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Message Board > Fabrics and more... > How do you recognize Medieval Renaissance fabric? ( Moderated by CynthiaSue)

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How do you recognize Medieval Renaissance fabric?
I have been doing research...
Valerie Jo
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Valerie Jo
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Date: 12/27/12 4:42 PM

I don't know when paisley came out but I found some in the Renaissance fabric listings. I just want a clear description of what to look for. I have seen a lot of pictures on the internet but don't know what is really authentic.

I think brocade would be the easiest to work with. I know they talk about silk, etc. They use leather for a lot of things too. I don't want to even try to work with leather.

Please give me some tips or suggestions. Thanks.

Nikki
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Date: 12/27/12 5:31 PM

Are you looking for authentic or costume quality? I'm pretty sure paisley is later than Renaissance. What are you trying to make and what what purpose?

Always good choices:
bleached or unbleached linen
many kinds of wool
silk only in certain weaves and for the very wealthy

I am vastly more familiar with the late medieval period. Although the availability of new fibers and dyestuffs (cotton, indigo, etc) increased enormously during the Renaissance, pinning down exactly who would have access to what and when takes a lot of effort.

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Valerie Jo
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Date: 12/27/12 5:39 PM

I am looking for authentic Renaissance fabric print (not fabric from the era - too expensive for me) for costumes and accessories. I would love to work with linen. If there is a cotton that I could work with that would be great too. I've made one corset and not too sure I want to make another one very soon. I plan on going with my grandkids to the Ren Fest when I visit them in Houston, TX. I want to dress them up too. I'll have to figure out fairy wings for my granddaughter but that is a later project.

I'm not wanting to make for royalty either. Although I do love the color purple. Yes, I agree, I think paisley is a later print. I don't know why they included that in some of the Renaissance sites. That's why I want a clear understanding of what to look for. Any assistance would be wonderful.
-- Edited on 12/27/12 5:44 PM --

Skittl1321
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Date: 12/27/12 5:56 PM

For prints and colors, the best thing is to go to a library and start looking at paintings from the time period. Then go look for those prints and colors in the fabrics Nikki chose.

The reason they sell paisley is because people make costumes that they think fits the time period without caring about authenticity.

Nikki
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Date: 12/27/12 6:13 PM

They really didn't have prints in period. The fabrics that you see that have designs are woven designs, probably in silk.

Honestly, if you want to wear this in Texas, I would avoid synthetics because you will swelter. Strangely enough, wool would be a nice choice and the most authentic, in a plain weave and color (like a light or med weight wool flannel or maybe gabardine). Wools can be quite comfortable even in very hot temperatures. Dyed linens were not generally used, but would be fine for a Renaissance faire in a hot climate.

Cotton was not generally available in the way it is now (this was pre-cotton gin). Linen-look cottons can be used, although linen tends to hold up better and is nicer to wear.

Colors that you cannot go wrong with:

blue - any tone seen in blue jeans. Lighter tones for lower classes. The dye used in blue jeans is the same pigment (indigotin) that was used in period with woad/indigo dyes

reds - red/orange is a good color, avoid deep scarlets that were only for the wealthy

yellows - you can actually get shocking neon yellow with period dyes, but anything in the yellow family is probably ok.

browns - lots of available brown tones

green - was made with a combination of yellow and blue dyes

Black was expensive and the dyes tended to damage the fibers. Nonetheless, black wools are seen worn in illustrations even for the lower classes.

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mmmmm woooool

Skittl1321
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Date: 12/28/12 8:18 AM

I'll chime in that wool is fine in Texas. I wore a wool (linen lined) cotehardie in 100 degree weather and wasn't uncomfortable- sure was sweaty, but no one said the renessaince wasn't a smelly time.

Valerie Jo
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Date: 12/28/12 8:34 AM

What about tapestry for bags?

A friend told me to go to http://m.fashionising.com/trends/b--baroque-fashion-baroque-clothing-26678.html?wpmp_switcher=mobile

What does this have to do with Renaissance fabric? hmmmm Well, I sure have a lot to learn. Thanks for your help.

justgail

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In reply to Nikki <<


Date: 12/28/12 9:38 AM

Would black wool have been done using wool from black sheep rather than dye? Similar with shades of browns/white? I know I've seen modern sweaters made using only natural wool colors. I don't know if they did the same thing during Renaissance times. Perhaps they had enough labor to do the sorting that it was cheaper than the dyeing process in those days.

Nikki
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Date: 12/28/12 1:18 PM

I have no idea about using wool from dark colored sheep. I know I've had discussions on this with other reenactors and I don't think there was any good info available at the time.

Black sheep tend to be more "dark brown" than actually black. Then again, black dyes also were really just some very dark color that wasn't the super-black that is available now.

There are recorded recipes for making black dye, so we know that dye was used at least some of the time. Solid colors were preferred over "dyed in the wool" fabrics - if the fiber is dyed before spinning and weaving, there will be color variations throughout the fabric. So dyeing after weaving was more highly valued because the cloth would be all the same color. I imagine this would also be an issue with undyed fleece, as each sheep will be a different color.

Having said that, useable wool probably didn't go to waste either and was made into something. Finding out how it was used, in what quantities, and who used it is pretty tough. There may be more surviving fabrics from the Renaissance compared to the time periods that I am familiar with (very little survives from the 15th century). Extant fabrics tend to have completely changed color, and are often pulled out of the ground where they have been soaked through with dirt/garbage/etc for centuries. Chemical testing can sometimes tell what dyes were originally used, but if no dyes were used it would be hard to guess what the original fiber color is.

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mmmmm woooool

Valerie Jo
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Date: 12/30/12 1:58 PM

Thanks for all your help. I searched for Renaissance artwork and that has helped me a great deal. I also did trace the paisley back to the 1700s and had no idea it started that long ago.

I noticed some celtic designs as well. There is a lot to learn if you want to be an expert at knowing fabric history. I am sure the library would have a lot of books on the subject. Thanks!

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