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20 December 2008 @ 03:31 am
Sometimes the OCD is helpful... sometimes not so much...  
So, I had a lovely, beautiful red Viking apron dress that I made a few years ago, primarily as a component of a Hel costume for Halloween, and I wanted to make a nice warm coat to go over it, much like the one goldfrog  wears. I even made a cute little "bumper" hat on Wednesday to complete the look. Hurray! Wooly and furry Viking warmth, right? Right!?!?!

...except that I made the dress a few years ago... as in before my costuming standards significantly improved. *sigh* The fabric is wrong, the color is wrong, the cut is wrong... it's awful. *pout*

On the other hand, that means I got motivated enough to cut some of my lovely Harris Tweed and I now have a mostly-finished apron dress in an iron-mordanted madder color cut according to better pattern. (Although this Tweed is a tabby, not a twill - horrors!) Tomorrow will be some minor fitting/seam completion, hemming, and hopefully seam decoration. THEN I can start thinking about that coat...  

(General note: Yes, I'm a freak about my clothing. I know. I don't care if you're not... unless, of course, you're interested in seeing some research I have over here... ;P)

Current Mood: crazycrazy
Rampant Horsemasexualkrkhst on December 20th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
Your crazy, but it is highly entertaining! ;)
akitromakitrom on December 20th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
How is the color wrong? What do know about Norse costuming colors?

(I'd be interested in fabric and cut, too, but I figured I'd start with a simple question.)
eithni: sofonisbaeithni on December 21st, 2008 04:07 am (UTC)
The color on the old one was candy apple red - a color that is achievable with madder, but only with an aluminum mordant and special procedures. Madder is one of the most common Viking textile colorants - woad (blue) and weld (yellow) being the other two most common and lichen (purple) being also possible, in addition to the naturally occurring wool and flax colors. Madder usually produces a red color - anywhere from orangey-red to red-red to brown-red, depending on the pH of the water, the strength of the madder, and the mordant, if any, used.

Mordants make a color more colorfast and can also influence the color. Mordants there are many mordants including aluminum or alum - obtained from clubmoss in the Viking period and producing a bright red - and iron - obtained from many sources, including hard water, iron pots, etc and produces a "saddened" or browner red, but one that is very, very colorfast.
akitromakitrom on December 21st, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

How common were mordants throughout the Norse culture? Would a garment's color / technique suggest anything about its maker or oner in terms of location, skill, specific decade or status?
Eyja: norseeyja on December 21st, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Þóra Sharptooth actually talks about 'regional heraldry' via clothing in her article on 'Personal Display for SCA Vikings.'

There is some archaeological evidence for cloth remains in various parts of the Viking world that hint at regional color "preferences," if you will, for various colors. Viking Age dig locations yield different ratios of archaeological remnants of particular colored garments. For instance, in Viking Age Dublin, judging from the remains, the color purple was fairly commonly worn. In Jorvík (and perhaps, by extension, the Danelaw) the predominant color seems to have been red. In Scandinavia proper (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), they seem to have worn more greens and blues (Walton, p. 18). If your persona is from a specific place, it is possible to customize your garments and the colors you wear to be very true to the archaeological remains from that part of the world.

Conclusions about the cultural significance of color choice can sometimes be drawn from literature. For example, from context it seems that red was for fancy wear, blue for death (Radford, p. 6). Many of the burial finds from Birka were dressed in extremely dark blue wool, which may support the conclusion of a relationship between the color blue and death. This area of inquiry is ripe for further exploration, beyond the obvious economic and regional issues involved.

(From reading the sagas, I can certainly say that Icelanders loved the color red -- they would always be wearing it when abroad in Norway to show off, and when they wore the color at home it was always noted, as if it was something special. There is some thought that Icelanders, because everything had to be imported, often didn't have a whole lot of dyes available to them -- so any color, especially red, was something to be awe-struck. But almost nothing survives in Iceland garment-wise, so it's mostly conjecture.)

Also, certain colors were harder to create than others. As I understand it (never working with dyes myself), the purple from lichen is a redish hue. If you wanted a blue hue you would have to over-dye the wool -- thus being a more expensive color. Green was also often created via over-dying, and thus was also expensive though I believe a green can be created without over-dying by using nettles.

Þóra also has an article about mordants, 'Colors, Dyestuffs, and Mordants of the Viking Age: An Introduction', if you're interested in learning more. Also, if you want more detailed explanation of the colors, I posted a Viking Age color discussion that began on the Norsefolk mailing list.

Other defining characteristics of the clothing is how coarse/fine the wool is. In the Viking Age, the wool was actually quite fine, being woven on a vertical loom. However, with the conversion to Christianity, the horizontal loom was introduce and superseded the vertical, and actually produced a coarser and fuzzier wool. Also, embroidery as we think of it was not found in Scandinavia until the late 10th century (Mammen finds), which might also give you a clue about what time period a piece comes from.
eithni: Pictisheithni on December 22nd, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)
Nice summary, but some comments:

Regional variations may have been based on regional availability of colors rather than regional preferences. Also, some colors do not preserve well in archaeological settings, so while red, blue, and purple are most recently reported, yellow would also have been common and is just obscured.

Embroidery was likely to be present earlier than the Mammen finds - they are simply one of the earliest extant examples. The skill of that example,t at least, implies an earlier tradition of embroidery.
Eyja: norseeyja on December 21st, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
And even longer ago, I posted this entry on Viking Age dyestuffs.
Eyja: norseeyja on December 20th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Oooo! Pictures!

You're using a gore-apron construction, ne? What style straps are you opting for? Are you going to do seam decoration? Tablet weave?

And please tell more details on your hat! :-D

What color will your coat be? I haven't had the pleasure to see goldfrog's coat as of yet. What color is her's? One of the Swedish Viking Age Re-enactors I talked with when I was in Iceland used a pattern that used several strips to create the coat. Here are two pics I have of her coat: 1, 2. I regret I don't have a pic of her coat from the back. :-( Here are two more interpretations of coats: 1, 2.
eithni: Pictisheithni on December 21st, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
Yes, the gore-apron design, not the ugly tube thing. :)

I'll post more details, hopefully once the whole outfit is done, or at least once the dress is completed. :P However, I spent most of the evening on illumination, not sewing, so progress was lower than hoped.

The hat is a complete rip-off of the one that goldfrog wears (it's in one of her profile pics) and I think it's cure without having a lick of independent research on it. P

The coat will be similar to the one in your pictures - goldfrog's is red, navy, and yellow. Mine... well, I was pulling out the dress to see what in my stash would "go" when I realized how awful it was and started the new one. Considering I have a yellow underdress and the apron dress will be red and blue, maybe green?
Eyja: norseeyja on December 21st, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
>Yes, the gore-apron design, not the ugly tube thing. :)

Oh good! :-D

>The hat is a complete rip-off of the one that goldfrog wears (it's in one of her profile pics) and I think it's cure without having a lick of independent research on it.

*nods* I do like that pattern of hat a lot. I've heard, though, that there's no evidence that the Norse wore ones quite like that. (There's evidence that men wore conical hats and helmets: helmet, Odin hat, Freyr hat (Sweden), Thor hat side (Iceland), Thor hat front (Iceland). (pics from Viking Answer Lady) I should really research it on my own at some point.)

There is at least one pictorial Norse reference that might suggest a hat that a woman would wear: Viking Age Pendant, Sweden. Also, this pic is either her hair tied back or a knitted hat: 6th Century Amulet, Sweden.

>Considering I have a yellow underdress and the apron dress will be red and blue, maybe green?

*nods* Cool.

Edited at 2008-12-21 07:06 pm (UTC)
eithni: Pictisheithni on December 22nd, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
I also suspect the at should be pointier, but the Viking age pendant also seems to to show a rounder cap...

There's no evidence at all for Picts wearing hats, other than helmets or hoods, so I am "stealing" a Viking example, but I really should do some research on that too...
Denisilaifire on December 21st, 2008 01:41 am (UTC)
So I never post pictures of finished projects because I'll be wearing it within a week so people will see in person, but since you don't do that will you please post pictures?
eithni: Pictisheithni on December 21st, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
I usually do. I'll prolly post when the outfit is finished.