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Facings on late medieval garments?

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:45 pm
by Laffin Jon Terris
Hello all, I am making a new over cote for working in similar to this one:



I have worked out the pattern for the body and will sort out the sleeves next (although mine will be full length rather than short ones).

My question is wether I should have facing -or is it "interfacing"- panels on the insides of the front opening? (ie does the outer fabric "wrap around" the opening edge or should my outer and my lining fabric meet at the opening edge seam?)

While I realise this is not exactly of earth shattering importance I would like to know out of interest as much as anything else!

When does this kind of facing appear in clothing and why?

Thanks in advance,


Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:19 pm
by Zachos
What evidence do we have of things like that actually being lined? With so many layers would they necessarily line the outer garments, especially ones for working in?

Just curious.


Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:27 pm
by Laffin Jon Terris
Thats a very interesting point Zachos!

I plan to line mine however (because there may be days I don't want to wear my doublet under my work cote!)

The original question can still be applied to doublets and other garments though!


Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:59 pm
by Zachos
Indeed it can, I was simply raising a second question. I think we assume most things were lined, and then wonder how people could work under so many layers.

So in conclusion, if anyone could answer both our questions, that would be grand.


Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:17 pm
by Laffin Jon Terris
Well Zachos, after an afternoons research I can report several images that show the insides of coats and gowns (seen as the wearer is removing them).

Most appear to have a definite lining (some -not all- are contrasting colours rather than white or darker/lighter shades of the outer layer).

Note, thes images include doublets (which are not exactly secondary "over cotes") posh gowns and houpelades (which are early for WOTR) so no solid statements can be made regarding "working" clothes.

On only one image could I see specifically inside the opening of secondary gown, it had a white lining and no notable facing.

Again, one image is not really enough to base an arguement on!

In the absence of other advice I guess I will make my coat with a lining but without facings.

Cheers then!


Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:05 pm
by Colin Middleton
My understanding is that both cote and doublet are lined (doublets may have so much interlining as to be stab-proof like John Paston's was). I would also expect the cote to meet, rather than over-lap at the front, with the laces just drawing the edges togeather. When fabric is expensive, you use as little of it as you can, it also avoids a bulky overlap down the front.

Good luck

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:10 pm
by Shadowcat
The cote in your picture appears to have a white/light edge at the sleeve end - lining?


Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:51 pm
by gregory23b
"My understanding is that both cote and doublet are lined"

There are bits of false lined garments in MOl, a sleeve of some description, part lined for show.

Some doublets were indeed lined though as the headsman of John the Baptist in a flemish painting shows his doublet round his waist and the lining clearly visible, also apparentl showing the lining to be in parts rather than a lining shell, ie each piece of the lining is part of the facing layer.

cant find the pic, it is well known, 1450-60s

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:37 pm
by Gandi

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 6:20 pm
by Sophia
Technique Jorge is refering to is sometimes called flat-lining - outer fabric and lining are placed wrong sides together and sewn together as a if a single piece of fabric. Then the seam allowance on the lining is trimmed back half way and the outer fabric is folded over it and flat felled down.

Technique is useful if you are only using two layers of fabric and do not wish to re-line at a future date. If you are interlining then handle the outer fabric and interlining like this (not absolutely necessary to flat fell but helps if you grade seam allowances) then fold in outer edges and top-stitch down. Finally, make up your lining and whip it in - you can either run it right up to the edge or make it slightly smaller according to taste and circumstance.

Hope this is useful.

Soph :D

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:09 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
Medieval pictures do show different cloured insides and outside.

A bit of evidence taken from surviving C16th garments - most seem to have lining and top fabric same size and shape and meeting at the edges.

Some other thoughts - for gowns, femnine and masculine, the lining sometimes drops/stretches more than the top fabric and spoils your whole look. To save yourself hours of work you can cut the top stuff longer and the lining shorter, say by an inch, sew up then let the gown do its own thing.......or do what Jon original spoke about - cut the top fabric longer and turn inside.

I've always thought if I were them, I would only line a garment to hide the inner construction stuff - so stiffened Tudor doublets get lined and Medieval gowns with millions of pleats stay taped in place (guess what I'm doing now!!!) get lined but I dont see the point of lining a peasant's skirt. It's cheaper to hem it.

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:08 pm
by janes-wardrobe
It's my understanding that most medieval clothes were lined - though not all. There are some examples of facing on bits of cloth that come from what seems to be the modified neckline of a kirtle. (MoL Textiles book) This facing is nothing like modern facings - it is simply a narrow strip of silk cut o the straight of the grain, the raw edges folded under and held in place with small running stitches either side. A garment would not need to be lined if faced in this way.

Flat lining garments seems to come with the more complicated clothing f the 16th Century - though it is not used exclusively even then. It very much depends on the way the garment is fitted. Also fr the peascod bellies on the fashionable doublets the fabric is layered up to get the padded effect - modern costruction techniques would create bulk in the wrong place. I digress...

I would line the coat in this painting and fasten it edge to edge with hooks and eyes. Clothes are cut to show as much of the fabric as possible, to use as much fabric as you can while wasting as little as possible. So you cut according to your cloth - the more you can afford the more you have and the more you use. There is still a lot of geometrical cutting in the late medieval period and a lot of pieceing of fabric to use every last possible scrap.

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:11 pm
by janes-wardrobe
Oops - if you mean the mans top garment it's cleary pointed closed, if you mean the ladies gown - that appears to be crossed over and held closed with her belt.

Although well represented, ladies gowns that open at the front are much less commonly depicted than closed gowns.

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:12 pm
by gregory23b
Sophia, Is that what it is called, thanks. My Tudor doublet is made like that, inter lining is cut to fit the actual then the outer is folded over and sewn down then the liner is whipped in to sit on top, makes for replacing the liner easy enough. I also imagine it makes it easier to adjust for size and piece if required....more piecing be nice to see.

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:36 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
I don't know if am sayng the same thing as Sophia and Jorge (I'm a picture paints a thousand words girl, myself) but there were two ways of making up Tudor doublets.
One is in line with modern dressmaking/tailoring techniques -
back the top fabric with interlining and any other constructual stuff and sew up into a doublet shape.
Take the pieces making up the lining and sew up into a doublet shape.
Put the two doublets right sides together and sew along the edges (bagging out).
Turn the whole lot rightside out, press and tidy up the armholes (or which ever other bits you've left unstitched.

The other way is Tudor logical but Modern counter intuitive.
Take each pattern piece separately.
Sandwich all the layers together, turn the raw edges in and sew together (run or whip, both seem to have been used).
Take all the pattern pieces and whip stich together to make your doublet shape.
This depends on using small neat stitches to preserve the strength of the joins but Kentwellies have made garments both ways and they work (as in you can wear them for a week or more, work strenuously in them and they are still in one piece.)

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:16 pm
by gregory23b
The latter one for my Two Door doublet Annie, exactly so.

I found this to be much easier to sew and assemble and repair, also the lining layer can be ripped off an replaced without having to refit.

Was this a medieval practice too? the Van der Weyden seems to hint at a combination of both as the central back seam is as described but the rest f the linings almost as a liner in itself.