A dear friend gave me a wonderful picture book on Czech kroje. Alice Vida from San Antonio recently went to the Czech Republic and surprised me with a beautiful book upon her return to Texas. I have seen this book on the internet but I had never seen it in person. It is full of large, fabulous photos showcasing the beautiful costumes!
A couple of years ago Sarah and I were talking to Alice Vida at a Czech Heritage society (http://www.czechheritage.org/) state meeting in Taylor, Texas. We were discussing making kroj and Alice was the first person to encourage me to try to make one. She showed me the different components of the costume and how to analyze the design. I never really thought about it before then. I thought, “me, are you kidding?” But when I started looking at the costumes in different parts, and when you look at it that way it is not quite so impossible. When you wear or see these beautiful authentic costumes you see all of the lovely handwork; and it is impressive. However, when you look at one piece at a time, though still impressive, you can start to see how someone could reproduce it.
Alice has some wonderful suggestions for the kroj I am making. I am not sure you can tell from the image but here are her great ideas:
1. Do not join the vest all the way. Instead use only one hook and eye closure at the bottom and use a Czech ribbon to tie over it in a bow with long streamers.
2. Make a shorter vest of dark red, green or gold and straight at the bottom.
3. On the vest make embroidered gold lines across the front of the vest with gold button details.
4. Finish with antique-looking gold trim.
5. Add more embroidery on the apron and an embroidered hanky.
6. Make a separate wide lace collar with a red bow tied at the neck.
These are all great ideas! I am currently working on the embroidered handkerchief. I will post pictures soon.
Remember, making reproduction kroje is not something to rush. These will become family heirlooms. Take your time and your family will enjoy it for generations to come. Another tip is to always date your finished pieces. You can do this by simply embroidering the year somewhere in the design on the inside hem.