The metal button issue

There are several finds of metal buttons from the 14th century, but no surviving garment  with metal buttons, from this period. At least none that I know of.

I have often considered the best way to sew these buttons on to a garment. They have really long ”necks”. Why? Are they sewn directly onto the fabric edge, or are they attached the way people put metal buttons on folk costumes in the 19th century? Besides, the 19th century is way too late a period to look at when making 14th century outfits.

When I made my checkered dress I was shown a picture of metal buttons on a 16th or 17th century coat. I can’t remember where that picture came from. :(
Anyway, I did the same thing on my buttoned dress as was done on the 16th/17th century coat.

This is how it’s done.


The thread/ leather strap is sewn onto the fabric to prevent the buttons from ”falling out” of their holes.

About a year ago, I stumbled upon this picture of St. Margaret by Pietro Lorenzetti (1306-1348). She is probably from Italy. Today, the painting can be found at Musée de Tesse, Le Mans, France.

Look at her metal buttons. The inside shows the method for fastening the buttons. To me, it surely looks like they were attached the same way. I think the reason metal buttons have such long necks, is that they must be long enough to pull though the fabric. A shorter neck would be preferrable on buttons placed right on the edge, the way you would place fabric buttons.


Publicerat i Crafting, Research, Textiles, Written by Maria | 7 kommentarer

Do you do living history?

As some of you guys might have noticed, I’ve been very silent on the blog for quite some time; I last wrote in March 2014. This is because I’ve been doing a lot of serious thinking about myself and what I’ve been doing, but now the time has come for me to tell you a li’l story.

My dad was once invited to be toastmaster at a wedding. The invitation said ”Black suit and tie”, but my dad had just recently bought a tan summer suit and asked the host if he could come without buying a whole new suit. The host accepted and said that he didn’t think people would pay much attention to the dress code anyway – my dad would certainly not be alone in a light colored suit.

So my dad went. And he was the only one wearing a light colored suit. Everybody else was dressed in black suit and tie or the equivalent clothing for women. He told me that he had never been so ashamed in his life.

This is a pretty funny little anecdote but it has served as a reminder for me to never disregard someone’s wishes when being invited to an event of any sort. I take pride in dressing up as requested by the host, and I would never question his or her choices; it is not my party and not my place. I am sure you feel the same. You wouldn’t ever come to a party dressed in your sweats when the invitation says evening dress – of that I am sure. You are not disrespectful – you are kind of happy you got invited and want to look smart according to your host’s wishes.

And then there’s my kids. It doesn’t matter how much I wash, clean, wipe, dust, vacuum, cook, shop and pick up their shit – they will go ballistic if I ask them to take out the trash; ”Why must I always have to do everything?”. This can provoke me to no end and I believe you are familiar with the situation. You might even be thinking: ”Oh, you scrawny little spoiled shitheads! If you were my kids I would give you a thorough earful or a whole barrel of whoopass”. As a grown up I wouldn’t even dream of behaving like that. It’s right down embarrassing.

Now, let me tell you: a combination of these two is happening as we speak. Grown ups questioning dress code and rules for an event and at the same time whining about it. Believe it or not – it’s real. There are actual people saying that the requirements for an event is to strict and kind of aggressively stating that they don’t have the, time, money or inclination to meet the organizer’s standards. This makes me think: ”Oh, you scrawny little spoiled shitheads! If you were here I would give you a thorough earful or a whole barrel of whoopass”. And they would deserve it, as they are being disrespectful nags with little or no understanding for reenactment/living history as a phenomenon, for organizer’s visions and dreams, for audience watching the whole shebang and for their fellow reenactors.

Perhaps you wonder why. I’ll let you know. Reenactment and living history is defined by its essence of constantly developing and constantly chasing the illusive truth of lost times. There is no such thing as an absolute truth in human sciences like history and archaeology but without the constant quest for it we would never grow any better at what we do. ”Did I read ‘sciences like history and archaeology’?” you ask. Correct. It leads me to the next step in my explanation.

Reenactment and living history (henceforth RAL) is based on the intense and everlasting study of history, art history, archaeology and the like. A RAL perpetrator is expected to do his/her own research – preferably from first hand sources and never ever from third hand (like looking at someone’s outfit and making a copy of it).

The aim of RAL is to be as historically accurate as humanly possible. Some people do this extremely well. I know of some guys that actually spin their wool to yarn, dye it, weave it to fabric (based on existing archaeological finds) and full it before they cut it with handmade scissors of 14th century model and stitch it together with a bronze needle and hand made flax thread, using stitches that were used in the 14th century. To request something like that would indeed be ”strict”. Others I know buy machine woven fabric and they even machine stitch their clothes. They know it’s not correct (and sometimes they don’t), but they strive to get better and to make fewer mistakes next time. Both are OK. I guess I am somewhere in between the two but I am always trying to get better, to be more accurate and to spend more money, time and work on my stuff. The goal must always be the immaculately perfectly historically correct. Otherwise you will let your fellow RAL:s, your organizers, your public and ultimately yourself down. RAL is like a living museum – people expect it to be totally correct.

Money, time and work is another issue when dealing with this immensely complex and all consuming hobby. Let’s realize something: what I have been writing up to this point indicates that you need to be freaking rich, have all the time in the world, able to read medieval Latin and be a textile genius. In a way that’s true. You need to spend a lot of your money on medieval stuff. You need to cut down on pub nights or tennis practice. You need to learn things you have never even tried before.

You can’t have both. There’s no time to go to the tennis court four nights a week and you can’t afford binge drinking eight nights a month. You need to spend your time and your cash on RAL. Sure – you can have a bit of both, but it’s a question of priorities. You and I both have 24 hours a day. If you choose to do anything else than RAL you have other priorities, which is totally OK, but just don’t expect to be a textile genius or a medieval Latin equilibrist. Similarly, you can forget to be able to buy the stuff you need if you spend money on other things. This is basic understanding but for some reason people become offended when I tell them.

”But wait, you judgmental Nazi! I don’t want to part of you immaculately perfectly stupid ding-dong-shit! I wanna do it my way! I think this is good enough and I demand that you not criticize it!”

OOOO-K. I’ve got news for you my friend. I’m not out to please, so I’ll just say it. You are part of my experience, you are representing RAL, what you show and do is accepted by audience at events and the organizers have invited you because they think you can show an accurate portrait of a given period. That means you have a lot of responsibility. It’s just that your way is not good enough. How do I know? I know because good enough can be measured. If your stuff doesn’t correspond to first hand sources it’s not good enough. That’s why I can take a look at your stuff and say it doesn’t fly. It’s as simple as that. I don’t care if you want to be a bobinette princess or a tin can knight – if you choose not to base your stuff on sources you are not reenacting: you are doing something else. Oh, I can hear you just fine. You are saying: ”It is too!” Problem is that you are wrong. Again. You might have forgotten this little chestnut:

Reenactment and living history (henceforth RAL) is based on the intense and everlasting study of history, art history, archaeology and the like. A RAL perpetrator is expected to do his/her own research – preferably from first hand sources and never ever from third hand (like looking at someone’s outfit and making a copy of it).

How can a RAL Fascist like myself tell what’s right and wrong? Because I’ve been at this shit for more than ten years. Because I am an archaeologist dedicated to this particular period of time. Because I’ve been investigating thousands and thousands of images from Norway in the north to Italy in the south.

But yeah. I might be wrong. It happens all the time. I just need you to prove me wrong – that’s what it’s all about. I’d be happy to revise myself if you can give me good proof from first hand sources that I am mistaken. No. I won’t back down because you say so. Your gut feeling and History channel isn’t good enough. Ask yourself if a Professor of Archaeology would claim anything and refer to History channel or ”I just know it”. That’s right. She wouldn’t do anything like that, because in that case she wouldn’t ever have made it to be a Professor in the first place.

Strangely enough the reenactment scene right now is overflowing with ”I am right because I say so”-types who have no clue what so ever when it comes to the basics in human sciences and logic deduction. They are pissed off when I ask for proof and they call me an elitist prick for talking back to them via arguments that proves me right. They simply won’t listen to reason no matter what, and they would never admit to being wrong. They would rather happily skip about in their made up gear telling everyone how medieval it is (and at the same time giving serious reenactors grey hairs) even though they somewhere deep inside know that they aren’t entirely certain of the historical accuracy of their stuff. It makes me tired to the bone and it makes me want to leave this hobby.

But chill out. I promise not to criticize your stuff (hell, I’ll gladly help you improve it if you ask me) if you promise not to pretend like it’s the bee’s knees! You know that your stuff might not be perfect. Stop pretending like it is. Alright? Or as a wise man once said: 

This takes us to next step. If you step into a museum you assume that what’s shown is correct, right? Even if you have your doubts you don’t storm into the manager’s office and demand that he makes changes in his museum to suit your palate. The same should be true when it comes to RAL. There’s no law that states that you can go to every event you fancy. Accept it. You can’t always have what you want; sometimes you have to follow the rules and the dress code. If you are not ready to invest time, work and money in RAL it is perhaps not your hobby and if you feel that the requirements for an event is too strict for you, it is perhaps not your event. If it doesn’t suit you, just don’t go. There a loads of other hobbies to try out and even more events for you to go to and to be honest you won’t keel over and die if you can’t attend that event with those strict rules…

In short: please do not become offended when an organizer asks you to live up to her standards. You might not like it or you might even be able to prove her wrong but it’s her event and if she asks you to come in a black suit and tie just do it. Don’t even ask if a light colored suit is alright; if it was she would have said so in the first place.

Publicerat i Miscellaneous, Written by Peter | 18 kommentarer

Onion skins- yellow

I really like yellow onion skins. The are easy to get, cost nothing and gives an amazing yellow.

Every time I use onions when cooking I save the skins. I keep them in a jar and I just press them down and put on the lid. My jar contains 1,5l and when it’s full with skins they weigh approximately 80gram, or less.
That’s enough to dye a fabric 90x 500cm dark mustard yellow AND to dye 90x600cm bright chicken yellow.
Here are the results of fabric no:1


/ maria

Publicerat i Crafting, Textiles, Written by Maria | Lämna en kommentar

The left over

Remember to extended tabby with the massive breakage of the warp treads?

What did I do with the left over warp?
I changed it from a tabby to a 4-shaft twill and I changed the tread count from 8 tr/cm to 9 tr/cm. I also glued the warp with linen seed glue. But after 50 cm i stopped doing it
Twill is not as hard on the warp as tabby is.

I used a dark grey wool as weft.

The last bit I changed to white.



I wasn’t to happy with the colour is I dyed it with some indigo.




Now I just have to decide what to make out of the 6meters.


Publicerat i Crafting, Textiles, Written by Maria | 2 kommentarer

Off to the Netherlands

The weave is out from the loom.
I’ve been sewing in broken warp treads.


The selvages are something I don’t give a s**t about during weaving. As long as they don’t break… I had two treads of worsted yarn in the edge to prevent breakage. They worked fine but I decided to work with a temple.

I wanted to shrink the fabric to get it more compact look. The last time I shrunk a fabric of this style I did it in washing machine, 40 degrees. That one became lovely. But I didn’t want to risk that this fabric would shrink to much. So I started with 30 degrees and the fabric came out right like I wanted it.

Here you can see the result of the extra spinning I added, fake twill lines.

Fake lines still showing after pressing

Sixten and the fabric before packing.

I’m looking forward to see the result of Isis dress :)

Publicerat i Crafting, Textiles, Work with sources, Written by Maria | 2 kommentarer

The original piece

This is the original piece for my extended tabby weave . The original is from the excavations in London.

stofje voor Maria001

Publicerat i Crafting, Museums, Recreations, Textiles, Written by Maria | Lämna en kommentar

Master piece from Finland

Publicerat i Uncategorized | Lämna en kommentar

To weave a small test.

I will weave some fabric for my husbands uniform. It will be the lining if the uniform that he is going to wear at Waterloo 2015.
Here is the setup of the small weave.
I’ve used a plastic lid with treads rapped around it. The Pfiffikus help me to keep the right amount of treads per cm. The warp is 6/1 wool.


I tried with different thickness on the weft. First it’s Fårögarn 6/1 and Spelsau 4/1.


The original fabric is a little bit fluffy on one side so I brushed my piece to get the same surface. Using a nail brush.


Then I washed the piece in warm water. Using normal hand soap as detergent. Why? Because it was on the sink and I just grabbed the first thing I spotted. ;)


Above pictures is showing both sides.
How did it turn out compare to the original?
I need to get a yarn right in between of the two thicknesses I had. I might mix these two with some hand spun to get the right mix of thickness in the weft as the original have got.
Stay tuned, in a month or two I can show you the progress.


Publicerat i Uncategorized | 1 kommentar

Testing the tabby/ extended tabby

A new weave is in the loom. Not really new it’s the same setup as the fabric that ended up as a bolster roll. But this time it’s gonna be a fabric for a friend. Keep your fingers crossed that the warp will hold.
To avoid breakage of the treads I’ve spun the yarn. Not all by myself. I’m not that skilled of a spinner yet, but I have run all the yarn, intended to be in the warp, trough my spinning wheel. That means the tread have got over spun and that will make it much stronger.
This is the first test.





Publicerat i Crafting, Textiles, Work with sources, Written by Maria | 10 kommentarer

Helgkurs i nålbindning- Stockholm

Ta chansen att lära dig lite nålbindning. Helgkurs på Stockholms medeltidsmuseum.
Här finns info på museets Facebook-sida

Publicerat i Crafting, Museums, Textiles, Tutorials, Written by Maria | Lämna en kommentar