Tuesday, February 3, 2015

HSM Challenge #2--Another Blue Apron Dress

My blue fabric
The February challenge for the Historical Sew Monthly is very simple--make something blue.

It has long been my intention to make the apron dress portion of my early Norwegian outfit from blue fabric, and I have some lovely blue wool that I bought years ago for the purpose.  The fabric in question is the same fabric I photographed my Roman necklace on, but the flash made the fabric look much lighter in shade than it really is.  The color is hard to describe.  It's too light to be a navy or a royal blue, and it doesn't have the green tinge of a teal.  However, it's not at all pastel, either. The photograph to the left (taken with the white wool for the shift I have yet to make for the same project) is pretty close to the true color.  I've used a up-sized piece of the above photograph for the background to this webpage.

There is no evidence that 7th or 8th century Norwegian overdresses had loops for brooches, so this project can be very simple.  All I'll need to do is measure a wide enough piece of my fabric to make a nicely draping peplos, sew it into a tube, hem the bottom and top, and voilà!  Another overdress.

I have never tried using tortoise brooches to fasten a peplos-style overdress.  It will definitely take some experimentation to locate the brooches in such a way that the dress will lie properly and look nice without loops, but I'm eager to try, especially since sewing such a dress should be pretty easy. I'm also thinking about purchasing another set of tortoise brooches, since early tortoise brooches were both smaller than their Viking era equivalents (about 2 inches/5 cm long) and very simply decorated or even plain.  Any suggestions as to where I can get such a pair of brooches cheap?

EDIT (2/4/2015):  This will be even easier than I thought--if it works at all. It turns out that I bought barely enough cloth (it was an Etsy bargain; the person was selling a vintage piece of a particular size, and that's what I bought) to go around my body comfortably while extending at least as far as my calves.  So the only choice I  have  now is how narrow to make the seam.  However, the best way to use the fabric would have me sewing selvage to selvage, so I can make the seam narrow without running the risk of having the cloth ravel.  


  1. It's a beautiful colour. Looks like a nice fine twill too, so very period. I've bought tortoise brooches from www.quietpress.com and was very pleased with them, but I don't know if they'd have something suitable for your purposes. It might also be worth having a look on Etsy.

    1. Hi, Stella! All of the tortoise brooches I have (as well as the rectangular brooch my frob is made from) come from Raymond's Quiet Press, but Ray doesn't have tortoise brooches small enough or plain enough for what I have in mind; nor do the sellers on Etsy. Thanks for the suggestions, though.