with that. I have to put shoes I care about on a shelf 2 meters above the floor if I want them to stay safe from him. He likes to chew on the corners of books too, especially fancy coffee-table books. Why it's better not too keep those kind of books on the coffee table any more.

I hope y'all will have a good weekend, I know I will! I had the day off today (Friay) and won't get back to work until Tuesday! Mini-vacation FTW!

I'll try to take some pictures on the Christmas dinner on Sunday, beause this place lacks pictures badly these days. XXX

30 Nov 2009

Time for the rush

I knew something was wrong with my last finished project, the 1809 gown, that I finished more than one week before the event to which it would be worn. this was a most disturbing experience and I promised myself it would never happen again.

And I always try to keep my promises, so here I am, with less than a week left to finish the IKEA pet-en-l'air I have been hinting about so that it can make its première on the Christmas dinner.

For once, I have some progress pictures (with bonus views of our messy living room!)

Since I made myself a new pair of stays my dress dummy Glendora 2.0 no longer works as she is supposed to for fittings and mostly serves as a glorified clothes hanger. I can assure you that the pet-en-l'air looks much better on me.

OK, mostly the same picture, but you can see our messy living room better in this one.

What the ruching looks like, but I see that I could have done a better job in this spot. Will fix that.

I did add some more ruching to it after the pictures were taken, but this is pretty much how far I have gotten.

Left to do:

- Add hooks and eyes to one side of the stomacher (the other side is sewn to the bodice. I have no idea if this is anywhere near period correct but it saves my sanity. I can't pin stuff to save my life and that's why you never should walk around bare foot in our livingroom when I've been sewing).

- Add some kind of trim to the stomacher. I don't know what kind yet though.

- Add ruching to the sleeves and all way 'round the bottom edge of the pet-en-l'air.

- Possibly add a flounce to the petticoat (that I thankfully finished months ago!) but this depends on whether I have the time and if I have fabric enough left.

Those plans I had on making a better pair of pocket hoops and a nicer under petticoat simply will have to wait.

I should easily make it if I only put some effort into it. Last week I tried to make some sewing every evening, even if it was only a couple of stitching, just to feel that I was going somewhere. It's not that I don't want to sew, because I do, but I'm usually very exhausted from work and to be honest, I haven't had much love for this pet-en-l'air for some reason (and sometimes it's also very tempting to play Age of Empires III over LAN with you husband and ignore everything else, including housework. We got a new computer not long ago, you see...)

When this business is finished, I have a brand new project of lovelyness waiting for me. But more about that later.

17 Nov 2009

The resurrection of Madame Berg

Hello, internets, how do you do?

Our internet connection decided to die one day. I waited for about a day and then called our provider, who finally managed to realise that they, for no reason whatsoever, had disconnected our modem. They promised that we would be on-line within 24 hours. They lied. Now, one week later, we finally have the service we pay dearly (far too dearly) for back and working.

But. It wasn't the end of the world, just annoying. It's actually kind of good to see that you can live without being on-line 24/7 once in a while, and live well too!

I haven't been totally disconnected, though: I have sneaked into internet cafés (internet café? Sooo 1998!) once in a while to do some checking in and drive-by commenting on the forum and blogs. Still - I have a lot of catching up to do on all your blogs and I look forward to it more than you can imagine!

One could be led to believe that this internet abstinence would have resulted in a huge boost to my sewing, and in a better world, that would undoubtedly have been the case.

In my world, however, the population (=me) suffers from an awful lack of energy and motivation, and I take the easy way out and blame the 1) dark, 2) dark 3) dark 4) rain and 5) work.

What I've mostly been ignoring lately is a pet-en-l'air made from the smoking ashes of my IKEA francaise, that I ripped up seam by seam because it was awful and a complete waste of good fabric.

It's progressing ever so slowly but time has finally come for sleeves. And we all know what joy that is.

My plan was to have the pet-en-l'air and a petti in the same fabric ready for Gustaf Skål's Christmas dinner on December the 4th but I have my doubts. If I do make it - great! - but I'm not going to stress it. Que sera, sera and all that.

And now, I have some serious blog reading to do! See you later...

19 Oct 2009

...and I'm not even surprised!

So while I was on my way home after work today, a question just popped up and demanded an answer:

"Hey! I wonder if someone has made the French Revolution with LEGO?"

Ten minutes later and a quick google search sufficed: Someone sure had!

As a matter of fact, there were several LEGO re-enactments of this event only on Youtube and I'm going to feature this one:

But, please, don't demand those 9:04 minutes of your life back from
me if you watch it!

14 Oct 2009

A post about shoes

I have been felling tired and stupid for the last few weeks and haven't done much sewing or anything of importance really.

But even a woman with half a brain can talk about shoes, so here it is: A post about shoes.

I bought these shoes at Lidl, of all places. Cheap and replaceable, I figured they'd make a good first re-covering project. I bought some black faux leather that I was going to use and started with one shoe but when I found the Red 80's Leather Jacket of Doom! on sale in a second hand store, I quickly changed my mind.

The jacket was absolutely grotesque and should probably have been burned or sent to the bottom of the sea in a sealed iron chest but it was a very nice and smooth leather, and very red, so as of now it' still in my home, slightly mutilated but still recognisable.

However, here's the result. They're RED (I read somewhere that red shoes were mostly worn by loose women. Is this true?)

I will have to work out something to hide the raw edges, and find some shoe buckles.

The flaws are plentiful, because I messed a few things up, but for once I won't point them out to you. I'm mostly done with them but hopefully learned a few things for my next project...

...which will be this pair.

I'm not too crazy about them so I don't care if they blow up. I will use scraps of grey silk taffeta that I have (actually a pair of half-finished mitts. That blew up).

Then I have these.

They will become my Sensible Shoes, for when a lot of walking and standing is to be expected. I want them to remain black so maybe I can use the faux leather for them.

Another pair of Sensible Shoes that I don't know what do do with yet, I just bought them.

These are the shoes I have used until now.

They're exactly as when I bought them and I don't think I will do anything about them. They're not really very pretty (or accurate...) but they will have to do until I've made something shiney. They're uncomfortable to boot (bad pun intended) which is another reason for not bothering with them.

But finally: the completely unworn 70's(?) beauties that I will save for later, when I've learnt to master the art of shoe re-covering.
There will be silk involved, that's all I know for now.

Well, that was a post about shoes all right. What shoes do you wear yourself when in costume? Pics and links please!

3 Oct 2009

Illustrations from poetry book

Swedish 18th century poetry isn't my cup of tea, with a few exceptions.

One of them is Anna Maria Lenngren, a female poet who lived 1754-1817.

She was married to Carl Petter Lenngren who was an editor of the Stockholm newspaper Stockholms Posten which became an outlet for Anna Maria's works. She also translated poetry and theatrical plays.

She was widely read and liked in her own time, and has continued to be so because her poems has aged so remarkably well. Her style was witty, satirical and humorous and one of her subjects was not seldom the overly proud and ridiculous nobleman or -woman, why I sometimes amuse myself with thinking that Anna Maria and Jane Austen would have liked each other, had they ever met...

But to the point: Anna Maria's poems weren't published in book form until 1819, after her death, but it has been re-printed again and again ever since, and I have the great joy of owning one copy published in 1890.

Besides the pretty cover, it also contains many illustrations by none other than Swedish artist Carl Larsson. The illustrations are late 19th century interpretations of 18th and early 19th century and, I think, quite lovely in their own right.

I left the poem here so you can see the lovely font! The girl has fainted upon learning that her parrot has been killed by a cat, who's being kicked out in the top left corner.

The subject of this poem was the "mutton dressed as lamb" thing...

This poem was written in the memory of Kellgren, a fellow poet and friend of Anna Maria, who passed in 1795. It is he who receives an embrace from the young woman (he did love the fair sex) and Gustaf III, who had died three years before, watches with some amusement from the background.

An old, right honourable and proud couple. But not even the finest pedigree will save them from the reaper...

A proposal scene. But is the young lady so virtuous and innocent as she looks? unfortunately, the man won't find out until after the wedding...

"My late wife"...

Mademoiselle Lisa is quite accomplished. She makes tolerable bobbin lace and no less than four heels on each stocking!

Young Lise marries a count! But all is vanity - in the end, she only becomes the subject of a poem!

"To my dear daughter, if I had one". This poem is still disputed among critics. Anna Maria tells her "daughter" to stay away from the pen and look to her household duties instead. But was it meant satirically or not? The debate goes on.

Is it Lady Catherine and Anne de Burgh? No, but it almost could be! Juliana is raised to think herself above most other people (in "the old ruins of the manor") but eventually marries below her birth, to her family's horror.

"Every age has its customs"... The young lady is told to care a little less about her respectability - it will come with age anyway!

His grace is fast asleep and won't get up for at least another hour, much to the dismay of his creditors who are waiting upon him.

"The Old Woman"

The countess and her daughter honour the vicar with a visit. His wife and daughter kiss the countess' skirt hem (a custom that wasn't abolished until 1809) and soon turn the house upside-down in an effort to make the visit agreeable to the honourable guests, who still remain rather unimpressed... Again I feel an Austen reference. Anyone else?


I just learned that Anna Maria Lenngren's poems have been translated into English by a man called Philip K. Nelson and published in 1984. One of his translations are available on the Swedish Anna Maria Lenngren wikipedia page, and I think it works very well compared to the original:

The Man's Last Wish
My dear wife, listen now
And promise while you tarry,
That when I die you'll vow
That you and Per won't marry.
My last wish you'll obey now, won't you?
For otherwise I'll come and haunt you.
The wife:
Dear husband, die in peace.
This promise I am making.
Your worrying can cease.
This vow I'm never breaking.
I swear that Per and I won't wed,
For I have promised Sven instead.
A little info about the book on Google books (it's not available there, though).

29 Sept 2009

'tis all a matter of priorities...

Yeah. I could, theoretically...

...talk about the joy that was the 1809 ball and even upload the only decent picture I took, or...

...show off my - finally - finished shift, or...

...my (zomg!) new pair of stays that I actually like, or...

...describe the ruthless butchering of the wretched IKEA robe that is in the process of becoming a pet-en-l'air...

I could do all that, as a matter of fact...

...but all I really want to do is lolPitts!
(With a humble dedication to Elyse)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I really think this can become the new Internet craze! Someone, maybe me, should register lolpitt.com before it's too late.

But until then: send all your lolpitts to me and wish for my speedy recovery from the trauma that is Post-Vacation Insanity-Blues (PVIB).

17 Sept 2009

WARNING: Sillyness Ahead!

Being very tired and without inspiration for sewing, I spent most of the evening in front of ye olde laptop. I soon got addicted to funniest little web page that I read about in today's Metro.
It deserves the Nobel prize for awesomeness.

You upload a portrait photo of your choice, wait a while, and watch the magic: A portrait in motion!

I naturally started out with a picture of me, as seen below, but I soon realised how much funnier it would be to try with portraits of some of our most loved18th century celebrities instead. Said and done!

The results? From really freaky to quite hilarious. Judge for yourselves:

Just little me

Gustaf III of Sweden. What's not to love?

Carl "Freaky Eyes" von Linné

Poor Marie Antoinette. This could be more flattering, I suppose.

Why so serious, George? You're on film!

I think I like this one best: Charles James Fox

Now go and make your own: http://labs.mppark.jp/hige

15 Sept 2009

Getting ready for the ball

I can't believe it!

The 1809 ball at Kristinehov is on Friday...

...and I've almost finished all of my stuff!

This is such an anomaly and I'm sure I'll end up paying dearly for this huge offence to the mighty power that is "Desperate-Sewing-Madness-Night-Before-Event".

So what is this total regency n00b's plan?

As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe more, so I give you a lot of pictures and I'll throw in a few words with the bargain as well:


I was going to buy plain, old white ballerinas when I found these. It was love at first site (at least in my case. I think the shoes have undetermined feelings due to a bad break-up recently):

"So were Indian/Pakistani Khussa with sequins and stuff all the rage around 1809?" you ask. I say: "Yes. Yes, it was."

Which is, of course, a lie. But I couldn't help myself. I love them. Besides, my camera, which has a face recognition feature, clearly sees a face on the toe. They smell a little like horse, but I like horses. I'll add ribbons to tie around my ankles to make sure they stay on.


Just... Just ignore my attempt at bead work. I was feeling a bit over-achieving at the time but what is done is done. Making tassels was fun, though!


I bought a typical Asian gift shop cheapo sandalwood fan that I planned to spice up.

So I sprayed it with white paint, because white paint is almost impossible to tell from ivory, and will add a ribbon in lieu of the original nylon string. Meh. At least I have a fan.

But while on the subject: I found another cheapo Chinese fan today at my lunch break.

It will need a lot of help but I think it has potential. But that's for much later.


I'm not 100% sure about what to do with my hair, besides that I'm going to curl it.

I tested my husband's grandmother's old curling iron tonight and I think it's a winner!

I heated it on the stove, like I believe she did in the 30's, and if it was good enough for her hair, it's good enough for mine.


"But the gown!" you cry: "What about the gown?"

Oh, there is a gown all right, buuut I'll wait with pictures until I'm all dolled up and ready for The Big Night so I can do it justice.

But I'm a generous person at heart so I'll give you two pictures of the sleeve, which is what actually makes this gown.

Sorry for the crap quality. My camera died so I had to use my phone.

The concept is stolen from a gown in a Swedish museum. The original also has bobbin lace at the bottom and I found a piece of lace in my stash that was exactly the length needed. Like millimetre exact! I thought that was cool because I got the lace from a plastic bag of mixed ribbons from a thrift store, and I actually bought the bag only because of another lace in it, and I had to buy the whole bag, so... Yeah, whatever.

And now I must end this post with a very important message from my cat and sewing friend Börjesson:

Börjesson has entered the "Cutest Sewing Critter" competition over at the Dreamestress's and is quite willing to bribe you for votes in his favour. Name your price!

Here he is helping me with the breeches pattern I mentioned in my last post. Börjesson insists that the best way of getting familiar with a new pattern is to feel it. This is most efficiently achieved by spreading out your body on top of the pattern for an hour or two. Börjesson shares this tip with you for nothing in return!

And now he' wants me to return to the joy that is finger torture and binding stays. I'll try to find an excuse, like I have done for the greater part of the evening.