THE MEDIEVAL LADY CIRCA EARLY 1300s
I have created this page to tell you something about some of the outfits I wear when in role as a lady and how I made them.
This pic below is one of my oldest outfits which has been added to several times. This is one of my lady’s outfits and this picture was taken at a banquet at Cosmeston Medieval Village in South Wales a couple of years ago.
The black overdress is called a surcoat, it is made of black cotton velvet and is braided and beaded around the neckline. This was the first garment I ever made and it is very versatile as I have two different under dresses and various head dresses to go with it. This under dress is made of silk and satin – the red sleeves are a very expensive silk wedding fabric that I bought one metre of in a local haberdashery store and the rest of the dress is a cheaper satin.
The head dress is called a torque and is made of the same black velvet which again is beaded and braided to match the overdress. The front motif on the torque is goldwork and this is a piece that I bought some years ago on a trip to New York when we stayed near the garment district which was fabulous. So much bead and braid in the shops there – heaven!
The torque is made from stiffened hessian, the top and side pieces are cut then lined with inner and outer fabric then stitched together ( a very tough process resulting in sore fingers and occasional blood!) Beading and braid can then be added.
The torque is traditionally worn with a veil on top of the hat which is pinned to it and a wimple underneath the chin which is a rectangle of fabric pinned round the head before the hat is put on. I am wearing a beaded hairnet to keep all my locks in place!
The bag that is hanging from my belt is made by my very talented friend Kat and features some fabulous goldwork – here is a close up pic.
The fleur de lys motif is made from couched strands of gold and silver thread to form the outline with beads in the centre and then gold braid is used round the edges of the motif and the pouch flap.
The surcoat can be worn with any number of different under dresses which can also be worn on their own . This was the first one that I made to go with this outfit. This dress is made of yellow brocade and here I am wearing it with the black velvet torque and bag but with the addition of tippets on the sleeves.
Tippets are cuffs pinned (in my case so they can be removed) or stitched to the dress at the elbow with long trailing parts which can be either plain or shaped (dagged). Mine are wavy edged and have small bells sewn on them and braid and beading at the top. They are purely decorative and meant to show that I have enough money to be able to waste my fabric and beads! There are lots of original manuscript pictures of gowns with tippets on de Vauxchamps’ web site.
This pic shows the detail of the top of the cuff of the tippet and the one below shows the braid on the bottom of the sleeve.
In this picture below I am wearing the same dress and tippets but with a yellow torque to match the dress.
This pic shows the detail of the torque - I have used the same buttons as on the tippets and similar braid to the dress sleeve. I pick up braid, beads and buttons whenever I can and have a huge stash – just in case – of all sorts of pretty things. The original gold and black braid for the dress sleeves I found in a local haberdashers about 5 years ago . Then I was in Spain visiting my Mum a couple of years ago when we went shopping in Alicante and found exactly the same braid in all black which I just had to buy and later made the torque with.
I have a selection of lovely belts with pewter embellishments on them. For more info on the source of these belts please see the Peasants Costume page. For my lady’s outfits I have belts with many more embellishments as you can see in the detail pic below.
I also wear this dress with other head dresses. Here I am at Glastonbury Abbey (in the apple orchard!) wearing a style of head dress called crispinettes. With the crispinettes the veil is put on first then pinned to the sides of the ear pieces. And yes this is a very similar look to the one Princess Leia wore!
These are made of Ridgeuline (plastic corset boning) which is cut to length, covered in ribbon, sewn together in cages for the side of the head and a circle for the top and then filled with false hair encased in a very fine hair net. The whole thing is then beaded to co-ordinate as you can see in the detail pic below.
This was the very first head dress I made and I am very proud of it though it is getting a bit worn out as it forms part of my head dress talk and has been tried on by loads of visitors to our shows.
If you want to know more about any of the head dress types shown please visit my very talented friend Kat’s web site – it has pics of many more types of head dress , pics of all her lovely pouches and extensive research telling you which is right for which period. The woman is nothing short of a genius!