The Middle Ages - characteristic materials

Date: 600 - 1500

 

The Materials:

  • Linen (usually the material of the undergarments and light clothes)
  • Blended fabrics
  • Wool (for outer garments; a truly universal fabric for many types of garments it is best to use loden cloth for period costumes
  • Early forms of brocade (look for heavy upholstery fabrics when recreating a dress)
  • Cotton: Pure cotton fabrics were not used but cotton was mixed with linen (Barchent) and silk. Using cotton for medieval period dresses always gives them a hint of, well, unmedievalness. I know cotton fabric is in general much easier to get and less expensive than linen but a work-intensive project deserves good materials!
  • Velvet: best is upholstery velvet. Please, please don't ever use Velveteen or any kind of cheap looking, polyester fibre Halloween or Carnival fabric! These fabrics look so artificial and ungenuine, anyone who has an eye for the quality of fabric will identify Velveteen right away.
  • Silk
  • cloth of silver and gold: a fabric woven with a gold- or silver-wrapped weft
  • Fur: usually worn as lining, not on the outside. Popular were rabbit, cat (more expensive), squirrel, sable and marten and ermine (for the nobility).
Lo Scheggia, Nuptial Parade or Adimari Cassone, c. 1450-1460, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence. picture taken by Nina Möller
Lo Scheggia, Nuptial Parade or Adimari Cassone, c. 1450-1460, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence. picture taken by Nina Möller