Etikettarkiv: bonnet

Dressed for Travelling, Hiking, and a Visit to the Opera

Packing for the trip through Germany

I really dread packing. My suitcase always seems too small and my clothes inevitably weigh too much. And then I throw in things that I might need and would regret if I hadn’t brought along. The luggage scale is my enemy.

Packing for our trip in Germany was a different challenge. We would be travelling by train and there were no limitations to weight or size, except for the fact that we would have to manage our luggage between trains and hotels. Augusta would probably have packed her outfits in a trunk. Porters and maybe “Lohnbediente” (servants for hire) would have taken care of the luggage.  I imagine that she would have carried a small bag with her on the train, in addition to a reticule or a small purse.

The first thing I did was to buy a new suitcase with a matching bag in an antique-looking paisley pattern.  I was not going to travel with my home-made carpet bag and hat boxes. And definitely, no trunks!

So what kind of clothes did I bring?

  1. One brown wool dress for hiking and inclement weather
  2. One green-and-yellow checkered heavy cotton dress for travelling
  3. Two skirts with white blouses and cardigans – all in thin cotton – for sunny weather
  4. One silk ball-gown for the opera visit and Kerstin’s birthday dinner
  5. One green wool pelerine (short cape covering the shoulders)
  6. Five shawls, three pairs of gloves, and three white collars
  7. Two bonnets and a cotton lace cap
  8. Two petticoats
  9. Pantaloons and silk stockings
  10. Walking shoes and shoes for the opera visit
  11. Emergency jeans, t-shirts, and a puffer jacket, just in case….

In addition, I brought a hand fan, an umbrella, a parasol, opera glasses, a reticule, an embroidered purse, jewelry, hat pins, and hair ribbons.

And then there were guide books, reading material, a diary, and a sketch book; wool for knitting, protein bars for days we might not easily find allergy-suitable food, and emergency kits. Not to mention, lots of safety pins.

And of course, what Augusta could not have dreamt of: iPhones, chargers, and extra batteries.

For the record, I didn’t bring my laced corset even though I spent a lot of time making one. I figured, no one would know and it isn’t a very comfortable piece of clothing.

 What to wear?

Getting dresses in the 1840s took time and one would need help with dresses that had hooks and eyes for closure in the back. One would also need help with braiding and putting up the hair in the style of the times.

Every morning, Kerstin and I picked clothing based on the weather. If it was going to rain or be chilly, the wool dress with a shawl was perfect. For train travelling, I preferred the green-and-yellow checkered cotton dress with the green pelerine. And on a few sunny days in Lubeck, I did have use for my cotton skirts.

So what did I learn?

Shawls are great!

The wool pelerine was very useful when it was drizzling and cold.

Bonnets are great when it is windy and cold.

Fingerless gloves are beautiful and perfect when using an iPhone.

Dupioni (silk), which we used in our ball gowns, is a great fabric – it is very light and it doesn’t wrinkle. Why aren’t more clothes made of this beautiful material?

Walking around in cotton pantaloons (I even bought a pair of flannel pajama paints from H&M – same thing really) under 2 starched petticoats and a dress or a skirt is great! With the layering, you are never too hot or cold. And I loved the rustling sound of the starched petticoats when walking!

One evening, when we had to find a restaurant in Berlin and it was raining, we decided to just put on jeans – returning to present time! There were four revelations: 1. Getting dressed took less than a minute, 2. Walking didn’t make any rustling sound, 3. You almost felt indecent not wearing a full length skirt and no head covering, and 4. You became invisible – you looked like the rest of the people on the sidewalks and no one took any notice of you.

What will I incorporate in my 2017 every-day wardrobe?

Definitely lots of shawls. Fingerless gloves. Clothes made of wool and silk. And when at home, definitely pajama pants!

Album of the wardrobe

The green-and-yellow checkered heavy cotton dress:
The brown wool dress:
The cotton skirts:
The dupioni-silk, ball gown worn at Semperoper in Dresden:
Gloves and a few accessories:
Shawls and bonnets

The Travel Wardrobe

When Kerstin and I started Augusta’s Journey, we decided that in order to get into character of a wealthy 1840s girl (or to be honest, her mother), we should construct garments based on historical records and wear them when we follow in Augusta’s footsteps. We would need a travel wardrobe!

For our first leg of this journey, the cruise on Göta Canal, we made 3 different dresses each, and bonnets to match. And of course we also made petticoats, corsets, hat boxes, carpet bags, and parasols.

In a couple of weeks, we are embarking on our German journey, and we realized that this would necessitate new outfits suitable for traveling by train and hiking in national parks. And as Augusta visited the opera in both Berlin and Dresden, we would also have to make ball gowns suitable for going to the opera.

The fall dresses should be in fine wool and dark, fall colors. Kerstin soon found beautiful fabrics in Sweden and sent me pictures. I found nothing in Lincoln, because as Joanne Fabrics told me “we don’t stock any wool or silk fabrics”. So I scoured the local thrift stores for large pieces of clothing with a fabric label of 100% wool. The first one I found was a dark green women’s suit jacket for $1. That would make a fantastic pelerine. And then I also found 3 yards of checkered orange and green cotton for $5. What I had in mind was something like the outfit of Emilie Bronte in BBCs series To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters. The Bronte sisters were contemporary with Augusta and the similarities between their world and Augusta’s warrants a blog entry just by itself.

Emile Bronte in To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters
Emile Bronte in To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters

Anyway, I cut up the jacket. The wool fabric was just enough for the pelerine after I had done some little patchwork of pieces. The lining of the jacket was also just enough for making a matching bonnet. The checkered fabric would not be enough for a full dress, which usually requires 5 yards. But it would be enough for one with short sleeves and not quite as wide a skirt. In the end, I was satisfied with the outfit. The only problem I foresee is having short sleeves in October! Maybe I can find a thin cardigan to wear over it.

Having made one outfit, I realized that I would need to make two more – I would have to resort to ordering fabric online. A heavy package containing 5 meters of brown, twill wool fabric arrived last week. That would be enough for one dress. I would still need to figure out one more dress or skirt.

In the meanwhile, I started on the ball gown. First you need to figure out the pattern – then make a test dress in cheap cotton – and then, finally make the gown in silk. Figuring out the pattern took several days – I actually used sturdy paper towel that I could stitch together and try. The benefit was that I didn’t have to buy special paper and I could then reuse the paper towel pieces in the kitchen. I then purchased $2.97/yard clearance cotton fabric from Walmart and made a prototype ball gown. That took another week. Will I ever use this one?

And last Friday, I started on my silk fabric that I bought last fall in the Gold Souk area of Deira, Dubai. It is ox blood color and will have black lace. I am hoping to finish it this week so I can make my wool dresses.

So what I have I learned?

  1. The best places for cheap fabric, lace, and spools of thread are thrift stores or charity shops. And the best place for safety pins are dollar stores.
  2. Paper towel is great for making and testing patterns – you could sew a whole outfit just of paper towel!
  3. Zip ties or duct tie straps make good substitutes for whale bone, and buckram is also a very useful material for clothing construction.
  4. Hand sewing takes less time than one thinks, and you make fewer mistakes than when you use a sewing machine. Undoing mistakes take a lot of time and is frustrating.
  5. Making bias tape is quicker than going around trying to find bias tape of the right color.

Finally, and most importantly (at least to my husband)

  1. It is easier to find pins on the floor if they have the colorful heads.

Göta Canal: Day 1 – Lake Mälaren and Trosa

Having left Stockholm, we were now cruising on Lake Mälaren and taking a little detour to view Drottningholm, the UNESCO world heritage site and home of the royal family.


From there, we passed the island of Ekerö where Augusta spent a memorable Saturday in June, 1851 with three famous Swedish politicians and leaders: Gustaf Lallerstedt, A. Oscar Wallenberg, and August Sohlman.

”The Saturday after my arrival we were invited by Lallerstedt to his property, Stafsund. At 8 o’clock in the morning, we traveled by the steamboat Westmanland, whose captain was a heartily nice fellow. In the middle of Mälaren, we were met by, and transferred to, another boat.

The day was cloudy, but the weather in general was impeccable.

The corps de logis at Stafsund is made of stone, built during the time of Charles XII. The innumerable rooms are dark and gloomy and furnished in an unpleasant, old-fashioned way.

The surroundings are indescribably beautiful and offer the most diverse views of Mälaren. It is all so beautiful; we spent a rather enjoyable day outdoors and were treated to a grand dinner consisting of six dishes of food and a variety of wines. In the evening, when we were to return to Stockholm by steamboat, we were late and had to ride in a hay wagon back to Kungsholmen. With us were Wallenberg and a Master Sohlman, who is a member of Bore and who was unreasonably enthusiastic regarding Denmark, where he had joined the Danes in their fight [against the German separatists in the war of 1848].”

Back to Juno. We were now heading towards Södertälje, where we would enter the largest lock in all of the Nordic countries. This lock would lead us back to the Baltic Sea. The first lock was built here between 1806 and 1809, enabling ships from Lake Mälaren to reach the Baltic Sea through this route.

The next stop, and first excursion, was in the little town of Trosa.


Unfortunately, it had started to rain. Instead of parasols, Kerstin and I dug out umbrellas from our carpet bags and braved the ever increasing rain. But, of course, we had to experience walking in rain in our long dresses and silk bonnets! The little, old, wood houses lining the canal through Trosa makes for a picturesque walk and we convinced ourselves that this kind of weather was great for photography. It was not great for our fabric shoes and neither for the hems of our dresses.

We certainly made sure not to be late getting back to Juno (didn’t want to risk having to ride in a hay wagon to Juno’s next stop).

Back again on Juno, we had to change into the next set of dresses we had brought, and hung all the wet clothes to dry in our little cabin. As it was time for dinner, we just followed the advice: “Tradition has it that the guests change to something a bit more elegant for dinner.” The dinner, by the way, was in line with Augusta’s description – it was grand!

After dinner, the rain subsided and the clouds were dissipating. Now the cruise was taking us through the archipelago south of Trosa, stunning with sparse vegetation and smooth cliffs illuminated by the setting sun. In contrast, the hazy lights of the industrial buildings in Oxelösund – discernible in the distance – painted a surreal picture.

Evening lights
Evening lights

And soon, it was dark; sea and sky were merging into a dark blue color. Time for bed. We got our bunk beds ready but left the cabin door ajar so we could still see the dark blue sky between our swaying, wet dresses.

Dresses drying
Dresses drying

Day 1 had been spectacular!

Travel Advice and Hotel Etiquette for Ladies in the 1800s

Eduard Gaertner ( 1801-1877) Unter den Linden mit Oper
Eduard Gaertner (1801-1877) Unter den Linden mit Oper

Berlin, 3 July 1847

”In a couple of exquisitely decorated rooms in Hôtel de Rome on Boulevard Unter den Linden, yours truly is sitting with pen in hand to recall from memory the wonderments I have seen since my arrival in the great Prussian capital.”

This is Augusta’s first description of a hotel on the European continent during her and her mother’s journey down to Prague.  There are not many remarks regarding hotels in Augusta’s diary but Hôtel de Rome must have been the most impressive hotel. There, they engaged a servant to show them the attractions of Berlin.

Two days later, they arrived at Hôtel de Saxe in Dresden – the most luxurious hotel in town.

”Our stay here at Hôtel de Saxe is very nice and I would say elegant, if I had not just arrived from Berlin, with its fabulous, luxurious furnishings. There are certainly not, as at Hôtel de Rome, six or seven doormen in livery to greet you on the stairs and to take the things you carry. I have to admit that these elegant and conversable domestics made me embarrassed upon my arrival in the great Prussian capital. Here in Dresden, you miss the elegant, carpeted vestibules and staircases, this wealth of stuffed armchairs, canapés, and sofas; however, Hôtel de Saxe, although not as brilliant as Hôtel de Rome, is both gentile and comfortable.”

What could one expect from luxury hotels in the mid-1800s and what was expected of the guests?

In 1860, the American author Florence Heartly published The Ladies Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness. The book includes chapters on Travelling and on How to behave at a hotel.

“After breakfast, pass an hour or two in the parlor, unless you are going out, whilst the chambermaid puts your room in order.”

It just so happens that while writing this blog today,  I am staying at a hotel in Dubai and Heartly’s suggestion sounded like a good idea. Heeding the advice, I took Florence Heartly’s book and Augusta’s diary with me and headed for the “parlor” (aka, the mall connected to the hotel). Heartly’s second advice also sounded good: “It is best always to carry writing materials with you.”  I skipped her next etiquette rule for hotels: “Never sit down to the piano uninvited, unless you are alone in the parlor.” Instead, I ordered a cappuccino and started reading Heartly’s book – highlighting advice that Kerstin and I might need for our Göta Canal cruise and our train journey through Germany (with the exception of those regarding an escort):

Regarding your escort

  • If you travel under the escort of a gentleman, give him as little trouble as possible … [!]
  • It is best, when starting upon your journey, to hand your escort a sufficient sum of money to cover all your expenses … [hmm]
  • Find out the position and number of the stateroom occupied by your escort, in case you wish to find him during the night. [that is, if you were able to secure a stateroom to sleep in on the steamboat]

Regarding sea sickness

Avoiding seasickness by reading a book.
  • …never leave home without a straw-covered bottle of brandy, and another of camphor, in your carpet bag.
  • Try to occupy yourself with looking at the country through which you are passing, or with a book.

Regarding your luggage

  • Have a strong pocket made in your upper petticoat, and in that carry your money, only reserving in your dress-pocket a small sum for incidental expenses.
  • In your travelling satchel, carry an oil skin bag containing your sponge, tooth- and nail-brushes, and some soap.
  • Have also a calico bag with hair brush and comb, some pins, hair pins, a small mirror, and some towels. In this satchel, carry also some crackers or sandwiches…
  • In your carpet bag, carry a large shawl, and if you will travel by night, … your night clothes and what clean linen you may require …
  • If you carry a novel …, it is best to carry the book in your satchel.
  • If you are to pass the night in the cars, carry a warm woolen or silk hood – that you may take off your bonnet at night. No one can sleep comfortable in a bonnet.
  • Carry also … a large shawl to wrap round your feet.

At the hotel

  • When you arrive at the hotel, inquire at once for the proprietor. Tell him your name and address, and ask him to conduct you to a good room…
  • It is best to mention the time when you wish to breakfast, dine or sup.
  • If you stay more than one day … request one of the waiters always to meet you as you enter, and wait upon you to your seat.
  • When you have finished your meal, cross the room quietly; if you go into the parlor, do not attract attention by a hasty entrance ….
  • A lady’s dress, when alone at a hotel, should be of the most modest kind.
  • Never, even at supper, appear alone at the table with bare arms or neck.
  • If you wish for a carriage, ring, and let the waiter order one for you.

Those were Heartly’s advice for travelling ladies. Augusta and her mother probably knew all about travelling etiquette. Now, Kerstin and I will also know what is expected of us when we embark on Augusta’s Journey.

William Powell Frith (1819-1909 ) The Railway Station

In need of a hatbox

Final Hatbox
Final Hatbox

I have been in need of a hatbox ever since I successfully constructed a bonnet. Kerstin already has two hat boxes – one that she made from a round IKEA gift box and one that she received from a good friend. And of course I really wanted to make one too.

This week we visited my cousin and talked about Augusta’s Journey and of obtaining material for making an 1850s wardrobe. We have been getting most of that (lace, fabric, etc) from thrift store curtains and table clothes. Relatives have also given us boxes of lace and turn-of-the-century night gowns. We are so excited about getting everything made for our Göta Canal cruise at the end of May.

“I think I have a hatbox in the basement”, said my cousin, “it doesn’t look very nice but if you can use it, you can have it.”

The hatbox was indeed interesting with shipping information and stamps on it. The box was shipped in 1931 from Hartley & Boedeker Ltd Manufacturers in Manchester, England to Hadar Carlsson’s hat store in Köping, Sweden.

The postage consisted of 3 stamps with George V image and a Swedish stamp asking for an additional 10 öre as the postage had not been enough for the shipment. So before I did anything to this hatbox, I saved the labels and stamps.

Then the fun began. First, I had to make a new lid as the original one was not in the greatest shape. That was done using cardboard and glue.

For coverage, Kerstin suggested that we use fabric for bookbinding to cover the outside and nice bookbinding paper from Washington DC for the interior. To cover the lid, I used a remnant piece of IKEA furniture fabric.

Last but not least, I used an old leather belt to hold the lid in place.