My new viking dress

Me at Burg Ludwigstein in Witzenhausen, Germany, during the Drachenwald 20 Year Celebration in my new viking dress.

In March I decided I should finish the viking outfit I had started a rather long time ago by cutting out the under dress. Since the Kingdom of Drachenwald was having its 20 Year Celebration in June I figured that it would be nice to have something new for that occasion.
So from the beginning of March until the beginning of April I made an underdress from a herring bone twill natural linen, a dress out of a soft orange wool and an apron dress out of a naturally dyed and hand woven fabric that I got at Pennsic a few years ago. The weaver of the fabric has her own online store and you can find it here.
It turned out that I had bought a little bit to little of the hand woven fabric so a friend of mine who dyes and weaves offered to sell me a piece of a green fabric so that I would be able to keep the apron dress as naturally dyed and hand woven as possible. 🙂
The seams of the apron dress were then embroidered with Ösenstitch which is what in modern time is known as Vandyke stitch.
I used a naturally dyed filament silk that a friend of mine had dyed to pick up the orange from the dress. To cover the seam where I joined the purple and green fabrics after the apron dress turned out a bit short I learnt how to make viking whip cord and for that I used the same wool yarn as I used for the tablet woven band at the top of my apron dress and at the bottom of the sleeves on the orange dress.
At the top of the apron dress I wove a round band directly onto the fabric with a rigid heddle with the same wools as for the tablet weaving and whip cord. This saved some of the length of the dress as well since I didn’t have to hem the upper part of the apron dress.
The shoulder straps for the apron dress were sewn out of the same fabric as the majority of the apron dress. All linen was hand sewn with linen thread and all wool was hand sewn with silk thread.

The underdress fabric and one of the seams.
The pattern I use for the linen underdress and this dress is very simple. Back and front are cut straight at the top and from the waist it starts flaring out to the hemline. I cut the front and back open in the middle and insert a gore. The sleeves are straight pieces that gets narrower towards the wrist. And I use square gores in the armpits.
The pattern I use for the linen underdress and this dress is very simple. Back and front are cut straight at the top and from the waist it starts flaring out to the hemline. I cut the front and back open in the middle and insert a gore. The sleeves are straight pieces that gets narrower towards the wrist. And I use square gores in the armpits.


The cut of the apron dress. I use a 4 piece pattern that is from a Swedish website called Historiska Världar. Once cut out I still fit it so that it gives a nice silhouette.
Before weaving the rounded braid onto the top of the apron dress I did a small practice piece just to figure out how the fabric and weaving behaves.
The ösenstitch on the seams of the apron dress were made with naturally dyed filament silk.
The top of the apron dress with the round woven edge and the very simple tablet woven band attached right to the rounded band.Image

After the basic dress was all done I wanted to make a front panel with lots of embellishments to make it suitable for such a big occasion as the 20 year celebration of my Kingdom.
Last summer we had bought a bunch of filament silk that we were going to dye. Now it turned out to be rather complicated to get all girls interested in the silk project in one spot so it ended up with our lovely dyeing godess doing all the work for us…
I created a pattern using some bits of the embroideries from the Mammen finds, and then I found inspiration for a vikingish Pelican and laurel wreath online and altered it to suit me.
I used split stitch for this embroidery. Now – I know that most of the Mammen finds are done with stem stitch but for some odd reason my hands refuse to make a neat stem stitch. Split stitch is also one of the oldest stitches and since my hands seem to be able to make that one – I chose to just roll with what I can make look nice. 🙂
The embroidery took about 3 weeks from start to finish. I had quite a lot of days off from work during that time but unfortunately I never bothered to write up all the hours.
Once the embroidery was done I moved on to learn how to make the posament decorations.
These decorations are almost exclusive to Birka and even there they are rather rare.
I had found a few websites mentioning them but there were no tutorials to be found.
I will mention the posaments only briefly here since the handout for the class I taught on the subject at Drachenwald 20 year Celebration is posted under the section for Documentation on this blog.
What I did was to look at pictures of the finds from Birka which can be found in this section of the Historical Museum in Stockholms website as well as the pictures on
 stared at the pictures and tried and failed and tried and failed until I got it!
There was a lot of cursing in different languages – but finally I managed to figure it all out!
I ended up making 4 roundels that went on the embroidered piece, an edge decoration at the bottom of the front panel, a double threaded piece for the tablet woven band I put on my veil to use as decoration and a tie and two pieces that I put under some more of my tablet weaving at the top of the front panel. You can pretty much see my learning curve on the posament since I put everything I made on the outfit not wasting anything no matter how uneven it was.
Once the embroidery was sewn on to he panel I made some more whip cord to put as outline of the embroidered piece and I also used whip cord for the two small loops that are needed at the top to hang the front panel from the brooches.

The last piece of posament that I made and that went on the tablet woven band of my veil/head wear.
The front panel with embroidery, posament and tablet weaving but I hadn’t made the whip cord yet when I took this picture so that was still added to cover the seams where I attached the embroidered red wool. The front panel is made out of a dark purple wool. The green band is the tablet weaving I made for my veil and after this picture was taken it was put at the front edge of my head wear and the ends of the bands are used to tie the veil to my head.

So the final thing I did was to weave myself a belt. I had already started a rams horn patterned belt at one point but then I messed it all up and gave up. However my weaving godess friend was just about to publish a book on tablet weaving from the Finnish iron age that she co authored with a friend and she needed to practice her teaching in English and was kind enough to give me a pattern from the book before it was even printed so that she got to practice her teaching and I got an awesome pattern for my new belt!
The book is in Finnish and English and can be bought here.
And now I suddenly know how to even read the tablets while I weave!
The reason I chose a pattern from a different culture was that the new tortoise brooches my husband had given me to complete this new outfit are based on a find from Öland. The bead spreaders that the brooches come with are extremely influenced by Baltic tradition since the shape of the spreaders can be found in Baltic finds. So I figured that my outfit could be from Öland which is between Birka and the Baltic region and hence had influences from both places. 🙂

My belt for the viking outfit. It was woven with 20 tablets and each repetition of the pattern took about 30 minutes to weave and was about 10 cm long. The final length is about 3 meters.

Sorry for the silence!

I haven’t written in a while due to a very busy summer, so here is a quick catch up!
For Pennsic I made a heraldic 14:th century sideless surcote with my own arms on half the skirt and the drachenwald arms on the other half.

Sideless surcote with drachenwald arms on the left side and my own on the right side. It is made of wool and lined with silk. All the dragons, trees, flowers and seeblatts are hand apliqued. There are 29 pieces of aplique on the dress.

Pennsic was absolutely fantastic and I managed to find the guest teacher for Double Wars 2012!
I am happy to announce that Mistress Isobel Gildingwater (also known as Attack Laurel) will come to teach at next years Double Wars!
The planning of her classes at the event has already started and I am very excited about all the fantastic input we will get in late period costuming!

When it comes to my own projects I have started to work on a 14:th century hood made of a naturally dyed and hand woven wool fabric that I got at Pennsic.
The pattern is made by Elina and it is a Greenland style hood. It will be buttoned with Billy & Charlies buttons with a yellow glas stone and will be lined with a soft lamb wool fabric.
However, I haven’t made that much 14:th century stuff and got a bit nervous about cutting my fantastic fabric so I went to my friend Mervi to cut the hood and do some woad dyeing at the same time!
And Mervis dog Eikka also found the hand woven fabric fantastic and made sure to help me with the hood by making a bed out of the cut out pieces… 🙂

Me and Mervi planning and cutting the hood out of the hand woven fabric.


One of the front gores of the hood sewn into place.
Eikka taking a nap on my project.

So the rest of this autumn projects are the following:

*New Greman 16:th century dress with secret jacket project (planned to be done for the event Garden of Earthly Delights)
*14:th century clothing to go with the hood (buttons ordered and fabrics from Naturtuche choosen but will be ordered in October)
*New viking outfit where the apron dress will also be made out of naturally dyed and hand woven fabric aquired at Pennsic.
*New warderobe for my boyfriend – I will help him with cutting but he will do all the sewing!

And on top of this I also have a Cranach dress project and a new landsknecht dress project…
Looks like I have my work cut out for the next year or so!

Brick stitch

As usual I am working on several things at the same time – especially now since my shoulder surgery has limited the use of my left arm. One thing that has been easy to do is brick stitch embroidery so I started a small pouch.
The pattern is from the blog Medieval Arts & Crafts and I have used a 36 count even weave with thin woolen embroidery thread bought in Tallinn (usualy used for their traditional  embroideries).
I did start out with a completely different embroidery thread, all naturally dyed but thicker. That turned out to be to thinck for the 36 count even weave though so I switched to a different thread. Now I feel a bit uncertain if the new thread is to thin, but it looks a lot better than with the thicker thread…
I chose a warm scale of colours and had some help with the bold choice from a close friend. 🙂
The picture doesn’t really make the embroidery justice since it is quite enlarged in the picture. This is a tiny embroidery where each square measures about 2 cm in hight. Look at the needle to the left for some sence of scale!

My first more serious brickstitch project made on linnen with woolen thread.

Sneak peak

Just to show you what I am working on now…
Here are the fabrics for my next dress!
The red/bronze damask is 100% silk and so is the chocolate brown velvet!
The damask was aquired through ebay and the silk velvet was bought in my favourite store in Tallinn.
This project has been prepared and now I am just waiting for my shoulder to be well enough to cut it!

red/bronz silk damask and a chocolate brown silk velvet (it is actually 100% silk!) for my next German 16:th century dress!

Instant pater noster

For a while I have collected some beads to eventually make a pater noster to go with my renaissnace dresses.
This morning I finally got to making it since I really needed to DO something and not just sit around with my arm in a sling.
I have studied some pictures, read a bit about materials used, an today with the help from friends I read up some more on a pater noster website.

After that I simply got my materials and made a rosary that I think is pretty. Now I know I might hav the incorrect number of beads and other things – this time I just went with easthetics and what I think is pretty – but at the same time use the correct overall look for the item.
I used coral beads that were a leftover from site tokens for the event Aarnimetsä Academy that I was autocrating, silk thread of embroidery weight, carved bone beads in the shape of skulls and some metal beads and fresh water pearls for marker beads.
And 20 minutes later I had this:


Pater Noster made from coral beads, bone beads, fresh water pearls, metal beadds and silk thread.

Cute on the collar

Today I finally finished the embroidery for a shirt collar that I started about 4 years ago…
I am a bit ashamed to admit that this is one of the projects that I started and that for a long time looked like it would be forever forgotten and never finished…
However, when I got bronchitis this week I picked it up and actually managed to work my way through the whole piece!
Over the years I have done a bit here and a bit there – but never the kind of progress I made this week.

The embroidery is 41 cm long (16 inches) and 2 cm wide (a bit less then one inch).
I chose to make it rust red and black, the original was black and red.
The fabric is whatever linnen I found at home – and also the major reason why I almost abandoned the project…
I have not yet attatched it to the collar but I did pin it on so you will get a sneak peak!

The all done emrboiredy! Black and rust coloured silk on linnen, 41 cm long.






The embroidery roughly pinned on the collar of the shirt. The shirt is handsewn from thin hemp. The shirt ties are made with a lucet out of linnen thread.

Should have been done years ago…

Today I came home from an SCA event with loads of inspiration!
So I decided to start a brick stitch embroidery. However, I had completely ignored the fact that my small rotating frame still holds a corss stitch embroidery I started YEARS ago and that I never made any huge progress on.
So instead of being bad and taking that embroidery off the frame and sending it into oblivion – I started stitching away.
And I think I made more progress in just a few hours today than I have made in 4 years on this piece… 😉

One end is now all finished and in the other end I have some more of the rust coloured stitches left and after that it is only the centers of the squares to fill. Might even get done this week!
Once it is done I will sew it to the collar of one of my shirts.
The linnen is just any linnen I happened to have home and hence the threa counting has been slightly challanging.
The embroidery is done with silk giving it a really nice shine.
Looks like this year is starting out nicely with finishing of projects that have been left forgotten in some corner!

Black work embroidery from ”Needlework Patterns from Renaissance Germany”, the designs are recharted from Schön Neues Modelbuch 1597.

Progress on gift item

Today I attatched the ensignia embroidery on the wool the pouch will be made of.
First I cut off exessive fabric around the embroidery, then I attatched the embroidery to the fabric with regular hem stitches. I had to undo it once and reattatch it since it became obviously tilted.

After it was all fastened to the background fabric I took a piece of the DMC yarn and couched it down around the edges of the patch to cover any of the white linnen showing around the edges.

The embroidery all fastened on the pouch outer fabric.

Estrella giftbasket project

Since one of my eminent minions (Viscountess Whilja) is the King and Queens chamberlain she is in charge of getting the giftbasket for Estrella War together – and hence I feel it my obligation to suport her work. 😀
The King and Queen will hand the giftbasket over to Their Majesties of Calontir so I decided to make something with their ensignia on. And due to the far travelling that we Drachenwalders have to do to attend events across the big pond, we can’t make to big or to heavy items.

After finding out what other people in the Barony where I live are planing to do, I finally decided to make an alms/reliquary pouch.
On the pouch I will aplique an embroidered patch with the Calontir ensignia.
After three days of cursing and hating the embroidery – it is finally done! The reason for the cursing was basically the fact that I made the crosstitch embroidery on a regular linnen fabric which is woven of uneaven threads and which is quite tightly woven.
I used the charter made for the Atlantian embroiderers guild which has brilliant charters for all Kingdom badges! The yarn used is regular DMC yarn since I happened to have the right colours at home – however they are not the ones recomended on the charter.

The embroidery measures about 5,4 x 5,4 cm (about 2 incehs) and this is how it turned out:

The embroidery I made for the alms pouch that will be part of the Estrella giftbasket from Drachenwald.

Overload of inspiration

I am currently suffering from a complete overload of inspiration when it comes to the projects I want to do for myself…
A very odd thing, this overload… The result is that I want to start all parts of the project at the same time, but instead of getting anything done I can’t concentrate on one. I end up doing a littlebit here, a little bit there not really getting started on anything…
The only thing that has made any progress is the skirt for the planned Cranach style dress. I am currently sewing down the leave on the inside of the first stripe but it takes forever as it always does with full German Renaissance skirts.

Some good news today was that I got a message from the National Museum in Copenhagen that my copy of Medieval Garments Reconstructed – Norse Clothing Patterns, has shipped! And on top of that I found a better place to buy my freshwater pearls for the bead embroideries on the Cranach dress! Turns out I can get 40 strands for the same price as I would pay for 24 strands in a different place… 😀

Today I also started the small project I will make for the Drachenwald giftbasket at Estrella thta will be given to the King and Queen of Calontir. However, I was quickly reminded that one shouldn’t do counted thread embroidery when it is late and one is already tired…
Tomorrow I will have to undo some tiny crosstitches and correct my error…