Here is the twill pattern of the loom state cloth (pre-washing):
Using a brown warp and a red weft. The front face of the fabric is very red, but the back is mainly brown. I love how this is going to look when both sides are visible - like in an unlined hood!
Before washing, I threaded 48cm width of warp, which during weaving (and off the loom) had a draw in to about 47cm. I was only able to weave about 145cm of cloth because of the way the warp yarns were wrapped around the cloth beam - the sheds became unnavigatable far sooner than I would've like. But, I have a cunning plan for next time that will give me several more prescious inches of fabric: crochet chaining across just in front of the warp dowel to squeeze the warp into a single plane.
After washing the fabric fulled up beautifully! Here is the recto:
And the verso:
With a bit of steam and pressing:
It's a nice medium-heavy weight cloth. Here are the dimensions:
width of warp threaded: 48cm
width on loom: 47 cm
length woven: 145cm
width after fulling (with soap in washer on delicate cycle): 39cm
length after fulling: 129cm
My plans are to make a hood with medium length shoulder cape: Norlund no. 67 (Acc. no D10598).
So, I ordered the book and have been carting it around the house for months, pouring over fabulous details and learning! My first goal was to practice making the tiny stitches that haven been found on the garments. I used scrap lengths of 2/2 twill and linen thread.
I learned to sew narrow (7 mm) seams invisibly from the right side of the fabric:
I learned how to make very small overcast stitches on the wrong side to fell the narrow seams:
I learned how to do singling stitches on the edge of the cloth, snaking the thread up about 1.5cm every other warp yarn, to reinforce the edge (used for hems and buttonhole edges):
All this practice was so much fun, and I feel that I have fundamentally changed the way I think about costuming.
So, I've been experimenting using 2 rigid heddles. 2/1 twill is 1.5 times more dense than plain weave. So, in direct warping the heddles you need to pull half again as many threads through the slots as you would for 1/1 tabby. Even though you will weave with two heddles, you direct warp with just the back heddle in the loom. Using the warp beam to tie on your warp, then pull one loop through the first slot in the heddle and wind it on the warping peg at the distance you have calculated. Then loop your yarn around the warp beam for the second loop and pull it AGAIN through the FIRST slot in the heddle, and place the loop over the warping peg. around the warping peg. You now have 2 loops (which wil become 4 ends) thorugh the first slot. The next slot in sequence will only need one loop. Continue this pattern to achieve the 1.5 density required for 2/1 twill. Here's a diagram:
Then wind the warp under tension, and thread it very carefully using the following pattern (keep your wits about you! Constant Vigilance!):
Then , ta da! You've got a three shaft loom set up.
shaft 1: back heddle up, front heddle neutral
shaft 2: front heddle up, back heddle neutral
shaft 3: both heddles down
The sheds are very generous with this set up. It's so much fun to weave 2/1 twill this way!
note about selvages: once every 4th pick or so you'll find that just slipping the shuttle through the shed will skip the outermost selvage thread. When you notice it's about to happen, just slip the shuttle underneath that first thread on it's way through the shed. Then having caught the outer thread, everything will be fine and smooth. No gaps!
So, here are some samples:
1. woven by changing the direction of the shaft at 2.5 cm intevals (1,2,3,1,2,3...1,2,3,2,1,3...2,1,3). 2. playing around with weft stripes. 3. 1,2,3 weaving with dark weft and light weft.
Here's what my fine wool 2/1 twill looks like. I've folded it over to show the back.
Specs for the red and brown fabric:
100% wool (Finland) 2-ply fingering weight, 320 m/100g
48cm threaded in heddle, approx. 285 ends, 1.9 m long warp
required approx. 175 g brown wool for warp.
progress: approx. 40 cm completed
draw in: 5%
Pasanen, Mervi, "Aarreaitta: Tarton keskiaikaiset tekstiilit / what a treasure: Medieval textiles from Tartu, Estonia," in: Hibernaatiopesake (blog), 2015.
Rammo, Riina, Textiles Finds from Medieval Cesspits in Tartu: Technology, Trade and Consumption, (Thesis) Tartu Uliooli Kirjastus, 2015.
The rigid heddle loom is such a useful tool. With just a single heddle you can make plain tabby (plain weave 1 warp thread over each weft thread), repp tabby (plain weave with 2 warps threads over each weft thread (warp faced) or plain weave with 1 warp thread and 2 weft threads (weft faced)), and panama tabby (plain weave with 2 warp threads over pairs of weft threads). But, with two heddles you can make twills! 2/1 twill is very simple with 2 heddles (3 shafts). All of these weaves have been recovered from Northern medieval sites, like Herjolfsnes, Greenland (Ostergard, 2009) and Tartu, Estonia (Rammo, 2015). However, whereas they represent a minority of the cloths found at Herjolfsnes (most were 2/2 twill), they account for over 95% of the cloths recovered from Tartu.
7.5 DPI heddle, warped 50 cm with 10% draw in: 45 cm finished width (loom state)
2 ends in each slot and hole: 300 ends
warp length: 2 m
Yarn: 100% wool (Finland), 2-ply 320 m/100g
Direct warping sequence: draw two loops of warp through each slot on the rigid heddle.
Threading sequence: wind the warp under tension, then thread with two warp ends through each slot and each hole.
I was able to make over 1.5 m of repp fabric! It is just the right amount to make a shoulder cape hood. The density of my weave is 6 threads/cm for the warp and 4.5 threads/cm for the weft. This corresponds really well to the more coarser weaves found at Tartu (Rammo, 2015).
Here's the loom state cloth: And, after washing and fulling:
On the loom the warp threads are pulled taut, so there is open space between the threads during weaving. When the cloth is removed from the beams, these spaces fill in somewhat. And, after washing, the threads get fuzzier and everything evens out. I have heard that this from wence the phrase, "It will all even out in the wash," originates.
Photos to come when the hood has been cut and sewn.
Ostergard, Else, Woven into the Earth: Textiles from Norse Greenland, 2nd Ed., Aarhus Universtiy Press, 2009.
Rammo, Riina, Textile Finds from Medieval Cesspits in Tartu: Technology, Trade and Consumption, (Thesis) Tartu Ulikooli Kirjastus, 2015.
I have already cast on for a tall sock, and my winter clothing collection is becoming much more comfortable.
Here's an early medieval mitten, in the collection of the National Museum of Iceland (www.nationalmuseum.is),
I am in the midst of a 14th century life crisis. I purposefully did not bring my woollen cloak because it is de-dazzled with glass pearls that are more fitting for a Renaissance painting than real life (and I am now more focussed on real life in my 14th century play/study). So, I had on two layers of wool: a rust-red short sleeve wool kirtle, mostly hand-sewn with tablet woven edges at the side and front lacings (a piece of garb that at present makes the wardrobe cut). And, my new navy wool gown (I promised action photographs, and will provide them...soon). And, I grabbed a length of wool fabric to wrap around my shoulders because wool fabric is better than a be-dazzled cloak, I guess. Brrrrrrr. It was windy and dark and about 3-5 degrees Celcius.
So, I am a knitter. I am a damn good knitter. I have cables and stranded Norwegian sweaters that may bring tears to your eyes. But, no knitting for the 14th century, in northern Europe. The solution is simple. I must start nalbinding.
So, six days ago I decided to teach myself left-handed nalbinding. Of course, with the the help of a wonderful website: Neulakintaat
And, here is my progress. Two mittens made down to the thumb in Finnish 2+2 stitch, using the thumb method. It is an amazing art! My new favourite! This is the beginning of my new plan - to have clothing appropriate for a cold winter.
And, there are more plans. I have been reading a paper by Brandenburgh (2010), which is very interesting and describes "Early Medieval Textile Remains from Settlements in the Netherlands. An evaluation of Textile Production," which is definitey going to be earlier than the 14th century, but is very, very interesting and important, nevertheless. Lovely drawings of seams and hems, if you are interested. There is a picture of naturally white wool, woven in 'veil weave' open tabby (approx 10 threads/cm), recovered from the Leens site that the author thinks was probably used as a headdress. Ah. Wouldn't a woollen wimple and veil be a nice addition to my closet for the winter months.
And, here I have some fine tabby wool, natural white, just waiting to keep me winter-warm! My next hand-sewing project this winter.
Stay warm, friends! Let your bodies be wrapped in wool, and tiny stitches.
Crystel R. Brandenburgh, "Early Medieval Textile Remains from Settlements in the Netherlands. An evaluation of Textile Production," Journal of the Archaeology in the Low Countries, May 2010, pp. 41 -79.
I made a new late 14th century gown with 2 side gores, interlined to the waist with natural linen. I had so much fun drafting the sleeves with eased elbows that are snug, yet really fit well when I bend my arm - not tight and binding. I made the armskyes deep at the back and have plenty of forward arm movement. The sleeves are my favourite! I used buttons that were made be my friend and mentor who does spectacular pewter smithing. I sewed the gown with silk thread that I dyed in small batches as I went, and used wool filler yarn for the overcast seam stitching. I love this. The wool fibres from the wool yarn will felt together with use with the wool fibres from the fabric. Fabulous! Also, on bias cut pieces, like the neckline, the strong wool yarn keeps the fabric from drooping and sagging. Wonderful and seen on Herjolfsnes garments. Oh! Herjolfsnes! I have a beautiful copy of Woven into the Earth by Else Ostergard. A marvelous trove of information. I've spent the most time reading about the dyes and the weave of the fabrics. Because, almost as soon as I finished sewing and tablet weaving on my new gown, it was not quite good enough and wouldn't it be so much nicer to weave my own 2/2 twill and dye it on a fire in my garden? Well, back down to earth for the time being.
I am going to an SCA event this weekend and will wear my new gown and hopefully come home with action photographs and more posts. In the meantime, I here are a few details.
Sleeves and buttons! Petits fleurs!
Inside seams under the arms.
Neckline with woollen filler yarns caught in the overcast stitches. Little blue eyelets up the flat front. Narrow tablet woven edging - I think that the next time I will carry on around the entire neckline.
From the outside. Seams sewn in small backstitches and little flecks from the overcast seams in the inside. Because of the bulk from the linen interlining, I opened the seams flat for the torso of the dress, then felled them to one side for the lower portion (only lined to the hips).
The bottom of the front opening. Staggered eyelets for spiral lacing. I need to try cord making with a lucet!
I re-made a little purse with a fettered fleur for the household. It was longer before and the tablet weaving wasn't correct. Now the sides are attached with four tablets ZS ZS in all four holes. Then separated the tablets into two packs and took each one up and around the top, then re-joined the four tablets to continue connecting the remaining purse sides together. Just like in MoL Dress Accessories. I love the wool tassels.
Oh look! I made another little leather and wool bag to give away at the event! I love red and green together!
A new hair-do on a thin, tablet-woven silk band. The cornets are natural flax and I spun the binding cords myself, very slowly.
One last new thing: A St. Birgitta cap! So much more comfortable than a tied kerchief.
Figure 1: gown based on Moy gown, front
The diagram in Figure 2 was made by Carlson, based on the actual tracing of the garment by Margaret Lannin of the National Museum of Ireland and allows for a detailed view of the remaining fragments. The most prominent characteristic of its construction is undoubtedly the trapezoidal shoulder blade gussets at the back of the bodice, which help to form a very large arm scye, which is labelled by some as “aux grande assiettes”. Newton discusses the grand assiette design Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince and gives examples of its usage post-1350 (eg., the poupoint of Charles de Blois, d. 1364). Geijer also discusses the grande assiette type design in her book, The Golden Gown of Queen Margareta in Uppsala Cathedral (trans.). This gown with grande assiette sleeves was purportedly worn by Margareta on her wedding day in 1363 when she was 10 years old.
Figure 2: Moy Gown fragments. Drawings by Marc Carlson based on a tracing of the garment made by Margaret Lannin of the National Museum of Ireland.
"A coarsely woven twill of lightly spun wool, and may have had some slight felting on the inner surface. It has a low round neckline, with the bodice buttoned at centre front and tight sleeves buttoned to underarms. The skirt is shaped with a double gore at centre back and at either side. The front of the skirt did not survive. This Moy gown is of interest since it shows the sewing techniques of the time. Selvedges were used when possible, otherwise the fabric edge was thickened to avoid ravelling. All seams were welted but the neckline was finished neatly with backstitch on the inner face and the bodice fronts were hemmed. The seams of the skirts were sometimes left unfinished towards the bottom, the lower edge of which is so fragmentary that it would be unwise to conjecture as to whether it was ankle or calf-length. The difficulties surmounted in accommodating the sleeves are of interest. The fabric was wrapped around the arm and cut to extend close to the neck. A welted seam attached this to the body of the gown and continued into the sleeve. In this way the weakness of a shoulder seam was avoided. For further strength the two foreparts of the bodice were cut with narrow straps which extended over the shoulders and into triangular gussets between the shoulder blades. A gusset was placed at the front of each armpit for ease of movement and comfort."
Figure 3: aux grande assiettes
Figure 4: triangular gores inserted under the arm, and at the front of the sleeve head
Figure 5: wrist to elbow button closures
- My wool gown has been hand dyed with synthetic dye, not natural dye.
- I varied the dimensions of the gown in order to fit my body, please see Table 1.
- I sewed the gown by hand using synthetic button hole twist thread and a modern steel needle.
- The cloth buttons I constructed are made from circles of cloth which are self-stuffed to create a firm button with no raw edges.
- The button holes are bound in silk thread, not wool.
- The buttonholes on my gown extend only from sleeve hem to elbow, not to the top of the arm.
- My gown has linen facings for the buttonholes and the button edges, whereas the edges of the Moy gown were just turned over and neatly hemmed. The cloth with which I constructed my gown is not as coarse and I felt that the buttonholes and button edges required further reinforcement.
- The lower front portion of the extant gown did not survive, but I have added triangular gores in the front of my gown based on the symmetrical gores placement seen in other extant garment of the 14th and 15th centuries
- I have finished the seams on my gown by pressing them open and tacking them down with a running stitch as indicated in the MoL Textiles and Clothing book for seam finishing in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Figure 7: gown based on Moy gown, back
Extant Moy bog gown
Shoulder gusset (grand assiette)
Sleeve side: 3”
Centre back edge: 5”
Top: 8 ¼" to 8 3/8"
Bottom: 8 ¼" to 8 3/8"
Sleeve side: 6 ½"
Centre back edge: 8”
Attach to bodice: 2”
Shoulder ridge: 1”
Strap length: 9”
Attach to bodice: 2”
Shoulder ridge: ¾”
Strap length: 8”
Front side: 5”
Back side: 4”
Front side: 3 ½”
Back side: 4 7/8 “
Top: 2 ¾”
Sides: 3 – 3 ½”
Top: 3 ½”
Sides: 4 – 4 ½”
Top: 17 ½”
Buttonhole side length: 28”
Button side length: 23”
The length of the sleeve is not known
Distance between: ¾”
Number and distribution: 13 from sleeve hem to elbow
Distance between: 1.1”
Number and distribution: unknown number from sleeve hem to shoulder blade gusset
McGann, Kass, What the Irish Wore. The Moy Gown – An Irish Medieval Gown,
This gown was constructed of red wool flannel and lined with blue silk. It is in the Italian/Southern European style late 15th century. I generally wear the gown with a square front, supportive kirtle (see images and description below) and a stuffed roll headdress created from a linen roll, wrapped in burgundy silk and banded with velveteen and pearl strips. In the two images below I am wearing a long transparent silk veil under the roll. The gown laces up the back, is closely fitted through the torso, and features full upper sleeves and tight fore sleeves. The back seam in the fore sleeve is slit and very small puffs of my linen smock can been seen.
The inspiration for this gown was drawn from several images in art work from the late 15th century, but mainly from a detail on the central panel of Memling's St. John Alterpiece. I love the sleeves, and the dress has a modest scoop neckline and lovely full skirt. In Memling's image there is no visible lacing and I have made an assumption that the lacing is in the back.
St John Altarpiece (central panel detail) by Hans Memling, 1474-79
Memlingmuseum, Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges
The two photos below show the back lacing and the only additional embellishment on the gown - a nine strand braid, made in three parts and sewn to the neckline and the lacing edges.
Under the gown I am wearing a square front kirtle constructed of blue tabby-woven lightweight wool, with side lacing. The bottom edge of the kirtle features a pleated border beaded with glass pearls and glass beads. The embellishment on the hem is generally the only part of this garment that is ever on view. There are numerous examples in 15th century artwork whereby a non-embellished outer gown is lifted ever so slighty and modestly to reveal an elaborate gown underneath.
Details from the kirtle: side lacing (both sides, fulled wool strips sewn into the lacing edges for stiffness and hand-sewn eyelets); and beading on the lower pleated edge.
The image below depicts a lady in waiting helping Bathsheba from her bath. The lady is wearing a heavy, fur-lined gown over a kirtle with a square front and a deep, pleated border on the lower edge. One cannot discern from the painting if the under gown has sleeves or not.
Bathsheba by Hans Memling, ca. 1485
I am wearing a late 15th century style linen coif with the kirtle. It is contructed like a bonnet with a turned back front edge, and two tails which are brought up and around the head and then tied again in the back. A similar coif is shown below in a detail from the MS Douce 195 Romance of the Rose Manuscript. The coif is very simple to construct being made from one piece of linen cut on the fold with a clean selvage edge in front. The two tails are attached about 5 cm out from the central back seam.
Ms. Douce 195, f. 118
Peppered throughout the Luttrell Psalter are very pretty and practical aprons. They have a honeycomb smocked appearance and since smocking was a technique known and used in that time period, it is a reasonable assumption that this is indeed the manner in which these aprons were created.
From the Luttrell Psalter, 1305-1340.
Since I have been long craving my own apron, I set out to make a smocked one using a medium-heavy weight linen. I am wearing it below with an early 14th century gown, and linen headdress.
The apron was constructed using a smocking technique starting with gathering stitches set 3/8" apart on a piece of linen approximately 26" wide. I used 6 rows of gathering stitches to make the smocking pleats. The picture below shows 7 rows, but I removed one as the honeycomb pattern I intended to create is based on an even number of rows.
The gathering threads are pulled tightly and then the threads knotted off. I used heavy button-hole thread in a high-contrast colour so that I could easily see the threads while making my smocking stitches.
The photo below shows the smocking stitches all set into the pleats. The honeycomb pattern was created by linking pairs of pleats together with two satin stitches, then using alternating pairs of pleats in the row below. Using this method, two rows of gathering stitches are smocked at a time.
The finished smocking pattern is shown below. The gathering stitches have been removed, and the pattern stretched out gently. The linen has been effectively gathered into half its width making a band approximately 13" long.