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«Basic Markland Garb Recommended Garb for Public Events by Matthew R. Amt (aka Aelfric Guthredsson) October 1999 edition One learns by doing the ...»

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Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia

Basic Markland Garb

Recommended Garb for Public



Matthew R. Amt

(aka Aelfric Guthredsson)

October 1999 edition

One learns by doing the thing: for although

you think you know it, you can have no

certainty until you try. -- Sophocles


These are the official Markland recommedations for clothing to be used at battles, parades, and other

events which are open to the public. You are not required to have garb simply to be a member, and there are many non-public events such as feasts and fratricidal combats at which garb or costuming is encouraged but not necessarily controlled.

For public events, however, there is growing concern being given to maintaining a reasonably historical appearance. In most cases, the Basic Clothing Standards will be more than acceptable to all concerned, and using them as your guide is probably the easiest and least expensive way to keep your level of autheticity high.

These Standards cover common medieval clothing in a very general way, but the effect they give is a very typical medieval appearance. It is also a very flexible appearance, suitable to a number of different cultures across a time span of over 500 years. It is often possible to change from one nationality or time frame to another just by changing hats!

The descriptions and patterns for all garments and accessories are as accurate as possible while still applying to the widest possible span of time and place. Less common variations and exceptions to the rule have been omitted, as have some feastures which are still debatable or poorly documented. These guidelines, therefore, are not unwavering fact, but they are a good place to start for anyone dressing for the Middle Ages.

Men TUNIC -- Knee-length or longer, except for some shorter Norse styles; flared with triangular gores at the sides and/or front and back. Sleeves are long and fit closely along the forearms. Generally, a wool tunic is worn over a linen undertunic. (Some Norse overtunics were shortsleeved.) The belt can be leather or fabric, either with a plain D-shaped buckle, or with a long fork in one end that ties through two slits in the other.

LEGWEAR -- Usually close-fitting--can be hosen, just thigh-length fabric tubes, or trousers; either can have full feet, or have stirrups, or be footless. Some Vikings and Slavs wore straight-legged trousers that ended at the ankle, much like modern trousers. Any type of trousers may have a drawstring waist of belt loops. Hosen are worn over Braies, short linen pants gathered and tied below the knee. A pair of strings Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia sewn ot the waist of the braies tie to loops or holes at the top of the hosen to support them. Knee- or crossgarters may be worn.

SHOES -- Commonly leather and ankle-height (or a couple inches above), with a flat sole. Can be "slipons", buttoned or laced at the side, or drawstringed. Most had pointed toes, but Norse fashions included round toes.

Women GOWN or DRESS -- Generally a linen underdress, ankle-length or longer, with long, snug sleeves, and gores to give flare and fullness. Remember that decent ladies exposed only the face and hands--no slit hems, plunging necklines, or gaping bodices, please! Women's hosen need only be knee-length.

Saxons: Unfitted overgown may be shorter, with untapered three-quarter-length sleeves.

Normans and French: Full-length overgown either unfitted or laced up the back, sleeves either long and snug or flared (later 11th to 12th centuries).

Norse: Various long aprons (see Accessories) worn over gowns which might have been pleated.

HEADCOVERINGS -- Women should cover their heads!! Norse women wear a kerchief knotted at the back or side. For other nationalities, the veil - a white linen oval about 22"x36" draped over the head and held with a narrow band.

Recommendations You are strongly urged to use only LINEN and WOOL for all your clothes. These were by far the most common medieval fabrics, and they will far outperform any modern substitutes. It is safest to use solid colors, because it is uncertain just what sorts of patterns were used, and how often. Don't bother to pick a color scheme, and be aware that black is rather over-used these days. Unfortunately, most modern trims should be avoided, but cuffs, hems, and necklines can be decorated with bands of contrasting color of fabric. Embroidery should be well-researched, and appropriated to time and place (e.g., don't put Celtic designs on a Viking tunic).

Pre-wash your fabric! Ignore the "dry clean only" label - modern wools need a good thrashing in the machine (permanent press or gentle cycle) to give them the proper felted texture. Linen needs its cut ends secured against ravelling with a zig-zag stitch or a quick hem, then wash is on a normal cycle. Pre-washing shrinks the fabric at least 3 or 4 inches per yard (length and width!), so always buy extra. Iron well with steam just before cutting.

Hand sew visible stitching such as cuffs or hems. Really, take the time to finish your clothes with the old needle and thread, using a plain running stitch, backstitch, or whip stitch. It's easy, educational, and it really impresses the spectators. Don't leave raw or ragged edges because of the misconception that "medieval = crude". Anyone too poor to buy a new tunic would certainly take care of the old one!

Keep It Simple!

Avoid the urge to embellish your appearance with inauthentic things like vests, wide kidney belts, long flowing capes, daggers, armguards, square tied-on leggings, and boots (especially "apache" boots!). Many people unwittingly spoil their look by adding inappropriate items to what could otherwise be good garb.

Cluttering pieces of mail and leather are simply fantasy, while fur--which was used in several ways in the Middle Ages--is frequently mis-used nowadays. So keep it simple! A tunic, hosen, and shoes may seen unexciting, but it is very easy and very medieval.

Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia If you wish to wear something not included in the Standards, you may need to find evidence of its existence. (If someone in charge of an event disagrees with you, he does not have to prove you wrong--it is up to you to prove yourself right.) Use medieval illustrations and descriptions (these are "primary sources") whenever possible; some recent (last 15-20 years) secondary sources are pretty good, too, but most things written in the 19th and early 20th centuries are worthless for clothing research.

As you are getting your garb together, whether sewing or buying, TAKE YOUR TIME, and put some effort to get everything right the first time. Ask around for help with researching or sewing--there are plenty of experienced Marklanders who will be happy to lend a hand or a book. If someone does tell you that something of yours is wrong or inappropriate, don't assume he's an ignorant jerk (even if he acts like one!). Find a convenient time to talk to that person about your disagreement--Markland is supposed to be educational as well as fun, after all.

The Markland Basic Clothing Standards were designed to be Markland's official clothing guidelines for public events. This purposed was confired by vote of Council on April 1, 1989. There is no longer any need for new garb rules to be written for each event, and no need to give lengthy explanations of acceptable tunics or proper footwear. Event organizers and participants alike can simple refer to the Standards. As the Standards become more widely known and used, Markland's appearance at re-enactments and living history displays will become more and more authentic, with comparatively little effort. This sort of improvement is vital if Markland is to maintain its status and reputation as an educational organization.

These Standards were written, and are periodically updated, by Matthew Amt (Aelfic Guthredsson).

Illustrations are by Matthew Amt or Jane Walker unless otherwise noted. The author can be contacted at:

9416 Rhode Island Ave., College Park, MD 20740-1639; phone 301-345-0582; email amtwalker@erols.com.

Tunic The tunic is the basic men's garment, and it was common to wear a wool one over a linen undertunic.

Your tunic should reach at least to your knees, and the skirt is flared with gores. The sleeves should fit fairly closely along the forearms, and can end anywhere between wrist and fingertips.

This first pattern is designed for 2 yards of 45"-wide fabric: 1 1/3 yards for the body, and 24 inches for the sleeves. Wrist measurement (narrow end of "S") equals the distance around your closed fist plus an inch for seam allowance. if your fabric is wider than 45 inches (most wool is), you can widen the body halves, but leave the sleeves 22 inches wide at the top unless you really need the space. The leftover fabric can become more gores.

To assemble, sew the body halves together only at the top, and cur the neck-hole out as small as possible--round, semi-circular, or square, with a short slit. Sew the 2 little gore halves (G) together to Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia match the shape of the big gore; sew the gores to either side of the back panel, or in slits at the center front and back. (It is even better to have gores in the center and at the sides.) You will probably need to trim the sleeves to fit closer along the forearm, but not too tight. Sew the sleeves to the body, centered on the shoulder seam. Finally, fold the whole thing in half (into a tunic shape), and sew each side from wrist to armpit to hem.

Kragelund Mose Tunic

–  –  –

Gown The gown is just a full-lengh tunic for women. The front and back gores reach to the waist, but the side gores may reach to the armpits. The sleeves are made to fit the forearms, but the body is not shaped--there are no darts, gathers, or curved seams.

Certainly the hem is not slit!

As with men's clothing, it was common to wear a wool dress over a linen underdress (shift or chemise), but women's fashions had a little more variation through time. Tenth and eleventh century Norse and Saxon dresses tended to be looser fit, bloused over the belt, and sometimes an extra overdress was worn, knee-length with shorter or unfitted sleeves. Norman styles were closer fit, so side gores should come only to the waist. In the twelfth century the overdress could be loose, or laced up the back or the sides to give a snug fit in the torso; flaired sleeves were common in the upper class. In the thirteenth century, everyone was back to a loose fit with tight sleeves, sometimes buttoned along the forearms.

Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia Braies And Trousers Braies are short linen trousers over which are worn the hosen (long stockings). No medieval braies are known to exist today, but illustrations show that they were somewhat baggy, with a sort of "diaper" effect in the crotch, and the knees were gathered and tied. There was presumably a drawstring at the waist, and sometimes it seems that the waist was made extra high, and the excess fabric rolled down over the drawstring. A pair of points (laces) sewn inside the braies and hanging out over a waist roll would make effective and comfortable suspension for oneís hosen. Whether the waist is rolled or not, you will need some sort of points or loops to fasten the hosen.

At the outside of each knee, make a 4" slit (or leave the seam unsewn) and hem the edges. Gather the fabric to match the circumference of your leg just below the knee, and sew it to the middle third of a knee band or placket 36" long or more--the ends of the band serve as ties. (see fig. 4) In the absence of any firm evidence, all braies patterns include some guesswork. Any of the styles shown here will have tied knees and a waist drawstring. Add 3 or 4 inches to the height of the waist if you want a waist roll.

Fig. 1. The first pattern is the basis for most post-medieval trousers, and can be made from about 1.5 yards of linen. Cut out 2 halves to the dimensions shown (a) and sew together from crotch to top (b). Open and refold into a trouser shape and sew the inseams (c).

Fig 2. The second pattern consists simply of 2 tubes and an 11"-square gusset. It uses about 1 1/3 yards of linen, and won't leave a lot of oddly-shaped scraps. Sewing a gusset between two tubes is much easier to do than to describe, but you may want some experienced help.

Fig 3. These last braies are based on traditional Lappland trousers. They take about 2 1/2 yards of linen, but are very easy to make. They also have the weird baggy crotch seen in medieval illustrations--you will never split it! If you want to experiment first, grab an old bedsheet and spend about 15 minutes making a mock-up.

Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia Scandanavians and some Saxons wore trousers, which can be made from the braies patterns. Simply lengthen the legs and make them fit your legs (snug, but not tight). The waist can have a drawstring or belt loops, and feet can be added from the hosen pattern.

Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia Hosen The simplest hosen are just fabric tubes which fit the leg closely from crotch to ankle and have a lace or hole at the top to which the braies laces tie, and perhaps a stirrup under the foot. But hosen with feet were quite common, and are also warmer! Hosen are best made of wool and cut on the bias--diagonally across the fabric--which makes them surprisingly stretch and allows a tighter fit.

Start by making pattern pieces out of scrap fabric first, and fit them to your feet and ankles, making any necessary adjustments before cutting your good fabric. Be careful to leave the ankle large enough for your foot to go through, and remember that the long seam runs up the back of the leg.

Hosen were most frequently worn with just the ties to the braies supporting them, but you may wear simple garters below the knee, or crossgarter (at least 9 feet long each) for Hastings era or before. Also in use were leggings much like World War I puttees: leather or fabric bands 3 to 4 inches wide and at least 12 feet long, wrapped spirally down your leg from knee to ankle. Do NOT use a square of something tied to your leg.

Ladies hosen need only cover the knee, where they are held up by knee garters or crossgarters.

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