Showing posts with label costume. Show all posts
Showing posts with label costume. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Medieval Headwear

The earliest head coverings were probably rough clothes or skins designed to protect the wearer from the elements. Through the years, head covers evolved to reflect the status and culture of the wearer.
During the early Middle Ages, women wore simple coifs, wimples, and veils. Coifs were just close-fitting caps, as in this picture, a later painting of young Edward VI by Holbein. Edward wears a coif of cloth-of-gold beneath a feathered hat. Essentially, a, a coif is very similar to a baby's bonnet.
Wimples were cloth head coverings, much like that worn by nuns to this day. However, the cloths could be elaborately folded and starched to become an attractive framework for the face of a medieval woman.
Veils have been worn since early times. In the 13th century B.C. their wear was restricted to noblewomen. Commoners and prostitutes were forbidden to wear them. Later, veils were worn by all women, and it became common for ladies to cover their hair and face when in public.
I’ll be covering 14th and 15th century headgear in future blogs. A good overview of medieval costume and accessories is Medieval Costume in England and France, by Mary G. Houston.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Medieval Costume

Since I've been blogging about period costume, I thought my readers might be interested in my newest project. The Historical Novel Society is having their annual conference in Chicago in June, and if you historical writers aren't already signed up, you really should be. They have a fantastic array of agents and editors who are especially interested in historical novels. That said, my blog focus today is on the Period Costume Pageant for Saturday evening at the conference. I decided my "persona" would be a 12th century scribe, and after reading directions on SCA websites promising that you needed no pattern for a tunic, I still wasn't convinced, being a lifelong sewer who never set scissors to fabric without a pattern. I found a site, after much looking around, which carries period patterns. (You may know that Simplicity, McCall's and the others do have what they call "medieval" patterns but the seams and construction are not authentic.) Medievalists made use of every inch of fabric, so their patterns were much more rectangular than out garments today.
I bought No. 16 medieval from Patterns of Time, and was dismayed to find about 6 sizes on one sheet of tissue, making it difficult to locate the line for my size. To make things worse, I cut a muslin pattern first, which was too large, and had to go back twice and scotch tape the pattern and recut. This took two evenings and a lot of unprintable words, but I finally got what I wanted.
Next, I decided on material, and that's a whole new blog……..'Til next time, do go to the HNS website and look around at the conference info. It's all at