Kragelund Tunic

The Nederfrederiksmose Man (also known as Kraglund Man or Frederiksdal Man) was found May 25th 1898 in Fattiggårdens mose near the village Kragelund, north west of Silkeborg, Denmark (also approximately 15 miles south of Viborg, Denmark).

The man wore a kirtle of coarse woolen cloth, the legs were bare but on his feet he had short leather boots, laced over the instep. The boots are not preserved. Because of the boots, the find was originally dated to the 12th or 13th Century. Porl Grinder-Hansen, curator Danish Middle Ages and Renaissance, Nat. Mus. of Denmark had this carbon14 dated in 1998 by the AMS-laboratory in Århus, Jutland, using the accelerator technique and calibrated according to Stuiver and Pearson 1993. It was dated to c.1040-1155.
Continue reading Kragelund Tunic

The Tale of a Tunic AKA: How I learned to do the Vandyke stitch

fearghus_in_brownOnce upon a time, at a Pennsic long long ago (2011) I made a tunic for my love. Somehow we’d gotten to site and my love had zero short sleeved tunics. To remedy this I dragged him off to Merchant’s Row where we purchased fabric and thread. Then I spent two-an-a-half days hand sewing it together so that he would have a short-sleeved tunic to wear at the Pennsic party. He loves the tunic. In fact, more than that, he loves being able to tell the story about how I started with a fist full of money and made him a tunic during Pennsic from stuff bought at Pennsic.

seamsThis tunic is the first completely hand-sewn tunic I’ve ever made for my love.

Directly after that Pennsic I wrote the following:

For this version I connected the pieces with a running stitch and then folded the seam allowances away from the first line of stitches and used a decorative running stitch to hold these down. I don’t love this. This method ends up taking 3 separate lines of running stitches along each seam line. Also, with only a single line of running holding the fabric pieces together it feels like the tunic will be very fragile. I plan to add another decorative stitch over the central running stitch.. but seriously.. at that point I will have put down four lines of stitches on every seam line.. that that seems needlessly complex. Now that I’m home I’ve decided to modify the sleeves to make them long sleeved instead of short sleeved. The linen is thin enough that I don’t think it -has- to be short sleeved and honestly I don’t think that sleeve length is accurate.

It’s now 3 years later. I never did replace the short sleeves with long sleeves and I never will. At this point the green has started fading (badly) so it’s moving from being a green tunic to being a yellow tunic. Regardless my love asked me to do the final seam treatment to strengthen the seam instead of making him a whole new tunic. So for the first time EVER I’m doing a decorative seam treatment.

vandyke-stitch1At the West Kingdom Town Fair I had the good fortune to have a class with Duchess Catherine Lorraine where she walked through several different seam treatments. One that she showed was a Vandyke stitch done with two different threads. That looked lovely to me and so it is now the stitch I’m using to reinforce the seam. Well.. sort of. I only mostly understood how the Vandyke stitch worked so I only of sort of did that on the tunic. I made the mistake of going straight across with the stitch where I should instead be going into the fabric at an angle. Now that I’ve figured out what I should be doing I’ll modify the stitch I’m using on the garment to be done the right way.

Previous entry:
Pennsic War XL post-mortem

Viking clothing musings

In-ter-esting. Brenda Gerritsma on the Viking Clothing group wrote: “Laxdæla saga, Ch 35: Gudrun asks Thord if it’s true his wife Aud always wears breeches with gores in the crotch like a man’s, and leg bindings almost down to her shoes. Later, he asks her what the penalty for doing so is, and she says it is the same as when a man wears a shirt with a neck opening so wide that his nipples are exposed, like a woman’s, ie. divorce.”

Interesting 1. no pants with gores (gusset? or more like thorsberg with a gusset that goes front to back?) for women. Does that mean crotchless pants are ok?
Interesting 2. no wide-neck shirts for boys. Does that mean it’s ok for boys to show collarbones or do the necks need to be fastened tighter?
Interesting 3. women’s nipples exposed. Does this mean that all my tunics/apron dresses have necks which are too high? Should I be flashing more often? Interesting implication for breastfeeding at least.

Wonder when this was written.. where it’s relevant (Norway?Sweden?Finland?) and I wonder why Gudrun had to ask Thord these questions.. why didn’t Gudrun already know this? Was she visiting from out-of-state? Dumb? A Goddess?

As I said.. In-Ter-Esting!

Påsbyxor aka “Viking Rus Pants”: simplified modern construction

fearghus_in_brownThis pattern is for a 3x-4x man. These require ~4-5 yards of modern width fabric (You can squeeze them out of 4 yards if it’s at least 52″ wide, otherwise, 5 yards). I’ve made them with medium to heavy weight linen. I think these would also work well made from light to medium weight wool.

rus_pantsWaist band: 70″x3″
Lower legs (make two): 20″x16″
Upper legs (make two): 70″ x 33″ (cut according to pattern)
Ties (optional)(attached at the back of the leg on the lower leg portion) are 3″x35″

These can easily be sized up or down. I’d leave the upper legs the same fullness. Change the waistband to be waist size +5 inches. Then simply re-draft the upper-leg crotch arc to match the rise of a pair of jeans that fit. Then shrink the width of the lower leg so that it’s just wide enough to go around the calf at it’s biggest measurement.

These can be made without a waist-band. In that case I’d add ~3″ to the top of the upper leg pattern and roll that over to hold the drawstring. In practice I’ve found that the pants are more comfortable (and easier to manage in the priv) if they include the waist band and pleat the pant legs into the waist band. The pleating also has the potential of hiding a pocket if you want to add one.

You could probably update the pattern to make the legs from a single piece of fabric by extending the leg down another 14″. That would actually eliminate some of the pleating and make these a bit easier to sew.. but as it is, the lower leg piece is precisely sized to exactly fit around My Lord’s calf. This means that even without wickerbander he can keep the pants at knee level. Regardless, please yourself.

In sewing this together I have used french seams (1/4″ SA and then 1/2″ SA) to limit the amount of surface stitching seen on the garments. You could do this with flat-felled seams.. or I suppose you could surge it and then sew it together that way. Please yourself.

Note that the front of the upper-leg piece is 2″ shorter than the back and is cut at an angle.

from_the_backHow I put these pieces together:
1. French seam each lower leg piece into a tube (10″ wide by 16″ tall).
2. French seam the upper legs together front and back(marked in RED on the pattern). This is the rounded “crotch” seam. Make sure you’re seaming the right front to the left front.. and the right back to the left back.
3. French seam the upper legs closed (marked in BLUE along the length of the leg, up one leg and down the other). Press the crotch seams in opposite directions.
4. Line up the lower leg with the upper leg so that the seam is on the back of the leg. Using “divide and conquer” starting at the back seam, knife pleat the upper leg to fit the lower leg. Push the knife pleats to one site (I like to go one way on one leg.. and the the opposite on the other leg). French seam the pleats in place. This also attaches the lower leg to the upper leg.
5. Hem the lower leg.
6. French seam the waist band ends to make a ring.
7. Add two button holes in the front inside of the waist band. I add these on either side of the seam. These holes will be used to pull the drawstring out of the waistband so you can tie the pants tightly on the inside of the pants. Alternatively you could add belt loops.
8. Line up the seam on the waist band with the center front of the pants. Divide & conquer knife pleats around the waist band. Press the pleats towards the center back of the pants (allows for hidden pockets if you want to add them). Enclose the waist band (Honestly I haven’t figure out a good efficient way to do this that doesn’t leave raw edges inside for the drawstring to tangle. I’m still experimenting.).
– Currently I:
Line up the waist band so that it is inside the pants offset from the top of the pants by your seam allowance
Sew the first half of a flat-felled seam to attach the waistband to the upper leg, fixing the pleats in place.
rolling the flat felled seam towards the outside of the pants.
Add the raw edge of the waist band into the second half of the flat-felled seam. Sew this down. Be sure to tack down fabric from both the rolled edge and the folded edge of the waist band.
9. Add the drawstring to the casing. (the drawstring is in black is SKU 070659556739 from Jo-Ann’s)
10. Wear pants.

See also:
Påsbyxor aka “Viking Rus Pants”: Background and Research

Påsbyxor aka “Viking Rus Pants”: Background and Research

Diary started June 4, 2010.
Copied a pattern from a friend’s pants (simplified modern construction). Made first and second pair of pant on July 1, 2012.

I’m making Påsbyxor for Fearghus. These are the oversized Viking pants. Pants that say “Look at my mobility WHEEE I ain’t never tearing out the crotch on these” and “I’m RICH RICH RICH!! You can obviously tell because of all the fabric in my PANTS!!! You know you want some.” I set aside a nice chunk of rusty-red linen. The linen was a guard gift to him from Eilis when she was Queen. Normally Fearghus won’t be caught dead in red.. but he’s agreed that it’s ok as a pair of pants. The red is so nice I just want to sit around and pet it.

Technically I believe the pants should more correctly be made of wool.. but I’m using what I have on hand.. and the red is just -so- pretty.

Up until now I’ve used my QnD Peri-oid Pant pattern for Fearghus.. but I wanted something different for these pants. Oonagh suggested this style of pants and I decided to try them out. She sent a link to the Historic Varlder site. Their pattern is nice but I was displeased about the lack of background information. How did they come up with this (rather complex and non-intuitive) pattern? What is it based on? How do I know they aren’t just making it up?

After hemming and hawing about this “perfectly period” pattern I finally gave up and copied a pattern for these from a friend. I’ll post it as soon as I remember to take pictures of it. The first pair of pants took two days to make (I had to remove/reattach a few pieces to get it right). The second pair took 2.5 hours.

Background and Research

This style of pants can be seen on the redrawings of the Oseberg Tapestries and on a few Runestones (Tängelgårda (sometimes called Lärbro) and Smiss are shown as examples) (see: Inspirational Pictures).

Arab ibn Rustah in c950 wrote: ‘They wear full trousers (about 100 ells of fabric a pair), and when they put them on, they roll them up to the knees and fasten them there.’ (Brøndsted 1980, 269)

From New Varangian Guard, Miklagard Garrison: Rus Trader Trousers:
“Fragments of a pair such trousers were recovered from the harbor of Haithabu, and are dated to the 10th century. The remains consist of a wedge-shaped front panel of woolen ‘rep’ fabric, and parts of the seat and legs, which were made of double layers of crepe-weight wool tabby. The fabric was probably treated by immersion in hot water, causing it to shrink and wrinkle.”

From An Archaeological Guide to Viking Men’s Clothing by Carolyn Priest-Dorman:

The tenth-century caulking rags excavated from Hedeby harbor yielded some garment fragments believed to be the remnants of the crotch of a pair of baggy men’s trousers, also known as “knickers,” “plus fours,” or Pumphose. (In the East Kingdom these are also widely known as “balloon” or “Viking funny” pants.) The fragments from Hedeby were of fine wool tabby in a crepe weave. They suggest that the pair of trousers were of two colors: some of the fragments are dyed yellowish, others red. The similarity between the Hedeby fragments and the crotch cut of the Thorsbjerg trousers is what allows for their identification as trousers (Hägg 1984, 31-2). Unfortunately, not much can be deduced about the overall shape of these pants from the fragments that remain.

The remains of one pair of trousers found at Birka were probably of the short and baggy variety. The trousers were of linen (or lined with linen) with little metal eyes set into their lower edges; the stockings were wool, with little hooks sewn onto them. The stockings were hooked to the lower edges of the trousers just below the knees. These little hooks used to connect the trousers and stockings, called “garter hooks” in most of the literature, show up all over Northern Europe in early period, from Birka to Winchester (Owen-Crocker 1986, 93) and even in Jorvík (Hall 1984, 121); they seem to have been most consistently used in Saxon areas. It is not always certain how they were used, however; often they were used not on trousers but on the garters that cinched them. This undisturbed and unusual example of their use is one of the things that makes the Birka find so valuable.

Inspirational Pictures

Redrawing of the Oseberg Tapestry

Runestone Tängelgårda, Lärbro parish, Gotland, Sweden, Statens Historiska Museum

Smiss Runestone, Statens Historiska Museum

Exhibit from Haithabu museum

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr.  Image taken Feb 2004.

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr. Image taken Feb 2004.

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr.  Image taken Feb 2004.

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr. Image taken Feb 2004.

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr.  Image taken Feb 2004.

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr. Image taken Feb 2004.

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr.  Image taken Feb 2004.

Closeups from Michelle Height Flickr. Image taken Feb 2004.

Other re-enactor recreations

From Historic Varldar LINK

Peter Beatson's reconstruction LINK

From the site Lore and Saga LINK


See: Påsbyxor aka “Viking Rus Pants”: simplified modern construction


Historic Varlder: Påsbyxor
An Archaeological Guide to Viking Men’s Clothing by Carolyn Priest-Dorman
New Varangian Guard, Miklagard Garrison: Rus Trader Trousers
Shelagh Lewins: Thorsbjerg Description and Thorsbjerg Construction
Viking Men: Trousers by Hilde Thunem

Brøndsted, Johannes and Skov Kalle. 1965. The Vikings. Penguin Books.
Hägg, Inga. 1984. Die Textilfunde aus dem Hafen von Haithabu. Berichte über die Ausgrabungen in Haithabu, Bericht 20. Neumünster: Karl Wachholz Verlag.
Hall, Richard A. 1984. The Viking Dig: The Excavations at York. London: The Bodley Head.
Owen-Crocker, Gale R. 1986. Dress in Anglo-Saxon England. Wolfeboro, NH: Manchester University Press.

The neckline

I’m making Fearghus a new fighting tunic and decided to give it the same sort of neckline as the Viborg shirt.

His neck is 18.5 inches. I mathified this (C=2pi*r) and figured out the radius of the circle that is his neck and then cut out a square that could bound the circle of his neck (each side of the square was 2r). Turns out this is TOTALLY the wrong thing to do. This was me, the modern day educated woman, applying math to a non-math problem. By doing it this way I ended up with a VERY loose neck in fact so loose he could pull the tunic on over his head without any slit opening (a medieval Norse woman would be -scandalized-). I ended up sealing the slit on the neck of the fighting tunic and he just has a nice faced square neck opening on it.

BUT this did allow me to realize the error of my ways BEFORE I tried to make the Viborg shirt for him. Instead of making the opening a square that could contain the circle of his neck I need to remember that the square on the shirt is made of fabric.. so it will deform to fit his neck. So really I need to figure out a square that has the same total exterior measurements as the circle of his neck. In this case it means that each side of the square needs to be 4.625″ long (18.5/4). I will probably fudge that to 4.75 inches just to give him a smidge of breathing room.

Pics or it never happened

Click to embiggen.

Front of the shirt

Back of the shirt

Closer view of front

Neck opening detail

Closeup of Sleeve seam

The Gusset

Closeup of the skirt overlap

Closeup of the front fixative stitch

Viborg Shirt Finished

I just finished the last last stitch on my initial copy of the Viborg shirt. Really I took 3-4 days off on sewing it. The thread I was using was a very chunky linen thread that shreded and broke a lot. I found this very frustrating and had to take a bit of time off from the shirt.

I ordered some 60/2 linen thread from Wooded Hamlet Designs. Oh.. my.. it’s lovely.

Of all the stitches I found finishing the neckline to be the most difficult.

Skinny Little No Veggie Eating Hick!

So.. so I get some of the seams now.. but I’m still perplexed by others.

Viborg Sleeve Seam

Take the sleeve seam. Part A is “getting rid of the raw edges”. I get that.. but I don’t get why we used a running stitch through the two folds instead of a simple overcast stitch or even a running stitch to just hold the edge down. If I’d used a running stitch it’d lie flat… as it is, when you do sleeve stitch part B you end up with this odd little.. band around the outside of the sleeve.

I mean I get that the shirt (and therefore teh Danes by extension) seems to favor Overcast stitches and funny little half overcast, half running stitches.. But honestly.. they used a running stitch while they were doing the flatfelled seam on the left sleeve.. why couldn’t they just use it to hold down the doublefold on the sleeve? Hell, even a simple overcast seam like they did on the hems would have made the sleeve lie flatter. /sigh I’m just perplexed by it.

Anyway.. finished the fixation stitches(front and back), finished the sleeves, finished the waist seams (front and back), attached the sleeves to the garment.. and finished the side seams.

Yeah, the shirt is small.. we’re talking like skinny twelve-year-old boy who doesn’t eat his veggies small. I honestly don’t think I know anyone that small.

So.. I’ve started planning for the -next- shirt.. the one I’ll be sizing up to fit Fearghus. More to follow.

OH… Also I think I’ll teach a class about the Viborg shirt in June at the Kingdom A&S. I should have good notes.. and a fantastic “look-I-made-this” example shirt. 😛 I think just reviewing the pattern and going over the different seams would fill up a class period. Hmm I guess that means I’ll need to makeup a handout.

Viborg Progress

Monday: Finished up the right sleeve overcast seam on the commute home.

Completed the shoulder seam. (which I then ripped out on Wednesday. Doh)

The shoulder seam

Sewn from the “inside” of the garment. The shoulder seam attaches the front and back linings to the “poncho” outer fabric all in on step. This is going together very quickly.


Flatfelled seam

Flatfelled the two pieces of the left sleeve. Also flat-felled the gusset onto the back of the left sleeve. I had planned to do the fixation stitch on the front/back of the garment.. but when I laid out the half finished garment I found out that the front lining piece was the wrong size (somewhere I just messed it up) so I had to re-do it. I ironed the linen, cut new lining pieces, overcast the two pieces of the front lining together and then re-did the shoulder seams. Still, it didn’t take terribly long.

Flat felled the second seam on the gusset/left arm. The gusset was already attached to the back of the sleeve with a flatfell (since I did that on Wednesday). This seam attached the other side of the gusset to the sleeve and then continued down the length of the sleeve to the wrist to completely close it off.

Before bed Thursday night I laid out and sewed the fixation seams on the front. I only got done with marking the fixation seams on the back. I’ll try and finish that on Friday night.

At this point I’m not certain I’ll have it done by this weekend. It may be the middle of next week before it’s done. That said, it’s going together very quickly. I think at this point I’m 1/2 done and have ~3 hours in on it.