For the weekend in Rosala (mentioned in the last post) I needed some warm new clothes for my self too. I chose to make another wool tunic or a dress that would fit on top of my old wool dress, since I had the opportunity to borrow a kaftan. In the last post I also said that with my new enthusiasm with viking garb, I've started to do my research better than before. Well, forget that. This dress is, ahem... very loosely based on anything and mostly speculative. So if you want to make authentic garb that is based on grave finds... look away!
The structure of the dress is not something very commonly seen on viking clothing. It has gores on the front and back reaching very high above the waistline. That is because I wanted the dress to be loose but not baggy. If you make the dress wider and more loose simply by cutting a wider panel for the body of the dress, you end up with a baggy and saggy garment that bulks up under your armpits. By shaping the dress with gores like this you get a nice, even graceful figure for the whole thing.
There is also another reason for the high gore in the front. When I was pregnant with my second baby, I soon noticed that my old dress with gores starting from my hip level or even lower, was very quickly non-wearable because of my growing belly. I'm thinking that viking women must have been pregnant alot and it would have been hihgly impractical to make separate "maternity clothes". So, to me it makes sense to sew the normal clothes in a way that they could be worn while pregnant aswell. (Even though I'm not planning to be pregnant again!) I don't know of any viking age finds that would have this type of high gores. On the other hand, we know there were gores used, and to my understanding many of the fabric finds are such small fragments that we have no way of knowing how high the gores were. But I'm just speculating here.
|Here I'm not wearing the other wool dress underneath. Spring came to Rosala on that sunday.|
The reason why I wanted this dress to be loose, is that it's worn on top of several layers of clothes, it's designed to keep me warm in winter. When wearing several layers of handsewn garments on top of each other, things might get a little bulky especially in places where alot of seams cross each other. The worst place where this usually happens is under the armpit, and it can be really annoying! To avoid that, I decided to make the side gores very long, reaching past the armpit well into the sleeve. The high gore replaces the usual rectangular gusset in the armpit and is very comfortable to wear. This type of side gore was used in the Eura dress, a find from the finnish iron age, but not in a viking dress (at least that I know of).
|The axe-picture is taken by Hedda, the beautiful coat is borrowed from Sahra. Six layers of wool plus a layer of linen on top of my arms there, it was a little stiff.|
When it comes to the decoration of the dress... I only did it because it looks pretty, and because I thought that it was the right way of doing it, without doing any further research. Well, it turned out that there really was narrow strips of fabric (usually silk?) used to decorate the neckline and cuffs, but mine might unfortunately be too wide. Well, I thought what the heck, the dress is stretching all the limits anyhow so a little too wide deco isn't going to rock the boat. But then I used it for a weekend and realized that when wearing two wool dresses under a coat is thick and bulky enough, adding another layer of wool on the cuff makes it very uncomfortable and tight under a coat sleeve. So I might end up taking the red fabric off from the sleeves. After all, it's a really pretty hand sewn dress made from good quality 100% herringbone wool from tippet.fi. It would be a shame if I ended up disliking it because of irritating cuffs.
|Such a happy, happy weekend it was.|
One question rose during the weekend. What did the vikings wear around their neck when it was really cold? A fox looks nice but is actually really impractical and not very warm. A cape does not cover the neck area, or if it does, it's impossible to actually do anything. I ended up making a simple rectangular scarf out of some wool fabric I had lying around, but I have no idea if it's period. Maybe something nalbinded, closed with a brooch? I think I've seen that somewhere.