Catch-up · Medieval

A ton of wool!

First of all, I’m sorry I didn’t post anything last week! I have been working pretty much non-stop the past couple of weeks, and simply didn’t have time for anything but eating and sleeping when I got home.

There might also be some exciting stuff happening soon, that I can’t really tell you about yet… but it will involve a lot more and more high quality content!

Oh, and one other thing I’ve done in the past month or so has been visiting three different Medieval markets. I love the Middle Ages. I have had a great love for that period almost my entire life, I’ve written several essays, dissertations and theses on it, and it was Medieval reenactment that got me most of the friends (and hobbies!) I’v got today!

Despite all that, I have not really made anything Medieval for years, but after having visited all these markets, it’s kind of rekindled all my long dormant Medieval sewing plans…

So I have bought a TON OF WOOL.

Ok, so, not an actual metric ton. More like 7 kilos worth of wool cloth.

Look at it! Measured and cut and looking so beautiful and crisp and pristine.

… you can tell I like red, can’t you?

I didn’t randomly just go out and by oodles of wool cloth, I have a plan for it! Of the reddish pink and dark blue fabrics at the bottom, I will make a “gardecorps”. A gardecorps or gardekorps is a large, High Medieval overgarment, very wide, with long, wide sleeves and a hood.

Queen Mathilda with her kids, wearing a green gardecorps with a red lining.
Another queen, on horseback this time, also with kids.
Lots of fancy ladies in long-flowing garbs.

We do not think this was an everyday garment, but rather a sort of travelling coat. All the ladies above are travelling, either on foot or on horseback.

It was not worn by women only, there are lots of depictions of men wearing similar garments, especially, it would seem, doctors and merchants.

A medieval physician the main tool of his trade, a bottle of wee…
Another doctor. Bum for the fun of it.

If they were indeed travelling garments, it would make good sense for doctors to wear them. Before the age of modern hospitals and doctors’ offices, most physicians travelled home to their patients, and would have spent a fair amount of time on the road.

My to favourite depictions of women wearing a gardecorps are these:

Don’t know why she seems intent on stabbing the poor bloke, but you do you, girl. From Codex Manesse (1305-1340)
She seems surprised. I would too, if a hand came out a giant letter to give me the fingers. From The Murthly Hours, c. 1280.

I always think of pilgrimages when I see these pictures. Women travelling and kneeling in front of altars feels very pigrimmy to me. I could write A LOT about pilgrimages in the High Middle Ages and what a fun, merry, jolly outing they could be, but we don’t have all day.

Seeing as one of these women is clad in pink and the other in dark blue, I couldn’t make my mind up, and ended up buying both pink and blue fabric. Maybe I’ll line it in such a way, it’s turnable?


Next, in my heap of wool, you can see some red fabric. Part of it is going to become a new hood (I have two, but my High Medieval hood is very worn, and my Viking hood is very… viking).

The rest of the red fabric, together with the greyish wool, will become another High Medieval garment – a surcotte or surcoat.

Pink and green was apparently the colour combination of the century.
As you can see: wide, long dress with no sleeves.
I will make one fairly similar to the lady between the musician and the knight, red and lined with something greyish-white.

The red fabric on top of the grey fabric will become a new fighting tunic (red is my group’s colour, and my old one is a little tattered, to say the least…)


The blue fabric on top will become  my new hangerock for the summer. Hangerock or apron dress is what we call the dress we think of as the garment of viking women. I have one already. Or, that is to say, I had.


I was never really happy with it. I made it in a hurry, it was a period I had never made anything from before and that I wasn’t really comfortable with yet, and I was never really happy with the result. It’s been put through  Now, years of thinking and hours of research and planning later, I’m ready to have a new go at this. A new blue dress, complete with the trims I ripped off the old one at 3 AM this morning.

I do sleep sometimes. I promise.

I’ll show you how I’ll be getting along with my dress later, but for now – have a good weekend!

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