Miscellaneous SIG Garb Notes
15 March 2006
The Great Poneva Debate:
Brocade:Country makes a difference too. Italy did certain things that influenced
Europe... and ended up all over the place. The Moorish designs were
different, the Chinese designs were different. There were influences felt
from these at different periods.... depending on who was conquering , or
trading with, whom at the time.
Some fabric (the "good" stuff) was worn for many decades, being willed
one person to another, or given as gifts, or 'made-over' for smaller bodies
or smaller areas of clothing so to exclude the worn spots.
Gold is good. In period there was 'golden-yellow dyed fiber', and 'woven
with gold thread' and 'embroidered and/or couched gold thread on fabric'.
This is very, VERY generalized. To really get an idea for the design on a
piece of fabric you must pick up some textile patterns history books through
interlibrary loan... or do a search on "used" books for the best price when
stocking your library.
Check out some of the pictures of the era, as well as some pictures of
mid to late 1800s, Queen Victoria's reign. I'd say, if it doesn't look
"Victorian", then chances are you can use it.
If you want some book titles that have period pictures of fabric designs let
me know and I'll post them. -Maria Pienkneplotno, Polish fabric merchant,
Dragon's Magic/Linda Learn, Class Act Fabrics
Fabrics and Dyes:Kathws Rusa: "3.5 oz/yd Commonly referred to as "handkerchief weight".
Great for chemises.
"Dress weight". It has enough drape for a cotehardie to look
lovely. But still, the lighter colours are a little less than opaque.
VERY coarse. I'm using it for field garb for my betrothed. It is
heavy, and visibly coarse. It feels nice, but it looks very slubby.
But you wouldn't see through it, that's for sure!
I would buy 3.5 oz for both veils and underdress. Unless
a great portion of the underdress will be seen, then I would go for
5.5 oz. Both white, of course.
I wouldn't make hosen out of linen because it doesn't have enough
give, even on the bias. But if I *had* to, I would make them out of
7.4 oz. But I would rather make them out of wool (wash it well in
hot water and it won't itch).
I would probably use the 7.4 oz for pants and jackets and use the 5.5 oz.
for shirts and such.
Colors could be pretty much any out there now except the neons. I have
of people getting lime green and Barbie pink from natural dyes, so not
everything would have been earth colors. I also heard that one of the
unicorn tapestries (don't remember which one), that all the colors in it
came from three dyes, madder (red), woad (blue) and something yellow. This
was found out by chemical analyisis. Granted its English or French but
some dyes were common across several countries. I would give you a color
chart that I saw on the web a while back but I can't find it yet." -Kathws Rusa
Yana responds to the following: [Colors could be pretty much any out there now
except the neons... so not everything would have been earth colors.]
"I'm not sure about linen coming in all the above colors in SCA-period
Russia, or for that matter, SCA-Europe. Linen is notoriously difficult to
dye (even today some colors will rub off, because most dyes only cling to
the surface of the fibers, this being one of the reasons linen resists
staining so well). The only colors that I can remember linen being
available in in Russia were raw (greyish), bleached (white), offwhite,
yellow (I think), and grey-blue. Yes, all the above colors the quoted
person mentioned were available, but I think that they only apply to wool,
cotton, and silk. The materials of the
Unicorn tapestry: Wool warp, wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts. No
I'm not trying to disprove the person above, I'm just trying to point
out that _linen_ may not have been available in every color of the rainbow."
Soraya chimes in: "As for linen colors - I agree with Yana's list in the main, but the Scythian
warrior garments from the "Scythian Gold" exhibit consist of armor over a
linen shirt and pants of a faded warm berry pink color, probably
dyed red. And since red seems to always be the right color for "Russians",
I'm sure they would have spent a lot of effort trying to dye linen red."
From: Kate Jones (email@example.com)
White was a fairly popular color for men's tunics, and indeed the
undertunic would normally have been white. Looking through a few of my
though, I see illuminations of men
wearing tunics that are red, yellow, dark and light blue, brown, sort
of an off-pink, and green, with contrasting trim from the same group
While this may say more about the colors available for painting than
what they actually used for clothing, I have seen a very similar color
palette used for ecclesiastical embroideries, so these colors were
both available and used for fabric items as well.
I think they're probably all safe for clothing. Especially the
red. Red is beautiful, after all... :)
> I apologize for being off-topic, but I'm curious about the colours of
> in Eastern Slavic lands somewhere between the 8th and the 11th
> century. I know modern folklore tends to dress Russians in white tunics
> red trim, but I was wondering about any other colours in that
From: Sarayya@aol.com -
I believe linen bleaches out with sunlight, and you are not supposed to use
chemical bleaches on it. It does not take natural dyes well, but the
Scythian soldier (in "Scythian Gold" the catalog from the recent exhibit)
under his armored shirt is wearing a long sleeved shirt and long pants in a
warm raspberry colored linen, embroidered in wave motifs at all openings.
(May have originally been red or the deep raspberry color also known as
Wool and silk take dyes very well, and were available.
What I want to know is why the underarm gusset in men's white shirts was
when red is such a fugitive color? And likely to be influenced by
Vegetable dyes mostly, but also expensive cochineal (an insect giving a red
dye), and dyed fabrics from China, Persia, Byzantium, wool from England,
The native dyes probably weren't much different from what was used in
Northern Europe in general.
> I tend to look at questions like this as follows - what would
> they have had around to dye the fabric with?
From: MHoll@aol.com in reponse to the following:
"> I seem to recall reading that red was a lucky color, viewed as
protective..." She says:
It's not a bad theory. I haven't come across anything that says *red* is a
protective color, but various shades of red certainly predominate in Russian
period fashion. What I have read, is that *embroidery* at the openings of a
garment (collar, hem, sleeves) is there to prevent evil spirits from
the body. No period proof of that, though, IIRC.
Now in Russian folk weddings, pins or needles were placed at strategic
locations in a bride's dress to protect her from evil spririts that could
to take possession of her at such a vulnerable time [between families,
between states: neither her parents' child nor belonging to her family
in-law; neither unmarried nor wife: it's a liminal state, so evil spirits
can have a ball unless she's magically protected. Grooms don't seem to be so
From: Jenn/Yana (firstname.lastname@example.org) in response to:
">I seem to recall reading that red was a lucky color,
>viewed as protective, and that that's why it was
>typically placed at the openings..." She says:
I think I know where you read that. It was in "Women's Work: the First
20,000 years: women, cloth, and society in early times." by E.J.W.
Barber. She mentioned the red=protection from evil and that it was placed
at the "entries" to the body for such purposes. Of course, I can't recall
_where_ she found the information.
I found the following in "Kul'tura Drevnei Rusi", under "chemical trades"
rather than clothing or weaving.
Fabric dyes: almost exclusively vegetal dyes, and rarely animal;
imported madder or local woodruff (maybe Galium borealis? -- a swamp
woad (, Isatis tinctoria), St-John's Wort, etc;
Red: mostly cocheneal: found locally in Belarus, Ukraine, the Crimea;
Woad, Son-trava, cornflower, bilberries, etc -- blue;
Buckthorn family, genista, birch leaves, wild apple, alder-- yellow;
Oak bark, pear (bark?), onion peel -- brown;
Potash and ashes as mordants.
I still haven't found what "son-trava" is. For plants I don't have in my
dictionaries, I try to find the Latin name, and then look them up in an
herbal or an encyclopedia. Electronic encyclopedias are great to look up
Latin name and/or alternate names that might not make a separate entry.
Fabrics and threads:
It's not the thing. It's a garment expanding just from the armpits, while a svita fits to the waist. Though, I met some pics of women's svitas (18-19-cent Ukraine) of this very shape - but they were not pulled-over garments, but just crossover coats, as kaftans and such.
This is not the source, just the assumption that those pants could be
underpants, and the fact that in 19 century Russia the peasants' underpants and
the "coffin wear" was made by about same pattern. The fact is that in the
tradition the icon was made, the persons in the icon used to wear one pair of
thin fabric pants just like those - so the picture shows just people who were
stripped of their _shirts_, remaining in the pants. Anyway, no difference
between underpants and upperpants (narrow ones, not the Sharovary) pattern never
existed. Same pattern, same length, same fixation on the waist.
Thus, the main underwear idea of this very reconstruction: underpants must have
been of the same pattern as the upperpants, just following the idea of wearing
several tunics in cold wear in the Ancient Rome." - Alex.
Anya provides information about Moldavia, Feb 2006: "I finally posted them:
they are both in the photo section [of the SIG Yahoo Group]...
The folder 10th century finds... has the womens/mens under pants as
well as a few other cool things like doll clothes, hose, and a sewn up
veil. the folder moldavian... has the scan of the photo of the
moldavian grave covering, with a depiction of the princess on it..." -
anya [Scan shows short (?) linen (?) pants based on rectangular panels with triangular crotch insert - reminiscent of reconstruction from the 15th Cent. Novgorod Merchant site.]
From Nadya (email@example.com) March 2006: "I wrote an ebay seller and asked...
about underwear, and this is what she
had to say:
"About underwear, as I know from my great grand mother and grand mother
they had no bra, no bends, just beautifull long embroidered blouses like
dresses, it was like gawn for night time and underwear for day time, the
same blouse for night and day. Our grannies called them " Spodne" or "
Spidne"or "sorochka". All the names are correct. Even my granny always had
one of her blouse always on her. Those blouses were made by my granny with
hemp and all the accessories like runners and clothes were made of hemp or
flax only in Kiev's region. We keep granny's blouses and runners as a
memory. All the woman had underwear made of hemp or flax also. This
underwear was like man's "sharovari" (pants) but they were twice shorter,
little bit shorter knee lenth, this underwear was furled at the bottom, and
tied with strings on the weist and little bit higher than knees. Every
woman had this type of underwear..." " - Nadya
Makeup:"Women even had their ancient make up,
they rubbed the juice of red beets in their cheecks and lips and they hit
the metal nails on the fire and curled the paces of their hair. They put
ash from the fire on the hair to make the hair black if the hair was grey
or light because the woman that has black hair was considered to be
beautiful. This is what my late granny told to me." " - Nadya
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