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Stefan's Florilegium


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clothing-msg - 12/24/02

Medieval clothing.

NOTE: See also the files: clothing-books-msg, clothing-FAQ, clothing-MN-msg,
clothing-bib, shoes-msg, underwear-msg, fasteners-msg, cl-Elzabethan-msg.


This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that
I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some
messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with
seperate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes
extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were
removed to save space and remove clutter.

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I
make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the
individual authors.

Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these
messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this
time. If information is published from these messages, please give
credit to the orignator(s).

Thank you,
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
mark.s.harris@motorola.com stefan@florilegium.org

Date: 6 Apr 90 23:34:46 GMT

Unto the gentles of the Rialto greetings.
Sam Bassett, who is collecting moneys for a tabard for the herald of Canada,
asks about period tabards. To that I reply that all the books on costume will
probably not help him as much as a heraldry book called 'Heraldry; Sources,
Symbols and Meanings' by Ottfried Neubecker, specifically pages 10-25. This
book should be easily obtainable, and his local herald or local library may
have a copy.

My own personal formula for a tabard (I've made about a dozen, and another 7-8
are on the way) goes something like this. The front and back reach to the top
of the legs or perhaps a little lower, and flare out from about a foot below
the shoulders. The sleeves reach about 3/4 of the distace to the elbow, and
are constructed in a half-oval shape. They should almost reach the place where
the tabard starts to flare out on the sides. The neck hole should be made
pretty much a circle, as the tabard should have no front or back, and a
medieval tabard was worn with the sleeves hanging front and back (turned 90
degrees) if the wearer was a pursuivant.

-------------------- --------------------
! ! \________/ ! !
\ ! ! /
\ ! ! /
\ ! ! /
------! !-----
/ \
! !
/ \
! !
/ \
! !
! !

The materials to be used offer an endless supply, and I don't really feel up
to discussing them. One thing to consider, however, is that much of medieval
heraldic display was accomplished by painting fabric rather than appliqueing
fabric onto fabric.

Lord Taran of Windy Hill John H. Case
Barony of Carolingia 87 Moreland St.
Kingdom of the East Somerville, MA 02145-1441

Name: Ciorstan Macamhlaidh
Y: BY: Machine #246 @7400

does not indicate if you are a lord or a lady!!

Anyhow, questions are never silly. Ignorance can be cured, only stupidity is
fatal, to paraphrase one Master Lazarus Long!

13th-14th century garb covers a rather large area, since fashions went from
the basic, loose fitting T-Tunic (and no tailoring) to an extremely tailored,
formfitting cotehardie. A good T-tunic pattern is McCalls 7732, as long as
one loses the stupid angel wings, the crown and what's called the Large Drape.
What would be very effective is an angel'sleeved tunic layered over a
straight-sleeved one. These garments are very simple and don't take a lot of
time to make up-- the last pair of t-tunics I knocked off took four hours,
complete with trim. This is a unisex look.

As for cotehardies, that's a little more difficult. I need to know if you're
male or female.

Any more questions, feel free to ask!

From: kuijt@alv (David Kuijt)
Date: 22 Oct 91 14:40:14 GMT
Organization: Center for Automation Research, Univ. of Md., College Park, MD

Cariadoc started a thread (with the aid of NicMaoilan) on things thought to
be period that aren't, and things thought not to be period that are.

Safety pins, which go back to the Roman occupation of Britain, at least,
for I have seen bronze safety pins in the collections of the British Museum
and the digs at Caerleon. (I am talking about the type with a simple hook
to hold the pin end, not a sheet metal casing around the end intended to
catch the pin end). I have no evidence (as yet) on their use in the interim.

Master Dafydd ap Gwystl David Kuijt
Barony of Storvik kuijt@alv.umd.edu
Kingdom of Atlantia (MD,DC,VA,NC,SC)

From: trifid@agora.rain.com (Roadster Racewerks)
Date: 15 Jul 91 08:14:27 GMT
Organization: Open Communications Forum

SERIOUS authenticity (such as hand-work and complicated, tailored, multi-
panelled patterns) can be very expensive indeed. But as Thomas mentions, such
should last for mant years. In period a well-made garment made out of durable
fabrics could be inherited over several generations, constantly being altered
and made to conform to the nearest current fashion. (I've seen an article on a
dress that was discovered to be much older than it looked. A seamstress did a
sort of "forensic" investigation of what the seams hid of older construction,
and found it had been at least three different dresses over about 200 years!)
Collars and sleeves were often saved and used again, or discarded and the dress
refashioned by adding newer ones.

If you cannot afford absolute authenticity just yet, consult with the person
doing the sewing to see if an authentic-appearing garment that will withstand
only outward inspection cannot be compromised upon. My own favorite dress has a
false underdress, with fairly convincing slash work, but I was able to use a
favorite blouse I could no longer wear, because I actually cut it up and sewed
it under the slashes, saving much material. And don't get your heart set upon a
very complicated tailoring if your purse is slim...the more cutting and
assembling of little panels, the more it will cost. (And this is true of mundane
clothing as well...)


From: marten@rieska.oulu.fi (Lady Dark)
Date: 17 Jul 91 18:35:18 GMT
Organization: University of Oulu, Finland

Unto the gentle who asked about finnish costume (I'm sorry I can't find
your posting anywhere from my files so I'll put this to the rialto).

It is surprising how few books in english there are of this subject. From
the index I have, I could find only this one (but at least in Finland the
author is very respected in this area of study)

Lehtosalo-Hilander, P.-L., 1984a: Ancient Finnish Costumes. Published by
Suomen Arkeologinen Seura. Vammala.

There are, however, quite a few sources in Swedish, several in German and
lots (surpriese, surprise..:) in Finnish. If you think that any of these
would be helpful, please drop me a note and I'll mail the sources to you.

LapC (=Llwyd ap Cadwaladr)
# At office: Atte Kinnula # In the Current Middle Ages: #
# Rakentajantie 5 F/303 # Llwyd ap Cadwaladr #
# 90570 OULU, FINLAND # (now try pronouncing that >;)#

From: ewright@convex.com (Edward V. Wright)
Date: 16 Oct 91 23:17:37 GMT
Organization: CONVEX Computer Corporation, Richardson, Tx., USA

Well, there are indeed people interested in sources
to confirm the period use of pockets, so...

The best source on this subject is Janet Arnold's
Patterns of Fashion, Vol. III: The Cut and Construction
of Clothes for Men and Women c. 1560-1620. Arnold shows
photographs and detailed pattern reconstructions for
nearly all the surviving garments from this period.
There are examples of pre-1600 trunk hose and pluderhosen
with pockets. There is also a pair of venetian hose, or
venetian breeches, which have pockets in the seems at the
side. These date from 1615-1620; however, I see no reason
to doubt that earlier Venetians would have had pockets also,
since other types of hosen clearly did. There is also a
*doublet* with a pocket: It is the leather doublet worn by
Nils Sture when he was murdered in Upsula Castle in 1567.
The doublet has a short skirt that covers the lacing strip
for the points that attached the pluderhosen, with a pocket
set into the front of the skirt on the righthand side. The
pocket is covered by a flap that is closed by three small
buttons which match the buttons that close the front of this
doublet. There is a matching flap on the opposite side, but
no pocket underneath it. (I am currently making a copy of this

Arnold also quotes a story from John Bulwer's "Anthropometamorphosis:
Man Transform'd or the Artificial Changling" (1653) referring to
an earlier time whne "the Law was in force against wearing Bayes
stuffed in their Breeches." A man with "breeches very full" was
arrested and brought before a judge, where he "drew out of his
breeches a paire of Sheets, two Table Cloaths, ten Napkings, foure
Shirts, a Brush, a Glass, and a Combe, Night-caps, and other things...
saying... your Highnesse may understand... I have no safer a store-house,
these pockets do serve me for a roome."

A similar story is told by a period song, a recording of which was
brought to dance class some weeks ago. The song, whose title I
unfortunately do not know, tells the humorous story of a man who
believed his breeches were full of devils: it turned out that the
breeches, in which the man stored cheese, had become infested with
rats. :-) The breeches in both these stories were probably trunk
hose, a highly padded style popular in the second half of the 1500's.

In "A Yorkshire Tragedy," an Elizabethan play of uncertain authorship
sometimes attributed to William Shakespeare, the character Sam enters
in scene 1 with "an almanack in my pocket, and three ballads in my
codpiece." This by itself would not be very strong evidence, however,
since the Oxford English Dictionary says the word pocket first meant a
bag or sack. The example usage given for 1570, however -- "He bare always
about hym, in hys bosom or pocket, a little booke contayning the Psalmes of
Dauid." -- might be taken to indicate a doublet with a breast pocket.

A pair of wide breeches, called galligascons after their origin in Gascony,
made in England for the Court fool in 1575, were recorded in Egerton
Manuscript #2806 as having "pocketts, poyntes & a peire of netherstockes
to them." It seems unlikely that pouches would have been recorded as
part of the breeches.

There is also strong negative evidence that comes from examining
Elizabethan-era portraits: pouches are seldom, if ever visible. It
seems reasonable to assume, then, that the men who wore these costumes
had some hidden means of carrying small personal articles. Interestingly
enough, the only leg wear in Janet Arnold's book that does not have
pockets is the pair of pluderhosen worn by Nils Sture, who had a pocket
in his doublet. Based on this evidence, it seems that, from about 1560,
a man's suit that did not have a pocket somewhere would be the
exception rather than the rule.

From: ewright@convex.com (Edward V. Wright)
Date: 18 Oct 91 20:13:59 GMT
Organization: CONVEX Computer Corporation, Richardson, Tx., USA

After posting the requested information on pockets in Elizabethan men's
clothing, the question occured to me, "Did women have pockets also?"
So, last night I opened up Janet Arnold's book and started looking
at the female costumes. Sure enough, there is a skirt or petticoat
in the Nationalmussel in Copenhagen that has a slit in the side for
a pocket (although the pocket bag is now missing). This particular
skirt dates from c. 1615; however, women's fashions changed slowly
during the early 17th Century, so it seems reasonable to think they
might have been used before 1600.

Another possibility is pockets in women's doublets. These were virtually
indistinguishable from male doublets not only to modern eyes (the
one example Arnold shows was originally misidentified as a boy's
doublet) but to Elizabethans as well: There are numerous period
writings commenting on this fact, one of the most famous being
Stubbes's "Anatomie of Abuses." Since a small minority of men's
doublets did have pockets (as proved by the surviving specimen
which belong to Nils Sture), some women's doublets may have had
them as well.

From: haslock@rust.zso.dec.com (Nigel Haslock)
Date: 1 Nov 91 20:07:43 GMT
Organization: DECwest, Digital Equipment Corp., Bellevue WA

From article <9110301636.AA07821@samba.acs.unc.edu>, by BLUND.ILS@mhs.unc.EDU

> I recently ran across a brief mention in a fairly reputable source that
> Icelanders and other Norse Colonists have been making cloth using wool yarn
> and "needles" in a fashion "similar to knitting" since the age of
> expansion. Does anyone know anything more about a technique "similar to
> knitting," used in the Middle Ages?
> And, how about knitting itself? I would think warm wooly socks would be
> perfect for cold Northern winters. . . :-)

I am told that knitting is period, but have yet to see proof. However,
leggings are another matter. There are some Norse leggings that were made
using Spang. Peter Collingwood's The Techniques of Sprang mentions them and
describes more techniques than you are likely to use in a lifetime.

The Irish also have evidence of leggings but in late period the used Frieze
to make them. This, I am told, is a thick haiary cloth which is much more
likely to be windproof than even a thick knit. The leggings and the
relevant evidence is described by A.T.Lucas in his article on Irish Footwear.

It seems to me that knit stockings might work in cold still air but are likely
to be worse than useless under wet and windy conditions. I frequently wear
knit sweaters in the mundane world and find them worthless for warmth in
any kind of wind. Thus, I am not surprised at the rareity of knits in period.

Aquaterra, AnTir

Date: 2 Nov 91 14:04:17 GMT
Organization: The Internet

Greetings from Alejandra....

For Byzantine garb - primary sources - try any art history book and look for
pictures of the mosaics. Ravenna had a bunch, as did many of the churches.
In particular, there are good ones of Justinian and Theodora, and a
"procession of twelve female saints (virgins?)" one that is particularly
good. Then go to _Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Costume and Decoration_
for a good explanation of how all those folds got there. Do *not* trust the
Byzantine line-drawings in Doreen Yarwood's _Encyclopedia of World Costume_ -
she blows it on one of the female saints from that mosaic by turning the drape
of a chiton-like undertunic into a cuffed sleeves. And ghod knows what else!


Date: 7 Nov 91 11:40:12 GMT
Organization: The Internet

Greetings from Alejandra!

From the Amazon Drygoods catalog, source of many interesting factlets:

"Metal eyelets for shoes and corsets were first invented and used in 1828."

"Shoes and corsets were laced with a single lace knotted at one end and tipped
at the other until 1860 when it was replaced by double tipped cross lacing as
we know it today."

I believe that prior to 1828, lacing-holes would have been hand-stitched like
buttonholes; not sure whether they would be slits or round (I've seen both).

This has never prevented me from using either eyelets or double-cross lacing
in the SCA; perhaps it should.


From: timsmith@oasys.dt.navy.mil (Timothy Smith)
Date: 7 Nov 91 16:59:02 GMT
Organization: David Taylor Research Center, Bethesda, MD

Poklon k Rialto ot Timofeya Ivanovichya!

For those interested in a well-researched secondary source on Byzantine
garb, I recommend _Fashion at the Center of the World_, written by
Mistress Veleda of Isenfir (known to many as the artist responsible
for Lady Tudor Glitz & Beast). Please send e-mail if you would like
her address.

Do svedanya,

Timofei Ivanovitch
--- Tim Smith --- timsmith@oasys.dt.navy.mil ---- (301)227-1611 ---
--- Code 1522, David Taylor Research Center, Bethesda, MD 20084 ---

From: 6790753%356_WEST_58TH_5TH_FL%NEW_YORK_NY%WNET_6790753@mcimail.COM
Date: 8 Nov 91 18:32:00 GMT

As to grommets being period, well, yes and no. In the Italian Renaissance
garb was made with "maglie" which were metal rings and lacing eyes. A good
reference is the book on Italian Fashion in the Quattrocento by Jaqueline
Herald (I think that's the spelling). There are many portraits of women wearing
clothes with these "maglie" and some period descriptions of women's wardrobes.
Another source for info. on metal rings used for lacing is Janet Arnold's
Patterns of Fashion 15xx - 16xx (I forget the exact dates, it's the 3rd in a
series). She shows some clothing using several different types of metal
fastenings, at least one of which is a grommet-like thing.
Now the grommets that we have (t-shaped metal rings that fasten into and
around each other and fabric) may or may not be what they used then. I have not
examined any of the period ones up close, and don't recall the descriptions
well being at work. I guess Arnold would be the better source for that, she has
taken this garb apart to see exactly how it was made. My best guess is that
they are just metal rings that were sewn around (making a reinforced eyelet).
Whether or not these sorts of fastenings were used in earlier period garb I
have no clue.

Winifred de Schyppewallebotham
(that's Middle English for "From the valley with the stream where the sheep
were washed")(Nolite Secundo Flumine Natare)
Lee Katman == Thirteen/WNET == New York, NY

From: adn@mayo.EDU (Ann Nielsen)
Date: 12 Nov 91 14:34:34 GMT

Greetings unto those who peruse the Rialto from Lady Therica!

There has been a bit of discussion about grommets. When I first started the
SCA, I was told that 'grommets weren't period'. Being fairly sure that
zippers weren't either ;-) , I asked how to make holes for lacings, and
how else they held their clothes to their bodies (rope? duct tape? Super glue?)
I was then told that they sewed around holes --- ie, it was possible to use
the grommet to make the hole, but then you sewed around the grommet (using a
whip stitch) to hide it.

Not only does this hide the grommet (and I am the world's worst grommet-putter-
inner --- they ALWAYS turn out ugly!), it makes it stronger. I don't know how
many times I've seen garments with 10 holes for lacing and 8 grommets ---
two had fallen out, or been pulled out. Yes, it takes some time, but you
would be surprised at how quickly it does go, and how much better the garment

This brings up a tangent for me. On some of my garb, Tudor/Elizabethan to
be exact, I use a side slit. The overdress is open from just below my
armpit to a bit past the waist. I then use grommets, which I oversew in
matching thread to hide them, and lace the side with matching ribbon or
ties. In effect, the opening becomes invisible. Especially since when located
under your arm, it is rarely seen (people are very strange when they lift
your arm to look at how you got in your dress..). I have two reasons for
doing this: 1) in Janet Arnold's book (Patterns of Fashion) and several
others I have, you can see they are laced into their garb from the side;
2) other drawings/photos/research I have shows that they were sewn into
their garb each time they wore it. Now, I like my friends. I like my friends
a lot. I don't want to wear them out. And I think that having them sew me
into my garb each time I wear it would be (perhaps) entertaining the first
time, and thereafter send them screaming into the sunset --- and an imposi-
tion. Plus, I try to keep in mind that there might come a time when I will
have to get dressed by myself --- a real task with Tudor/Elizabethan.
I have been chastised for having the side opening/grommets/lacings. I am
curious --- what do you all think? Especially those with more experience
in garb than me. Is this a viable option? Am I really taking away from the
spirit of things by lacing my garb thusly? (I've also used hooks and eyes
on some garb, so that when fastened, it's impossible to tell how I got into
it.) I feel that lacing my gowns this way adds to the 'essence', since
the backs of my gowns are smooth, as they are portrayed in the paintings.
(Not all, of course. There's ALWAYS exceptions! ;-) )

Anyway, just curious...


From: grm+@andrew.cmu.edu (Gretchen Miller)
Date: 12 Nov 91 16:56:41 GMT
Organization: Comp & Comm - Computer Operations, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA

I avoid grommets for lacing whenever possible, mostly for reasons stated
here (They pull out, they're hard to put in, they're hard to find in the
proper size). I also don't use them because I, in my not terribly
extensive research on the subject, haven't been able to find any
pictures of what looks like grommet style lacings. (Holes for points
don't count, they've always looked like sewed eyelets to me, not

Instead, I use the eye part of a hook and eye set., 'cause A) they're
easier than grommets, B) they're hidden by the edge of the garment so I
get an even match and hidden lacing when fully tightened, but can show
the lacing by loosening it a bit, C) I've found pictures that look
almost exactly like my garments look when I've got the eyes sewed in.

On the other hand, I'm really interested, though a bit confused, by
descriptions of sewed in grommets. Are these just eyelet rings that are
sewed onto the rim of an round "buttonhole", or are these actually
"pound till it's in" grommets that are reinforced by sewing. (Or have
both been described, and I've just been too confused to figure that out)

toodles, margaret macdubhsidhe

From: sbloch@euler.ucsd.edu (Steve Bloch)
Date: 1 Dec 91 17:10:51 GMT

Last night I was discussing how to construct a certain medieval article
of clothing (Arab-style pants, if it matters) with a friend, and we
found ourselves wondering what seams were actually used in the Middle
Ages. In particular, I suspect that a lot of the seams we do as
second nature would be thought of as really silly in a culture without
sewing machines, and vice versa. Has anybody examined surviving
medieval clothes closely enough to tell what the seams are? (Oh,
Thjora, this one's for you....) Are the following documentable:
1) right-sides-together, sew near the edge, spread apart
2) French seams
3) flat-felled seams
4) right-side to wrong-side, overlapping by 3/4" or so
5) Same as 4), but then rolled over and sewed down again to form a
sort of flat-fell
6) etc.

(As may be apparent from my terminology, I'm a novice seamster.
Please word replies accordingly :-)
Stephen Bloch
Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib

From: DRS@UNCVX1.BITNET ("Dennis R. Sherman")
Date: 3 Dec 91 03:32:00 GMT

For further information on period construction techniques, see
if you can find (probably via interlibrary loan from a school with
a textiles specialty)

Flury-Lemberg, Mechthild; _Textile Conservation and Research, a
documentation of the textile department on the occasion of the
twentieth anniversary of the Abegg Foundation_; Bern: Abegg-Stiftung,

Its filled with pictures and drawings showing original articles and
the steps taken to preserve them - which often means taking them
apart to clean (giving good pattern examples - some are even
drafted to [metric] scale). Lots of discussion of materials used.
Articles include tapestries, flags, embroidery, garments (including
knit gloves of the 15th century, if memory serves, and shoes with
cork soles) a full Landesknecht uniform - the color pictures are
glorious - 16th century shirts, and all kinds of neat stuff.
This is a fun book, especially if you are interested in clothing

Robyyan Torr d'Elandris Dennis R. Sherman
Kapellenberg, Windmaster's Hill Chapel Hill, NC
Atlantia drs@uncvx1.bitnet

From: bmorris@access.digex.com (Beth Morris)
Date: 9 Dec 91 05:06:22 GMT
Organization: Express Access Public Access Unix, Greenbelt, MD

Gentle company,

I would also recommend Paul Norlund Meddelelser Om Gronland (Copenhagen, 1924)
(or in English The Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes). It has excellent patterns,
and comparisons of the different finds at Herjolfsnes (Greenland) and a good
discussion of fibers, seams, finishing, mending, etc. There are flat
patterns as well as sketches of the garments, and illustrations from ms.
with similar garments. Should be available through inter-library loan.

Keilyn FitzWarin
Lochmere, Atlantia

Metal Headpieces (Sumptuary laws)
25 Feb 92
From: jtn@nutter.cs.vt.edu (Terry Nutter)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Organization: SCA

Unto the good gentles of the Rialto does Lord Hossein Ali
Qomi send greetings and prayers for the blessings of Allah.

A few days ago Lord Arval enquired as to documentation of
period sumptuary laws. The following holds true for
England. The situation on the continent is somewhat more
complex and, frankly, I am not sufficiently familiar with
French and Italian/Imperial legislation to comment
intelligently on the development of sumptuary law there.

The first record of sumptuary legislation is an ordinance
of the City of London in 1281, regulating apparel of
workingmen, particularly when apparel was provided as a
part of wages. This may have arisen from a wage/price-
control impulse (the last two decades of the 13th century do
exhibit wage inflationary tendencies), or from imitation of
continental trends (e.g., the first evidences of sumptuary
legislation in Italy, Spain and France date from the
thirteenth century -- the reigns of Frederick II, James I,
and Philip IV, respectively).

The next sumptuary-legal activity is associated with the
parliament of 1309 in the reign of Edward II. Edward
issued a proclamation against "outrageous" consumption of
meats and fine dishes by the great houses of the realm;
however, parliament did not see fit to address the royal
concern with legislation.

The reign of Edward III provides the first national
sumptuary legislation on record. Statutes were passed in
the parliaments of 1336 and 1337 (I don't remember the
citations, but they can be looked-up in _Statutes of the
Realm_, where one can also find texts of the acts). The
1336 act prohibited various "luxurious" dining practices.
The 1337 act dealt with furs, limiting the wearing thereof
to persons of gentle birth (or persons with annual incomes
of 100 pounds or more). There is some reason to believe
that the thrust of this legislation was anti-inflationary and
conservationist, but there is also very little evidence that
the act was enforced. It seems not to have been an attempt
to distinguish by apparel betters-by-birth from betters-
by-income. The parliament of 1363 passed an act
regulating both apparel and consumption of foodstuffs.
However, it is clear that the act had two objectives:
protectionism (e.g., only members of the royal family
could wear cloth of non-English manufacture -- Flemish
weavers were drawing specie out of the English economy
hand over fist in the decade and a half after the plague)
and an anti-inflationary wage policy (e.g., regulating the
payment of wages in apparel and foodstuffs to evade strict
wage controls adopted after the plague when the labor
market contracted so violently). It is also worth noting
that the act amended the act of 1337 to reduce the threshold
for permissible wearing of furs to any non-peasant with
an annual income of 40 shillings or greater. The
legislation has a profoundly anti-foreign flavor and it is
worth noting that it comes at the end of a decade in which
the first Act of Treasons (1352) and the Statute of
Praemunire (1353) were adopted and in which the English
government strove for something like autarky in domestic
markets (autarky is probably too strong a term -- at least
"import isolationism").

The next sumptuary legislation comes in the reign of
Henry VI in the parliament of 1444. This act regulated
apparel for husbandry servants when such apparel was a
part of wages. This is straightforward wage-control

The last English medieval sumptuary law was that of
Edward IV, passed by parliament in 1462 (3 Edw. IV. c. 5 --
that's the only cite from the _Statutes of the Realm_ which
I recall intact). This act did attempt to regulate apparel by
rank for all subjects. The act is quirky, particularly given
the appearance of parliamentary rather than royal
initiative in its proposal. Edward was rather more
preoccupied with the campaign in the north in 1462 than
he was with the parliament and, thus, there was
significantly less royal control exercised over legislation.
The act does appear to be an attempt to distinguish subjects
by rank through regulation of apparel, although there are
also clear wage-control implications to the legislation.
What is probably more significant is that there are no
recorded cases of prosecutions under the act, and the
calendars of courts for the reigns of Edward IV and
Richard III are largely extant.

To summarize, there seems to be little evidence from the
English case for the argument that sumptuary laws were
aimed at codifying class differences as a result of some
general disparity between income and rank. The English
acts -- with the exception of the act of 1462 (and even
there the case can be provisionally made) -- were anti-
inflationary, wage-control, and protectionist in their

There is really little good literature on English sumptuary
laws. F. Baldwin's _Sumptuary Legislation and Personal
Regulation in England_ (1926) is virtually the only
systematic work. There are references to the acts in
various economic histories of the middle ages, but the only
way other than Baldwin of which I am aware to familiarize
oneself with these acts is to read through _Statutes of the

If anyone has better information, I would be very
interested in hearing about it.

Yours in service to the Society,
Hossein Ali Qomi

27 Feb 92
From: jtn@nutter.cs.vt.edu (Terry Nutter)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Organization: SCA

Unto the good gentles of the Rialto does Lord Hossein Ali
Qomi send greetings and prayers for the blessings of Allah.

Lady Alison MacDermot recently wrote:

> Sumptuary laws: My last post wasn't very clear; I
> apologize. Sumptuary laws were usually not in effect at
> any given time and given location. However, I took an
> EKU course a few years ago where the instructor was able
> to document several sumptuary laws for each century
> after 1100. This tells me that our period exemplars (at
> least the late period ones) felt that you should show your
> rank on your sleeve, so to speak, and occasionally felt
> strongly enough about it to pass laws enforcing that
> belief.

I mean no offense, my lady, but that is precisely the wrong
inference from the documentary record for England.

Perhaps I was unclear in my previous posting. A careful
examination of the evidence suggests: All the English
national sumptuary legislation of the middle ages had
economic purposes. The two most important of these
purposes were (1) control of wages (and resulting wage
inflation) in periods of labor market constriction and (2)
protection of English manufactures against foreign
competition in the domestic market (the driving
motivation here was retarding the movement of specie
from England to the continent). This is clear from the
legislation itself: the vast majority of regulations
regarding apparel were not of "bourgeois," as you suggest,
but of workingmen, for whom the partial payment of
wages in apparel was an attempt to evade wage control
legislation. The case is even more strongly made when
you graph incidence of sumptuary legislation against
variation in wage rates -- the legislation occurs only in
response to wage-inflationary pressures (J. Thorold
Rogers' _Six Centuries of Work and Wages_ [London, 1884]
and J. Hatcher's _Plague, Population, and the English
Economy, 1348-1530_ [London, 1977] are useful in making
this point). There is a less strong statistical relationship
between variation in fabric imports and such legislation
[good summaries of the issues involved can be found in J.H.
Munro's _Wool, Cloth, and Gold: The Struggle for Bullion in
the Anglo-Burgundian Trade, 1340-1478_ (Toronto, 1973), E.
Power's _The Wool Trade in English History_ (Oxford, 1941),
T.H. Lloyd's _The English Wool Trade in the Middle Ages_
(Cambridge, 1977), E.M. Crus-Wilson and O. Coleman's
_England's Export Trade, 1275-1547_ (Oxford, 1963), and A.
Hanham's "Foreign Exchange and the English wool
merchant in the late fifteenth century," _Bulletin of the
Institute of Historical Research_, xliv, 1973].

This legislation had very little to do with "showing your
rank on your sleeve" and a great deal to do with primitive
attempts at state intervention in economic processes.
Inflation and specie depletion were among the most
critical problems facing the late medieval English
economy and sumptuary laws were one relatively minor
attempt to bolster other state policies aimed controlling

It is not the case that:

> These laws usually didn't work for the same reason
> that the SCA uses accessory-type regalia. In a given
> political system, money usually goes hand in hand with
> power. Most sumptuary laws were decreed when this was
> no longer the case: that is, when a wealthy merchant
> class emerged, so there was a group of people with tons o'
> moolah but no place in the ruling hierarchy. (Where
> these bourgeois rulers did have influence--the guilds--
> there was considerable pomp and circumstance.) The
> nobles felt it necessary to prevent the bourgeoisie from
> looking like nobles; ergo, sumptuary laws. However, since
> money usually creates its own power, these laws were
> broken right and left.

These laws were never intended to provide easily visible
rank distinctions (3 Edw. IV. c. 5 [1462] may be an
exception, but the evidence is not very strong). They
failed because the general policy of wage control in the
face of serious labor market fluctuation -- of which they
were a part -- was a dismal failure. The centralized state
bureaucracy necessary for economic intervention on that
scale simply did not exist for a medieval English

I do not mean to belabor the point. The problem is the
inference from a supposed model of medieval practice to
SCA practice. If we are going to rest analysis of practices
in the Society on analogies to period practices, then we
must pay rather more careful attention to the documentary
record and professional scholarship on these issues. I
suspect that SCA sumptuary quasi-laws have rather more to
do with modern rank-status attitudes (or, more properly,
with modern, half-thought-out speculations about what
medieval attitudes might have been, dressed-over with a
reaction to modern egalitarianism, bureaucratism, and
contradictory conspicuous consumption values) than
anything analogous in the middle ages (after all, we are
not primarily a land-wealth based political economy and
that is significantly great a difference to make analogizing
a questionable enterprise in the first place). Medieval
economic legislation is rather more complex than the
analogy would otherwise suggest.

Perhaps my curmudgeon button has been over-hard
pushed, but one does get a little tired of the SCA's common
_Reader's Digest_ approach to medieval history when a
wealth of good, professional scholarship on the relevant
issues exists in any decent research library. Often what we
call "period" in reasoning about SCA practices is an
amalgam of modern, mundane attitudes with a superficial
survey of the historical record. The most common form
this takes is the "somebody, somewhere in period did it this
way, so let's do it this way" kind of reasoning which
utterly ignores the evidence about real patterns of
technology-transfer in the middle ages. The suggestion
that rank-status attitudes in the middle ages were
comparable to those of modern persons in the SCA is a
similar kind of error -- perhaps medieval persons were
genuinely different from modern persons in more ways
than clothing and culinary habits (they did, after all, grow
up in a radically different society). That medieval persons
did have deeply felt rank-status attitudes is entirely likely,
but what those attitudes were is a matter for research, not
blithe speculation.

Again, I mean no offense, Lady Alison; you have been
merely the proximate occasion of a more general peeve I
have about how people reason from medieval to SCA

Yours in service to the Society,
Hossein Ali Qomi

27 Feb 92
From: habura@vccsouth30.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY

I muist say that I disagree, and so does Elizabeth b. Hurlock, author of
the article "Sumptuary Law" in the book _Dress, Adornment and the Social
Order_ (John Wiley & Sons, 1965). It appears to be a scholarly work; the
editors are at the University of Wisconsin and at Michigan State.

She writes:

"Sumptuary laws were used primarily to preserve class distinctions. When
members of the nobility found their position of supremacy encroached upon
by the lower classes who had attained wealth, they passed laws to restore
the respect for the inequality of ranks which had previously existed...

"Sumptuary laws were often used as a means of inducing people to save
money...it was necessary to take precautions lest the mad extravagance
of the people, and their senseless sacrifices on clothing and other luxuries,
lead the country into bankruptcy. ...

"From an economic point of view, sumptuary laws were very valuable as a
means of encouraging domestic trade...An excellent example of this occurred
during the sixteenth century when velvet caps, made from material coming
from Italy and France, were the stylish headgear for men. To encourage
home production, England passed a law compelling all persons over six years
of age, except those of high position, to wear woolen caps, made in England,
on Sundays and all holy days..."

From this, we can see that sumptuary laws were multipurpose: they served as
trade barriers, but also as social significators (else why the exception
for "those of high position" in the law cited in paragraph 3?). Economic
reasons were important, but were far from being the only reasons for
these laws.

Unfortunately, my library (as you can probably guess from the header) is not
particularly strong on books on clothing theory. Otherwise, I would have
posted more support for my argument. I do resent, however, the implication
that I was doing some off-the-cuff theorizing when I had, in fact, done
some research in sources other than Reader's Digest.

By the way: I just finished a book called "On Human Finery", by Quentin Bell.
There's some very interesting work on how a particular time's opinion on
what's beautiful influences their perceptions of the clothing of other eras.

Alison MacDermot

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: dillon@world.std.com (John T Dillon)
Subject: Re: Codpieces... no seriously
Organization: The World Public Access UNIX, Brookline, MA
Date: Sat, 1 May 1993 19:36:38 GMT

Codpieces were normally a fairly straight forward (and upward pointing...)
affair. Not much larger than was needed to cover the slit in the trunkhose
or pluderhosen, plus a little for ego.

Fitting one to yourself is fairly simple, most start about at the bottom of
a modern fly and end just below the edge of the accompanying doublet.
Usually 8-9 inches along the side next to the body with a projection sticking
out and up for two to four inches on the average in the front. Width ranged
from 3 to 5 inches on the side nearest the body.

Extravagant codpieces, the Landsknecht may have the prize for those...
I have seen prints of codpieces that were roughly half catalopes with
slashes and puffs of material sticking out, as well as what look like a
bow extending almost nine inches to either side of the codpiece.
(Half to 3/4 the width of the leg)

Such a bow would have to be made of a rather stiff fabric or a starched
one. It almost blends with the outfits it is worn with... :)
(The late period floor length pluderhosen)

Of course for really silly, you can do what a few gentles in this area
have been reported to do... Put a squeek toy in the codpiece...
Or even better all but one of them... :)

John McGuire
Of course I wear a codpiece, no self respecting gentleman would go out in
pluderhosen without one! Otherwise your underwear shows...

From: palmer@cis.ohio-state.edu (sharon ann palmer)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Hot-weather garb (was RE: Return from Pennsic)
Date: 24 Aug 1993 23:38:58 -0400
Organization: The Ohio State University Dept. of Computer and Info. Science

adelekta@kentvm.kent.edu writes:
>00kacohn@leo.bsuvc.bsu.edu writes:

>>-- What sort of garb works best for hot, humid weather?

Look for loosely woven fabrics. Cotton broadcloth seems to be an SCA
standard, but is not period and is much hotter than a more loosely
woven fabric. For a Northern Europe persona you want something that looks
like and works like linen, hemp, or nettle. I have found cotton/linen
and cotton/ramie blends. Ramie is a popular fiber lately and seems
cheaper than linen, it is a type of stingless nettle and a bast
fiber like linen. These dont feel damp like cotton will.

Lightweight, loosely woven summer or tropic weight wool is said
to be good. I wore a wool/silk hangerrock over a cotton/ramie
and was quite comfortable.

Silk is nice, but look for a loosely woven fabic like raw silk.

> Viking dresses (what *is*
the proper name for the ones that fasten at the shoulders and have a flap
fore and aft?

It is called a peplos. See CA #59 for more info. It may or may not have
the overfold. If it more fitted and has straps over the shoulder
it becomes the Viking apron dress or hangerrock. I liked the look of
the Madras plaid peplos that many ladies were wearing even though
they were perhaps not quite the correct plaid.


From: lecuyer@wam.umd.edu (CLIS library)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Hot-weather garb (was RE: Return from Pennsic)
Date: 10 Sep 1993 16:50:12 GMT
Organization: University of Maryland, College Park

<adelekta@kentvm.kent.edu> wrote:
>00kacohn@leo.bsuvc.bsu.edu writes:
>>-- What sort of garb works best for hot, humid weather?

Woad? ;-)

>On those days when I wore garb that was not 100% cotton, I made sure to wear a
>cotton gauze chemise underneath...it *really* helped. I've heard that linen is
>also an excellent fabric for comfortable hot-weather underclothing.

It has been my experience at other events of a more reenactment nature
that linen is *very* good for keeping cool as long as it is a light
weight linen. Linen can also be very *warm* when the weight is heavier.
Linen wicks moisture away from the body and allows it to evaporate quickly
(especially loose weaves). I have found that cotton tends to keep
moisture in. I know some people find a moist towel or veil cooling
but that's different from body moisture. ;-)
>About allergies...I have noticed that going about with my face veiled has been
>a very big help in preventing allergy attacks...and it's an especially good
>thing for filtering out the dust.

This is a good tip. I had to go to the hospital Thursday morning
because of a asthma attack. My great Pensic adventure :-(.
Maybe I should write it up in rhyme? ;-)

Kara Manisdottir

From: "Andrea B. Gansley-Ortiz" <ag1v+@andrew.cmu.edu>
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Spanish Costume
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1993 14:46:47 -0400
Organization: Information Networking Institute, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA

Most gentle lordes and ladies here assembled I greet you well.

, ,
Thore de Bethume asks of information on 14th/15th century spanish
costume. A wonderful book titled _Hispanic_Costume:__1480_-_1530_,
which was published by the Hispanic Society of America (Boston). A
friend of mine tells me it's available from Medieval Miscellania.

I own a copy myself. It tells of the different garments of the times
and accessories. (boots, cloaks, garters, etc.) If he's not interested
in reading it (lots of fun) he might borrow someone's copy and just
look at pictures to see what he may copy. Any good costumer would be
able to help him make a pattern for himself.

If your friend is already an accomplished costumer, he may be interested
in a book that was created by a 16th century tailor that actually has
patterns. Of course those patterns are for a different width of fabric
than is sold presently, and they are specific to who the tailor made
the cloths for, so he'd have to fit the pattern to himself. If you are
interested in the name of that book, I will ask my friend tonight, since
she owns it.

Other ways to just find pictures is to go to an art library. If they have
a book on the El Prado (in Madrid), that museum has many paintings from
the 15th and 16th centuries. It's just absolutely fabulous. Also, if he
can find names of artists who were spanish or worked in spain at that
time, he may have good luck in finding books on their works or that
contain their works.

A laurel here in the Debatable Lands collects postcards of different
pieces of art from her chosen area of focus. That would also be fun to

I hope this helps your friend, and I hope others here found this

Su segura servidora,
Esmeralda la Sabia

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: augment@world.std.com (Michael Bergman)
Subject: Re: Spanish Costume
Organization: The World Public Access UNIX, Brookline, MA
Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1993 01:37:31 GMT

"Andrea B. Gansley-Ortiz" <ag1v+@andrew.cmu.edu> writes:

>Most gentle lordes and ladies here assembled I greet you well.

> Thore de Bethume asks of information on 14th/15th century spanish
>costume. A wonderful book titled _Hispanic_Costume:__1480_-_1530_,
>which was published by the Hispanic Society of America (Boston). A
>friend of mine tells me it's available from Medieval Miscellania.

It is almost certainly available cheaper from the Hispanic Society
directly. And if you're in the New York metropolitan area, you should
go visit their museum. They have lots of interesting little things in
their gift shop, at absurdly low prices (well, I haven't been there
for 6 or 7 years -- but they were still selling postcards for a nickel
--Mike Bergman Voice: (617) 271-0230

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: ua923@freenet.Victoria.BC.CA (Mark Shier)
Subject: Plaque Belts
Organization: Camosun College, Victoria, B.C.
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1993 20:03:41 GMT

There have been a number of postings in the last week or so
asking where to find fourteenth and fifteenth century plaque belts.
I make plaque belts of various types, so I have emailed many of
the posters. There was enough interest that it was suggested
that I post my address. Most of my belts are sold in kit form,
and include the basic metal parts- plates, plaques, and fastening
machanism. The plaques are usually pewter, in shapes such as
fleur-de-lis and quatrefoils. Email me for more information.

Master Mark der Gaukler

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: glink@silver.ucs.indiana.edu (Gary Link)
Subject: Re: fabric scraps
Organization: Indiana University, Bloomington IN
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1993 21:21:59 GMT

Fiametta mentions that she wishes 'scrap' dresses' were period for her.

In the excellent _Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500_ by Jacqueline
Herald and part of 'The History of Dress Series' published by Humanities
Press in the USA (mailing address Humanities Press Inc. Atlantic
Highlands, New Jersey 07716) ISBN 0 391 02362 4...... anyway, there is
mention of 'lista' or applique strips of fabric that create the illusion
of a striped weave, as seen in the portrait of Beatrice d'Este (the
sister that did not carry a knife). A portrait by Raphael, believed
to be of her sister Isabella (who did carry a knife, but did not wear
oiled linen raincoats) shows her in a gown constructed of what appears
to be a geometric patchwork (most likely lots of liste on a solid
ground). These portraits are from 1480 on.

Also, from about 1440 some portraits by Pisanello show men in short
gowns with rather elaborate edges, constructed of attached fabric pieces
pinked and cut on the edges to resemble
feathers. One illustration shows such thick edging that the hem of the
gown rather resembles a short set of Angora chaps.

So, although the concept of 'patchwork' gowns made of random shapes
might not be appropriate, a geometric approach could prove both
entertaining to design and beautiful to wear.

Gary Link

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: mittle@watson.ibm.com (Arval d'Espas Nord)
Subject: Re: Tunic?
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1993 21:41:49 GMT
Organization: IBM T.J. Watson Research

> Recently I came out of a silent auction with a wool tunic, beautifully
> made from a rather substantial fabric, but which, when I put it on, only
> reached my knees... Does anyone have any good ideas?

Wear it over a longer linen undertunic; that way, you'll have to clean it
less often, too.
Arval d'Espas Nord mittle@watson.ibm.com

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Tunic?
From: amethysta@eric.stonemarche.org (Amethysta of Kensingto)
Date: Sat, 04 Dec 93 23:05:46 EST

Luigsech ni Ifearnain writes:

> Recently I came out of a silent auction with a wool tunic, beautifully
> made from a rather substantial fabric, but which, when I put it on,
> only reached my knees. It would be perfect for a man, but I am trying
> to figure out how my persona could wear such a garment. My persona
> is Irish, but with no determined period in time as yet.
> Could the tunic be worn with leg wraps or some sort of pants? Or
> could it be worn over a dress or skirt? Does anyone have any good
> ideas?

I would wear it over a longer t-tunic-like dress. I've seen a lot of
pictures of medieval people wearing this, & I think it looks snazzy.


Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Tunic?
From: kpotratz@charlie.usd.edu
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1993 21:54:55 GMT
Organization: The University of South Dakota Computer Science Dept.

STEWARTL@wood-emh1.ARmy.MIL (LOU STEWART) writes:
>Recently I came out of a silent auction with a wool tunic, beautifully
>made from a rather substantial fabric, but which, when I put it on,
>only reached my knees. It would be perfect for a man, but I am trying
>to figure out how my persona could wear such a garment. My persona
>is Irish, but with no determined period in time as yet.
>Could the tunic be worn with leg wraps or some sort of pants? Or
>could it be worn over a dress or skirt? Does anyone have any good
>Luigsech ni Ifearnain, Calanais Nuadh, Calontir

One of our members (who has an welsh persona) said that it could be
worn over a skirt or full dress as an overdress. Put a girdle around your
waist and it should look fine. She also said it would be mid period (pre-ren).
Hope that helps :)

Hrosvitha von Verden

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: rzex60@email.mot.com (Laurie Brandt)
Subject: Re: Where do I find HOOP WIRE in Austin, TX
Organization: The Polyhedron Group
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 1994 05:34:12 GMT

prrthead@unm.edu (Tassach MacTearlach) wrote:
> Laurie Brandt <rzex60@email.mot.com> wrote:
> >
> >I am in the process of making a new bell or spanish farthingale and I need
> >a supply of hoop wire in Austin Tx if possible, if not mail order
> >Thanks
> >Pegasus
> The good lady, Jehanne, who is teaching me to sew says that brick bands are
> very useful for making hoop skirts. Brick bands are those steel bands that
> are used to hold bundles of bricks together; they can be had for no cost
> by visiting a construction site.
> --
WHY Hoop wire,
For one thing, it is designed for that reason - to make dress hoops. It is
1/2 inch in width, the edges are of spring steel, and it is covered either
in buckram or a plastic fabric. You can sew down the middle of it or slide
it in to a one inch cassing. It will allow you to sit and even drive a
motor vehicle, in my case, a Mustang II Mach I hatchback, and not get hit
in the nose with your skirts. Brick band are better the hula hoops, but not
as good as hoop wire.
Pegasus Devona

From: iys6lri@mvs.oac.ucla.edu (Lori Iversen)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: wearing historical costume
Date: 27 Jan 1995 01:40:27 GMT
Organization: ucla

DeePe <100545.3105@CompuServe.COM> says:
>I seek advice from anyone who has experience with historical
>costume. Some text books indicate that some historical costume is
>not wearable today due the weight, tightness and sheer disccomfort
>of the garments. Men's high collars, women's corsets and crinolines
>for example. On the other hand people did wear these things and they
>Any comments on the practical experiences of wearing or making
>historical costume ?

I've worn historical costume from Ancient Greece to modern day; some of
it is easier to wear than others (a Greek chiton, for example, is
much easier than anything with a corset), but by and large I've found
that as long as I base my designs on reality (vs. fantasy), any period
can be eminently wearable. What the wearer of the garb must remember
is that the people who wore the [corset/crinoline/high collar/big hat/
hobble skirt/etc.] were wearing their everyday clothes, *not* a COSTUME.
If the mindset of the day says that women must have a wasp waist or
a really big butt (i.e. bustle) or an S-shaped figure (Edwardian) or
hips for miles (panniers) or whatever, then that's what they'll do --
although the lower classes tended to blow off a lot of artifice simply
because it wasn't practical. Much of the excesses you see in the popular
media of the day portrayed the upper classes (just like our fashion
magazines today: could *you* afford to pay $800 for a white cotton
button-down?), so the popular assumption that *everyone* dressed that way
in period is simply wrong. In short, while the excesses of period dress
may be uncomfortable to the point of impossibility, *everyday* dress
from any period is do-able. (And, for the record, I think it's a shame
that corsets have gone the way of all flesh; they're actually quite
comfortable *when properly fitted* and allow you to relax and not have
to constantly suck in your gut!)
>Are there any other places on the INTERNET where I can go for
>help ?

Try the renfaire newsgroup (alt.renfiare?); the people who work at
Renaissance fairs spend a lot of time in Elizabethan and/or Tudor
costume, and a lot of them also worked the Dickens Faire (early


Alexis Vladescu Lori Iversen
WyvernHo-ette (IYS6LRI@mvs.oac.ucla.edu)
Altavia, CAID The Valley, CA

From: brand@mcmi.com (Blair Wettlaufer)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: 14th Century Mercenary Garb
Date: Mon, 04 Jul 94 14:48:00 EDT
Organization: Material Culture Management Inc.

Greetings to the Rialto, and those who like 14th c. mercenaries ;>

Being a 14th c. (former) mercenary, this is what I have found in german
culture ...

For dress, a chemise, wams (german cotehardie, with buttons on the
hips rather than sleeves, made of coarse linen or leather for the
military class), over-wams (knee length, heraldically decorated), hood
(buttoned or not buttoned), hose made of scarlach or leather, probably
low leather boots, a plated/studded leather belt to hang an arming
sword, and dagger/pouch arrangement (french tended to wear the dagger/
pouch in a provocative manner in the front, germans to the side), and
likely a cross of simple metals about the neck.

For work and everyday use, replace the wams and over-wams with a kirtle,
a full sleeved, fit to the waist tunic of about knee length (some things
never change over the centuries), but keep the hose, hood, cross, belt,
and so on.

Quick note about the arming sword ... most 14c. soldiers fought with
decent sized swords (some 2 handed), shields, etc. but they tended to
wear an arming sword at their belt, which was a simple, slightly short
sword that hung perpendicular to the belt. It's shown in many brasses
and pictures of the time.

If you'd like some more detailed information, feel free to mail me

Brand Thorwaldsen
14th c. fellow

From: pourel@iastate.edu (Ina Pour-El)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: period patchwork church garb
Date: 28 Aug 1994 14:26:30 GMT
Organization: Iowa State University, Ames, IA

So many people e mailed me for the reference to the picture of period
church vestments done in patchwork that I am posting it here. Sorry for the
delay but the book was out of the library.

Liddell, Jill The Patchwork Pilgrimage:How to create vibrant church
decorations and vestments with quilting techinques. With historical essays
by Andrew Liddell. Viking Studio Books, NY 1993. pp 10-11. ISBN

This is not primarily a history book so my guess is that there are other
examples out there that are not mentioned in this book.

Ina Caspe de LaPointe
I. Pour-El

From: abgst5+@pitt.edu (Andrea B Gansley-ortiz)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Cotton - the rich person
Date: 14 Dec 1994 04:01:15 GMT
Organization: University of Pittsburgh

Aleksandr the Traveller writes:
>Additionally, there was in the real MA, little concern among the wealthy for
>durability in most fabric - they were concerned with appearances.

I'm not sure that that was the case. I have a book called _Hispanic
Costume: 1480-1530_ and one of the things it talks about is how
meticulously the catholic prince's clothing was kept. Underclothes such
as hose and shifts were replaced on a frequent basis (I believe he had an
allotment of 10 new hosen per week,) but the clothing was meticulously
kept, I can only guess to both keep up the appearance and to make it

I gather from others, although I have no documentation to quote, that
even the nobility and the rich did not have the quantity of clothing that
we do today. They had to take care of it and make it last. Ohh, that
reminds me of _The Paston Letters_ where John Paston's wife talkes about
sending one of the sons money for a new christmas suit of cloths. But
that ssemed to be the only new suit of cloths for that year. I might be
misremembering. Help anyone?

Su segura servidora,
**** ***** ***** ***** ***** ****
Andrea B. Gansley-Ortiz University of Pittsburgh
abgst5+@pitt.edu Dept. of Music
**** ***** ***** ***** ***** ****

From: asparrow@nyx10.cs.du.edu (Angelia Sparrow)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Fast-and-dirty renfair costumes
Date: 6 Feb 1995 09:37:25 -0700
Organization: University of Denver, Dept. of Math & Comp. Sci.

Quick and Dirty renfest Skirt:

Take 60" wide cloth, twice the measure from waist to floor, plus 4 inches
for hem and casing. Run side seams. Make a hem and a drawstring casing
at the waist. (This is also good expanding maternity garb)

Quick and easy Hat:

Take a circle of fabric (at least 24" across) and run a gathering stitch
along the edge. Slip stitch or zigzag a band cut to measure your friend's
head. (24" is good generic size)

Quick and easy hat II:

Cut 4 circles of cloth 18" in diameter. Cut 3 into doughnuts of cloth,
making a hole big enough for friend's head. Sew intact circle to donut,
sew 2 donuts together. Sew crown (intact) to brim. A slip-stitched
casing around the raw interior edge makes this a lot more comfy. The
cutting and sewing takes about 1/2 an hour.

Aethelynde Thorvaldsdottir, hat merchant.

From: shelanst@neonramp.com (Tracy Shelanskey)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: info on houpelandes
Date: 6 Dec 1995 21:14:38 GMT
Organization: Here Be Dragons

Zdrastvuy! To all on the rialto, from Tatiana Nikonovna,
I am in quest of information on houpelandes. A friend is making one and
has some questions that I
could not answer, as I am knowledgable primarily in Russian garb. Specifically
what she needs to know is:
were houpelandes decorated in any way, such as beading or embroidery. Any
sources you can point us to
would be greatly appreciated.

Tatiana Nikonovna,

P.S. It is a man's houpelande, of France, if that makes any difference

From: habura@rebecca.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: info on houpelandes
Date: 9 Dec 1995 19:40:49 GMT
Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The ornamented houppelande: A qualified "yes".

My main area of research is High Medieval embroidery. Here's what
I know:

1) 50 years before the houppelande turned the fashion world on
its ear, English and French nobles were wearing elaborately
embroidered mantles and surcotes. Said garments are specifically
described as embroidered in Wardrobe inventories, and contemporary
pictorial evidence suggests that a lot of the embroidery covered
the entire garment; a design with twining vines enclosing animals,
objects, and/or monsters was quite popular.

2) There are several portraits of Philip the Bold, Duke of
Burgundy, wearing a houppelande decorated with the very same twining-
vines pattern, enclosing his badge, a wood plane. The design is
in gold, highly consistent with the 14th c. examples.


3) The consensus of several researchers is that the English embroidery
industry took a header around 1400, due (some suggest) to the
increasing skill of the Italian weavers in producing highly
ornamental cloth. It is certainly true that the textiles of the
period are stunning.

My guess: 15th c. pictorial evidence is inconclusive; the ornaments
on most decorated houppelandes (for example, those on the nobles
in the _Tres Riches Heurs_) are regular repeats, which could
easily be reproduced by weaving. Equally true, however, is that
the same sources show what must be embroidered clothing; two of
the noble servitors in the January page of the Tres Riches Heurs
wear hosen with ornamental bands that I believe to be embroidered.
My gut says that houppelandes could have been ornamented either
by use of brocaded cloth or of embroidery, but that the embroidery
became rarer as the cost differential continued to increase.

Alison macDermot
*Ex Ungue Leonem*

From: crouchet@infinity.ccsi.com (James Crouchet)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Pointes (pants)
Date: 15 Aug 1995 16:05:18 GMT
Organization: Commuter Communication Systems

Deane Geiken (dgeiken@uiuc.edu) wrote:

: Does anyone out there know if pointes were worn during the 1360's, and if
: they were, were they separate legged or one-piece? And were they attached
: to tunics(or cotehardies) or did they use a belt/garter. I am confused by
: the things and would like to be enlightened.

: Deane

: Deane Geiken Phone: (217) 333-0850
: Master Control Operator FAX: (217) 333-7151
: WILL AM/FM Radio Internet: dgeiken@uiuc.edu
: University of Illinois

I am not sure about pointes, but could you mean points? These were cords,
often metal tipped, used to secure clothing. They were often used to tie
pants to a doublet, secure the bottoms of pants legs or hold up tall boot
tops. They are best known in the 16th & 17th century, but I suspect such
a simple idea must have been around long before that.


From: foxd@silver.ucs.indiana.edu (daniel fox)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Empire-waist dresses
Date: 24 Aug 1995 03:51:35 GMT
Organization: Indiana University, Bloomington

Empire waisted dresses, by which I assume you mean any dress with a
waist just below bust level, are first seen in classical times, graeco
roman. However they aren't cut that way, since gowns at this time are
just tubes, and they simply chose to belt them this high.

A dress cut with a high waist appears in most of Europe in the 1400s.
At first they were full gowns, called houpplandes in Wester Europe, with
a belt worn high (and sometimes not, depends on who, what when or where).
By the second half of the century there is some indication that the gown was
actually cut with a high waist seam.

The Italians wore them a little longer than France, England, and the low
countries. They appear as late as 1500 or so in Venice, while the more
fitting dresses were being worn after about 1480. (The Italians thought,
as usual, they were being Roman.)
By the early 1500's the high waist was out (except for pregnant women--
which is a whole nother story.)until the end of the 1700's.

All this is very general of course. If you could be more specific as to
time and place, it would be a big help.

(And if you're using Peacock's gawdawful book, he has no idea what he's
doing when he draws women in the 1100 and 1200's with high waists.)

Audelindis de Rheims

From: liversen@physiology.medsch.ucla.edu (Lori Iversen)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Empire-waist dresses
Date: 24 Aug 1995 20:16:32 GMT
Organization: UCLA

In article <41g642$72j@uwm.edu>, bj@alpha1.csd.uwm.edu (Barbara Jean Kuehl)

>Can anyone help me with information about empire-waist dresses? More
>specifically, where did they originate? During what period(s) did they
>become popular?
> BJ

Audelindis pretty much said it all, although I'd like to add that the
term "empire waist" was coined, not surprisingly, during the Empire
period in France (i.e. turn of the 19th century -- Napoleon and those
guys). Frenchwomen (or their dressmakers, anyway), adopted a style
of dress modelled after the Roman Empire: snug bodices ending just
under the bust with long, full, tubular skirts to give the impression
of a column.

Lori Iversen
The Valley, CA

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: dillon@world.std.com (John T Dillon)
Subject: Re: Codpieces--Sources?
Organization: The World Public Access UNIX, Brookline, MA
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 1995 14:25:50 GMT

For a fairly nice set of patterns for a variety of late period codpieces
look for Janet Arnold's Pattterns of Fashion. It is a large brown covered
paperback book that shows pictures of the codpieces and patterns for them
drawn from a collection of outfits.

John McGuire

From: priest@vassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Norman Gown ???
Date: 26 Nov 1995 15:20:10 GMT
Organization: Vassar College

Greeting from Thora Sharptooth!

Margritte (margritt@mindspring.com) asked several questions about Norman
gowns. I have answered the ones I feel qualified to address.

>- The fabric I have is a medium brown wool-blend. I don't know what the
>other materials are, or in what proportions they appear. It is so finely
>woven that I can see my hand through it if it is held up to the light. It
>looks very close to what I have seen of hand-woven fabrics. Is this an
>appropriate fabric for the overdress?

As with all textile choices, much depends on the era and social status you
are aiming to recreate. Plain brown wool suggests everyday or work wear.
If the weave is fine and the persona is noble, perhaps the lady is trying to
look inconspicuous by wearing it. You don't mention the texture of the
weave; tabby weaves and variants of 2/1 twills were the most popular weaves
in the Norman period in England, although other weaves were not uncommon.

>- Recently, Iıve come across several references to fabric (particularly
>wools) being felted. But surely all fabric wasnıt felted, was it?

Absolutely not. (You can't felt linen, for example.) But the answer is a
little more complicated than that, of course. Fulling and teaseling became
the standard way to treat high-quality garment textiles in northwest Europe
by the middle of the thirteenth century, but other types of wool textiles
were not fulled in the same manner, and it would be hard to argue for a
unified industrial fulling standard in England before that time.

(Warning: The following will probably only make sense to fiber freaks!) In
the Norman period an interesting hybrid wool textile arose: the 2/1 twill
with worsted warp and woolen weft. In this weave the long floats of the
warp were on the side regarded as the right side, and the long floats of the
weft were on the side regarded as the wrong side. The friction and pressure
of wearing caused the softer, fluffier weft threads to felt somewhat. The
visual effect of this was that the outside of the wool garment would appear
to have a distinct, unfelted twill weave, while the inside would appear
fuzzy and indistinct.

>- In general, I pre-wash all my fabrics in hot water, and dry them on the
>hottest setting, figuring that if I donıt ruin them by this treatment,
>theyıll be OK for future mistakes. But I _really_ donıt want to ruin this
>fabric. Should I: A) plan on drycleaning; B) try hot-washing a small
>square of it to see how it does; or C) plan on spot cleaning and airing

Much depends on the textile you have purchased. Worsteds are much less
prone to shrinking and felting than woolens due to the way the yarns are
spun. Some worsteds can be safely washed on the wool setting of a clothes
washer (i.e., cold water, short rinse and soak). If you think
spot-cleaning is the way you want to go, test the color by spot-cleaning a
small area *before* you make the garment. If there is no discernible color
change, remember which cleaner you used and don't switch brands!

If you wear a wool gown over a linen undergarment (or even a cotton one),
and are careful not to spill things on it, you ought not need to clean it

>- I've heard that period looms were rather narrow (about 30-40").

Much depends, again, on the period and place you are examining. Richard
I of England set a standard for cloth widths that was much closer to 27",
and many finds support the notion of a fairly narrow, one-person loom.
On the other hand, the broadloom, which was wide enough for two men to weave
at side by side, is believed to have been invented by the mid-thirteenth
century, in the Low Countries. On Cariadoc's third hand, fourteenth-century
Italian silks were very narrow--more like 18" wide.

>Should I
>cut my 60" fabric into strips for my dress?

No need: just make sure that none of your garment pieces is wider than the
width you decide the loom was.

>This would presumably give me
>one strip for the center of the dress, and then one strip for each arm,
>and a gore on each side. Does this sound like the proper way to ³build²

I don't know. To my knowledge, there are no Norman gowns extant for us to
examine. (I have heard there is a northern England graveyard from this
period that is being excavated, and that many whole garments have been found
there, but I have seen nothing in print about it yet.) But except for the
fact that you haven't mentioned center gores, it's not far from both earlier
(tenth-century Hedeby) and later (Greenland and Bocksten) gown construction.

The best SCA work I have seen written on Norman clothing construction is the
article on the bliaut in a recent _T.I._ by Lady Rowena le Serjeant.

>- What treatment is used on hems? Should I double-roll it and
>double-stitch it like I do on most of my garb, or is this too blatantly

Absolutely not; double-rolled hems go back much farther than the Normans in
England. However, in the period I study (ninth to eleventh century Viking)
the single roll hem is more common for wools, unless they are very fine.
I'm not sure what a double-stitch is, though.

>What about a facing for the neck? Or should I turn it under
>and hem it, too?

The earliest things I know of that are thought to have been neck facings (in
the modern sense) are the fourteenth-century ones from the Museum of London
book. However, it is also possible that one of the Oseberg textile
fragments (ninth century) is an oval neck facing.

Other possibilities include lining the garment (in which case the lining and
the outside textile become each others' finishings at the neckline) or
encasing the raw cut edge of the neckline in a strip of silk, as was done in
the Viking Age. If you use the silk strip, be sure to cut it on the
straight grain, not the bias.

>If I plan to embroider the edges, should I try to hide
>the back side of the stitching that might be visible if I make large
>"drapey" sleeves? Does this mean I need facings for the sleeves, too?

This is another problem that can be solved by lining the gown. Or you could
just line the sleeves without lining the rest of the garment.

>And the Underdress:
>- Is linen a good material for the underdress?

Yes. I regard it as the best material to put next to the skin. It will be
cool or warm as you need it to be, it will absorb sweat and keep it away
from your expensive overgarment, and the more you wash it the softer it
gets (unless you insist on ironing it!).

>- Should the skirt be as full as the skirt of the overdress. That is, do I
>need to put gores in it as well?

I find it constricting to have an underdress that is a lot narrower than the
overdress. But you could use gores narrower than those on your overdress
and still get an underdress that won't restrict you.

>- What should I use for the thread? Wool yarn? DMC floss? Silk floss? What
>ply? What colors were commonly used?

If you decide to dress up the garment, silk floss would be appropriate. If
you can get reeled single-ply silk, go for it! If you want to dress it down
(i.e., make it look like a workday kind of gown), use wool, 2-ply. After
all this work toward greater authenticity, though, you probably shouldn't
muck up the work with cotton floss.

A great many colors were achievable, more or less, with period dyes. Seek
out a dyer in your part of the world and ask to look at samples; the dyer
will be happy that you expressed interest, and you will know what shades are
best for your purpose.

Good luck with your project!

If anyone wants sources, please write me.
Carolyn Priest-Dorman Thora Sharptooth
priest@vassar.edu Frostahlid, Austrrik
Gules, three square weaver's tablets in bend Or

From: savaskan@electriciti.com
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Glittery Velvet
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 96 00:11:48 PDT
Organization: Cubic Corporation

<chandra@SEDS.LPL.Arizona.EDU> writes:
> I am thinking of reproducing a 16th century dress for an A&S
> competition. The dress in question (from Arnold's Patterns of Fashion)
> is decorated with strips of velvet embroidered with gold thread.
> However, I am not inclined to spend time embroidering 2 yards of velvet.
> My question is this: could I use the type ofmodern velvet that has
> designs in glitter glued on it?

I don't think that the look would be the same. Even gilt does not look like

>I know that it would look fine, but is
> this type of fabric period?

Possibly (depending on the decorative pattern), but more likely not. They did
have a variety of patterned and stamped velvets, but were not synthetic
fabrics. Cotton velvets actually look more like period silk velvets. Sometimes
the cotton ones look even better than modern silk velvets (because of the way
they are woven).

>Would I be judged down for using it?
Probably. I would suggest changing that particular decorative technique with
another period technique that you can or are willing to reproduce. Try
Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd by Janet Arnold (there are some more very good
detailed examples...). Perhaps someone in your area has a copy that they will
let you look at if you don't have a copy yourself.

When I am judging, I do usually take into account both fabric and color
choices. In general it seems sad when people put a LOT of effort and money
into something that could have been done easier/cheaper/faster using more
authentic techniques and materials.

Julianna (OL)

From: jmschirm@ix.netcom.com (Joe & Mary Schirmer)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: irish women's costume
Date: Sat, 02 Mar 1996 19:39:27 GMT

zaphod@zoology.ubc.ca (Lance R. Bailey) wrote:
>Deloris Booker (dbooker@freenet.calgary.ab.ca) wrote:

>> Greetings to all from aldreada of the lakes.

>> A friend has asked me to post a request for information on early period
>> Irish women's costume. She would like to make a complete outfit
>> including leine(spelling unknown), undergown, bratte, shoes, head-dress
>> (if any), embroidery or other decoration, accessories, belt, etc.

>the best authority is McClintock, *Old Irish and Highland Dress*
> (i believe the dewey decimal to be 391.0942 M12o, i was looking at it
> last night)

>McClintock has a lot of good pictures and analysis of same.

Another Irish Costuming source:
"Dress in Ireland" by Mairead Dunlevy, published by Holmes & Meier,
1989, New York, ISBN 0-8419-1269-6

The bio of the author says she is responsible for the glass, textiles
and ceramics sections of the National Museum in Ireland. She
mentions the McClintock book in her forward as well as some other
sources. It has pictures of some surviving costumes, including a pair
of shoes and some dresses. The book is in hardcover. I got the book
from Amazon Drygoods in Davenport, Iowa. I think it was about $40.

Mary Schirmer -- jmschirm@ix.netcom.com

From: dickeney@access4.digex.net (Dick Eney)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Garb resource help requested
Date: 27 Mar 1996 13:34:19 -0500
Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA

In article <4jbk7i$j15@bertrand.ccs.carleton.ca>,
Richard M. Albrecht <rmalbrec@chat.carleton.ca> wrote:
> Greetings All, Ave!
> I am having some troubles researching a piece of garb and would
>appreciate some help from the whole of The Society. I need
>bibliographical refences and examples for a chaperons (capelets with
>hoods) that open in the front, preferably using buttons as a closure.
>John peacock shows one on page #14 of his book "Costume 1066-1990's"
>(second fellow from the left) but fails to tells us where He is pulling
>this from. I am hoping to use the design for some Pennsic garb, but
>accuracy is of chief importance.
> Also while on this topic is there any historical precidence for
>hoodless chaperons?

The chaperon (hooded capelet) appears in the 14th century; look for 14th
and 15th century art books. By a hoodless chaperon I assume you mean a
short hoodless cape? Short capes existed, but the only example I can
think of offhand of a short fitted shoulder-cape is the German-area
"goller", which was worn by women to cover the low necklines of their
gowns in cold weather (see Kohler). Generally, I believe the capelet was
just a long hood that kept the rain out of the back of your neck.

I find that a simple hood with a 6-inch capelet tucked under my winter
coat is perfect for snow shoveling--the hood keeps my ears warm while
letting out excess heat, and the caplet keeps the back of my neck warm.
Much better than a hood attached to the coat, for some reason.

-- Tamar the Gypsy

From: Sadira bint Raya al-Asiri <robinson@avana.net>
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: What did they do with the skirt edges?
Date: Sun, 12 May 96 00:16:54 PDT
Organization: Avana Communications Corp.

> In article <bjm10-1005961136300001@potato.cit.cornell.edu>,
bjm10@cornell.edu (Bryan J. Maloney) says:
> >
> >A question that my wife asked me, and many other ladies have posed is what
> >was done with skirt edges--that is, were they constantly carried up? Were
> >they actually short enough to not hit the ground?
> >
In a previous incarnation, before I Saw The Light, I was acquainted with
early period western garb. If I remember right, even ladies of substance had
working kirtles for the dirty stuff around the house (preparing medicines,
inventorying the pantry, dusty jobs but not necessarily physically demanding)
and kept the nice stuff for when someone was around to impress. Since fine
fabrics were so expensive and rare, they would often sew a wide band of less
expensive but still fine material to the hem of the overskirt, protecting it
from a lot of the dirt. these bands were about 5-8 inches wide and contrasted
or didn't, ladies' choice.

also, they held up the overskirt to show off the underskirt, which was usually
of much finer (expensive) fabric than the overskirt. That's why there was only
enough to make an underskirt, not the flowing overdress.

Sadira, who is MUCH more comfortable dressed as a lady should, in trousers

From: sdavitt@ub.d.umn.edu (sarah davitt)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Sewing Garb tips for newbies
Date: 19 May 1996 21:47:44 GMT
Organization: University of Minnesota, Duluth

: In period, dagged fabric was more tightly beaten in the weaving process
: than what is done by machine these days and didn't need edge finishes
: when pinked or dagged (see the fragment of dagging in HMSO "Medieval
: Textiles". I've finished dagged edges in three different ways, none of
: which are (so far in my searchings) documentably period techniques*:
I think in period, dags would have to have been woven *seprately* and
not cut, only one weft skipped, and then the ends tied off. it makes for
a very nice clean finish this way... And I have a hard time beliving that
any amount of beating would keep it from fraying--perhaps not
immediatly... but soon after. The only thing I can think of is that if
they used wool, the fabric could be brushed, and then ends intertwined,
to finish it all off.

: 2. Before cutting the dag pattern, travel over the proposed edge of
: the dags with two journeys of dense zig-zag stitching with your
: machine, either in matching or contrasting thread. Fray Check is a nice
: reinforcement here.

: 3. Line your dagged edges with a contrasting color: e.g., if your
: houppelande is black velveteen and your cotehardie underneath is white,
: how about a nice deep red for a sleeve lining?

Learn the 'blanket embroidery stitch' or "whipstitch' the bottom edges,
dampening, and rolling them under as you go along.

But I would still say that lining, is the the best way, and the easiest
way of going about it. because you just stitch out the dags, Then tim
them and trun them inside out.

Take Care,
Celine Grandjean

From: habura@matisse.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Sewing Garb tips for newbies
Date: 19 May 1996 21:10:01 GMT
Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

An addition to Ciorstan's advice: a possible replacement for Fray-Chek
might be beeswax. I have information on some 14th-15th c. pieces
of applique' which have traces of beeswax on the raw edges of the
applique'd fabric. I doubt it would work for very fray-prone fabrics,
but for something like a moderately well-felted wool, I bet it would.

Alison MacDermot
*Ex Ungue Leonem*

From: brettwi@ix.netcom.com(Brett Williams)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Sewing Garb tips for newbies
Date: 20 May 1996 15:46:04 GMT

sdavitt@ub.d.umn.edu (sarah davitt) writes:
>: In period, dagged fabric was more tightly beaten in the weaving process
>: than what is done by machine these days and didn't need edge finishes
>: when pinked or dagged (see the fragment of dagging in HMSO "Medieval
>: Textiles". I've finished dagged edges in three different ways, none of
>: which are (so far in my searchings) documentably period techniques*:
>I think in period, dags would have to have been woven *seprately* and

>not cut, only one weft skipped, and then the ends tied off. it makes for
>a very nice clean finish this way... And I have a hard time beliving that
>any amount of beating would keep it from fraying--perhaps not
>immediatly... but soon after. The only thing I can think of is that if
>they used wool, the fabric could be brushed, and then ends intertwined,
>to finish it all off.

No, I'm afraid not. The sample of dagging in the book I quoted was
merely cut. No edge finishes, no treatment of any kind other than,
perhaps, some teasing to bring up the nap, and felting probably due to
long exposure to soil. A sample of one is small, but it is after all,
primary and concrete evidence of no edge finishing whatsoever.

The method you propose would be good for weaving separate garters (and
in fact the same book shows a method for doing so), however I cannot
conceive at this point of writing how one would go about a curve for,
example, oak-leaf dagging. Having grown up with a professional weaver
of tapestries in the house, it would be IMHO mind-bogglingly difficult
to weave an edge finish into a dagging pattern. On the other hand,
could anyone of more weaving experience out there comment on this?

'Beating' refers to the physical action of pulling the reed back in the
shed to 'beat' the weft into the cloth being formed. When done by hand,
as opposed to the machines commonly in use in the twentieth century, it
is easier to control the density of the fabric being woven. I suspect
modern machines don't beat fabric with the force and depth of
hand-looms due to the fact that less dense cloths are *cheaper* to make
than more tightly beaten cloths.


From: holsten@nature.berkeley.edu (Donna Holsten)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Sewing Garb tips for newbies
Date: 20 May 1996 21:46:24 GMT
Organization: University of California, Berkeley

Re: How were dag edges finished?

First, a couple of definitions:

"Felt" is a non-woven fabric made (traditionally) of wool or (modernly) of
synthetics, in which the fibers are mushed, smashed, and pounded
together, until they are permanently stuck to one another. Felt can be
cut without coming apart. Traditionally, wool was used, because the
microscopic "scales" on the surface of the fibers lock up with each other.

Woven fabrics can be "felted" by...mushing, smashing, and pounding until
the fibers are pretty well stuck together. This process takes place
after weaving.

"Brushing" is a finishing techinque, in which the completed fabric is
brushed with (traditionally) a teasel (which is part of a thistle-like
plant), so that tiny fibers are torn away from the fabric, and stick up.
Brushed fabric feels fuzzy, and the fuzz is usually trimmed away.
Brushing has pretty much no effect on the stability or "frayfullness" of
the fabric.

"Beating" is the act of pushing each individual weft (side-to-side)
strand close to the other wefts. This process occurs during weaving.
Tightly beaten fabrics are more sturdy, thick, and less "frayful" than
loosely beaten fabrics.

"Bias" cut means that the fabric is cut diagonally, rather than from
side-to-side or up-to-down. Fabric cut on the bias will hardly fray at
all, while fabric cut "on the grain" will fray immensely.

So, how did they do those dags, anyway? Well, I'm sure that there was a
certain amount of edge finishing, whether that be hemstitching, beeswax,
etc. But, a tightly woven wool fabric, which has been stomped and
squashed and beaten with bricks until it is extremely felted, and on
which dags are cut at least partially on the bias (like oak leaves),
will virtually not fray at all. (Unless someone actually pulls at the
edge of the fabric.)

Heck, I recently wove a not-too-heavily beaten wool fabric which was only
felted as much as the washing-machine would do on one cycle, and even it
hardly frayed upon cutting. Yes, pulling at the edges would have taken
it apart in seconds, but without pulling, the edges simply didn't fray.
(But I did hem it, since it *wasn't* properly felted.)

I hope this helps explain things a little.


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