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The New Surcoat #1

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1 The New Surcoat #1 on Mon May 10, 2010 4:41 pm

El Frog

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This is pretty much a sample thread so as to remove the stigma of being the first to post something in this area. I plan to update it daily. Some of you will notice that this is the surcoat I wore for a recent charity event, but it was made a few weeks ago.


The problem with re-enacting the Templar are twofold. Firstly, it means that you have to wear maile armour all over (none of that lovely plate armour had been invented by the time they were wiped out) and also that a number of people seem to object to the religious symbol of the red cross on my surcoat! So, I decided that it was time that I made a new surcoat.

My brief was:

- The surcoat needs to be accurate for my target time period; the materials need to be only those available during the 14th Century. That means woolen fabric and linen.

- It must be bright and colourful! The problem with armour is that it is all silver (as long as it is maintained!) and the surcoat must stand out. I need to be memorable on the field of battle!

- While doing research, I must account for the practicalities of wearing the surcoat. Contemporary art tended to be drawn by those who didn't wear armour, so mistakes and artistic license is rife.


Having sourced woolen fabric (dyed using colours used in the 14th Century), I decided to use linen for the lining.

With this in mind, it was time to start constructing!


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2 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Mon May 10, 2010 4:53 pm

El Frog

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It was time to make a template. The surcoat is actually made from four (lined) quarters. The back quarters differ from the front in that the neckline is much higher and the arm holes are a slightly different shape.



These are the front sections of the lining. Every edge has been folded over so as to make neat seams and stop the fabric from fraying. You may notice that there is a small flap of cloth between the two quarters. This will be used to join them together when the wool has been sewn to the lining.




Here are the two back sections. As mentioned earlier, the neckline is much higher for these parts, and again, you can see the flap that will join them together later. In addition, there are flaps at the shoulders and sides to join them to the front pieces.

We have no idea how they would have actually joined these pieces together as no examples survive today in a state where such things can be ascertained.

The next step will be to do the same thing with the woolen fabric...


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3 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Mon May 10, 2010 6:09 pm

wagi

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What type of sewing needles did they have in this time period? I know they likely had them - they dated from much earlier than the 14th century, but I image they were quite a bit larger and probably not as finely made as todays?

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4 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Tue May 11, 2010 3:50 am

El Frog

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wagi wrote:What type of sewing needles did they have in this time period? I know they likely had them - they dated from much earlier than the 14th century, but I image they were quite a bit larger and probably not as finely made as todays?

Good questions - and ones you answered correctly yourself! The needles would have been made from pretty much whatever they had, so bits of bone and (it is claimed but not verified) thin strips of wood for the very poor. "Professional" tailors and those with more wealth would most likely have used needles made of bronze. While these were much softer than today's steel, they were certainly strong enough (though they would have looked like quarter circle sections by the end of a day of sewing).


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5 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Tue May 11, 2010 8:20 am

Anton

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Isn't the armour expensive as hell if it's made out of silver? Do you own one? Did it cost much?

Also, the armour is quite a fascinating item. I can't really put my finger on how they managed to make such small and shiny rings and put it all together into one piece!

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6 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Tue May 11, 2010 9:46 am

Do you have any pictures of you wearing the surcoat handy? I can't seem to find any!

Did you come up with all of it yourself or was there a pattern to follow? I can't imagine there being many that are historically accurate though, saying that.

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7 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Wed May 12, 2010 3:59 am

El Frog

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So, the next stage was to cut the wool fabric to match the linings. The front and back for my right side were nice and simple; just make a hem so that all the edges will be nice and neat. You can see the flaps that will be used to secure these to the other two quarters (the black bits) much more clearly now. The circular hole between the two bits are for my right arm to go through.




Simple! Well, simple compared to the left front and back...



This is the left back quarter. Each of those squares had to be sewn to those surrounding it as well as to the lining. I had worked out exactly how many I would need, then laid my homemade template over the resulting black and yellowness, drew around it and sewed a hem, much like I had with the yellow quarters.

All that needed to be done now was to sew the quarters together and to make edging strips for around the arm holes and neck to neaten up the appearance...



Anton wrote:Isn't the armour expensive as hell if it's made out of silver? Do you own one? Did it cost much?

The armour isn't actually made of silver (as it would be too soft to use as armour! For the medieval mind, metal comes in two colours: gold (shown in heraldry as yellow) and silver (shown as white). Although they were fully aware of the fact that they were using steel, it is still referred to as silver because of the colour. And yes, the steel armour cost a lot both then and now, and yes, I have full plate armour.


Anton wrote:Also, the armour is quite a fascinating item. I can't really put my finger on how they managed to make such small and shiny rings and put it all together into one piece!

Ah, you're talking about maille. I may have a crack at making some in the future, but weaving four rings into each other ring is somewhat tedious and time consuming!


Jonathan wrote:Do you have any pictures of you wearing the surcoat handy? I can't seem to find any!

There are some - I am saving them until the end!


Jonathan wrote:Did you come up with all of it yourself or was there a pattern to follow? I can't imagine there being many that are historically accurate though, saying that.

There is no set pattern, though a number of people do make them for general sale, though the quality and accuracy varies dramatically. To be honest, very few examples survive today, and none of them are intact, so I had to go by contemporary artwork, including illuminations from bibles. There are also a number of statues on tombs which are useful.


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8 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Thu May 13, 2010 4:45 pm

El Frog

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There we go; all finished and ready to look dashing on the battlefield.


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9 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Thu May 13, 2010 5:04 pm

wagi

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Bravo! Dashing indeed...so that's why you always have 'helmet hair'...

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10 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 15, 2010 6:44 pm

The Heth

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Swish! Looking nifty there Our LORD And MASTER, SIR FROG. That looks really well made. I think the enemy will be jealous in battle Smile

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11 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 15, 2010 7:31 pm

wagi

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How is your range of movement with the armored gloves? Do they move well as your hand and arms twists and move?

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12 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 15, 2010 7:32 pm

The Heth

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Oi...you edited my post sir! I see what you did there.

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13 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 15, 2010 7:34 pm

wagi

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My shoes tremble with delight!! It's the swear filter here...it's rather entertaining...and does it on it's own!

For instance, I posted L*O*L (without the *) at the start of this post, and you see what we got...

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14 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 15, 2010 7:35 pm

The Heth

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wagi wrote:My shoes tremble with delight!! It's the swear filter here...it's rather entertaining...and doesn't it on it's own!

For instance, I posted L*O*L (without the *) at the start of this post, and you see what we got...

So the Fro-g word is replaced by Our LORD And MASTER, SIR FROG

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15 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 15, 2010 7:36 pm

wagi

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Yep, exactly...there's all sorts of different ones hidden away around here.

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16 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 15, 2010 7:38 pm

The Heth

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My shoes tremble with delight!, that is a pretty amusing way of doing it


Our LORD And MASTER, SIR FROG!

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17 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sun May 16, 2010 2:13 pm

Oh, it's THAT surcoat! I recognise the picture now. For something completely home-made, the accuracy is excellent. When I saw that picture before, I presumed the surcoat had been manufactured properly!

How exactly were the edging strips done?

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18 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sun May 16, 2010 3:32 pm

El Frog

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The Heth wrote:Swish! Looking nifty there Our LORD And MASTER, SIR Our LORD And MASTER, SIR FROG. That looks really well made. I think the enemy will be jealous in battle Smile

Thanks - I can confirm that Phill is already jealous!


wagi wrote:How is your range of movement with the armored gloves? Do they move well as your hand and arms twists and move?

If you look at the fingers, you can see that they are a series of overlapping "scales". These mean that I can move my fingers easily. Basically, it just feels like a pair of (heavy) gloves!


wagi wrote:Yep, exactly...there's all sorts of different ones hidden away around here.

Indeed! I dislike that "text speak" as much as I do unnecessary swearing, so there are more filters in there than you might expect... Wink


Jonathan wrote:How exactly were the edging strips done?

Surprisingly simply. Take a length of woolen material, fold the edges over to make a neat edge, then sew the long sides to the surcoat, both to the lining and the outer cloth.....did that make sense? I hope so as explaining that seemed much harder than actually doing it!


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19 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Tue May 18, 2010 6:01 am

The Heth

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Just a question about what you do, Our LORD And MASTER, SIR FROG. Do you do full battle recreations at a large scale, with hundreds of people. Just wondering, because my friend's dad does military recreational battles, collecting antique weaponry.

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20 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Tue May 18, 2010 5:31 pm

El Frog

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We have considered joining in with large battles, but the downside is that these things tend to be many groups (most of which we will not have met before) whose standards of what is considered safe and acceptable may be different from our own. All it takes is one poorly maintained sword and there could be a very serious (accidental) injury. Likewise, since we cannot know how well someone looks after their armour, how confident can we feel about aiming blows to the head or chest knowing that we won't cave the armour in, causing them injury?

I have a friend who takes part in these battles for the Jacobean period. At one such event, he and the other musket men were attacked by some people in "suspicious" garb who were swinging sharpened steel weapons at them - and musketmen wear no for of protection whatsoever! A few men were injured before it was realised that the swords were very sharp and dangerous, and the event had to be cancelled as a number of people were taken to hospital.

At a re-enactment of 1066 Hastings a few years ago, some people with absolutely no training whatsoever caused injuries - both to themselves and to others.

I'm not saying that these things are common, but the fact that they do happen makes me wary. As such, we tend to fight those we know: each other!


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21 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Tue May 18, 2010 5:40 pm

The Heth

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Fair enough...to be fair the guy I know that does it does work primarily as a Russian WW2 Re-enacter, so it's a whole different animal. He has done far older ones, but I forget which exactly.

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22 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Tue May 18, 2010 5:46 pm

El Frog

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The Heth wrote:Fair enough...to be fair the guy I know that does it does work primarily as a Russian WW2 Re-enacter, so it's a whole different animal. He has done far older ones, but I forget which exactly.

Heh! All of the WW2 re-enactors I know are Fallschrimjagers (German paratroopers)! They had a LOT of work last year, and one of them has a wonderful photo of David Cameron shaking hands with Nazis!


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23 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 22, 2010 4:31 am

The Heth

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Hahahaha, very subtle Our LORD And MASTER, SIR FROG. Tongue Out

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24 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 22, 2010 1:36 pm

El Frog

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I believe all will know the truth soon enough... Wink


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25 Re: The New Surcoat #1 on Sat May 22, 2010 1:39 pm

The Heth

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Hmmm...I won't delve into it, but let's just say that I differ in opinion from you quite a bit Wink

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