All posts tagged: 1300s

A medieval moment in my 1350s-80s gown

At long last, after lots of research, lots of work, some triumphs, and a few setbacks, I’ve finished my first proper medieval garment. I got it completely ready to wear, except for sewing four buttons on the cuffs, for a historical dinner on Saturday.  I wore it for the dinner with cuffs unbuttoned, and then I finished the buttons on Monday. On Thursday the weather was beautiful (if cold) and the gorgeous Elizabeth of Ills Winter and I spent the late afternoon hanging out at the Sir Truby King gardens, taking pictures and generally having fun. I only ended up putting 11 buttons on the sleeves, because of buttonhole issues (more about that in a later post), but I could add more later if I wished. I’m reasonably happy with the finished result.  The neckline is a little too scooped, the sleeves a little too long, my buttonholes more than a little rubbish, but as a learning piece, it’s not bad at all!  The next one will be much better! I definitely feel I’ve got the right silhouette …

Plausible-ish 14th century smock construction – maybe?

When I made my nettle shift/smock I wanted my construction to be reasonably historically accurate, but in researching 14th century smocks* I discovered that there are so few visual images of smocks of that period, so few extent garments (none of which remotely match the visual record) and so few written mentions that we really don’t know how 14th century smocks were made.  The best guesses are based on extrapolating backwards from extent garments from later periods, and matching that up to the few period depictions and the single extent (sorta, it’s been missing since WWII so all we have is a black and white photograph) example (which doesn’t look at all like period depictions) and known sewing techniques from other garments. Many reproduction medieval smocks/shifts/chemises are constructed like 16th-18th century shifts – a series of rectangles and triangles, with gussets under the arm, and side gores to allow the shift to flare.  It’s a frugal, practical and durable construction method.  However the single extent (sorta) 14th century smock, is side gore-less (and while there is …

A smock of nettles

Of all the fairytales, the one that intrigued me most growing up was The Wild Swans (also known as The Swan Princes). There are many variants of the story, but basically it is about a girl (Hans Christian Andersen, in his version, calls her Elise) whose brothers are enchanted and turned into swans. In order to free them from their spell, our heroine must make each of them a shirt of stinging nettles: and while she spins and sews (or knits, depending on the version), she cannot speak. Some of the local villagers are suspicious of the silent girl who gathers prickly weeds, and of the garments she is creating. When, desperate for a new source of nettles, she gathers them from the churchyard, the villagers turn against her completely, and try her as a witch.  She desperately sews even as they tie her to a stake and pile the wood around her. As they light the fire, her swan brothers fly overhead and circle around her, and she throws the shirts over them.  Unfortunately …