6 Aug 2012

Portraits of me!

Oh my - I have had my portrait taken for the first time in... say, 15 years or so?

Portraits taken by a professional photographer, that is!

It all started a couple of months ago, when a photographer by the name of Theres Beswick of Pippihuset Studio asked for volunteers for a project on Gustaf Skål's Facebook group page (she wanted models in 18th century attire).

She described the project on her blog, and it immediately caught my attention.

Long story short - we got in touch, and I went to her lovely studio one rainy day and watched the magic happen..!

Theres's method for taking these portraits (mine was only one of many for a future series of this kind of portrait) was fascinating. The frame is a projection on a brown canvas with a wrinkled, cracked surface, which I stepped into and stood absolutely still for a few seconds while Therese "painted" me with a flash light. The picture was then taken with self timer and a long exposure.

The results are below - no Photshop whatsoever involved!

© Theres Beswick, Pippihuset

© Theres Beswick, Pippihuset

I'm not very photogenic but I think these turned out very well - thanks to Theres, of course! She has graciously allowed me to share these two here, for which I am truly grateful.

And attention, costumers in Stockholm: Theres is still looking for models, especially men in 18th century costume, so get in touch with her if you are so inclined!

26 Jul 2012

1912 Jubilee Marathon

July 14 was not only National Day of France, but also the date for Stockholm Jubilee Marathon - exactly 100 years since the Marathon of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm (I do believe there's something similar going on in London right now..? That's about how interested I am in the Olympics!).

While a Marathon usually isn't my cup of tea (not as a spectator and definitely not as a participant!), I and about 20 other enthusiasts volunteered as 1912 spectators to give the Marathon a bit of historic colour - fun!

Not arrested! The police asked to have their pictures taken with us..! My step daughter Ellinor and me, 4th and 5th from left.
Inside the Stockholm Stadium, built for the Summer Olympics in 1912 - many great hats were seen!
The stadium in 1912 (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).
And we made headlines!
Well... Not exactly, but we made it into two newspapers:

Not bad at all (except for the fact that my hair had collapsed at this point - windy day - but there we are)!

My gown and Ellinors things were made on a minimal budget - almost everything was made from things we already had. My gown, for example - a tablecloth. Ellinors skirt - a wool scrap for a spencer that never came to be. My hat was bought a long time ago and was intended for 18th century purposes, and still is - it's a good thing hat trim is easily added and removed!

The following pictures are (as usual) borrowed from the amazing Caroline E.:
Near the finish line...

NOT picking my nose! I think?
My gown was rather rushed and there are things I should have worked more on - the overdress should've been more attached to the foundation dress to prevent flaring, for example...

...as you can see here:
Then again, I wasn't aiming at 100% historical accuracy anyway. As I mentioned, the gown was made from a tablecloth (I'm moving up from curtains!) so it was more a case of: "What kind of gown can I make from this tablecloth?" than "What kind of gown do I want to make?".

After a long but fun day we were treated to dinner and drinks. My feet were very, very sore - but it's usually worth it, isn't it?

18 Jul 2012

An (almost) finished gown..!

Do you remember the 1790s gown I never finished back in February? The one that didn't get any sleeves (if you do remember - wow!)?

Well, I'm happy to tell you that it has sleeves now. In a completely different fabric, of course, since the problem was that I hadn't accounted for sleeves with the original fabric.

Anyway, the finished sleeves are made up with sheer cotton so it doesn't look to bad with the gown after all!

I asked my husband to take some pictures from our balcony one evening - please forgive the messy hair!

Our English park is lovely this time of the year...

Am I acting natural enough?

Oooh, a daisy!

No full-front picture? you ask.

Sorry - that's just my vanity speaking, I simply looked too dorky in those! I hope to have better pictures taken when I finally wear this gown to an event.

Aaaand that's also when I - hopefully - have made the final touches on the poor thing. I simply must finish my things under a deadline, it seems.

What to do: You can hint a piece of ugly, pink ribbon in the first picture - it has to be replaced with something... white. I also have to add a closure, with a thread button and loop, perhaps. I had planned to pin the gown shut but it's to much stress on the very sheer fabric.

Oh, one last picture! I thought the sleeves looked a little boring, so I did this on the hem:
Mad embroidery skills, I tell you!

16 Jul 2012

Sala silver mine

Hello, all! I hope you're enjoying Summer, wherever you are.

I know I have been absent but I promise I haven't completely fallen off the edge of the world, and I have the pictures to prove it!

Johanna, Martin and Isis's Jan

I spent June 29-July 1 in the old mining district just outside the tiny town of Sala.

Sala silver mine was in use for hundreds of years and is today a fascinating monument to the ingenious work and unbelievably hard labour that filled Sweden's coffers for a very long time.

The "bucket" in which the 17th century king Karl XI travelled down into one of the mines...

Gustafs Skål and its members were invited to celebrate the mine's 18th century heritage during a small festival and our main duty was to look nice and smile for a lot of cameras (a job I'd love to have full time!).

Market place

I had a terrific time and the weekend just went by like the wind.

By way of thanks for our participation, Gustafs Skål (and a lot of other volunteers) were treated to a party deep down in one of the mine shafts - 155 meters under ground, to be precise! It was a very interesting experience - a little scary, and a little fascinating. Dark, damp and chilly - I can't even imagine what life would have been for a miner back then!

Head over to Isis blogg for some great (and some hilarious!) photos from inside the mine!

I made a new jacket to wear for this event but I lack pictures of it, so I borrowed the few below from m:lle Caroline, the ever so reliable photographer!

Not the most detailed picture, no.
I based it on the "swallow's tail" jacket from "Costume close-up" but I had just the tiniest piece of a fabric remnant to play with, so I wasn't completely true to the pattern and construction.

That's me to the left! Thank you, Caroline!
I laced it in front over a stomacher, but managed to place the eyelets very awkwardly and not at all evenly spaced - something I didn't notice until after a pretty long time! I don't feel very happy about this, especially since I can't get more of the fabric, but there isn't much I can do about it now.

Here is a bad mobile phone picture of the lovely fabric:
It was a flea market find at its origins are unknown to me.

Again: enjoy summer, everyone! I'll be back with some costume-related posts sooner than you know!

23 Feb 2012

Léonard Defrance

One of the perks with being rather uneducated about The Arts is that you constantly stumble upon artists you'd never heard of. This happened today, to me. And it was awesome.

Defrance (1735-1805) was a Belgian painter and according to what I could find through an Google image search, he was very fond of painting ordinary people in ordinary and sometimes less than graceful situations. Things that I love!

These paintings seem to be the more known of his work, since I got many versions of them in my search results. The resolution is not always great, but here we go:

Men Fighting. Hermitage Museum

Women fighting.  Hermitage Museum   

Fish market. Some oil painting on demand site. Totally copyrighted.

Interior of a forge. Artnet
Recruting officer in a public house. Artnet
The breakfast. Hermitage Museum
Visiting the printers. Musée de Grenoble

And my absolute favourite...
The rope dancer The Met

Follow the link and zoom in! Look at her little outfit! Who's going to make it? It won't be me, I'm afraid - don't have the legs for it.

21 Feb 2012

Prequel to the last post

I was going to bust sooner, but... Yeah. At least I have been sewing, a lot!

But this post is going to about the things I made to wear to the outing a few weeks ago. And also, about the things I didn't make to said event.

The thing is, I really, really wanted to jump-start a Regency wardrobe for this event. After all, it was an 19th century themed event, and I have longed to study and understand Regency fashions better but always had things come in between. Now, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. I had the materials needed. I even had an unfinished pair of Regency stays that had been collecting dust since Spring... So it was just to finish said stays, and...

Ah. This was where things got awkward.

There was a reason I had left those stays in a miserable little pile since Spring. They had issues. Huge issues.

Unfixable issues, to be honest.

I won't bother you with the gory details, but things were very bad in the bust area. Think a very sad muffin top and a profile that associated more to mammography than those magnificent shelves we wish for from a good pair of Regency stays. I just don't have sufficient understanding of corsetry to pull off a project like this easily, I think. 18th c. stays, I can manage, if I try, but this... I need to learn more.

So, there wasn't anything to be done. They had to be scrapped (but saved and used as a "don't do this!"-reference for when, or if, I try my hands at Regency stays again). So now what?

To try and whip together a new Regency stays was out of the question (and impossible to boot), and I really didn't want to make a nice Regency gown without proper undergarments. I had to settle for a compromise, and then things got rather muddled.

With no real plan anymore, I did what any reasonable person would had done: I panicked. Something told me I should make something 1790s, since it's the precursor of Regency fashion and I could still wear it to 18th century events if I wished to, so I started to think of what gown I could make with fabric I already had (because I did NOT want to but new fabric for a quick-and-dirty scheme like this).

I dug up a pair of curtains I had bought at a flea market at one time, and for some reason decided I should make a wrap-front gown, like the one in Cut of Women's Clothes, or the Tidens Töj one. You could argue it had been smarter had I settled for a simple design like the ones I have made earlier (1, 2), but no. No. We couldn't have that.

So some time after I had this (pictures - FINALLY! you all think, right?):
I hadn't done a proper fasting here so it did look better on me than on the mannequin, but my overall sentiment was pretty much: Meh.
The fabric was very nice though - delicate and very sheer. Very suitable for frigging Winter weather.
But wait for the punchline, or whatever we shall call it...
I didn't take sleeves into account. I used up nearly every little piece of fabric, but didn't actually think about sleeves!
I know I can be easily distracted, but this is ridiculous even for me. This is what happens when you don't have a proper plan, folks!

So, as things stand, the poor dress still haven't got sleeves (although I recently scored another curtain at another flea market that I think will do the trick) but at that time, I didn't let it bother me much, because I was going to make a half robe to go over the dress! Yay!

I naturally thought of the half robe in Costume in Detail, and for the first time I could even see what it looked like in the flesh. So I got to work.

Some time after, I had this:
Disregard the ugly bathrobe belt I used in the shot.

Again, I couldn't afford new fabric so I turned to the stash. It is - you guessed it - another curtain, and the pattern is kinda 18th century, if you squint. It was free, and it was there, more importantly.
Anyway, the half robe was wearable and it would hide the fact that my gown had no sleeves. I had planned to wear one of my cloaks over it all, and make a cute little hat, and everything would be as fine as could be...

Until I decided that I wanted a spencer instead. With only days to go until the event. This is what happens when you don't make up proper plans .

So I actually made a go for it. Optimistic as always, I didn't think it would take as long as it did, and I chose a very unfriendly fabric for the task. Lovely green velvet, but heavy upholstery velvet (they were probably curtains, now that I think about it), which is not very good for a project like this. At least I knew that when I started so I' not complaining, and it also meant I could use a fabric from the almost forgotten corner of my stash.

I imagined some kind of combination of these two very late 1790s jackets...
...and the result was this:

Yeah. I was pretty "Meh" about this one too, but it looked like it should be (relatively) warm and if nothing else at least do its job. I guess it did.

So, that leaves me with three very "Meh" projects completed in a very short period of time. I guess I learnt a lot in the process (for example, that it's good to have a proper plan) and put my hand sewing skills to a few tests (everything was hand sewn, after all) but now I really, REALLY long for a huge, long-term project where I can spend hours and hours on planning, detailing and picking out fabrics I want and make something I can be really proud of!

Luckily, I can see such a project somewhere on the horizon, but first I'm going to finish the Pierrot jacket I started to work on many moons ago. Welp!

But that's another story!

Until then,

all the best to all of you!

30 Jan 2012

Out for a spin

Guess what I and five other lovely ladies from the Swedish 19th Century Society did last Saturday?


Such a luxury, but I haven't taken a ride in a horse-drawn carriage since I was a child, I think. Totally worth the expense!

We had planned for a sleigh ride, but there wasn't enough snow so we had to settle for wheels instead. Didn't matter!

To the right you see my friend Helena, who graciously
let me borrow some of these pictures to post here. She took the initiative
to start the Swedish 19th century society last year and invited me to help out
a bit so I made the society's web page which you can check out, although it's
only in Swedish for now.  We're also on Facebook.
My curls straightened faster than you could say "jinglebells".
By my side is Caroline who takes many of the pictures I put on this blog nowadays... Thank you, dearest.

I made a few new things to wear for the event but I'll have to leave it for another post. I had to wash the gown afterwards and now it needs a good ironing.

Natalie outside the tiny café where we warmed up.
It was a chilly ride but we went for hot chocolate (by a fireside!) afterwards.

I really want to do this again. We saw two wolves! Okay, wolves in captivity, but still...

10 Jan 2012

Finished gown for the 12th Night Ball

Hello again, and a happy, prosperous New Year to you all!

In my last post, I showed you some in progress-pics of my spangled gown.

I finished it last week, just in tme for Gustaf Skål's 12th Night Ball.

It was a lovely event and I enjoyed it very much in spite of severe sleep depravation. As usual, I didn't take any picture because I lack a sufficient device for that, but I bugged a lovely, young mademoiselle to take some shots of me in the gown.

I was just about to leave when the photos were taken and, as you can see, my hair was in its final stages of collapse:

I had my hair cut a couple of months ago so there isn't so much I can do with it yet. I had managed some very nice curls but didn't use enough hairspray and pins so things got quite messy (but I had awesome volume for days afterwards!).

The flash revealed my underthings! Oops!

The place was crowded but my train hardly got stepped on at all. And I only lost two sequins!

Overall, I was rather pleased with the gown, but:

a. I really could lose some weight,
b. it needs much, much more embellishment! It don't mean a thing if it aint got that bling, or something.

Luckily, I have lots of sequins left so there's something for me to do during those long winter nights.

Except that I'm busy as a bee with completing about a million things for an event on the 28th. It hasn't been without backlashes and revised plans and I'm still very disoriented and confused about what I need to do and in what order. But I think I'll save that for a later post!