Kit: Hangeroc
ingibjorg.jpg

The most distinctive Viking female item of dress is an apron-dress or hanging-dress. It's known by lots of names. Re-enactors often call it a hangeroc or hangerok, or even a peplos (after the similar Greek garment that it possibly evolved from). It's possible the Vikings called it a smokkr.

There are lots of varying designs. There's always lots of controversy as to which is most authentic and different strapping arrangements- if you're interested in these debates read Thor Ewing's Viking Clothing or check out Hilde Thunem's summary of the evidence. Basically we have evidence that people wore some sort of garment, held up by brooches that lay somewhere between breast and shoulder height. The dress normally had loops that went into these brooches, rather than the broaches being pinned directly to the fabric. Sometimes there were multiple lower or upper loops. We're not sure how the garment was made (it could be one piece, gored, two separate pieces etc. etc. etc.) or how long the straps were (most people make them long, but Ingibjorg's made one with short straps that works better). Cathy's Costume Blog points out the interesting fact that all apron-dress fragments found have been blue or brown- this could be a genuine trend, or could be an accident of archaeology.

Most of the reconstructions of these dresses hang from the upper half of your breast to somewhere on your ankles or shins, and have long strap hoops up the back and short strap loops on the front. These loops are held together by a pair of brooches - either the distinctive "shiny breast" tortoise-shell brooches, or (for Gotlandic women) animal-headed brooches. The brooches often have a string or two of beads hanging between them, and female essentials (needle cases, scissors etc) hanging from them.

Tube Peplos

This dress is found in many cultures before our period, including in Greece and in Iron Age Germanic areas (like Huldremose). It had probably disappeared by our period, evolving into the dresses described below…

Construction

  • Start with a rectangle of fabric, as wide as you need at the base and as tall as you need from your ankle to your shoulder.
  • Sew up the edge that's the height.
  • This dress doesn't use any loops- the top of the tube is held together at the top by two brooches.

Resources

Two-Piece Peplos

This dress is found in many cultures before our period, including in Greece and in Iron Age Germanic areas. It had probably disappeared by our period, evolving into the dresses described below…

Construction

  • Start with two identical rectangles of fabric. One side should be larger than the distance from shoulder to shoulder, the other should be about the same as your total height (from floor to top of the head).
  • This dress doesn't use any loops- the two rectangles are just folded over so they're the height from floor to your shoulders, and pinned by brooches at the shoulders. The two rectangles can then be sewn together for a short distance at your waist.
  • When worn, this dress opens at the side to give you room to move.

Resources

Ingibjorg's Pleated Tube

This dress is similar to a tube peplos, but lacks the overhanging edge, has the pleats made more formally, and has small hoops to support the brooches. It's an awesome reconstruction based on good finds, and looks excellent.

Resources

One-Piece Sewn Tube

This is a tube made from a single piece of fabric, with pleats at the top to make it more fitted.

Construction

  • Start with a single rectangle of fabric- one side is long enough to be the base of a dress, the other side is the dress's height. Remember to allow some extra room for hemming.
  • Sew down the two breast-ankle sides, so you get a simple tube.
  • Then you add a few large pleats at the top of the tube, so the top is tighter whilst the base has the full space to walk in.
  • Add the brooch loops (two long ones up the back, two short ones on the front) and it's complete.

Resources

  • Regia uses this design, at the bottom of their page about female kit.
  • Carolyn Priest-Dorman says the 9th century Western Scandinavian apron-dress could be tubular (presumably meaning this style) or wrap-around (see below).

One-Piece Wrap-Around

A single sheet with an overlap- not dissimilar to wearing a towel when you get out of the shower!

Construction

  • Start with a single rectangle of fabric- one side is long enough to go around your top almost one and a half times- from your right breast anti-clockwise all the way around you and back to your left breast. The other side is simply the dress's height. Remember to allow hemming space.
  • Add the brooch loops (two long ones up the back, four short ones on the front) and it's complete.
  • There are no gores and pleats- as you move, the front double layer moves open and shut to give you room.
  • A variant of this has the overlap at the back (so identical except it has two short loops and four long loops).

Resources

  • Carolyn Priest-Dorman says the 9th century Western or Eastern Scandinavian apron-dress could be wrap-around (presumably meaning this style or the two-piece wrap around described below).
  • Mistress Barbara Atte Dragon has a picture of a apron-dress with a wrap-over front on p.3

Two-Piece with Apron

Two pieces of fabric, held together by the brooches, with an open front covered by an apron.

Construction

  • Start with a single rectangle of fabric- one side is almost wide enough to be the entire base, the other side is the dress's height. As before, remember to allow hemming room.
  • As with the one-piece sewn add a few large pleats to make the top more fitted- you want it to be the distance from left nipple to right nipple anti-clockwise around your back.
  • Add the broach loops (two long one on the back, two short ones on the front two corners)
  • Then add an apron (possibly flared larger on the base) to cover the front, supported by two short loops going into the brooches.

Resources

  • Regia uses this design, one up from the bottom of their page about female kit.
  • Carolyn Priest-Dorman doesn't like it- she says "The popular interpretation of a 'Viking apron' - one towel-shaped panel in front, one in back, connected by straps - is not only wildly impractical for women in an active outdoorsy culture, but it is also never included in discussions of the archaeological evidence for the overdress layer."
  • tjurslakter.nl calls it a Swedish design.

Two-Piece Wrap-Around

Two pieces of fabric, held together by the brooches, with overlaps at the front and rear.

Construction

  • Start with two identical rectangles of fabric- each large enough to go almost all the way around your body from the front of one armpit to the back of the same armpit, and both as tall as the dress's total length.
  • Add the brooch loops, so each rectangle has all four hoops.
  • When worn, this dress is double-thickness at the front and back, and the two open slightly to give you room to move.

Resources

  • Carolyn Priest-Dorman says the 9th century Western or Eastern Scandinavian apron-dress could be wrap-around (presumably meaning this style or the one-piece wrap around described below).
  • tjurslakter.nl calls this a Norwegian dress.

Gored Tube

This dress is the one most similar to most normal Viking kit, so it's the most intuitive and the one most people make. Based on 10th century finds from Hedeby.

Construction

  • Start with two identical rectangles of fabric. One side should be half the distance around your bust, the other should be the dress's final height.
  • Add triangular side gores, reaching from the base to just below your breasts.
  • You can also add tucks to the side or back, emphasising the breasts. Katy has tried this.
  • Add the brooch loops, two long ones at the back and two short ones at the front.

Resources

  • Carolyn Priest-Dorman says the 10th century Western or Eastern Scandinavian apron-dress was cut and pieced (presumably meaning this style). In this article she says it "demonstrated several sophisticated tailoring techniques—including tucks, darts, and pieced construction".
  • Mistress Barbara Atte Dragon has the same of a picture of a gored apron-dress on p.2 and p.3, for some reason…
  • tjurslakter.nl calls the gored tube a 9th-10th century Danish design. Although theirs has ridiculously huge side gussets.
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