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Submitted on
December 15, 2012
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How to make a viking dress

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 5:46 AM

I used to be a part of one history reenactment group some time ago. Such groups basically reconstruct elements of daily life of people from a selected time period; my group was interested in early Middle Ages, from the 8th to the 11th century, from the Eastern and Northern Europe. Personally, I used to reconstruct a viking woman from today's Sweden areas. Most of you will be shocked, but vikings were not half-naked barbarians with horned helmets. They had no horned helmets. Really.

Anyway, my favourite part of reenactment has always been all the suit making. Buing materials, planning, cutting, sewing (hand sewing!), embroidering. Then, wearing. Generally, viking clothes are very easy to make, though I admit that the materials aren't the cheapest, if you want to make it as much accurate historically as you can.  

Viking by SylwiaTelari

Our goal: a simple dress, no emboirdery. This is actually my first viking dress I've ever made.

I've prepared a simple tutorial about how to make a typical viking dress. As I've said, it's very easy to make, but it takes time, when you don't use a sewing machine. Up to 4-5 days. What do we need? I'll write about the historically accurate stuff.

Ingredients by SylwiaTelari
(Click on the picture to view it full sized and to see descriptions)

Cloth: at least 150x300cm. I used 150x700cm only once and it's really the top border. Really. You can choose between linen, wool (100% wool, no polyester!) and silk. Silk is awfully expensive and not so easy to get, therefore I'd recommend either wool or linen. Colours... well, I think you can imagine that medieval people didn't know how to make the eye-killing cyan-green-vivid-whatever dyes. So rather calm colours. Browns, greens, greys. Red, blue and purple are the extremely expensive medieval colours. Now, let's make it more funny – one of the most common dye colour was pink... It was one of the easiest to receive.

Threads: linen, woolen or silk. No cotton. Cotton is historically accurate in the Middle Ages period  reenactment, of course, but only if you reconstruct American history...

We'll also need scisors (oh really?), needle and a measure. And some free space on the floor. Pins would be nice, too, but not necessary.

Pattern - feel free to print by SylwiaTelari
I've prepared a nice printable version, click to view full size and the description.

As you can see, it couldn't be more simple. Remember that you need to adjust the lenghts to your body's shape. I'm not a tall person, so these measurements are just fine for me (if you're around 1m60, at least half of your measuring is done now). More or less – measure yourself from your shoulders below (not from your head; some help would be nice) and add 10-15 cm. Measure around your chest (not around the waist, we've got leather belts for these things!) and add 10 cm to each side of the back and front dress parts. Measure arms and add 10 cm, measure around arms (not forearms) and add 15 cm at least. Remember, it's better to add too much and then remove some than add too little and waste the cloth.

At the picture above I've also drawn the way all the parts should be put together. And that would be almost all... When sewing in the triangle skirt parts, it's better to begin from the top and go down from one side and then start over for the 2nd side. Don't worry when you'll see a lot of cloth at the bottom sticking below the edge of front or back body dress parts - it's expected and you'll just remove the extras later. You'll be probably able to sew a small bag out of them.

Stichtes. I've drawn my two favourite ones in the picture again, but I use them only for visible places, for example around edges or to decorate the visible parts of stitches around skirts. But when it comes to sew all the parts together, use whatever stich type you want and whatever you feel comfortable with - I don't recommend these two shown, as they take really a lot of time to make, especially the crossing one.

Viking woman by weavedmagicBlue and brown Viking dress by LaeradViking Embroidery by Erianrhodviking frouwe by cornum
Hervor new costume by VendelRus10th c. Norse Women's outfit by silverstahthe Viking by NarenlithViking-age woman by Aspova

journal skin made by SylwiaTelari
background texture by
For #ArtHistoryProject Artisan Crafts month.
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Tnclas Aug 25, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Daughter-Of-Wolves Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so happy to have stumbled across this!

I needed a Viking age accurate dress for a costume I'm doing and thank you so much for sharing this!
STelari Jul 2, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Good luck! (:
Daughter-Of-Wolves Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
kirilee Dec 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is epicly awesome! Thank you for sharing!
STelari Dec 18, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! And you're welcome (:
bear48 Dec 17, 2012  Professional
well done
Meredyth Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Very nice article and feature :)
STelari Dec 16, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you (:
Many thanks for adding my coat to the article. I love making viking clothes and would like to think this article mightl inspire others to do the same.
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