Barony of Mordenvale

A&S Basic Documentation Form
Name of Entrant:

Taysia della Vuenta (Mundane: Raquel Cameron)

Event: Spring War – Barony A & S.
Place And Date:

Spring War, October Long Weekend, 2005.

What is the item?: Textiles for hands & feet – Woman’s Stockings
What is it used for?:
To keep our tootsies warm on cold winter days, and nippy nights around the fire. Protection from the
elements basically, but also a protection for feet in general. Stockings also offered a small amount of
modesty also, should the gown be raised above the ankle height.
The term stocking refers to :
“a close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and lower part of the leg, but
usually not intended to conceal the leg. It was formerly made of woven. The word stock used
to refer to the bottom "stump" part of the body, and by analogy the word was used to refer to
the one-piece covering of the lower trunk and limbs of the 1400s—essentially tights
consisting of the upper-stocks (later to be worn separately as knee breeches) and netherstocks (later to be worn separately as stockings)”. (1)
Generally stockings were made of (3) “ silk, wool, linen, veldt”.
“Linen was often chosen for comfort in garments worn next to the skin. It was easy to bleach:
laid in the sun wet, UV light will oxidize the water and bleach the fabric (when laid out dry in
UV, the plant fiber oxidizes instead, turning it yellow). However, this was still a luxury item:
sunning linen would occupy scads of sunlit, flat, and presumably arable land.
Woolen undergarments appear in various references, which offered the sensibility of
additional warmth at the cost of comfort; thus, there are occasional references to class
distinctions, with the rich preferring linen underclothes. There are also admonitions to wear
sensible wool for undergarments, instead of bowing to the (supposedly) unhealthy fashion to
wear finer cloths.
Blended textiles were very common (e.g., fustian is sometimes described as a wool/silk
blend), and might have made a pleasant compromise in warmth and comfort. Linen/wool
underclothing is therefore believable, although I have never heard evidence of such. There
are also references to linen linings for wool hosen.
Silk was tremendously costly, and, as today, was rarely used for garments which were not
meant to be seen (modern erotic underwear does not meet this criterion). For hosen,
however, there are some rare references to its use. Henry VIII ordered silk hosen to be made
for his sister.
Cotton was probably not used at this time for underclothes. Although imported to Europe by
at least the 13th c (from India and Arabia), it seems to have been prohibitively expensive. It is
frankly poorly suited to these uses: it shrinks tremendously in washing, and continues to
shrink, making it poorly suited to tightly fitted hosen (wool fibers stretch and relax back to
near original size); it retains moisture, making it a poor insulator and a good rotter; it weakens
when wet; it stains easily. Bear in mind when reading sources from our period that until the
18th c the term "cotton" or "coton" could refer to any of: wool fiber, cotton (plant) fiber, or
various specific cloths made of wool or cotton or both.
Knitting is almost never mentioned in the manufacture of any garments except headgear,
prior to the 16th c. Queen Elizabeth received a gift of knitted hosen from Spain, which quickly

became the height of fashion for the well-to-do; the implication is that knitted hosen were
unknown in England prior to this, and her father wore hosen cut of broadcloth.” (4)

From what time period does your item date from?:
Hose/Stockings or whatever you wish to call them were mainly worn (or depicted in art to be worn) by
men. Simply because their upper garments did not always cover the legs, and riding a horse bare
legged caused many a man a problem. Why not women?; I hear you ask. Well, there is no reason
why women did not wear them, it is just that art shows women’s gowns to the ground or foot and so
we never see what is underneath. There are a very few extant examples that are believed to have
belonged to women.
The first examples of hose with feet; as I have made, can be traced back to the 12th Century. The
hose has evolved into modern day stockings – so we haven’t stopped using them…. So, to pick a
time frame – I will go with the 15th Century in which I, Taysia, was born. Also, this is the period in
which a law was enforced upon the construction of such hose.
"From a Guild charter from Spain in the 15th Century …. all hosen made by guild members
must be lined with new linen, and the waist area adequately reinforced with canvas. Also, inventories
in [Queen Elizabeth's Closet Revealed, by Janet Arnold] list linen stocking liners.” (2)
Some extant examples:
(c) v Examples of extant stockings from Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe

(a) ^ St Germain's hose.
My fabric of choice was linen, simply because I do not feel the cold like others do and felt wool would
be overdoing it for me. It wasn’t uncommon for linen hose to be made; but wool generally was the
choice of fabric for its warm qualities in winter and its breathable qualities in summer – for our climate
and my size – linen does it for me.
I also decided not to have a lined pair of stockings for the same reasons – I just wanted an extra
covering on my lower legs when going to the port-a-loos at night….. I did however use a triple layer
on the sole simply to lengthen the wear of my stockings.
I began by drawing the shapes required from my feet onto calico; and cutting and moulding till I was
happy with the pattern. I used a complete sole piece, a rounded piece for over the foot to the front of
calf, and finally the ankle to above knee piece which I made to seam at the back of the leg. As there
are very few extant examples, and not much online in the way of women’s leg coverings, I decided to
make a pattern to suit my needs. It is helpful to have someone help with the pattern as you can’t see

behind yourself, also by standing straight the other person can get the proper measurements of your
calf and get the back seam straight.
Once my pattern was OK, I cut out my linen pieces and pinned them together. (Don’t forget to cut
separate feet pieces – as your feet usually are of different sizes). I then pinned the pieces together
and tried them on until I was happy with how they fit. Remember to leave enough room for your foot
to fit through the ankle piece – keep pinning and trying them on before making a single stitch.
Now the sewing – I used a simple topstitch or running stitch. I then turned down the seams and
sewed them down by hand. Remember to leave enough seam to do this properly so no fraying is
Now you are ready to decorate. At this stage I am leaving my stocking like they are to decide if I
prefer to wear them above or under the knee. I am using a piece of elastic as my garter until I have
made my decision.
Once I know what I am doing I plan to make matching garter/cord to keep the legs up, and match it
with embroidery around the top. My thoughts at the moment are Blackwork or Goldwork.

(b)^ Initial stages. Project completed onsite at Spring War.

I learnt from this exercise that I do not do things the easy way – I tend to rush into things with gusto
rather than step by step. In hindsight the things I would do differently would be:
1. Fabric – try a darker colour linen.
2. Pattern – possibly use the tape the leg with fabric and tape and cut down centre – use
this to create a snug pattern that does not bunch around the ankle. I would need to
definitely use a fabric that cuts on the bias for this – or has a fair amount of give.
3. Cutting – allow extra seam allowance for 3.
4. Sewing – extra seam allowance would make hemming much easy and would look more
attractive and finished off.
5. Other than that I am happy with my stockings – may they help me at Spring War and
Sources of Information/Bibliography:
: Literary References.
(1) Encyclopedia: Stocking.
(2) Sherts, Trewes, & Hose - Chosen Hosen.
(3) Keeping Yer Legs Warm: Women’s Renaissance Hose and Stockings. Lady Katerina da
Brescia . Cockatrice: November A.S. XXXVIII
(4) Sherts, Trewes, & Hose - A Survey of Medieval Underwear
: Pictoral References.
a. Sherts, Trewes, & Hose - Chosen Hosen.
b. Pictures of stocking progress and finished stockings by Raquel Cameron.
c. The Renaissance Tailor - Demonstrations>Accessories:Western European>Stockings.