Let’s have something unusual today 😉
Maybe you wonder, remembering I said I don’t want to publish modern projects on this blog? Well, you are absolutely right about what I said and absolutely wrong if you consider today’s project being something modern.
In fact, this is by far the oldest and most antique project I have ever made or shown.
Before you are too confused now: We are talking about the shirt, not the skirt 😉
The first time I saw this pattern was in 2012, I discovered it in a book on prehistoric textiles in the library of the musée des tissus in Lyons. I copied the pattern to try it back home (unfortunately without noting in which book I had found it. That really is a pity because until today it is the only version of this pattern I know that comes with measurements).
Only later I realized I owned a book myself that had the pattern in it.* And among Archaeologists it is pretty well known: This blouse was found in numerous women’s and girl’s graves dating from the bronze age. For example it formed part of the clothing worn by the Egtved girl who died around 1370 b.c., though the skirt that was found as well is today much more famous than the blouse.
What fascinated me about this bronze age pattern, was that it was cut from only one piece of fabric. Today it is assumed that the special cut and the sizing of the blouse can be connected to fur- and leather-sewing-techniques of the time. Considering you only need a piece of fabric measuring 110cm x 60cm this seems quite plausible as it should be a size you could easily cut from a cow’s or a stag’s skin. The blouses found were however made from woven fabrics.
You can find a scheme of the pattern here, just scroll down to the end of the page, here you have a perspective drawing that could help you understand how it is assembled. And finally, this drawing shows the outlines from the different blouses found (the link to the original source unfortunately doesn’t work). The pattern and the measurements I copied back in Lyons (and therefore the ones I used for making this blouse) were taken from the example in the middle, the Borum Eshøj-blouse. What you see is that most of the preserved blouses have an additional strip sewn onto the lower edge of the main part, like this it was possible to adjust the hemline even if the width of the fabric or the skin wasn’t enough. The strip found on this blouse was 5cm wide, I made mine much wider and doubled it so it would give a little structure to the blouse (the fabric I used is very thin and unlike the heavy cloth used 3000 years ago). If made narrower (or directly added to the pattern and cut in one piece, as today a width of more than 60cm should be that much of a problem) it could pass for a very modern shirt as they were very en vogue last summer. And the length of the sleeves is adjustable as well. The version above was made with a 30cm wide neck opening while the sleeves each measure 40cm from the neckline to the hem (therefore the 110cm I talked of above). Making a version with longer or shorter sleeves would be perfectly easy.
The fit is not as bad as you could imagine. Because of the lack of a proper seam underneath the sleeves you can’t insert gussets, but that is not that big a problem because the blouse should be pretty wide, unlike mine which is in fact too small (sits a little tight, breathing isn’t that good an idea when wearing it). But this was because I started to work with the measurement taken from the original (80cm bust circumference *cough*), planning to adjust a second version to my size. Haven’t made this second version so far, so you get to see the too small first version today.
And look, it could very well pass as a vintage pattern, don’t you think?
I love this pattern because it is quite simple to make (only the seam allowances have to be comparably narrow), very very old but absolutely timeless in its style. Imagine this in a brown wool and you surely have some kind of prehistoric garment. Use a patterned viscose as I did and it looks like a summer blouse that hides its historic background perfectly. Keep in mind that you have some seams in the back when chosing the fabric, otherwise it might look odd, cutting through a large motif.
But to me this project is still one of the best examples of how simple a sewing pattern can be and how important the fabric and its pattern is when it comes to the impression a garment gives.
I am participating with this post in Idle Needle’s “Make, Thrift & Tell” January challenge (Patterns). It is a lovely idea and she is having a link party over at her blog!
To finish with: The post’s title came to my mind when I looked out of the window the morning I wrote the post (yesterday, so tuesday) and had Sinatra’s In the wee small hours of the morning in my head immediately. Unfortunately the photos I made directly afterwards were all blurry, so I can only show you the scenery in bright daylight (imagine this only lit by a small street lamp).
This is how the garden looks today. At least somebody in the house appreciates snow (I don’t really), our landlord’s dog, caught in full speed:
See you on sunday, love
* From this book I also drew all the archaeological information given in this post:
Karin Grömer: Prähistorische Textilkunst in Mitteleuropa. Geschichte des Handwerkes und der Kleidung vor den Römern, Wien 2010.