My new viking dress

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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.

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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.

 

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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.
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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.
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The ösenstitch on the seams of the apron dress were made with naturally dyed filament silk.
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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 silberknoten.de
I
 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.

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The last piece of posament that I made and that went on the tablet woven band of my veil/head wear.
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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. 🙂

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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.
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Finnish iron age tablet weaving

So with just a little bit more than a week left for the Drachenwald 20 year celebration I am weaving myself a new belt for the viking outfit I have worked on since March.
And it is not just any pattern. A very talented friend of mine – Mervi whos blog you can find here – has co-authored a book on Finnish iron age tablet weaving that is to be released the 20th of June!
This summer she will travel some markets and teach the tablet weaving from the book so she needed a test subject to teach in English and lucky me – I got a pattern from the book before it was released! 🙂
I can not even begin to tell you how awesome this is and I went from not really understanding tablet weaving to actually understand what she means when she says that the tablets talk to you!
So here is my weaving this far:

Finnish iron age tablet weaving with 20 tablets. each repetition of the pattern takes me about 30 minutes to weave.
Finnish iron age tablet weaving with 20 tablets. each repetition of the pattern takes me about 30 minutes to weave.

The book is bilingual (Finnish/English) and available for preorder now!
Don’t get the Finnish scare you away – they take orders through e-mail as well if you don’t understand Finnish!

THE book on Finnish iron age tablet weaving!
THE book on Finnish iron age tablet weaving!

You can find more information and order the book here! Or write to salakirjat@gmail.com.

Pictures of inspiration

I have started a new project which will be a Cranach style dress – i.e. a Saxon style dress. The fabrics I will be using are perhaps not what traditionally is used when making dresses of this type, but I really like the colours of the two woolens I have and on top of that I have found other materials that are necessary for this project in the exact same shades of green and pinkish/purpleish.

I have spent quite some time looking for inspirational pictures and here are a few of them:

I love the beading on this dress and I have ordered fresh water pearls for this purpose.
I love the extremely silly hat! And the slashed sleeves are empting…
This has also helped with the dress construction. Her brustfleck covers the chemise – so it is not the chemise showing under the lacing. And I absolutely LOVE the sleeves!
This has also been very helpful in matters concerning the construction of the dress.
This picture has been helpful in matters concerning the construction of my dress. If you look by the knife you can see that the flap hanging from her waistline is her brustfleck. And this picture also indicates that the white puffs in the sleeves are actually part of the dress and not the chemise.
Once again – I love the beadwork and the sleeves!

How the dress finally turns out is a bit open.
I have started working on the skirt and as it looks right now it is green with a wide stripe of pinkish/purpleish at the bottom and one thinner a bit higher up.
I also know that I will do some brocade trim with gold metal thread. The patterns are selected from Anna Neupers Modelbuch of 16:th century German tablet weaving patterns – well brocade patterns.
I have ordered fresh water pearls of 2 sizes and I am planing to combine the brocade trim with metal thread embroidery and loads of pearls.
Yes – this project will take forever!