A Finnish Underdress

In an attempt to develop my new Iron Age Finnish persona, I have decided to make my own Eura dress.  I am basing this on grave finds as described in _Ancient Finnish Costumes_ as found here: http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/FTP_Files/Ancient_Finnish_Costumes.PDF

Unfortunately, my first attempt didn’t work out quite as planned.  The dress turned out beautiful… it sewed together perfectly… and it would fit two of me comfortably!


The problems:

1)The text which accompanies the pattern drawings of the underdress in the above link states that the dress can be made on fabric which is 80 cm wide.  However, using that width, I ended up with a dress which is much too large to comfortably wear under an overdress.

2)Also, I found that the “yoke” (created by the portion of the sleeves which attach to the front and back panels) is much too low (by about 3″) creating a rather immodest “issue” up front, even when the front is pinned together (as is often seen done with trefoil brooches).

3)And it’s not really a problem, but something else I notices was that the overall length of the dress is too long, but the sleeves are slightly too short.

The fix:

The body was cut to a width which puts the side seems quite a distance out from my body (as seen in the photograph).  Because of the placement of the sleeves “on top” of the front and back panels of the dress, reducing the width of the body will also reduce the width of the sleeves.   This actually fixes two issues at once.  I have determined that (for me at least) the body should be no more than shoulder width, which would, by extension, narrow the sleeves as well.

Adjusting the length of the sleeve to make it longer will automatically make the overall length of the dress shorter.  (See the illustration in the above link, page 50, and you will understand what I mean.)

Unfortunately, I am going to have to wait for new linen to arrive before I can sew up a new underdress with these modifications.

What’s next?

After I get the underdress and over dress sewn, I need to add jewelry (shoulder brooches with chains, a trefoil at the neck, and spiral bracelets at the wrists.  I also plan to add a veil, shawl, and traditional apron with spiral adornments.

Oh yeah… and more pictures as it goes!


About kharjamaki

Other than being a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, I am a Mom (my boy will be 5 in April), a voracious reader, and an advocate of support and dignity for people with disabilities. I work for ODC, a company whose mission is to provide job opportunities to people with disabilities (of a wide variety of types and levels of severity).

Posted on February 25, 2014, in Finn and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I would like to make that same dress, but I can’t find any picture with measurements on it, other than the width of the cloth. Did you have a guide to measurements for this? I’d like to make one that’s not too big as well!

    • I have not found any instructions or measurements. I’ve made a couple of dresses now and am learning by trial and error. My first under dress was big enough for me and a friend… Me second was a little too tight. The best I can say us start with cheap fabric! I’ll try to take pictures and post how the finished dresses compare to my measurements.

      • I went ahead and tried making the dress with an old bedsheet. It turned out too tight across the bust seam, and too huge everywhere else. I didn’t like how it hung on me anyway, so I am going with a different style. I found one very similar, but without the seam across the bust. I’ll still look forward to seeing how your latest dress turns out!

  2. Beth/lady lisbet

    This isn’t really timely since you’ve made several, but I’m 5’7″ and wear an American size 16 or 18 and my Mom is 5’1″ and an American size 14. For both of us, I find that 60″ wide by the measure from wrist to the floor with wrist raised as high as it will go is the right proportion for the starting rectangle (or 30″ wide by twice the length). There are only two other measurements. The narrowest part of the sleeve is 1″ bigger than the circumference of the biggest fist I can make. The length of the sleeve is from wrist bone to the hollow between the clavicle at the base of the neck while standing with arms like a T. If I want longer sleeves to bunch under the spiral bracelets, I lengthen the rectangle and the sleeve length by up to 3″. I typically finish the neckline and the hem with narrow trim and about 1/4″ seam allowance so you may need to lengthen for your preferred seam finish. For me, this gives a more than 90″ hem while having a shoulder/bust feel like my favorite modern shirt and the horizontal seam/neckline plunge at a modest level.

    • Thank you for the insight. I will keep this in mind when I start my next underdress… which will be soon! Camping season is upon us soon (relatively speaking) and my whole family needs a whole new wardrobe! 🙂

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