Most of us dress as peasants some of the time for practical reasons as the clothes that the upper classes wore are by their nature not suited to tasks that have to be done round the camp.
I dress like this at most of the larger events, as a water carrier on the battlefield and for comfort when it is cold as you can layer up more easily!
Here are Ellen and Jacob (or Rose and Arthur in role!) modelling the latest fashions circa 1350!
Ellen wears a shift underneath her dress (or kirtle) – most of these are white that I have seen and are loose linen garments with a drawstring neck and they can also be worn as a night gown (hence nightshift). The early period (circa 1300) ones have straight sleeves, those of the later period are gathered and the gathered neck enables you to wear it lower down if wanted as Ellen is doing.
Her dress (kirtle) is linen again and is fastened by lacing with a thin linen lucet woven thread. She has detachable sleeves with this dress that can be laced on at the arms again held by lucet thread – for practical reasons when it is colder. Kirtles can also have short or 3/4 length sleeves and be made of wool. Kirtles in finer fabrics were also worn by upper classes and these would obviously be more embellished. For more info and some very good pictures of different period kirtles please visit Cadieux’s web site
She has a belt which is essential for holding her leather pouch and eating knife. The pic below that shows some of the things I hang from my belt – I also carry a needlecase and scissors befitting my role as a seamstress and embroiderer. Belts are very useful in an era where there are no pockets!
On the dress she has a selection of pewter pilgrim badges for decoration and to show that she is devout and has been on pilgrimage. As well as pilgrim badges pewter badges were used to denote loyalty to households or trades, given as tokens of affection (or to show which brothels you had visited!).
This is one of the badges close up – these images are taken from the Lionheart Replicas web site – this is our main supplier for our pewter for badges and belts and my needlecase – the company is run by a very talented couple and the web site is well worth a visit if you are interested in the badges and their history. They also make beautiful buttons, jewellery and gifts.
On her head she is wearing a linen coif worn by both men and women in a variety of styles throughout the medieval period – no self respecting person would be in public with their hair uncovered and it also had a practical use in cutting down the spread of head lice! In the picture above she is wearing a later period (circa 15 century) coif which is not fitted to the head and can have long tails as in the picture of two girls from the Hussites below.
For earlier period shows she would wear a rectangular strip of linen or muslin tied round the head with the ends twisted as shown below.
Below are pics of my good friends Denise and Trish modelling their long sleeved kirtles (in Trish’s case made of wool) and early period headgear.
For a huge list of links to pictures of different coifs please visit Larsdatter’s web site
On her feet she wears a pair of handmade leather shoes with leather soles. We are lucky as we each have two pairs of footwear – we have boots as well for wet and cold days. For colder days we also have some very attractive knee length woollen stockings which fall down a lot!
Apart from the shoes, belts, bags and badges all these items are made by us. The other items we buy from specialist suppliers who come to the event markets like that at Tewkesbury.
For a list of all specialist traders for this period please visit the very good Histrenact web listings here.
Linen and wool we buy from specialist suppliers at the markets as well – my favourite fabric merchant is Bernie the Bolt – wonderful man who always has a fabulous bargain bin!
5 thoughts on “Medieval Peasants’ costume – women”
Brilliant kit you have there, well done. Where did you get your pewter needle case from?
Thanks very much for visiting and for your kind comments. I bought the needlecase at a re-enactment market a few years ago from a company called Lionheart Replicas – they also make the pewter pilgrim’s badges and the pewter ornaments for belts which you can buy loose or fixed to a belt of your choice.
Their web site is at http://www.lionheartreplicas.co.uk/shop/index.php and the needlecase can be found under the ‘Domestic’ section and costs £15.
Hope this helps, please get in touch if you need any other info.
hey this is fantastic!…i need to make a kit like this !! where did you get your patterns from?
The patterns come from a variety of sources, I have adapted some of the commercial patterns by people like Simplicity and Butterick for costume. A very good source of information on making your own patterns is a book called the Medieval Tailor’s Assistant by Sarah Thursfield.