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A Thousand Bodice Inserts

We were so lucky as to get to see the exhibition of 1000 Bodice Inserts at Hardanger Folkemuseum at Utne last October.

A bodice insert is a separate piece of fabric covering the front opening of the bodice on the folk costume from Hardanger and some other areas.

 

Folk costumes in Hardanger, and also in other areas in Norway, were influenced by continental fashions. The renaissance fashion trend with waist and skirt in differing colours, and often heavily decorated bodice inserts, kept its stronghold in this area till the costume was embraced as the National Costume of Norway in the late 1800s. It was a living tradition, so no need to go back to study old garments in order to reconstruct the costume, as has been done later in other areas to create local folk costumes. (We now have lots of different folk costumes in all areas of the country.)

 

Luckily a lot of old and new bodice inserts from Hardanger have been donated to the museum over the years. There are also collections in neighbouring districts, and some of these were also on display, – a total of more than 1000 bodice inserts, and not two alike.

 

People have used a variety of techniques to decorate the inserts, and cross stitch embroidery seems to have been a popular method. All the inserts on the wall to the left in the photo above, are decorated in this way.

 

The amount of decoration vary from very simple to elaborate. People used the same style of clothing both for every day use and for Sunday best and other festivities, and they often had several bodice inserts to fit the occasion.

Unadorned bodice inserts were used when attending funerals, and grieving.

 

The size of the inserts vary a lot. This may be due to variations of the waist front opening, and also the fact that people come in different sizes. A couple of hundred years ago, people were generally smaller than we are now.

Even though hardly two bodice inserts are alike, there are some common standards. They all have a ribbon hem on top. Most have a defined motif of various geometric shapes sewn on red or white fabric. Between the ribbon and motif there is often a border made of metal lace or ribbon, beads, or embroidery.  The decorated parts are mounted on a piece of fabric, which is mostly made of home woven wool or linen. This background fabric is not visible when the bodice insert is in use.

It is almost as interesting, – or perhaps more so, – to observe all the different background fabrics that have been used.

The most common geometric motif is by far the eight pointed star, also called an eight leafed rose in these parts. The variations are many, there may be one big star, or a few or several smaller ones set in a grid, most often on point. The grid itself may be narrow, or wider with geometric decor elements of its own.

In quilting terms we might call the decor on point blocks with narrow or wide sashings.

 

Quite a few inserts have beads on them.

At a time when most household items were home made, purchased objects would be regarded as finer and having a higher status. Beads have been produced and sold for many years, and bodice inserts decorated with beads were regarded as especially fine and for best use. The inserts can be dated by looking at the colour of the beads. White, green, mustard, and black beads were first available. Blue beads and straw beads came later. Also the older beads are bigger and of more irregular shape than newer ones.

The motifs are again mostly geometric borders and eight pointed stars, but also heart shaped decor has been popular.

 

On one insert with very small beads, they found that the maker had used horse hair to thread the beads. The horse hair is so stiff that you would not need a needle, which would perhaps have been to thick for the small pearl openings.

 

Pearls have been combined with both embroidery, metal lace and ribbons, and also applique as in some of the photos below..

 

There is a story about three vicar’s daughters from Ulvik who used to do very fine applique, mostly eight pointed stars. When their father died, they supported themselves by making fine bodice inserts for sale. At the time, paper was used inside the top hem to make it stiffer, and much later one of their father’s sermons was found inside one of these inserts.

 

 

Not all bodice inserts were made from woollen fabric. Some used fine imported silks, silk velvet and calamanco. A few of these were displayed behind glass.

 

The pattern darning technique has also been used to decorate bodice inserts.

Pattern darning is a very old embroidery technique, – even older than cross stitch, – and this technique has been used quite a lot.  Pattern darning is often used alongside other techniques, where the pattern darning will compose the grid, or framework, for the motif, while other techniques such as cross stitch or satin stitch, are used to fill in the pattern repetitions.

A very common motif on pattern darning inserts is the “eldjarnrose”, which looks like a modern day hashtag set on point. It is most often worked in black, while the surrounding grid has been made in red yarn.

 

This last group of photos show some inserts made in a variety of techniques, and some of them with unusual motifs. There are a few examples where the cross stitch embroidery patterns are made to look like bead embroidery or threaded bead grids. There is also one with a great variety of stitches, including the only example of chain stitch that I noticed.

Lastly, here is an insert mounted on a piece of fabric cut from a beautiful woven coverlet in the “krokbragd” pattern:

 

 

The exhibition was scheduled to be taken down last January, but due to its popularity, it has been extended till 1st November 2019. If you get the chance to visit, grab it with both hands.

It is well worth a visit.

 

🙂

Eldrid

 

 

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Heart Shaped Bag

Youngest grandson wanted to make a bag as a birthday present for his mom. He was very determined that it should be shaped like a heart, and it had to be red. Before he came to visit, I made sure I had some red  fabric available, plus iron on vliseline, and some sturdy woven ribbons for the handles.

We discussed various heart shapes, and decided that a shape with a rounded “bottom” would work better for a bag than one with a pointed “bottom”.

Drawing a heart pattern is easy. Just fold a paper in half, and draw half of the heart shape the size you want, then cut out.

The next thing we did was to cut two heart shapes out of vliseline.

We ironed the two vliseline shapes on to the wrong side of the red fabric and cut out.

I insisted that the bag should be lined. He was a bit sceptical as he had never made a lined bag before, but I explained that it would be easier to sew a lining than to fold and hem the rounded edges, so he went along. We chose a lining with a pattern of book ends. He thought it would fit very well as his mom loves books and works in a library.

Then he had quite a job zig-zagging the edges, all the way around each shape.

Then we pinned the outer shapes, and tried the placement of the handles for best balance. We wanted the heart shape to show also when carrying the bag, and found that if placed too far out, the bag would “collapse” the middle part, and if placed too far towards the centre, the sides would sag.

We also decided on the size of the opening at the top. The opening can be as large as you like, depending on where the side seams start.

We marked where we wanted to start the seams. Then the handles were placed and pinned in position for sewing on the right side of the fabric.

Next the lining was placed on top, right sides together, then pinned along the curved edges and sewn between the marks. Clip the seam allowance, especially in the “valley”. Turn right sides out and stitch the edge from the right side.

Both halves of the bag had to be sewn like this before we could go on.

Next, we had to fold away the lining fabric, place the red fabric parts right sides together, pin and sew the side seams, right up to the marks, or as far as we could manage.

Then we did the same with the lining fabric, – both sides pinned together….

….. except for a short distance of approximately 15 cm near the bottom, as there has to be a small opening so the bag can be turned right sides out after sewing. This was the fun part, – he was very thrilled to see the bag emerge through this small opening. Then we sewed the edges across the side seams, and sewed shut the opening in the lining.

Voila…. bag finished!

Both the maker and the recipient were very happy with the bag. It is a perfect carrier for mom’s knitting projects.

🙂

Eldrid

 

Christmas, – and Decorations

I am breaking the blog silence to wish you all a Happy Christmas, and to show you some old Christmas decorations displayed in a local gallery this month.

juletre

Gallery Frøya in Kalvåg issued an invitation for the locals to show some of the old Christmas decorations that they might have in their possession.

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People responded by bringing some very old, and some not so very old, decorations.

I remember us having chains of baubles just like the ones here when I grew up.

eske

When I visited the exhibition on the last day, some had already come to fetch their small treasures. I managed to snap a photo of this box before it left.  Christmas decorations do not come in such simple cardboard boxes with stapled corners any more, – it is either flimsy plastic, or more elaborate boxes for the more expensive decorations.

hjerte

hjerte2

Paper hearts similar to these are traditional, but not all are quite as fancy as the ones here.

lekkje

The oldest pieces in the exhibition were some chains of baubles like the one above. A  young couple bought them right after their wedding in 1912, so they are 100 years old.

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This one also looks old, but not as old as to have lost its shine. It can still reflect both the camera, and some of the decorations around it.

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kule4

The one above has adorned the Christmas tree in the local church for many, many years.

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I have always loved the baubles with one dented side with many, many colours in it. This one seems to have lost some of its colour, but is still beautiful.

kule2

kule

People have manages to save quite a lot of old baubles, even though they are so very easy to break.

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kongle

Pine cones in every colour is also a favourite….

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… and I loved this mushroom.

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This wooden sugar cane was also very cute.

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Birds are also favourites. This one has lost its feather tail.

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There were two of these in the exhibition. It seems to be made of paper mache with glued on cardboard wings and tail.

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The wooden one here was a charmer.

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Of course there were also angels, both on the tree…

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… and as candle holders.

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There were also examples of Madonna figurines….

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… and a Madonna and Child made of wooden shavings to hang on the tree.

Of course, when it is Christmas, you cannot escape the “nisse”:

nisse

The small one here is always allowed to ride on the straw goat when it is out for Christmas.

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I loved this one with its hair and beard made of unravelled rope.

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This one showed very little wear, although it is quite old.

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The person who made it paid a lot of attention to decorative details. This was before the time that ready made toothpicks were sold in the shops, so it was told that he painted with sharpened matches.

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nissestake4

Merry Christmas to everyone.

God jul

Eldrid

Heartwarming

Yesterday while I was out, some friends had left this flower arrangement on my front steps.

hjerteorkide

It is so lovely, and heartwarming.

You know who you are.

Thank you!!

Eldrid

Satin stitch

Have tested the satin stitch on my new Sapphire 870.  Not bad, I think.

hearts applique

Eldrid

Flying Hearts

This is a work in progress, and at the moment it is progressing very slowly.  My plans are to write up a pattern for it, but that will not happen for some time as I will soon go into hospital for my planned hip surgery (at last), – and then there will be rehabbing and lots of physical training, so I guess my sewing- and computer time will be limited for the next few months.

Flying hearts quilt blocks

But quite a few quilters do not necessarily need a full description in order to make a quilt block into a quilt, so for those who want a head start I have put up only the templates for the block on my pattern download page at a reduced price.  They will be replaced by the full pattern once it is finished.

I chose to make my blocks in the light coloured version, but I also like the dark ones a lot.  Here you can see some more colour options.

What I like most about this kind of blocks are the many, many variations you can achieve by just turning the individual blocks different ways in the quilt setting.

Eldrid