A man's outfit from c. 1300

Made in 2007

The outfit is based on illuminations from the period around 1300, above all the Die Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift, a famous German manuscript dated to the three first decades of the 14th century. Other inspiration is taken from preserved garments from Herjolfsnes: the blue tunic is based on the earliest of thise, dated to the end of the 13th century, and the cut of the high-necked surcoat is modified after another, later, gown from Herjolfsnes.

 The outfit consists of the following items:
1. Shirt
2. Braies
3. Hose
4. Tunic/cotte
5. Surcoat with collar and buttons
6. coif

 The shirt 
The shirt is hand sewn from white linen. The construction is rectangular with triangular gores at the sides. It also has small square gussets under the arms to increase movement and durability.

Linen and hemp were used for underwear in the Middle Ages, and also sometimes wool, though that was probably not the first choice if you had options. Linen was so associated with underwear that these genreally just were called ”linen wear”, at least in medieval Norway and Sweden, which is the region that I studied for my PhD in history. Showing your shirt in public was considered bad manners at this time, as the Norwegian King's Mirror from c. 1250 said: ”no courteous man dresses himself up in flax or hemp” (Andersson, Eva I: Kläderna och människan i medeltidens Sverige och Norge, Göteborg 2006, pp 52-57)

Since there are no preserved braies from this period all reconstructions are more or less guesses, based on images and general knowledge of how clothes were constructed in the Middle ages. The model I chose has a typical look with lots of fabric at the crotch, which also makes it possible to move around without putting a lot of strain on the seams.

The scissors are there to give an indication of size.

The braies are also hand sewn and when finished they reach the knees. Since the linen fabric is thin they are easy to fold and put inside the hose.

The hose are made from a thin worsted wool tabby. Written sources from Sweden and Norway also mentions hose from fulled wool cloth and leather , as well as other types of wool fabric. The hose are cut on the bias to make them stretchier. The pattern, which is identical for both legs is taken from a find from 14th century London (Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Frances Pritchard och Kay Staniland: Textiles and clothing 1150-1450. Medieval finds from excavations in London:4, Woodbridge, Suffolk 1992 & 2001, p 188, fig. 168)


The image to the left above, from the Maciejowski Bible, a French 13th century manuscript, show that the hose are tied to something worn around the waist, probably what Scandinavian sources call "brokabälte", that is: braies belt”. My husband uses a narrow leather belt.

The ties are made from wool yarn with finger lucet technique, which makes a strong and elastic cord which doesn't snap when he bends over.

As said above the cotte is based on a preserved late 13th century tunic from Herjolfsnes. It was previously believed to belong to another find and is sometimes thus erroneously refered to as the Rönbjerg tunic.

Image from  I Marc Carlsons web page Some Clothing of the Middle Ages 

As you see the find is not complete – we have most of the front pieces and some gores and fragments of gores. But no sleeves, so I supplemented the sleeve pattern from other finds from Herjolfsnes. They are rather alike all of them. I chose to make the sleeves without buttons. Buttons on the lower half of the sleeve is very common in art from c. 1300, but you also see sleeves without them, like on the figure from The Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift to the left below.

The tunic is sewn on machine, but the seam allowances are felled to one side and sewn down by hand. This spares my arthritic hands some of the work, but still gives a nice and hand finished look on the inside. The hose are made in the same way. The felling and sewing also makes the seams stronger. The material is a thin wool tabby.
On the image above Rickard wears the tunic unbelted, which can be seen in contemporary sources, but it was more commonly worn with a belt.

The surcoat (or syrkot in medieval Norse) is based on this image from the Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift, which has a stand-up collar and buttons on the lower half of the sleeves.

Meister Rumslant

The surcoat was an experiment, using a type of cut found on two buttoned gowns from Herjolfsnes dated to 1280-1400. (Östergård, Else: Som syet til jorden. Tekstilfund fra det norröne Grönland, Århus 2003, pp 196-201, 253 ). What makes these different is that the garment is made up of slightly shaped panels, rather than a straight front and back piece with gores added. Like all the Herjolfsanes tunics they are, however, cut to minimize waste of fabric. The sleeves are also the same typ as seen on the other preserved tunics from Greenland.

Herjolfsnes 63, from Some Clothing of the Middle Ages 

I chose to use the layout of Herjolfsnes 63  above all because it has a stand-up collar and buttons in front, things that you also see on the image is used as model for the surcoat. But it was also because I wanted to try something new.

 The surcoat is made from dark green wool twill and lined with a thin grey wool tabby. The top fabric and lining are treated as one when sewing, typical for construction before the invention of the sewing machine. This means that the lining and top fabric are sewn together in every seam, unlike modern sewing where the lining only is attached at a few points.

To stiffen the collar it is reinforced with a strip of thicker, fulled wool.

 The buttons are made from circles of fabric wrapped around small disks of wood.

The coif, which was almost obligatory for men at this time, is hand sewn from linen. To make it fit my husband, who has a rather large head, I draped a pattern from a piece of cotton twill, pinning it to his shape.

 After getting the shape right drew a line with a pen along the pins. The line was abit uneven, but could be straightened out to a plausible seam line. Then I cut away the excess fabric, leaving 1,5 cm seam allowance, pinned it and tried it on again. Some pins had to be moved, but not much.

 When I was happy I cut away the seam allowance and had a pattern that looks like this (the opening for the head faces downward in the photo).

Then I cut it out (adding seam allowance) from linen and sewed it by hand, it took maybe an hour. The ties are linen tape.

1 kommentar:

  1. I need to make Joel a coif, and finally have some nice, light linen that I can use for it, so thanks for this tutorial!

    Do we have any evidence for men's coifs being embroidered?