Skip to content Skip to navigation

Blogging Kalamazoo Session 110: Dress and Textiles III: Kings, Knights, and Courtiers

Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 13:53

Thursday 3:30

Sponsor: DISTAFF (Discussion, Interpretation, and Study of Textile Arts, Fabrics, and Fashion)


Motivations for French and Mediterranean Royal Sumptuary Laws: Translations of the Lives of the Caesars

Sarah-Grace Heller, Ohio State Univ.

Discussion of purposes of sumptuary laws and whether they really fit under the category “law”. Paper will look at 13th c sumptuary laws and ancient works that discuss sumptuary laws and their dissemination. Suetonius cites the imposition of early Roman laws against excess luxury as a sign of good government. The term ‘sumptuary law” did not come in until the Renaissance. So what were they called in the middle ages?   13th c. texts such as those discussing Phillip Augustus use “statuta.” The application of “Augustus” was part of an echo back to the Roman empire.  13th c. Spanish “proclamations” have similar effect.. “Establissement” is also used. These texts cover not only clothing and other consumption, but behavior, including arrangements for transportation.  Some elements were universal but many are stratified based on class and income. Charles II of Anjou, king of Sicily makes reference to legis (laws) of the paste but calls his own rules statutes. Implication that they were not intended to be as durable and fixed as “laws”, but perhaps temporary restrictions.  Compare 13th c. editions of Gellius on Roman frugality requirements, which in his own time were considered “something our forefathers implemented that have now been forgotten.” Also medieval editions of Suitonius, similarly talking about restrictions by the Caesars on consumption and display. When Philips’s “establissementz” of 1294 restricted similar lists of items, were these items truly a living issue in the 13th century or were they included in imitation of the Caesars?


Getting to the Point: Testing Protective Qualities of Fabric Armors

Robert Charrette, Independent Scholar

The author has requested that his paper not be blogged.


Quilting Cotton into Shape: Experimental Quilting Methods and Treatments to Achieve Fashionable Form

Jessica Finley, Independent Scholar

Description of methods and equipment to process cotton from the field to workable fiber. After being compressed for shipment, beating serves to separate the fibers and increase volume. Next stage uses a bow to further beat the fibers using a vibrating string. As each cotton fiber is a single-celled hollow tube, wetting it changes the behavior as it re-absorbs water. Once wetted, the cotton fibers can be compressed and will not re-expand until dry again.  In cotton-quilted fabric armor, a typical structure is 5 layers, two pairs of cloth (linen & silk) and an inner layer of cotton fiber. The quilting goes through all layers, including the cotton.  Difficulties include how to perform the quilting stitches through all the layers, and how to pattern around the interior padding. To improve stitching techniques, used long vice to clamp the layers and sail-maker’s tools for sewing heavy fabric. The garment is painted with linseed oil and carbon and this can be done before or after the sewing constructions, with “before” having technical advantages. Quilt individual pieces separately and then assemble into garment. In order to more easily quilt through the cotton batting, quilt a partially stuffed layer, then wet and add more batting stuffed into the channels, which will expand when dry to a density closer to the original model. Alternate method, with cotton rolled into tubes and placed between the stitching, not quilting through the batting itself.  Construct with linen+batting+linen, then add silk exterior fabric after initial quilting. Quilting stiffens the resulting garment, but the manipulation of straight-grain and bias in the fabric also affects shaping. Additional padding in key areas, also provide shaping.  Overall, different techniques are required to achieve different effects and functions in the finished garment.

Major category: 
historical