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14th Century Tailor's Workshop
Manuscript Challenge 2015

I chose, for my outfit, the Tailor's client in the worshop from the Tacuinum Sanitatus, an Italian Manuscript. As time progressed, it occurred to me that the only thing more fun than doing the outfit and pose was to do the ENTIRE scene. As best as I could, anyway. Since I had so much fun with this, I have posted up here all the pieces I made and acquired to do this and any problems I came across along the way.

Everything in the image has been hand stitched using 14th century patterns and sewing techniques. Below the individual items are shown with my thoughts on each piece and any challenges I faces along the way. I hope you enjoy!

 

1. Green background
The first challenge was making the inside of a workshop inside a tent, and making the walls the same colour. I decided to use a fabric backdrop as a colour, since my tent has red walls.
The fabric is olive green 100% linen and it is cut into drops 6 feet in height and sewn with the sides together. This was the only thing I used a sewing machine for, and since it wasn't clothing associated with the Challenge, but setting, I felt this was more than okay!
2. Green hanging fabric
This is obviously fabric hanging here on the rod, but what it is or is going to be, we cannot tell. I suspect that because the picture is of a tailor's workshop, that it may be an item which is not complete.
I have started an apple-green kirtle made from 100% linen (for hot, Australian Summer days when wearing layers of wool is just not possible), so I will fold it so it looks like the folded fabric on the rail.The fabric looks too large to be hose or a hood to me.
3. Pale mauve-blue hood with long liripipe
This hood is made from 100% wool which is lined also with 100% wool. When it hangs, I will roll the front where the face goes so it matches the picture. The pattern I have used is the London hood which can be seen in the Museum of London series of books, and it has a small triangular gore over the shoulder. I have hand stitched this. When it was finished, I felt the liripipe was not long enough, so I extended the tail by almost a metre making it more like the manuscript- both this one and many others.
4. Red hood with rolled face and long liripipe
This is a wood hood, entirely hand stitched. It also has a long liripipe which I extended from my original pattern. The pattern for this one is based on the Bokstern style. The face is rolled back and looking at the manuscript, I feel that this is shown hanging to be worn more like a chaperon hat than a hood. This is hand stitched.

5. Red separate hose
This is easy to tell what it is- a pair of men's separate hose. I have made these out of red wool and have used the London style pattern which can also be seen in the Museum of London series of books. They have the feet sewn in, unlike stirrup hose, and I believe these to be for a man because of the length of them and the way they are tied at the top to hang over the pole. A woman's hose would be shorter and tie around the calf rather than at the top. I have hand-stitched these. In real life, the angle of the hose hanging over the rail does not sit like this, so in order to get the look right, I pinned it to the backdrop.

6. Olive green hood
I originally was not going to make the man's outfit, but after I remembered I had fabric, I decided to use it! This is 100% linen lined with linen- all hand stitched. It's based on the Bokstern pattern without a shoulder gore and has a smallish liripipe, so it would be on the early end of the 14th century. The neck cowl is quite short and doesn't go over the shoulders much, wich I think worked well here. The colour is a pretty good match as well.
7. Mushroom Pink Male gown
This is made from 100% linen, which is feel is not altogether inappropriate when I consider that the manuscript is Italian in origin and other images in the Tacuinum Sanitatus show workers in their linens working outside and women in unlined dresses and their smocks showing. The gown is probably more likely to have been wool. The pattern is very simple- it is a loose over-gown with loose sleeves which is drawn in with a belt, although it is often shown worn loose without a belt. The length is unable to be seen in the manuscript, and anything from mid-thigh to ground length is possible. I have made this just above the knee so it can be worn in Summer when it is extremely hot. It is entirely hand-stitched and finished.
8. Blue hanging object
The blue fabric hanging could be a hood, although it could also very easily be something else. It's hard to say from the manuscript. I can see daggueing at the edge, so this makes me think it might be a hood. I am using a man's tunic because it's what I had which was the right colour.
9. Red hanging object
The red fabric hanging could be a hood, although it could also very easily be something else. Again, it's hard to say from the manuscript. I can see daggueing at the edge, so this makes me think it might be a hood. I am using a hood again because there are a few hoods clearly shown in the picture, so it is possible that this is also a hood. This hood is hand-stitched and is made of red wool. I also extended the original liripipe on this hood as the first did not look long enough compared to others in the picture. This hood is unlined.
My Manuscript Challenge Gown
This is the oufit I have chosen for the Manuscript Challenge group on facebook.


10. Black under gown with fitted sleeves

This is a basic four-seam kirtle. It has fitted sleeves and laces at the front from the groin to the top with a spiral lacing. It is made from black wool and is entirely hand stitched. It is quite low cut as it is an undergown.
11. Blue-grey overgown with wide sleeves
The construction has four panels with added gores for fullness and wide sleeves as shown in the manuscript. I have chosen to side-lace this gown as there are three other gowns in the same manuscript which show side lacing and there is no visible lacing or buttoning in the picture. The fabric is 100% wool. It was an oatmeal colour when I bought it, but I dyed it. I did not use as much dye as I should have and the result is lighter than I expected, but I like the mauve-blue and it's not too far from the gown I am re-creating. As with most Italian overgowns of this period, I will not be wearing a belt over the top- it will be worn over the undergown. My hair will be braided and taped with red to match the image.
12. Small woven basket for sewing things
This basket is not too far off to scale, and since there is a real lack of sewing tools on the benchtop, I feel that this might be the place for all the small items to go in. There appears to be some scrap fabric, but since the Manuscript Challenge will be doing a few public shows, I will be putting sewing tools in it for members of the public to look at and handle.
13. Ring thimble
I originally thought the round thing on the table was a thimble, but I'm pretty sure it's the table leg join. Never-the-less, I have one.

14. Sewing things in basket (not shown in manuscript) Just because this will be on display and the public always have many questions about medieval sewing tools. They hide in the basket out of sight for most of the time.
15. Scissors
I have three different styles of medieval reproduction scissors and none of them look quite like the manuscript ones. Mind you, I've never been overly fond of drawing scissors and mine often end up looking like the ones in the picture, so they might be more terrible drawing than actual, functioning scissors. I thought it was interesting that most manuscripts showing rolls of wool being cut show shears, rather than scissors, so perhaps these were the equivellant of the sewing scissors, which we also see sometimes for domestic use.
16. Measuring stick or ruler
When making the measuring stick I first needed to consider what measurement was being used. Fabric was measured in ells and yards. The ell is different in Italy and France and neither of them looked the right size compared to the table when I measured them. I decided that using a yard and marking out every two inches gave a reasonable size when looking at the manuscript. The wood is a hardwood, painted white with the markings painted out on one side. The ends are painted black, but I am unsure why it is in the picture.
17. Roll of red fabric
I am assuming the roll of fabric in the manuscript is wool or a variation of a type of wool. It is fairly unlikely that the roll is red linen. The wool I have used is 100% Australian merino wool which is a medium weight wool used for thin blanketing which I often use for hose or working class clothing. I didn't want to cut the wool, so I had to have a few attempts at folding it so it didn't look too chunky. Easier said than done, really!
18. Woven basket
This is a bought woven basket, and as per the manuscript, I had a few scraps of fabric and a white string of some kind coming out of it.
19. Wooden workbench
This was my biggest compromise in the whole Challenge. I made this workbench to recreate the look of a shop front which we see in a lot of manuscripts which are buildings. I was able (and was almost going) to build a table like the one in the picture with the angled legs but there are only a few like it and I wanted a bench which was reusable as an interior AND when used in a tent would hide a lot of things behind it. It also needed to break down for easy transporting, so the table in the picture just wasn't going to happen. This is Tasmanian Oak, and a solid piece.
20. Green hood with rolled face and liripipe
This is a linen hood, entirely hand stitched. It also has a long liripipe which I extended from my original pattern. The pattern for this one is based on the Bokstern style. The face is rolled back and looking at the manuscript, I feel that this is shown hanging to be worn more like a chaperon hat than a hood. The manuscript is possibly wool, and there does not apear to be a coloured lining which my hood has.
21. Blue fabric on bench
This is possibly fabric or another garment in progress but what it is or is going to be, we cannot tell. I suspect that because the picture is of a tailor's workshop, that it may be an item which is not complete. Again, this could be wool or linen.
22. Big red cushion
I was originally not going to bother with the red, walled cushion because I I don't have a friend in green to sit on it and sew, but in the end, I had some wool and made it for fun with the idea that it was large enough to turn the fabric into a hood in the future. This plan has entirely fallen to pieces as my little kitty loves it sooo much that I can't possibly cut it up now, which is annoying as the cushion is quite large and I did need the wool!

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