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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Viking Lock

To compliment my Viking chest I asked my father for a period lock. He has spent quite a while researching something authentic, yet practical, and with some finishing touches still to go has said he has spent about 40 hours on it so far. Thanks Dad!

Difficulty: Hard
Total Time: 40+ hours

The lock barrel and mechanism were constructed using brass and silver solder. The key is steel which seems to fit in with what is commonly found in archaeological finds.

The key is designed to slide over the mechanism on the inside, pressing the tongues together and releasing them from the inside of the barrel which opens the lock.

These photos show the lock nearly complete next to a 15cm (6") ruler.
lock lock and key

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Hedeby Apron Dress

For an upcoming show I decided to make a new over dress. This is a tube style based on a find from Hedeby/Haithabu harbour aiming at the 10th century and is made of wool, though linen may have been more common.

Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 6 hours

The Viking apron dress is a widely debated garment. Many artistic impressions show an apron dress to be made of two rectangular strips of fabric hanging from the oval brooches and sometimes tied at the sides with ribbons much like a tabbard. This reconstruction is highly unlikely, and as yet I have not found any extant research suggesting this method of reconstruction.

There appear to be three styles of apron dress available during the periods that I have been researching (9th-12th centuries). Here they are in a little more detail:

The Peplos

The Finnish Peplos is one of the only complete finds that we are lucky enough to have. This image is from the book "Ancient Finnish Costumes" which seems to be out of print and unfortunately I do not own a copy myself.

It is held up with the brooches and is closely related to the earlier Roman styles. A apron held on with a belt also helps to keep the sides closed as these do not seem to be stitched at all.

This is the only garment I could find that resembles the two panel reconstruction that is most commonly seen in artistic impressions, however it is still quite fitted and practicle due to the manner in which it is worn.

Related Link: Suomalainen muinaispuku (in Finnish)

The Wrap
The wrap apron dress is becomes practicle due to the manner in which it is worn. This style is not open at the sides at all and is made of either one peice which overlaps at the front, or two pieces which overlap at both front and back.

For me personally the singular piece wrap seems most practicle as I imagine that it would be much easier to get on by oneself. Also I imagine that the two peice would need some kind of brooch or fastener on the back straps to hold it together.

This image shows the front panel pulled open so that it is easier to see what is meant by a wrap apron dress.

Related Link: Early Period

The Tube

The Tube dress is the one that I have reconstruced here. This is a simple design and for me seems the most practicle as it is completely enclosed on the sides for warmth and practability when working.

This is still conjecture however, as only fragments have been found of Viking clothing, but it is now believed that this was one of the most common styles of apron dress and this reconstruction is aiming at the 10th century.

This is probably still a development of the peplos.

Related Link: Historiska Varldar
apron dress styles

Four panels make up my Viking style apron dress. Here they are laid out on the floor prior to sewing. You can see that it is slightly fitted at the waist and I am considering a little more reduction there to better accentuate natural curves.

The straps that are such an integral part of a "hanging dress" (hangerock) are made of the same green wool and were hand sewn with blanket stitch. I was nearly out of material and just managed to get the two strips out of the small left over pieces.

Here I have shown the first strap nearly complete and both straps complete with the brooches and agate beads that I plan to wear with it. I also have a pair of embroidery shears and a key which will be attached as well. And for all those that want their costimes NOW... its taken me two years to make a dress after my first rough and quick finnish apron dress. I am very happy with how it is turning out though.
hedeby hedeby

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Dying Silk Noil

I found with one project that obtaining the desired colour of Silk Noil (raw silk) just wasn't going to happen. I was lucky enough to come across a bolt end of creamy white silk and decided to try dying material for the first time.

Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 3 hours

I already had a small tin of Dylon dye in the colour Cherry Flame, so I thought that would work, however after reading the instructions I found that the dye was not colour fast and I started having doubts.

Colour fast dye does not wash out in the wash, and since the aim of the material is to be used as an embroidery base and trim on a woolen coat then being able to wash it without it running over the other materials was a necessity. So another trip to the local fabric store was made and I chose another dye.

There are several types of dye to choose from - machine dye, cold wash and hot wash to name three that I saw today. My suggestion is to read the packets and find one that is suitable for the type of material and what you intend to do with it. I chose Dylon Colourfast Dye, which is a permanent dye for natural fabrics, in the colour Cherry Red.

Even though the instructions on the Silk Noil said "dry clean only" I have read that as long as the material is treated in the way that you will wash it after it is made into a garment it should be ok. So I threw it in the wash on a quick cycle to clean and prepare it for dying. This means that the material is now pre-shrunk and I should not have any problems washing the coat in the washing machine in the future (hopefully).

I followed the instructions from the dye packet to prepare my dye bath - yeah I haven't used natural dyes for this, but at least for my first go I'm doing it in a tub! I found from reading the different types of dye in the store that for silk a dye bath is probably going to be better than trying to use a machine dye and doing it in the washing machine anyway.

I have ended up with a dye mix of about 7 litres, so you need quite a large container to do it in. I also highly recommend the use of gloves. I had to agitate the material for the first 15 minutes of the dying process and I can only imagine the lovely colour my hands would be for weeks without gloves.

I completed the first dye cycle, however after drying I found that the colour wasn't dark enough, therefore instead of the lovely shade of deep pink that had arrived I purchased another lot of dye and repeated the process... The second dye was a different brand and cheaper. Rit dye in a scarlet colour.

Here is the colour of the fabric before dying, during the dying process and after the process was completed. This colour could have been obtained in Medieval times using valuable cochineal beetles.

after dyingprior to dying