So, I’m going to document this…better, this time.
Here’s the sketched layouts for everything, and notes so far. Due to some slight checkout error and Paypal slowness problems, I’m still waiting on fabrics from The Remnant Warehouse (ordered today, but after the dispatch cutoff time unfortunately) - but thanks to the anonymous donor, I’ve been able to get the other fabrics (as well as thread and a couple of needed tools) from Spotlight.
Click the layout images to see the fullsize versions; I’ve shrunk them because, well, they’re huge.
Era: Late 13th to early 14th century, based on my adjustments to the cote pattern. (My understanding is that this is 1200s-1300s in actual dates.)
Something close to the layout I originally used for my serks, on 150cm wide fabric; note that the third gore is shaded to indicate that it was not originally part of the pattern. This layout also allowed me to get two serks out of 3.5m of fabric, but I've only shown one here for space's sake. Sometime in the future (when I know what I'm doing) I'll do a more detailed write-up on how to use a more economical version of this pattern, and how to alter it for a more modern style to make a nice summer dress or loose top (mainly through the use of darts and some changes to the neckline and sleeves). Serks, or smocks, were the main under-layer for the majority of the SCA period; they became a bit more tailored towards late period, but the style didn't change a whole lot, so this is still absolutely usable - and it saves me having to make two more full garments.
Main garment layer: the cote in Fig 4.22 (Thursfield 2013: 62); I’m going for ankle length for practicality (I may temporarily tack my serk hems up a little higher if needed) and due to some issues with two-gore construction resulting in ridiculously wide gores I’ll be doing it with four instead, even though my planned sleeve style from Figure 4.14b (Thursfield 2013: 60) is much older than my planned era. I will likely use the squared-off keyhole neckline in Figure 4.13d (Thursfield 2013: 59) as I’m less confident about making a round neckline work in the garment without showing my serks underneath. I’ll be doing the pouched sleeves, but they’ll also be slitted and have some self-stuffed buttons - I’m thinking 4-5 on each sleeve, plus 1-3 on the neckline to close the keyhole. I’ll also be deviating from the layout in Figure 4.23 (Thursfield 2013: 62) a little - the single-piece body panel is very uneconomical on wider fabric, and I already have a huge chunk left over anyway.
Because of the relative uncertainty of the weather (I’ve been going from T-shirts and light pants to my HeatTech clothes and back regularly) I’m using the peacock blue linen from The Remnant Warehouse, and a backup in teal cotton duck (Spotlight). While wool would be more accurate, I couldn’t find any summerweight pure wools in anything close to these colours - and I’m not really convinced that summerweight wool is still going to be cool enough to wear. (People keep saying that thinner wools are very cooling and breathable but I am just not convinced.)
I’m also going to use some of this cotton sateen from The Drapery to make decorative faced necklines; I don’t think buttonholing necklines was a 13th century style, really. (I would ideally make a temporary facing in something like this coppery red silk but the sateen would be cheaper since I don’t have to buy a full metre.)
The cote layout for the 148cm wide linen and the 120cm wide cotton duck. Ignore the sleeve tapering; I'm planning to use the pinch-and-pin method for tapering them, as that seems more reliable. That excess fabric will be turned into self-stuffed buttons; I've been warned that those can use a surprisingly large amount of fabric to get a decent-sized button.
I’ve decided against doing a surcote right now, mostly because I couldn’t get the fabric I wanted (a heavier grey wool) but also because I’ll have a cloak, and with the way the weather has turned this week I don’t think I’ll need a surcote…yet. This’ll go in future plans, for when I either find a grey wool that fits the requirements or I work out a better way to line the lighter grey wool at DK Fabrics to stiffen it a little (for the appearance of a heavier, fulled wool). I’d also really like to line it with raw silk if it’s in the lighter wool, for warmth - ok, I just really want an excuse to do something with real silk, don’t judge me. If/when I do this, it’ll be a sleeveless type (Thursfield 2013: 67-71).
I’m also putting off hose to another time because I’m already dreading tackling Thorsberg trousers. If I need to, I’ll wear some leggings underneath instead.
Cloaks: the only results that were coming up for 13th and 14th century cloaks were on effigies, and they all appear to be ceremonial; the front cord closure has been confirmed as potentially hazardous in windy weather, and they don’t provide much torso coverage (which is absolutely vital to keeping warm). The best I could do for a practical cloak that would be easy to put on and take off as needed was something along the lines of the Bocksten Man’s cloak, which Carlson here interprets as a half-circle sewn together at the right shoulder (Carlson 1996). Shoulder-fastening cloaks have been found by several re-enactors to be warmer, safer in windy weather, and easier to move one’s arms around in. I was originally going to have to settle for Kersey wool (horse blanket lining) in maroon, but I got lucky on The Remnant Warehouse and found a dark brown wool flannel of the right width and a reasonable price. I also discovered a dark brown oilcloth there that was very cheap, and the real deal - oil-treated cotton, not vinyl - with the right amount of drape to work, and waterproof. Given that we’ve had some very wet days here in Adelaide (where my synthetic trench coat couldn’t even keep me completely dry) I decided something to keep my garb from getting drenched would be a good idea, and I’m not confident in the water resistance of the wool. (Plus, if it got drenched it could easily take the entire GSG weekend to dry - I’ve had bedsheets take 3 days not that long ago - and once wool gets wet it is incredibly heavy. Sure, it still insulates when it’s saturated - but wet wool is also unbearably itchy and uncomfortable for me.)
I also plan to add some pockets to the liner; the liner is in ‘broadcloth’ (actually a heavy poplin) for now. I also found a method for piecing the liner which not only works better on the longer rain cloak, but also allows me to use less fabric overall. (It would probably help if I actually had a compass or some circle guides, but apparently compasses are hard to find these days…)
I want to replace the ‘broadcloth’ liners one day with silk, probably a raw silk on the rain cloak and something a bit prettier on the wool - though since silk can apparently be ruined by getting wet, it may not be the best idea to use it on wet weather gear, so maybe a nice light and soft wool instead. I’ll also add kangaroo pockets to warm my hands in…where is going to be a bit of a mystery though, and one only solvable once I’ve made them.
If I find some cheaply, I plan to use some thick jute or cotton rope to weigh down the back hem of the rain cloak (for safety and efficacy in windy conditions).
I really hope the fabric gets here soon, because I will unironically wear the wool cloak to uni. I’ll take selfies as proof. I don’t care, I want a socially-acceptable blanket.
Something else to consider, reviewing Thursfield (2013: 222-223) - the claim is that I may need to make these cloaks as 2/3s or three-quarter circles to get the shoulder fastening, but Carlson (1996) shows the Bockston Man’s cloak as a half-circle, more or less. I have time to check with some ‘toile fabric’ (aka old bedsheets).
The two cloak layouts, on the 142cm wide wool and the 150cm wide oilcloth, plus the layout for the 'broadcloth' liners. The wool cloak is going to be shorter, partly because that's the more expensive of the two fabrics and partly because that length is enough to cover everything that I need to cover to keep warm; the rain cloak is longer to better protect my garments and keep me dry.
Headwear: I’m going the classic veil and wimple, in white cotton lawn - it’s the perfect balance of lightness, crispness and opacity, as I sadly couldn’t find any soft, fine linens easily. I was going to make a filet from one of my sari brocade border pieces, but I would need to back it with linen or something rougher to keep it from sliding off anyway. I already have some veil pins, happily. My planned hairstyle is going to be a crown braid a la Princess Leia on Hoth, or an Elling woman braided bun (warning - this video contains some still images of bog bodies) which has the added advantage of not needing any bobby pins. (See Thursfield 2013: 199-201 about veils and wimples.)
Hoods: Due to the change of cloak to shoulder-fastening, I have to make seperate hoods. I’ll mainly be using the pattern from Figure 14.10 (Thursfield 2013: 196) but sans any form of liripipe. I have doubts about my ability to do a nice close fit around my face, but regardless I’ll likely use some self-stuffed buttons to close the front (or metal, if I run out of fabric). These will be lined in flannelette for comfort - but I avoided it for the cloaks, since it takes forever to dry if it gets wet.
The hood layout, adapted from the illustration in Figure 14.10 (Thursfield 2013: 196) and the other pages on it. This is an extremely rough and exaggerated layout, and I think this is going to be the trickiest part of my outfit.
Belt: I’m likely to do this very plain set of a buckle and strap-end, because I can’t find any others that match up and are for this time period; the only belt mounts I liked are out of stock too. I may be able to improvise with some shankless metal buttons, but I’m not feeling confident in finding any that work. And, unfortunately for me, the only narrow fashion belt I have is 12mm wide - there’s no strap ends available for it. I’m planning to ask a shop if they can do a 20mm belt blank a bit cheaper, as I don’t need a 160cm long blank. (I know long belt ends were the fashion, but they look so awkward - and I don’t like the idea of getting smacked in the knees by the belt end all the time.)
Purse: My grey pouch, and a new one from a box of donated items that just needs some hanger cords and some tassels.
Apron: Look, I need something to dry my hands on when there’s nothing else. It’ll be using leftover linen from my serk gores.
Jewellery: I got lucky in Ishka’s clearance sale so I have a ring I can wear, and I’m strongly considering a sexfoil brooch. Cinquefoils, as far as I know, are not permitted as they’re the symbol for one of the Order awards, but from my searches sexfoil is fine. I can’t see any point to necklaces, given the wimple and the cote’s neckline, and I still need to go through my gemstone beads to see what I can do about a paternoster.
This looks...not food-safe, probably? I didn't notice until Lenten Feast last week.
This is also a little bit in service to my (admittedly mediocre at best) attempts at avoiding disposable stuff in my life, especially plastics - I find that I keep forgetting that I have an enamel mug in my backpack, and I would likely forget if I had a dining kit on me. Having them in a sheath not only protects the utensils from damage, it means I can put it on my belt and then not forget about it. (Ditto with the mug - I saw someone at ICW who had their tankard on a little belt strap, and I’ve seen the belt hangers for drinking horns before too.)
Speaking of tankards, and considering the fate of one of my mugs en route to ICW (lost a very large chip from the rim) I’m going to get a nice tankard as well; I found one cheaply at Savers last time, so I’m feeling confident that I’ll find another. (A nice cheap metal goblet wouldn’t hurt either, but it’s not essential.) And, I want to track down two pitchers that I have - I have one in ceramic and one in copper, and while the copper pitcher is probably of the wrong design I’m kind of nervous about taking ceramics with me now.
I also snagged a nice big piece of extremely discounted linen (the premium suiting linen) at Spotlight, so I’ve made myself two big napkin/hand-towel/tea-towel rectangles. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the leftover pieces - maybe a bottle cover…
I also don’t know what I’d use but damnit, I want a teapot for events! Something nice and big, but not too modern in appearance, and preferably not ceramic (even though ceramic is safer for dealing with hot liquids). The best I can think of is to use a pitcher for brewing and bring a tea strainer, but I’d really like a tetsubin-style cast-iron teapot - if I could find one for a more reasonable price and from a trustworthy source (so, not eBay).
This garb set has given me a lot to think about, and it’s probably going to be my first foray into working on garb on my own. I have an awfully tight deadline to meet, plus uni as well…so I’ll need to get cracking.
It’s also given me a lot of ideas for new blog posts. I’ll likely start working on those after GSG, but I have a few planned - at a minimum, how to use graph paper to estimate your fabric use, how to find your comfortable hem size (and from there, the size of your gores) and my (newly discovered) method for setting gores into slits.
I don’t know that I’ll do full write-ups of the patterns and construction for these, but it’s something I could do if enough people are interested.
Carlson, M. (1996). The Bocksten Bog Man. Some Clothing of the Middle Ages. Available at: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/bockclok.html [Accessed 22 Aug. 2018].
Thursfield, S. (2013). The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant: Common Garments 1100-1480. 2nd ed. New York: Crowood.
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