Norse Apron Dress (Smokkr): Instructions and Pattern (Easy, Fun, and Comfortable!)

17 September 2013

My autumn gold apron dress

When I was new to the SCA, the sitting queen of the Middle Kingdom was the lovely and wise Runa. Today she is a Duchess, but she will always be my first Queen. She is kind, very talented with the needle, and quintessentially Norse. When I think of Norse and Viking, I think of Runa. She has the most beautiful Norse apron dresses. So when I embarked on my Artisan Quest, I decided to make a version of Duchess Runa’s Apron Dress for myself! She graciously consented to share her pattern, and gave me permission to share it with you here.

Apron Dress Materials:

Linen or wool, approximately 3 yards (this depends on your measurements, see pattern below)

Apron Dress Pattern:

I’ve put Runa’s pattern into a handy PDF file, along with some of my notes. You can either download the full PDF, or simply click the image below for a closer view.

Runa's Norse Apron Dress Pattern (click for larger image)

Apron Dress Instructions:

1. Measure around your bust then divide by 3. Now add 1 inch for a seam allowance. This is measurement A.

2. Measure from your waist to where you want the dress to hit under your arm. This is measurement B.

3. Double measurement A to get measurement C.

4. Layout your material and mark it according to the diagram below (works for most fabrics and measurements) and cut. The areas in gray are scraps you can later use to make your straps or a cap.

5. To assemble, first sew the two smaller triangles marked with an * together to form the third gore. Then sew the pieces together in this order: top + gore + top + gore + top + gore. Now sew the first top to the last gore to finish it.

6. Straps can be made of the same material or you can use inkle or card woven trim.

Measurement Notes:

  • The length of your apron dress is really up to you! Apron dresses may be as short as knee-length or as long as floor-length. Your material width may determine how long it can be cut, too!
  • If your girth is larger than your bust, use that measurement for A instead.
  • Remember, you will not be wearing this dress alone. You’ll have at least one, if not two, underdresses beneath it. If you already have your underdress(es), wear them when you take measurement A.

Me with Runa, who is wearing a beautiful red apron dress!

My Notes:

  • There are no complete extant dresses like this surviving, so this is interpolation from fragments and historical texts. So don’t worry and have fun!
  • I used a felled seam to sew my pieces together because there is evidence that type of seam was used and I liked how it looked.  Check out to see the other seam techniques used.
  • Apron dress straps found attached to metal brooches in graves are generally 4mm-10mm (.16″-.4″) in width, of the same color and fabric as the dresses themselves.

The apron dress only took one day to cut and sew (and not even a full day at that)! It was easy and very comfortable to wear.

Once your apron dress is complete, you can embellish it with seam treatments, appliques, and/or jewelry. Those are topics for another blog post, though!

Many, many thanks to Duchess Runa for being such a wonderful inspiration!

Gregor and Genoveva at Vikings Come Home 2013


Garb-a-Day Project: Push for Pennsic!

12 July 2011

We now have exactly three weeks before we hope to depart for Pennsic. And between the three of us, we each have maybe 1-2 outfits appropriate for camping.

Whoooop! Whoooop! Whoooop! (those would be emergency sirens!)

It’s time to crackdown and make our garb! So I’m setting a goal for myself — one piece of garb a day for the next three weeks. I’ve even made myself a little schedule…

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Cauls x 2 Cotton Smock Tissue Linen Smock Red “Dragon Army” Tunic (G) White Linen Elizabethan Shirt (A) Fitted Breeches (A) Drawstring Pants (G)
Gold Doublet (A) Nothing! Full day of mundane stuff. Apron Green/Red Doublet (G) Blue Tunic (G) Tissue Linen Smock and White Shirt (G) No sewing — took a break and made benches
No sewing — took break and stained benches Red/Brown Kirtle + Hat Red Schlappe Hat Light Blue/Dark Blue Kirtle Tie-On Sleeves x2 and Partlet x2 Plum/Black Overdress (OR a Kirtle instead … still deciding) Tunic? Smock? Understuff?
Cloaks (maybe), hems Whatever else I didn’t finish DEPART FOR PENNSIC!

There we go…. if I meet my goal each day, I will have enough garb for the three of us for Pennsic! I think this is doable — I’ve done each of these things in one day before, and I certainly didn’t spend all day doing them (which is good, as I’ve got my day job to do, too!) If I am good, I will move a little ahead in my schedule and buy myself some extra time so I’m not sewing sleeves the night before we leave.

I must turn this stash into wearable garb!

Can I actually do it? Well, as I’m big on goals and rewards, here’s my plan. Each day I complete my goal, I’ll cross it out on the chart above and post about it on Facebook and/or here on my blog, to keep myself honest. And if I complete my goal, my reward is some truly awesome thing from a Pennsic merchant — not sure what I’d get yet, as I need to see what they are selling, but I’ll know when I see it.

I just placed a big order for linen from (theyir new doggie bags came out today — good discounts!)

So, here we go … today’s goal: a smock for me made of tissue linen (it’s already prewashed and ready for cutting).

More Thoughts on the Flemish Gown: Colors and Variations

29 June 2011

Thanks to the kind feedback at sca-garb, I am now feeling excited about making the linen Flemish Gown and excited about what I can do with it! If I make three complete reversible gowns and a few accessories, all in carefully chosen colors, I can actually get like 30 outfits out of it … maybe more, I didn’t keep going with all the permutations. Here’s what I have in mind right now — the color square next to each gown under the Basic Wardrobe is the reverse side of the overdress, and the accessories include two sets of tie-on sleeves, two partlets, and one apron.

I would like to put guarding on the bottom of the red kirtle, to give it a different look. I could also trim some of the other kirtles in various ways to dress them up a bit. I think this is really wonderful, and I can’t wait to get started! I think I will begin with the first outfit shown at the top, and have that ready for the Saline Celtic Festival demo in 10 days. I already have the linen I need in dark green, white, and gold — and I have extra white linen I can try to dye light green. Think I can do it?