Woman spinning wool, c 1300 - 1340

Fabric in the middel ages

Everyday clothing was homemade both fabric and the sewing. While the fabric for finer clothing was brought.

Everyday clothing was made from home-spun: linen, woolskins and leather.

Finer clothing were made by brought and if you could afford it imported wool from the Nederlands. Silke, gold brocade og cotton from southern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The imported fabric rolls might be sealed with lead seals to garanti quality. If you could afford it would would want to be seen wearing fur.

Which fabric to use for what?
  • Linen: Underwear both the male breaches and shirt as well as the female chemise. Should also be used for veils, aprons, coif and lining.
  • Wool: Outer layers: Male stockings, tunics, cottes, jackets, surcotes and hoods. Female dresses, hood and stockings.
  • Silk: The nobles would make everything out of this: From underwear to veils and surcotes.
  • Pelt: Lining and borders.

Colors & patterns

Fresco from Udby Kirke
Fresco from Udby church. It is thought that the yellow represent gold brocade fabric

Pretty much any plant you try to color something with in Denmark will give you some shade of yellow or a greenish yellow. That means that yellow were not seen as a high status color – it’s the color anyone would have. To get most other colors you had to import dye or use costly processes. They did however have the ability to color fabrics pretty much any color. Some colors did however not stand up to washing. Reading Danish testaments you find lots of references to blue and green. Less common is red, white and black.

If you wanted something particularly fancy you would wear a garment of more than one color – a mi-parti1. Either split down the middle like in the fresco or with a different colored lining.

Unless we are talking about brocade the fabric patterns are mostly limited to: Stripes, checkers & twill. You can of course add embroidery to this or use brocade.

Read more, in Danish

Accessories and decoration

Decorations and accessories were used as status symbols as well as decoration;  Buckles, buttons, belts, small sewn crests, bells in chains and rings. As well as belt purses and belts.

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