, , ,

The Quest to Find a Dress.

Medieval Tailors Assistant

Medieval Tailors Assistant

I’ve discovered, in my trawling through the internet to find good costuming sources, a fabulous book called the ‘Medieval Tailors Assistant’ by Sarah Thursfield and I love it! It’s the first source I’ve found which lays out when what item was worn, where and how and who. There’s also how to hand sew or machine sew, what fabrics to use, how to make a personal block to make your costumes more accurate – how they would have been made back between 1200-1500.

PS the cheapest place I’ve found it is an Australian site, BookWorld with free postage and a great price!

Along with shoes, head wear, hose and children’s clothing. So now I can finally work out what to do with my hair for the Festival! Because ladies – you know how hard hair can be to control these days, let alone trying to figure out what would have been class-appropriate and time-appropriate. But I gotta say, the women back then wore some crazy things on their heads.

The Cross Tree C.1399 -1422

http://www.kats-hats.co.uk/images/crosstree2.jpg

Although I do think the Crispinette is rather lady-like and elegant.

The Crispinette C. 1300 – 1500

http://www.kats-hats.co.uk/slideshow/images/kat2.jpg

What do you think of these? What is the craziest headwear you’ve seen?

-Angela

, ,

Dr. Brown goes down!

A very welcome and surprise guest at this year’s Abbey Medieval Festival, was celebrity Dr. Chris Brown.  Showing up on both Saturday and Sunday of the tournament weekend, held at the well known Abbey Museum near Brisbane, Dr. Brown was in search of a medieval experience.  The crowd was given a special treat. 

A brave and true Knight, Dr. Brown, known as the Bondi Vet and from Channel 10’s Friday night show, ‘The Living Room’, truly embraced his medieval experience.  Not only did he draw a crowd….he drew a sword!

The Abbey Medieval Experience

With borrowed armour from Sir Justyn, and a big smile, Chris Brown from Channel 10's The Living Room has a real medieval experience

With orders not to hold back, his opponent, Sir Leon Sinclair, from the medieval renactment group Eliste d’corps, as honour bade him, obliged! Clad in armour from the generous and accomplished, Sir Justyn, Dr. Brown had his first Abbey Medieval experience.  The pair went at it, hammer and tongs! The crowd became noisy; their thirst for pain and blood was audible; there was no retreat for either of these warriors….(only joking, there was no blood…was there??) but the Oohs! and Aaahs! were clearly audible around the grounds; the ladies shrieked, covering their eyes and imagining the worst for their favourite handsome knight and Sir Blair, the MC, didn’t hold back either! What entertainment!

To give him credit, Chris put up a good fight, rising again and again, to face the sword.  A little slower each time, but he rose, untill the crowd grew silent.  Dr. Brown went down!……….. There was word of concussion!

But Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, didn’t he look the true Knight in shining armour at this great medieval tournament? And, unlike in medieval times, he lived to fight another day, which is a good thing because we loved him and the crowd loved him.  And good news!  The footage for Dr. Brown’s battle at the Abbey Tournament is to be aired this Friday night (5th October), ‘The Living Room’ on Channel 10. Book the good seat in advance!

Thanks Chris Brown! Come back next year for your second medieval experience!

 

 

C15th Medieval Lingerie Discovered!

 

A Fabulous Feminine Find !

{Another post from our guest blogger – Kat Woods}

When I woke yesterday morning and read a post on my facebook page from a fellow friend, I didn’t think it would be such a monumentious day. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, you are seeing Medieval Underwear!

http://www.uibk.ac.at/alte-geschichte-orient/head/aramus.html

 

Underwear!

These garments, which I personally believe are linen due to them being in such close proximity to the skin and therefore having to be laundered frequently, have laid hidden in a vault beneath the floorboards of Lengberg Castle in East Tyrol, Austria since the 15th century.

The find, four bras (2 of which look like modern Bra’s and 2 which are described as ‘shirts with bags’) and two pairs of pants, were discovered by Beatrix Nutz, of Innsbruck University and she faced scepticism until radio-carbon dating proved otherwise.

Already since this article was first posted on the Daily Mail website in the UK yesterday, many have discussed the finds.

Two woman rightly say
“One find doesn’t mean all women everywhere during the 800years of “middle ages” wore underwear but obviously some of them, in some places at one time, did.”

“I do not believe it’s quite a shock, especially if you are a woman : wearing breasts is heavier than you think, it can hurt if you have big breasts, so why wouldn’t have a woman looked for a way to feel better in her body?”

http://www.uibk.ac.at/alte-geschichte-orient/head/aramus.htmlToday, another woman backs up my own thoughts and research with  “Until today it was just a myth:  ‘The tailoring skills to make intricately cut and shaped clothing did not really develop in Europe until the middle of the fourteenth century. About this time, women began wearing an undergarment of stiffened linen, tightened by front or back laces. In the fifteenth century this item was known as a pair of stays or bodies in English and corps or cors in French. The English word corset presumably comes from a version of the French cors. At first corsets were made of two layers of linen, held together with a stiff paste. The resulting rigid material held in and formed the wearer’s figure.’   Now we know more  :)”

From my experience into researching medieval ladies headdresses from various effigies throughout the UK the bust line is far higher than the modern bust line and the cleft of the bust is just below the collar bone. We know ladies that this is not possible; boobs cannot be that pert without some form of body binding. The Roman acrobats had leather bustiers as they are portrayed in mosaics, and we know the Italian ladies of the Renaissance also had leather laced up corsets of a similar form alongside the early Tudor corsets. Elizabeth I Funeral effigy at Westminster had reeds in her linen corset as I myself have seen it. I too have found refs’ for ‘a pair of bodies’ and ‘corsettus’ and Queen Philippa, wife to Edward III, had documented a red velvet corset, cut in 13 pieces, although there is no descriptions as to how this would look.

And I noted elsewhere yesterday “Lack of evidence doesn’t mean that evidence is lacking, we just haven’t discovered it yet.
These fabulous feminine finds to me is proof for years that backs up my hunch, there were medieval undergarments similar to Roman acrobats depicted on Mosaics. :-)”

But let’s be honest here ladies, my sisters in the Medieval Re-enactment fraternity, it maybe ‘one find’ but it is one find that gives us a closer glimpse into the woman’s side of the Medieval World, a world that is always hidden and overshadowed by the Medieval masculine world, but has always been there. Such wonderful finds like this, turn all our thinking onto its head and make us all address and re-evaluate our own research and sharing such valuable research information to each other without any bitchiness, backstabbing or malice, is what it’s is all about. I LOVE this part of our hobby. I love it when a find is found and tangible proof finally appears to back up your own private musings which you dare not say aloud for fear of being set down publicly because you dare to think outside the box by looking at other references differently, piecing them all together like a jigsaw until you have the full picture.

Until yesterday, a part of my jigsaw picture to medieval undergarments for many a year was missing from my talks of “Dressing of a Lady” ( shown here) which we did with our Group ‘Age of Chivalry’ for English Heritage. The missing piece has now fallen into place.  I cannot wait to read what the M.E.D.A.T.S  ( Medieval Dress and Textile Society)  conference discusses and many respected Medieval persons, medievalists and Historical Costumiers think when they put their thoughts to the discussion but until then I shall be happy to read the Full Article in Aug issue of BBC History and I pick up my copy today YAY!!

x

 

Guest Blogger:  Kat Woods

{~Runs a business www.kats-hats.co.uk which has raised the costume and headwear standards in re-enactment throughout the UK, Europe, Australia and USA  by producing High Quality Bespoke pieces of work for Re-enactors and Medieval Interpreters in the UK and Worldwide, English Heritage, CADW and Museums.
~Been a key participant in re-enactment for over 26yrs and in that time has portrayed Medieval, Tudor, Elizabethan and Regency with Dance and period style dresses and accessories. Is a keen researcher of period costumes and headwear but specialises in the medieval period as this is where her heart and passion is strongest. This has led to a lot of ecclesiastical research in particular photographing tomb effigies and has a large data base of primary sources.
~Ran a successful medieval dance group, called ‘The Court of King Edward’ for Excalibur Medieval Society, which had a reputation of being the best in the South West of England.
~ Now part of ‘Age of Chivalry’, a Fourteenth Century Medieval Group which specializes in the re-creation of Full Contact Tournament Fighting and Dance of the period of Edward, The Black Prince which she runs with Richard Babbage.
~Participates in dance workshops by renowned Historical Dance teachers of the Early Dance Circle, Diana Cruickshank and Philippa Waite. Attended workshops by the late Peggy Dixon.
~Organises medieval society weekend tours of Medieval Exeter with its Medieval Underground Tunnels.
~Has been made honorary member of many other UK societies due to her help and advice.
~Kat is working on a book about medieval headdresses from her research of Female Medieval Tomb effigies. She had exclusive access to the effigy of Princess Beatrice, Countess of Arundel in the Fitzalan Chapel at Arundel and had written permission from Arundel Castle to contact the Courtauld Institute of Art for more detailed photographs of the Duke of Norfolk’s ancestor.}

Medieval Bras and Undies.

Our latest guest blogger was wondering whether to start her forthcoming series with the topic of ‘bras and knickers’ or just to jump in with Medieval Sanitary Customs (of the female kind.)

Medieval Under-Clothing.

Medieval clothing is a topic which is dear to any Lady’s heart, and why not?

With such fabulous gowns and sumptuous fabrics, why not dress in her finest every chance she gets? Talks such as these, are always enthusiastically attended, but after it’s all over, there’s a crowd that hangs back to ask the really, really pertinant questions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fig_leaf.jpg

 

So, um, what DID they wear underneath?

Everyone knows that medieval women didn’t wear underwear. No pants- everyone knows that. And bras are a pretty modern invention, aren’t they? Aren’t they?

See a pair of Reproduction Medieval Underpants.

Actually, no. Medieval women did wear underwear, and not the corsets and chastity belts that Hollywood would have us believe. Thrilling archaeological finds in Europe have discovered underwear- women’s underwear- and Abbey Festival-goers will have a chance to hear about them and see a pair of reproduction medieval underpants at a lecture in the University Pavillion on both days.

 

Guest Blogger:  Rosalie Gilbert

{Rosalie Gilbert is a re-enactor and historical clothing enthusiast whose main interest is the lives of medieval women.

Rosemalie is a life member of FOTAM; has been re-enacting for 10 years with various groups of late is associated with Knights of Lion Rampant.  She wrote our first stringently-accurate costume guidelines for our stall-holders.  Rosalie has been a long-time volunteer at many Abbey Museum events including the Abbey Medieval Festival.  We are sure Rosalie’s lectures at this year’s Tournament will be as well attended as her previous ones.

Visit her website at http://rosaliegilbert.com for more information about the lives of medieval women.}

,

I Just Want To Go To The Medieval Carnivale!

 

This amazing feature is happening on the Saturday Night of the Abbey Tournament.

We’ve had a tad of confusion raising its head a bit this last week amongst our readers, with quite a few enquiries coming our way.

Can I go to Just the Carnivale without going to the Festival?

Yes, you most certainly are welcome to come to the Carnivale withOUT needing to go to the day events first.

This event is a separately ticketed event to the actual Tournament day tickets, and when you are just coming to the Carnivale the gates will be open for you at 5.00pm.

So I don’t have to buy a Day Pass for the Tournament, when I just want to see this amazing spectacular?

YES – you can buy a ticket just for the Carnivale.

The Gate access for those who are just going to the Carnivale is available from 5.oopm onwards.  The Carnivale itself begins at 5.30 pm.

The Carnivale requires its own ticket (and by the way there IS limited seating), and you are able to buy this on-line (limited seating, remember?), or you are welcome to purchase your ticket/s at the gate on the way in.

This means that you don’t have to come (or buy!) the Day passes to the Abbey Tournament to attend the Carnivale.

However, the idiosyncrasies of our booking system means that if you desire to book the Carnivale tickets on-line, you do need to go through the link for the Abbey Medieval Festival.

So how do I access the Carnivale tickets on-line?

Step 1

Follow the link to the Carnivale page where you will find a little more on the doings of the night, or go straight to the one on the bookings page.

Step 2

When you get to the bookings page, you will be asked to choose between four diffent events.

You need to take the Abbey Medieval Festival one. Its the only one that has ‘various’ in the first column.

Step 3.

When you get to the actual booking page, you will find the Carnivale ticket has been pre-filled for you (according to the numbers you entered before).  If you are coming to the Festival too, then here is where you add those tickets that you desire.

Step 4.

I’m sure you know how to proceed from there on.  🙂

,

Accessories and Bling!

Hello again, readers.

Last week’s Dreadful Note of Preparation from Damien, reminded me that while my Project Gorgeous Garment may be nearing completion, my supply of knick-knacks and trinkets was a little sparse?  And even though dressing-up and getting into the spirit of the Abbey Medieval Festival is completely our own experience choice, I began to wonder where on earth I could get the right kind of bling?   So, this week, I want to write about attention to the final details of your medieval costume.

The final touches

Creative accessories will complete any outfit!

I know I’m not the only person that tends to leave things like this to the last moment, and one of my pet hates is not being a hundred percent happy with my choice and having to settle with something I don’t really like because of time.  And for me definitely one of those ninety-ninth hour things is accessories.  A lot of our customers have also been asking where to find something affordable to complete their medieval costumes.

Fear not readers! Medieval accessories – obviously not authentic – are easier to find than you think. And while I know I would love to have a falcon on my arm as a fashion statement, it’s really not that do-able for most.  So, last weekend, I went on a different type of hunt.  I visited Morayfield Shopping Centre in Caboolture, North Brisbane, with my three children (who were on a good behaviour bribe!) to see what was out there in the way of Medieval style jewellery. The kids pretended to be Birds of  Prey, hunting for shiny, old, things, which took their fancy!

Nothing completes your medieval costume like some bright accessories and a smile!

Historians, with the utmost of respect – I anticipate your alarm – but we found some great imitation bling in ……DIVA!

And like it or loathe it, I came home happy!  Part of what I want to do in the overall Medieval Festival is to bring a medieval entertainment experience to the masses.  So I left my authenticity eye at home and just wanted to see what the universe would put forward. Lo and behold! I found brooches, necklaces, rings, ear-rings, tiaras and bling galore.

Obviously, very modern, but let’s not underestimate the importance of having a fun experience! And let’s face it, if we had a pre-requisite to wear only authentic accessories, the Abbey Medieval Banquet and Carnivale would be a quiet party! If DIVA’s accessories enable your medieval transformation, then they get my vote! It’s all in the spirit of preparation for the Medieval Banquet, Abbey Tournament or Carnival!

Go forth and shop!

Till next time, Caroline

Will My Medieval Dress Fit Me?

The Abbey Medieval Festival is pleased to offer you this Costuming post by our special guest blogger who has a wealth of experience with differing costume and dress styles and fittings when attending Medieval Events.

What Medieval Dress Style will suit me?

Jean de Liège, Tomb effigy of Philippa of Hainault, alabaster (London, Westminster Abbey)  Image from the website ‘Richard II’s Treasure, the riches of a Medieval King’ on a page about Richard II’s Grandmother.You may think that all medieval women were tall and slender but this is not the case. Look at the C14th Queen of King Edward III, the gentle yet clever Philippa of Hainault. Loved and worshipped by her Husband, loved and adored by the people even after her death, she was no stick insect and yet was the epitome of elegance and bringing her and her unique styles from Valenciennes, Belgium (Valenciennes can be found today in Northern France), influencing the fashion at court with her native ladies and throughout English Noble and Middle Class society.
Hopefully this short post will cover the basics and give you an idea of what would suit your body shape best for you to feel and look totally fabulous at the festival this year.

Slender, “Willowy” and Athletic Figure Styles

This is the lady immediately after the bride.If you are of a slender build ( or athletic), you can pretty much wear almost anything in the medieval era, from a well cut C13th garment that is loose fitting, to a C14th Cote-hardie as pictured here. along with a well cut sideless surcote,  a C15th French Burgundian Gown or Kirtle.
Lady Margaret de Bois from Ingtham Church, Norfolk, English c.1365.What to avoid?

Too much fabric for starters! Be aware of hanging sleeves over narrow ones if part of the fashion of the era you portray. These will swamp your slender frame unless cut with care and thought, should you choose to have them.

The neckline on a C14th gown can be higher above the bust and can be off the shoulder to add some sensuality.

For the C15th keep to a high waist and belt, as it will give you the illusion of curves for your derrière.

Keep the style simple and elegant without too much fuss and your whole look will be a success!

:    :   :    :    :    :    :     :    :    :    :    :    :    :    :    :    :    ;    :    :    :    :   :    :

The Voluptuous, Curvy and Hourglass Fashions

Image from Alison Weirs book ‘Isabella, She-wolf of France, Queen of England.If you are curvaceous and have an hourglass figure, get yourself a well fitting bra and hang the cost. Those girls need to be contained but also on show!  Not authentic in reality but you want then to be secure and comfy under your gown.
Any C13th loose fitting gown will look ok, but will drape heavily according to your bust size, so be aware they may not be flattering and if wearing a sideless surcote, cut it wide at the shoulders and wide across bust.
 From the book ‘Making of a Tudor Dynasty’ “Alabaster effigy of Lady Goronwy ap Tudur d.1382 in Penmynydd Church, Anglesey, probably bought from the dissolved friary church at Llanfaes, not far away.”

Any C14th gown in the English, French or Spanish styles would suit as gowns in the C14th were cut to the figure for both sexes due to the new invention of buttons, making garments close fitting. Sideless Surcotes look great on this shape figure too as the cut away sides are flattering to the waistline. Necklines can be lower to show upper parts of the breasts and off the shoulder as of the C1350’s at court. The Hips in these style gowns will be covered and hide a multitude of sins for the modern woman, but they did enhance their derrière with fox tails under their gowns, so show off your lower curves in your gown with pride! (Ankles and wrists were extremely sexy and never shown! So show off your upper breasts and backside and be totally authentic!)
Queen Joan of Navarre, Canterbury Cathedral  An image of an illustration by "Stothard" in 1817.

Any C15th Gown would also suit the hourglass figure enhancing your breasts as the V neckline for the larger busted lady is very flattering, also if the neckline skims the tops of the shoulders too showing more of the curve of the neck under the dancing veil from the Hennin headdress but again be modest and have a neckerchief of transparent material, silk organza for example, tucked in ( although most modern men would disagree with this!)
What to avoid?
 Marie of Brabant on her wedding day to Phillip III of France.  “Grande Chroniques de France, c.1400: British library, Royal MS 20 C VII, vol. 2. F.1or, detail”With an hourglass figure your breasts will be the main problem, so trick the eye and enhance your slender waist. Not much can be done with this body shape in the C13th clothing as it’s so loose fitting even if tucked into a belt and pulled out under the ribcage. It makes you look frumpy. Keep to silks or linens if you do wear c13th clothing, in a simple cut, as they will drape heavier and flatter more with more fabric in the skirts of the gown about the legs and ankles to balance the eye.
  “Collected works of Christine de Pisan, Paris,des dames master and shop, c.1415: British Library Harley MS 4431, f.100r, detail”For the C14th, wear your belt lower than your waist, more towards your hips, this will elongate you from your bust making you look slimmer. Also avoid large hanging or excessively dagged sleeves of the French Style as these near your bust will make you look larger than you are. If you do choose to have hanging sleeves, have then hanging long from the elbow, as seen right pictured here
Keep your tippets narrow and neat if you choose to wear them. Make your gowns very full in the skirts, if you have enough fabric to direct the eye down and to balance your frame. If wearing a sideless surcote, avoid narrow fronts on them. Keep the front of your surcote wide (nipple width is a good indication of what would flatter your body shape best) along with the back being wide, as seen left here.

 From a C15th image  “a Bride lead to her wedding feast” from Bibliothéque de l’Arsenal, Paris, Ms.5073 fol.117v  This is the lady immediately after the brideFor the C15th the only difference would be to keep the cut of the gown simple once again and not to have it high waisted. Cut the gown’s waist low on your narrowest point to flatter your figure best and also have your belt at this point too or have a very wide belt. It does not look flattering if your bust over hangs though!

 

:     :     :     :     :       :      :     :     :     :      :      :      :      :       :       :      :

The luckiest of all of the Body Shapes – the Pears

Minnesanger Ms.,c.1300 Heidelberg University (PH Mansell)With a Pear shape figure, consider yourself to be one of the lucky ones, as this was the shape that most fits medieval depictions of the female medieval form.
It is hard to determine if a pear shape figure was under the long loose fitting gowns of the c13th, but one from the Mannesse Codex pictured here would look good on your frame with a smaller neckline, with the folds falling from either a set neckline or cut to incorporate the fullness required to achieve this look

Princess Joan, on King Edward III tomb effigy, Westminster Abbey, London, England.  As would a fashionable C14th gown pictured here on the right.
A larger than normal derrière and belly was considered the perfect figure for birthing and considering it was the sole purpose of medieval Noble women to provide heirs, it stands to reason many images were depicted thus. A C14th Gown cut with a full skirt is most flattering and can have either a square neckline or a rounded one, hanging sleeves, dagged sleeves, narrow sleeves, you get the idea. A sideless surcote will flatter this shape figure well too.
 From ‘Les Tres Riches Heures’ a personal book of Duc de Berry. May’s Lady in Green on horseback.

The C15th Houpplande as well as the Burgundian and Spanish Gowns look good on the pear shaped figure too with the tiny waist and ribcage able to take the high waist level and belt.

What to avoid?
Image from ‘A mixed party’ on one of the ‘Medieval Woman’ Calendar’s from the shop Past Times

No much to be honest, like I said above, you are one of the lucky ones. Keep your necklines fitted to your shoulders and torso and then let the fabric fall into full skirts and the gowns of the medieval period flatter your body shape best, so relish in it and enjoy your body in a stunning gown.

 

 

Guest Blogger:  Kat Woods

“Let me introduce myself.
My Name is Katrina Wood, I belong to a small C14th group here in the UK called ‘Age of Chivalry’ and I have re-enacted for 26 years.
I have been approached by The Abbey Medieval Festival, which has a reputation second to none in the UK, to do a small blog on Female Medieval Costumes suiting and flattering body shapes.” Note from Jo – Kat’s really modest bio really should include her website which is:  http://www.katshats.co.uk/

 

,

The transformation is starting….Project Gorgeous Garment!

Hello again readers.

Thank you, thank you, oh esteemed colleagues of the Medieval Festival, for the routine reminders that we have less than seven weeks to the Festival.  And more precisely, for me to get  project ‘Gorgeous Garment’ under control.  I now realise how much time I wasted last week,  forcing my poor, poor costume designer to chase me several times!

Look, it is what it is!  And I guess like many Mums out there juggling home, kids, schools, relationship, work,  and not to mention the elusive ‘me time’, I think last week was one for the books.  Take car trouble, take kid’s school drama, take a yucky chest cold and add a mouse in the house (think mouse and think the secret Mother’s Day stash of chocolates, yes lucky mouse!).  And what results?   Well, naturally, you forget to take your measurements and send them to the lovely and gracious Carolyn awaiting in NSW, needle in hand!  (So sorry, C!).

And you know, it wasn’t that I forgot, I just couldn’t put my hand on a tape measure anywhere.  At one stage I was thinking this is a ridiculous prank! I tried at least three places and even considered using my husband’s concrete-covered yellow trady Dewalt one, (Yes, it is true!) but I decided, this wasn’t how it should be.

Anyway, following rugby on Saturday morning……I finally did it! (And I’m fully allowing myself this moment of achievement, because as simple as sending measurements on, it just wasn’t that simple for me last week.)  Finally, I was successful in getting my hands on the right sort of tape-measure at Morayfield shops for the jolly price of $2.50.  Without any further undue waste of time, measurements were taken, on-site, in front of my confused kids and sent via text to the awaiting seamstress.(:

A few short hours later, Ladies and Gentlemen!….the transformation began to unfold.

This is what I received back!

 

I loved the pattern, I loved the colours, the buttons….. well, we can discuss.  But then,  I did a double take on the fabric which the lovely, gracious Carolyn had chosen.  And at once….. I became ‘Medievalised’! On closer examination, I saw something beautiful.  In fact, I don’t think I had ever before laid my eyes on seen such rich, gorgeous, luxurious fabric.  It slowly drew me in until I was almost able to feel the contours and profile of this superbly sensual fabric selection.

My experience was happening and I was having fun!

It was indeed and I was loving it!  And I began to wonder which of my readers out there were having similar experiences and got to imagine themselves in their creations.  Readers, I SO hope you have!  And because it was a personal and rich moment, a medieval magical moment, I wanted to share it with you.  For an exchange, but!  I would really love to hear about your Fashion projects and any resulting experiences.

Let me know, please.  Till next time, my fellow followers of fashion.  Stay safe!

Caroline