After making the blue linen apron dress, I wanted to adjust the pattern and make it up in red as well. This also happened to coordinate perfectly with the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge #16! (Read more about that at the end.)
I used the Fabrics-store.com 100% linen IL019 – multi-purpose linen in a 5.3 oz/yd weight, in colour Biking Red – its a bit less cranberry than the photo online (at least on my monitor) and pretty much exactly the colour I had in mind. (Shown with the black linen underdress from a previous post.)
Since I had to add in a bit extra material for the blue linen apron dress to fit the way I wanted, I re-made my pattern with this adjustment built in, and then also drafted a reverse-facing for the dress. On the blue dress I did just a strip of red silk, but this time I wanted to do something that reflected the slight curve of the top of the apron-dress so I drafted a separate pattern piece for it.
After I had sewn up the apron dress – all that additional fabric I had added in – was unnecessary – now the garment was too big! I had to take it in at the bust and waist – though I left the additional room at the hips and hem… why not have a little extra flare!
Reverse facing & straps
I added in a short loop for the front ‘strap’, and a long loop for the back strap on either side. The straps are loops because the brooch will connect them. I fussed around with the length for a bit – having an extra set of hands around was really helpful – I wish I always had the extra help! From there I sewed on the reverse facing – remembering that the facing was going to come around to the front, instead of to the back….
I had stay-stitched the neckline of the dress, and then sewed on the facing – then by hand did tiny little (barely visible on the front) stitches to fold the facing to the right side. On regular clothing I’d do this by machine.. but since this is the “visible” side of the garment, I did it by hand instead. (All of the visible stitches for this garment are done by hand, though the stitches that go unseen are almost all by machine….)
There’s the front – see how you can barely see the tiny stitches at the top – in this bigger-than-life photo.
I sewed down the facing in place with a large zig-zag stitch… I chose this because a) it’s easy to see to remove and b) the zigs and zags could act as spacing guides for my hand-stitch.
Using Pearl Cotton I did a running stitch to hold down the facing. I’ll probably elaborate this a bit more in future – but I want to get some hand-made tablet weaving for the dress first… sew it on.. and then add the hand-stitching to match it.
Close up of the hand-stitching along the (temporary) zig-zag.
Once I had finished all the hand stitching with the Pearl Cotton, I also went in and did a very tiny running stitch with regular thread at the bottom of the facing, to hold it down even more securely. From there of course I removed the machine zig-zag.
I also added some four-strand braid to the very top of the apron dress, as I’ve seen mentioned in examples from finds – this was hand-stitched on at an A&S get-together as part of the SCA. (I had to make the braid the night before in order to have it for the get-together though!)
For the hem, I pressed the hem in place, and then used a wide zig-zag on my machine to sew the hem down – but well below the line where the fabric ended. Right over the fabric edge (which was serged to avoid raveling) I did a herringbone stitch with the same red Pearl Cotton.
Shot from above of the herringbone stitch. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good I think!
In terms of authenticity… this is more a guess than something I can “back up”. No trimmed hems have been found (to the best of my knowledge/research) so not only I don’t know how long Apron Dresses were in the Viking Age, but there’s no artifacts to illustrate how they may have been trimmed. I figure that braids, trims, possaments, etc survived at the top of apron dresses, but since they weren’t found at the bottom, that perhaps just stitching might be ok… and with the Viking love of embellishments, a fancy stitch for a hem of an over-garment would probably be relatively authentic.
I highlighted the “cross” in the herringbone stitch (also called a ‘long-arm cross stitch’) with a little black line. Again, a note on authenticity – black would have been very hard to dye, but I LIKE it. Likewise, I’m using cotton thread instead of linen or wool, out of convenience, colourfast-ness and affordability. (And accessibility, as I’ve never seen linen thread around here… and super-fine wool thread is really hard to find locally too…)
Another view of that hem.
Finished apron dress
Historical Sew Fortnightly #16
Although I already planned to make this dress, it fits in perfectly with the Historical Sew Fortnightly #16 – Terminology – due Mon 1 September. Explore the etymology of fashion by make something defined in the Historical Fashion & Textile Encyclopedia (new terminology posts and items will be added throughout the year).
The Challenge: Historical Sew Fortnightly #16 – Terminology
“Apron dress – the name usually applied to a simple rectangular over-dress, the most common known garment worn by women in Northern Europe during the Migration period and Early Middle Ages. Also called “hängerock”or “pinafore.” Some scholars believe the name used by the wearers was “smokkr”. 600-1,200 CE”
Pattern: drafted based off 10th Century Norse extant example speculation
Year: 10th Century
Notions: hand-made 4-strand braid, embroidery Pearl Cotton, thread, safety pins (for the moment, until I get those brooches!), interfacing.
How historically accurate is it?: The pattern is entirely speculative, based off the shape of a piece of fabric.. LOL (But it’s duplicated over and over, so here’s hoping.) My research suggests the apron dresses were more commonly wool, but linen was available. (Maybe my next one will be wool..?) and I did all of the interior sewing by machine, all exterior (visible) sewing by hand.
Hours to complete: Umm? no idea. I made it over the period of about 2 weeks, including some some of the hand-work at an SCA A&S get together.
First worn: To an SCA tavern night in the last week of August.
Total cost: I bought 4 yards of linen at $36.40/US specifically for this project. There’s still a fair amount of fabric leftover though. The black band of linen was leftover from another project (so let’s call it a trade-off) and the Pearl Cotton was $0.99/Canadian per skein – I didn’t quite use a full skein though.