Trousers

The following garments are described in the pattern booklet Trousers. In the booklet you can find quite a lot of information on sources, but there is not enought room for the detail that some of us want, so you will find that detail here instead. See Bibliography for the complete bibliography. For resellers see Links.
For trousers pictures and figurines can actually be useful, because the baggy trousers are so easy to recognize (see  picture and picture). The pictures can also show us that close-fitting trousers were common  (see picture), but that there also were straight wide trousers  (see picture). What the pictures can not do is help us with the more detailed cut of the trousers, but fortunately we have some archaeological evidence to fill that gap.

Close-Fitting Trousers from Thorsbjerg

difficulty level 2
These trousers should be close-fitting and might need som adjustments. Lengthen or shorten if needed.

Reconstructed using a find from a bog in Thorsbjerg in Denmark (Hald 1980; pg 329, also see picture and picture ) and finds from the back and crotch areas in Haithabu (Hägg 1984 (2); pgs 28-37, picture and picture). The trousers in Thorsbjerg are almost complete, so the reconstruction is quite safe, but they are several hundred years older than the Viking age. The crotch and back areas in Haithabu give us a possibility to say that the construction should be the same during the Viking age.

Materials: The trousers in the bog in Thorsbjerg are sewn of diamond twill in wool (Hald 1980; pg  329). Parts of trousers in Haithabu were also made of diamond twill, sometimes together with other types of twill (Hägg 1984 (2); pg 28).

  1. The waistband described in the booklet is based on the find in Thorsbjerg (Hald 1980; pg 329, also see picture),but since the waistband normally is hidden under at least one shirt or tunic I also give suggestions for a more simple and practical version based on the find from Skjoldehamn (Løvlid 2009; pgs 103-107).
  2. The complicated cut at the crotch is directly taken from the find in Thorsbjerg (Hald 1980; pg 329), but we know that it was still used in the Viking age from finds in Haithabu (Hägg 1984 (2); pgs  163-168).
  3. The trousers in Thorsbjerg had feet sewn to the legs (Hald 1980; pgs 328-329), something that Inga Hägg (Hägg 1984 (2); pgs 163-164) believes to be common during the Viking age too, based on the the words leistabrokr (trousers with feet) and okulbrokr (trousers without feet). In my reconstruction I have not included the feet.

Baggy Trousers from Haithabu

difficulty level 3
The width can be varied depending on availability of fabric. The length is insecure and can also be varied, from below the knee to down to the ground. The reconstruction here ends below the knee. The difficulty level is based on the large amount of gathering. If you want to simplify the model you can pleat the legs instead. This will reduce accuracy.

Reconstructed based on fabric from the crotch in Haithabu (Hägg 1984 (2); pgs 32-38) and pictures.We have no remains from the gathering so it is based on the gathering in Pskov.

Materials: The crotch remains in Haithabu were made of wool muslin (Hägg 1984 (2); pgs  32-38), a type of wool fabric which is very thin and falls into nice pleats on its own. Wool crepe is a similar, slightly thicker, fabric.

  1. No remains of the gathering from any Viking age baggy trousers have been found, so I have used the gathering technique from the neckline in Pskov. It is the absolutely most probable technique, but it requires meticulousness and takes time, so if you want to cheat, simply pleating the legs to the waist and leg bands is an alternative.
  2. The cut of the crotch is the same as for the Thorsbjerg trousers (or Damendorf trousers if you choose to use that model instead – an alternative) and is based, as said before, on the finds in Haithabu (see picture).
  3. We have no evidence for how the trousers were held together at the lower edge. I have used one of several possible interpretations, were the most probable of the others is that the baggy legs continued all the way down to the ankles and were held together with leg wrappers.

Close-Fitting Trousers from Damendorf

difficulty level 2
These trousers should also be close-fitting, just as the Thorsbjerg trousers, and may need adjustments. Lengthen or shorten if needed.

Reconstructed based on a find in Damendorf in northern Germany (Hald 1980; pgs  329-332, also see picture and picture) of a pair of trousers which look a lot like the Thorsbjerg trousers but have some minor differences.

Materials: The trousers in Damendorf were sewn of diamond twill of wool (Hald 1980; pg 329), just as the Thorsbjerg trousers.

  1. What mainly separates the find in Damendorf from the one in Thorsbjerg is the little gusset on the inside of the legs (Hald 1980; pg  332).
  2. On the find in Damendorf the front gore is missing, which have given rise to interpretations where they are open at the front or have a half-moon front piece (Hald 1980; pg 329). I have not followed that interpretation, but used the solution found in Thorsbjerg which gives a better fit and is just as consistent with the find.
  3. The trousers in Damendorf were ripped off at the lower legs, so we don’t know if they had feet or not (Hald 1980; pg 329).

Simple Trousers from Skjoldehamn

difficulty level 1
These trousers should not be close-fitting, so exact measurements are not as important. Lengthen or shorten if needed.

Reconstructed based on the trousers in the find from Skjoldehamn in northern Norway (Løvlid 2009; pgs 102-110, also see picture).Here we know a lot about length, width, the cut at the lower and upper edges, but nothing about the crotch (see picture).This means that the reconstruction of the crotch is not based on archaeological finds, but is a simple, practical solution created by me, but still consistent with the find.

Materials: The trousers in Skjoldehamn were sewn of quite thick, lightly fulled diagonal twill of undyed, white wool (Løvlid 2009; pg 102).

  1. The thin back piece is based on the find in Skjoldehamn (Løvlid 2009; pgs 103-107).
  2. On the find in Skjoldehamn there is a seam at the back (Løvlid 2009; pgs 103-107) showing that some kind of back square must have existed.
  3. The crotch is completely missing in the Skjoldehamn find (Løvlid 2009; pgs 103-107) and is a simple, practical solution created by me. Alternative constructions, which still might be consistent with the find, is to reuse the crotch constructions from the Thorsbjerg or Damendorf finds.
  4. The lower parts of the legs, with slit, embroidery and applicated braids, are almost complete in the Skjoldehamn find (Løvlid 2009; pgs 109-110, also see picture). The seams have a certain sami look, which is quite natural since this might well be a sami find.

One Comment

  1. What all is includedin you patter booklet? Or more specifically, does it include a full size pattern in various sizes? Or drafting instructions? I was very excited to find you page, and am specifically looking at your trouser patterns. Thank you!

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