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Sunday I purchased some plaid wool material at the Fayetteville antique mall.  It’s 60″ wide, about 2 yards long garment weight.  It will be a multi purpose item, shawl/short bog dress so I decided to just hem the raw edges.   I used one of the bone needles I made and some hand spun wool thread to stitch it up.  The needle is less than 2″ long.  This needle was cut from a piece of deer bone then ground to shape on sandstone and slate.  The eye was drilled with a small pocket knife.

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After much pondering and looking at other options, including Sprang and Lucet cording, I finally figured out a ‘mostly’ stress free method of reproducing the braid from the Haithabu/Hedeby Fragment.  My main issue was trying to produce the braid without fighting with the loose ends of the strings or whipping heavy bobbins around.  My solution was to make cardboard bobbins to wrap the thread around.

Bobbins & Cord (and a sleepy Ginger)

The first bobbins I tried were too heavy, the thread had a tendency to slip off, and then I would have to chase down a cat or dog to retrieve my bobbin and thread.  Leaving the thread hanging loose caused too many tangles, both of the threads and the cats who were entirely too interested in what I was doing.

I decided on size 10 crochet cotton for the threads so that the garment could be machine washed without fear of felting wool thread or tearing silk thread.  The thread is very fine to my eyes and I had to keep taking breaks to rest my eyes. (I really need new glasses…)

I worked up around 22 inches of the braid and so far it is coming out to around 3mm wide which is about the same width as the original braid. While I’m working I’m able to slip the thread from the slit in the card and unwrap some of the length to get more working space.  I’m happy with this method and though it will be time consuming will continue in this fashion to create enough braid to cover the back darts and possibly some more for additional trim for the dress.  This is also good practice for another wool apron dress I am planning for which I hope to spin wool for the sewing stitches, embroidery and the decorative braids.

Though I’ve not been able to find any information about any patterning in the colors of the original braid,  I like the way the colors on my braid are alternating.  I’ll continue this pattern for this project but may experiment more (with thicker thread) to determine what other patterns are possible.

Detail of the patterning

This past week has been hectic.  Issues with power in my home (which still aren’t resolved), work, work, work, and helping out family with projects and such.  I did have some time to work on projects and such though.

The work on the trim for the back of my apron dress was slowed.  I tried several times with various methods of producing the 6 strand braid to make it look like the drawing in Hilde Thunem’s article.

Though my initial try looked more like this braid, I felt I was doing something wrong.  Since the information on T.J. Potter’s page on making slings (mentioned in my last post) said that the braid was actually finger weaving I went to Carol James’ website on sash-making and followed her instructions for finger weaving.  She has some nice instructional videos on her site and you tube which gave me a better understanding of finger weaving and I may look into further projects to use this new technique on.  After working on my trim again I got this result:

  Still not the result I was looking for.  The appearance is more woven than braided, the threads don’t follow the same paths of the drawing above.  I also noticed that the red thread is thinner than the yellow.  I have more red thread that is thicker than this so I will try that next.

And since I can’t seem to work on just one project at a time I worked on lengthening the black and white dress this week.  I had to borrow my parent’s floor to lay the dress out (less pets to interfere) and set about cutting off the bottom 2″ of the dress.

  Here I’ve pinned the bottom hems together to keep them from slipping and am marking the bottom edge with a sliver of soap to show the cutting line.  I learned a hard lesson a few years ago about using colored chalk on fabric; the patterned Persian coat I made still has pink chalk marks on it…  The soap used here should come out in the wash, if not then I don’t know…

On the right of the picture is a felted wool pin cushion that I made myself of wool from my stash.  I stabbed myself about a dozen times with the felting needle while making it… dummy me should have used a sponge…

After making all my marks I cut the hem off and set it aside.  Then I set out to cut the band from the white linen.

  Here I measured the inside of the sleeve band to make sure I cut the hem band the same width.  I then laid out the white linen and measured off two 110″ lengths of 4 1/2″ wide material, marking the white linen with a water soluble quilters’ pen. The band will fit around the bottom edge of the dress, along with the bottom 2″ I cut off from the dress.

I thought I had gotten pictures of the white linen being marked and cut out but I seem to have forgotten to record that step.  Any way after cutting out the bands I put them in my sewing box to work on the hem a little later.

I realize this isn’t the best way to lengthen the hem of the dress.  Ideally I would take out the bottom hem, add some fabric to lengthen it and hem that.  Since I didn’t have any black linen to lengthen the dress (it was made by the Bored Housewife) I had to take the steps I’ve taken.

While I was at it I decided to take some pics of the wool embroidery thread I’ve been working on.

All three spindles are from the lot I refurbished with Roman era stone whorls and are working out nicely for spinning fine singles and yarns.

The one on the left has the  wool singles I spun up on the Roman spindles to test them, I spun the singles onto that spindle joining the ends as I went.  The wool is a natural colored Coopworth from Harts of the Meadow Farm in  in Big Spring, WV.  They have some awesome rovings in wonderful natural colors. It’s been nice to find such fine wool at the local Fiber Art’s Network retreats here in Ansted.

When I decided to spin some wool for embroidery I searched though my existing stash to see if I had anything with the colors I had in mind.  Not finding any, I remembered that the Ben Franklin’s store in Fayetteville had small packages of colored wool roving in the felting section of the store.  Wisteria Editions roving is made from Corriedale wool, a little coarser than Coopworth but it still spins nicely.  I’ve picked up 6 different colors so far and may order more from WE’s website. My plan is to spin up 2 packages of each color and then ply the two together to make the embroidery yarn.   This yarn will be used on an entirely hand stitched and embroidered blue wool Viking apron dress that I am planning.

I’ve done some more work on the apron dress.  I finished hemming it and took out the back darts.  The darts are repinned to the outside of the dress, like the darts on the Haithabu fragment.  I’m also experimenting with the braid that covers the edge of the dart.  I found a website http://www.seekyee.com/slings/howtos/6strand1.htm with instructions on making 6 strand braids and the back of the second braid on this page looks the same to the line drawing in Hilde Thunem’s article.

Using some cotton punch embroidery thread in yellow and red (same colors as the origional and I think they will look nice against the green of my dress) I’ve started experimenting in making the braid to cover the darts.

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Yes, that’s a Hello Kitty band-aid. 🙂

I measured off about 7 yards for each string, which may be a bit much but, better to err on the side of paranoia, and used a wood tv table holder to tie the strands on to for braiding. 

The instructions on seekyee.com said the method was actualy finger weaving, with each strand acting as both warp and weft at different times.  Since I had never worked finger weaving before I didn’t understand this untill I actually started working the band.  I’ve encountered some issues trying to futz through it on my own so I am going to search for instructions on finger weaving starting with Carol James’ site http://www.sashweaver.com.  Carol makes reproductions of militairy sashes for museums and reinactors. 

Also, while working the band I noticed that a mirror image was forming below the area I was working, just like in Sprang.  I may explore methods of turning out the two bands using a Sprang set up in order to produce them both simultaneously as opposed to working one and untangling the ends as I go.

Each braid needs to be 47 1/2 inches long, plus some to fold over the ends, to reach from hem to hem.  Either method for production will be an interesting experience.  🙂

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Front of the dress

Friday night I gave another attempt at dyeing the Viking apron dress. After consolting the custom color formulas on the Rit Dye webpage I selected their suggested mix for emerald green. This shade is made by mixing 3 parts lemon yellow with one part evening blue. My mom had already given me a box each of the colors needed and after I purchased the remaining boxes needed I prepaired to dye the dress again.  However, after I had added some of the yellows to the dye bath I realized the boxes mom had given me were only partial packets of the dye powder, she had been using the dyes to color doll clothes.  Since I didn’t wish to merely over-dye the dress yellow I said “Buggerit!” And mixed what I had with an additional box of dark green.  I also added a cup of salt and about 2-3 tablespoons of laundry soap as was suggested on the website.

Though the color wasn’t emerald I did wind up with a darker green this time.  I am still debating if a third attempt will be taken.  In the mean time I’ll continue working on the hem and the back darts.  My first attempt at the darts didn’t turn out right; one is crooked and both should turn toward the outside of the dress (like the dart on the Hedeby(?) Fragment) they both need to be taken out and resewn.

Back of the dress

 

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My, it’s been a while.  I didn’t realize how long till I started to put up this post.

The Holidays were busy, as always.  But thanks to my family I now have a set of Turtle Brooches from Raymond’s Quiet Press and a Trefoil brooch as well.  This inspired me to get off my duff and do something about that apron dress I had started altering months ago.

Using Hilde Thunem’s article Viking Women: Aprondress I used the information she translated from various archaeological Viking age finds to make several of the alterations to the apron dress. Although the gore seams are surged and machine sewn, all new alterations are hand stitched, to keep the handmade aesthetics found in the originals.  Though there is still a lot of work I want to do on the dress the alterations I made are as follows:

  • Removed the shoulder straps and narrowed them into thin loops.  Two short loops were stitched to the front of the dress and two longer loops to the back.
  • Attempted to dye the dress dark green, however the dye came out more of an Army green.  Though I do like the earthier tone I was hoping for something darker or even more of an Emerald color.  Since I used Rit dye I consulted their website for blending colors to possibly attempt another go of dying the dress.
  • Shortened the dress, though accidentally.  The dying process shortened the gown some, but seeing that it was floor length on me to begin with, this isn’t an issue.
  • Removed all visible machine stitched hems to hand stitch back in place.

After doing some work on the dress I decided to try out the fit, with the brooches and some other accessories.

The under dress was purchased from the Bored Housewife and is linen.  It is under alteration as well.  The sleeves have been lengthened by adding bands of white linen on the forearm.  A similar treatment will be made near the hem to let it down some more.  (I’m tall and most ready made garb is made for some one shorter than I am)

My shawl is wool, purchased from Quilts & More near Hico, WV, and still needs hemmed.  Though not the same weave found in fragments believed to be pieces of shawls from Viking age digs, I really love it’s colors and softness.  I’m consulting Rebecca Lucas’ article on Triangular Shawls for ideas of draping the shawl.

The hat I’m wearing is my most recently completed Språng project.  It started out as a sample warping for the WRAPS demo back in October.  After playing with it for several months I thought that I would try to make a copy of the Bredmose Woman’s cap (Denmark, 1400 bce).

    

Once again, the warp I was working was to narrow and too long to create a cap like the Bredmose Woman’s cap.  The meeting line in the origional runs from one side of the head, over the crown, and down to the other side.  [On mine the meeting line runs up the back of my head (see the little ducks tail on the back of my head? That’s one end of the meeting line, caused by my not paying enough attention to the stretch created by chaining the meeting line!)]  What may be the top of the warp frames the face and was warped on something with a small diameter, possibly a string, and the  bottom of the warp is pulled together with a draw string.   The warp I worked on needed to be twice as wide and possibly 3/4 as long to do a proper reconstruction. Also, though the wool yarn I spun on a drop spindle for this project was quite fine, as shown in the close up below, I think that the Bredmose cap is made of finer thread.  These are all points for me to keep in mind the next time I try to make a cap like this!

Oh, and the under dress originally posted with the apron dress…  didn’t take the Rit dye… not at all.  So, it’s shelved again while I finish this apron dress, under dress and shawl.  I’ll get back to it later (another UFO in the closet, big surprise there)

All in all, even with the issues I’m pleased with the progress I’m making and it really feels good to be getting back into the swing of costuming again.  🙂

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Tonight I began a couple projects that I had been meaning to do for a while.  Though they aren’t AS 50 projects they are important in that they will help me in a department I am lacking in; garb that fits.

The under-gown above was made by me several years ago to wear under a Persian coat.  Though the under gown mostly fits the coat I made it for is almost the same color and I want an under gown in a dark blue for it.  The only area that might be an issue size wise is the droop to the shoulders.  If so it will be an easy fix to narrow the center panel and sew the arms and side panels back on.  That may not be an issue if I wear it under a Viking apron dress.

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I purchased the apron dress from a merchant at Blackstone Raids in 2010.  What caught my eye was the length of the dress, full length even on me and I’m 5′ 10″.  Though general thought is that the apron dresses were mid-calf length I’ll not shorten this one just yet.  The fabric is a home spun look cotton material and slightly heavy.  It is too big through the chest and I’m not sure about the color.

I thought that I would begin modifying them both into a new outfit for myself.

The undressed will be easier of the two.  The sleeves will be shortened from their almost knee length which allowed them to be rucked up on the forearm. Also, the opening of the neckline almost extends to the navel, which was fashionable according to miniatures from medieval Persia, will need to be closed up.  The extra length across the shoulders will wait till the apron dress is altered to see if it really needs fixed.

The apron dress will be a bit more work seeing as it’s a completed garment with surged seams;
1. Shoulder straps.  Gotta go, too wide.  I’ll ponder replacements to see if I want to make cords or use the existing straps to make loops.
2. Take in excess width in chest.
3. Reshape under arm to allow more room.
4. Still not sure about the color.  Dye may be involved…

So I brought out my lovely assistant Gertrude (my dressmakers dummy) and got to work.  The sleeves to the under dress had been cut to the length I want and the neckline opening pinned where I want to start closing things up. I may just stitch it closed or cover the seam with embroidery.  On the apron dress the stitches of the bodice hem was taken out, and the underarm area cut down about two inches to give more room.  About an inch on each side was taken in and hand stitched in place.  The bodice area hem was refolded and pinned for sewing.

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What will take the most consideration will be the colors.  The under dress is a light purple and the apron dress is ecru/khaki/natural linen colored.  I’m pondering dyeing at least one, possibly both garments.
1. Dye the apron dress a darker purple or other dark color that would look nice with the purple color of the under dress.
2. Dye the under dress a dark brown  or other color that would look nice with the current color of the apron dress.
3. Dye the under dress dark brown and the apron dress green.

Since this isn’t for authenticity points there is the possibility of Rit, or other commercial dye, in my future.  I’ll do some research in dye colors and see what I come up with.

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Also, A Viking Pinafore mentions darts in a fragment that may be part of an apron dress.  This may help with fitting the apron dress a little better without taking out any more seams than necessary.