Wet Weather Clothing

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
zauberdachs
Post Centurion
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:38 pm

Wet Weather Clothing

Postby zauberdachs » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:26 am

As a follow on from the thread on warmer winter garments, I've been having a thought about making some more historical wet weather clothing. I was thinking that it would make sense to cut a cloak and hood out of canvas then coat the canvas in linseed oil to make it waterproof, i.e. oilskins. Hey presto, waterproofs.

However I can't find any evidence about the materials for wet weather clothing, either for or against this idea so I thought that before embarking on this I would put a shout out to see (a) if anyone had an evidence for wet weather clothing or (b) had any better ideas how to go about it.


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

acecat999
Post Centurion
Posts: 633
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:14 am

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby acecat999 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:00 am

I thought they used fish oil instead of linseed?

but the Macintosh (first waterproof patent) was 1823


everyday i can be an insignificant but unavoidable nuisance is a day well spent.

User avatar
Fox
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2652
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:27 pm
Location: Cheshire

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Fox » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:00 am

Wool is naturally waterproof; it contains lanolin.
Someone more knowledgable than me can tell you how well that lasts after it's turned into medieval cloth.

You can make modern processed wool more waterproof using a wash-in water proofer.



User avatar
Brother Ranulf
Post Centurion
Posts: 961
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:46 pm
Location: Canterbury

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:49 am

Two terms for "protective covers" have cropped up in my recent research - one is barhude or barhide and the other harpoys or harpois. The first refers to a large awning or cover for a cart, made simply of rawhide. The second is a mixture of beeswax, pitch and tallow.

We know that altar cloths were protected by a layer of linen impregnated with beeswax (cerecloth) to prevent any stains or spills contaminating the pure white surface, as well as for wrapping corpses, so it is entirely possible that waxed cloth was used in other situations. The extra layers wrapped and tied around the legs of shepherds and carters may have been cerecloth - Neckham called these waterproof wrappings ocreas. His description of a carter's clothes makes it clear that coarse wool and a cheap fur lining made up the main elements, with only the legs wrapped with waterproofed cloth. As Fox says, wool has natural showerproof properties of its own.

The use of rawhide for cart covers was new to me and I wonder how many other applications it had, although it would make a very stiff material for clothing.


Brother Ranulf

"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

User avatar
zauberdachs
Post Centurion
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:38 pm

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby zauberdachs » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:15 am

acecat999 wrote:I thought they used fish oil instead of linseed?


I've seen linseed oil, pitch and beeswax all quoted as used to create "oil skins"

Fox wrote:Wool is naturally waterproof; it contains lanolin.
Someone more knowledgable than me can tell you how well that lasts after it's turned into medieval cloth.


I don't think wool can be made water proof. Even relatively modern outdoors wool garments are only considered to be water resistant rather than waterproof.

I guess what I'm looking for is references to oilcloth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oilcloth


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

Midland Spinner
Posts: 105
Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 1:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Midland Spinner » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:48 am

Fox wrote:Wool is naturally waterproof; it contains lanolin.
Someone more knowledgable than me can tell you how well that lasts after it's turned into medieval cloth.

You can make modern processed wool more waterproof using a wash-in water proofer.


It's not just the lanolin. Wool is unusual in that it keeps you warm even when wet, it wicks moisture away from the body, retains a significant proportion of its insulation properties even when wet, Once it reaches saturation point it can be wrung out & put straight back on. Oh, and it's natural, sustainable, springs back into shape well, takes dye well, is biodegradable and recyleable and can be processed into cloth using just a couple of sticks and the units of production are self-reproducing.

Frankly if we didn't have wool we'd have to spend millions inventing wonder fibres that do all of that but can be made out of fossil fuels in a factory with thousands of pounds worth of complicated equipment (oh, we already do that, how.... odd)



User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:14 pm

I thought that oil cloth was a later invention, but I've no evidence to support that.

My guess is that you use wool for the most part. As Fox siad, it's water resistant, more-so if the lanolin is returned/kept in. And as MS said, it's warm when wet. There also tended to be rather a lot of it around in the UK, which makes it a cheaper/more available option too.

My guess is when faced with wet weather, you wear a good, dense woolen cloak and hood, lined with wool. But generally you try to keep out of the worst of it. Why would you be out in weather badenough to require anything more than that?

Finally, apparently John Howard issued sheep-skin jackets to his sailors (and just his sailors, before people start wandering around events wearing them), which we presume is to keep you warm and dry at sea. That said, we don't know much about their construction other than they've still got the wool on.

Best wishes

Colin


Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

40/- freeholder
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:59 am
Location: Tow Law
Contact:

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby 40/- freeholder » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:20 pm

Colin, any one with livestock outside has had to spend a lot of time recently in somewhat cold, wet and miserable conditions and the same would apply to the past, particularly the early C14th agricultural crisis with crop failures, liver fluke in sheep, cattle plague etc.
A lot of work has been done on how woollen sails were water proofed, using techniques similar to shepherds marking sheep. I have presented a poster on this, which may be found on academia.edu, with the title Salving, Smitting and Smorring. I would expect shepherds at least to slap some of this gunk on their outer wear in severe weather.



User avatar
zauberdachs
Post Centurion
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:38 pm

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby zauberdachs » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:34 pm

Brother Ranulf wrote:We know that altar cloths were protected by a layer of linen impregnated with beeswax (cerecloth) to prevent any stains or spills contaminating the pure white surface, as well as for wrapping corpses, so it is entirely possible that waxed cloth was used in other situations. The extra layers wrapped and tied around the legs of shepherds and carters may have been cerecloth - Neckham called these waterproof wrappings ocreas. His description of a carter's clothes makes it clear that coarse wool and a cheap fur lining made up the main elements, with only the legs wrapped with waterproofed cloth. As Fox says, wool has natural showerproof properties of its own.


Cerecloth has proven some interesting reading, thanks for that. Plenty of evidence for it's use at the time but only for wrapping corpses so a no go without evidence.

Seems most of this has been covered in an old thread anyway: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=20865


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

guthrie
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2349
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2005 8:54 pm
Location: Polmont-Edinburgh

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby guthrie » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:54 am

I feel obliged to add another voice to the chorus for wool for cloaks and the like. Even with my modern wool gowns, hood and cloak, I've worn them all day in teh wet and yes, after a few hours the water soaks through but even then you are still warm. Without definite evidence for anything else, and it looks like there isn't except for some cerecloth wrappings of legs or such, you are stuck with the wool.
There's lots of sheep out there, try smearing some more lanolin on, or if you really want a project, make a cloak out of as nearly untreated wool as possible, from a wool type as close to medieval as you can find, then let us know how it performs.



User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:27 pm

40/- freeholder wrote:Colin, any one with livestock outside has had to spend a lot of time recently in somewhat cold, wet and miserable conditions and the same would apply to the past, particularly the early C14th agricultural crisis with crop failures, liver fluke in sheep, cattle plague etc.


Herders! Of course. I've obviously spent too much of my life in cities. Thank you 40/- Freeholder. I'd got stuck on "surely you're not going to try and plow the land while it's quickly turning into a lake?" :D :$

Speaking of Shepherds, I think that they had some special garments, but I can't remember what they were like. They may have been made of sheepskins, or possibly made something like a modern hoodie.

Many thanks

Colin


Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

User avatar
vlasta
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:20 pm
Location: Dublin
Contact:

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby vlasta » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:18 pm

For Ireland an interesting solution was 'fake fur' cloaks, made of wool, where the shaggy appearance was obtained in various ways - or with teasels to brush up the nap (another traditional method was to sprinkle the cloth with honey and rub up with a bag of small stones) - or the threads or locks of fleece were interwoven into the cloth during the manufacture process (very much like in modern flokati rugs).
There's some info about this type of cloth in Elizabeth Wincott Heckett: "An Irish 'Shaggy Pile' Fabric of the 16th Century--An Insular Survival?" [in:]Bender Jørgensen, Lise, and Munksgaard, Elisabeth, eds. Archaeological Textiles in Northern Europe: Report from the 4th NESAT Symposium 1.-5. May 1990 in Copenhagen.

As for earlier times, similar types of clothes were popular all over colder parts of Europe, there are early medieval finds from Swedish Birka and Lund, Polish Wolin, Leens and Dokkum in Netherlands, Isle of Man, Isle of Eigg, York, Dublin, Heynes Farm in Iceland (BTW in Icelandic Law Code Grágás such pile cloth cloaks, dyed and decorated with braids were mentioned as an export product) etc. I don't know, how popular they were on the continent in later periods, though, would anyone have any info on this?



Langley
Post Centurion
Posts: 763
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:36 pm
Location: West Midlands

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Langley » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:22 am

I recall one year when the grand parade at Festival of History was just about to start and the heavens opened. I was wearing a wool coate over my jack and armour. When I came off the field it was absolutely saturated but the linen lining was dry as was everything underneath. That did not even have any additional lanolin - most of that would have been washed out of the garment in manufacture so the authenticity did not extend to the smell. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well it performed. (The steel salet was waterproof too but I could not hear any orders - it sounded like someone was rattling a cardboard box full of dried peas in each ear). My money is on wool being the fabric of choice but with the lanolin preserved as much as possible. The Irish fabric sounds intriguing though. My thrum cap from Sally Pointer works on a similar principal and is very effective - have been known to wear it in preference to modern hats when it is very wet despite the odd looks (which are replied to with a smug warm and dry one).



User avatar
John Waller
Post Knight
Posts: 1551
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:36 pm
Location: Surrey

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby John Waller » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:26 am

I'm experimenting with making a piece of oilskin at the moment. Boy does it take an age to dry!


Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

User avatar
zauberdachs
Post Centurion
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:38 pm

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby zauberdachs » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:07 am

I am wondering though why the below quote isn't basically a description of Oilcloth?

From John Major's 1521 history of Greater Britain: "The common people of the Highland (lit. 'wild') Scots rush into battle having their body clothed with a linen garment manifoldly sewed and painted or daubed with pitch, with a covering of deerskin."

Considering that drovering form a large part of the highland economy, perhaps they developed a more rain proof indigenous garment?

John Waller wrote:I'm experimenting with making a piece of oilskin at the moment. Boy does it take an age to dry!


Very cool, for which time period?


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

User avatar
John Waller
Post Knight
Posts: 1551
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:36 pm
Location: Surrey

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby John Waller » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:53 am

zauberdachs wrote:Very cool, for which time period?


For a Napoleonic shako cover.


Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

User avatar
John Waller
Post Knight
Posts: 1551
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:36 pm
Location: Surrey

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby John Waller » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:18 pm

John Waller wrote:
zauberdachs wrote:Very cool, for which time period?


For a Napoleonic shako cover.


Test piece finally dry. I thought it never would, but I guess the warmer weather over the last couple of days has done the trick. I'm very pleased with it. Stood up to several minutes under a running tap with no water penetration. Now to make a larger piece.


Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

User avatar
zauberdachs
Post Centurion
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:38 pm

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby zauberdachs » Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:57 pm

John Waller wrote:
John Waller wrote:
zauberdachs wrote:Very cool, for which time period?


For a Napoleonic shako cover.


Test piece finally dry. I thought it never would, but I guess the warmer weather over the last couple of days has done the trick. I'm very pleased with it. Stood up to several minutes under a running tap with no water penetration. Now to make a larger piece.


What other wet weather clothing is appropriate to this period/interpretation? Capes, gaters?


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

User avatar
zauberdachs
Post Centurion
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:38 pm

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby zauberdachs » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:00 pm

guthrie wrote:There's lots of sheep out there, try smearing some more lanolin on, or if you really want a project, make a cloak out of as nearly untreated wool as possible, from a wool type as close to medieval as you can find, then let us know how it performs.


I've got the wool and the lanolin on order, should have something to mock up soon :)


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

User avatar
John Waller
Post Knight
Posts: 1551
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:36 pm
Location: Surrey

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby John Waller » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:49 am

[quote="zauberdachs] What other wet weather clothing is appropriate to this period/interpretation? Capes, gaters?[/quote]

Wool greatcoats / watchcoats and cloaks and that's about it. Long or short gaiters were worn depending on which army / period. Some were proofed. I know some US troops had tarred gaiters. Some caps were issued with waterproofed covers. Covers were also used for cartridge boxes, plumes, gun locks, breastplates etc. Again, varying between nationalities and time periods. Some dandy officers were known to use umberellas - a practice that Wellington disliked. Some regimental standing orders forbad their use when on duty.


Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

User avatar
zauberdachs
Post Centurion
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:38 pm

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby zauberdachs » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:51 am

John Waller wrote:[quote="zauberdachs] What other wet weather clothing is appropriate to this period/interpretation? Capes, gaters?[/quote]

Wool greatcoats / watchcoats and cloaks and that's about it. Long or short gaiters were worn depending on which army / period. Some were proofed. I know some US troops had tarred gaiters. Some caps were issued with waterproofed covers. Covers were also used for cartridge boxes, plumes, gun locks, breastplates etc. Again, varying between nationalities and time periods. Some dandy officers were known to use umberellas - a practice that Wellington disliked. Some regimental standing orders forbad their use when on duty.[/quote]


So wool was the prefered materil for outdoors clothing in this period also?


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

User avatar
Lin
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:08 pm
Location: lovely Ynys Mon

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Lin » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:26 am

I was at Kelmarsh last year and the only thing that kept me warm in my leaking tent was, a wool cloak and a sheepskin. Gods bless wool and the lanolin :)



Medievalbushman
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:35 am
Location: West Midlands
Contact:

Re: Wet Weather Clothing

Postby Medievalbushman » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:51 am

Brother Ranulf wrote:Two terms for "protective covers" have cropped up in my recent research - one is barhude or barhide and the other harpoys or harpois. The first refers to a large awning or cover for a cart, made simply of rawhide. The second is a mixture of beeswax, pitch and tallow.

We know that altar cloths were protected by a layer of linen impregnated with beeswax (cerecloth) to prevent any stains or spills contaminating the pure white surface, as well as for wrapping corpses, so it is entirely possible that waxed cloth was used in other situations. The extra layers wrapped and tied around the legs of shepherds and carters may have been cerecloth - Neckham called these waterproof wrappings ocreas. His description of a carter's clothes makes it clear that coarse wool and a cheap fur lining made up the main elements, with only the legs wrapped with waterproofed cloth. As Fox says, wool has natural showerproof properties of its own.

The use of rawhide for cart covers was new to me and I wonder how many other applications it had, although it would make a very stiff material for clothing.



I am looking into the way they lived in the woods during the middle ages. So I am trying to research on what they would have used for cover. Would you be able to point me in the right direction in terms of research please?!?




Return to “1100-1500”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests