Group Members: Baroness Linnet del Grenewode,
Location: Barony of Carolingia, East
Category/Level: Historically Focused/Intermediate
About Actreo: The two of us are a couple who have been in and out of the SCA for years. We heard about the Challenge from people in our local group. We will be making garments that we have wanted to make for a while. The inspiration of this challenge is a gift right now.
Project Update Blog: Crafting Ourselves – An SCA Arts and Sciences Journey
Their Project: We will be making a set of clothes for a high status (Thegn level) man and woman from England in the mid 11th Century. These garments will be based on artwork and writings done in period, as well as fragments from grave finds. We have been researching on this period for a while, but have yet to make a set of historically accurate clothing for the late Anglo Saxon time period. We need a set of court garb, not just pennsic clothes. We will be making for the man a shirt, trousers, tunic and cloak, and for the woman a smock, gown, mantel, and veil, as well as a number of smaller pieces.
We are making clothing suitable for an Anglo Saxon man and his wife who are high status individuals (Thegn level). There is little evidence of how the underlayer of clothing looked in the form of illuminations or grave finds for this time period for anglo saxon culture in England. There are many written sources, particular the words in Old English used for garment types. We used 2 main sources of information for making our decisions on how to make this: Dress in Anglo Saxon England by Gale Owen-Crocker, and the Authenticity Guide for Regia Anglorum.
For the man, the first layer would be a linen shirt or tunic, and either trousers, or hose and braies. We chose to make a simple shirt similar to those made elsewhere because the word Scyrte implies a shorter garment, rather than a full undertunic. the shirt has square gussets under the sleeves, and a keyhole neckline bound with silk.Hose and Braies were coming in as a style, but the anglo saxon trousers were still worn. After looking at, and experimenting with several reconstructions of early trousers starting with the iron age Thorsberg trousers, we decided to make the trousers by starting with 2 tubes with a seam down the inner leg. We tried several types of gussets and gores, and found that for us, they fit the best by taking in the lower legs, and adding a square crotch gusset. We left the bottom of the inseam open for the last few inches to get the trousers on over the foot. The trousers were held up with a linen twill tape tie. There was evidence for either ties or belts for this. There are old english words for what is assumed to be a loin cloth, but we opted to stay with modern underwear underneath.
For the woman, the first layer is a linen Smoc made in a similar pattern as layer 2 will be. We used the Nockert Type 1 form of tunic, as this is the most common type of tunic found around the 11th century. This tunic has square underarm gussets and side gores. We did not use center gores. Images of women’s clothing at this time appear to be mainly vertical in line, without much flaring out from the waist. The sleeves were very long and tight. The look at this time was for smoc sleeves to go over the hand some, and to have wrinkles on the forearm. The cuffs and necklines were bound with silk. There was a thriving silk trade in England at this time, and silk ribbons and strips were commonly used if one could afford it. The cap is to cover the hair so it does not show under the veil or wimple that will be added later. There are words for this garment like Feax Clap (head cloth), but what it looked like is up to interpretation. We used the English Cap proposed by Regia Anglorum for this. It is similar to a viking cap, but rounded at the top, and larger, so that all of the hair is covered. Some people use something like a St Birgitta cap, but that would seem to be to late to be used at this time.
All sewing was done by hand using waxed thread (linen for linen, silk for silk). Construction seams were done in back stitch; flat fell with whip stitch; and attaching strips to the edges with running stitch.
Both Linnet and Kendrick worked on this layer. Both of us worked on pattern development. Linnet did most of the construction sewing. Kendrick did the embroidery embellishment on the cap. He will be making many yards of fingerloop braid for the next 2 layers, as well as tablet weaving, and has already started working on those.
We are making a set of clothes for an 11th Century Anglo Saxon high status man and woman. Layer 2 consists of tunics. The term Tunece applies to male garments. The term Cyrtel used to apply to short male garments, but by this point in history was used for longer female tunics. Both garments were Nockert type 1 tunics with square gussets under the sleeves, and triangular side gores, and were made from the same medium weight tabby woven blue fabric. A reproduction red silk was used on the cuffs and necklines. Silk was readily available in England at this time. The most common use was to cut the fabric into strips and use it to trim the edges of garments. Both the Tunece and Cyrtel had 3 cm wide strips on the bottom of the sleeves, and the Tunece had an additional woven band of gold silk on it. The Tunece had a square keyhole neck. This was a style seen in illuminations from England during this time period. It had a silk facing which comes to a point in the center front. The Cyrtel had a round keyhole neck, with the edge bound in silk. Women’s necklines were rarely seen, so would probably not be as showy as men’s.
We had planned on adding blue fingerloop braid to many of the seams, and gold braid to the collars and cuffs. Experimental trials made with silk cord indicated that it would take far, far more time with silk than previous trials with cotton or wool. Weaving the silk into a narrow strip also gave problems with tension and smoothness of weave compared to other fibers. We ended up settling for two woven bands to put on the Tunece, with the thought we might come back to this later. Linnet did the sewing, and Kendrick did all the work with braiding and weaving.
We are making a set of clothing for a high status anglo saxon man and woman. Layer 3 consists of a cloak for the man. It is made of a heavy brown wool with the rectangular construction common in this period. The long edges of the cloak were bound with red silk taffeta ribbon, and trimmed with a two color hand woven silk band. Layer 3 for the woman has 2 parts. The cloak during this period for high status women is a semi-circle of wool sewn into a cone shape with a neck opening. This style is believed to be copied from chasubles seen in byzantine art. Our cloak was made from a soft tan wool, and was worn either with or without a sash. The head covering for Layer 3 is a long rectangular veil of wool gauze. These veils were worn draped around the head over the cap. Lower status women tended to wear a more hood-like garment. In art, these veils are generally shown in a color other than white. For our project, the veil was dyed with black walnut. Several trials were done to try to get the color even. It was decided not to mordant this veil to darken the color with iron, for fear of damaging the fine wool gauze. Walnut has enough tannin, that a mordant is not required on wool. Kendrick did most of the work on the cloak, and Linnet sewed the mantle, and dyed the wool for the veil.
Kendrick did most of the work for this accessory item. The inspiration for our piece is an 11th century reliquary pouch. The original is in the German National Museum in Nurnberg. It is dated to 1050 to 1100 C.E. and Byzantine origin. We feel confident that trading between Anglo-Saxon England and Eastern Europe would have allowed similar bags to be found in England at this time. The original is a silk bag 12.5 cm wide and 14.8 cm tall, the front of the bag is decorated with 21 silver plaquetes, the center five are covered with an almandine stone, which is a purplish garnet, and 4 gold thread covered knots complete a five by five grid of elements, this is surrounded on each side by 7 heart shaped almandine covered plaquetes and 14 small square silver plaquetes with every other one covered in an almandine stone. All of these elements are surrounded with long strands of white seed pearls and three rows or silk cording. Unfortunately we could not create an exact copy of this bag.
Compromises of necessity and material were required. We could not duplicate cast silver plaquetes so heavy pewter craft foil purchased from Blick was used to cut same size and shape plaquetes which were sewn on using white silk thread. The heart shaped plaquetes on each side were eliminated as they were too hard to replicate or substitute with similar shaped pieces. Remnant burgandy silk was used instead of brown silk fabric for the bag which lead to a change in stones, although we had similar sized and shaped purple stones we decided that red coral stones looked better with our silk. Some of the bottom square plaquetes were replaced with bugle shaped coral beads because mounting the bead on the plaquete completely covered the plaquete. Additionally spacing the small square plaquetes was changed to allow for possible future seed pearl cords to be added, we couldn’t find small enough seed pearls to allow closer spacing. Gold silk 20/2 yarn was used to weave the bands across the top. The twisted tan cords around the sides and bottom of the original was replaced with 4 strands of loosely braided 10/2 ecru silk yarn which gives a similar “bumpy patterned” look to the border. When we get the chance, we will complete the decoration of this bag with strands of white seed beads surrounding each element on the front of the bag. Kendrick is proud of this example of an 11th century reliquary bag even if keeping the overall look of the original required some substitutions. The biggest change would be making or purchasing cast plaquetes but purchasing different shaped cast plaquetes would have changed the overall look of the bag so with our skill at this moment, cutting metal plaquetes was the best choice and we couldn’t find similar shaped plaquetes from the medieval craft sellers we know. A class that has been on Kendrick’s “to learn” list is enameling on metal, he thinks this might be the most approachable and best looking replacement for cutting special shaped cabochons.
For our extra accessory layer, we made socks with a nalebinding technique. There are very few examples of nalebinding from this time period. The most complete one is the Coppergate sock, which dates from the 10th Century in York England. This would have been from the Anglo Scandinavian part of England. Due to the abundant trade between cultures, and the lack of any surviving socks from Anglo Saxon cultures, many researchers assume that nalebinding was a likely technique for the Saxons as well.
The socks were made from the top down. The exemplar sock was done in what was dubbed the York stitch, but this is the only example of that stitch in any surviving work. As I am familiar with the Oslo stitch, and these were my first socks, I chose to work in Oslo. Also, since I prefer to work on my thumb, I worked in a medium weight yarn, not a fine knitting sock yarn. At the cuff, a small raised collar was used, similar to the coppergate sock. This was worked for a few rows, then half of the row was detached to form a gusset. The heel was worked in decreasing rows in the space left open. Then the rest of the sock was done in decreasing rows until it was reduced and tied off at the toe
Since this is the first time I have made socks by any method, the first pair was a learning experience, then tossed. The second pair was much better, and the final pair was finally getting close to what I wanted. This is the pair I have submitted to you. I loved nalebinding socks, since prior to this I have only done hats. I plan on playing with this more in the future.