Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Vika traditional costume

As I mentioned in my last post I wear the traditional costume of Vika parish outside Falun in Dalarna, Sweden. My family on my father's side can trace its history there back to the Middle Ages, and eventhough my great grandfather moved away from the area, it was only fitting that when my parents moved to Falun they chose a part of town that is part of the Vika parish. The Vika costume was reconstructed/created in the 1920's. Falun was a fairly affluent town, and the people of Vika had preferred to keep up with current fashions rather than keep with traditional costumes. When it was decided to reconstruct a costume for Vika they did look around in attics and outhouses, as well as talked to older women. They did find a remnant of the fabric that according to a woman had been in use in Vika, and that was to form the foundation for the costume. Vika is a fairly small parish, and there has never been a consistent production of the costume, so it's not a very common costume. The fabric is made by some women, and they set the loom for it when it's deemed that enough people have said that they are interested in a costume. As such it's been hard trying to find pictures of the costume. And I don't have many of myself wearing it either.

A Vika costume, picture from an auction site
The one thing I love about this costume is the colouring. Most traditional costumes tend to go towards black and red, but this one is striped in blue, green and purple. The striping is different on the gown and the apron, so that the apron appears more green while the gown itself is more blue.

The main gown is fairly basic, typical of reconstructed costumes. It's a bodice with lacing in front and the skirt is pleated and sewn on to the bodice at the waist. The gown should be go down to around mid calf, but the length of the skirt is one way of determining when a folk costume was made. There are examples of costumes from the 1960's and 1970's where the skirt barely goes down below the knees. One of the issues I want to fix on my costume is that it's too long and almost goes down to the toes.

Under the gown you wear a linen blouse, with lace around the cuffs and lace inserts on the middle of the sleeve. With the gown you wear a cap and a neckerchief. This is another thing that I like about the Vika costume. Many costumes have regulated how the cap and neckerchief should look, but in Vika they decided to keep the tradition of individual caps and neckerchiefs. The tradition comes from the fact that the neckerchief was usually a gift from your fiance, and depending on how rich or well traveled he was there was a great variety in neckerchiefs, and the cap should go with the neckerchief.

Me and my niece in 2008, she's wearing a girl's Leksand costume
As you can see I have a purple neckerchief and purple cap to go with it. Me and my sisters are all wearing neckerchiefs that were bought when we were very young, it was the first part of the costume that we all received. They are actually from Seefeld, Austria, and are originally worn with the traditional Tyrolean drndl-costume. I've grown up in a family with a lot of friends in that area of Austria/Northern Italy, and I'm very happy that I can combine that part of my family's story together with the heritage of Vika.The neckerchief is held together with a silver brooch in the shape of the coat-of-arms of the Vika parish.

18th century cap in a similar style
The cap (bindmössa) is a staple of many folk costumes. It can trace its lineage all the way back to the Middle Ages and the structured hoods, including the French hood of the Tudor times. It's hard and structure and covered in embroidered silk. Its shape today is a fossilized version of the caps worn in the 18th century.Around the edge of the cap there is a loose piece of lace, which I think is meant to keep the hair neat, I personally think it's the trickiest part of the costume.

As an unmarried woman I don't need the cap, but can wear a woven ribbon in the same colours as the ribbons to the apron, but I prefer to wear the cap, even if it's trickier to keep in place, I simply feel that the costume is more complete when worn with the cap.

The one thing I'm missing from my costume is the pocket, or loose bag. It's exactly the same shape as a 18th century pocket and embroidered. There is the hitch. I have the material for the pocket, but the stitches are so small that I've never managed to do it myself. Thankfully my older sister, who has sewn my costume, has now said that she can do the embroidery on the pocket for me, so one day I'm going to have a pocket.

There are also some other accessories for the costume. I have a wool winter shawl, white with narrow stripes of purple and green at the border. I also think that I have a simple cotton neckerchief, or at my sister has the fabric for one and she said that she might have ordered fabric for all of us at the same time. For real solemn occasions, like funerals, you can wear a white apron and neckerchief, but I don't have those.

As for things I would like to do do for the heirloom challenge. As mentioned I think my skirt is a bit on the longer side, so I would like to hem it up. I also think that the bodice is too big, I would like to turn it into a more fitted bodice. In order to do that I would need to take it apart and resew it, but I don't think it's very complicated. If I have fabric for the cotton neckerchief it would also be suitable to finish that one. 

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