Sunday, January 15, 2017

Archer's Gambeson

Purchased a replica of a medieval archer's gambeson on Ebay on the spur of the moment. It was the style I was looking for but white was not my preferred color. The discount code Ebay had sent me for $15USD was due to expire that evening so I made the buy....color be damned. It was a good deal with free shipping on an item right at the minimum price point to qualify for the discount.

Manufactured in India of heavy cotton(historically it was of linen and wools) the gambeson made it to Canada surprisingly quickly via UPS and in my possession this week. Well constructed it fit me very well but it was very white.....not off white nor natural cotton but bright white. The DIY project was born.

Research gave me two options; dye or fabric paint. I opted for the dye simply because it was cheaper and fabric paint wasn't available in the color I required. Picked up a bottle of Rit beige dye as it was close to the camel color I preferred and headed to the drop sink in the laundry room.

Simple instructions to complete the dyeing process but rather time consuming. The constant hand agitation for thirty minutes and the final rinse was laborious especially considering the weight of the soaked gambeson. Hung it over the sink to drip while I mopped the floor impressed by the first look of the new color. A final hand wringing and in the sunshine to dry.

Stage Two-St. George's Cross

Now that the gambeson was dyed an appropriate color I decided I would hand sew a English cross and place upon the sleeve. Used by English armies as early as Edward I's reign the red cross was used on banners by Edward III in France and by 1385 English men at arms and archers had identified themselves on the battlefield onwards after Richard II made it mandatory during his Scottish campaigns. There seems to be some variation on placement Often it was placed upon the left breast and back or as a separate garment such as a livery jacket or surcoat. I'm considering another placed upon the chest as generally it was sewed in two locations.

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