A man's and a woman's matching embroidered 13th century wool tunics

Since baron Måns and I think it's cool with matching outifts and I have been fond of 13th century gowns with wide borders for a quite long time I decided to make a set of wool gowns for us.  Both have sleeves that can be worn hanging at the back and replica pewter buttons at the cuffs, but Måns' tunic is split at the front and back.






Another photo of me in my gown:





The inspiration for my gown are a collection of 13th century images showing cottes/gowns with  horizontal wide stripes.


End of the 13th century France Lausanne, Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire 
 U 964 - Biblia Porta fol. 240r. From Illumanu.


Bréviaire de Belleville, 1320s, Bibliothèque Nationale de France


The Life of Edward the Confessor, from wikipedia

They were really fond of horizontal stripes in the 13th century and while it is likely that most of the striped garments of the 13th century had woven stripes I thought that maybe, just maybe, when there was just one stripe, or a few, but placed at uneven intervals, they might be embroidered. Or applied from another fabric, but I'm going with the embroidery theory here ;) Since her stripe has the same background colour as the rest of the gown. So, I have started the embroidery. In chain stitch, which isn't typical of the period, but my split stitch doesn't produce half as nice results.



The combination of fleur-de-lis and lozenges where taken from this 13th century image showing Edward the Confessor. Though white fleur-de-lis on a blue background also form part of the SCA barony of Gotvik's arms.

The Life of Edward the Confessor, from wikipedia

In addition to the border there is also embroidery at the neck and wrist, and at the armscyes, as on the first illumination, from the Biblia Porta from Lausanne.If you look at where the sleeves join the body in this illustration you see that her cotte is of the kind with sleeves which can be worn hanging from teh armscye - I have med a couple of these before: blue, with pattern diagram, a green for me and a murrey one for hubby.
   I hadn't intended to make loose sleeves on this gown, but I got so inspired by the Biblia Porta image, which obviously is my main inspiration for this gown, and the fact that they even had added decoration, which really shows that the sleeves are detachable. So I just couldn't help myself.

Måns' tunic was inspired by the split tunics so often found on upper class men in 13th century art:



 This is the Flight to Egypt from Ms K 26 at Cambridge University.

Mens gowns with broad borders appear to mostly have them both at the hem, the neck and the cuffs, so I ended up doing some more embroidery on his tunic than on mine. It was not my original plan, but after researching it - and blogging about it here - I decided that if I wanted him to have a split tunic, which I think looks very nice, and wanted to add embroidery that's the way that it had to be.
Like mine, Måns' tunic has a single row of embrodiery at the armscye.

I used perle cotton for the embroidery. I would have preferred silk of course, but since I coulnd't really see myself travelling either to London or to Turkey to buy silk thread before I wanted this gown finished I settled for cotton. I could comfort myself with the fact that cotton was available in parts of Europe at this time, but this was probably more in the form of fabric or batting, so I don't think that is really a valid argument. But I will look into it further.

The construction
Since the tunics are  made from a fulled wool fabric which already in the 13th century could have a width of over two metres and which has no direction they are both is made in a fairly simple way, from A-lined pieces. Mine also has triangular gores added below the hip for extra width. My sleeves are based on the sleeves from the preserved gown of St. Elisabeth of Thuringia, which dates from the 13th century and for Måns' sleeves I modified a sleeve pattern based on one of the Herjolfsnes tunics to make it puffier above the elbow. . I decided to add buttons for a bit of sparkle - you do see buttons on sleeves in the 13th century, though not as many nor as high up on the arms as in the 14th.

  The pieces are sewn together on machine, but Ifelled the seam allowances by hand. I sewed all the seams on the body of the garment before adding the embroidery.
   The hems are of course hand sewn and I also sewed silk tabby tape on the inside of the neck and and wrists, to make it neater. Mine has hand made button holes, and Måns' tunic has loops for the buttons, both made with silk buttonhole twist.

Accessories
In some of the photos I am wearing a "St. Bridget's cap", because if there's one thing you see a lot in for example the Maciejowski Bible, it is women with blue gowns (with detachable sleeves) and those caps. In others I am being more well dressed, with my lined, striped veil. On the photos without the crown it is pinned to the cap (but could just as well have been pinned to a wimple or chin band) and here I also find inspiration in St. Bridget of Sweden - since I follow her instructions to pin the veil with one pin on the top of the head and two at the temples (it's from the Birgittine rule about the nun's clothing, mid-14th century). With the crown on the veil stays put without pins.

In the image with both of us I am wearing a tablet woven belt with bronze buckle and mounts from Armour and Casting. I didn't weave it, but I did weave in all the threads from the tassel at the end, which actually took a couple of hours ;)


While we mostly see leather belts with metal ornaments among modern re-enactors there are period examples of textile belts with metal mounts too - for example Fernando de la Cerda's belt, which also is from the right time period for these costumes.


Mån's belt is leather, but with similar mounts.

The bag that I use, can be seen more clearly here, where I also discuss the making of it.




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