31 Aug 2009

More museum objects online...

..and while I'm still on the subject of Nordiska Museet:

They have a database with items from the textiles collection where you can find a few goodies but the search engine and interface is not exactly user friendly.

I'm not able to link to the results so I'll hold your hand while you explore the collections on your own.

Go to the search page of Textilgalleriet and switch to English in the top left if you prefer it that way.

I haven't explored the collection very extensively but you'll get some nice search results if you just enter "18th".

The search result will bring you 17th, 18th and some 19th century items. Don't expect actual costumes, but some highlights are many fine examples of embroidery (don't miss the adorable lion!), block printed 18thc fabric, lace and a fragment of a jacket in matelassé technique.

Big Plus: The "magnifying glass" feature lets you examine the objects very closely
Many objects have additional images

Big Minus: The programming is very confusing! Whatever you do - don't press the "back-button" in your browser when you wish to get back to the search results! It will only take you to the front page and you lose all your results.

Instead, when you're done viewing an object, you click "New Search" in the bar above the object. I know - it doesn't make sense, but it takes you back to the search results nevertheless.

There's also information about different textile techniques in the "Techniques" tab, unfortunately in Swedish only, except for an article on Swedish embroidery.

Overall - definitely a step in the right direction! And maybe, one day, Nordiska Museet put all of their costume collection online.

30 Aug 2009

The new exhibition at Nordiska Museet approaches

Nordiska Museet in Stockholm hasn't had a permanent exhibition with their extant costumes for over a year (or is it two?).

I knew that one is to open in 2010 but since it felt so very, very distant I never bothered to look for information or news about it.

Then tonight, it hit me: "Hey, 2010 isn't very far away by now!" so I went to their website to see what information they shared.

The name of the exhibition, that is going to be permanent! - is "Modemakt - 300 år av kläder", or "The power of fashion - 300 years of clothing".

Of course I'm mostly interested in how much of the exhibition that will be dedicated to the 18th century! I have seen some of the museum's 18th c clothes in person but some only pictured, like these, and I tried to sleuth a little by looking at "behind the scenes"-pictures they've published:

I think this is a part of the new exhibition rooms. It looks huge compared to the old one, which felt more like a crammed corridor!

Jeans shorts? Purple baseball jacket? Please - not too much contemporary stuff! Who goes to a museum to look at things they may have in their own closet?

Here dancers pose as mannequins to determine how the latter are going to be displayed. Ironic, isn't it?

Aha! They have written "1780's" on a note on the white board with a lot of pictures surrounding it...

Now this looks promising!

So does this...

The opening date will be February 27, 2010, with reservations for changes.

Seems Christmas will come very, very early in 2010...

27 Aug 2009

Making a straw hat - the easy (and cheap) way

I mentioned on the forum that I once made a decent low-crowned straw hat out of three place mats hat and was asked how I did it.

Well, I'll tell you, as well as I'm able to, and show with my own fool-proof Photoshop illustrations spiced up with various clip-art images stolen from around the web. Even mad PS skillz like mine need a little extra help sometimes.

OK, here we go:

Hello! In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a basic low-crowned straw hat out of three place mats!

It won't be the kind of hat that a milliner would be proud of, but it's a cheap and fun way to experiment with different styles and trims and colours with little effort.

Note: I have used this method only once (and should have taken pictures...) and was very pleased with the result, but as always: use at own risk! And don't sue. This is a hat that is supposed to be pimped with trims and goodies, so that any unavoidable flaws won't be noticed.

Let's go: Buy three place mats of a size you think suitable in a store of your choice. I got four for ca 10 EURO, they looked like this (I used the purple - the result can be seen here). Make sure they're made from some kind of natural straw; synthetics may very well work but I haven't tried it so we don't want to risk anything.

Step 1: Glue two of the place mats together (skip this if your type of place mat is very stiff. I did this because the brim would be too floppy otherwise).

Don't use a glue that is too runny - it may bleed through to whatever surface you put the place mats on and leave marks on the hat - but it's better be strong. Remember to open a window if your glue is very strong, or you may experience a conga line of psychedelic animals or worse. Cover the place mats with heavy books and leave them for now.

Step 2: Soak your third place mat with water!

Step 3: Find an object in your home that is shaped just as you want the crown of your hat to look. I found an ugly, purple flower pot that had made no one happy until now. It was cylindrical and turned upside down it proved to be the perfect hat shape.
Put your soaked place mat on top of the object and gently but determinedly shape the place mat around it - remember, you're the boss around here! Try to get it as smooth and even as possible. Use a little violence if necessary but be careful not too make the soaked material rip or tear.

Step 4: (And here comes my pièce de résistance!) Tie a piece of fabric or a ribbon, or whatever you have, around the newly shaped brim (a helper may come in handy here).
Let it dry overnight or longer (I let mine dry for 24 hours but that may not be needed).

Step 5: Your hat crown should now be dry and ready to be removed from the shape. Trim away all surplus until you have only the crown plus an extra centimeter or so.
If you leave too much, you can always trim it down later but not the other way around! Put the crown back onto the shape used.

Step 6: Let's get back to the brim which should also have dried by now.
Check the diameter of the crown and mark on the brim where it will sit, but subtract 1,5 centimeters from the radius and cut out a circle, that consequently is somewhat smaller than the diameter of the brim.

Step 7: From the center of the brim (which is actually a hole), cut small cuts outwards, all way around the cut-out.
As always, it's better to cut too little than too much.

Step 8: Go back to the crown that sits on the shape and firmly press the brim down onto it.
If it won't fit, cut a little more as in step 7.

Step 9: Now the crown is surrounded by little tabs that will secure the brim to it.
Help them by gluing and perhaps sew a few stitches around the crown as you see fit.

When the glue has dried, check that it looks OK on the wrong side. You may have to trim down the bottom of the crown if it peeks out too much.

Your hat is now ready to launch. You can experiment by shaping the brim into any style you like, pretty much like you shaped the crown - soaking and some kind of outer force.

And now you're on your own, because I won't tell you how to doll up your brand new hat - I'm sure you will manage that perfectly. The possibilities are endless:

You can have a very pretty, simple hat...
like so...

Or something fancier and froufier...
...like so! Have fun!

Hope this was of any help to you. This will probably be the only tutorial you get from me since I'm usually the one who gets tutored rather than the other way around.

But I DEMAND to see what you make! You know where to find me...

All the best,

Madame B

26 Aug 2009


Sorry, I should have done this a long time ago.

As things turned out, I received one Amadeus award from both The Dreamstress and American Duchess, and as one should nominate five blogs in return, I'm going to interpret this as if I'm therefore allowed to give away 5x2=10 awards! It made the hard decisions much easier, plus I can give the award to someone who gave it to me. Ain't I clever.

So, in strict alphabetical order, I proudly present my nominees for the
madeus Award For Taste And Excellence (AAFTAE):

18th century baby - because she's got one heck of an eye for detail

American Duchess - because she has some mad skillz, and because not all duchesses can be European

Anna Skomakare - because she makes OMG shoes! (and pretty costumes, too!)

Augusta Fredrika - because she she's such a sucker for Swedish 18th century as myself

Fuchsia's 18th century dress - because I think she could do anything

Gillray's Printshop - because history+humour=EPIC WIN!

Isis Wardrobe - because she's smart, nice, handsome and helpful

Lithia Black - because she's creative and fun

Swillwill's 18th century - because maybe this will make him update more...

The Dreamstress - because she has ambition, skills, a great sense of humour and rocks

Never stop blogging, please? You all brighten up my day.

25 Aug 2009

Pockets finished - finally!

I finished a pair of pockets made from the embroidered fabric mentioned here a few minutes ago.

It's not quite the same as if the embroidery had been designed for the pockets but nevertheless, I think they're very cute if I may say so myself.

The tape is made from scraps from the same fabric I used for my pink-stripe polonaise. Hand-sewn. It only took a few "Monkees" episodes and the first 3½ parts of "Aristocrats". I have a very varied taste.

To think that it has taken me so long to get y first pockets - for shame!

Now, back to the regency gown.

To My Cat Börjesson, On His Third Birthday

And everyone said: FINALLY a cat post!

Congratulations, our darling cat Börjesson! Today we celebrate your third birthday as a member the head of this household.

We've had good times, we've had bad times.

There has been scratching (and puking) on rugs, on walls, on internet cables and Lord knows whatnot.

There have been bathing (you didn't like it), spray-bottlings, trips to the vet (that's why you can't have kids, BTW) and days without tuna and shedding that could've made hundreds of Donald Trump-toupées.

But there has also been endless cuddle sessions, hilarious play, snoozing on every available piece of furniture, birds on the balcony and days with all the tuna you could eat.

We love you in spite of all your faults, and you mostly accept us in spite of ours.

We're happy to have the privilege of living in your apartment, and here's to many more birthdays to come!

To Börjesson!

To Börjesson!

Three years of photage finally available to the public!

24 Aug 2009

Evening gloves fail

I need evening gloves for the upcoming 1809 ball and went shopping for a pair about one week ago.

A pair of white kid leather gloves were of course on the top of my wish list, but even though one often comes across vintage 20th century gloves, I'm yet to find a pair that fits me. Fits me like a glove. Ha ha. Don't know what's up with that - I don't think my hands are extremely big but I reckon women with hands larger than those of a twelve year-old were simple shunned by society back then (I did buy a pair from a Swedish auction site and they did of course not fit me, but they did fit miss Ellinor so all was well).

So I accepted that I had to but a pair of new, stretchy synthetic gloves and went to this bridal shop who had a whole basket full of gloves on sale. Probably because they all were more or less dirty, but I was assured that they could be machine washed. I found a pair that fitted almost perfectly and they had a matte finish and not that hideous glossy faux-satin look that I detest, so I happily purchased them.

Today, I washed them in machine, and guess what? Fail.

Here's how they looked pre washing...

...and after.

Hairy glove. That's a whole new level of freaky.

The funniest think is, that this only happened to one of the gloves. So now I have one very nice glove and one useless. The quest continues...

23 Aug 2009

Let's eat history!

Ever since I found this little gem (left) on the website of the university of Umeå, I've been wanting to try out some of the recipes.

My plan is to find three recipes that

1:o aren't downright nasty
2:o don't contain ingredients that are more or less impossible to find nowadays
3:o makes sense

and cook and serve them as a three-course dinner, which isn't the period correct way but more practical (and better for my economy).

Miss Ellinor will of course help me: she's the one who goes to restaurant school after all. And her father/my husband will be forced to taste everything and give us a review.

So now I'm going to do research and hopefully make the stuff on Thursday next week (payday!) .

Disastrous? Probably, but some disasters are funnier than others. Stay tuned for messy kitchen experiments...

21 Aug 2009

Fun times in Stockholm 1760

Baron Joachim Otto Schack, Danish envoy in Stockholm, writes to his female friend back home in Denmark in November 1760, after she has asked him what Bon Ton is like in Sweden:

"...it is not prejudice, that now dictates my pen, but I write only what what my eyes have seen.

Thirty to forty persons of both sexes, of all ages and all ranks, gather every night at 8 o'clock at someones' house, where you have supper...

The ladies wear robe ronde and mantelets, and the gentlemen usually wear black velvet nightgowns... You play piquet, tre-sept and reversis.

At 10 o'clock you are seated at the table where you are served by thirty badly dressed and filthy servants, who usually knick some spoon, fork or napkin, and who snatches away your plate as soon as you turn your head away...

Food is plentiful, but the table is set without order or taste. You are very badly provided for with drinks, the desserts are awful and consist of nothing but freezingly cold ices and dry candied fruit, which one greedily throws oneself upon. The crockery is badly washed, with one word: everythng is in this style!

The conversation is either whispered in your ear or noisy with horselaughs, so incessant and piercing that you get dizzy...

When one rises from the table, the conversation gets heated and even louder. You start to tickle one another, you throw hats, muffs and fans on one another, you disarrange you fellow's hair and pinch him and then you go home and believe that you have enjoyed yourself.

Privy councillors, presidents, foreign ministers, everyone is treated in this manner, and pitied be he, who is very ticklish! One has seen such wretched creatures seek refuge under the sofa, and please note that I'm not talking about one evening, but of all..!

Snuff said

Yesterday, I got to try snuff for the first time. It was a rather fun experience; it felt almost like using one of those strong nose sprays that you use when you have a cold. I think the gentleman who offered me the snuff said it was apricot flavoured but it felt really pepper-minty. I didn't sneeze until about ten minutes afterwards, and of course while I was talking to someone, and four times in a row.

No, I'm not going to advocate the use of tobacco here, but since I'm unfortunately an addict to nicotine, I really wish I could get addicted to snuff instead of cigarettes; it's definitely classier and not by far as lethal (but not good for your nose. Tobacco is bad - period!).

And you get to have a snuff box - ha! Of course you can have a snuff box without actually using snuff. Why not fill it with breath fresheners or sweets (tiny, tiny sweets)?

Here are a few antique snuff boxes for inspration:

Aaaw! I want one with a portrait of my cat!

This last one was sold at Christie's for a whopping £121,250 June 2. I will go for something less pricey, I think. Maybe try and paint something myself!

P.S. Do yourself a favour and don't google for images with "snuff" as search query. There's some really nasty stuff out there...

20 Aug 2009

Tidsfördrifvet - Gustafs Skål's official blog

Huh - how did I miss this? It's of course very new but still...

It's the official blog of Gustafs Skål, the 18th century society that I and many others are members of. It's only in Swedish and launched only about a week ago so there aren't many posts yet, but here's hoping for many to come!

Click on the banner to go there!

Picque-nicque shots

Yesterday's outing was lovely although we had to rush as crazy to get there and were still late. Poor planning - why it always happens?

Anyway, the weather was very sunny but as the suns sets so early in August it became a little chilly and people started to drop off until just me, the stepdaughters and one courageous gentleman was left. But our spirits were high and we hunted for ghosts, played word games and drank wild strawberry-wine and munched on grapes in the dark until 11PM when we had to take the bus back to civilization.

I should have taken more pictures, as usual, but at least I made Miss Ellinor take tons of ego shots of me:

Tomorrow's picque-nicque at drottningholm has been cancelled due to a very unfortunate event in the family of one of the hosts.

While I'm here, I just want to say that I've been granted the Amadeus blog award from American Duchess. Wow! I'm truly grateful for this and I will return with 5 nominees of my own soon. My only problem is that I will have a hard time to pick only 5... I've found so many wonderful blogs during these months.

14 Aug 2009

Photos of different stuff

I'll try and make up for the lack of pictures in the last post (pictures are pretty!)

Here are two different shots of the mantelet I'm currently working on. It need ribbon for tying and endless meters of trim at the bottom edge (sigh!).

I think it's cotton whit a shiny effect. The burn test confirmed this, to my bief knowing, but even if it's polyester I don't care because the colour is so gorgeous (and, as usual, the pictures can't do it justice).

It's not as shiny as in the first picture, but not as dull as in the other, either. Think somewhere in between. It kinda shimmers when the fabric moves... Ah, sweet thrift store find!

Remember this post, where I mentioned a pair of embroidered pockets in the making? You don't? Good, 'cos they ain't gonna happen. Sorry, but embroidery really isn't my thing. I wish it was because the possibilities for a skilled embroiderer are endless, but such is the sad truth. I have great hopes for my stepdaughter, who now have inherited one half-finished pocket. I'll whip her until she is good enough to take commissions for me. It'll keep her from drugs and gangs too!

No, my pair of embroidered pockets will instead be made from this machine embroidered silk remnant i bought this Tuesday. It'll not be quite the same, but just the feeling of not having a sad, neglected embroidery project staring at you anymore is well worth it.

The silk is a little goldish, which doesn't translate very well in the photo, and quite lovely in its own right.

I also bought this lace fichu thing on the same day. It's not even very old, and probably not very period correct but it just screamed: "BUY ME!" so what else was there to do?

The shop where I bought it is the best place in this town. They mostly carry early to mid-20th century garments but also older dresses and accessories, antiques, trinkets, porcelain et c. They have lots of old embroidered tulle lace that I will buy tons of when I acquire the wealth that rightfully should accompany such divine beauty as mine. Vintage ostrich feathers to die for! OMG shoes! And guess what? The prices are quite affordable, considering the usual over-prices that one normally sees in shops like this one.

So, if you come to Stockholm, don't miss out on Old Touch or you'll regret it forever and probably longer. Yeah, free advertising FTW, but I like them so much so I do it gladly.

I'll be occupied with non-sewing related things this weekend, but whenever I can I'll continue the work on my regency bodiced petticoat.

13 Aug 2009

Things going on

Greetings all!

Tomorrow is my last working day before 4 weeks of totally carefree and much longed for vacation. I haven't one single 'have-to-do' scheduled, which is exactly how I want it. I do, however, plan to sew - a lot - because there's so much I have wanted to do but been forced to postpone because of that thing called "lack of time" which I think most of us are familiar with.

I have been working on a few different projects lately, but all of them will be on hold for a while due to an event that's taking place in September. I will briefly step out of the 18th century and for the first time dip my toe into early 19th century - or to be precise: 1809.

That was the year when Sweden lost Finland to Russia and king Gustaf IV Adolf was forced to abdicate and these events have been noticed in many different ways during the year.

So in September there is this 1809 ball, a joint event hosted by Gustafs Skål and other living history societies, and I'm in desperate need for something to wear.

That's obviously the most urgent project, and I'm currently working on a bodiced petticoat, since I won't have time to make a pair of proper early 19th c stays. Then I must make a shift and probably also a gown. Thankfully I have a concept and a pattern, and fabric, so I can start at soon as I've finished the petticoat.

On Wednesday I'm going on Gustafs Skåls' annual Revolution Piquenique (celebrating Gustaf III's peaceful revolution in 1772) in the beautiful Haga park. Nothing but rain will stop me (because the event is, for obvious reasons, cancelled in case of watery weather). I'll wear the polonaise I wore at Drottningholm so I'm basically ready to go. I'm making a mantelet which I'm adding trim to at the moment. I'd like to have it ready for the day of the piquenique but it's not a disaster if I don't make it in time.

Then on Friday next week, there'll be a midnight piquenique which takes me back to Drottningholm. It will take place in a hedge maze in the park with lots of lanterns and candles and I can only think it's going to be lovely! I'll probably wear the stripey polonaise, as seen here, so no stress there either.

What else to tell? Oh, I managed to wash out all the "powder" (read: coloured hairspray) from my wig and re-styled it.

I'll leave my plans for a mens' costume for my husband to another post, I think. That's a project I'm quite happy to postpone...

My camera has run out of batteries (who makes a camera that runs on ordinary batteries these days?) so I'll post various pictures later on.

Oh, stop by at the forum if you haven't done so yet! It very young but quite active already and populated with the nicest and most talented of people. Don't be shy!

Enough ramblings. Take care!

10 Aug 2009

The forum is up!

Well, here we are - Shiny, new forum for costuming, sewing and other things 18th c.!

It has a very basic setup for now, as I'm awaiting suggestions from you who wish to participate, but it's enough to let the chatting begin, I hope!

I created a board for eras other than the 18th century as well. We'll see how everything develops. If there's demand for it, more boards can easily be created. Just let me know.

So don't be shy, come and register - it's very lonely there right now!

7 Aug 2009

Interested? An open question (or several)

For the last couple of days, I've been thinking about how nice it would be to have a neat little discussion forum about historical costuming and sewing to visit. I've searched for a bit but not found quite what I was looking for, so I thought: Hey, I could set up such a forum myself!

But: a forum is only of use if people are interested in joining in.

So my questions are: Would you be interested in a discussion forum focused on historical costumes and sewing (not necessarily limited to the 18th c.)?

Is there a need for a forum like this, or is there already a good alternative out there (in that case: let me know!)?

I have a little experience in managing a vBulletin forum and I have a web hosting plan that's not close to being used to its fullest, so if there's enough interest, I could easily set something up in 30 minutes.

So. Let me know what y'all think.

All the best,


5 Aug 2009

Just a little more costume porn...

Antike Textilen - a German vendor of antique clothing and textiles. A girl can dream, can't she..?

Only in German, I think, but the pictures is all you need anyway. Sigh.

4 Aug 2009

Eu nao falo portogues

...or: "I don't speak Portuguese", but if you do, you may get even more joy out of this Portuguese museum search engine: Matriznet

The search engine is available in English but the information on the objects is in Portuguese. But I always liked picture-books better anyway!

Click on collections to start a new search.

In the "Classification" box, choose "Traje".

Scroll down to "Century" and pick = in the first box and type XVIII in the second (if you want to search for 18th century items, of course!) and hit "Search" at the bottom of the page.

Mostly men's clothing, which is particularly of interest to me nowadays, since I've set my mind on making a suit for my husband - oh my!

Also beautiful fans and lovely buttons with painted miniatures among other things.

Worst mannequin ever? OMG - the HAIR!