Tag Archives: your wardrobe unlock’d

YWU Competition Entry – 1903 Summer Lady

This summer, I had the opportunity to join my first event with the Swedish 19th Century Society. We were meant to show clothes that could have been worn by the people who did not have to emigrate from Sweden, during the famines of the 19th and early 20th century. I wanted to bring a friend, so my beloved edwardian Sunday look was reserved for her. My budget and time was extremely limited, so my bigger projects were discarded. Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to just have fun, making something I would never wear otherwise – a look for a wealthy lady, in 1903.

By the stream in Kisa, at 19th century event. Photo: Josefine Antonsson
By the stream in Kisa, at 19th century event.
Photo: Josefine Antonsson

For me, the first years of the Edwardian era, represents an unloved fashion, as its’ over-the-top garments, with pigeon breast and flowery decorations, contrast so much with the later, more refined fashions.

ExperimentBecause I had to make the whole look in between exams and work, most of the sewing was done either in the company of my family, in front of the TV, or out in the sun with my relaxing friends. My small budget only allowed me to use plastic table tablets and IKEA-roses for the hat, an old curtain for the skirt and a cotton fabric for the shirtwaist. The most expensive and time consuming part, was buying and making the whitework machine embroidery, before I left my own sewing machine for the summer.

Rosenhatt i rosengård.
Rosenhatt i rosengård.

I basically followed patterns found in Janet Arnold’s “Patterns of Fashion 2” and was inspired by pictures found at Pinterest. I had great fun making the overly decorated hat, and my little niece enthusiastically gasped: “This is the biggest and most beautiful hat I have ever seen”. Alas, I had neither time, nor material for putting the finishing ribbons onto the skirt. At the event I felt like a cheap, walking flower garden, but to my great surprise I got many compliments for this look. Maybe it is not such an unloved fashion after all?

At least, this is obivously not a fashion unloved by my cat. Photo: Christian Antonsson
At least, this is obivously not a fashion unloved by my cat.
Photo: Christian Antonsson
Hatten på sin ägarinna
Hatten på sin ägarinna

Tvåa i dräkttävlingen!

Ni som har följt mitt lärarinneprojekt, kanske gläds med mig, när ni får höra att jag kom tvåa i min kategori, i Your Wardrobe Unlockd’s dräkttävling. Det kryllade av häftiga bidrag, som ni kan se här. Det känns fantastiskt att folk med erfarenhet inom historisk sömnad valde att rösta på lilla mig! Kronan på verket var det fina personliga meddelandet jag fick från YWU (nedanför). Jag är jätteglad! blog

Your entry, A Swedish Edwardian Teacher, was beautiful and very striking. Although simple in style, it was exquisitely made, and you really did look like you had just stepped out of an old sepia photograph. We loved the fact that you’d done the whole outfit from the underwear out – the care you took with the undergarments meant the finished outfit hung and fitted perfectly. We also thought your recykling of older fabric and garments, and combining that with new techniques, gave the whole outfit a fascinating back-story. This entry is a great credit to your craftsmanship and innovation. Well done!

02Ha en bra dag!


YWU Competition Entry – Edwardian Teacher

Last year, I received some vintage underpinnings that my parents had found in an old clothes chest, stored in the attic of the family farmhouse. Amongst these clothes, there were a corset, drawers and a petticoat. The same summer, I also got a vintage sewing machine, of the same age, but from my husbands family.underklader

02When the theme for this competition was announced, I decided to sew clothes matching my heirloom, on my vintage machine. I wanted to create something that might actually have been worn by my relative, who owned these clothes, if she would have had my taste and interests. Further, I wanted to find an occupation for this fictional Edwardian self, where my eagerness to learn could be matched with staying on the farm. After some research, I decided to go for a country teacher (I have teachers on both of my parents sides of the family), as this was the primary occupation for ambitious Swedish women of the time, who wanted to study and work. As education is the most powerful weapon against war, I consider this as my contribution against the Great War!underklader-edw
The original corset, that my parents found in a chest, which had been locked for at least sixty years. Dated to about 1908.

I had already sewn a Victorian chemise and drawers, so now I wanted to make something else and decided upon a combination of chemise and drawers (1913). I translated the lovely, expensive versions I had seen at museum pages, into something affordable for a farmer’s daughter. Except for the green ribbon, I solely used inherited materials, from bed sheet and laces removed from pillow cases, down to the thread and buttons.

Combination of chemise and drawers – closes with buttons, otherwise open up to the back.

When I reconstructed the corset, I used coutil and other material from VenaCavaDesign. The lace reminds of the lace on my vintage drawers. The suspender end grips was a gift from a friend.

After having finished the corset and combination, I had no inspiration left for the corset cover and petticoat. Therefore, I made a simple combined corset cover and chemise (1910-12). In the picture, I wear the corset cover under my inherited petticoat.

Combination of corset cover and chemise. To the right, worn together with my vintage petticoat, from the same clothes chest.

Hilda, the owner of the under-pinnings, was born in 1894. At this photo, from 1915, she stands at the left, together with her older sister and mother Matilda.

The income of country teachers was modest. Swedish literature from this time praises the woman who knows how to dress beautifully without following the fashion too anxiously, and who knows how to keep her clothes in a fine condition. Thus, I can confidently argue for combining the differently dated parts of the costume with each other.

Unfortunately, I was not able to move the sewing machine to my Danish home, so intsead of historically accurate techniques, I used my modern machine and all its advantages. My first project was to recreate the corset, which is supposedly dated to 1908. I ordered the materials needed from England, but forgot the suspender end grips. Last week I received this from a friend, who had inherited them from an old relative.

For Sunday wear, my fictional self would wear my previously sewn woollen skirt and machine embroidered cotton blouse (about 1910).edw1

This costume (1910) I sew two years ago, but now it was finally complete, with all the right underwear and the beautiful belt, which clasps I also got from a friend.

The blouse is made of cotton, with machine embroideries. In the back, the skirt closes with hooks and sewn eyes.

The fun part was creating the clothes that the teacher would wear for work. She should look neat and respectable, at the same time as the clothes should be practical and at least a bit modern. After some research, I decided to sew a shirtwaist with pin tucks (about 1910) to combine with a modern skirt (1914). Three days ago, I was worried that I had failed completely, as my husband looked sceptically at my half finished costume, but when the costume was finally finished, both he and I were pleased to see it was all I had planned for my costume to be.

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YWU Competition – My Favourite Things – Regency Fashion

For long, I have adored Mr. Darcy and the characters from Jane Austen’s novels. As a fashion obsessed history nerd, I have also fallen in love with the fashion of their time.

The reason for my learning to sew was that I too wanted to wear as beautiful clothes as I saw in pictures and films. Because medieval clothes did not require advanced sewing skills, I started there. Then I went on to regency fashion, using “Recreating History” patterns. As an impatient, poor student, I chose to sew my regency underwear out of old bed sheets, on machine. In the corset I used plastic boning. Recently, I improved the chemise and corset.chemise-corset

The white muslin dress is the only part of the costume that I have bought fabric for. It is mostly hand sewn.img_0069In the hopes of making it my passport to a historic tailoring education, I made an effort to show my abilities, with correct materials, precise pleats and unnoticeable stitches. As I lacked experience within all other fields of tailoring, I was not accepted. I have enjoyed my dress at picnics though, feeling beautiful, but awfully cold. Two years ago, I made removable arms for it and a matching bonnet, out of an old sun hat and fabric leftovers.


Last year, I sew a regency outfit for my husband. For this, I used both bought and homemade patterns, to finally achieve a costume including a cotton shirt with cravat, fall front knee breeches in moleskin, a satin waist coat and a woolen frock coat. The shoes, stockings and hat were bought.empir-ca

Researching men’s clothing awoke cravings for outdoor clothes for me, so after completing Christian’s outfit, I decided to set for a spencer and hat. I would use the velvet from our old sofa!fin-halvtframifraringn

The regency fashion reflects contemporary events. The French revolution got rid of the “suppressors’” fashion and a new fashion was born. The Napoleonic war inspired military decorations.  I suppose the popularity of the second Earl of Spencer explains why the accidentally created spencer became fashion.fin-sida

My outdoor clothes are good representatives for my thesis; both the hat and the spencer are feminized (and off course) “unpracticalized” uniform pieces. The spencer is completely hand sewn. It closes with hooks and eyes, and a drawstring at the waist. I almost went mad when trying to attach the ribbon to the “long haired” velvet that constantly pushed the ribbon in the wrong direction. The inside of the spencer is lined with cotton leftovers. The hat gets its structure from cardboard from old notebooks. The pieces are hand sewn and glued together.goumlraenhatt

I have not made exact copies of historical cloth pieces, but translated my favourite things from the Regency Era to what might pass for contemporary and what suits me and my purse (and after I saw Vanity Fair, I could not refuse the stylish hat, even though it should go with the trainless dresses that came later). The outside is always prioritized before the inside, where I cheat as I like, when I sew for myself. This is a philosophy that actually seems to have been practiced even then. My primary aim, though, has always been to create something that I would want to wear, and I succeeded!bra-caosa