Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns

Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns

By Lilli Fransen, Anna Nørgård and Else Østergård

Aarhus University Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-87-7934-298-9

Short introduction to the amazing finds of garments from the Norse settlement of Herjolfnes in Greenland by Else Østergård. Chapters on technique: production of the tread, dyeing, weaving techniques, cutting and sewing by Anna Nørgaard. Measurements and drawing of garments, hoods, and stockings with sewing instructions by Lilli Frandsen. A practical guide to making your own Norse Viking garment!

Introduction: The many garments, hoods and stockings described in Woven into the Earth: Textiles from Norse Greenland, were discovered during an archaeological excavation at the site of Herjolfsnes in Greenland nearly 100 years ago. At that time the find was described as the single-most greatest historical textile event in Europe. Here in the far north European fashion was followed, just as it was in the far south of Europe. With the finds from Herjolfsnes it became possible to see well-preserved examples of medieval clothing and gain an insight into how children and adults had dressed 800-900 years ago.


Readers of Woven into the Earth have, since its publication in 2004, made it clear that they desired additional pattern drawings, with instructions on how to produce a garment either as an exact reconstruction or as an adapted reconstruction. Therefore, in this latest work, Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns, which contains significantly more measurements and illustrations, we have endeavoured to meet these requests.

To produce a garment as an ‘exact reconstruction’ means that the garment must be constructed of hand-spun and hand-woven, and sewn with the kind of stitches used in the original garment. However, should one wish to sew a garment as an ‘adapted reconstruction’, one is free to choose both cloth and production methods.


Instructions are included for reconstructing one of the Herjolfsnes garments: the pattern pieces must be laid out and cut from the hand-woven cloth to be sewn by hand. The result is a very durable garment – just as the originals were. There were also instructions for machine-sewn garments in other types of fabric: linen, for example, which when constructed in the “Norse Greenland Style”, can become an accurate-looking copy.


Chapter 1: Introduction, by Else Østergård

Chapter 2: Producing a hand-made reconstructions, by Anna Nørgård

Chapter 3: Reconstruction of Patterns, by  Lilli Fransen

Patterns for 9 garments, 6 hoods, 2 caps and 2 stockings.

Review by Sophie Bergerbrant: “this book should be regarded as one of the essential introductions to medieval garment construction. As it is based on original and well-preserved garments it has a sound basis, and it is written by leading scholars in the field. Perhaps, though, it should not be considered a beginner’s guide to weaving on the upright loom–for that, you definitely need some instruction and experience with a loom of that type! This book will prove especially helpful for people wishing to reconstruct medieval Norse clothing using bought fabric, such as for school projects where reconstructing historical clothing would be a part, and will no doubt be a good resource for museums wishing to add authentic costumes to exhibitions.” See the full review at the Medieval Review

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