On 7/16/07, Coblaith Mhuimhneach <Coblaith@...
> Lady Elizabeta Maria dei Medici wrote:
> > They didn't weave fabric that was 45 or 60 inches wide. They wove
> > fabric that was all of 20 inches wide from what I understand. If I'm
> > wrong please tell me but that's what I've been told.
> You're wrong <http://www.geocities.com/ladymairghread/clothwidth.htm>.
> Coblaith Mhuimhneach
I had a photograph of a late 12th century garment folded in the
middle. I could tell that half of the base width of the fabric was
approximately 20" across, or 40" across, depending on whether there
was a seam down the middle or not. I provisionally assumed that there
was seam there. Fortunately, a reenactor on one of my lists visited
the garment in person and took some very detailed pictures and there
is clearly no seam down that garment. So I know of at least one
garment with linen fabric width of approximately 40" in my personal's
lifetime. Hard data, I love it!
I will say that the subject is more complicated than most people
realize. For one thing, a warp-weighted loom can be set up to make
cloth as long as the longest beam you can find to suspend the warp
from. So warp-weight loom textile can be extremely variable in width.
The later horizontal warp loom (very roughly the same type as is used
today, or that you see crafter use) is a much more complicated machine
and once made, it is easy to warp a cloth of smaller width than the
max the loom will handle, but difficult to widen the machine.
The Cloth Assizes in England stated what the standard widths of cloth
SHOULD be, but cities and guilds could pay fines to be able to ignore
the regulation. This wasn't all that unusual a thing to happen; it was
a source of income for English kings. This covers English cloth, by
the way, but not cloth manufactured anywhere else in Europe
Anyway, there were definitely cloths wider than the 20 inches some SCA
folk are fond of citing, but there is very little remaining cloth with
two selvages (the only way to determine the width of a given piece of
fabric). So we often rely on secondary sources like Cloth Assizes,
etc. We really don't have enough data for definitive statements, let
alone those that cover the whole Middle Ages.
If you can't get rid of them ugly old skeletons in the closet, at least teach
'em how to dance funny. Billy C. Wirtz