A red early 14th century cotte, and a fillet with a wavy edge

Made in 2004

And I really must wear this again to get some better photos.


The fashion from ca 1300 and a couple of decades forward is one of my favourite styles. This is much thanks to my friend Anna/Ingeborg, who got wildly enthusiastic about this style when she joined Nylöse five years ago. Her enthusiasm for this style, which I previously had thought rather boring and unflattering for women with a large bust, was contagious (she proved me wrong on the bust issue too) and now early 14th century is the style I have most of, except 16th century (which I wasn't particularly interested in from the beginning either).

 A good thing about this style is that there are a lot of readily accessible pictures. Most known is the Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift, also known as the Codex Manesse. Another good place to see this style is the Murthly Hours, a manuscript from ca 1280. It is interesting to note the differences in for example female headgear between this manuscript and the Codex Manesse.

 The cotte is made from rose red thin wool tabby and wholly lined with charcoal grey thin wool tabby with a discrete checked pattern. The sleeves are buttoned from wrist to elbow with gold coloured buttons with a square of blue-green enamel in the center. A detail picture can be seen here, where also the trim, in blue, red and gold (brass thread), is easier to see.

You can also see the results of my very much improved skill in making hand sewn button holes.

 In the first photo I'm wearing the cotte with a belt and in the second you casn see from the wrinkles that I had recently worn one (and in the third I have a baby sling which hides the belt), but it was just as common, or even more common that it was worn unbelted. Here's another photo of how the gown looks unbelted. without proper headwear, in a messy living room. And half Maja's head :)

In this photo you can also see the grey lining showing in the nursing slits at the side. Those slits were the main reason I wore this cotte with a belt in the photos, since it keeps them closed. Otherwise I think it looks better without the belt. The nursing slits are placed in a seam to make it easier to sew them close when you stop nursing.
To give a seam in a suitable place the cotte is made the same way some of the Herjolfsnes tunics/cottes are made, with two side gores going all the way up to the armscye. These are maybe 50 years younger than the style I've made here, but it is not impossible that this way of cutting was used earlier too.
Another way to get the necessary side-front seams (they are actually just 7 cm from just under the arm, but it makes a difference) is the cut seen in the gowns of St. Elizabeth of Thüringen and St. Clare of Assisi, both from the first half of the 13th century. I have used that cut on several cottes made after this one

On my head I'm wearing a fillet with a "wavy" edge. Whether the many examples of fillets with this kind of edge is the artists' way of showing pleating or actually shows a wavy upper edge has been under debate among thos ewho re-create this style. I think that it is unlikely that so many artists, who have no problems showing pleats on for example sleeveheads on gardecorps should be unable to draw them on women's headwear.
I do not say pleated fillets do not exist, there are many clear examples of that, especially in sculpture, but I think that there were several different ways to decorate a fillet: pleated, with a wavy or scalloped edge, edged with a braid etc. (all in white though).
This fillet is based on the depiction of St. Anna on an altar frontal from Odda in Norway:

In the picture it looks like both the fillet and the "chinband" are decorated with braid or something similar.

On this seal from c. 1300 (picture showing the imprint) the fillet also seems to have an edge of something thicker, maybe a braid or a rolled piece of fabric.

My fillet has a commercially made "silk" cord sewn to it, but a more period solution would for example be fingerloop braid. The fillet is made from linen in a diamond twill, to add some interest to the simple white colour. On top of the fillet I have pinned a semi-circular linen veil. Fillets are most commonly seen worn without a veil and with a chinband, as in the second photo with me, my husbnad and Maja, but I had forgotten the chinband when I went to the Christmas party where the first photo picture is taken. However, when a veil is worn, it is always draped over the fillet, never under. At least at this time of history.

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