The attendant’s blue dress (1)

The woman buried with the queen on the Oseberg ship is generally thought of as her attendant. The second woman is thought to have been about 50, whereas the queen was much older. The attendant was wearing a blue dress, which I’m starting to imagine here. I’ve been making some fantasy fabric samples out of yarns and threads, and my very rough attempts at weaving have been a startling reminder of how long it takes to weave anything by hand without a loom. The Vikings would probably have used warp-weighted looms, but it’s a long and tedious process.

The page itself isn’t finished, and the samples range from about 1” x 2” to 3.5” square. Of course, this is just an exercise – an excuse, really – to play around with threads, just to see what could be made with them. I’ll be using standard woven silk and linen for the other samples. Just a reminder to myself that all fabric starts with thread, and that even thread has to be spun from something. The sample below (about 1.5” square) is woven using mono canvas as a kind of loom, which helps to keep the edges straight. The predominant thread is a very dark blue chenille yarn, almost impossible to photograph, but which has a very pleasing velvety texture.

The above sample is made with yarns, threads, and ribbons and is meant to represent something like a decorative woven band. The one below is linen yarn in both warp and weft, with a little added sparkle from a viscose chainette yarn.

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4 Responses to The attendant’s blue dress (1)

  1. We do tend to forget just how long it took to produce fabric, even quite recently!

    I do like your idea of using mono canvas as the skeleton. And all these pieces allow the glories of the thread to make themselves visible. The chenille does make a lovely velvety effect.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, Rachel. It always amazes me to think how much of textile and clothes manufacture was done entirely by hand until the mid-19th century.

  2. These samples are gorgeous and really do bring home how challenging things must have been when you had to start at the very beginning by making the thread in order to weave the fabric before you even got near making a garment…

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