Bees wax. Sewing wax to be precise. It’s difficult to know people used sewing wax during the Middle ages, but a small lump of wax have been found at Läckö, Sweden. It’s both calming a charming to see that the historical person that once slid the linen thread over the wax created the same trace in the wax that we do today. This piece of wax shows in a wonderful way a contact with a human hand, even if the time elapsed is at least half a millennium.
The wax is from the collections of the Swedish History museum.
1- sorry for mixing days up for all you advent calendar people. 2- wax is an absolute necessity in the sewing box. Waxing linen thread before sewing starts is important so that the thread does not wear out more than necessary. That is why wax is very important in our sewing kit.
/ Amica and Maria
Photos by: Historical Textiles CC-by please cred if sharing the pictures
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
Items sewn from linen or hemp cloth. There are countless things preserved to our day of just linen or hemp. Unfortunately, there are 10,000s of times more that have not been preserved to this day. But we know enough myclet to be able to say what these fabrics looked like. Linen and hemp are almost entirely woven in plain weave. In cases where they are woven in another technique, it is a twill variation. These are always for towels. Old towels can sometimes be found as, among other things, as embroidery bottom fabric.
Linen and hemp are both bast fibers and are very difficult to distinguish with the naked eye only. They have the same characteristics. The fiber has high tensile strength but less good wear resistance. It gets stronger in the wet state. We use both linen and hemp in our reconstructions. A piece of 50 x 75 cm works well as a veil, or as an embroidery base, or as lining in a garment etc.
A selection of blue linen linings. Quite often chasubles, copes, embroideries, purses have a lining made out of blue linen (or hemp) lining. Even queen Margaretha’s golden gown have a small piece of blue lining inside the dress, attached at the neckline. The chasuble from Ösmo have a lovely dark blue fabric. Dated 15th century. The embroidered altar frontlet from the Birtgittin nuns in Vadstena dates to 15th century and have lovely piecing on the backside. The linings are dyed as fabric and not as yarn. The dyes is most likely woad. There are also relic purses with blue linen lining.
Today, you find these finds in the collection of the Swedish History museum.
With a woad or indigo dyed fabric you could line the neck of your kirtle. Or use as lining in a small embroidered purse. Why indigo? Indigo and woad a chemical siblings and not even a color analysis can determine which pigment was used, we use indigo since we find the quality of indigo powder higher than wood.
/ Amica and Maria
CC-by please cred us/ Historiska if sharing the pictures
Bonus- Check out the pretty lousy sewing that was going on on the backside of the embroidery. White sewing thread to blue fabric is also very common.
Today we turn our eyes towards a cope from Ösmö church, south of Stockholm Sweden. Its a cope in green damask silk and with lovely embroideries. But we don’t care about those today. We look at the cool tablet woven fringe. The fringe is woven with 4 tablets. The warp is in silk. The tablets are treaded left-right-left-right. The green and the red ( today orange) weft is a 2-plied silk thread. The white is a single linen thread. The tablets are turned in the same directions and changed when needed. You can see a turn of direction in the red fringe part.
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.
One dark blue seal bag dated 1376 from Björnsäter Sweden. The blue wool seal bag itself is spectacular but this time we pay attention to the sewing thread. A 2-plied linen sewing thread, white.
White linen sewing thread is like the bread and butter of the historical sewing kit. Not only the medieval kit. Often the thread is a lot coarser than one would expect. Don’t fear to use a thick sewing thread!
Today we go Royal with a linen collar with some amazing bobin laces. The owner was King Gustav II Adolf/ Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, He reigned over Sweden between 1611-1632. He was shot and died the 6th of November 1632 in Lützen during the 30 year war.
The collar is made out of a very thin and evenly woven plain linen weave. The stitching is to die for!!! The bobin lace is also made out of linen thread, two plied.
Today the collar is in the collection of The Royal Armoury, Stockholm. / Amica & Maria Please cred if sharing photos.
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