HANDCRAFTED HISTORY


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Viking apron dress, part 2

Are you longing for that perfect iron age (viking) look of square awesomeness, yet still wanting to show off some womanly curves? Fear no more, this is how you make your apron dress fit really nicely! (Yes, we are going to be more serious real soon)

This apron dress is the same style as you can find in this tutorial, but back then I never guided you through the fitting, straps or stitching. Kind readers have asked for more details, so now this part 2 is here for you.

Ok, so let’s start with the dress already cut out and basted together (white machine thread). It looks something like this, hanging a bit boring…

Step one- try it on!

I pinned two pieces of ribbon onto the dress to be able to try it on easily. These will later be my guides for making the sewn linen straps.

In the back, I put the straps closer to the middle. I find them more comfortable and less likely to slip off my shoulders.

Now it is time to do some shaping! I like to wear my apron dresses higher up on my body, which means I get fabric bulk under my arms. To avoid that, I draft a curved line under my armpit and then cut away the excess fabric. You don’t have to make a full “arm hole”, just add some space for your arm.

Drafting the curved line in the armpit with a fabric marker.

The next step is to pin away fabric in the seam above the bust. Here the seam stood out a bit, so in order to follow the shape of my body, I pinned away a little fabric. As you can see in the photo it is not much, only to add a soft shape.

Marking the fitting with pins will allow you to feel the new fit.

Next are the side seams in the front. I pin away fabric under my bust, turn at my natural waist and continue out in a soft line to the basting line again. The goal is not to achieve a super snug fit, just to highlight that you have a body underneath.

Pinning the shape loosely.

Continue with the back seams and pin away fabric to add some shape to your waist here too. I hold my hand by my natural waist, and as you can see I did not aim to make the apron dress tight. Just removing a couple of cms to add shape.

My goal here was to be able to wear the apron dress with a woollen kirtle underneath, so I needed the fit to be loose. If you want a tighter fit you can try pinning away more fabric- just remember to try it on with new basting seams afterwards to make sure you can get it on and off. Apron dresses never have lacing or such.

Pinning the back seams by the waist.

Now it is time to check out the new fit! Mark the position of your pins on both sides of the seams, remove them to be able to take off your dress easily, and then bast along the drafted lines.

Basting can be done on a machine or by hand.

Here you can already see the added shape of the bust and waist, even without the seams properly finished. When you are satisfied with the fit, remove the old basting from places with double basting. This is needed to finish the dress by hand with a historical stitch.

Trying on the dress again to check the fit.

Press all seams with the basting still in place. (This step is important if you want to try out the seam below, but if you use a sewing machine for your dress you should first sew all seams on the machine, remove the basting thread and then press.)

Pressing the seam allowance to either side will make the sewing easier.
This is what the new shaping looks like after the pressing.
Sewing with wool thread.

Turn the apron dress so the right side is out (yes, we are sewing the dress from the outside) and start by the hem with a small whip stitch. Work your way up on the outside, fasten the thread on the inside of the garment as needed, and repeat with all four seams.

This is a sketch of how the seam looks, side to side with the actual seam.

The key to making this seam look neat is to make small stitches mainly running on the inside of the garment. I like to start from the bottom up, so I can try out the best thread tension and width between the stitches where it does not show so much. The pressing in the step before also helps a lot, as well as the basting on the inside, keeping the garment together while I sit comfortably on the sofa, sewing.

Close up on the seam. If you sew with wool thread, choose a thread with a high twist and 2-3 ply. Take shorter threads and a needle somewhat thicker than the thread. This will make the thread last longer when you work.
Finish the dress with a double folded hem and whipstitches. Press all seams when you have finished.

When the dress is done, it is time to make some straps! Use the ribbons from earlier as your mockups /guides to decide how long your straps should be, but remember that the tortoise brooches will take some space too. Add seam allowance (3 cm) and extra for your loops. If you are unsure, make the strap 10 cm longer and then cut away the end you don’t need when you have made the loop and finished off everything else.

Linen fabric going to be apron dress straps.

The measure for my dress straps was approx 30 cm long and 4 cm wide. I made 2, and then 2 really short ones to make the loops attached to the apron dress above the front seams. Then I pressed the straps in the middle, folded them, and then folded in the edges. Very smooth!

Use waxed linen thread for sewing in linen fabric. Linen straps on wool dresses can be found in grave finds from the period.

Whipstitch the folded straps along the edge. When you have finished, press them again but with the seam in the middle. This way the stitching will be protected in the middle and the straps will be looking really nice and even.

Nice and even, I love pressing seams!
Making loops for the tortoise brooches.

To make the loop in the edge of the strap, finish the seam along the line and then fold the edge back and fasten it with some stitches. I like these loops, they keep the brooch in place and look neat. The small fabric pieces for the lower loops get treated in the same way. Double fold, press, whipstitch along the line and fold to a loop.

The loops are sewn to the inside of the upper hem, beside the front side seam.

Fasten the lower loops to the front, and remember to put them where you pinned your ribbons on in the beginning. The placement will help the shaping of the garment. If you wear a modern underwire bra, the placement of the loops is often towards the middle from the bra straps. Remember that your tortoise brooches should have a fairly even place to rest on your body.

Sewing the straps onto the back of the apron dress.

Before attaching the straps to the back, try the dress on with your tortoise brooches, to adjust the length needed for your straps. When you are satisfied, pin the straps in place on your back, and sew them with some waxed linen thread. I like to work my way around the strap and through the wool fabric to make them sturdy.

That’s it! We’re done with all the fitting and sewing, and owners of a splendid apron dress with a perfect fit! Did you like this post? Support me on Patreon to help me make more!


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Living at Birka

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At the beginning of August, I took my camp equipment and moved to Björkön for a long Viking-weekend. I had such a wonderful time and wanted to show you some great photos and inspire you to maybe travel there yourself when the world allows.

As many of you fellow viking-nerds know, Björkö was the place where the viking city Birka was situated, and it is very beautifully situated outside Stockholm, in Mälaren (so it is in the inner archipelago, not towards the sea) which makes for a great climate. Wild apples and cherry trees grow over the island, and sheep grass the ancient hills, grave mounds and ancient monuments still visible from the viking era.

There are still lots of grave mounds left as they were, but also a museum, a newly built experimental viking village with boats tied to its pier, and good paths to stroll to different sites on the island. As you can imagine, I got quite excited when asked to join some friends there!

When the sun set, we took a stroll around the pasture lands, enjoying the view over the water and the surrounding islands, with a small picnic basket with us. The path took us over viking age grave mounds, past the Black Earth (where the city Birka was situated) and toward the Homelands. When darkness came, we returned to the village to lit a fire, and enjoy the company of each other.

The village is built as an experimental viking settlement which allows a group to actually live in the houses, tend the gardens and the buildings, as well as sleep, cook and go around their daily life there- as well as greeting modern visitors during the day time. Not everything is 100% accurate with what we know today about the daily viking life, but things get mended, rebuilt and used in a historical way, with old tools and knowledge (and modern safety measures…)

It was so cosy going around the settlement, with the sound of cooking and woodworking, the smell of fire and tar, and vikings going around their day tending to their business. I brought my market stall and tent, setting it up with a nice view over the water, where I spent some time drinking coffee and chatting about all things viking age. I also held a lecture about clothing and dress in the Viking society, inside the interesting museum on site.

My friends Joel and Josefin took me on a guided tour since they had been here before, and we went to see the excavations going on near the shore a short walk away. This was so interesting and I learned a lot about archaeology (which seems to be such a hard job, working on your knees for hours, patiently digging through the ground.) It was also very clear how much the field has developed since the early reports, that we base much of our understanding on when recreating viking age. I look forward to the reports from this excavation!

Outfit of the day; linen shift, apron dress in woollen diamond twill inspired by the Köstrup find, woollen shawl and tortoise brooches to fasten the outfit with.

In the photo below, I just have the blue dress and loose hair, feeling a bit undressed, but also happy to finally be cool enough…

I spent the days in the market stall selling some viking things, or strolling around with new friends in the museum, out in the landscape or by the fire. This was just what I needed after a summer of staying-at-home, and even though we weren’t many it felt really good to be outside again, doing things I love.

If you want to know more about how to visit Birka, here’s a link with useful info, there are some lovely boat trips during the summer which will let you stay to see the interesting bits and take a swim before going back.


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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 clothing). It´s made of a medium-heavy tabby woven wool and the construction of the dress is inspired by the find from Hedeby. The pattern is made of 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 apron dress 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 sew the dress too long, to create a train. That’s my interpretation 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 fabric dragging mud everywhere and getting in my way. It was a nice view though, the long skirt trailing behind.

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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 a 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 arm movement later.
  • Width around your body (1) (the widest part of your body, often around your bust. 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 fitted, 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 4 pieces are 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 the dress can not be longer 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 upper pattern takes 250 cm of fabric and gives you a dress with a hem circumference of 80cm *4= 320 cm. You can absolutely do with less; the one at the bottom- right gives you a hem of about 270 cm, using 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, baste them together in order to try the size and fitting. The dotted lines on the picture above indicate where you can fit the dress (waist+under the bust, under the armpit and at the small of your back). When you try out the dress, remember to have your shift underneath so it won’t get too 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 linen or wool fabric (linen straps are more common in finds). 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 fit comfortably 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 feel that you would like to add something; decorations are a nice way to spice up your apron dress. A tablet woven band, a small piece of silk fabric or a silver thread posament are all find-based decorations from the viking age. Good luck with your sewing!

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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 first 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 you want the dress to be. 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 paper sketch before you begin so you will understand how the pieces are 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.

Start with calculating your measurements, and draw the pattern on paper. The dress consists of an entire front piece (F), and a two-piece back piece (B) that is laid out on the folded fabric. To get some extra fullness in the dress hem 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 your upper body = 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 are approximately 90 cm to fit me (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 even if the measure is a little less than your widest circumference (I have 93 cm over my bust).

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 hem becomes 2 * the total width of the fabric so 2 * 150 = 300 cm.

Once you have cut out your pieces; 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 in 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 down to one side, and finish the hems by folding them once (on a thicker fabric) or twice (on a more lightweight fabric) and whipstitch 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 lightweight, more loosely woven fabric for this dress. Sturdier wools will not fall as nice and might feel like you are moving 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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Sy en hängselklänning/hängselkjol

26 februari 2014

Ett av de plagg som jag även efter en tids användande är väldigt nöjd med är min gröna hängselkjol (eller hängselklänning) i tuskaftsvävd grön ull. Mönstret är inspirerat efter ett fynd från Hedeby och består av fyra paneler. Jag hade en mörkgrå och en brun sedan tidigare, och ville nu variera mig lite och har letat runt mycket på olika sidor som diskuterat fyndmaterial och olika tolkningar.

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Som ni säkert redan lagt märke till så finns fantastiskt många olika varianter av rekonstruktioner och förslag på hur kjolarna kan ha sett ut, och jag tror också att det fanns olika varianter. Jag bestämde mig dock för att efterlikna fyndet från Hedeby, då denna har lite av en trolig söm bevarad och ger ett förslag på hur kjolarna kan ha varit hopsydda. Efter att ha läst lite diskussioner på Historiska Världar och tittat på guldgummor valde jag också att göra den hellång; det är min tolkning av släpet och jag är nyfiken på hur tyget kommer att falla med en sådan modell. Efter ett tag kortade jag dock av kjolen- släp är inte min grej utan jag snubblar mest på dem.

Här kommer en kort sömnadsbeskrivning för dig som vill göra en egen!

Du behöver:

  • 2-3 m *1.5 m tyg (2 m= small, 3 m=large)
  • sax
  • linjal, måttband
  • tygpenna
  • knappnålar
  • symaskin/nål/tråd
  • en kompis som provar in klänningen på dig

Ta sedan följande mått på dig:

  • Armhåla-längd på kjolen + 3 cm sömsmån nedtill och 5 cm upptill (högre modell) (med armhåla menar jag så långt upp i leden du kan komma, ärmhålet klipper du ut sist för att få en bekväm form
  • Bredd runt överkroppen, /4 + 4cm till varje panel (sömsmån och rörelsevidd)
  • Längd armhåla-midja (midjan är där du är som smalast)

Jag valde att göra en figursydd, men ledig variant som tillåter ett par mellanklänningar under. Modellen består av fyra lika stora paneler som jag efter att ha klippt ut och tråcklat ihop provat in på mig, med hjälp av en kompis. Panelerna är raka upptill och börjar vidgas i midjan.

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Jag ritade ut bitarna varannan upp och varannan ned, utläggningen beror på tygets bredd och din personliga längd men det här är ett enkelt sätt.

För att få en kjol i storlek 36-38 blev mina bitar ungefär: bredd upptill 26 cm, längd armhåla-midja 30 cm, bredd nedtill 68 cm. Bredden nedtill går att variera efter mängden tyg, jag använde 2 meter men ju större mängd tyg desto mer bredd nertill får du. Längden på kjolen blev 136 cm.

När du klippt ut alla delar kan du tråckla ihop dem och prova kjolen; ärmhålen behöver klippas ut på en sådan här hög modell, dessutom kan du ta in klänningen under byst, i midja och svank direkt i de fyra sömmar som finns, för att få en fin passform. Kom ihåg att prova med rätt antal klänningar och eventuell bh under! När du är nöjd syr du ihop kjolen, pressar ned sömmarna, och jämnar till kanterna. Sedan är det bara att dekorera och fålla, samt fälla sömmarna.

Fyndmaterial föreslår att dekorationer på hängselkjolar var vanligt, och speciellt upptill går det åt små mängder för att göra mycket skillnad, så sy på ett snyggt brickband eller lite sidenremsor. Hängslen provar du lättast ut genom att fästa smala sydda tygremsor med knappnålar för att hitta ett bra läge, jag tycker att de blir bekväma om du låter dem ligga i linje med tänkta bh-band. Sy fast remsorna på insidan av kjolen baktill, fram fäster du dem med ett par spännbucklor, eller syr fast dem även här om du saknar sådana.

 

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