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Eric Nower




Location: Upstate NY
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 12:21 pm    Post subject: Tunics in the 13th and 14th cen.         Reply with quote

Hello all,

Does anyone know what kind of material a surcoat or tunic to go over ones armour would have been made of in the 13th-14th cen. If I recall some of the earlier threads here, cotton wasn't found in europe at this time, it was mostly linen and wool. When I went to the fabric store, umm well there's at lot of different linens WTF?! What kind of linen or wool should I use? Were there any set patterns for men-at-arms? Any typical colors or some that weren't used?

Any help would be appreciated in this matter Happy

May God have mercy on my enemies, for I shall have none.
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G. Scott H.




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A couple of ideas regarding linen: first, you want to make sure you get actual flax linen, rather than some synthetic fake "linen"(I don't know if such a thing even exists, but you might ask at the fabric store). Flax is a plant fiber used to make both ancient and modern linen. Second, linen cloth is available in both knit and woven form. Stick with the woven stuff, as knitting had not been invented yet during the 13 and 1400's. Generally, if something is knit, you will see tiny rows of loops, whereas, woven items appear as just a criss-cross pattern of threads. Again, just ask at the store, if you're unsure. I would also suggest going with a somewhat coarse-weave linen, as the super-fine weaves you see in modern cloth are a result of modern machinery and techniques.
I would tend to think that surcoats would have largely been made of wool, since it is very tough (though, even linen has a tensile strength 2-3 times that of cotton), though linen could have been used, and would certainly be more period correct than cotton, which wasn't being used in Europe yet. Happy
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William C Champlin




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 9:23 pm    Post subject: Tunic etc.         Reply with quote

Wool, linen, or ,if of an upper class, silk was used. A good, cheap reference is "A History of Costume" by Carl Kohler published by Dover. It may be a case of "too much information." If you need a sewing pattern, Period Patterns has a couple of sets of period military patterns for things like tunics, arming caps, gambisons, etc. The Pillaged Village and other on line stores sell these.W.
tweetchris
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 10:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A surcoat would be made out of wool since it was very hard to colour linnen with the methods available back then. The trick is to find a thinn but tightly woven and felted wool which admittedly is much easier said than done.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 1:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cotton was actualy found in southern europe. The templars used it for their surcoats and gambesons. But if you are portraying a nothern european, wool is what you want.
The thickness is more or less up to you. Mine is pretty stout, at 520g/meter, but you could go for a much thinner fabric; wool cloth can be as thin as linnen. (For instance, the kind of wool suits are made of.)

As for colour; No black, lest thou be a Templar or Hospitaler, no dark or bottle green (Light or olive green is way cool), no very clear red (Darker, or pinkish tones of red are cool.) Blue is ok, if you are a Knigh'IT, and rich. Brown is cool, as is yellow, but avoid the dark tones.
Remeber that medevial colours are mostly plant colours, while modern cloth is chemicaly dyed. There are a lot of coulours they just didnt have awailable.

As for patterns, this depends entirely on which part of the 13th-14th you are portaying. In my groups period, the 1260s, surcotes are plain, single colour affaris, without hearaldry; This appears around the turn of the centuries. In the 14th you get heraldry, two or more colours, and so on.

For inspiration and refference:
The life of Edward the Confessor, about 1240
http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Ee.3.59/bytext

The Maciowski Bible, about 1250
http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/maciejowski_bible.htm
-a long time classic when it comes to 13th century life and warfare.

The Manesse Codex, About 1305-40
http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/sammlung2/al...ame=cpg848
A colection of german noblemen.
(my personal hero is this guy. http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/sammlung2/cpg/cpg848.xml? docname=cpg848&pageid=PAGE0595 note the translucency of the tunic... Wink )

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 7:05 am    Post subject: Suggested Linen Sources         Reply with quote

Hello -

I thought I'd send you some good sources for Linen (and seasonally, wool). I can order linen and wool from these online sources cheaper and easier than I can find it at a local store. For instance, I can usually get Linen for $7 or less a yard online, while at the store it costs me $14. That's more than enough savings to make up for the shipping costs, which are usually negligable.

www.fabric.com - The linen from Fabric.com tends to be softened, and is usually more "fine" than linens from other places. You do not want a blend, or anything like that. (There is synthetic Linen). As far as wool goes, I have found Wool Melton to be a great thick felted wool. This (http://www.swordtheatre.com/gallery/data/media/14/1burkhart.JPG) outfit is made from Wool Melton that I boiled, ice-shocked, and dried on high to make sure that it was good and felted.

www.fabrics-store.com - The linen from here tends to be more "rustic" in it's feel. To be honest, I think it's better quality, but if you're a picky person about how fabric feels against your skin, you may have a harder time with the fabric from here. They only carry linen right now. Another nice thing, is that they'll send you sample cards of various weights of linen so that you can get an idea of the differences and make an educated choice on what to buy. (The heavier the fabric, the thicker the fibers, usually)

Hope this helps!
Jessica
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for the good links and info. Timely, too... have a few projects rising to the top of my queue here that this will be very useful for.

Jessica - you mentioned a process for treating your wool. What did ice shocking it do? I'd heard of this years ago, but wasn't interested at the time...

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jessica, is that the Kansas City Ren Faire? It sure looks like it. Ahhhh, memories.

Yesterday on my way home from Atlanta I purchased a few yards of wool fabric for some viking/norman clothing. I wish I'd seen your links first, it would have saved me some money! While I was buying the wool I kept thinking "This is what I need to wear in this 95 degree weather". Big Grin

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Aaron -

Boiling the wool followed by ice shocking it is a simple and chemical-free way of fulling it somewhat.

Since wool is made up of hair, and hair is covered by all those little scales, basically boiling it, while stirring it around alot makes all the little scales puff up and catch on one another. Ice shocking it after that (dumping it in a tub/sink full of icewater) will basically freeze the hairs in the position they're in at that moment. Then I always wrap it up by drying it on high in the drier to insure it's shrunk as much as it's going to.

This process will make it so that the wool will be fulled and therefore highly unlikely to fray or unravel when cut, also puffs it up and makes it thicker. Another benefit is that after this treatment, you can pretty much safely wash the wool in a washing machine, and dry it in the drier, without having to worry about any further shrinkage or other damage to the fabric. Pretty cool, if you're a low-maintenace kinda person.

Hope this makes some sense.

For those who care even more, a great article on it is here: http://fiberarts.org/design/articles/washwool.html

Jessica

PS: I also boil dyed linen that I get to take the "chemical" edge off the dye. Sure, I could wash it seven or eight times to get the same end result, but that ends up getting tedious and costing quite a bit of money in water.
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick -

Nope, that pic's from a faire a bit closer to you, the Great Plains Ren Fest in Wichita.

It's a MUCH smaller little fest that's a one-weekend, tent-only event. But a lot of fun, really, because they're so laid back.

Jess
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jessica Finley wrote:
Patrick -

Nope, that pic's from a faire a bit closer to you, the Great Plains Ren Fest in Wichita.

It's a MUCH smaller little fest that's a one-weekend, tent-only event. But a lot of fun, really, because they're so laid back.

Jess


Neat! I attended that one every year when I lived in Wichita. Is it still at Kansas Newman?

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you, Jessica! Actually, that makes a whole lot of sense, and probably saved my butt on an upcoming project.

It would really stink to have a piece go to pot for lack of proper preparation of the pieces. I know a decent amount about wood and leather, enough to get me by with metal, but I don't know squat about fabrics.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick -

Kansas Newman ended up shutting down as they felt that Renaissance Festivals weren't reflective of their goals as a Christian College. Sad, but true. So, the boys that run Great Plains (which used to be only in the Fall) stepped up to the plate and opened for a weekend during the Spring too. They hold it at Sedgwick County Park, which is quite nice. The only problem with the site is that in the Fall it's covered with sandburs, which, to bring this back to topic, when you get them in fulled wool, you NEVER get them out. NEVER. EVER. I threw away a mantle because of last year's mayhem.

Aaron -

No problem! I am glad to help!

If you really want to be particular, after you boil and/or wash the linen, and plan to make something from it, take the time to iron it back square. By which I mean that make it so that the fibers go back to being perpendicular to eachother. It'll save you a ton of headache after you cut your pattern pieces. If you skip this step, Linen has a nasty tendancy to want to go back on it's own, which means that it ends up pulling your garment out of shape as it attempts to return to square. Not fun. *wink* Devil's in the details when working with fabric.

Jess
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G. Scott H.




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jessica Finley wrote:
Then I always wrap it up by drying it on high in the drier to insure it's shrunk as much as it's going to.


Words of wisdom! If you're going to work with wool, shrink it down before you make anything out of it. Reminds me of the beautiful (and expensive) pure wool ivy cap (technical term for a golfer's hat) that I had a few years ago. After much wear and much sweating, the hat got pretty smelly, so I popped it in the washing machine, and then into the dryer (hey, it's a "guy thing" Laughing Out Loud). Well, the hat ended up shrinking down so that it would probably have fit a 5 year old kid. Eek! Very good advice, Jessica. Happy
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jessica Finley wrote:
If you really want to be particular, after you boil and/or wash the linen, and plan to make something from it, take the time to iron it back square. By which I mean that make it so that the fibers go back to being perpendicular to eachother. It'll save you a ton of headache after you cut your pattern pieces. If you skip this step, Linen has a nasty tendancy to want to go back on it's own, which means that it ends up pulling your garment out of shape as it attempts to return to square. Not fun. *wink* Devil's in the details when working with fabric.


I might have intuitively done this, but now I most assuredly will. Again, you probably saved me from a costly mistake, both in materials and time. Would *HATE* to have my drawers and hosen all bunched up in a wad! Talk about uncomfortable! Now, I just might be able to pull this off.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

G. Scott H. wrote:
... then into the dryer (hey, it's a "guy thing" Laughing Out Loud). Well, the hat ended up shrinking down so that it would probably have fit a 5 year old kid. Eek! Very good advice, Jessica. Happy


Hey! So it's not just my husband! I'd become convinced that he was on a mission to destroy every nice (read new and expensive) piece of clothing that I own. *grin*

And Aaron: No problem. That's why I mentioned it.
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Cole Sibley




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very good information, thank you Jessica.

P.S. My horror story: A beautiful white sweater that my wife wore all the time, 're-colored' to a nice plain pink, and 're-sized' about 5 sizes smaller. Made a wonderful gift for my 10 year old niece. The good news, I don't have to go near the washing machine any more (for fear of a black eye).
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't forget the heat value of wool... Could be good or bad depending.
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Eric Nower




Location: Upstate NY
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 11:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all,

Thanks for the links and advice, here's what I found. I had to go to a small family run store but this is what they had.

The top is a swatch of linen, well 95% linen 5% somthin else I can't remember....I'm blessed with a horrid memory Cry
It runs about $5.99 a yard and comes in olive and off white( swatch is olive)


The bottom is 100% wool and they only carry the green. I like the color of this, but it's a little dark....not quite natural is it?
This runs about $13.99 a yard.


Which one is better to use historically....?

On a side note ever get the feeling when your shopping you have NO idea what your looking for and EVERYONE in the store knows that you don't Laughing Out Loud Makes you feel sort of out of place.

May God have mercy on my enemies, for I shall have none.
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Jun, 2005 8:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

>Which one is better to use historically....?

They are both 100% period, it would be your preference, and temperature/usage should be your guide.

Both Wool and Linen wick moisture away (as fibers go), and both breathe when woven. But, when you full, or felt the Wool, it becomes much denser, and will breathe less.

Linen is hollow on the inside of the fiber, and tends to insulate a bit, which keeps you more "stable" between hot and cold environments.

So, I'd say if you expect "Hot", go for Linen, "Medium" could go either way, with the Wool staying on the warmer side, and for "Cold", go for the Wool.
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