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.