10. An (un)seamly pillow

OR “A Study in Repetition.”

I have sewn a pillow cover out of a remnant of hand-woven cloth, left over from my “Skjoldehamn blanket- version I” warp.  I will be posting the details of the choices (fiber, weave, pattern, etc.) for that at a later date, but for now I’ll stick to how the sewing of one ‘simple’ pillow case can end up being a lot of work.

The cloth used here is approximately 100 cm long x 73 cm wide selvage to selvage.  It was the first bit woven on the project so there are a few treadling errors, but serviceable cloth for ‘husbruk’ (house-hold use) as we say in Norway, and local for my persona, if a bit ‘early’.

Some documentation

While the cloth will be documented later, suffice it to say it is a 2/2 twill of spælsau singles (Rauma 1-tr. prydvevgarn, 6000 m/kg) in sheep’s white and natural black.  On a legal document dated July 25, 1335, the dowery of Ingebjørg Ivarsdatter is inventoried upon the occasion of her marriage to Torleif Sigurdsson.  Among the many possessions she brought into the marriage, there were also two checked/plaid pillows (Vågan historielag).  This gives me documentation for a similar type of pattern in use in my persona’s exact location and time-frame.

The filler pillow is down/feather ca. 55x55 cm.  Finds of quantities of down in the Oseberg grave are attributed to duvets and pillows in the beds (Christensen & Nockert, p. 227).  Closer to home, Vega, a group of islands and islets not far to the south of Lofoten, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 1000-year old tradition of down and egg collecting through husbandry of the local eider duck population (Stiftelsen Vegaøyan Verdensarv).


A simple ‘envelope’ style pillowcase should be simple, right?  Sometimes, no.  Things we produce, we look at a thousand times.  Little imperfections and cheats seem to grow and become annoying over time, and this pillow has produced its share.

The ends of the raw cloth were turned up once and whip stitched down in the same manner as the Skjoldehamn blanket (Løvlid, p. 139), where the stitches  are well visible on the right side.  The cloth is folded double and a seam is back-stitched ca. 5 cm in from the selvedges, using warp yarn and a bone needle, as can be seen on the following picture.  By having a wide seam allowence I adjusted for pillow size without creating more raw edges to finish, and it is unnoticeable in a squishy pillow.

And this is where things went a little wonky.  The seam on the one side ended up getting sewn three times.  First, I forgot to turn the cloth inside  out.  Then I tried to match the pattern on the plaid.  The pattern is purposely woven with some variation in the number of picks (threads) per repetition.

Trying to fudge and ‘force’ the pattern to match when sewing ended with removing the seam for a second time because there was too much puckering (look towards the top)

To top it off, I had to redo the other seam because I hadn’t paid  enough attention and it curved too much  along the center of the line.  On the positive side, my speed on backstitch is improving!

The top opening was simply whip stitched closed, a nod to the whip stitching connecting the two halves of the Skjoldehamn blanket (Løvlid, p. 139).  Not paying enough attention was paid for by having to re-sew the seams so many times.  An annoyance, but I think the end result was worth the extra work.  I now have a pillow that is persona-appropriate and will make SCA camping more enjoyable.



Christensen, Arne Emil and Margareta Nockert, eds.  Osebergfunnet: Bind IV- Tekstilene. Oslo: Kulturhistorisk Museum, Universitetet i Oslo, 2006.  ISBN: 82-8084-024-9.

Løvlid, Dan Halvard.  Nye tanker om Skjoldehamnfunnet.  Masteroppgave i arkeologi, Institutt for AHKR, Universitetet i Bergen.  Høst 2009. Accessed 13.06.2013.

Stiftelsen Vegaøyan Verdensarv.  [Down and egg tradition on Vega- UNESCO World Heratige Site.]  2011. Accessed 13.06.2013.

Vågan historielag.  Bryllupet i 1335. 2013. Accessed 13.06.2013.


(originally posted to LiveJournal: June 13, 2013)