I made an open front apron dress a while ago (in 2015), and discussed some of my skepticism with the whole open-front apron dress + apron panel combination that I see a LOT of with SCA Viking-Age reenactors online and elsewhere.
Still, despite my skepticism on the ‘evidence’ for this style so far, I can’t deny the pretty… I got some grey and black wool-blend fabric from my former teacher, and wanted to make something Viking-inspired from it. It also just happens to work perfectly into my Viking Capsule Collection plans.
It would have made a wonderful coat, but I just finished making a new wool-blend coat and didn’t really need another (my black and red one is now one of three wool Viking coats in my Norse Reenactment wardrobe…) With a coat off the table, I thought an apron dress would work, and specifically an open-front apron dress ( hangerock). I feel a lot more comfortable using wool blends for these speculative garments; saving my 100% wool fabrics for more documentable designs.
If you have evidence for these open-front apron dresses… please share it with me! I’ve heard that someone in my SCA kingdom has evidence… but have never heard WHO that is or where they found it! LOL
I looked a little at Pinterest, and figured changes I wanted to make from my first open front apron dress, and made an adjustment to my regular apron dress pattern.
My serger was acting up, so I ended up not finishing the seam allowance by machine for a change – instead I decided I’d use hand stitches to finish the seams with a contrast thread. I cut the centre front panels in black linen as well as a facing/lining, and used the method of stitching over a wool yarn to finish this edge. I needed many more pins than I usually sew with to do this method… mostly because the edges were shifting a fair amount and there’s a subtle curve over the bust and waist on this panel.
I started with just a whip stitch over the wool yarn to finish the raw edge of the linen as well as the interior seam allowances of the front panel, to hold it in place more than anything else. I knew I’d go back over this with embroidery stitches – which would be time-consuming… but I could do here-and-there… on long bus rides, while watching tv, etc…
Little by little I did those stitches, in red pearl cotton thread, using a herringbone stitch (period appropriate).
I trimmed the top edge with the same heavy black linen (the same fabric I made my black linen hangerock out of) and made the straps from the same fabric. My initial concept sketch included a blue fabric trim, but I didn’t like the idea of using linen… and didn’t have any wool in the right colour. When I tried on the apron dress before finishing, I liked the long line the untrimmed dress had… so I opted to skip the trim included in my sketch.
With no serged seams, I was stuck doing ALL of my seam allowance finishing by hand. Once again I picked a (documentable) herringbone stitch in a (not period-appropriate) pearl cotton. If I’d been smarter I would have folded the seam allowance to one side, rather than pressing the seam open… that would have cut my hand-work in half. BUT… I wasn’t… and so instead each seam has TWO lines of hand-stitching to finish the raw edge.
Actually… because I was feeling nervous about transporting this around with me and having it fray in between… I ran the seam allowance edges through a zig-zag stitch… the pearl cotton covers up the machine stitching.
For the hem of the apron dress I opted to use a different kind of embroidery-type stitch. I saw a post by UpsalaViking on Instagram where she did a series of X shaped stitches (I did mine with one line of diagonals, catching the hem allowance, followed by another series of overlapping diagonals which did the same.) followed by a running stitch over the X stitches.
I did the X stitches in the same red thread I’d used on my seam allowances, and the running stitch in white – the effect is really lovely, almost like a thin line of trim at the hem.
Thanks to Mysticus Photography for the studio portraits of me in my new wool blend apron dress!
I actually did these photos when the seam allowances were only half-done, and the hem wasn’t done at all. Luckily, I finished the apron dress off entirely in time for the February 2018 Historical Sew Monthly challenge!
Historical Sew Monthly
The Challenge: February: Under: Make something that goes under the other layers.
For this challenge, this apron dress is worn under the embroidered apron panel that I blogged about a few days ago. (It’s also worn over another dress… but still… it’s UNDER the panel!)
Material: Wool blend grey and black fabric, 100% black linen
Year: Viking Age Norse – later Viking Age, around 10th century
Notions: wool yarn, embroidery pearl cotton
How historically accurate is it? Speculative – there aren’t many depictions of Viking Age Norse dresses, and most are quite basic. There also haven’t been many extant pieces of fabric found, and no full garments to the best of my knowledge thus far. The apron dress plus apron panel is speculative based on the number of loops found in brooches. The linen is period -accurate, while the wool blend and cotton are not.
Hours to complete: No idea. Not much for the initial construction, but a fair amount for the drafting, and a LOT for the embroidery and finishing.
First worn: Just for photos
Total cost: Nothing was purchased for this project – all materials were leftover or in my stash. If I bought the materials, I estimate it at $140.
Wool blend – free to me, retail approx $35/m, used 3 meters
Linen – leftover from my apron dress. Approx 1 meter at $15/m
Wool yarn – free to me, fraction of a skein, but a skein would be about $8
Pearl cotton – in stash, approx $9
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