Saturday, 2 August 2008

A late 14th - early 15th century outfit

Some time ago I got to model some of my medieval outfits for Svarta Galten, a group that arranges LARP-events (Live Action Role-Play). They wanted pictures of late 14th century clothing as inspiration for the participants of their events, which are set in the fictional, medieval-ish world of Kastaria. The result can be viewed on their homepage, but I thought that I'd put up a few images of my clothes here as well.

Pink dress
(other people might prefer to call it a cotte, a cotehardie, a kyrtle/kirtle or some other word, but I try to avoid using historical terms until there's a clearly defined terminology for medieval garments available)


I'm very happy with this dress. It's made of a wonderful, lightweight, slightly fulled 2/1 wool twill, laces up the front and gives me ample support without being constricting. The bodice is lined with linen to prevent the twill from stretching. Since this photo was taken, I've made the sleeves even tighter by adding buttons to them to make it a little more 'fashionable' (and it's always nice to be able to roll up your sleeves when you do the dishes...).

I make all my tailored medieval clothing by fitting them onto myself and adding gores; the pink dress is no exception. I do have an assistant - my rather rigid and unsquishable dress dummy, but for the final adjustments and to get the bust support right I need to wear the dress myself. It's a little tricky fitting a dress with no one to help, but it can be done. It also helps to be stubborn, patient and not afraid of pricking yourself with pins...

With the pink dress I wear my shortsleeved

Green over-dress



This over-dress is also made of 2/1 wool twill, but it's heavier than the pink dress and more fulled. I had very little of this fabric so while I wanted to use the short-sleeved dress from Herjolfsnes as a model, I didn't have enough to make the side-gores go all the way to the armscye and had to settle for a simpler cut. I also had to piece the sleeves together from several pieces (a rather common practice in the middle ages). The sleeves are a bit too long in these images so I shortened them a little after the photo session. I haven't seen too many medieval images showing short-sleeved overdresses like this one (short-sleeved without tippets or flared sleeves, that is), so if anyone out there has some art references to share, please drop me a line!

Both dresses are completely handsewn with waxed linen thread.

Photos: Tobias Högström/Svarta Galten

5 comments:

Isis said...

there's one image of a short sleeved overdress without tippets in the Roman d' Alexandre. I'll look up the folio number for you when I'm home. if I forget to post it, just leave a comment on my blog to remind me!

your dresses are beautiful btw :)

Laura said...

Hi!
I am a spanish girl who has just found your blog. It's great, I am not able to do such things myself. But I love Middle Ages, and I start now to re-enact (13th and 14th century)here in Spain.
It's been a long time since the last comment but your request brought me to mind that I have an image that pherhaps you can use although I do not know how can I send it to you. It is from a catalonian museum and it dates from 1385. I thought it might be usefull.
Anyway, nice blog! :)

cathyr19355 said...

I think you're justified being pleased with the pink dress--you look beautiful in it!

A True Amateur said...

Such a nice dress! I'm just starting to get into historical tailoring, and finding pictures of totally hand-sewn garments makes me really believe it's possible.

One question, though: I see so many people who do these historical costuming things using wool twill solids. Perhaps it's because I'm living in the southern regions of the United States, but I haven't been able to find anything locally or online (at least, the places I've looked). Where on earth do you find these fabrics?

Arachne said...

In Sweden, it's possible to find wool twills that are OK for historical clothing in regular fabric shops, but usually they contain some synthetic fibres as well (5% or thereabouts). I tend to buy most of my fabrics from one of the handful of Swedish online shops that caters specially to re-enactors since they guarantee the fabrics are all wool.

I mostly use Medeltidsmode(http://www.medeltidsmode.se) or Handelsgillet (http://handelsgillet.se/shop/). Handelsgillet ships internationally, but they don't seem to have that many fabrics in stock at the moment. The pink dress is made from their "Thin wool - Twill".

There's also a German webshop with absolutely wonderful fabrics, Naturtuch (http://www.naturtuch.de/). I haven't bought anything from them (yet), but I've handled some of their fabrics and they're lovely!