Sunday, December 4, 2011

Documentation-Linen Under Dress / Smock

I have called this garment an under-dress or under-tunic but it is also referred to as a smock.  Generally, this smock is not seen except perhaps a small amount at the wrists, neckline and hemline.  The smock is un-dyed linen which would be off white or tan colored or is sun bleached to white.  The cutting pattern may have under arm gussets and side gores.  (Earlier Anglo-Saxon finds and later period finds such as in Greenland have evidence of both.) Fabric of this era was hand woven and the looms discovered would not have been able to weave cloth too wide.  Since the fabric was narrow, the gores and gussets could add extra fullness where needed such as for arm movement or leg room for walking, warmth, and bending over.  The weaving could have been fine and the threads close together but most smocks were not as fine of quality as outer layers as that would be a wasteful use of higher quality of fabric.  I suggest they were bleached because they would have gotten pretty dingy and stained in wearing.  There was probably decorative seam and hem stitching for strength and support but one would not have wasted precious time on embellishing a garment that wouldn’t be seen such as the side seams or gores.  I also imagine this piece of clothing would have been patched and repaired extensively as it would not be visible underneath and decorative stitching may have been used to pretty it up for hand me downs.
There is some discussion that the smocks were pleated based on the wrinkled nature of the finds and on some of the carved woman figures found.  Linen wrinkles very easy in wearing and may have also been slightly wrinkled while lying in the graves, wet bogs and harbors all those years.  There is no way to say for sure except the figures in some artwork appear to be wearing pleated under garments and trains and wrinkled bits of linen have been found in fabrics preserved under metal brooches and pins.  There is evidence for ‘slicks’ that would have been used to press linen during construction and perhaps for upkeep.  This could indicate that wrinkles would not be created by choice?
This layer could also be considered a slip and may have been the only underwear a woman in this era would have worn.  However there is nothing that suggests they did not have other underwear…there is just no evidence for it.  (Personally, I would have needed leggings or wraps to keep warm in the cold months.)
My recreation:
I used a medium weight European bleached ivory linen fabric with a thread count of approximately 22 threads per inch.   Even though my fabric was wider than would have been available then, I cut the pieces in rectangular shapes and used underarm gussets and gores to create fullness where I needed it.  I drafted my pattern pieces based on a cutting layout by……..  I used linen thread to COMPLETELY hand sew the garment and a combination of running and flat felling stitching to make sure the seams were secure and would not fray too easily.  Most of the seams have been sewn at least 3 times and 4 where topstitched.  I made a neck opening and faced the neck slit with a silk remnant so that the linen wouldn’t rub and irritate my neck and sewed a rolled hem finish on the neckline.  I also did rolled hems on the sleeves and main garment hem.   I have done some simple topstitching on the seams, hems and neckline.  The neck slit will be closed with a small decorative pin.
This smock may be a little fuller than I needed in the body but the sleeves are almost tight in places. The neckline seems to lay well and I like how the sleeves fit at the wrists and basically that is all that will show when wearing the complete outfit.  I raised my arms when trying it on and thought, “So that’s what underarm gussets are for!”   They worked perfectly to give my arms freedom to move…SUCCESS!   I have not enjoyed the feel of this linen as I worked on it.  I washed the fabric 3 times and ironed before cutting out but it still felt rough all the while I worked on it.  After making sure all seams were enclosed and secure, I washed the garment one more time.  The gore seams that overlap are very stiff and thick and I feel like I want to pound on them with a hammer to flatten them…


September 2011
I have resumed working on the white linen under dress next and will get some better photos of it…I hope?  My camera is having trouble showing the detail on the white color…  My eyes also have trouble seeing the white on white thread…


Documentation Resources



Thor Ewing,  Viking Clothing  Published 2007

Lilli Franson, Anna Norgaard, Else Ostergaard, Medieval Garments Reconstructed Published 2010

Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Dress in Anglo-Saxon England Published 2004

Judith H. Hofenk de Graaff, The Colorful Past-Origins, Chemistry, and Identification of Natural Dyestuffs Published 2004

Dominique Cardon, Natural Dyes-Sources, Tradition, Technology, and Science Published 2007

Edited by David Jenkins, Cambridge History of Western Textiles I and II Published 2003

Else Ostergaard, Woven from the Earth Published ??? (I forgot to write it down)

Cathy Chato, Terry A. Broberg-Swangin, Scandinavian Textiles, Complete Anachronist #64  
Published 1992

Frances Grew, Margrethe De Neergaard, Medieval Finds from Excavations in London: 2 Shoes and Patterns Published 2007

Olaf Groubitz, Stepping Through Time Archaeological Footwear from Prehistoric Times until 1800 Published 2007

Handouts and Web sources
Carolyn Priest-Dorman, A Quick and Dirty Look at Viking Women’s Garb in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries Last accessed 2006

Carolyn Priest-Dorman, “But That’s How They Look in the Book!”: Viking Women’s Garb in Art and Archaeology Last accessed 2006 

Fru Isabel Ulfsdottir CW, 10th Century Danish Clothing Last accessed 2003 Link not working

Women’s Viking Age Clothing Last accessed 2005 Link not working

Cynthia Virtue aka Cynthia du Pre Argent, How to make a Coif: 1 and 3 piece patterns  Last accessed 2006

A.McVie, A.Nicholsom, G. Waidsom, Pouches: Recent Research for Regia Anglorum Last accessed 2011

Regia Anglorum Members Handbook

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just wondering why...

...when cats have the availability to sleep on anything they want...including soft beds and pillows...that they chose to lay on whatever you are wanting to use???

And can this body language talk any clearer?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Updates and stuff!

I have had an H of a time trying to update this blog for my October report...I have been working for a couple hours and it is soooooooo slow that I have decided to call it good for now.  I will add more photos as soon as I get a report is off tonight however.

Happy Halloween everyone!

I made this comment a week or so ago and for some reason I am signed in under a wierd thing?  So I am reprinting it in the body of the blog post...

Vigdis said:
Well, after cooking and washing dishes for an event recently, I decided apron panels would have been a very valuable piece of clothing. As I looked down at the soapy water splashed on the front of my apron dress, I realized that it would have been harder to have daily aprons that you messed up and had to wash and get ready for use quickly. Also since the garments were hand made and out of fiber that was difficult to wash, the more practical solution might have been to have the apron panel available to attach and hide the messiness underneath when needed.

I am also speculating that the panels may have been always in a state of embellishing to keep them looking at their best. A burial panel may have been highly decorated as it would have needed to cover the signs of wear and tear.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Word About Distractions!

Well a whole lot of stuff has kept me busy and away from my challenge entries...One of the main distractions was being the autocrat for our Harvest Feast.  It was a wonderful event and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.  It brought me a revelation however that I will share in the Apron Panel section.

The Queen held a pewter class which I attended and it got me interested in making trinkets to give out for future events.  It was an awesome!  And so are the King and Queen!

Here are some photos of the event...
Harvest thing in Sentinels' Keep 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

GREAT NEWS: My Apprenticeship!

I have the honor and great fortune to have been given an apprenticeship belt by Dame Annys of Pengwyrn of the Barony of Sentinel's Keep at the Whipping Winds Event in August 2011.

Dame Annys has been an inspiration to me since I joined the SCA and I have always admired her talents and expertise in the Arts and Sciences.  I was thrilled when she became a Laurel so that when she asked me to be her apprentice, I was overwhelmed!

Since we began our arrangement, she has been an awesome source of help with my research, encouragement with my projects, and a very GENEROUS patron in this Challenge project... I am blessed!

My friend Ygrainne became an apprentice to HE Juliana at our Harvest event.  Juliana apprenticed my mistress Annys so in the family...Annys is my mom and Juliana my grandmother.  Juliana is Ygrainne's mom so she and Annys are sisters and Ygrainne is my aunt...clear???  Me either!  Maybe this photo will explain how complicated this can be...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Update Mar 2012
I haven't progresses much on the 'red shoes' except to buy sinew and thread to sew when I finally get brave enough to cut them out...
However, I am working on the second pair of gillies and will have them completed by the time I need to wear shoes again.
I had to get creative with the lacing since I cut the pieces a little too big for my feet.
Looks better with a sock in it

Update Feb 2012
Final pattern???

Update Jan 2012  I have been working on the pattern of my shoes based on the drawing below.

Mock-up in red flannel for final fitting adjustments

Update Nov 2011...This may be the only regret I might have.  My mistress HE Annys gifted me with the yummiest red leather to make shoes...and I may not have time to finish them before the challenge is over...but I will as soon after as I can.
She also lent me a couple of books on historical footwear and I have looked over a couple of the shoes that my friend Ygrainne's husband made.  I feel excited and look forward to my red shoes!!!

I finally purchased the yarn that I wanted to make my nalbinded shoe liners/socks.  I waited until I had double coupons at JoAnns...I am a cheap Norwegian ya know!  It is a soft finer wool (in a pretty heathery shade of tan) than I usually use and not all lumpy and bumpy like my hand spun stuff.  It will feel good against the skin of my feet.  I did start working on the socks in my spare time when I am unable to work on the garb pieces.  Nalbinding is a wonderful fill in hobby that I can take anywhere.

My 'Precioussss' needle made by friend Ygrainne's husband Bjorn.
One sock is finished...
I will put a row of red stitching around the ankle like the York 'shoe liner' find.

Took off the red stitching on the sock and added two rows of buttonhole stitching to the ankle.  When I get the other sock caught up to this point, I will add the red back...I think?

The pouch I had cut out before the red leather came into my life.  Pouches like this could be made of poorer quality leather as they were probably worn underneath the clothing.

I have made some accessories with fiber but I have now cut out a simple pouch of some scrap leather I had.  In the article below I read that having a pouch such as this out of poorer quality leather was common.  They were not worn on the outer layers of clothing so it would be wasteful to use good quality materials.  I look at a pouch like this as a substitute for a modern pocket.

Layout of new beads

The finished strands

As much fun as this looks, the technique is basically stringing.  I do have plans to make some fabricated and pewter pieces…hopefully in the near future.  Amber, jet, and silver beads have been found in many areas and gold and silver charms and trinkets have been discovered.  Glass bead kilns were common and glass and ceramic beads were numerous.  There is evidence that many of these beads were probably brought back from trading expeditions and one would wear their wealth in this way.

The glass beads are based on Viking age bead replicas and produced in relatively in period methods. I have added glass millefori styled beads, ceramic beads, amber and silver beads and have filled in with a few semi precious stone beads. 
Top strand: The Viking ship silver and amber charm was also a gift from Annys. The two glass beads are either side were made in an authenic technique using a period kiln. One of the beads is also blue and yellow and I am using it to signify the colors of our Barony. The other is just a delightful little bead and it makes me smile!
Middle strand: Middle bead was given to me by my laurel Dame is green with blue swirls as I picked blue and green as my personal colors.
The two glass beads on either side of that middle bead are blue and yellow (ie gold) which were given to me by Annys as they are her colors and represent our apprenticeship agreement.
Bottom strand: Thor's Hammer amulets where not as prevalent in female burials but there are a few records of some being found.
August 2011...I did take a couple days out from sewing to work on some jewelry that I plan as part of my accessories.
I am inserting the photos nows and will go back and add the information when I have my notes again.

Carnellian, amber and bone Maple Leaf necklace.

Russian Amber (the milky looking stuff) and chunks necklace.

Various other amber and silver pieces.

Silver broach beads.
After looking at this, I think I will add another strand of beads or a chain.

Caftan to be...

Side panels pinned to body of coat.

More coat progress!

and hat in process to wear with it.

Hat update...ready to decrease over top of head.
I love how the spiral circles around itself.

The braid is tacked down and the hat is officially done...I started a mitten to match!

Mitten start...

...up to thumb...
...thumb being attached to slit...
Both mittens completed!  Yippee!

Decorative stitching on thumb is also for added support.

The completed set...just in time for NEXT winter!!!

Icelandic fleece and the spindle I used to make the yarn
in some of the embellishments on the apron panel.