Sleeveless Surcotes / Outerware

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Frances Perry
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Sleeveless Surcotes / Outerware

Post by Frances Perry »

Hello all,

Have been looking into the outer dress (as I'm going to be at Towton in March this year as Palm Sunday comes early!) to keep me warm, and would like to make another layer to wear as well as my two wool kirtles.

For the 15th century (i.e. 1450 onwards) it appears that sleeveless surcotes (Gate of Hell - whatever you call them!) are very narrow at the front and tend to be portrayed on queens/proncesses/uperclasses with ermine at the top half and luscious long skirts.

However, The Tailor's Assistant indicates a pattern for a sleeveless surcote which has a wider top half. Is this an old pattern by 1450-70? Would a working lower status lady such as myself be still wearing such an item?

I would be most grateful for any pictures or methods of making surcotes if possible - thanks :D
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“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.” Achille Marozzo, 1536

kate/bob
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Post by kate/bob »

I made a surcoat, but was advised that an over kirtle would be more authentic. I used the pattern for my kirtle and just made it a bit bigger so I could get it on with no fastenings.

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Frances Perry
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Post by Frances Perry »

Hi Kate/Bob -

Thanks for your reply.

I thought most groups would 'frown' upon the dreaded "Gates of Hell", but it seems a bit weird to have a chemise and three wool kirtles on - for one thing, it starts to get a bit difficult to bend the arms!!!!!!!!!

I also have a wool cloak as a back-up, but it is a bit cumbersome to work in doing food preparation and fetching wood and water! This is especially true in the windy open fields of Towton!

Any other suggestions? :?
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“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.” Achille Marozzo, 1536

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Colin Middleton
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Post by Colin Middleton »

My understanding is that you wear a smock, then a kirtle and then some form of gown. The gown could be cut like an over-sized kirtle, or could be a much looser, more flowing garment. For winter wear, line your gown with fur or some such. For a summer gown, line it with fine wool, silk, etc (I don't know if gowns were ever left unlined or not) so it doesn't trap as much heat. Don't forget woolen hoes to keep your feet warm and perhaps some felted gloves to warm your fingers. Keep active and you ought to be fine in that lot. :)
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Alice the Huswyf
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Post by Alice the Huswyf »

The sideless surcoat does continue into the C15th, but only as a ceremonial throwback much like a modern solicitor's gown is a hybrid between a tudor square-yoked man's cote with C15th slit pendant sleeves.

In staying warm, the difference is wearing a hood, even if the hood itself is worn down and rolled around the neck for a snug fit. AND PARTICULARLY HALF-HOSE. Once the head neck, ankles and wrists are covered you have sorted out the best thermal protection. Swap the linen coif for a length of fine, white wool if you feel you will be cold. (Hood worn up of very cumbersome if you anticipating action: women's wear of the period is designed for a domestic life). Thermal foot insoles - the foil backed ones - will make a big difference too - or you can make sheared sheepskin ones and oil the skin side.



I have worn smock, under and overkirtle and a gown. It is heavy, but do-able. Women in period would be accustomed to the weight at need.
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Annis
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Post by Annis »

Alice the Huswyf wrote:Thermal foot insoles - the foil backed ones - will make a big difference too - or you can make sheared sheepskin ones and oil the skin side.
Just stuffing the shoe with some wool seems to work pretty well.
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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: Sleeveless Surcotes / Outerware

Post by Karen Larsdatter »

As mentioned above ... a sleeveless surcoat would be inappropriate for lower-status women by 1450-1470. See http://www.larsdatter.com/surcoats.htm for examples.

For some warm overgarments, check out http://www.larsdatter.com/hoods.htm or http://www.larsdatter.com/cloaks.htm -- there's also a sort of wool bundle (much less well-shaped than a cloak) which appears on the lower classes in the Tres Riches Heures and the Hennessey Hours among others.

But you may find that a wool gown worn over your wool kirtle & linen smock, with a wool hood for your head, will be plenty warm. :)

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Frances Perry
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Post by Frances Perry »

Thanks very much everyone!

I will put these suggestions to the test! :D
http://www.medievalartandwoodcraft.com

“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.” Achille Marozzo, 1536

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Post by Theotherone »

Hi,

Don't know if this will be of any use at all. It's a collection of photos of female effigies/brasses that Graham Field has put together. It SEEMS to show a drift away from the "gates of hell" as the 14th century progresses, even among the people who were paying for monuments, and suggests the kind of thing that was being worn for "posh" by the end of the 14th/start of the 15th at least

http://www.themcs.org/costume/14th%20ce ... othing.htm
Because there would have to be three of them.

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Post by lidimy »

Sorry for the dummy question, but what do you mean by 'the gates of hell'? :oops:
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Post by Theotherone »

The deeply cut away "armholes" showed the shape of the woman's body - providing temptation to men :D
Because there would have to be three of them.

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Post by lidimy »

Oh!

How heinous! :o :o :o
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Karen Larsdatter
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Post by Karen Larsdatter »

It's also kind of hard to say whether or not the clothing on effigies & brasses reflects the sort of dress that those same people would have worn on a day-to-day basis (or, in the case of an armed man, whether it's the armor he would have worn to war), or if it's strictly a ceremonial sort of costume -- or even just an imaginary or idealized sort of portrait, with a made-up outfit to suit the depiction.

(For example -- there's the effigy of William of Hatfield, which we can compare to other iconography and say that it's not a wholly unrealistic interpretation of a fashionable young man in the second half of the 14th century. It is, however, completely unrealistic to believe that the real William of Hatfield looked or dressed that way, as he was about five months old when he died.)

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Post by Theotherone »

Karen Larsdatter wrote:It's also kind of hard to say whether or not the clothing on effigies & brasses reflects the sort of dress that those same people would have worn on a day-to-day basis (or, in the case of an armed man, whether it's the armor he would have worn to war), or if it's strictly a ceremonial sort of costume -- or even just an imaginary or idealized sort of portrait, with a made-up outfit to suit the depiction.

(For example -- there's the effigy of William of Hatfield, which we can compare to other iconography and say that it's not a wholly unrealistic interpretation of a fashionable young man in the second half of the 14th century. It is, however, completely unrealistic to believe that the real William of Hatfield looked or dressed that way, as he was about five months old when he died.)
Yes, and it also has to be kept in mind that the monument may have been erected a while after the person actually died (there are cases when someone came into money and had monuments made for long dead antecendents), or the monument may have been mis-attributed, or it may be a simple "off the peg" generic monument - produced in quantities with a little customisation for each client.
Because there would have to be three of them.

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Post by kate/bob »

I haven't had any problems with the 3 sleeves making it hard to move and work with an over kirtle on. The trick is to make sure that the pattern fits properly. If you're going to be carrying stuff around and working around a fire don't be tempted to put too much fabric in the skirt - it looks cool, but is a right pain!

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Post by frances »

I keep really warm by wearing a wool hat over a drawn-up wood hood. Keeps out all the draughts. Fingerless gloves, or mitts, are brilliant too so that you don't have to keep taking off protection when you need to use your fingers. Have your skirts slightly longer than you are so that when you sit down you keep all the warm air within your clothing layers. And then noone can see that you are wearing themal long-johns underneath!!

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Post by Shadowcat »

frances wrote: Have your skirts slightly longer than you are so that when you sit down you keep all the warm air within your clothing layers. And then noone can see that you are wearing themal long-johns underneath!!
But only if you are not walking around in the rain - 6 inches of wet wool is no fun flapping around your ankles, and does not help to keep you warm.

S. Hoping for dry weather for Sunday's Twelfth Night Event

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Post by frances »

The long skirts are for sitting down in - most of us tuck our outer layers up into our belts, front, back or sides, when the ground is damp.

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Shadowcat
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Post by Shadowcat »

frances wrote:The long skirts are for sitting down in - most of us tuck our outer layers up into our belts, front, back or sides, when the ground is damp.
Not possible when the back half of your underneath layer doesn't match the front half! And I ain't talking damp - I'm talking pouring rain, when the Lions part did October Plenty this year! And you have a basket full of goodies to sell to the MOPs, and you're trying to sing at the same time, so you don't have any spare hands to clutch your skirts! Only my Tudor is a problem - nothing else gets to be outdoors.

S.

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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

It's going to be sunny :wink:

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Shadowcat
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Post by Shadowcat »

Oh, good, then I needn't finish my flannel petticoat!

S.

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Re: Sleeveless Surcotes / Outerware

Post by Donnabowen »

I made a double breasted vest a few months ago from the only TV bodice pattern I have... TV405 (Vest Basque). :crazy: :crazy:

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