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Making a gambi

Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:20 pm
by alex lee
Im looking to make a 13th. ct gambeson, aiming between 1250 to 1290. Im looking for where to start, some references and tips would be greatly appriciated. Im halfway through making a surcoat thats based from the Maciejowski Bible and lives of the two offas :)
Thank you

Re: Making a gambi

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:17 am
by Brian la Zouche
these do a nice range
and i've heard cloak and daggered do some real nice ones too,

as for making your own herts fabrics did some really nice thick linen

i always get some good ideas from around the history markets, but never made a gambeson myself, so would be very interested in how you get on

Re: Making a gambi

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:39 am
by phil ainsley
thick/strong linen on the outside is a bit of a must, the ones ive seen made of lighter weight linen can tear easily with a burr from a sword blade requiring lots of repairs.

the mac bible depicts gambis being pulled on over the head, but having had a number of styles - over the head/fasten at the back and front jacket fastening the front jacket fastening is by far the easiest to get on and off, especially when its soaked in sweat. though this style might not be considered as authentic as other styles for the peroid.

if your wearing your gamby under mail then it probably doesnt need to be as thick as you might think, especially if you have used a strong linen on the outside. i leave the seams at the bottom of the body and arms and fill them to as suits after the shell of the gamby has been made. leave out any padding from the front of the elbow crease so you can bend your arm easily and freely, i only pad the outside of the upper arm and most of the forearm, but i do make sure that padding covers the back of the elbow.

Re: Making a gambi

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:10 am
by Nigel
Thick linen is GOOD but not too thick :D OR it simply makes the job harder

Re: Making a gambi

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:49 am
by Nigel
Hi Alex

just to let you know that I've replied to your email

Re: Making a gambi

Posted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:44 am
by Hobbitstomper
I've made a couple. There can be a big investment in time to do them- up to 50 hours for a hand sewn, multi layered linen gambeson quilted with lines. Sewing machines would reduce this a lot.

For an over the head one get a tunic pattern and copy it for the basic shape, allowing a bit extra on the body and arms. Same with an open front one but just split it down the front.

If you can get a good example off a friend then copy it. Pay particular attention to elbows and armpits.

Re: Making a gambi

Posted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:17 am
by Brian la Zouche
i've always found it a little strange, some groups insist on hand sewn visiable seems etc, yet dont mind about machine sewn gambs, i guess its all down to what each group finds acceptable, no right or wrong there really

ive never made a gamb, way too much work for me, although i have a nice linen one i got 2nd hand for £20 its machine sewn, but i have tried going over those seems with hand stitching and it covers them up brill, i'm also using a thicker thread than was used to make it, at the moment im working on replacing the cotton lining with linen, just because i prefer linen, i did try an over the head one last ILHF but found with wide shoulders it just looked way too baggy. again not sure on the historical look, but was just my own personal preferance to have a front fastening.

i have made a padded coif/ arming cap, which took me hours and hours, so i do realise why traders have to charge, 1 for their skills, and 2 for the man hours involved, but the few things i have made myself give me great joy, so im sure you will get real pleasure from any you make

best of luck with it, and hopefully will see a couple of pics, when you are done

Re: Making a gambi

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:03 pm
by Colin Middleton
Hand sewn, it is a vast investment of time. But on the other hand, if you buy a hand sewn one, you're going to pay a lot of money for it (£1,000 wouldn't surprise me for fully hand sewn).

On the authenticity front, the Aketons of the 13th C (I tend to use Gambeson to refer to the OUTER padded layer, as per Paddock & Edge, but ther is no actual convention), I'm not aware of ANY evidence for their being open anywhere. AFAIK they always pulled on over the head. Front and side openings appear to be a later development. It appears that the linnen armourers were the first to start fitting clothes, so the aketon may show much more tailoring than tunics or cotes of the time. This makes sense when you consider that the tunic is usually gathered in by the belt, but if you try this with a well padded aketon, you'll end up with a very strange body shape! They are drawin in a bit in the Mac Bible, but not so much as the gowns where 'flowing folds' were the fashion.

My personal feeling is that the aketon (i.e. worn under the mail) is probably a soft garment, with a lot of fluffy padding to absorb blows. You then rely on the mail and gambeson (i.e. the outer layer, often worn over mail) to stop the cuttting effect. But that is more of an impression than a known fact.

Pay close attention to the shape of the arms in the pictures. You'll probably find that they fit quite close, so you'll need to look at the way your arm is shaped to sort that out. I'd recomend that you taper from the elbow, rather than the shoulder to give you enough room on the fore-arm. Be cautious on where the shoulders should lie, in the later Middle Ages, they sit above the shoulder joint, rather than below it as in modern clothing. I'm not certain about the 13th C.

Also look at the different ways that the garmets are quilted in the pitures. there are a number of different fashions for this in re-enactment and several were not in use in the 13th C.

My feeling on authenticity for garments like this is that if you can get the shape, weight and general look of the thing right, that's far more important than hand sewing.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.