fredag 31 augusti 2012

Toss it all and start anew?

It may sound a bit harsh and drastic, but I might just have to do that this winter, since I will probably go through some surgery that will definitely change my shape and appearance. And when I talked to some friends about it this summer, one of them asked the challenging question –Will you then make all new garb into one specific period and region?

I haven´t thought about it earlier, but this certainly is a great opportunity to do just that. To dig deep into one period and one place in time, as good as one can do with modern day goggles on, and explore it all. To make all dress details and accessories well documented and in good materials from the beginning. My chosen period is the late 1400-hundreds and the place northern Europe, mainly the Germanic areas. But now my wardrobe consists of that and viking age clothing, 14th century clothing and even some early 16th century clothing, apart from the things I mainly use nowadays.

Now you all wonder what is she going to do to herself? Well, with the risk of being a bit personal, I have applied for getting a breast reduction. This is not an easy decision to take, I have always been on the busty side and proud of it and taking that away will certainly change how both I and others perceive me. But it is motivated mainly by the fact that I suffer from carpal tunnel-syndrome and with the “dead weight” on the chest my shoulders simply don´t cut it. This makes my right arm to doze off every now and then, and I lose feeling of my fingers and all strength of the arm. Not a good feeling, I tell you! And to get it going again I pay ridiculous amounts of money every year for treatments that make my neck and shoulder hurt like hell for days. It is so bad I get noxious from the pain and no painkillers help.

So there’s my motivation.

Since the Swedish health care system always ask you to loose weight (if you are in any way overweight that is) before doing surgery I have already lost enough for my supportive tight-fitted dresses to hang loose but will of course not do any alterations or making new garb for now.

Back to the challenge! I will and can of course keep hats and headgear, stockings, shoes and the like, but almost all dresses will be hard if not impossible to alter. So I will start with challenging myself in this fashion:

Making a new toile for a tight fitted dress
New short-sleeved 15th century dresses
New sleeve-less 15th century dress
A pleated panel-Housebook-dress
A plain overdress with long loose sleeves
A schaube
A partlet if I find documentation for it in my chosen region
New pointy black leather shoes with a wrist strap
New purses after finds and paintings

The list will of course expand by time.

And for those of you that gasp for breath right now, no, I will not toss all my garb away. I will sell it, trade it and give it away. It is all handsewn in good materials and models so I think it will find its use with someone else.

söndag 26 augusti 2012

The pillow-case hat (a Mad Hatters production)

As some of you know my friend Tece and I started out making 16th century german hats some years ago. We held classes, lectures and made patterns for many of the different kinds of hats you´ll find among the early 16th century german paintings. (Tece made a whole lot more than me, I tell you!) And we called our selves the Mad Hatters after the character from Alice in Wonderland... Oh how much fun!

Since my eldest son has a hat his younger brother of course got envious this summer and wanted one for himself.

Alvins hat in red and brown wool

So I made one of the easiest, but since I haven´t made one myself before I had to check out how. Tece of course made an easy to follow-description ( And as you can see, this hat is also used by both men and women, but here it seems to be a bit more accepted since high status portraits are depicted with them. So, no need for me to rant any more, here´s the result:

Viktors hat in blue wool

måndag 20 augusti 2012

Is that a tarantula on your head or just a fashionable hat?

During the late 15th and early 16th century begins a trend in the Germanic countries, where hats and headgear not necessarily differs between men and women anymore as in earlier centuries. In paintings and drawings both men and women are depicted with the same type of hats. One particular form only seen there and then is what I call “the squashed tarantula-tophat” or simply the spaghettihat. It is basically a cap with a large tassel on top. Here seen on a young woman drawed by Master of the Housbook, a German master working approximately 1475-1495.

I wanted to make a striped version, as seen in one of the *oh my god I could just faint*-pretty selfportraits of the German painter Albrecht Dürer. This selfportrait was painted in 1498. I´m guessing that his hat is made in silk since it is just so thin and delicate in the tassels and fabric.

As you can see, his hat is worn and a bit torn in the seams, but being young, arrogant and good looking, that just is his style I guess. I made mine in wool, and choose to do it in dark green and white instead of black and white. So instead of looking like a football referee I now resemble a football supporter.

In the Dürer portrait the tassels are gathered together with a piece of string, so I made mine the same. Other pictorial examples show hats where the tassels have just been cut and hang straight down without being gathered at all, as in this one:

One question that arises during this little project is whether this hat actually is a gender-neutral hat from the beginning or if it just became a trend among young people where the men gave their hats to girlfriends thus creating a new fashion? Food for thought. I have no clue but find it fascinating. And in the pictorial examples I´ve seen so far it is young people that wear this kind of hat. Older people seem to prefer more conservative headgear, as white linen head-cloths in different versions for the women and hats for the men.