A and S Class : Basic Garb Workshop, Males.

Please note: If you wish to reproduce this in any way please credit me. We all work very hard and share our knowledge freely in the SCA. It would be a shame to find my work in someone elses name. Thank you. 

Workshop for basic male garb

NOTE: First given at N.A.A.M.A labour weekend 2013 as an introductory idea of how to make historic garb to whatever level the participant would like to involve them-selves with.

N.A.A.M.A. is a metal weapon style and the annual camp that is run by different clubs each year and attended over Labour weekend around various parts of New Zealand.




Undershirt : 1470            Tunic : 1400’s                   Hose (left)  Braes (right): 1240’s

section of an                    Close up of                      Section of the Maciejowski Bible.

agricultural calendar        October, ‘Les très

Pietro Crescenzi.              riches’, heures du

Duc Berry.


This workshop is aimed at the four basic layers of a male outfit pre c 1500

Obviously there will be regional differences and styles depending on the area you wish to represent. This workshop is to introduce people to how to make themselves look the part with either the most basic of skills, because from there, anything can be added and built upon.

The Layers are as follows…

  • Braes (usually white linen – usually heavier weight – not see-through)
  • The undershirt (white linen)
  • Split Hose (colour – look at paintings of the time period you wish to represent)
  • Tunic (colour – look at paintings of the time period you wish to represent


Extra layer: Head-coverings

  • Hood (colour – look at paintings of the time period you wish to represent)
  • coif (white linen)

Background Research


In the S.C.A. people take a persona so they can have a name and look that best suits their interests and research into a time period – this name can even be their own mundane name. There are some people in metal weapon re-enactment who also create a time period and look for themselves. This is usually based on a country / region and class structure, and there are plenty of people with nicknames that suit their ‘persona’. There is no real difference between the two practices, it just helps give people a focus on what they want to make, that is all.

If you wish to look further into different countries and regional styles in whatever time period you choose, there is a bibliography of websites and books at the end of these notes to help start you off.

Warnings to note:

When researching – just remember to be wary of what may be a representation of a style and what may be accurate. Paintings of Jesus, Mary, the three wise men, Saints and their companions may not be the best representation of ‘historically accurate’ garb, as they are allegorical not ‘real’.


You can usually tell who people are by what they are wearing. Mary is in blue (usually holding a baby), people that are darker skinned are usually the Maji  (the ‘Three Kings’) and are dressed in fantasy costumes from the ‘East’, St John the Baptist usually has some kind of animal skin on him and anyone with a halo is usually a Saint whose clothes can be slightly fantasy for the period it is painted in.

Colours can also be symbolic depending on the country and time period.

The Internet:

You may find a very pretty photo of someone wearing something they have made, or a shop trying to sell you something they say is replica. If you are after accuracy to be able to participate in living history or BONN etc. this may not be the best place to start researching from. Only after looking at a lot of primary resources (paintings and sculptures from the period) and reading a lot (not just the internet) will you get to know what is ‘period’ and what is not.

Be wary of only using websites if you are serious about research, it can be a dangerous game.

Most places don’t reference where they get their information from. If you find it on 3 different websites, who is to say the first website didn’t just make it up i.e. where did it come from? and then the second copied it and then the third copied that….and so on…all referencing each other…

If you are focused on being 100% accurate and dedicated to that pursuit, the best you can get is extant garment from the period you are looking at, i.e. things that were found in bogs or somehow survived in a chest/coffin somewhere for use to look at in visual resources and/or in person at museums overseas.  Just remember however, this is all guess work for the people looking at it now out of context – it would be ignorant to think that just because one is done that way they all were. We also don’t have extant dress for every time period and country, so don’t rely on being able to re-create from an actual historical garment.

In conclusion:

Basically – use your brain and your common sense, don’t trust all you read, even in books (especially pre 1940’s), ask questions from people you trust, look up garments from the actual time (extant garments), look up paintings and sculptures from the time period you want to focus on and you are on your way!

It is all a learning process….your first garb may not be the best…but it is still an attempt, the more you do it, the more you learn…and if you are stuck ask someone you trust – everyone is here to help, not put each other down.



Basic things to think about before you start:

If you need more helpful tips on researching – have a look at the page on this site A and S classes: Researching.

References : where are they from and are they reliable? If you are looking for a picture of the garment, try using the word ‘extant’ (that means that is original from the time period) when searching, that will help narrow things down

Use things like Google advanced search, google scholar and avoid any ‘costume’ shop representations etc.

Colours – what do you like? Are they achievable in the time period you like?

Who are you?

where are you from?

What time period do you like to re-create?

Level of hardcore accuracy you want – how much do you care? Do you want it to look right but don’t care about materials/colours/sewing techniques or are you wanting to shear the sheep, dye and weave it yourself etc?…the world is your oyster…

If you want to be period and you find a website that tells you it will show you how to make a basic ‘t tunic’ …..avoid it… laying down a t shirt and trace over it does not garb make….

If you really want to research heavily, try these more in-depth questions to help you:

who was in charge of the country /region at the time?

how were the fields worked?

what was the main source of income?

who traded with who and for what?

who had married into the royal family and brought their fashion from their country with them.?

What dyes did they have

What materials did they have access to?

What was the climate? Was it in the ‘little ice age’ etc?

What seam treatments were common?

Did they know about bias cut?

How did they give birth and who looked after the babies?

What were the roles of the different genders and classes?

What were their diets like and why?

What dwellings did they inhabit?

How did they sing/dance/hunt/ cook/ work?

Everything and anything else that is relevant to the period you are looking at?

  • What came before fashion wise?
  • What came after fashion wise?
  • What other countries does it look like and how does it differ?
  • How was it constructed in period and how was it sewn with what tools?
  • Is there anything extant – i.e. left over to examine on the internet/in books? And how useful is it?

Who is an expert in the field already – do you know of anyone in the S.C.A or another re-enactment



Everyone’s budget is different, and the availability of materials isn’t always consistent.

I personally would recommend saving up and spending your money on linen and wool – just for the fact that they wash better, last longer and keep you cool in the summer, warm in the winter and just look right when you wear them.

Polyester may be cheaper, but it doesn’t breathe and it can sit funny….

Polar fleece isn’t as warm as wool, especially when you caught in the rain.

And the most important part to think about is – Wool, linen and silk dont melt into your skin when they burn, and camp fires/candles etc are a part of our world as re-enactors.



There are record accounts to suggest that garments were sold unlined in: Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Pritchard, Frances & Staniland, Kay. Textiles and Clothing c. 1150-1450. The Boydell Press. Museum of London, Woodbridge, 2001. ISBN:0851158404.

this could be for many reasons : to keep costs down  i.e. put your own linings in, or to prepare to put other linings in later, like fur etc.

If it is a scratchy wool I would suggest lining it, it is much more comfortable next to your skin

Think of what you would line it with. If you have ‘peasant’ garb with a silk lined hood, why? Also, silk lining is slippery – try to match the lining to what the garment would be used for.

One of the problems with lining things is if you are sewing with a machine in a modern way i.e. bag lining (sewing it all together and turning it inside out) is that the lining may drop. This means that the fibers stretch as gravity takes hold, and if it is a linen lining with wool outer the lining may drop below this after time. To avoid this – hang the fabric up together for a few days until gravity has done its thing…..then sew it. This is something that should be done with Hems for large garments.



WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO SEW SOMETHING make sure you wash all the materials first.

Material shrinks, especially wool. Your linen lining may end up being a lot bigger than your wool outer if you do not.

I recommend washing things in cold water, and drying on the washing line – extreme heat may shrink natural fabric, but some people don’t have the luxury of good outdoor weather.


Hand sewing /machine sewing

Do what you feel comfortable with.

There are lots of theories and ideas on what is correct or ‘period’ out there, one of the most favoured ones for hand sewing is to hem all the edges of the material with a whip stitch and then to whip stitch all the parts together. This became fashionable a while ago on the internet and among the communities, but it does not mean that everyone did it this way ‘back in the day’ and that it is the ONLY way.

There are other theories – look around, research into how the garments that we have left from the time periods (the extant garments) were made from books on the references list at the end of this and anything that you find on the net that is an actual garment from the period.

Some websites to help you with the hand sewing side of things.






The Garments:


braes11314  Jacques de Molay

1240’s                        Jacques de Molay

Section of                  sentenced to the stake in

the Maciejowski       in 1314, from the chronicle

Bible                           of France or of St Denis,

14th century.

Brae’s are men’s period underwear.

The pictures show them rolled at the top over a rope, some people put them on a drawstring. Depending on the period you are going for they can be long or short or almost like spedo’s.

They can feel a bit odd to wear at first – like your backside is hanging out. If you feel uncomfortable, you might want to make sure the linen is not see-through, and that your tunic is long enough that when you bend over you are covered.

If you are looking for pictures of Braes, search for St Sebastion, we have a joke that he is the patron saint of underwear – you will see why when you look him up….


Basic braes figured in the first picture:

Take a piece of linen

Fold it in half so it makes a long rectangle

The crotch will be the middle of the long rectangle

make a casing and draw string the top, or fold the legs and roll the top around the waist over a rope.


Other Sources:

The below PDF is from the Companie of St George who focus on the 1460/70’s, There is a lot of good information in this document, and many more pictures of Brae’s from this time.




There are different types of hose.

The first: like stockings that come to a point and are worn with longer braes. They don’t come up as high as ‘split hose’ and these are worn through a number centuries.

They can be odd to wear at first as the wearer can feel a little exposed, especially if the tunic is a little short as stated above for the braes.



Another:  split hose are like joined hose but it is more noticeable that they are split around the crotch/backside when the wearer bends etc. They are worn over a smaller version of braes and usually, but not always have some kind of cod piece to cover the split in the front.


1450, Italian. No cod piece.


Joined hose are as the name says – joined. they have varying forms of codpiece at the front of them.


Italian, 1450c,                 Italian 1502


Some Hose have stirrups not feet.

Some hose have no feet at all, it all depends on what the period is and what is good for you.


ALL of these need someone to help you fit them properly. They also require a good bias cut and fit (especially the joined hose to be able to sit and move properly). Bias cut means that they are cut diagonally on the material – giving the most stretch that the fabric is able to achieve. making these out of material that is cut on the grain will not give the correct stretch and movement that is required for everyday wear.




‘July’ Les Tres riches heures, Duc du Berry.

1412/16 started, 1440 finished.



This goes right next to the skin, the extant examples we have are white and are usually made of linen.

A lot of people leave these out and just wear their tunic….if you want your tunic to be less fragrant, and want to look the part – a undershirt is what you need.

They are squares, trapezoids and rectangles and do not usually have fitted sleeves like the tunics do.

Neck holes vary depending on class and country/region and sleeves are usually long

There may or may not be gores in the underarm depending on the time period.


The St Louis shirt is an example from the 13th century





lutheral psalter3QMMarch

Luttrell Psalter c. 1320 – 1340                                 Queen Mary Psalter, 1315.





Manuscript : Roman de la Rose, 1395-1405


Outer layer – usually wool or linen.

Many different lengths throughout the time periods.

Sleeves are usually fitted sleeves, but can have gores under the arms.

The cut can be rectangles, or trapezoids.

Gores can be inserted on the sides or in the front to make it bigger for a larger chest or stomach.

It really does all depend on which look/time period you are going for.


Two books to help with reconstruction of Tunics:

Ostergaard, Else. Woven into the Earth: Textile finds in Norse Greenland. Aarhus University Press, 2004. ISBN 10: 8772889357

and it’s companion book

Fransen, Lilli: Nordrorp-Madson, Shelly; Norgard, Anna; Ostergard, Else. Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns. Aarhus University Press, 2010. ISBN 10: 8779342981

The two books above are also available as PDF downloads.


Article to help with hand stitching wool




A Basic Hood


14century greenland find

Greenland find, 14th century


Note: There is a a and s class article on how to make a basic hood llike the one above on this site. 

We have a few hoods left from various finds. The main ones are from Greenland just like the tunics, and can once again be found in the books below

Ostergaard, Else. Woven into the Earth: Textile finds in Norse Greenland. Aarhus University Press, 2004. ISBN 10: 8772889357

and it’s companion book

Fransen, Lilli: Nordrorp-Madson, Shelly; Norgard, Anna; Ostergard, Else. Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns. Aarhus University Press, 2010. ISBN 10: 8779342981

The two books above are also available as PDF downloads.


And as I stated above, there are records for the price of an unlined hood in the book:

Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Pritchard, Frances & Staniland, Kay. Textiles and Clothing c. 1150-1450. The Boydell Press. Museum of London, Woodbridge, 2001. ISBN:0851158404

this could indicate that they could be unlined, or they were sold unlined so people could put their own lining in due to cost or special material to be used etc.

YOU MUST REMEMBER you have to be able to fit your head through the neck hole and it has to sit on your shoulders, so measure before you cut.

The three pictures below are a good pattern to use…..




Fecamp Psalter, 1180.                      Les Tres riches heures, Duc du Berry.

Man in coif – top left.                       1412/16 started, 1440 finished.


The coif is a head covering that was worn throughout the centuries.




The above notes go with the class given, where how to make certain items were discussed in depth and physical examples were shown.

These are the most basic notes I could make in good faith. Once again I stress, styles and construction change with the country and the region, research into what you like then use these as a base guide.

We are all here to have fun and to help each other – if you have questions, please ask, don’t worry so much that you never start on making what you want to,  and keep searching and researching…..always.


Please note: If you wish to reproduce this in any way please credit me. We all work very hard and share our knowledge freely in the SCA. It would be a shame to find my work in someone elses name. Thank you. 

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