Handcrafted History

Historical and modern handcraft mixed with adventures


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Making a better Apron dress

I though I would share my best tips and tricks for making good apron dresses, since I have made a whole bunch of them by now, and probably most of the mistakes to…

Nr 1. Use enough fabric. I know it’s tempting to save on the fabric, but trust me. To short and tight a dress will look like a modern dress.

Nr 2. Use a thin enough fabric. Save the sturdy, felted wool fabrics for a coat or a cape and chose a thin, rather loosely woven fabric. It should be comfortable and have a nice fall, try to drape it over a piece of furniture, like a table, and look how the folds drape.

Nr 3. Try it on while sewing with all your other layers of clothing, to make sure you will have enough room under the apron dress for a shift and a possible warmer dress if you think you will be needing that.

Nr 4. Dont make the straps to long. I think it looks very strange when women are wearing their dresses at the middle of their bust, or even under their nipple area. Please don’t.

Nr 5. If you don’t have tortoise brooches to fasten your dress with, don’t use modern buttons or fastenings in the meantime. The latest thing I have read about apron dresses is that 1. you don’t have to wear them for reenacting a viking woman and 2. they wear always worn with brooches, like the dress being an accessory to the jewelry and not the other way around. So skip the apron dress if you don’t own the brooches, or sew the straps directly to the dress itself.

Nr 6. Thin fabric could be lined with a strip of linen or you can use lining inside the whole dress to make it sturdier.

Nr 7. You could also sew on a piece of tablet woven band or a thin silk strip around the upper part of the dress, to make it durable, enhance the fitting and also, for decoration.

Nr 8. Decorating your dress doesn’t have to be expensive. Use thin strips of patterned silks, tablet woven bands, viking silver posaments, or just a braided cord. On the small figurines, it seems like there is decoration around the hem of the dress, and in grave finds there is remnants of silk and decorations around the upper part, partly inside the tortoise brooches. Save money and time and decorate only the upper part of the dress, or do the whole thing!

Nr 9. Use the same type of thread as the decoration you want to sew to your dress. Silk thread for silk fabrics, wool thread for woven bands, and a very thin and fine silk thread for posaments. This will give you a nice seam, that is as little visible as possible, and doesn’t damage the decorations.

Nr 10. To protect your dress from the everyday stains; use a belt to fasten up your dress while working, this will protect the hem from mud, open fire and stains. Also, an apron is a very good choise for protecting your clothes. Or remove the apron dress and work in your shift or woolen dress. It seems the apron dress was a status symbol and finer wear, so it is probable that women didn’t wear them while laboring.

 

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Eventspackning, ett brev till mig själv

This post is in Swedish, copy to google translate if you want to read it. The post is mainly about historical camping in Sweden at viking markets, SCA events and the like, and is my personal remember-note for next years season and the updates I want to accomplish. Do you have any piece of advise on your own, or do you have a blogpost that is about historical camping in any way? Give me a link to it in the comment section so I can get inspired by you!

Bilderna i inlägget kommer från Double Wars 2017

Nu har jag åkt på massor av event under vår, sommar och höst där jag, jag och maken eller ett kompisgäng bott i tält. Det har varit både vikingaevent, marknader, SCA-event och blandningar däremellan, så nu tänkte jag göra mig en lista så jag kommer ihåg alla kloka lärdomar inför eventsäsongen 2018. Det här är alltså ingen packlista, utan mer en uppdatering på saker som kan göras bättre till nästa år, och saker som har fungerat fint.

Både jag och maken är ju rätt bekväma av oss nuförtiden, så vi gillar att kunna rulla fram bilen till vår lägerplats. (Fram till att jag var typ 22 så trodde jag att normen var att bo på andra sidan ett berg, längs med en stig. Norrlandslajvare.) Vi gillar också att sova torrt och bekvämt, ha rena kläder, lagad mat och vi vill inte behöva lägga för mycket tid på skötsel och packning av lägret. I dagsläget har vi klockat vår packning, och det tar oss en timme att sätta upp lägret från det att vi anländer, och en timme att riva + packa in allt i bilen. Ganska lagom, tycker vi. Med ett större tält (som vi planerar att köpa) + en liten shop med så tänker jag att det kommer ta lite längre tid nästa säsong.

Jag har också funderat lite på hur vi alla kan hjälpas åt för att göra den historiska lägerupplevelsen bättre för alla som är med (det som inom SCA kallas drömmen, inom lajv kallas inlajv och inom reenactment kallas att vara helt period). Jag tycker helt enkelt att det känns så himla tråkigt när jag ser massor av människor som lägger ner tid, möda och pengar på att skapa stämningsfulla läger och sedan mötas av en granne som tuggar chipspåse, knäcker en ölburk och spelar hårdrock helt öppet i lägret. Så respektlöst! Det här skulle kunna bli en arg rant, men jag undviker det för den här gången och delar istället med mig av inspiration.

Det här är min lista på smarta saker att ta med, kloka lösningar och idéer på förbättringar. Du får gärna bli inspirerad av den, kanske hittar du något nytt som du vill förbättra ditt läger med?

  • Lyktor är viktigt. Förutom i Norrland under sommaren, där behövs inga lyktor.
  • Myggnät är super. Är det inte mygg så är det tvestjärtar.
  • Ta med fler spännremmar till packningen. Och några extra.
  • Det är inte jättepraktiskt att ställa en keramikmugg med vatten i sängen ifall man är törstig på natten. Ett sängbord vore klart bättre.
  • Varje gång vi lämnar sopkorgen hemma saknar jag den och avundas alla som har en snygg sopkorg framme. Ta med en jämnt, med soppåsar till.
  • Våtservetter, hushållspapper och handsprit i en korg. Därför.
  • Träbänken är bra och rymmer flera gäster, men varsin stol med ryggstöd gör att man blir en mycket gladare människa! Vid urymmesbrist i bilen, duger 50 situps/dag i två månader innan eventet lika bra.
  • En korg att bära disk i. Diskmedel + diskborste om vi inte är på SCA-event. Och något att värma diskvatten i.
  • Ett ylleunderställ, mössa och tjocksockor värmer lika mycket som två tjocka filtar. Effektivare packning, varmare och nöjdare.
  • En stor flaska att ha dricksvatten i, för att slippa springa iväg från lägret så fort man blir törstig.
  • Efterrätt på maten är aldrig fel. Kaffe och choklad ger en dessutom helt nya vänner.

Bloggutmaning; har du också en blogg, pinterestmapp, en facebookvägg eller liknande där du skriver (eller samlar på bilder) om medeltida/vikingatida event? I så fall så utmanar jag dig att skriva en egen tipslista, en packlista eller berätta om ditt läger- så delar vi erfarenheter och tips med varandra! Skriv en kommentar här med en länk till din sida, och berätta om utmaningen (och inte minst, skicka vidare den!) För ett bättre lägerår 2018!

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Tutorial Apron Dress

One of the dresses that I still like after using for many events, is my viking age apron dress (it’s actually one of my oldest piece of historical clothing). It´s made of a tabby woven wool and the construction of the dress is inspired by the find from Hedeby. The pattern is made by 4 pieces and is quite simple, you´ll achieve the fitted look by making small adjustments according to your body.
As you probably already noticed, there are amazingly many different variations of reconstructions and suggestions on how the skirts may have looked, and I also think there were different variants during the viking age. However, I decided to imitate the find from Hedeby, as this has a piece of a probable seam preserved, and gives a suggestion of how the skirts/panels may have been assembled. After reading some discussions on the website Historiska världar and looking at gold figurines, I also chose to do it with a trail, with overly long skirts. That’s my interpretation of the trail on the figurines and picture stones and I was curious about how the fabric would fall with such a model. After a while, however, I cut off the excess fabric that made the overly long skirt, since I got irritated about the trail dragging mud everywhere and getting in my way. It was a nice view though, the long skirt trailing behind.

hängselkjol2

Here is a list of what you need, and some easy steps to follow to make one of your own!

What you need:

  • 2-3 m *1.5 m fabric (2 m= small, 3 m=large)
  • scissor
  • measuring tape
  • markers for fabric
  • pins
  • needle and thread or a sewing machine
  • a friend to assist with the final adjustments on the dress

The measurements you need:

  • Armpit-hemd (3) (as long as you want the dress to be) + 3 cm sewing allowance at the bottom, and 5 cm at the top if you would like to make the dress with the higher look (like my green one) when measuring from the armpit; start as high up as you can get under the arm. you will cut out space for your arms movement later.
  • Width around your body (1) (the widest part of your body, often around your chest/over the breasts. Divide this measurement in 4 and then add 4cm to each piece (seam allowance and leisure of movement)
  • Armpit-waist (2) (in this case, your waist is your slimmest part of your body, after which the dress is going to get wider)

I chose to make my dress rather figure close, but a more loose style will make it possible to wear a pair of underdresses under it, which can be nice during colder weather. The dress is built by 4 pieces of the same size and shape. They start out straight and then gets wider at the waist.

The amount of fabric you need depends on your measurements, but I drafted up three different ways of putting your pattern pieces out on your fabric, depending on how much fabric you want to use.

For the draft to work you need to have a fabric that is 150 cm in width, and that you doesn’t need a longer dress than that. 1F + 2F is the two side pieces, 3B + 4B is the front and back ones. The bottom-left draft shows how you can use the fabric in an effective way by doing a gore in one panel.

The upmost pattern takes 250 cm of fabric, and gives you a dress lining of 80cm *4= 320 cm. You can absolutely do with less; the one at the bottom- right gives you a lining of about 270 cm, using just under 200 cm of fabric. This is for a small-medium sized person. If you have a larger size, remember to add width not just to your upper area but to the skirt as well, to make the dress drape nicely and give you space to move.

After cutting the pieces from the fabric (but before you cut them after your figure) you will want to bast them together in order to try the size and fitting. The dotted lines on the picture above indicates were you can make the dress a little bit figure close (waist/under the breasts, under the armpit and at the back). When you try out the dress, remember to have your shift/dresses underneath so it wont get to small. If you’re using a modern bra during your viking adventures, then also wear it during fitting sessions.

When the dress is done, I usually make the straps in the same wool fabric as I made the dress itself. Make them as narrow bands (folded double) and sew them on to the back of your dress at the same position as your bra straps would be- this will make them lay comfortable on your shoulders. In the front you may sew them down to the dress if you haven’t got tortoise brooches yet, otherwise use these to fasten the straps to the dress. I prefer to do a loop at the end of the strap, and then another one at the front of the dress; these you can clearly see in finds from the viking age, and it also makes it easier to use the brooches without damaging your fabric.

If you want, decorations is a nice way to spice up your apron dress. A tablet woven band, a small piece of silk fabric or a silver thread posament is find-based decorations from the viking age. Good luck with your sewing!

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Viking age- reading tip

Are you interested in the viking age, but wonders how to learn more? Browsing pinterest on all lovely photos, but thinking that everything might not be historical? Here’s some really good links and reading for you! (And no, of course you don’t have to exercise your hobby the most historical way possible- but it’s always interesting to know-how)

 

Susanna Broome is a great tip if you want patterns and reading about pattern construction. Her page includes lots of good-to-know, as well as patterns for sale, both in english and swedish. She is both historical well-read, as well as daring to say “I did this, we don’t know if that is the correct way, but it´s working and gives you a nice outfit”.

Viking clothing (Thor Ewing) is a good read. Everything might not be historical accurate since he is making conclusions- but it makes the book interesting for reenactors and not just a list of different finds.

Pinterest is both very good, and quite dangerous. Lots of pretty clothes, lots of fantasy, lots of guesses. But also lots of finds and photos from museum and databases, good quality handcraft and historical interpretations. Look for Viking Finds rather than just “vikings”, archeological material, posts about what have been found and were, and pair it with written sources.

For viking finds of metal, ceramics and the like, different museums offers online databases. For example, I found one of the original tortoise brooches (that I use in my outfit) on the Västernorrlands Länsmuseum which is only a short trip from my home.

Good luck with your reading, and please write a comment if you have any more interesting reading tip to share!

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The handcrafting camp at Hägnan

During Hägnans Medeltidsdagar in Luleå this summer, (that the local SCA group Frostheim organized) I had the over all responsibility to make the handcraft camp work out well. We had a camp outside (or inside if the weather was bad) with different kinds of handcrafts that each participant brought (so you could do whatever was in your interest and current project, as well as trying out some new things others had.) My work was mostly about saying “yes, good job!” and checking that the guard schedule was working. And reminding people of lunch – lunch is important!

Basically, it’s not that much work – happy handcrafters of different kinds gather and sit down during the days to craft, talk and show different kinds of handicraft to interested visitors. I usually try to make them bring many different things to work with, and to show different stages in the handcrafting process so that visitors can grasp what it really is about. Good ways of doing this is showing step-to-step pictures or unfinished objects, talk about the handicraft, lay out your tools etc. People get really interested when handcrafting is actually done – my love even got attention for winding yarn by hand when he sat down and helped me…

I also brought my market shop with me; but as usual I’m just not that interested in selling things from a specific place, when there is an opportunity to go around, talking handicraft, taking photos, sewing on projects and drinking coffee. So my market stall was mostly empty (but my friends checked it for me – thanks!) Anyway, it is good to have the shop with me because it usually spread the costs and make me afford all the traveling expenses.

Johan and Erik from Trix were performing just behind us during the week- first class entertainment while you are sewing!

I really recommend visiting handcrafting areas if you are a visitor on a medieval/viking market. Bring a project, some snack or just questions about different handcrafts and you will be almost sure to find someone who is willing to share and talk about how things are done.

  

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The easy apron dress

This apron dress is really simple and easy to sew together- perfect if you want to save fabric, try to hand stitch your garment, or just want to try out a looser fit on an apron dress.

 The description is based on the fact that you have a fabric that is approximately 150 cm wide, and the dress in the picture is about 130 cm long. If your fabric width is different, you will have to redraw the pattern pieces and probably piece the dress together with more gores. I show you a way to make the skirt fuller with a small gore on the drawing below. The method can be used for larger gores also. B = back of the dress, F = front.
Customize the measurements according to your own measurements. The amount of fabric you need depends on your measurements + how long skirt you want. On the pattern diagram, 1 square = 10 cm, so it takes 2.2m of fabric to make the dress to my measurements. Draw a separate sketch of checked paper before you begin so you will understand how the pieces are connected and laid out!
This description is mostly about the pattern-making assembly. If you want to know more about seams and techniques, check out my other descriptions and tips on the blog here.

First calculate your measurements, and draw the pattern on checked paper. The dress consists of an entire front piece (F), and a two-piece back piece (B) that is laid out on folded fabric. To get some extra fullness in the dress lining you can cut it according to the suggestion in the picture (the back piece is then cut in the bottom with a small gore).

Measure around the bust/widest part of the chest = the measurements on the narrowest part of the dress: split the measure in two to make the front and back. Remember to add seam allowance; 1-2 cm on each side. The measures on the pattern is approximately 90 cm (40 cm on the front and 50 cm on the back piece). Because the dress does not start in the middle of the bust, but a bit above, you get enough space to move and dress/undress easily.

The length of the dress; measure from the armpit and as far down as you want the dress to go. Add seam allowance of about 4 cm. In the picture the pieces are 130 cm long. The width of the dress lining becomes 2 * the total width of the fabric so 2 * 150 = 300 cm.

Once you have cut out your pieces, you can first sew the back piece in the middle, then sew on gores if you made any. Bast the front and back together and try; cut out a little for the armpit if you want, and mark with pins where your straps should be attached (I usually like to wear them on the same position where I have my bra straps, I guess my shoulders are used to that.)

Sew the sides together, press and fold the seams, whip stitch them, and finish of the linings by folding them once (on a thicker fabric) or twice (on a more light weight fabric) and whip stitch them. Finish with sewing on thin fabric straps (I usually fold mine twice towards each other, whip stitch them together and then sew them on the garment. Then you are finished!

I really recommend buying a light weight, more loose woven fabric for this dress. Sturdier wools will not fall as nice, and might feel like you move around inside a tent-like garment…

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Enkel hängselkjol

Åh, äntligen en ny tutorial! Efter att tredje vännen frågat hur jag gjort min nya hängselkjol (som inte är så ny längre, den är nästan två år) så fick jag äntligen energi till att göra den här beskrivningen. Konstruktionen är verkligen superenkel, bekväm och tygeffektiv. Perfekt till dig som vill spara tyg, sy för hand eller bara göra en lösare hängselkjol.

Beskrivningen bygger på att du har ett tyg som är ca 150 cm brett, och kjolen på bilden blir ca 130 cm lång. Anpassa måtten efter dina egna mått. Tygmängden som går åt beror på dina mått + hur lång kjol du vill ha. På bilden är 1 ruta = 10 cm, så det går alltså åt 2,2 m tyg till mina mått. Rita ut en egen skiss på rutat papper innan du börjar så kommer du förstå hur bitarna hänger ihop!

Den här beskrivningen utgår mest från den mönstertekniska hopsättningen- om du vill veta mer om sömmar och tekniker kan du kika på mina andra beskrivningar och sytips här på bloggen =)

Räkna först ut dina mått, och rita upp mönstret på rutat papper. Hängselkjolen består av ett helt framstycke, och ett tvådelat bakstycke som läggs ut lite omlott på dubbelvikt tyg. För att få lite extra vidd i kjolen så kan du skarva den enligt förslaget på bilden (bakstycket är alltså skarvat i nederkant med en liten kil).

Mått runt bysten/bredaste delen av bröstkorgen=måttet på kilens smalaste del: dela i två och fördela på bak och framstycke. Kom ihåg att lägga till sömsmån. På bilden är måttet ca 90 cm (40 cm på framstycket och 50 cm på bakstycket). Eftersom hängselkjolen inte börjar mitt på bysten, utan en bit ovanför, får du vidd nog till att röra dig och ta på/av kjolen enkelt.

Längd på kjolen; mät från armhålan och så långt ned du vill att kjolen ska gå. Lägg till sömsmån på ca 4 cm. På bilden är styckena 130 cm långa.

Kjolfållens vidd blir 2*tygets totala bredd så 2*150=300 cm.

När du har klippt ut dina bitar så kan du först skarva bakstycket mitt i, sedan sy på ev kilar i nederkanten. Tråckla ihop fram och bakstycket med varandra och prova; klipp ur lite för armhålan om du vill och markera var hängslen ska fästas.

Sy ihop sidorna, fäll sömmarna och fålla alla kanter. Avsluta med att sy på hängslen- klart!

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