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cloth question for cloth geeks/geekettes

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:02 am
by gregory23b
two related queries

1) fustian, I gather it is a cotton/line mix, now is that a mix within the threads or a warp/weft mix?

1a) I recall reading in Henry VII statutes about cotton and wool as being fustian and some part relating to not burning off the pile or over stretching it, I need to get another look.

So what is fustian?

2) linsey woolsey

Supposedly a linen wool mix, again was it mixed fibres or warp and weft mixed (apologies for not knowing the correct term)

what does this cloth feel and look like?

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:25 am
by sally
usually its a warp in one and a weft in the other, but then you get things like linen union (tea towels) that are a blended fibre

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:28 am
by Chickun
Have PM'd you J.

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:20 pm
by Tuppence
fustian is a warp/weft mix (I don't use the technical terms either :lol: ).

It was usually cotton / linen mix (forget which was the warp and which the weft), although there are records of it being made with other fibres in the same way.

It also had a nap (or a short pile - apparently not so pronounced as velvet, a bit more like a sort of moleskin or brushed cotton).

Linsey wolsey, don't remember offhand, but have a book with a definition and will look up if I haven't buried under piles of offcuts....

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 1:57 pm
by Libby
I'm pretty sure Linsey-Wolsey is linen warp and wool weft. It's believed to have originally been made in a Suffolk village called Lindsey. But I'm afraid I've got no references here and now to back that up. Sorry.

By all accounts it's a pretty rough low grade stuff that you might use for something that wouldn't be seen much, for example a working petticoat.


Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:25 pm
by Sophia

There is a good section on Fustian in
"Textiles and Material of the Common Man and Woman 1480-1580",
Morris, Robert
Stuart Press, 2005,
ISBN 1-85804-195-3.

For Linen/Wool textiles there is a short piece pp.128-9 in
"Medieval Finds From Excavations in London: 4
Textiles and Clothing c. 1150-1450"
Crowfoot, E., Pritchard, F., Staniland, K.
London HMSO 1992
ISBN 0-11-290445-9

Sure there must be more academic stuff available, this is just what I personally have to hand.

The following links are also useful, though a little later and american oriented:

A swift general survey of available internet references give the following spellings


Cross-reference is made to taretaine (French) and thereby to tartan. Also mention is made of winceyette in later contexts.

Have fun,

Sophia :D

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:42 pm
by gregory23b
Thanks Sophia,

I just have this itch to scratch re fustian it does mean a trip to Guildhall Library and some photos, then I can at least lay that one to rest.

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:52 pm
by Sophia

If you mean Guildhall in London let me know - perhaps we can get together.

Sophia :D

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 5:00 pm
by gregory23b
yep to both.

They have a printed 1496/97 Wynkyn de Woorde Statutes of Henry VII and it covers fustian and some bits of it have remained in my mind, to do with burning cotton or something. They let you photograph bits of it and you can get it out as you arrive, takes about 20 minutes for the archivist to bring it up.

I can in theory get there this week or next as I can tie it with other London things. What day would suit you? Might tie in with a trip to MoL if you are interested?

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 5:14 pm
by Sophia
Trust you to pick the one time I can't do anything - I am fully committed for rest of month to World Rowing Championships (ex-rower) - hence no Kelmarsh, Bosworth, etc. :(

However, if you have any further research trips planned do get in touch. Same applies to other folks I know, may even be able to offer crash space if given sufficient warning.

Sophia :D

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 5:21 pm
by gregory23b
I am sure I can wangle a trip to London in September, in fact I know I can

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 5:25 pm
by Sophia
Looking forward to it :D


P.S. Not really peeved about doing rowing thing just peeved about lack of hours in day, days in week, etc. :roll:

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:15 pm
by calicocloth
In 'Costume in Elizabethan Drama', Linthicum writes in 1939:

Linsey-woolsey, known in England by 1483, was a loosely woven, plain cloth of linen yarn and wool, an excellent example of which survives in the bed curtains of Anne Hathaway's bedchamber at Shottery.

In the drama, this material is always spoken of contemptuously'. [quote][/quote]

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:19 pm
by Hecate
in case anyone is interested, Quarry Bank Mill (Natinal Trust) make fustian, it's woven on 18thC looms (I think) and is £10 a metre. they sent me a smaple card (which is under everything so who knows where it has got to, but they will send them out if you ask nicely.

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:48 pm
by gregory23b
Thanks Hecate, I know fustian has a long history it also changes meaning also, I just want to get to the bottom of this suspicion I have concerning wool and cotton, as in the statutes book, until I see it again, not for lack of trying on line, my itch wont be cured. If it does involve wool then it might be another cloth to look out for.

thanks everyone this is good stuff (pun ha!)

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 12:55 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
Hi Jorge,
could you do something for me while you are digging around for fustian?

In the Tudor Tailor Ninya mentions medley/mingle/motley which is a cloth woven from different coloured threads. The Kentwellies have traditionally been told not to use such cloth as it 'didn't exist' so being of subversive and naughty character I want to find out more.

My questions are - were the colours a jumble giving the cloth a speckledy look or was it woven in some pattern or other?
Was it cheap nasty stuff (like shoddy) or was it skillful weaving commanding the attention of the rich?
Clues will lie in the price it was being sold at and maybe literary references as to who was buying it and or wearing it.

Can you let me know if you come across anything relevant.

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:10 pm
by Sophia
A subversive Kentwelly - tell me more :twisted:

I will also keep a look out - if I understand correctly 'shoddy' was fabric made from recycled fibres. It was originally good quality fabric as well - listened to a programme on R4 a while back about it but can't remember its title. I wonder if motley might have been made from odds and sods left over in weaving shed. There is also the possibility that it refers to a low grade garment pieced from re-used fabric. That might be an angle to explore. :D

Perhaps we should be looking at inventories from weavers workshops or tailors workshops. Apparently there is a probate inventory for a tailor's will in the recent publication from York City Archives (recommended to me by the kind girls from Ferrers). I can't find their link at the moment will post it when I can locate it. :D

I have checked out the etymology to see if it gives any clues and my COD is not big enough and I don't have any etymological French dictionaries either - root word would appear to be french. I feel some shopping coming on when I am next in a francophone country. :roll:


Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:14 pm
by Sophia
Just found link to programme in Shoddy - regrettably not available as a listen again, but sometimes they will provide a transcript/tape for academics research purposes. The best thing to do is to contact the production team.

Sophia :D

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:59 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
A subversive Kentwelly - tell me more

Hey, I've been told off for being subversive, undermining the system etc so maybe I'd best keep quiet. :roll: :oops: :lol: :twisted:

Shoddy - I heard that program too. It's in my brain as a Victorian thing.

Back to medley - Ninya has a bit from a shoemaker's will 1600 a "greenish mingle coloured cloak". This just got me excited because in my rookie days I made a cloak for my son from a brown flecky mixture and everytime we spotted the costume police I made him hide. This was really hard last year as I was a member of the costume Gestapo.
I'm assuming Ninya's scoured the Essex Wills and anything relating to Tudor tailors. I've found no evidence in the Art work but we still have all the import and export documents, household account books, the literature of the time to go through :shock: Oh, and the wills from everywhere else bar Essex.

Jorge - have you got a copy of The Tudor Tailor? If not, Ninya, do you mind me quoting a bit defining fustian and cotton and lindsey woolsey?

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 4:43 pm
by Sophia
Best not get you into any more trouble then :D

Shoddy is definitely a Victorian thing as far as I can tell and COD agrees giving C19th dialect origin unknown. Will try and check OED on next library visit - really need a dialect dictionary for the area it was originally produced in to get to root of word.

Sophia :D

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:56 pm
by gregory23b
Sorry Annie, I haven't got the TT.

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:21 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
Oh I'm such a cloth anorak I can't wait for Ninya to spot this thread and give permission.

S'cuse me a minute - HEY FOLKS - BUY THE TUDOR TAILOR!!!!
At first glance it looks like it's just giving you patterns so you can make reenacting Tudor Clothes, and it is, but its much, much more. It's full of all sorts of facinating stuff - if you read the writing - and its got pictures you don't find in other books. It's really good and you can buy it from Amazon or straight from Ninya I think if you buy it from Ninya she gets more money so go on. You know you want it. Support your local seamstress. Help save her from starving in her garret.

Right Jorge - here you are. From The Tudor Tailor:

"Fustian - the only common fabric at this time that may contain cotton thread; featured a linen or worsted warp (smooth and strong) and a cotton or wool weft (soft and fluffy) made in Lancashire and Genoa (jean) and Ulm (holmes), Milan (at twice the price of the others and Naples (with a dense velvety nap, this couls be embroidered and perfumed). Prices ranged from 8d to 4s a yard. Used for doublets, kirtles, gowns, sleeves, linings for all of these.

Cotton - narrow wool, loosely woven and fairly lightweight; there was no cotton fibre in this fabric - raising the nap was known as "cottonning". Used for bum rolls; linings of coats, doublets, gowns,kirtles and stomachers.

Linsey-wolsey - loosely woven cloth of linen warp and woollen weft. Used for gowns, coats, petticoats by the poorer sort."

Good innit?

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:34 pm
by Sophia
Yum, yum! - Have already got it way back when first came out. Afraid kind of assumed Jorge had it as he seems to be so well up on stuff and it was widely publicised here on list. :D

Am also interested in Fustian or possible modern fabrics if it is not available as want to expand the repertoire of fabrics I use from just tabby wools, worsted and linens.

I am watching some wool/linen suiting on ebay with a reliable seller who I have had good worsted from before. I suspect that it is a mixed spun fibre job rather than a true linsey/woolsey but it is not so expensive and it might pass muster (colour is suitably subdued). :D

The other thing I think we tend to overlook is twill weaves and was wondering if you had any thoughts on the use of very subdued tweeds?

Sophia :D

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:10 am
by gregory23b
""Fustian - the only common fabric at this time that may contain cotton thread; featured a linen or worsted warp (smooth and strong) and a cotton or wool weft (soft and fluffy) made in Lancashire and Genoa (jean) and Ulm (holmes), Milan (at twice the price of the others and Naples (with a dense velvety nap, this couls be embroidered and perfumed). Prices ranged from 8d to 4s a yard. Used for doublets, kirtles, gowns, sleeves, linings for all of these. "

excellent, now to get to Guildhall for the statute warning re adulterating it.

thanks Annie, aha hah there is a wool element, ah ah so it isn't early onset dotage.

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:21 am
by Annie the Pedlar
are there any other books like the Museum of London's Textiles and Clothing, about?
You know that last scene in Raider's of the Lost Ark where's there's a huge warehouse, everything is in anonymous boxes (bit like my house at the moment - I'm packing, ready to move, and can't find anything!!!) - I always feel there's loads of stuff buried in dusty drawers in museums that the curators think is rubbish - 1" square of dull cloth - that if they let us loose in there we would think was paradise.

Back to Textiles and Clothing - in there they have fragments of linen woven in pretty patterns and obviously it was being done with silk, so makes you think....maybe wool? (Another aside - did you know the Americans call nappies diapers after the linen cloth that was used for nappies which had a diaper (diamond) pattern woven into it to make it more absorbant?)
Back to the book - they have got several examples of checked fabric. they are C14th but it says they were around in the C6th and C7th too. They have wool that is striped - most along the selvedge but one has stripes of silk! All Medieval.
They have one that has 2 shades of pink and a brown for the weft and brown for the warp and suggest this may have been a medley.
And low and behold there's a woolen cloth with a raised diamond pattern woven into it. C14th again.
And a few C13th bits, wool, with fancy weaves giving small satinny patterns - diagonal lines and zig zags.
And some earlier Norwegian? ones woven, maybe, from one fleece (or herd of sheep) using the coarse and soft wool or the light and dark wool to give stripes. And one uses weaving tight and slack to give striped.

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:24 am
by Annie the Pedlar
I think the onset of dotage might be us talking about it!!!!!!!! :wink:

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 5:20 pm
by fishwife
Hi Jorge,
I've done quite a bit of research into cotton - coming from Lancs and having a cotton mill gaffer for a grandfather I had to!!!!
Fustian according to Ann Sutton (Mercers Guild historian) was ALWAYS cotton weft and either a linen or wool warp. Textile History - can't remember at the moment which issue number has a really good article by her about the linen industry and covers fustians - will look it up later and report back with title and details!
Lancashire and Welsh Cottons are always wool cloth, however a pikemans uniform in the Tudor period was lined with a cheap cotton cloth.
Cotton was imported into Southampton and London in the 1300's in thread and ball form the best came from Syria. I am looking into the fact that cotton wool was used to make candlewicks at the moment!

Should I start ducking now?


Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 8:22 am
by Annie the Pedlar
You could get stuffed :wink: Everyone seems to agree the Middle Aged used cotton as stuffing.

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 9:19 am
by Sophia
Looking forward to getting stuffed with yet more useful facts about textiles and the textile industry.

Sophia :roll: :twisted:

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:09 pm
by fishwife
the article you want to read is in Textile History vol 30 number 2 Autumn 1999
"Some aspects of the linen trade c. 1130s to 1500, and the part played by the Mercers of London" Anne F Sutton

The padded jack of the Black Prince at Canterbury Cathedral is stuffed with cotton from the Po valley in Italy!

I think it is down to the fact that cotton cloth has different names, so we aren't picking up on the fact that it's cotton. Bombasine being one! It is obvious when you look at the name - but them there academics that write everything for us may not be looking at it from the same point of view!