Rapper costume in the past was created, mended and modified almost exclusively by female family members and friends. Liminal areas of the home such as backyards, outside the house, doorways and entrances- where many of the domestic chores were carried out- would’ve also been utilized for the purposes of activities surrounding folk dance and drama, particularly the creation and maintenance of costumes.
Opportunities for female sociability and communal activity were restricted by the demands and drudgery of domestic routine, accompanied by an ideology that encouraged women to concentrate on the private sphere of family and home. This suggests that sartorial activities surrounding Rapper sword-dance would have probably been set to in groups, opportunities grabbed spontaneously between chores.
The early costume was a version of the 19th century miners working clothes- shirt, hoggers (knee length working trousers used by pitmen) or trousers and knee-length socks. Teams located around fishing ports wore a decorated version of their working clothes.
The Beadnell dancers wore navy ganseys knitted by their families - individual knitting patterns reflected the wearers personal narrative as identification should they be killed out at sea - a pink satin sash with rosettes worn across the shoulder and navy trousers. The Flamborough teams, both female and male, chose to wear ganseys too, but contrasted them with white cotton duck trousers and a knitted red hat.
K. Porteous, Limekilns and Lobsterpots: A walk round Old Beadnell, 2013
G. Boyes, T. Buckland, J. Wood, Dressing the part: the role of costume as indicator of social dynamics in the Castleton Garland ceremony, 1993, [In] T. Buckland, J. Wood, Aspects of British Calendar Customs, 1993
C. Metcalfe, Historicism and modernity : English folk dance costumes for clog and sword dancing, Bath Spa University, 2013
R. Jones, Socialbility, Solidarity and Social Exclusion: Womens Activism in the South Wales Coalfield, ca. 1830 to 1939, [In] J. J. Gier, L. Mercier, Mining Women, gender in the development of global industry, 1670-2005, 2006.