How to Stay Cool While Wearing Kroje

imageNow that summer is here in full force, we have to think about how to stay cool while wearing kroje. This is not an easy task. Wearing kroje usually requires (for women) at least a blouse, vest, skirt, apron, tights, and shoes. Most times there are also multiple skirts plus boots! It’s hard to stay cool when you’re wearing so many clothes.

On top of normal festivals that are often inside (at least part of the time), there are also parades. Unfortunately, these are not inside. The parades are usually scheduled on the hottest days of the year, at the hottest part of the day to test your poise as a queen, or so I’m convinced. Therefore, I believe it is my duty to share some wisdom on the subject.

Here are my suggestions on how to stay cool when you have to wear kroje:
1. Seek shade or shelter when possible. This is an obvious one.

2. Drink lots of cold water. Cooler water will help you feel more refreshed and they double as ice packs.

3. Strip unimportant layers off when necessary. This means that you need to be prepared to go shoe and tightless for parades. I know this is taboo in a normal situation, but parades have different rules. It doesn’t do any good to wear tights during a parade if they are soaked and you have to change them after anyway. Also, if no tights make the difference in whether or not you feel like dying of heat stroke, just take them off. You will be forgiven.

4. Invest in a neck cooler. They are those weird fabric squares that are stored in plastic tubes that you get wet and keep you blissfully cool all afternoon. These are great if you can find one in the same color as your kroje, get it wet, put it around your neck, and tuck under your blouse. Genius!

5. Wear a jumper. A jumper is a one piece dress. For kroje that means that you don’t have a separate vest and skirt; they are made as one piece. Often jumpers are made of a light cotton that you wear a blouse under and an apron on top, thus eliminating a layer. A good example of a jumper is the Domažlice kroje.

6. Have your kroje be made with lighter fabrics. Use lighter colors and lighter weight fabrics such as cotton to keep you cooler. Or, have interchangeable pieces, such as short sleeves for hot days and parades and longer sleeves for coolers days and inside events.

7. Keep an umbrella handy. An umbrella can help keep the Sun’s blazing rays off your skin. No sun burn and less heat.

8. Wear moisture wicking clothes under your kroje. This may sound like an extra layer and it is, but that bottom layer helps pull the sweat off your skin and cools you down. This may not be ideal for the whole day, but it’s a good way to keep your kroje cleaner.*

9. Bring a change of kroje. If all else fails and you are miserably sweaty and gross, then change into another kroje. Remember that queens don’t actually sweat though, we glisten.

10. Enlist an entourage. Ask family and friends to help with keeping you cool, hydrated, and feeling great! Have someone be in charge of the cooler and bringing you water when needed. Maybe, someone else is your official fanner. Have fun with it. You are a queen after all and you should be treated as one 😉

*tip courtesy of Michaela Steager, current Nebraska Czech-Slovak Queen.

 

If you want to hear more about being a Czech Queen, you can read about the Nebraska Czechs here, why I became a Czech queen here, my struggles here, and my tips on preparing for the pageant here.

As always, you can ask me questions or let me know your thoughts below on on the Facebook page. Happy cooling.

What Happens When You’re Comissioned to Make Kroje

imageI was commissioned to make a set of three matching kroje for a family from Wilber. When they came to me, I had one photo and a name of the town for reference. They asked me with complete confidence to complete them by the second week of June, giving me just over a month to make them, and the freedom to create as I saw fit. I have made quite a few kroje, both for myself and others, but I have never had the task of making a kroje from scratch with so little details and a strict time line.

After seeing the photo, I knew that I wouldn’t have a problem making the kroje, I just needed a few details. I contacted the museum where the photo was taken and asked for a photo of the back of the kroj and started searching for the fabric I would need. I got the fabric needed to make both the vest and blouse and constructed them without problems.

The issue comes with the skirt and apron. In the photo, it is unclear if the top layer is a skirt without an apron or an apron with an unknown skirt below. I still had not heard from the museum half way through my timeline and the fabric needed to be order online, so I had to make a decision. I was making a skirt, no apron.

Today, after almost three weeks of (not so patiently waiting and worrying), I finally heard back from the museum! The picture shows an apron with a white eyelet skirt behind. I would’ve never guessed what the skirt looked like and I almost made the apron as a skirt. I am so relieved to have the answers. Luckily, I hadn’t bought anything yet.

Now, I just have to wait for the fabric to come in and work like crazy to meet the deadline. I have some finagling I need to do for the fitting and embroidery and design on the vest to take care of.

Sitting here reflecting on my progress so far and on the process as a whole, I am really proud of myself. I look forward to making more kroje and learning more about how they are made so differently from village to village. I find it fascinating to discover all the new techniques, fabrics, and designs used. Stay tuned for a progress report and final results of this exciting project!

 

If you didn’t see my how-to post on making a Vintage Apron, Czech it out here! And as always leave me a line below or on Facebook.

How to Make a Vintage Apron

I am so excited to share with you my first tutorial! I hope you like it!

Apron Title*NOTE: You will need to know how to measure the length of your fabric, basic gathering, and turning fabric inside out once stitched in order to do this tutorial. I will do my best to explain how I did it.

Apron2The very first thing I did was to write out a plan. I’ve made this apron quite a few times, but I wanted to make sure not to miss anything when I wrote down the tutorial. So, the image above is the sketch. However, I got excited a skipped ahead. Right under the title is the correct order the steps that should be taken. *This tutorial does not have a pattern. Instead, I give you the measurements you need to fit anyone in this great vintage apron!

Apron1Now that you’ve seen an overview, you should gather your materials:

  • You will first need 1-1.5 yards of fabric, I used cotton, but brocade or light utility fabrics can also work well. I wouldn’t use any knits or stretch fabric for this tutorial.
  • You will also need a sewing machine (I have a Brother SE-400) that can do a basic straight stitch, back stitch, and increase stitch length.
  • A serger if you have one (or you can use a zig zag stitch to stop fraying, or just roll under the edge so their not exposed).
  • And scissors (or rotary cutter and self healing mat), ruler and measuring tape, pins, and thread.

Lets get started:

  1. Measure your waist and length from waist to calf to get the numbers you need to cut the correct size of apron.
    • To measure your waist you need to wrap a flexible measuring tape around the smallest part of your waist (the area between your chest and hips.) That number in inches is W.
    • For the length measurement you may need help. You need to use your measuring tape to find the distance between your waist and the center of your calf. This number in inches is L.
  1. Use the following equations to find the correct lengths to measure the fabric:
    • Piece 1 is the waistband: (½ W +2”) x (2.5 x desired width of waistband). In my example: my waist is 29” and my desired width is 2”. So ½ 29 +2 =16.5 (I used 16”) and 2.5 x 2= 5.
    • Piece 2 and 3 are the same because they are the ties: W x (2.5 x desired width of waistband). 29” is the length and 5” is the width. However, if you want the ties to be longer you can do 1.5 or 2 x W.
    • Piece 4 is the main piece of the apron: 1.5W x (length +1”). So 1.5 x29 =43.5 or 44” and the length with extra inch is 25.5 or 26”. (I would rather over compensate.)
  1. Cut the 4 pieces to the proper lengths.
  1. Serge the edges so the don’t fray and look more professional.Apron16
  1. Sew tails (piece 2 and 3) to either side of waistband with right sides together at ¼”. Set aside.Apron3
  1. Turn under the edges ¼” to the wrong side on the 2 long sides and 1 width side of piece 4.Apron4
  1. On the other width side run a 4 length stitch about ¼” from the edge. Run another 4 length stitch just short of ½” from the edge. Make sure not to back stitch and leave thread tails.Apron17
  1. Before pulling to gather, fold piece 4 in half and mark the center, fold the already folded in half piece in half again mark center (so there are 3 marks: ¼, ½, and ¾). Do the same on piece 1 (waistband), don’t include the tails.Apron6
  1. On one side of the center grab the top two tails and pull at the same time until all the fabric is gathered on that side of the center. You may need to push the fabric back away from the tails as you pull to get the gather. Do the same for the other side of center.Apron7
  1. With right sides together line up the center marks on both piece 1 (waistband) and piece 4 (main). Do the same with the 1/4th marks and 3/4th marks.
  2. Now even out the gathered fabric so it lays flat on the waistband. Sew at the standard 2.5 length ½” from the edge.Apron8
  1. Now with all the pieces attached, fold only piece 2 (tail) in half long ways, right sides together. Start sewing with standard 2.5 length 1” from the waistband at ¼” from the edge until 2” from the end of the fabric.Apron18
    • Put the needle down into the fabric and turn it 45 degrees to the left. Sew to end and backstitch, which will make the triangle on the tail. Do the same for piece 3 (other tail).Apron9
    • Snip off the triangle.Apron20
  2. Take one of the tails. Grab the opening where the tail is attached to the waistband.Apron21
    • While holding onto the fabric with your thumb and middle finger on either side, use your pointer fingers to push the fabric from the tail in side (just like turning a pair of paints inside out).Apron22
    • Continue until you’ve push all the fabric in.Apron23
    • Now, on the other end, pull the fabric out, so you see the right sides of the fabric.Apron24
    • Continue until you get to the triangle.Apron25
    • You will need something pointed to help make the point (I used a pen).  This may need finessing. You can use a chopstick or skewer to help push the fabric in if you need. Do the same for the other tail.Apron10
  1. On the long edge of piece 1 (waistband) that’s not sewed to piece 4, fold under the edge 1/4” wrong sides together and iron it down. Also iron where piece 1 and 4 meet so that the seam is flat as possible. This seam is also what I will call the “ditch.”Apron11
  1. Line up the folded-under side with the backside of the gathered “ditch” seam. Let the folded-under piece cover the “ditch” and go over it by about 1/8”. Pin in place.Apron12
  1. Flip the apron over to the right side and stitch in the “ditch” across (piece 1) the waistband. You will need to start your stitching about 1” from the waistband where you left space and continue to the other side about 1” past the waistband.Apron13
  1. Flip to the backside and check that the back is stitched all the way across and there aren’t any holds. Whip stitch any missing spots.
  1. Flip back to the front and check for there is any thread below your stitching line (the ditch), if so, seam rip it out gently. The thread is from gathering.
  2. Finally, iron the entire apron so that the seams are all flat and crisp!Apron14_Apron15
  3. Yay! You’re done! Now wear that bad boy!

Send me a picture of your finished product or with any questions or clarifications along the way! I would love your feedback and thoughts on future tutorials as well! I welcome constructive criticism and suggestions on what I can do better in future posts below and on facebook.