Neckline Variations from Period Sources

The holidays always seem to find me ill. This year wasn’t so bad, but I was down with a cold for over a week. I always think I’ll get some online stuff done with I’m convalescing, but I never do. Mostly, I just sleep.

There are only two, maybe three, more installments of the Viking women’s garb, but I’ll get to that another day. This week will mostly be filled with prep for Winter Wonders, possibly one of our only definitely cold events. The boys have outgrown all of their old garb, and so sew, sew and sew some more I must do.

To hold you until I continue on Viking garb, I’ve been working on this little reference sheet for neckline varieties from period sources. I’m sticking to sources before the early 1200’s so that they are suitable for early period garb.

Spread it, pin it, posts on facebook, but above all enjoy it! Belated Happy Holidays!

Women’s Viking-Age Garb Part 4: Step 3 What to Wear over the Gown

I took a break for a couple of days for the holidays.  We had a beautiful Winter/Solar-Festival/Christmas/Yule/Hogswatch holiday.  Whatever you want to call it, the midwinter celebration is one of my favorites.

Continuing on in my Women’s Viking Garb series, today I’ll talk about what does a Viking woman wear over her gown.  Remember this is a mash-up series.  I’m not looking at any specific point in time and place, but this series mashes together all of the Viking-age and all of the places considered “Viking.” I’m trying to paint a general picture for the re-enactor who wants a Viking-age persona, but doesn’t quite know a specific time or place that her persona would be from.  The outfits described here give you an “authentic” Viking look without limiting you to one specific region and time period.

Step 3: What to Wear over the Gown


  1. Large Over-gown
  2. Peplos
  3. Hangerok (Apron dress)

Choice 1: Large Over-Gown

  • Length: Calf length or higher
  • Sleeves: Wrist or Forearm length, looser sleeves
  • Wool or Linen

Style can be based on any gown from step 2, but it is generally a size or two larger in order to accommodate the clothing you would be wearing under it.  The sleeves and hemline are often a bit shorter.

The gown can also be split up the front, like a jacket.

Coat birka

Or it can be closed in the front like a coat.  These will be discussed further when I discuss what to wear when you are cold.

coat 2.jpg

Choice 2: Peplos

A peplos is a simple tube that is as wide as you with your hands on your hips and as tall as you. It was worn more in the Finland region.

  • Length: Possibly from right below the knee to the ankle
  • Front and back held together on shoulders with clasps

When worn, it is generally folded down on top to about armpit level. It is then held up in many, many ways, each one giving a different look. As you can see, a long sleeved tunic gown is worn under the peplos.

Peplos 1

Peplos 2Peplos 3.jpg

Choice 3: Hangerok / Apron-Dress

At its very basic, it’s a simple tube held on by straps that go over the shoulders.  Not much different in essence with the Peplos, with the main difference of the addition of the straps.

  • Fabric: wool or linen
  • Straps: sewn on to back
    • held on to front by brooches, usually with loops

The different styles are based not only on geographical diversity, but also on the differing opinions of the various archeologists.  As of yet (and of my current research) there is no complete extant apron-dress. We have many, many pieces of the tops, especially the loops, but not enough to make a definite guess as to what the finished product looked like.

Apron-Dress Style 1

The first style is essentially a large rectangle that is wrapped around the body and held closed with loops that are connected to brooches (not shown in illustration).

Hangerok 1

Apron-Dress Style 2

The second apron-dress is based on the finds found in Hedeby and Inga Hägg’s writing on the apron-dress.  This dress has a panel in the front and back, and has one to two panels on each side.  The front and back panel is more rectangular, while the side panels have a more trapezoidal shape, giving the dress more flare at the bottom.

Hangerock 2.jpg

Apron-Dress Style 3

This style is based on Flemming Bau’s ideas behind the apron-dress.  His idea is that the apron-dress was not closed in the front.  Again, it’s essentially a rectangle, but instead of being closed in the front, it was open and usually had a simple apron completing the “circuit.” (apron not shown in illustration)  The apron would hang into the brooches with separate loops.

Hangerok 3

Apron Dress Style 4

The final dress is based on the Kostrup pleated apron-dress. In this style, there is a series of pleats that run across the top of the front panel.  The pleated fabric gives the width to the bottom of the dress.

Hangerok 4


Pattern for the Hedeby Apron-Dress

pattern 6

Women’s Viking-Age Garb Part 3: Step 2 The Gown

Step 2 : Gown

Not optional – must wear

Did you choose a chemise?

  • Yes
    • Then this gown could come down to mid to lower calf level
    • Linen or Wool
  • No
    • The gown should come down to ankle level
    • Linen or wool (wool is itchy next to skin)

Decorative Elements:

  • Tablet-woven bands
  • Silk strips
  • Embroidery

Different Styles

Style 1: Hedeby Harbor Gown

Long sleeved gown with underarm gusset and one high gore in the center front.

Gown Hedeby 1


Style 2: Hedeby Gown

Gown with several trapezoidal pieces that make up an attached skirt.  The bodice section has several, sections and the sleeve is in 2 parts and has a modern-like curved top.

Gown Hedeby 2


Style 3: Moseland Gown

This gown is your classic Viking-age tunic/gown with underarm gussets, front and back center gores and high side gores.

gown moselund


Style 4: Finnish Style

An interesting style where the bodice and sleeves are not separate pieces.

gown finnish


Pattern measurements are based on my original croquis:

Pattern 1: Hedeby  Harbor Gown

pattern 3 wm

Pattern 2: Moselund Gown

pattern 4 wm

Pattern 3: Finnish Style Gown

pattern 7 wm


Women’s Viking-Age Garb Part 2: Step 1 The Chemise

Step 1: Chemise

Definition: the thinner “gown” you wear closest to your skin and made of light to heavy fabric. It’s ankle length, but the arms can go from nearly sleeveless to wrist length

Optional: yes.
Do you want one?

  • Yes
    • Ankle length
    • Arm length:
      • wrist
      • shoulder
    • Linen or maybe hemp
    • 2 styles
      • Style 1: Plain
      • Style 2: Pleated
  • No
    • Move on to Step 2: Gown

Style 1: Plain

Based on many pieces from Birka and Hedeby. This style is a plain gown, almost what we think of as a t-tunic. It should include gussets (under-arm wedges) and gores (side triangles)

chemise 1

Style 2: Pleated

Pleated chemise. Needle and thread used to make pleats 2 to 3 mm deep. The fabric is then moistened, dried and the threads pulled out.

chemise 2


Patterns for Chemises

Pattern for Plain Chemise

pattern 1.jpg


Pattern for Pleated Chemise

pattern 2


The letters on the patterns refer to my old croquis:

Croquis Ultimate 2.jpg

Women’s Viking-Age Garb Part 1

This series is based off of a class I taught earlier this year.

Introduction and Disclaimers

This class has some over-generalizing of information from cramming together years of clothing from different Scandinavian/Nordic cultures into one hand-out. But my purpose is not to document specific items as much as it is to increase the types and combinations of garb worn by Viking Age SCA’dian women.

I based as much as I could I based my ideas off of extant clothing and artwork. Don’t get fixated on terms. For example, an apron dress is not called that in other languages (even translated) or back in period. Although terms give us a common language to know what talk about, any term is not THE term for the item. For more elaboration on this idea, check out my blog entry: “A Cotehardie by Any Other Name Would Look Just as Lovely – Some Thoughts on Research” [

Basic Information

In the Viking Age, clothing was worn in layers. Which layers were worn depended on a few things, from the climate to the person’s social status. Although the styles were different in different regions, there are many consistencies from finds from modern day Finland to Germany.

Inga Hägg, one of the leading archeologists for Viking age clothing, identified certain components of the Viking woman’s costume.

Hägg ‘s terms / Terms we’ll use

  • särk / chemise
  • tunika/ gown
  • kolt / large over-gown
  • hängselkjol / hangerok
  • tröja / jacket (open in front)
  • kaftan / coat (closed in front)
  • mantel / mantel (sometimes, you can’t improve on a word)

Step 1: Do you want to wear a chemise?

Step 2: Gown.

  • If you have an undertunic, gown should be
    • Calf length
    • Linen or wool
  • If you have no undertunic, gown should be
    • Ankle length
    • Linen or wool (wool is itchy w/out an undertunic)

Step 3: What to wear over the gown

  • Large Over-gown
    • Calf length
    • Fore-arm length sleeves
  • Peplos (also call Greek or Roman chiton)
  • Hangerok (apron dress)

Step 4: Do you need something to keep you warmer?

  • Jacket (open in front)
  • Coat (closed in front)
  • Mantle (shawl)

Step 5 Accoutrements

  • Wrist clasps
  • Bead strings
  • Brooches
  • Apron

Croquis for Women for Historical Clothing

I’ve been working on making a croquis that is more useful to those of us that sew and design historic costumes and garb. Here’s the semi-final one. Feel free to use and critique. Share as well, but please link back to my page so that I can get better feedback.

Citing Artwork Found on the Web when Blogging

One of the main sources of inspiration when creating historic textiles is pictures. Painting, manuscripts, jewelry depicting people, and carvings on stone are some of the ways we attempt to see how the whole picture of a costume looked back in time. When blogging, it is easy to right click on a picture, "Save image as," and then use it in our work.

For me, I get so excited when I see something new that I often have it open in Photoshop, lines drawn all over it to accentuate seams and highlight elements, that I’ve posted it on-line in my eagerness to share it. Giving the source of the picture is furthest from my mind.

Citing source material needs to be second nature, and it is not that difficult once you find the right tools.

Bear with me as I learn this process as well, and please correct me if I am wrong or redirect me to a better tool, method or explanation.

Cite This For Me

Simply copy and paste the url, and the autocite gives you the basic information about the website. Easy peasy!

Easy Bib

Easy Bib is my all time favorite citation site. It not only gives you so many options of what kinds of things you are citing, but it translates these citations into whatever format you are using, be it MLA, APA or Chicago. With the basic information Cite This For Me give you about the website, you can copy and paste what you need into Easy Bib, and voilà! The citation is made for you.

Common Sense
Take a minute to look at the webpage and make sure that what you are doing does not violate someone else property. If the site you are using asks you not to share their work, don’t. If they as that you ask permission first, ask. Even if you give them full credit and cite the website, if they ask you to remove it, then remove it. Most authors say specifically, usually in fine print on the bottom of the page, whether or not it is okay with them to share their work. Respect their wishes.

And for the more difficult cases including things we find on Pinterest and Google Image . . .

Life is not always so simple. Sometimes we come across something on pinterest and we have no clue from where the original came. Here are a few things that could help.

Tiny Eye

It’s the opposite of Google Image . . . well, kind of. It does help you find where the image originated.

If you have not read about it, read the Fair Use laws.

Above all, remember that blogging is a form of publishing. It is less like writing a research paper and more like getting published by an actual publisher. Treat everything you put on your blog the way you would treat it if you were putting it in a book. Ask permission. Give credit. And, above all, respect the work of others.