Sunday, January 2, 2011

Garb Quest - Final Breakdown

One of the primary questions I had to ask myself in regards to my garb quest was whether it was better to create a high-class (read "fancy") outfit in keeping with my time period, or to create something that was more appropriate for the daily needs of my persona. It wasn't a difficult question to answer, really. An outfit that I'll actually get use out of just makes more sense, but I can't deny that the tendency to create "showy" garb for A&S is a strong one. A costume with all the bells and whistles certainly dazzles more than garments with none of the extra detailing. The point, however, is not to dazzle. The point is to create an outfit with as much authenticity and craftsmanship as possible based on the criteria. My persona has more of a need for sensible daily garb than a fancy gown, so, for the entry portion of the garb quest, I'm going to focus on creating beautiful, well-made, sensible clothing without compromising who my persona is.

If I understand the criteria correctly, only the main garments of the outfit will be judged on an individual level. Then the accessories I choose to include in my display must be explained, and will only be critiqued as far as their appropriateness is concerned- not their actual construction. So, the first step was identifying what items are involved. To do this, I drew some pictures, which I will post as each item group comes up. (They still need to be scanned in at this point). The pictures show the layers of mid-15th century clothing as my research to date has indicated. My drawings go from the bottom-most layer (undergarments) to the top-most and "richest" layer (houppelande). This final layer will not be part of the entry, but will be part of the quest. The garment items that I considered the judged portion of the entry are:
  • Smock- a calf-length white linen garment, often referred to as a "chemise" in the SCA.
  • Hose & garters - black wool fitted hose (just below the knee in length) with white linen garters.Align Right
  • Huvet - I have begun using the term that Camilla Louise Dahl and Isis Sturtewagen discussed in their article, The Cap of Saint Birgitta. The term "Saint Birgitta's Cap", on this blog at least, should be used to indicate that specific extant piece, while the term "huvet" will be used for any linen cap of a similar variety to the SBC. This will be white linen.
  • Supportive Dress - a linen dress of the "Gothic Fitted Dress" type. This will be ginger brown linen lined with a natural-colored linen.
  • Kirtle - a wool overdress based on the pattern of the supportive dress. This will be a navy blue wool lined with dark gray or black linen.
  • Open Hood - a 15th century woman's hood with a liripipe. Scarlet red wool, lined with matching red linen.
Then, the accessories to go with the outfit will include:
  • leather shoes
  • leather belt
  • veil pins
  • apron
  • scarf - I'm still trying to find out the correct term for this, but it's a lightweight neck-scarf that can often be seen in many period images.
  • pouch
The end result should look very similar to the maid in the St. John Altarpiece, with additional items and other alterations according to my persona and the time period (roughly 1445).

The items of the final layer replace the kirtle and hood to create a look more appropriate to being a hostess or for leaving the home. These are a fur-trimmed wool houppelande and a horn & veil headdress (which I've been wanting to make for several years now). The houppelande will most resemble those found in this version of La Decameron in its simplicity, but the construction will be taken from clearer examples such as this detail from The Decent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden. Color is still unknown, but gray rabbit is most likely for the fur trimming and either olive green or royal blue wool for the exterior. A beautiful woad blue wool/silk blend is also in the running, though I previously ruled out silk for my persona. A case could be made, however, for the blend, especially with the woad instead if indigo dye color. There will also be a walnut/iron dyed silk tablet woven belt and black poulaines. I am considering both of these items as either inheritance or purchased as used- both very period ways to acquire clothing a bit more expensive than your means if made from scratch for you. In addition, I'm on the lookout for silver or gold rings appropriate to my class and time period.

As I'm sure you can see, I have much to accomplish in the next two years. I've started organizing my documentation, but there is still a lot of information to find out for all of these items. I'm collecting materials as I have them, but I'll need to purchase linen thread before I can begin producing anything. The creation process won't be as straight-forward as it's been for me in the past. All my steps must be documented and all my decisions accounted for. Not all this will end up on the blog, but I intend to keep my readers in the loop on this project (mainly for support, I must admit.)

It will be a fun process, but it will be a lot of work. If all goes according to plan, the result will be well worth the time, energy and expense.


  1. As someone who has just started in SCA a few months ago, I find this both inspiring and intimidating. Though I haven't settled on a persona yet, and am still exploring my interests. I have just found your blog recently, and it is very inspiring. I look forward to hearing about your progress on this quest.

  2. I'm so glad you find my blog helpful! You're right, it can be intimidating, but a love of the period and an interest in learning can go along way, and the intimidation wears off pretty quickly :) I have certainly had my fair share of failures (which I'm not ashamed to talk about here), but that makes the successes that much sweeter!

    Where are you located- what is your local group?

  3. I am in the Kansas City area, which is The Kingdom of Calontir. I am associated with the Canton of Loch Smythe and the Barony of Forgotten Sea.

    Though mostly have been interacting with Loch Smythe at this point.

  4. It's just nice to have an idea of where people are!