Russian peasant costume has evolved over the centuries but certain basic elements remain constant in both men's and women's traditional dress--namely, the tunic or shirt made of linen or hemp. Trousers, boots and accessories such as headdresses and scarves round out the traditional look.
Basic Shirt or Tunic
The style of a basic linen tunic for male and female Russian peasants hadn't changed for centuries. To recreate this tunic, you could use the Folkwear pattern called "Shirts of Russia and the Ukraine" or, for women, the Folkwear pattern "Russian Settlers' Dress." Both of these patterns can be adapted to make a knee-length garment for men or a floor-length garment for women by adding triangular gussets to the side seams. Embroidery on the shoulders of the blouselike tunic is authentic for the women's costume. The tunic should be worn belted for men; the belt is optional for women.
Men's Garments and Accessories
For a man's Russian peasant costume, make some full trousers gathered with a drawstring at the waist. Russian peasants wore linen trousers in warm weather; in cold weather, they wore wool trousers over the linen ones. The trousers can be tucked into boots. Felt boots are traditional; you could use the inner boot linings of winter rubber boots. Sheepskin boots with wool on the inside would also fit the traditional look. Men usually tucked a knife into their belts and they wore wool hats in winter.
Women's Garments and Accessories
Female peasants in Russia frequently wore a wrap skirt over a linen tunic. You can sew three panels of wool together onto a narrow woven belt to make this skirt; simply wrap it around the body at the waist and tie the ends together. The Folkwear "Russian Settlers' Dress" pattern also includes a jumper-style dress to wear over the linen tunic called a "sarafan," which is traditional. Married Russian women covered their hair with a headdress or scarf of some sort. A brightly coloured apron was often worn over the ensemble.
Russian winters are very cold and both men and women of the peasantry wore a simple cloak over their tunics, jumpers and trousers. This could easily be fashioned from wool yardage. You could use the Folkwear "Kinsale Cloak" for a model or just pin a length of wool at the neck.
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