|My current gear, I've got my new arms on here,|
Although taped on still. Legs, and breastplate are
Loaner, so's my helmet (restingby my feet)
The next step in my skin out armoring process is the Gambeson. For those of you not familiar with armoring terms, this is a padded (usually by quilting) closely fitted jacket style garment worn under armor to give you some padding. It has varying styles. I chose one popular in the 14th century because I was fascinated by the large circular grande assiette sleeve. It's some of the most interesting patterning I've ever seen, and I wanted to try it! There's a fascinating surviving example of this style in the purpoint of charles de blois (Housed in the Musee Historique des Tissus). Although it has been postulated that this rich silk garment was actually for show, it has the style of the more practical arming coats of the time. The pattern is a variety of crazy partially probably inspired by a desire to conserve fabric, and partially practical. The circular sleeve gives you almost complete mobility in a skin tight garment, which explains why the style was popular for so long. (For a wonderful discussion of the topic with all the applicable sources, see this well done Article).
I started with a body pattern pulled almost direct from my body block, as this is a very fitted garment. I used a center back gore in the skirts to give me fullness for my hips and rear, and cut the sleeve holes out to the aproximate shape. Then I used The Cotte Simple's directions for Drafting with your good friend, Math which were very clear and simple and resulted in an almost perfect fit at the first go. I fudged the lower arm (there's a seam at the elbow hinge) but came out with a good result there the first time around as well. With a couple very minor alterations, I went straight to the final garment without a second fitting.
I decided, based on the example of other local fighters, that I was only going to pad key areas of my gambeson, for the prevention of heat stroke (Who wants to be wrapped in a quilt under their armor on a hot day? NOT ME) Therefore I cut the complete pattern out of white 4.7 oz linen (Dharma Trading again!) then cut a second layer for the areas that were going to be padded. The padded areas are the high wear areas, so I wanted to have the outer layer be a heavier weight. I didn't have any heavy weight linen I wanted to sacrifice for the cause, but I did have a big bag of scraps from making other garments that I had planned to piece crazy quilt style to make a lining for a cloak or something, they were all nice quality and heavier weight, so I decided that my gambeson would be crazy quilt style, and got to piecing.
With my outer layer ready, I needed to sandwich some sort of stuffing between the layers of linen. Historically wool, flax, and horse hair were used for armor padding. In the modern day, we have a lot more options. I knew I wanted to avoid synthetics at all costs for this project, because of how hot they are. Although cotton is a popular modern choice, I wanted to avoid it because of it's sponge like qualities and slow drying rate, which I thought might lead to my gambeson growing things and developing a powerful stank. Horsehair and flax are not easily available, so that left me to choose between wool, and bamboo, which is noted for it's anti microbial properties. I consulted the various fighter groups, and finally decided to use, not wool batting, but just washed and carded wool fleece from my own stash. Evidently it will felt itself into the shape of my body after a few uses. That, plus the fact that I already have it, were powerful incentives.
I had to finish all the edges of the quilted areas where they met the fabric. The easiest way to do this was to put some bias taped down over the edge. I really wanted to use a linen tape trim, but the price was a little steep, and I ended up going with some cotton bias tape that I already had in a complimentary color of green. I running stitched it down to the linen side, then used a mostly invisible whip stitch to sew it through all three layers of the quilted areas. Sewing through all the layers will keep the quilted edge from pulling free over time and wear.
I finished the cuffs with some silk scraps and a little perle cotton stitching. I don't know how I feel about the stitching. I might do it differently if I did it again. the effect is a little overkill, but then again the whole jacket is a little overkill. the bottom edges I rolled and hemmed, and the collar I finished with a small bias silk strip.
The front edges had to be hearty enough to take ties. So I finished them off with a wide facing strip of very heavy (canvas weight) linen leftover from Husbeast's latest pair of pants. Then I used my favorite method for shirt ties, scaled up. First I put a hole where I wanted the tie using my handy tailors awl. Then I threaded 4 strands of perle cotton through, and finger loop braided short cords. Husbeast has yet to destroy shirt ties made in this manner, and I hope my gambeson will wear equally well. By going through the fabric itself you eliminate the weakest link of the tie: the place where you sewed it down. I also love how tidy it is without any messy sewn on ends or stitches showing on the outside. A little gentle scraping of the fabric with your fingernail shoves all the threads back into place and closes the hole around the cord completely.
|Please excuse the crappy mirror selfies|
Here are some better shots of the whole thing laid out so you can see all the glorious details NOT in a slightly dirty mirror.
|with it open you can see the construction, the quilted channels, and also the front facings. there are no interior seams to bother my skin.|