Research for upcoming project: A fitted italian 14th century outfit

I’m going to make a new outfit inspired from Italian 14th century. My plan is to make a supportiv non laced chemise in linen, a laced kirtle with long sleeves in thin wool and a laced gown in silk. They are all going to have a low boat-neckline which seemed to be the fashion. The shape of the neckline will only be used if I “the girls” stay in place without the support a dress with higher neckline and more fabric on the shoulders offers them.c7bf7351ef5d446e48608877d7f1a457

I have decided to make the kirtle and the gown inspired from two diffrent manuscripts, Queste del Saint Graal/ Tristan de Léonois and Missale et horae ad usum Fratrum Minorum. Both of the manuscripts are from Milan in Italy and dated to the 14th century. The type of dress I want to make can be found in many of the folios.

1.Manuscript BNF Français 343 Queste del Saint Graal / Tristan de Léonois Folio 3v Dating 1380-1385 From Milan, Italy

2.Manuscript BNF Français 343 Queste del Saint Graal / Tristan de Léonois Folio 8r Dating 1380-1385 From Milan, Italy

1. Manuscript BNF Latin 757 Missale et horae ad usum Fratrum Minorum Folio 262v Dating 1385-1390 From Milan, Lombardy, Italy

2. Manuscript BNF Latin 757 Missale et horae ad usum Fratrum Minorum Folio 258r Dating 1385-1390 From Milan, Lombardy, Italy 

The kirtle will be made in a thin dark blue wool fabric and will have trumpet sleeves (or bell shaped sleeves). There are two finds that may have been this kind of sleeves, besides having the trumpet-formed shape they also have bound edges made of silk cloth.

“Three examples of bound edges survive, all from late 14th-century desposits. One is a short length of silk ribbon on the slightly curved edge of a fragment of cloth with eight small buttonhole slits (no 219). The function of this piece is puzzling. It may be the lower edge of a buttoned hood, perhaps a child´s hood, as the buttonholes are so small (8mm): or it may be the wrist of a sleeve extended to cover the back of the hand. The ribbon was held by slanting hem-stitching on both sides, but only one stitch is now preserved. A second example (No 216, Fig 144) is almost certainly from the lower edge of a tightly buttoned sleeve which extended over part of the hand, similar to those portrayed in many effigies and monumental brasses dating to the second half of the 14th century (e.g. Fig 157).” Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450, E. Crowfoot, F. Pritchard, K. Staniland, 1992, 2001, p 158.

In the pictures of trumpet sleeves below one can see that they sometimes have a contrasting colour on the edge that might be bound edges and since I think it looks nice I will make these kind of edging on the kirtle-sleeves. The arms will also have small tin buttons and tablet woven edges in blue silk yarn. I´m not sure if they did wove edges in Italy but I will do this anyway since both the Herjolfsnes finds and the London finds have thoes tablet woven edges. Some of the edging on wool garments from the London finds are made in silk (No.67 and 32), therefore I will use silk yarns when weaving edges on the wool kirtle.

Some pictures of the trumpet sleeve from different parts of Europe in the 14th century (Spain, Italy, France, England).

The neckline will also have a facing made in silk. The facing will be attached with silk thread using slanted hem-stitches. I will also make two rows of running stitches on the facing. The hidden seams on the kirtle will be stitched with either linen or silk thread depending on if I want contrasting seems or not, since I only have white and unbleached linen thread.

“Silk thread can also be found used upon woolen cloth, not only for ornamental purposes but also for buttonholes, hems, and seams. The The preponderance of lost stitching among the London textile remains suggests that linen thread was usally used for tha main seams, whereas the more expensive silk thread was probably reserved for visible and decorative stitching. This evidence helps to explain references to the dual use of linen and silk thread on various garments in the Great Wardrobe accounts which have been difficult to interpret hitherto.”

“The silk thread was usually purchased from City mercers or Italian merchants and was available in a wide range of colours. White, black, yellow, blue, green, red, purple and flame are repeatedly specified, and these would have matched the dyes of the cloths and woven silks, although on occasion it is possible that contrasting colours might have been employed.” Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450, E. Crowfoot, F. Pritchard, K. Staniland, 1992, 2001, p. 152.

I will make the lacing at the side of the kirtle and the gown. I couldn´t find any folio with side lacing in the two manuscripts mentioned earlier but in “Tacuinum Sanitatis” another italian manuscript from 1390-1400 I found two with side lacing.  The same style of dress that I´m doing can also be found in this manuscript. The lacing holes and the buttonholes will be made in silk thread with silk facing as in for example no 328 and 32 of the London finds.  The gown will be all stitched in silk thread. Because of the side lacing I might make a body pattern with 4 panels lightly based on “Drottning Margaretas gyllene kjortel”.

Folios nr 8 and 52 from: Nouvelle acquisition latine 1673 “Tacuinum Sanitatis” Milan, Italy, 1390-1400 

Me studying Margaretas golden gown in Uppsala, photo taken by Annika Madejska

I have looked on the decorations of the neckline, around the armholes and on the edge of the arms. It seems to be some kind of white edges done with ribbons/pearls(?) and/or gold ribbons/facings. I will make this on the gown but probably not with white edges since I´m hopeless with spilling things (if I don´t find out that the white decorations are pearls then they will be white). I do however like the contrast between the darker and lighter colour so they might be grey or some other light shade. I don´t know how I will do them yet but since this is the last thing that will be done on the gown I figure that it´s a bit of work to do before I need to decide.

Here are some pictures of folios from Queste del Saint Graal/ Tristan de Léonois where the white/gold decoration/opening can and can´t be seen.

In some of the pictures it even seems like the white and gold decorations around the armholes could be an gap between the sleeves and the body and that the sleeves where laced/pinned on the gown. There are also folios with the style of dress that don´t seem to have either the white or/and gold decoration around the armholes. Those pictures makes me think that that it´s some kind of decorations and not a sleeve that can be laced on. I will try to find out more about this and if someone knows more about this, please share your knowledge with me.

Here are some folios showing the necklines/armholes/sleeves  from Missale et horae ad usum Fratrum Minorum.


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