Advent calendar December 12 2019

Button up!

The 14th century is the buttoned century. Buttons are around even before. For one example the Vikings also had buttons in some clothes. But it was during the 14th century that suddenly “everyone” was wearing rows and rows of buttons.

In art buttons are almost always depicted in white, yellow or the same colour as the garment. White and yellow are interpreted as “silver/ pewter” and “gold/ brass”. The same colour are probably made of fabric.

When using reconstructed buttons in re-enactment garments, it’s always difficult to find small and light weight buttons. If you put many buttons in a row it tends to get very heavy.

Original buttons are very often hollow. Like the once on the picture. They are made in silver and can be found in the collections of the National museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dated 14th century
/ Amica and Maria
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Advent calendar December 11 2019

Sewing thread. All reenactors ask themselves how thick should it be? And how should it look?

All sewing threads for hand sewing, that we have seen on items from migration period up til 20th century have one thing in common. It’s 2-plied. Silks not included, it’s impossible to count.

Thickness? Some say that a sewing thread should be as thin as the threads in the fabric. That is not a rule that is usable on the older historical material. They used a lot thicker thread then both warp and weft combined sometimes.

Here we can see a bottom hem on an alba from Forsby church, Sweden. It is dated 1100-1350. Now in the collections of Historiska museet, Sweden.

So- don’t be afraid to use a thicker thread

Advent calendar December 10 2019

” Aglets (aiglets)- These small handmade metal tubes were sewn, or attached with tiny metal rivets, to the end of leather, cord or ribbon laces. You can find their plastic descendants on shoelaces today. 
Aglets, also known as aigletts, throwes or pyntes, were most commonly used from the 15th to the 17th century, when fashion and necessity required people to be laced together. They were used to secure the shaping structures that were worn under women’s skirts, known as farthingales, to fasten jerkins and to tie sleeves and hose (short or long trousers) to doublets (fitted padded jackets). Since virtually everyone needed them, they were mass produced, often quite crudely, and cheap to buy at around 2-3 pennies per dozen, which is why they are found in such numbers.” – London Mudlark: Lara Maiklem

Today we leave Sweden for a quick visit to Italy. We have had the pleasure to analyze a medieval textile collection with several objects in it. The owner wants to be unknown and we can’t therefore tell you where to find the objects. The collection is dated 1470-1540.

In the collection a broken point is found. It’s a tabby rep woven silk band and an aiglet at the end. The colors are brown and purple. The aiglet is made out of some sort of copper alloy/ brass. The band measures approx. 10-11mm and the weft is purple silk. It is possibly woven in a rigid heddle.

/ Amica and Maria

Photo: Historical Textiles – please cred us if sharing.

Advent calendar December 9 2019

Wool needs to be processed before spinning if you would like to make a smooth and even thread.

This pair of wool combs have lost their handles and one have lost almost everything of it’s wood. But considering they are over 1000 years old we must say that they are on great condition.

They are a Norwegian find and dated to Viking age.

Now in the collections of Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo, Norway

If sharing photos, please give cred to Historical Textiles. 

Advent calendar December 8 2019

Putting pieces of fabric together to create a larger fabric. That seems to have been more rule then exception during the Middle Ages.

Matching a pattern in the fabric was possible a luxury not even the highest nobility and the church could afford.

Here is a Danish chasuble from 1470-80 with some piecing that gives us a bit of a headache but also a smile of relief. If they weren’t perfect then, we reenactors can take a deep breath and let go of our modern eye too. The chasuble is made in silk velvet.

It can be found in the collections of the National museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Advent calendar December 7 2019

The seventh advent calendar post is a once again a Spindel whorl. This time a really old one. Dated to 11th century. It’s from the old Swedish capital of Sigtuna. And it’s made out of glass.

Today it can be found in the collections of Sigtuna museum.

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Advent calendar December 4 2019

The fourth advent calendar post is a collection of things, all found in Nyköping, Sweden. And they are all dated to 13-15th century,

The flat spindle whols are something called Marleka in Swedish. The Marleka is a concretion and that type is very unique for Nyköping. It is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil. The medieval craft person just drilled a hole in the middle of it, and got a perfect spindle whorl.

The scissor is made by a highly skilled black smith. It still looks like it could cut some fabric.

The bone needle is quite large and is probably for nålbinding.

The wool fabric is of very high quality and have many threads per cm. The reddish fabric on the left was probably dyed with madder. Madder dyed fabrics seems to stay red even after 600+ years in the ground.

All items can be found in the collection of Sörmlands museum and are exhibit in the medieval exhibition at Nyköpingshus / Nyköping castle. 

/ Amica and Maria
If sharing photos- please cred us at Historical Textiles

Advent calendar December 3 2019

The third post in our advent calendar is a small spindle whorl from the city of Sigtuna, Sweden.

It’s made from a femoral head. The shape have been adjusted from the original shape and the whorl have now a cone shape. That shape is not so common with the whorls made out of femoral heads. So someone put some effort into this piece.

Right now we not 100% certain on the dating. But roughly it’s the same age as the other finds from Sigtuna. Approx. late 10th century – early 14th. Will update when we have the correct info.

Today it can be found in the collections of Sigtuna museum.
/ Amica and Maria