The information in the first paragraph is no longer valid. (I’ve started a new blog in Swedish (Som När Det Begav Sig), for those who know how to read Swedish. It has pretty much the same content as this one, but I might explain about one of my pet projects a little better. The pet project is making a folk costume from the area in Sweden where I was born and grew up, and since there’s a lot of costume-related words that have no English translation, it’s easier to write and explain it there. The short version will be posted here as well.)
There’s not really a good picture out there of anyone wearing the costume I’m making. Not that no one’s making it, but because most people cheat, and change the clothes to fit their idea of how it should look, and leave out some articles of clothing altogether. As a researcher, seamstress and wearer of historic costumes, this is quite upsetting. Why do it at all, if you won’t do it right, I wonder? Well, here’s a picture from the 1830’s of a woman wearing a costume from my area, the southwest corner of the county Skåne:
- A white, sleeveless linen shift, called hankasärk in this particular area.
- Black woolen stockings.
- A short, white linen “blouse” for want of a better word, called opplöt. It has a wide gathered collar, which might be made out of fine cotton, a very expensive fabric in that day.
- A knitted woolen sweater, called spedetröja. It was felted until it lost its stretchiness. It was usually green, red, blue or black. Trimmed at neck and wrists with silk or velvet ribbons.
- A bodice, liv, in silk, velvet or wool. It could have pretty much any color, but black, green and blue was most common. It is laced with a silver chain through silver buckles, and it also could be decorated with silk ribbons. At the bottom was sewn a linen roll, stuffed with flax. On this the skirts was supported. The roll was called pölsa, sausage.
- Two or more woolen skirts. Again, green, blue and black was common. The skirts could have decoration of tucks or silk ribbons.
- A striped apron, in wool or cotton. Blues, greens and reds where common.
- A neck kerchief in silk.
- A headdress. If you where married you wore the starched, white, linen klut, as in the picture. Unmarried women could wear a headdress made mostly out of red ribbons (for parties and weddings) or a colored, cotton head kerchief, put on the head and tied at the nape of the neck.
The material in the clothes depended on your economy. A poor farmers wife could obviously not afford a silk bodice and silver buckles, while a wealthy farmers wife might have several silk bodices, each with their sets of silver buckles. Also, you wouldn’t wear a silk bodice while feeding the chickens, milking the cows, carding and spinning wool and cooking. For everyday use, linen and wool where the usual materials, and the colors where more subdued. The materials described above where for going to church or parties.
This took a while… I wonder if anyone will have the endurance to read it all?
Edit (15 August 2013): I’ve posted a short guide to researching Swedish folk costumes.