Happy New Year 2022! Let’s hope that this year will be better than the last one. I decided not to go back to look for each project I completed as I have done previously, but rather think what are some general things I learned and how my crafting has changed over the last year. Definitely, my crafting has become slower and I rather take a long time to make something really special than rush to finish. I still make some quick teeshirt projects or leggings for my kids but I don’t generally publish them as I don’t find the projects very interesting.
The historical dress in Finland
I have dug more into dress history in Finland. Despite us being in Europe, we have always been a remote area where the “European” fashions have arrived late. The fashions have also been adapted and not everything listed in books about European dress can be taken for granted up here in the North. Of course, there have been those rich fashionable ladies who followed the French fashion. But those same ladies might have had maids that never wore a corset or even boned bodices. In fact, the common woven never really took up corseting, at least if you believe this little paragraph in a Finnish magazine:
Often the most interesting facts can be found in small fleeting mentions in period books and magazines. Through Finland in Carts, a book by Mrs. Alex Tweedie (1897) mentions Finnish people pointing and laughing at the englishwomen bathing in their bathing suits (that they had to sew by hand as there were none available in Finland). “Look at the funny foreign ladies that got their clothes all wet! What are they doing in the water with their clothes on!”
The other thing that really shows in the book, is the striking poverty of the common people. The Finnish people are described as very short and their diet seemed to consist barely of salted fish, rye bread, and sour milk. As nowadays the average Finn is actually slightly taller than an average person from UK, the poor diet (and disease) has probably caused the people’s short height. Some progress is was still showing. Even the poor old couple living in a windowless hut in the middle of nowhere owned a couple of books and could read. This was shocking to the author who noted that the literacy levels in Finland were much better than in the UK.
The museums and their dress collections
I have spent hours and hours browsing Finna, the online collection of Finnish museums. It is a treasure-trove of dresses, fabrics, jewelry, drawings, archeological finds, and much more. Even better, I was given a chance to view some historical garments from the 1890s privately. Seeing the garments from the inside and feeling the fabrics was a great learning experience that I tried my best to capture on video.
What I learned
I have also worn my historical clothes a lot and learned a lot from it. Some random thoughts:
- Zippers are completely unnecessary, if you wear a petticoat.
- Wool skirts are much warmer and more comfortable than modern pants/trousers. I still find modern sweaters and tees more comfortable and easier to maintain even though they aren’t as pretty as frilly Victorian and Edwardian shirtwaists
- Linen is a) wonderfully cool and comfortable in hot weather b) a pain to iron when the weather is hot
- Weaving is not very hard skill to learn but you will be in trouble if you get your warp tangled up
- Using recycled materials is fun and possible even if you want to make something special
- You can find almost anything from thrift stores if you just keep looking. Usually it turns out just after you’ve bought it from a regular store!
- I finally figured out nålbinding. I still want to learn the Russian way of doing it, though.
My hair has been always a problem for me. It is very fine and slippery and I haven’t been able to grow it. About two years ago I started an experiment. I forbid myself from wearing ponytails and I started braiding my hair for protection. Since then, my everyday hairstyle has been a long braid or a bun. This protects my hair and lessens breakage. I also started eating magnesium and zink supplements and using volumizing dry shampoo. All of these has made my hair so much thicker and I haven’t ever been able to grow it this long. My natural hair is still fine but the improvement is still very clear.
Another thing that is easty to forget is that the popular Gibson girl look wasn’t really worn by everybody. If you look at old photographs, most of Finnish women seem to wear their hair combed straight back with a small bun at the nape of their neck. The truth is that without artificial hair, that Gibson girl look isn’t achievable for everyone.
So many new friends
I have met so many lovely people despite the pandemic making meetings challenging. The people in the Societé Helsinki have organized amazing events in which I have felt welcome with or without my daughter. Many of these people are experts in historical crafts and costuming and are always willing to share their vast knowledge with beginners like me.
The mystery of weaving
I started thinking about where my fabric actually came from and how did my ancestors make their fabrics. I learned tablet weaving and visited the weaving mill Kultavilla several times. Then I decided to design my own fabric. I studied different weaving techniques and spend hours thinking about colours and patterns.
In December, I received a floor loom for a birthday present. This means that I can study weaving more and make my own fabrics!
My plans for the year 2022
Now that I have my loom, I will be definitely doing some weaving! I dream about a big fringed shawl and it also would be cool to make fabric for a skirt or some other garment. Already, I bought yarn for the weaving, so I can’t wait to get started.
I will try to finish my iron age Finnish costume before the summer and then make something similar for my daughter as well. Right now weaving the belt takes a lot of time. Still, that is probably the slowest part of the job and the rest of the outfit will be quick to finish after that. But then, you can always add more pretty tablet woven bands!
I have some 18th- and 19t-century themed events coming soon but I haven’t decided yet, whether I want to take part. I usually prefer making my outfits first and then taking part in events when the theme fits to my existing wardrobe. Still, I have an ever-changing list of costumes I want to make:
- A late 19-th-century tea dress
- A fancy regency evening gown
- A frilly Edwardian summer gown
- An 18th-century jacket
- A national costume of some sort
Now, with my newly acquired ability to weave fabrics, my historical costuming hobby has a completely new aspect to it.
What are your plans for the year 2022? Comment down below!
Happy sewing and crafting!