Green Viking Hood

Green linen viking hood, by Sidney Eileen; It is linen, entirely hand sewn and embroidered with linen thread. Stitches used are herringbone stitch to finish the seam allowances and bottom hem, running stitch for assembly and accent around the hood opening, feather stitch for decorative reenforcement of the seams, and Oseberg rings for decoration on the hem.

Green linen viking hood

The finished green viking hood is linen, entirely hand sewn and embroidered with linen thread. Stitches used are herringbone stitch to finish the seam allowances and bottom hem, running stitch for assembly and accent around the hood opening, feather stitch for decorative reenforcement of the seams, and Oseberg rings for decoration on the hem.

The piecing of the hood is based on the Skjold Harbor hood find, but is adapted for linen and for the style of decoration I chose to use.  As is typical for reenactment, this one is made from two square gores sewn into two long rectangles.  The original was made from three squares of fabric, so the fabric was solid right below the hood opening.  I wanted to be able to fold back the seam allowances for decorative finishing (see below), so it made sense to have a seam there instead.

Green Viking Hood - Gore Detail, by Sidney Eileen. The finished viking hood. It is linen, entirely hand sewn and embroidered with linen thread. Stitches used are herringbone stitch to finish the seam allowances and bottom hem, running stitch for assembly and accent around the hood opening, and feather stitch for decorative reenforcement of the seams.

Green Viking Hood – Gore Detail. This photo shows the inside and outside stitch detail at the tops of the gores.

The hood was assembled with running stitch first, using linen thread pulled from the selvage of the fabric.  Machine-woven fabric typically has much higher quality threads in the selvage so it can feed properly through the machines as it is woven, threads that are very well suited to hand sewing, and already color matched to the body fabric.

I then folded the seam allowances to the outside of the garment and finished them using a tiny herringbone stitch in Londonderry linen thread size 30/3 (medium diameter).

Green Viking Hood - Opening Detail, by Sidney Eileen. The finished viking hood. It is linen, entirely hand sewn and embroidered with linen thread. Stitches used are herringbone stitch to finish the seam allowances and bottom hem, and running stitch for assembly and accent around the hood opening. This photo shows the inside and outside stitch detail along the front edge of the hood opening.

Green Viking Hood – Opening Detail. This photo shows the inside and outside stitch detail along the front edge of the hood opening.

Along the hood opening I finished the edge with a decorative running stitch using the same color of 30/3 thread I also used for feather stitch along the seams.  The feather stitch provided a decorative reinforcement for the seams to prevent stitches from popping.

Green Viking Hood - Hem Detail, by Sidney Eileen. This photo shows the inside and outside of the hem at one of the seams, detailing the the embroidery on both the inside and outside of the garment.

Green Viking Hood – Hem Detail. This photo shows the inside and outside of the hem at one of the seams, detailing the the embroidery on both the inside and outside of the garment.

The bottom hem of the hood is turned to the inside and finished in a quick tiny herrinbone stitch again using thread pulled from the selvage of the fabric.  To cover those stitches, I decoratively embroidered the bottom hem with Oseberg rings.  This embroidery is based on a small piece of wool applique embroidery found in the Oseberg ship burial, and, according to Anne Stine Ingstad in The Textiles in the Oseberg Ship, “This type of small embroidery is known from the graves in Birka, and there too it is placed along the edges of seams and applications.”  If you go check out her article, the section on the ring embroidery is close to the bottom.

The inspiration embroidery is a wool core with wool thread wrapped around it and couching it to the fabric.  For my version I am using linen thread, size 18/3 (large) for the core, and 30/3 (medium) for the wrap.

Green Viking Hood - Hem Corner Detail, by Sidney Eileen; This photo shows the inside and outside of the corner of the hem, detailing the couched stitching and how I navigated the ring embroidery around the corners.

Green Viking Hood – Hem Corner Detail. This photo shows the inside and outside of the corner of the hem, detailing the couched stitching and how I navigated the ring embroidery around the corners.

And for purposes of sharing on social media, here are a couple collage photos suitable for different platforms.

Green linen viking hood, by Sidney Eileen; It is linen, entirely hand sewn and embroidered with linen thread. Stitches used are herringbone stitch to finish the seam allowances and bottom hem, running stitch for assembly and accent around the hood opening, feather stitch for decorative reenforcement of the seams, and Oseberg rings for decoration on the hem.

Green linen viking hood

Green linen viking hood, by Sidney Eileen; It is linen, entirely hand sewn and embroidered with linen thread. Stitches used are herringbone stitch to finish the seam allowances and bottom hem, running stitch for assembly and accent around the hood opening, feather stitch for decorative reenforcement of the seams, and Oseberg rings for decoration on the hem.

Green linen viking hood

 

Project: Green Viking Hood

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 9, by Sidney Eileen.

The outside of the finished gore.

This tutorial shows how to hand sew gores into a slash on the skirt of Medieval garb.  The style of gore insertion I use is based primarily on the 15th century dress finds in Iceland.  I like using this method because it is much more secure than inserting into a straight slash.  This method can also be used on a sewing machine.  Just follow the same steps, but on your machine instead.  Where I recommend using back stitch, stitch over the same line two or three times with your machine.

This particular dress is made from a linen blend fabric, and hand stitched using thread from the selvage edge of the fabric.  The selvage threads of machine-woven fabrics are always a higher quality so they will feed properly through the machine during the manufacturing process.  This makes them ideal to use for color-matched hand sewing, unlike the fabric body threads that can be too delicate to work well or hold up under wear.

Linen thread is beautiful for hand sewing and embroidery, but it does require some special handling to prevent a nightmare.  Use only high quality linen threads for sewing.  They do not need to be thick, but they should be smooth and free of obvious flubs and variations in thickness.  When selvage thread is not an option, I am a fan of Londonderry linen thread because of its high quality and the range of colors available.  When you pull your length of thread off the spool, hold it up to the light, pinch it between your fingers, and then move your left and right hands apart while lightly pinching the thread.  You will see some feathering along the thread, but it should be less pronounced in one direction than the other.  When you sew, to prevent damage to the thread you want the thread to pull so that it creates less feathering.

It is absolutely essential to use thread conditioner on linen thread or it can literally disintegrate on you from the friction of being pulled repeatedly through your fabric.  Beeswax is ideal, but other thread conditioners work as well.  Pull your thread through the conditioner repeatedly until it is completely saturated.  The thread conditioner will hold all those feathery bits to the thread, help it slide more smoothly through the fabric, and generally extend the life of your thread.

When you work with linen thread, keep the eye of your needle as close to the end of the thread as you can.  The abrasion of the eye will damage and eventually cut the thread, so anything beyond the eye of the needle will be lost.  Avoid the temptation to slide the eye down the thread as you work, like most of us do with all-purpose or cotton thread.  It will irreparably damage your linen thread.

The first step is to cut your slash.  Stop your vertical cut 1/2″ from where you want the gore to start, and then cut a “Y” pattern to seam allowance depth.

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 1, by Sidney Eileen. Cut your slash, making a "Y" pattern at the top to the depth of your seam allowance.

Cut your slash, making a “Y” pattern at the top to the depth of your seam allowance.

 

Sew the point of your gore to the top of the slash.  Make sure you have seam allowance on your gore fabric to either side of the “Y” top.  Use a back stitch so you have as strong a seam as possible, since much of the weight of your gore will be hanging from this area.  Also, be sure to put right sides together.

Backstitch Illustration, by Sidney Eileen

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 2, by Sidney Eileen. Sew your gore to the top of the slash. Make sure you have seam allowance on your gore fabric to either side of the "Y" top.

Sew your gore to the top of the slash. Make sure you have seam allowance on your gore fabric to either side of the “Y” top.

 

Turn the side of your slash so that it lines up with the side of the gore.  For the first inch or two I recommend using back stitch for extra strength, then stitch down to the hem using a running stitch.

Running Stitch Illustration, by Sidney Eileen

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 3, by Sidney Eileen. Turn the side of your slash so that it lines up with the side of the gore, then stitch down to the hem.

Turn the side of your slash so that it lines up with the side of the gore, then stitch down to the hem.

When using a straight slash there is a very long area with limited seam allowance.  By using a “Y” slash, the area of minimal seam allowance is very short, greatly reducing the risk of your seam pulling free.  If it does, you will end up with a small hole at the corner that can be whip stitched or buttonhole stitched closed, rather than the entire tip of your gore pulling free.

Line up the other side of the slash with the other side of your gore and repeat.  Back stitch the top inch or so, and then running stitch to the hem.

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 4, by Sidney Eileen. Repeat on the other side of the gore. Line up the seam allowances and stitch to the hem.

Repeat on the other side of the gore. Line up the seam allowances and stitch to the hem.

 

Start at one hem and work your way up the gore finishing off your seam allowance.  You can use whatever seam finishing technique you would like, but I recommend either a flat felled seam finish.  This will enclose the areas of minimal seam allowance at the tips of the “Y”.

Flat Felled Seam Finish Illustration, by Sidney Eileen

Flat Felled Seam Finish Illustration

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 5, by Sidney Eileen. Start at one hem and work your way up the gore finishing off your seam allowance.

Start at one hem and work your way up the gore finishing off your seam allowance.

 

Trim the tip of the gore to seam allowance.  I wait until this point because if I am trimming off any hand sewing on the body of the gore (as I did in this case) I don’t want to give it time to unravel.

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 6, by Sidney Eileen. Trim the tip of the gore to seam allowance.

Trim the tip of the gore to seam allowance.

 

Fold under the tip of the gore and stitch it down.  Then continue down the other side of the gore.

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 7, by Sidney Eileen. Fold under the tip of the gore and stitch it down. Then continue down the other side of the gore.

Fold under the tip of the gore and stitch it down. Then continue down the other side of the gore.

 

Your gore should be securely sewn in place.

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 8, by Sidney Eileen. The inside of the finished gore.

The inside of the finished gore.

How to Hand Sew Gores on Medieval Garb - 9, by Sidney Eileen.

The outside of the finished gore.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood – WIP3

After several more days of sewing my Skjolderhamn Hood is finished, so here are the rest of the work in progress images.  My viking hood is entirely hand sewn with linen, using a wool outer and linen lining.  It is based on the viking hood found on a body in the bog at Skjold harbour, and dates to the 11th century.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip18, by Sidney Eileen, After sewing the top of the hood closed, sew the other side of the gore closed, starting at the tip of the gore. Like before, I recommend pinning or basting the hem edge of the seam to prevent shifting of the layers.

After sewing the top of the hood closed, sew the other side of the gore closed, starting at the tip of the gore. Like before, I recommend pinning or basting the hem edge of the seam to prevent shifting of the layers.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip20, by Sidney Eileen - Detail photo of a seam once completed. Seam allowances are contained between the cover and lining.

Detail photo of a seam once completed. Seam allowances are contained between the cover and lining.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip19a, by Sidney Eileen - This is lining side of the hood after all the seams are finished. It still needs hemming, and the face opening needs to be made.

This is lining side of the hood after all the seams are finished. It still needs hemming, and the face opening needs to be made.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip19b, by Sidney Eileen - This is cover side of the hood after all the seams are finished. It still needs hemming, and the face opening needs to be made.

This is cover side of the hood after all the seams are finished. It still needs hemming, and the face opening needs to be made.

Due to the thickness of the wool I chose, and the fact that it is fully lined, self-hemming would have created a very bulky hem.  Instead, I decided to bind the edge in a manner similar to the collar edging for the Viborg shirt.  I say similar because to copy it exactly I would have had to turn the wool and linen edges in towards each other, which was not possible because of the seam stitching.  However, the collar on the Viborg shirt does show using a separate strip of fabric to finish the edge of a garment.

I also felt that a linen bound edge on the face opening would likely be much more comfortable to wear, which in the end was doubly true because of the small size of the hood and closeness of the hood opening around my face.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip21, by Sidney Eileen - I cut several 1.5" wide lengths of the lining linen to use as binding on the hem and hood opening. They are cut on the straight of the fabric grain.

I cut several 1.5″ wide lengths of the lining linen to use as binding on the hem and hood opening. They are cut on the straight of the fabric grain.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip22, by Sidney Eileen - I attached the linen to the hem using a running stitch at a depth of 3/8". The stitch is going through cover and lining.

I attached the linen to the hem on the outside of the hood using a running stitch at a depth of 3/8″. The stitch is going through cover and lining.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip23, by Sidney Eileen - At the corners of the gores, I took a couple small gathers of fabric so there will be enough length of binding at the corner to be able to extend around the outside edge of the hood.

At the corners of the gores, I took a couple small gathers of fabric so there will be enough length of binding at the corner to be able to extend around the outside edge of the hood.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip24, by Sidney Eileen - I evened up the hem in a couple places where it needed it before folding the binding over the edge and whip stitching it to the lining. I took a couple small gathers at the corner so the binding could flow smoothly around the outer edge.

I evened up the hem in a couple places where it needed it before folding the binding over the edge and whip stitching it to the lining. I took a couple small gathers at the corner so the binding could flow smoothly around the outer edge.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip25, by Sidney Eileen - This is a detail photo of the inside and outside of the bound hem at one of the seams.

This is a detail photo of the inside and outside of the bound hem at one of the seams.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip26, by Sidney Eileen - Next is to make the opening for the face. I re-drew the cut line in chalk on the outside of the hood.

Next is to make the opening for the face. I re-drew the cut line in chalk on the outside of the hood.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip27, by Sidney Eileen - I folded the hood perpendicular to the mark, making sure that the lining was smooth and in place underneath the cover. Then I could snip a small hole with scissors, and from there cut the whole opening.

I folded the hood perpendicular to the mark, making sure that the lining was smooth and in place underneath the cover. Then I could snip a small hole with scissors, and from there cut the whole opening.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip28, by Sidney Eileen - The front of the hood after cutting a hole for the face.

The front of the hood after cutting a hole for the face.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip29, by Sidney Eileen - Take a length of the linen binding and running stitch it to the opening of the hood. The stitches should run parallel to the opening, and be exactly the same length as the opening. Leave seam allowance at either end of the strip beyond the stitches.

Take a length of the linen binding and use running stitch to secure it to the opening of the hood. The stitches should run parallel to the opening, and be exactly the same length as the opening. Leave seam allowance at either end of the strip beyond the stitches.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip30, by Sidney Eileen - Fold the seam allowance at the end of the strip back onto the strip.

Fold the seam allowance at the end of the strip back onto the strip.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip31, by Sidney Eileen - Fold the entire strip of linen towards the opening of the hood and stitch the folded edge in place. Be sure to trap any raw edges inside the binding by only stitching through the folded fabric after pushing stray threads inside.

Fold the entire strip of linen towards the opening of the hood and stitch the folded edge in place. Be sure to trap any raw edges inside the binding by only stitching through the folded fabric after pushing stray threads inside.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip32, by Sidney Eileen - Fold over the seam allowance of the long side as you fold the linen binding entirely over the raw edge of the opening.

Fold over the seam allowance of the long side as you fold the linen binding entirely over the raw edge of the opening.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip33, by Sidney Eileen - Whip stitch the short edge of the binding to the lining.

Whip stitch the end of the binding to the lining.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip34, by Sidney Eileen - Whip stitch the long edge of the binding to the lining, and when you get to the far end fold over the seam allowance and stitch down the short side like you did before.

Whip stitch the long edge of the binding to the lining, and when you get to the far end fold over the seam allowance and stitch down the end like you did before.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip35, by Sidney Eileen - Bind both sides so they are even with each other. There will still be a very small spot of raw fabric at the very top and bottom of the opening.

Bind both sides so they are even with each other. There will still be a very small spot of raw fabric at the very top and bottom of the opening.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - wip36, by Sidney Eileen - There is no mention of stitching at the top and bottom of the opening on the extant hood, but I like to make my garments to last and that little untreated tip of the opening is a risk for tearing and raveling. Therefor I went over the tip with a handful of whip stitches to reinforce the area and ensure it lasts.

There is no mention of stitching at the top and bottom of the opening on the extant hood, but I like to make my garments to last and that little untreated tip of the opening is a risk for tearing and raveling. Therefor I went over the tip with a handful of whip stitches to reinforce the area and ensure it lasts.

One last detail was to make three rows of stitches along the top of the hood like the original, but I stitched the first two in brown linen thread that matched the wool, and the third I stitched in wool thread pulled from the fabric, so they don’t really show up in photos at all.

The first row of running stitches is parallel to the top edge, and about 1/8″ down from the top edge.  It ensures the very top seam stays nice and crisp.  The second row of running stitches is about 1/2″ from the top edge, and I think it exists just to make sure the layers all stay nicely together like in quilting.  The third row of running stitches starts just a bit above the top of the hood opening, and runs at an angle to the back of the hood, ending just a little bit below the second row of stitches.  This angled stitch forces the top front of the hood to sit forward from the face.  The three of them together create a pointed crest along the top of the hood.

Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood - Inglamorous Selfie, by Sidney Eileen - Just a quick bathroom selfie to show the finished hood immediately after finishing it.

Just a quick bathroom selfie to show the finished hood immediately after finishing it.

As a side note, I realized once the opening was cut and I could try it on that it barely fits me.  The opening in the front of the hood is actually too small for me to be able to drop the hood around my shoulders, and if my head were any larger (I have a 22″ head circumference) I would not be able to comfortably wear it, and potentially not be able to get my head through the neck.  I amended the pattern I posted in WIP1 to provide alternative measurements for someone who is not petite, and I fully intend to make the next hood for myself quite a bit larger.  In the meantime, this one is perfect for snowy, icy, windy weather, because it is very warm and also impossible for wind to blow it down.

Nicely modeled photos in the full outfit will follow when I can manage it.

 

Project: Lined Skjold Harbour Style Viking Hood

 

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress – WIP1

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP4, by Sidney Eileen, fitting the dress with darts

The vertical seams are finished here, so in the photo I am fitting the darts on the apron dress.

Now that Diana’s new Viking garb is wearable, I have been working on Viking garb for myself and hope to have it finished before Yule.  At the moment the serk does not look very interesting, being hand sewn of plain drab green linen with no embellishment yet.  I am not wearing it in the photo to the right.  The apron dress, on the other hand, has a lot of decorative and functional work done on it.  There are things I will do differently on my next reconstruction, but I’m sure I will be proud to wear this one when it’s done even if it’s not perfect.

My apron dress is based on the large apron dress fragments found in Haithabu harbor (Hedeby), which has been used as the basis for a great many reconstructions before myself.  I am planning to write up my own reconstruction in a coherent manner after the dress is finished, so for now here are a couple links to excellent information on the find and how other people have reconstructed it.  Reconstructing a Viking Hanging Dress from Haithabu by Peter Beatson and Christobel Ferguson shows much of the archaeological information on the find, and their reconstruction.  Viking Women: Aprondress by Hilde Thunem is all about the archaeology.  Skip down to the section on Haithabu to see the details about this particular find.

The dress is entirely hand sewn from linen fabric with linen thread.  Invisible seams are sewn with thread pulled from the selvage of the material, while decorative and contrast stitching is done in Londonderry linen thread.  I will post a pattern later.  For those of you familiar with typical fitted apron dress patterns, it is made from three panels.  The back panels are straight to the waist and then widen on one side (placed towards the back seam in this case).  The front panel is straight.  There are gores on the sides, and darts in the front and back for fitting.

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP2, by Sidney Eileen, showing front (bottom) and back (top) sides of the herringbone seam allowance treatment.

The seam is sewn in a running stitch using thread pulled from the fabric selvage. The seam allowance is sewn down to the outside using a small herringbone stitch in contrasting thread. The colors in the photo are not quite true. The fabric is a dark indigo blue, and the linen thread is a bright saffron orange.

These are detail photos of the seam treatment, with the seam allowances secured towards the outside of the dress with herringbone stitch in Londonderry linen thread.

In most reconstructions using herringbone stitch as a construction stitch (as opposed to purely decorative) it is worked on the inside of the garment. This is because it is easiest to make sure the seam allowance (or hem) is secured on every stitch and evenly turned if you are looking at it, and because it is easiest to work herringbone stitch without it turning out a mess if you are looking at the herringbone, necessitating that the herringbone stitch must be worked on the same side as the seam allowance. This is also, I believe, due at least in part to modern bias, which insists that the seam allowance must *always* be turned to the inside of the garment.

As you can see, the reverse of the herringbone stitch looks exactly like two lines of running stitch, but with some hiccups and flaws where it is stitched through three layers of fabric (the turned over seam allowance). I don’t like those hiccups and flaws, which are all but impossible to avoid without taking an excruciatingly long time to work the stitch by flipping it constantly and essentially working as though both sides were the outside. For someone like me who likes their stitches to look consistent, this is behind irritating.  If the stitches are to be decorative as well as functional this does not make sense to me.

Add in the likelihood of modern bias and assumptions that the seam allowances and hems should be turned inward, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the seam allowances might actually have been turned outward, at least some of the time.  Besides, there is the dart on the fragments I am referencing that is turned to the outside in a decorative manner, even though it is likely in most cases such treatment was done to the inside. So, I have turned the seam allowances out and done the herringbone stitch decoratively, and I feel that the result is visually appealing despite the turned out seam allowances.

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP3, by Sidney Eileen, showing the herringbone stitch seam allowance treatment and feather stitch in linen thread.

The seam allowances are stitched down with herringbone stitch, and the center of the seam is being decorated with feather stitch.

This photo shows detail of one of the gores after the herringbone stitch was finished.  I decided to use feather stitch along the center of the seam in a pale green linen even though I have not been able to find a particular extant piece using feather stitch.  This is because I thought it would look pretty, it’s common in SCA reenactment, and would provide a nice, easy contrast that will also reinforce the seam.

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP4, by Sidney Eileen, fitting the dress with darts

The vertical seams are finished here, so in the photo I am fitting the darts on the apron dress.

The vertical seams are finished here, so in the photo I am fitting the darts on the apron dress. The extant fragment upon which I am basing my dress has a dart of exactly the right placement and depth to help the dress hug the curve of the spine if the fragment is of a back panel. The darts in the back are basted with all-purpose thread since it’s cheap and will be removed before the dress is finished. The darts in the front are basted with safety pins for convenience since I am fitting myself. They will be re-basted with thread before sewing and the fit double-checked. The white shoulder straps are temporary for fitting, placement, and length of the straps.

After fitting the dress I sewed the darts in running stitch using the same green linen thread as for the feather stitch.  I left the basting stitches above and below the darts so I could use them as a guide for where to place the braid.

The darts on the front panel were far too deep to leave as they were, so I trimmed them down to slightly more than 1cm of depth and turned the seam allowances in like a french seam.  This I whip stitched using linen thread pulled from the selvage before applying the braids.  This gave them a very similar appearance to the darts in the back of the dress.

Another neat feature of the original fragment is the 6-strand braid that is couched onto the top of the dart.  From a garment longevity standpoint, this braid will prevent the fold of the dart from wearing through, and then potentially pulling out of its stitches.  Having a cord or braid sewn onto a french style seam is a common treatment in Viking garment fragments, but here it is done decoratively to the outside of the garment.  It was tricky finding a good description of the braid itself, but thankfully there is PLAIT FROM THE HEDEBY APRON DRESS FRAGMENT, where another wonderful person detailed her reconstruction of the braid and provided a tutorial on how to duplicate it.  I made my braid in yellow and red linen, using the spools of thread as bobbins since I would need about five yards of braid for my dress.

Viking 6-Plait Braid - WIP1, by Sidney Eileen

I needed about five yards of 6-strand braid for the apron dress, so I used the spools like bobbins to make the braid. It’s coming out with too tight of tension, so I will need to use the underside of the braid as the outside when it is attached to the dress. I’m using linen thread.

Viking 6-Strand Braid - WIP2, by Sidney Eileen

I changed the pillow I was using as my braiding surface so the weight of the spools was not dictating the tension on the braid. After about six hours of practice and working on the actual braid it finally has the appearance it should, and the tension is fairly consistent. I am using linen thread.

So, as of the writing of this I am in the process of couching the braids onto the darts.  After that I need to finish the top and bottom hems and make the shoulder straps.

Viking 6-Strand Braid, by Sidney Eileen, Detail of the braid couched to the dart.

Detail of the braid where it has been couched onto one of the darts. This is one of the deep darts beside the bust, where I trimmed down the dart to about 1cm in depth and turned the raw edges in. That was then whip stitched closed before couching on the braid with a much longer stitch. It’s all linen materials.

 

Project: Dark Blue Viking Apron Dress

 

Red and Blue Viking Garb – Teaser

Diana wearing her hand-sewn Viking age garb at an event, teaser photo.

Diana wearing her hand-sewn Viking age garb at an event.

The main project I have been working on for the past couple months (and then some) is Viking garb for Diana and myself.  It can be extremely taxing for me to spend time at a sewing machine, so I decided to make the outfit entirely by hand.  It’s not unusual for me to be able to sit on the couch and stitch away slowly, so even though it took a lot more hours of work to make, it means Diana’s garb is well underway and wearable.  Had I decided to make it by machine, odds are it would still be sitting un-sewn.

Diana was able to wear the garb to Great Western War 2015 the one day we attended, but it was so hot and we were so tired that taking nice, full-length photos was not going to happen.  Instead I took a little teaser snapshot while we were sitting in the shade.

 

The Serk

The red linen underdress (also called a serk) took a little more than fifty hours to sew by hand.  I have not added any decoration to it yet.

Viking Serk Construction Detail, by Sidney Eileen - Hand sewn running stitch and whip stitch with thread pulled from scrap fabric.

Detail of the seam and hem construction of the red linen serk. Upper is the inside of the dress, and the lower is the outside of the dress. It was assembled with running stitch using thread pulled from the fabric. Seam allowance was folded over and whip stitched. Hem was also folded over and whip stitched.

Flat Felled Seam Finish Illustration, by Sidney Eileen

Flat Felled Seam Finish Illustration

Basic Whip Stitched Hem Illustration, by Sidney Eileen

Basic Whip Stitched Hem Illustration

 

The Apron Drape

The apron drape is hemmed with double herringbone stitch in Londonderry linen thread, with about fifteen hours of sewing involved.  It is about six inches longer than it should be to avoid tripping over it, so Diana had to pin a fold to wear it at the event.  I am currently unsure if I should just turn it into a table runner and make an entirely new one that’s also a little wider, or if I should fold the fabric and add some more embroidery to hold it in place.  The intention for this piece is a simple white apron that is functional and can be easily washed and bleached, so I had not originally intended to add any more decoration to it.  Decisions, decisions.

White Viking Apron - Detail, by Sidney Eileen - Linen fabric, hand sewn with herringbone stitch done in line thread.

White Viking Apron – Detail

 

The Apron Dress

The apron dress is a floor length, open-front style with pleating in the back.  It is inspired by Valkyrie figurines, and intended as special occasion style garb, rather than practical everyday style wear.  It is held closed in the front by a penannular brooch that is hidden by the apron drape in the top photo.  It took about fifty hours to hand sew, which includes the time spent embroidering the shoulder straps.  I have spent about twenty-five hours on embellishment so far.

Blue Open Apron Dress - WIP Detail, by Sidney Eileen - Hand sewn and embroidered with linen, decorated with cotton tablet weaving I did not make.

Blue Open Apron Dress – WIP Detail

The above photo shows part of the top of the dress, at the back where the shoulder strap attaches.  Along the bottom of the photo you can see the seams of the pleats.  Sewing is all done with line thread pulled from the selvage of the fabric.  Embroidery is done with Londonderry linen thread.  The top and bottom tablet woven bands were created by my friend Amy, and the middle band Diana received in an informal SCA art exchange.  The tablet woven bands are applied using linen thread pulled from the selvage.

Apron dress shoulder strap, showing detail of the seam being closed using a double van dyke stitch, by Sidney Eileen

Apron dress shoulder strap, showing detail of the seam being closed using a double van dyke stitch.

Van dyke stitch can be used to create a beautiful braid-like appearance by using close stitches.  In this case I worked two threads, catching the loop of each stitch under the intersection of the same color’s previous stitch.  Because the stitches across the seam all go down and left, the down stitch pulls down the right side, and the up stitch pulls up the left. If you don’t adjust the tension at every single stitch, the left side trends to travel up and the right travels down, resulting in misalignment. Basting the two sides together would probable reduce the problem a lot if you don’t like fiddling with the tension constantly.

Detail of the apron dress shoulder straps while in progress, by Sidney Eileen. At this point it just needed the remainder of the interlace stitch added to the running stitches.

Detail of the apron dress shoulder straps while in progress. At this point it just needed the remainder of the interlace stitch added to the running stitches.

WIP of the embellishment on the open apron dress, by Sidney Eileen

WIP of the embellishment on the open apron dress.

 

Project: Viking Age Garb

How to Make Fabric Buttons

If you have not already done so, I recommend reading Medieval Hand Stitching – Basic Stitches (Start Here).  It describes what supplies you will need for hand stitching medieval garb, how to start and end your thread, and the basic stitches upon which most other stitches are based.

This tutorial describes how to make fabric buttons.  They are most often seen on late medieval garments like cotehardies and caftans, and are an inexpensive and period alternative to metal buttons.  Other variations did occur, like fabric wrapped around a wooden disk or thread wrapped buttons, and this is not the only way to make fabric buttons.  I like the square fabric method because it provides more stuffing for the buttons, is less wasteful of material, and is infinitely easier to cut out.

How to Make Fabric Buttons, Fabric Buttons Illustration, by Sidney EileenCut a square of fabric.  Experiment with different size squares to figure out how big it needs to be to create the size button you desire from your fabric.  The size needed will vary depending upon the weight of the fabric you are using.  If possible, find a round object to trace for the circle, or make a template.  This will make it far easier to create consistently sized buttons.

Create a running stitch in a circle.  DO NOT TIE IT OFF at either end.

Tuck all the edges into the center of the circle.

Pull the circle of running stitches tight, making sure to keep all the loose edges inside the pouch you are creating.  Then tie off the ends of your thread.

If you are making a batch of buttons and planning to use them later, stop here.  When you are ready to attach the button to your garment, resume at the next step.

Run your needle through the button, through the base and up through the top.

Thrust the needle back through the button, from the top down through the base.  Stitch through the edge of your fabric where you want the button to be placed, and then thrust the needle back up through the button.  Do this repeatedly until your button is securely held to your garment.

Wrap repeatedly around the threads (and the very base of your button if the visible fabric is long enough)

Secure your thread and run the tail either between the layers of fabric at the edge of the garment, or up into the body of the button.

 

 

How to Hand Sew Buttonholes

If you have not already done so, I recommend reading Medieval Hand Stitching – Basic Stitches (Start Here).  It describes what supplies you will need for hand stitching medieval garb, how to start and end your thread, and the basic stitches upon which most other stitches are based.  This tutorial describes how to hand sew buttonholes, especially for medieval reenactment.

How to Hand Sew Buttonholes, Buttonhole Illustration, by Sidney EileenMedieval buttonholes were cut before being sewn.  To stabilize them while working some sort of clear glue, like fish glue, was applied to the buttonhole area before cutting and sewing.  Fray check is the easiest modern option.  Mark your buttonhole, apply glue to the mark and allow it to dry, cut your buttonhole, and then stitch.

I am not aware of any medieval garments that used a running stitch to border buttonholes, but it can be handy to clearly mark the area and to help prevent fraying of the fabric while stitching.  If you choose to take this step, either a running stitch or a back stitch can be used.  I would apply this stitch first, before gluing and cutting the buttonhole.  It should be completely covered by buttonhole stitch when the buttonhole is finished, and therefor not visible on the finished garment.

Use a buttonhole stitch, stitching towards the buttonhole opening, and placing your stitches close together.

Medieval buttonholes did not have any stitching at the terminal ends.  The only stitches are along the sides.

For later period or modern tailored buttonholes, definitely take the time to running stitch or backstitch around the buttonhole.  Glue and cut as with medieval buttonholes.  Then stitch around the cut on all sides, long and short.  For tailored coats, it is appropriate to buttonhole stitch a rounded keyhole-like shape at the garment edge side of the buttonhole.  You can use a plain buttonhole stitch, or any of the other myriad variations on buttonhole stitch, depending upon how you want the finished buttonhole to appear.