A sideless surcote

I sometimes portrait the wife of a high ranking nobleman in Sweden. In the late 14th century the movers and shakers of their time did have access to fancy fabrics of high quality, even silks, so I thought it would have been accessible for a noblewoman, even in an outpost of Sweden.

I bought a silk fabric from Sartor.cz. It’s a reproduction of a fabric that can be found in the collection of the  Victorian and Albert Museum, London, and in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Adolescens, Omne Bonum, c.1360-1375– Royal 6 E VI f. 58v, England
Detail of a historiated initial ‘A'(dolescens) of a young woman with a mirror and a young man. 

Wedding -Louis VIII and Eleanor of Aquitaine) (1137).
Grandes Chroniques de France, MS. Douce 217, fol. 192r, End of 14th century. France

The assassination of Agamemnon in De casibus (BNF Fr. 226, fol. 27),
first quarter of the 15th century. 

14th century, Made in Normandy France.
Now in The Metropolitan, New York 

The death and crowning of Saint Klara. Altar piece. 1360/ 1370. Nürnberg, Germany. Now in GNM, GERMANISCHEN NATIONALMUSEUMS. 
Photo by: Lady Petronilla

The wedding of Phillippe III of Frankrike and  Marie de Braban. 
Chroniques de France ou de St Denis (from 1270 to 1380)
This picture is from the last quarter of the 14th century. The manuscript is to be found here, but this particular picture is unfortunately not there. 

When the fabric arrived I was quite disappointed. It was thin and flimsy. Not at all what I expected. The originals are quite heavy and stiff. The opposite to the one I bought. I realized that the dress would need to be fully lined. I chose a silk taffeta in a reddish brown with stripes in yellow.
I was inspired by these garments for the striped fabric.
Sideless Surcoat/Pellote of Lenora de Castille, Aragon, 1st half 1300’s.
Las Huelgas convent near Burgos, Spain.
Pellote of Enrique I (1203-1217) is made of silk, gold on edges, Museum de Tales medieval, Burgos.
Pellote of Enrique I (1203-1217) is made of silk, gold on edges,
Museum de Tales medieval, Burgos.

Surcotte of infanta Marie (1235) made of white silk. Previously lined with fur.
Surcotte of infanta Marie (1235) made of white silk. Previously lined with fur. 

A lot of these sideless surcotes have got fur around the armholes. The whole garment could have been lined with fur or just edged around the edges.

The pattern was tricky and I got help with it from my friends Magdalena and Julia. We played a lot with the size of the armholes so that they would show a nice belt if worn under the sleeveless surcote.

  The pattern is not centered. I try not to be pissed off with that. My modern eye is annoyed but my medieval eye is happy with the dissonance.

As you can see the fabric doesn’t drape very well.
  It’s even more visible on the striped side. 😦 

Trying out the size of fur stripes. Too wide.

 The dress didn’t drape the way I wanted it to so I decided to line it in between the silk layers with a thin but heavy worsted wool. Now it became perfect and it draped the proper way. I used white rabbit for the edging. I’m still not certain that the rabbit is the best choice. I would love a fur that doesn’t look so fluffy. Ermine would be the best choice but that’s difficult to find.    I might change the fur it in the future. The best thing with the dress is that it is reversible. Which was not my first intention but it came as a bonus.  
Photo by: Amica Sundström

 Photo by: Constantin von Bernuth

I haven’t got to use it that often. It’s tricky to find use for such a fancy garment. You don’t really walk to the market in this..
With side do you prefer? I prefer the striped side. 🙂



4 reaktioner på ”A sideless surcote

  1. To me both sidels look lovely. Could you tell how much of each fabric you used? Did you put gores at the sides or cut all the front and back in one piece?

    • Hi! I only remember the blue fabric. It was 290cm long. I have tiny gores at the sides. Besides that the whole dress is one front and one back.


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