thimble_med

Medieval Thimble (or Thymel) on Fettered Cock Pewters

This interesting little number is a Medieval Tailor’s Thimble. It’s a ring-type, meant for sewing heavier materials. I put mine on my index finger and it stops on the second joint. The location and depth of the little indentations makes it perfect, and in my opinion, better than its modern counterparts. The modern ones tend to have shallower indentations that let the needle slip out to jab you with its still sharp butt end. It is a reproduction, but my only complaint is that the bottom flange that sticks up from the surface makes the thimble a little annoying to wear as a ring, which is a great place to put it so you don’t misplace it. It’s also a tad tight for my pinkie finger as a ring.

The thimble can be purchased at Westair Museum Reproductions (I believe it was originally made for them), Fettered Cock Pewters, on eBay and at several other sites for about $8 USD. Other sites, including Etsy, have similar thimbles for sale at different price points.

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The Rogues have just returned from the annual SLO Renaissance Festival where bras were definitely not in fashion! We were trussed into our bodices (and in some cases also a corset) that were designed for maximum cleavage, not modern bra separation.

Corseting may have been the norm, but there were apparently exceptions. Anthony Castellano at ABC News writes:

“… four linen bras [were found] in an Austrian castle dating back to the 1400s, proving that women wore bras more than 600 years ago. It’s such a revolutionary find because fashion experts thought the modern-day bra was only about 100 years old after women became tired of tight corsets.” (more…)

 

This simple medieval kirtle is angle length, long sleeved with a fitted bodice. The kirtle was the mainstay of Medieval European fashion, changing very little from at least 1066 to the Renaissance, when it was replaced by the equally ubiquitous chemise. I’m simplifying, of course. I have not made a thorough study of foundation garments of the time period (not to be confused with your granny’s “foundations” – the Merry Widow, corset, or some such), but a general overview will show you that the simple kirtle will pass for several centuries and geographical locations.

An interesting feature about pre-pattern clothing is how individual the clothing must have been, despite the apparent simplicity of  an item like the humble kirtle. You can imagine that clothing would have been baggy and ill-fitting for the poor and nicely fitted for the wealthy (which hasn’t really changed).  We can’t be certain as there are very few images of common folk. Instructions would have been handed down from mother to daughter, but were more about getting the basic shape right, while making the best use of every scrap of fabric that was available. Think about it; if you spend the time to weave your own fabric or remake from an earlier garment, would you cut it into enough shapes that you essentially waste a third of the fabric?

Take the Moy Gown, one of the few extant garments of its time. This gown made good use of gusseting and insets to ensure a close fit. This is one of several reconstructions of the gown, with detailed information and images showing seaming and research documentation. Here is a more detailed study of the gown, as well as a reconstruction. (more…)