Advent calendar 2021 – 24 December

Our twenty-fourth and 2021’s last Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Silk fabric. This exclusive item was a long-distance import item for us up in the northern part of Europe. But still there are many goods just produced by Bombyx mori. Silk fabrics and silk yarns. Today we turn our attention to the silk fabrics. Silk fabrics can be woven in brocades with weft of gilded threads or only with silk thread as weft. The fabrics with silk and silk is the once we are looking at today.

These often appear as bottom fabric in various embroideries. They can be in different colors but also appear in natural white.

Here we can see a thin silk fabric as the base for an embroidery. The embroidery from Söderala church is today broken and little remains of the yellow fabric. The same goes for the embroidery with Holger Knutsson’s grave coverlet. Here the silk fabric is thin and in a green-blue shade. Söderala is dated to 1350- 1499 and Holger Knutssons fabric is dated to the same period.

Both embroideries can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.

Silk fabrics can be used for many things. If we look at how some fabrics are depicted in art, we can assume that silk fabrics have been used. A wavy veil could very well be made of silk. Like the one depicted in the Lutterell psalter. Or those depicted in sculptures, thin as paint. Like this one from Lincoln Cathedral. Here we can see the mouth marked under a very thin cloth. So thin that we suspect that the sculptor intended to show a silk fabric.

Text sources show that silk fabrics were used as banners on the battlefields as markers for various army commanders.

A thin hand hemmed fabric of silk can serve as: the bottom of an embroidery, a bottom fabric for painting a banner or as a wavy silk veil. Or for that matter – perhaps like a shawl in modern life.

We hope you have enjoyed our Christmas calendar this year. For those of you who have also bought the physical calendar, we hope that we have also offered some inspiration on what you can do with all the different yarns, fabrics, tools and necessities. Since we have received questions about how to buy next year’s calendar, the answer is: email us at historical.textiles@gmail.com if you want to know when we were going to release next year’s calendar.

Thank you to all 12,354 readers of Historical textiles Christmas calendar 2021! Merry Christmas!

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by: Historiska, British Library

Advent calendar 2021 – 22 December

Our twenty-second Advent calendar post 2021 is:

A lovely long legged cross stitch, again. Also this time the Fogdö wall hanging. Check out the boys in blue and green with a contour thread in blue linen. The wool thread is 2-plied.

The wall hanging is dated late 15th early 16 century and are from the collections of the Swedish History museum.

The wool thread is dyed with weld/reseda and over dyed with indigo or woad.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 20 December

Our twentieth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Silk embroidery on linen or hemp fabric. From the latter part of the Middle Ages, there are several different embroideries with silk thread embroidered on a linen base. Here is a sudarium sewn in with double running stitch. Made by the Birgittin sisters in Vadstena, Sweden. We love the fact that one row of stitches seems like it was never finished… Bonus- a very cute silk band.

In the collections of the Swedish History museum.

We love silk on linen or hemp fabric. And double running stitch is very simple. Just follow the threads in the fabric and create your own cushion, handkerchief or purse.

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by: Ingela Wahlberg. First 3 and the second 2 Historical Textiles CC-by please cred if sharing the pictures

Advent calendar 2021 – 18 December

Our eighteenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Long legged cross stitch in wool. From the embroideries Fogdö, Ramsele and Trönö, Sweden. They are all sewn with a 2-plied thread. Blue is almost always present in all medieval embroideries. Here we can see a backside from Fogdö and fronts on Trönö and the cute birds of Ramsele and a detail of their legs. They are all dated to 15th century. They bottom fabrics are a linen weave in basket weave.

All embroideries can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum. 

We love how often blue is represented and therefore we always dye blue in various shades. Both light and dark is needed. We use indigo and woad.

/ Amica and Maria

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Bonus- check out the diffrent style and directions of the stitches.

Advent calendar 2021 – 17 December

Our seventeenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Gilt leather embroidery. These embroideries are as simple as they are ingenious. The same pattern shape is cut out of two different colored pieces of fabric. Most often, this is a mythological animal. Then the cut pieces change places and are sewn on with small whip stitches, edge to edge. A thin linen thread has been used for the medieval embroidery. A thin gilded leather strip is then sewn over the joining seam, also this one with whip stitches. Strips are also used for decorative elements on embroidery and of course applications, which we have already written about. Here ve can see two griffons from the Skepptuna coverlet. The animals are individually decorated.

The Skepptuna coverlet is C-14 dated to the latter part of the 15th century early 16th century. And can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.

When making embroideries you need to work with fulled wool fabrics to be able to make tiny stitches without fraying the edges since you work with basically 0 seam allowance. We like the Melton quality sold by Medeltidsmode. (scroll down) they offer a mix of colours. The white dyes very good if you are into plant dyeing. Even smaller pieces work good as a test piece. Why not make a fancy pin cushion or a purse when trying out the technique?

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 16 December

Our fifteenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

To unknown backside of the Ärentuna embroidery. Ärentuna is not one but two different embroideries. The big piece have red contours and the small piece have brown contours. They are made in the same pattern but in different colors. This is most likely a recycled bit from another embroidery. The yarn is a wool yarn.

The cushion is dated to 14-15th century. And the original is in the collections of the parish.

When making embroideries it’s a good idea to have many colors in to work with. We plant dye our threads ourself and to make brown we use walnut, sometimes in combination with iron to get a really dark nuance.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 15 December

Our fifteenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

A selected mix of medieval embroidery with applications made in different fabrics. The medieval gilt leather embroideries often have several different fabrics, often in different colors and in different qualities.
Here we can see applications from the coverlet Dalhem 1.
The Ilsbo coverlet, unlike Dalhem 1, does not have gilt leather strips on the edge but twisted linen strips.
Skepptuna have lovely hearts in gilt leather. Masku coverlet have cute flowers in purple.

There is also a chasuble with nice little applications on. It has silk, wool fabric, gold thread and wool yarn in a wonderful mix. The wool yarn is used a bit as a contour or here as a stem.

Bonus is the Bexheda coverlet, also this embroidery has gilt leather strips on the edge and appliqués in fun colors. This one is not 15th century as the others but from the 17th century. So the tradition lives on.

Applique embroidery is not a Swedish phenomenon, but since we have access to museum collections here, we often write about it, but there is a fine embroidery from today’s Germany. The Tristan wall hanging that is available at V&A is a wonderful example of just application. This embroidery is dated to the latter part of the 14th century and it is easy to see that the people in the embroidery have fashion clothes from the era. This one also have silk embroidery and additional spangles. And of course gilt leather.

Dalhem 1 and Skepptuna and the chasuble can be found in the collections of the Swedish history museum. Ilsbo can be found in the collections of the museum of Hälsingland. Masku can be found in National museum in Helsinki. Bexheda can be found in the collections of Kulturparken Småland.

Small pieces of wool fabric are invaluable when embroidering appliqué. If you also want to embark on embroidery with gold leather, gilt leather strips are very necessary. Even small pieces of gilt leather are good to have! Pieces of wool are also very good to have if you are going to repair clothes that have broken. Maybe you need to repair a hose? Then put on a patch! It can feel fancy to have a plant dyed patch under your foot.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 9 December

Our ninth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Once again a detail from the Ärentuna cushion. But this time we focus on the bottom weave. It’s a linen , or hemp, fabric. Quite coarse and very evenly woven. It measures 8 threads per centimeter in both warp and weft, making it perfect for counted embroidery. The thread in the weave is a single thread. If you look closely on the bottom fabric you can see the imprints of the now missing embroidery.

The cushion is dated to 14-15th century. And the original is in the collections of the parish.

We use a 8th/cm in our reconstruction of the Ärentuna embroidery. If weaving a narrow weave with this thread count one could for an example use that narrow weave and make a small purse in counted embroidery.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021- 6 December

Our sixth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Red blood drops on Jesus body. The red wool yarn is a 2-plied and have a pretty high twist. Most likely dyed with madder. This is a detail from the Fogdö embroidery, Sweden. The embroidery is BIG and measures 0,9 x 7,9 meters long, originally it believed to have been over 15 meters long. The embroidery shows scenes from the life of Christ. The stitches are long legged cross stitch.

The embroidery is dated 1480-1500 AD.

When sewing long legged cross stitch, we always use a 2-plied thread like the original. And we also sew a bit more like the medieval style, in more or less in all directions. The medieval people were less neurotic then our crafts teachers in school..

Today the embroidery can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021- 4 December

Our forth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

A detail from the Ärentuna cushion embroidery. The embroidery contains wool yarn of many colors on a plain linen weave. Also a white 2-plied thread. Since the white yarn contained more lanolin than the dyed yarns, the moths have prioritized the undyed yarn when feasting on the wool. Therefore the white and the brown yarn are badly damaged on the embroidery.

The cushion is dated to 14-15th century. And the original is in the collections of the parish.

We are working on a reconstruction of the Ärentuna embroidery. And we use a natural white wool thread, 8/2 in our reconstruction. It’s very alike with the original.

/ Amica and Maria

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