Schwalm Costume – The Beaded Necklaces

Schwalm women wore short beaded necklaces with their festive costumes.

These necklaces were mostly made with Bohemian glass beads with a bevel polishing.

They were also made with amber beads (for wealthier women).

The amber beads also got a bevel polishing.

A coloured silk ribbon was used to secure the necklace.
The beads of the necklace did not fully encircle the neck; a short distance at the back of the neck was bridged with the silk ribbon.
The beads were strung onto a strong thread.

Often the heavy necklaces were worn doubled. A knot in the thread

marked the place where the strand was turned and laid back.

The mid point of the silk ribbon was fastened at one end of the strand.

One end of the ribbon was threaded through the folded back strand at the knot mark on the opposite side of the necklace.

The ribbon ends were secured with a knot at the back of the neck.

In single strands, the beads were approximately the same size, but different sizes for girls and women were common.

Often the beads for adults had a diameter of about 2 cm. Such a double-row necklace containing thirty beads (on the left in the above image) weighs 280 g! Did you ever wear such a heavy necklace?

The amber discs had a thickness of nearly 1 cm
and a diameter of more then 2 cm.
Such a double-row amber necklace containing seventy-four discs weighs 190 g.

The chains lie upon the silk neckerchiefs.

This makes wearing the heavy rocks more pleasant.

Black necklaces made from glass beads were worn with the black costume.

In addition to these most common necklaces, there were also necklaces for special occasions such as marriage. These will be subject of a future article.

Schwalm Costume – Joy-and-Sorrow Neckerchiefs

The joy-and-sorrow neckerchiefs were a special type of neckerchiefs worn by Schwalm women.

Especially precious cloths made of pure silk were worked in such a way that they could be worn for either cheerful or mournful occasions.

Because the square cloths were folded diagonally, either the colourful

or the black

or the white-and-black side was visible.

Often these especially pretty cloths were embellished with embroidery.

Schwalm Costume – The Neckerchiefs

Schwalm women wore neckerchiefs with their festive costumes. These square cloths were made of pure silk.

The neckerchiefs of young women were often very colourful reflecting the basic colour of the costume.

Fringe made from silk threads knotted at the edges was common.

The bundled threads of the fringe were knotted at least once again,

but usually more often.

The square cloths were folded diagonally. The established triangle was laid in the back.
Depending on how the cap bands (subject of a future article) were worn – in the back or in the front – the ends were either inserted in the front at the waist between skirts and apron

or wound around the neck, crossed over in the front, and knotted underneath the triangle in the back.

Schwalm Costume – The Jackets

When the weather got colder, Schwalm women wore a short long-sleeved jacket over the bodice and waistcoat of their festive costumes.

The outside fabric was silk, cashmere or wool.

The jackets were completely lined –

either with a plain linen-weave fabric made of linen threads in the warp and hand-spun lambswool in the woof

or with the same fabric felted.

The front pieces were cut with large curves like the cut of the waistcoats. The arrangement of the buttons formed a heart.

Similar to the waistcoats, most of the jackets had black velvet bands under the button sections.

There were jackets in green, lilac (matching the blue costume), and black.

Often the green silk fabric

was hand embroidered with small red patterns.

The sleeves were long and snug fitting

and closed with two buttons.

The edges of the sleeves were trimmed with black velvet, cut zigzag and decorated with simple ornamental stitches.

The jackets reached from the collarbone to the waist and were close fitting.

A 5 cm high strip of inverted pleats was added at the bottom edge. When the jacket was worn, the pleats lay upon the waistband of the skirts. This pleated section gave the jacket the name of “Troll” jacket.

The fabric strip for the inverted pleats was edged with black velvet.

In patterned fabric the pleats were arranged to match the pattern.

So that the pleats would keep their shape, they were secured on the back with two rows of stitches

in different techniques.

Girls also wore such green jackets with their red costume.

Schwalm Costume – The White Aprons

In addition to the dark aprons, white aprons were also a part of the Schwalm festive costume.
However, these were reserved for young girls up to marriage. They were worn on bright warm days in addition to the white bodices and the red costume.
In the year 1941, Heinrich Metz (1897–1973), a pastor with a profound appreciation of Schwalm habits and costumes, made a survey of an average Schwalm bride’s trousseau. [Source: Schwälmer Jahrbuch 2000]

Regarding the aprons he found:
Although the basic construction of the white aprons was similar to the dark aprons, there were more elaborate details. For example, the two strips needed for the width of the apron were sewn together with a fancy seam.
The aprons´ waistbands were embroidered with the finest whitework and additionally decorated with needlelace.
The hook-and-eye closure was covered with gold-plated clasps.
Often the initials of the owner and small ornaments were embroidered with Cross stitches on the flat middle sections at the waistlines of the aprons.
Sometimes the year was also added.
Especially magnificent examples had additional small whitework borders on the flat sections on both sides at the waistline
or on the flat middle section at the waistline.
Between the flat sections, the apron was gathered with tiny pleats.
There are aprons with withdrawn thread work
and some with patterns lying on top of the fabric, as seen below in the heart motif
and in the circle motif.
However, the most common were small borders embroidered with Satin stitches
in many different patterns,
and border patterns worked with Coral Knot stitches and Satin stitches.
A large number of small border designs can be found in my publication Schwalm Curved Lines, Narrow Borders, and Ornamental Stitches.
The needlelace was also worked differently and elaborately.
Besides very simple examples,
multirow needlelace with pyramids and different picots were worked. One can find detailed instructions for working needlelace scallops, needlelace pyramids, and picots in my publication Schwalm Needlelace edge decorations – easily embroidered.
And finally, the costume consisting of the neat white apron, the black skirts, the black waistcoat, the white bodice, the red bottom edges of the skirts, and the red caps became very wellknown in the world as Little Red Riding Hood’s costume.