Vigdis' Viking Apron Dress:
please note that this is not a documentably period pattern, but is is SCA-compatible

How I became a "Viking Chick"...

One cool Cynagua/Mists War, I was at an event in my usual (back then) layered tunic look (kinda Norman-ish). I had been hanging out with the fighters I had driven to the event, when my Princess spots me from across the field.
She motioned me over to attend her...
Ah, yes. Your first "Court" experience is always memorable. Personally, I remember chasing my Princess all over the site (she was quick!) while we carried water to the fighters defending our fair land, and sitting in the back of the Royal Pavilion braiding ribbon for the torses Her Highness gifted her army with.
Sometime during that day, she tells me "You need Viking clothes for Coronet! Vikings are better!"
Umm... okay.
Thus began my saga.

Vigdis in the hotel room at 12th Night

While doing research on what exactly an apron dress is, and how it should go together, I found several good websites.
Let me tell you, if it weren't for the information that Mistresses þora Sharptooth, Gunnora Hallakarva, and Ellisif Flakkari have made available on the web, I don't know what I would have done! Thank you Ladies, all. Your work is inspiring, and your willingness to share it is kindness in the extreme!

Here are their respective pages, for your perusal and edification:
þora Sharptooth-  http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/vikresource.html
Gunnora Hallakarva-   http://www.vikinganswerlady.org/
Ellisif Flakkari-  http://sca.uwaterloo.ca/mjc/sca/aprond.html

Now, you think, that with such fabulous information out there already, why in the world is Vigdis putting up a page, too...

Well, after reading everything those wonderful ladies had to offer, I got down to the nitty-gritty of digging out my pattern fabric (trust me, no matter what else you do, if you've never made a particular style before, do it on cheap fabric first!). Using Ellisif's design, because it seemed to be the best use of fabric, I first saved the picture and increased the size of it to see what measurements to take (wow, that font is tiny). Then, I measured, measured again, then measured one more time to be sure. After laying my fabric out on my living room floor, I chalked in the design. Okay. Looking again at her diagram and comparing to my chalk lines... Cool, it matches. So, out come the scissors; I cut on all of the lines, and ended up with a pile of pieces. Looking at her "figure 1", I layed out the pieces on the floor again, in order.

--- Uh-oh! ---

I had a major problem.

While Ellisif's design is easy to follow, saves cloth, and is conjecturally period... What happens if your fabric isn't the same on both sides? My pattern fabric is a .25/yard paisley block-print; and the fabric I had decided to use for my final piece was smooth on one side, nubby on the other... Looking at my trapezoids and triangles, two of the pieces would have to be flipped to get the layout to work. Hmm. That would make two pieces on my final apron dress be nubby while the rest of the pieces were smooth. That definitly wouldn't work. Thank goodness I use pattern fabric first!

Now, what shall I do about this? I've only got a week before Coronet...

I dug out a pad of paper, a pen, and my paper scissors. Drawing Ellisif's diagram again, I looked carefully at it. Sure enough, layed out that way, two of the "half panels" would have to be flipped over to continue the layout. I cut out the paper diagram, and started playing with it. I know I can get this to all fit onto the rectangle without any waste. But how? Finally, I figured it out! If I just bump the diagram over by 1/6th of the pattern, I end up with this:

Layout

That's all well and good, you say, but how the heck do I turn that into a dress that fits me?

Measure:

(1) Bust  + seam allowance
(around the biggest part
of you between your
waist and underarms)
(2) Chest to Waist + 1in
(from where you
want the top of the
apron to where you
want the flare to start)
(3) Waist to Hem
(from where your
flare starts to however
long you want)

measurements

Someone had mentioned to me that a measurement I had was a bit confusing...
I, personally, take very tiny seams... But some of you out there actually use 1/2 inch. So, measurement (1) is now
bust + seam allowance. If you take 1/4" seams, like me, 1 inch or so of allowance is all you need. But, if you take
1/2" seams, add in 3 inches to your bust measurement.

Okay, now, you'll need a piece of fabric that is as wide around as measurement (1).
The length will be measurements (2)+(3)+(3). This is the bodice plus twice the skirt.

For example:
my bust measurement is 50 inches.
my bodice is 8 inches.
my skirt is 35 inches.
Therefore, I will need a piece of fabric 51 inches wide by 79 inches long.
This is a great design because I can get a whole calf-length apron dress out of 2 1/4 yards of 55" or 60" wide fabric!

You will notice that if I use those widths, I'll end up cutting a strip off the side. Well, that's used for the straps.
If you are exactly the same measurement as the fabric you are using, you will need about 4 inches more fabric length
for the straps (or you can use some card or inkle weaving).

Here's where it gets a little more complex:
Since I first put up the page, I've discovered a new way to do the cutting. I think it's easier, but if you want
to see the old way, it's down at the bottom of this page.
Take your big rectangle of fabric, fold it in half long-ways and spread it out flat on the floor.
You will need a yard stick/measuring tape/piece of string for this as well as a piece of chalk that contrasts with your fabric.

Now, mark everything out like this:

New Cutting Layout

Then, cut on the chalk lines.

If you lay them all out, you'll then have pieces like this:

Sewing Layout

Sew them together in the above order.

You should be able to pull the dress on over your head.
It should fit around your bust and flare right over your hips.
You may need to take in the waist part a bit, if you have more of an hourglass shape.

Trim the hem a little, so you don't have all of the jaggy edges, then hem it.

Fold the top edge over, and sew down.
I usually end up with this hem about 1 inch wide.

To make straps, take 2 strips of fabric about 18 inches long by 4 inches wide.
Fold them into tubes right-side in, stitch, turn right-side out and press.
Turn in the ends and stitch down so the tubes are closed.

To place the straps, pin them in place 1-2 inches on either side of the center back seam and sew them down
strap placement
They should go inside the dress, not outside.

At first, I sewed down the front part of the straps, too.
But, I've found that I like being able to adjust my fit, so I don't anymore.
The front end of the straps are left loose until I fasten them with my brooches.

You can decorate the straps and the top part of the apron with embroidery or trim if you'd like.

Well, hopefully this makes sense. If not, feel free to email me at vigdis1066@hotmail.com, and I'll try to help.

In Service,
meistara Vigdis vestfirzka

Click here for the Underdress information!!

The old cutting diagram:
Now that you have a big rectangle of fabric, spread it out flat on the floor.
You will need a yard stick/measuring tape/piece of string for this as well as a piece of chalk that contrasts with your fabric.

Now, mark everything out like this:

Cutting Layout

Then, cut on the chalk lines.

[Viking Apron Dress]. [Norse Underdress]. [Pants!]