My interest in this Russian folk costume dates back to when I used to perform international folk dances.
As part of the group we had to research and make our own costumes, as we couldn’t get the authentic pieces from Europe, or afford them if we could. I spent many days researching my costume, looking into Russian archives and the UC Davis library. The Sarafan (dress) came into its own around the 15th century. The headdress, called a Kokoshnik, came in a variety of styles - from short to tall. The elaborate attire was usually worn by a bride, a person of wealth, or for festivals. The blouse and Sarafan, of lesser quality, would be worn by peasants in the fields of Russia. The type of fabric used for the Sarafan would depend on the climate of the region.
I already had everything I used in this costume in my stash. My blouse was repurposed from another costume. I made another blouse from a cotton curtain that I had, and used the embroidered sleeves from the original blouse. Often, embroidery was done on a separate piece of fabric, and then sewn onto the blouse, the reason being that when the blouse was worn out, the embroidery could be taken off and placed on a new blouse. Much time was spent on the embroidery. As for the Sarafan, I found enough material to make the dress. The hem is the reverse side of the main fabric. I made my own pattern from a small drawing a friend found on the Internet. I enlarged it to fit me and went for it. I completely hand beaded the Kokoshnik; it is quite heavy.
Once I got started I couldn’t put it down. I repurposed the buttons and some of the trim. While making this costume, I decided to make a different one as well. This costume was a challenge for me because I had not made this style before. In addition there was time needed for research, making the patterns and the construction. I take a lot of pride and joy in what I’ve achieved. My two costumes are both on my Facebook page.