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Viking Garb


An updated version of this handout is available on my blog:




A Quick and Dirty Primer on Women’s Viking Garb

Taught at Harper’s Retreat 2011

LadyFortune St. Keyne


Viking / Norse Underdress:

The “Vigdis” Underdress pattern from Hefdharfru Vigdís Vestfirzka

This is a conjectured pattern, so there are no period sources. However, the pattern is designed along the same lines as period finds, using a waste-free method of cutting and all straight lines.

Here's what it will look like when complete:


There are two available layouts included in this handout. One is for the dress as outlined on Vigdis’s website and the other is my modification to allow for bigger side gores.

Both layouts use the same measurements and construction techniques.



1.      Shoulder to Floor

2.      Around Fist + ½ inch

3.      Over the shoulder to underarm

4.      Underarm width (usually between 6 & 10 inches) divided by 2
(To take this measurement, imagine a line coming down from the point where you measured your shoulder to about mid-chest and another coming down your back from your shoulder, measure between these two under your arm)

5.      Shoulder to Shoulder (front and back, use the larger number)

6.      Arm length from shoulder


Add 1 inch to each measurement, this is your seam allowance.


To figure how much fabric you need choose a layout.


Layout 1: take measurement (1) and double it


Layout 2: add measurements 1 and 3 together and multiply by 2.


Divide by 36 to get your yardage for either layout


Using me as an example:

1.      64"

2.      11"

3.      12"

4.      4"

5.      20"

6.      27"


Using Layout 1: 130” or 3 2/3 yards

Using Layout 2: 156” or 4 1/3 yards

To lay out your pattern:

Supplies: 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.

1.                  Take your fabric and fold it in half along the short axis, then spread it out flat on the floor.

2.                  Mark everything out like this according to your layout of choice.

3.                  Then, cut on the chalk lines. Make sure you cut out the neck hole...

Sewing Directions:

1.      Sew the top of the sleeves together along the (6) measurement.

2.      Sew the gores to the sleeves at the (4) measurement. Be sure you have opposite sleeves here, it can get confusing if you are using fabric without a right and wrong side

3.      Finish the neck hole. (Make sure it's big enough to go over your head)

4.      Sew the gore/sleeve parts to the body of the dress.

5.      Sew the sides from wrist to hem.

6.      Hem the sleeves.

7.      Hem the bottom.

Layout 1

Layout 2


Viking Apron Dress or “Smokkr”

This dress is also called a Hangerok, but it is thought that term is from after the time when these dresses were worn.

The pattern here is for the fitted 10th Century version of the dress. This is only one version of the apron dress pattern. There are others. This one is the best I've found for fabric usage and ease of sewing. Again, this pattern comes from Hefdharfru Vigdís Vestfirzka


Here's what it will look like when complete:






The Evolution of the Viking Dress (from The Compleat Anacronist #59) 





          DO NOT CUT FOLD




  1. Bust  + 6 times your 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, generally below the knee to mid-calf)





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 55 inches.
My bodice is 10 inches.
My skirt is 40 inches.

Therefore, I will need a piece of fabric 58 inches wide by 90 inches long.

I can get a whole calf-length apron dress out of 2 1/5 yards of 55" or 60" wide fabric. Which is nice considering how expensive wool is!
I will end up cutting a 2 inch strip off the side which I will use as 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).

To cut out your fabric:

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.

Take your big rectangle of fabric, fold it in half long-ways and spread it out flat with the selvedges touching (the finished edge of the fabric as it comes off the bolt)

Mark the lines according to the above layout in chalk then cut out along the chalk lines. Be sure not the cut the fold.

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



1.      Attach the smaller triangles to the side back pieces.

2.      Sew the pieces in the above order.  Side back 1, Gore, Front, Gore, Side back 2, Gore

3.      Sew the last seam to form the dress into a flared tube. You may need to take in the waist part a bit, if you have more of an hourglass shape.

4.      Fold the top edge over 1 inch and sew down. I like using a bit of embroidery to do this to embellish the seam. If you are adding tablet weaving or trim at the top add that now.

5.      Trim the bottom edge of the dress so it is even, then hem it.

Note: When sewing the gores (the larger triangles) be sure to align the tops first when doing the back, you can always even the hem later, but if the seams are not aligned they cannot be hidden. Especially if you want to do some embroidery!

Once the pieces are all together you should be able to pull the dress on over your head. It should fit around your bust and flare right over your hips.


To make straps, take 2 strips of fabric about 18 inches long by 4 inches wide. (mine are 2 inches wide, which just means I don’t fold them)

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

They should go inside the dress, not outside.

The front end of the straps are best left loose and fastened with your brooches. This way you can adjust the fit, a good idea because linen has a tendency to “grow” in heat.

Strap Variation:
You can also make smaller tubes (1/2 inch when finished) of fabric and make doubled straps.
This way you are not piercing the fabric with your brooches but attaching them to the loop at the front of your dress and through the loop of the doubled strap.
You will have two long loops which will come over your shoulders and two short loops at the front of the dress.

You will have to more precise with your strap measurement with this method.

I suggest stitching down one side of the tube of each strap and adjusting the other with a safety pin until it is correct.
You can also attach the back of the loops at the center back or one of the ends of the loop at the center back and one straight making an M shape. These variations are especially useful if you have sloped shoulders and straps tend to slide off.









Further Resources:


þora Sharptooth:

Gunnora Hallakarva:

Ellisif Flakkari:


Thorson & Svava’s website:


Another verison of the Viking dress;


Overview on one extant apron dress (author calls it a pinafore):


Other extant finds:


More information on underdresses and men’s garb from extant finds:



Viking Embroidery: