At the Maiden’s event (SCA) in Champaign, IL a “knight” was gracious enough to talk to me about his quilted gambeson. He even allowed me to take a couple photos. This is a modern version of a medieval quilted gambeson.

Thinking about making your own medieval quilted gambeson?

The knight did his own research of what was used and how to do this project. He stated that it is mostly hand done and took him about 2 years to complete. This kind gentleman said the actual stitching was pretty hard on his fingers.

Looking to make your own quilted gambeson? Start here.

The gambeson is leather and either sinew or linen thread (sorry, in my notes I did not complete the sentence).  This is a great view of what was considered quilting in the Middle Ages. Every stitch in each line of quilting touch without the open space between stitches we are used to seeing in more modern quilts.

Modern version of a medieval quilted gambeson
Close up of quilting stitches

From the drawings and photos I have been able to find in my own research, this item is well within what would have been the style of a gambeson. According to Wikipedia, “A gambeson (also aketon, padded jack or arming doublet) is a padded defensive jacket, worn as armour separately, or combined with mail or plate armour…. Gambesons were produced with a sewing technique called quilting.”

I found several images on Google of various gambesons. No doubt the exact item depended on what was available material wise. The time and culture influenced how the finished gambeson looked too. He was going for a generic European style that crossed centuries of time.

Back of gambeson
A shy knight and his gambeson

Why I love historical re-enacting:

This is a wonderful example of what I so enjoy about historical re-enacting. The people involved take time to learn about a particular thing. Then they re-create it with what is available in our modern world. 

The majority of good and/or serious historical re-enactors will do many hours of research. Over time, they become very familiar with their personas, occupations, and daily lives in their chosen time periods. Why? For their own knowledge and to share with others.

Note: I am not talking about those folks who think that historical means “fairies, wizards, zombies, cavemen, or video game personas” and any other assorted oddities. I see them at most re-enactments I attend. This group is playacting, not re-enacting.

People did not (and still don’t) always have access to items or the money to purchase whatever the heart desires. So, they become creative within the bounds of known history and come up with their own solution. Within re-enacting circles there is also the desire to learn and participate. We try to see if we can do or make something using similar techniques and supplies in our modern world.

My (defunct) historical quilt blog:

For several years, I had a historical quilting blog. It simply got to be too much work to keep up with both blogs. I am slowly moving the posts from that blog over to this one. It has been a slow process as I get easily distracted by my current quilting project. I will try to do better as there is so much wonderful information about historical quilts and quilting available now.

In the meantime, here is a post I moved over to this blog about quilting in Finland during the 1700’s.

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