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Re: Sorquenie & Cotehardie directions (long)

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  • demontsegur
    ... wrote: Greetings Arianne, This is one of my pet subjects, so please bear with me as I join your discussion with my own long response.
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 30, 2003
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      --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "Arianne de Chateaumichel"
      <arianne@b...> wrote:


      Greetings Arianne,
      This is one of my pet subjects, so please bear with me as I join your
      discussion with my own long response. ;^)

      > Start by having someone take your measurements.

      I used to use a flat pattern-drafting method (what you've described)
      for making bust-supportive gowns of this period, until I discovered
      that a more reliable method (IMO, anyway) for fitting these gowns was
      the draping method -- whereby four rectangular pieces are pinned and
      basted around your body on the four vertical seam points (sides,
      back, and front). This method gives proof, right there and then, that
      the fit is *exactly* as you want, before going to all the trouble of
      the basic math and drafting required of the flat pattern method.
      Also, and this is purely my personal observation, I am pretty 'good'
      at creating flat patterns for myself and others based on
      measurements, but even I got an infinitely better result for bust
      supportive gowns when I switched to the draping method.

      In addition, I was more comfortable using the draping method as my
      research pointed to the likelihood that during this period bust-
      supportive gowns were probably made in the same fashion -- draped
      individually, each one, rather than from a measured/drafted flat
      pattern. This is only a deduction without absolute proof, based on my
      inability to find references in text or pictures to flat pattern
      drafting for this particular garment as well as the understanding
      that women of this period did not have a constantly-shifting wardrobe
      and were likely to wear a few of the same gowns over and over again,
      thus making it more practical to spend a goodly amount of time
      carefully fitting and sewing up each one (or having their
      maids/tailors do it for them). I've come across images of tailors
      cutting out pieces for male garments presumably for general sale, but
      so far, I haven't seen evidence of tight-fitting feminine garments
      being produced in a way that suggests that the lady for whom the gown
      is intended is not an integral part of the fitting process. Handing
      off a set of measurements to a tailor would certainly eliminate the
      need for her presence, for instance, and perhaps we'd see/read more
      about tailors sewing up fitted gowns for women whose presence wasn't
      required. If anyone can point me in a new direction with
      documentation that hints or says otherwise, I'd be thrilled to hear
      about it...


      > I strongly suggest that you use a medium to heavy-weight linen for
      your sorquenie,
      > because linen is wonderfully supportive without being stiff.

      I love linen too but due to much stronger evidence in favor of wool
      and silk for this time period, I'm shifting my personal wardrobe in
      that direction. Alas, my linen gowns will languish in the closet over
      time, but I'll never get rid of them... as I continue to hold out
      hope that some triumphantly irrefutable extant example of a linen
      gown will surface, dating to the time of the late 14th or early 15th
      century, preferably in northwestern Europe. :^) There is enough
      evidence for using linen as a lining fabric, IMO, and I'll happily
      continue to do that...

      Incidentally, I get complete bust support from one layer of 5.3 oz.
      linen (available from fabrics-store.com), and I don't have a small
      bust by a long shot. The thicker your fabric is, or, if it's lined,
      the more smoothness you'll get (and forgiveness for any tiny fitting
      miscalculations that might cause unflattering indents across the soft
      flesh of your bust). The closer together you place your eyelets for
      lacing (and I put my lacing up the front, as there's enough pictorial
      evidence to convince me this was widely done), the more you can
      reduce the chances for such indents, and you will increase the
      strength of the gown's bust support.

      > For the cotehardie, I would suggest wool, velvet(een), brocade, or
      another fashion
      > fabric that is at least relatively durable and drapes well despite
      being relatively heavy.

      I'd agree with fiber content consisting of wool and silk for an outer-
      most fashion layer, but any synthetic or cotton brocade or velveteen
      isn't really going to do justice to this style as it should drape and
      as it was done in period. A full silk brocode, available for dear
      money but yet findable, would do nicely, as would full-silk velvet,
      or even half-silk velvet with a linen warp (extant examples of such
      found in London, I believe?), but again, very dear and somewhat rare
      for purchase. Silk with real gold or silver thread woven into it
      would also do quite nicely but we're all sensing a pattern here --
      hard-to-find or exceedingly expensive, or both. A reasonable
      substitute is silk gabardine/2-2 twill, and it's more affordable and
      available than the other fabrics mentioned above. I would even use a
      simple but tightly-woven silk broadcloth for an outer layer before
      I'd use a cotton brocade or a cotton velvet. Drape and fiber content
      get me closer to feeling like I've succeeded in recreating clothing
      as it was truly made.

      > Fit it close, but not snug like the sorquenie, since this isn't
      supposed to be tight enough
      > to look supportive -- after all, the bust is NATURALLY in that
      position, didn't you know
      > that?

      <smile> One can argue for a slightly looser fit on the outer layer,
      and also for an exceedingly snug one. There are quite a few examples
      of outer layers worn over kirtles/cotes that are buttoned down the
      center-front and that appear to fit like a glove. Still, the point to
      take from all of this is that it's the first fashion layer, what I
      like to call a 'versatile' gown, that will give you bust support, if
      any is to be given. If the layer on top of it is fitted snuggly as
      well, all the more support, but it's not necessary, depending on the
      geographic location/time period you're depicting.

      > Also, if you're making a French style cotehardie, you'll want some
      sort of hanging
      > tippets.

      Tippets are certainly an option, but not a requirement for the French
      style. If you take a broad survey of French art from the period,
      you'll see that there are a number of different sleeve styles. Thank
      goodness -- it's more fun that way. :^)

      > In French art, at least (I've heard rumours
      > of black ones in eastern Europe), they are always white.

      You're probably thinking of an illumination from the Wenceslas Bible
      that depicts dark tippets on an outer-layer gown. You can see that
      picture in Olga Sronkova's _Gothic Women's Fashion_.

      The reason we see so many white tippets is thanks to the fashion rage
      for fur during this period, specificially the belly of the white
      Russian squirrel. By the late 14th century, though, that fur was
      beginning to wane as the creme de la creme, in favor of the
      occasional darker, more exotic sable and specifically martyn, the
      best of the sable class. For a detailed and scholarly analysis of fur
      use during this period, see Elspeth Veale's _The English Fur Trade in
      the Later Middle Ages_.

      > Even in the fifteenth century,
      > some gowns continued to have this style of sleeve treatment. I've
      never seen art
      > showing tippets worn with a sideless surcote,

      Never say never... <grin>.. I believe the Spanish did such weird
      things as wear a cote, another fashion layer with tippets, AND
      sideless surcotes, but I may be revealing my lack of understanding of
      Spanish fashion... Check Millia Davenport's _The Book of Costume_ --
      the section on 14th century Spanish fashion. I'm vaguely recalling
      seeing that weirdness there. That said, it doesn't take away from
      your point below:

      > I'm of the opinion that tippets were only
      > worn as a sleeve treatment on short cotehardie sleeves.

      I'm 3/4 in agreement with you here, and for an excellent and succinct
      summary of why that argument is strong, Robin Netherton (not on this
      list, AFAIK), is your woman. A while back I posted her summary of
      this argument on the ageofthecotehardie yahoogroup list, so if you
      are of a mind, you can search for it there under the word "tippet".

      And now, for the reason why I'm 1/4 not-in-agreement with that

      > I've also never seen them on
      > Italian cotehardies, called "gonellas", where the sleeves appear to
      be 3 /4 length.

      There's a sampling from an illuminated manuscript called the _Romance
      of Guiron_ done in the very late 14th century in the Lombardy region
      of Italy that depicts a woman wearing a plaid, long-sleeved cote with
      buttons down the center-front and what looks to be, for all intents
      and purposes, tied-on red 'tippets'. For me, this has been the only
      really obvious and compelling tidbit of evidence that women may have
      been in the habit of attaching strips of decorative cloth/(fur?)
      around the top of their long-sleeved gowns. I have a hypothesis for

      The dominant, upper-class fashion for a gown bearing tippets (as
      opposed to pendant flaps, which folks tend to call "integral"
      tippets) appears to be a construction by which permanently-sewn-on
      tippets (predominantly made from fur) decorate the ends of short
      sleeved outer layers. I believe this fashion was common in many
      European locations, not just France. For a fabulous argument in favor
      of it, take a very close look at the weeper on Edward III's tomb
      (pictures available in many books, included the MoL clothing book).
      You can see that the relief _below_ the tippet band is deeper than
      the relief _above_the tippet band.

      With that in mind, perhaps due to weather conditions or the high cost
      of each fine gown, women of lesser nobility/lower classes or in more
      southerly regions may have resorted to 'flattening' the look to one
      layer, in which case a long-sleeved gown with a removable form of
      tippet on the upper arm would basically do the job. Were they aping
      their betters? Were they trying to look fashionable in the midst of a
      hot summer? We just don't know for sure.

      > The sorquenie should have 6 - 12" of train,

      It all depends on the geographical region/time period/class you are
      portraying. There's lots of evidence for fitted gowns that did not
      trail on the ground -- especially for women who had to do any sort of

      All best,
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