Friday, August 26, 2016

Bits 'N Pieces (of the Hana Kroj)

Sarah (Middlebrook) Armor, Ed Middlebrook and Katy (Middlebrook) Frazier
Czech costumes are formed by many pieces. These pieces can sometimes be confusing and difficult to wear properly. As before, I want to add a disclaimer that I am no expert (not at all). I welcome comments and suggestions. I welcome submissions on Czech costumes or related items.

Several years ago I decided to make a kroj (Czech costume) representing the Hana region. My goal was to make a costume as authentic as possible. The finished product took two years to complete.

The costume includes:

1. TIGHTS. White opaque tights are my recommendation. Panty hose just look too contemporary.

2. SHOES. My daughters, Sarah and Katy, wear black or brown shoes with this costume. I hope someday to make authentic decorated black shoes with embroidery stitches and red ribbon. But for now, plain black shoes would be my suggestion.Take a tip from us, go ahead and put your shoes on before you put your costume on.

3. UNDERSHIRT. As I mentioned in previous posts, I recommend a plain white Under Armor shirt to keep you cool and protect your blouse from perspiration.

4. PETTICOATS. The petticoats are very important. They should be stiffly starched enough to stand on their own. For additional fullness, sometimes the girls will wear a full can-can type petticoat that are available at Czech Costume Creations at the link on the right side of this blog. The can-can type petticoat is not authentic but under the white cotton petticoats they are not seen but provide for a very full skirt.

5. YELLOW SKIRT. The yellow skirt is worn over the very full petticoats and the ties tucked in to the skirt.

6. EMBROIDERED APRON. Costumes from the Hana region typically have white aprons/over skirts. The apron I made is white cotton with yellow embroidery (all done by hand!).

7. HANDKERCHIEF -  A handkerchief is pinned at the waist. I hand embroidered and hand edged this handkerchief several years ago.

8. VEST. Put the vest on but wait until after the belt is on to hook it.
Hana Vest

9. BELT. The vests for the Hana costume are traditionally short. Since my daughters, Katy and Sarah, are so tall, a lot of the white blouse shows so we made the belt long enough to wrap around the waist twice with a big bow in the front. The ends of the belt should hang very long with the ends even. When we tie the bow, great care is taken to get the ends at exactly the same length.

10. COLLAR. The most distinctive part of the Hana kroj is a very stiff collar. This collar was created with 13 yards of lace and made detachable for convenience. I use liquid starch to made the collar stiff. The collar should stand up in the back. I get this collar to stand up by turning it upside down on an empty milk jug and spray it with full-strength liquid starch until it is soaked. When it dries, it is very stiff. (We store the collar in a hat box.) The collar is attached with a hook and tied with a red ribbon bow.

11. HAT. We have two hats for this costume. A dear friend brought us a hat made out of a large scarf (pictured above) from the Czech Republic. Sorry, I cannot tell you how to fold the scarf into a hat. If anyone has the directions, please let me know. The second hat is one I made out of a stove top hat. I had never seen one of these hat in person when I started making Sarah's but as you can tell by the side-by-side picture, I got pretty close. This hat is traditionally worn by brides.

Sarah (Middlebrook) Armor

Sharon (Middlebrook) Mena on the left next to a photo of an authentic Hana hat.

12. ACCESSORIES. A friend brought us the tall basket (pictured below) (I guess this is for wine but I'm not sure) and Bohemian garnets.
My daughters, Sarah (Middlebrook) Armor and Katy (Middlebrook) Frazier.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Personal Update

Hello all or "Howdy" as we say in College Station, Texas. I have not posted in a while so I thought I would give you a little update. As you may have noticed from a previous post, I have moved from West, Texas, to College Station, Texas. I've been very blessed, both personally and professionally. I married Randy Mena in November 2013 and he owns a local business. Check out our new website:

I have a new job in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs as an Administrative Administrative. I have settled in nicely and have kept myself very busy. I've joined the American Business Women's Association and have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other members. I have also joined the Texas Educational Support Staff Association and look forward to attending their Summer Work Conference next month.

And in answer to your question, yes I still work on Czech costumes. Not as much since I have also been finishing up coursework for an Associates Degree from Hill College. But lately I have been working on the collar/scarf for my daughter's Kyjov costume. Currently the costume is on display at the Texas Capitol Visitor's Center as part of the PolkaWorks Texas Czechs exhibit. Trust me, it will not be finished any time soon but I will post pictures from time to time to show the progress.
Thanks for listening and now I have a request for you. If you have a Czech costume, send me a photo and a little about YOUR costume(s) to I am sure others would be interested in seeing costumes from different regions. AND if you made your costume, share some tips for others. Sharon