How to Make a Gambeson

Also known as: Haqueton, Jack or Jupon

Aketon, Arming Coat, Bambikion,

By Inga the Unfettered Lost Vikings Household
MKA: Michelle Height michima@somethingorother.com

Special thanks to: Olaf the Stout Rasmussen: for asking me to make my first gambeson and taking the time to explain what one was and what it was for. Countess Dierdriana of the Misty Isles MKA: Maureen Whitaker Clifton : for her booklet ‘Fantastic Gambazons’ that got me started on my way. The Lost Vikings : for loving my work so much and for putting it to such good use Dexter of the Silver Talons : for all the brainstorming and for questioning everything My mum : for all the skills that make it possible @ 2001 Inga the Unfettered MKA: Michelle Height All Rights Reserved .

Edges of the moving blanket are encased in store bought bias tape or serged to seal in the padding. Attach closures (ties. Quick version – ideal for the new fighter – can only be made out of moving blanket The primary difference is that the moving blanket is not encased in anything to increase it’s lifespan. dags and other such period modifications.Is this for a new fighter or established fighter? A new fighter may wish to construct a quick version of the gambeson to save time & cost. Simply cover batting/moving blanket according to construction instructions and edge with bias tape as per edging instructions. Keep in mind that this garment is. I suggest doing a few sketches to help determine what will best serve the wearer’s needs. heavies wear a broad assortment of armor that must be factored in to the fit. above all..e. .do not let the appearance of the gambeson impede the functionality of the garment – just a word of caution. intended to protect the wearer . Material Cost: up to $200 Construction time: 30 to 40 hours Lifespan: seemingly indefinite if cared for properly (all those I’ve made are still in use) 4 to 6 years under regular levels of abuse is a conservative estimate (Note: edging and edging where armor rubs will show wear first i. grommets & lacing etc.) under arms at waist. .Design options There are several factors to consider when choosing the design and style of the gambeson.What type of fighter will wear this gambeson? Lights must have long sleeves. . .What is the wearer’s persona? This will affect color choice. Material Cost: $20 to $30 Construction time: 2 to 3 evenings Lifespan: up to one year with weekly washings High Finish – major investment of time & money – best for those that are committed to fighting. An established fighter generally has a clear idea of what works for them and will likely want to go with the full finish gambeson for it’s durability. The pattern I present here does not derive exclusively from any one given period and authenticity has been sacrificed for functionality to some degree.: area around neckline where gorget rubs) Styles Tabard – works best with external armor or for those brave souls that wear absolute bare minimum armor – no sleeves and nominal coverage on sides (ribs) an issue to be considered – this is such a simple design that I do not cover it specifically in the following construction instructions. This basic shape can easily be modified to include a collar. quilting design and embellishment.

looser fit works well with either internal or external armor .shown here with short sleeve and long sleeve .shown here with short sleeve and long sleeve Fitted style .can be done with open or closed armholes & with or without side slits .highly fitted .excellent for light fighting .no excess of fabric .armholes are open and sides are slit to provide maximum range of motion .less fitting required .designed for use with close fitting internal armor .excess fabric may cause bunching .Loose/Tunic style .

this gives you the breathability of cotton with the pill resistance and colorfastness of polyester .Moving Blanket .Heavy Suiting or Bull Denim are excellent choices for long term wear (Note: for those new to sewing.1 NEW moving blanket OR 3 m Polyester or Cotton batting .1 package of sewing machine needles (see above for type) . tear and show wear much more readily Bonding Material .Closures (this is all matter of choice) .2 spools of thread in bias tape color .IMPORTANT!!!!! The weave of the fabric you select must be tight – think of how closely woven denim is.Materials List Padding Interior .MUST be of all natural materials – WARNING some companies sell blankets that have synthetic shells .12 m of Stichwitchery @ 20 inch width OR 4 m of discount fusing (it is generally in greater than 60 inch widths – adjust this amount based on what widths you are able to purchase it in) .Moving blanket .Cotton or Polyester batting Exterior .2 m @ 60 inch width for bias tape to seal all edges and seams for fitted style OR 1 m @ 60 inch width for bias tape to seal all edges for looser tunic style (see section on design) .Leather needles are best for punching through the bulk of the moving blanket Shopping list for above materials (based on constructing a gambeson for your average SCA male heavy fighter 180 –200 lbs) .Cotton/ Polyester blend fabric is recommended .Fabric tie closures made of bias tape fabric .Batting .Stichwitchery can be used but it does add weight to the finished product and is quite costly .3 m @ 60 inch width of each the exterior fabric and the lining .Bargain Fabric outlets regularly carry a no-name version of Stichwitchery that is much lighter – it looks like spider web – and is as good a fusing material at about half the cost of Stichwitchery Thread – Poly/cotton blend Sewing Machine Needles . the staff at the fabric stores can help you find these types of fabric) . An open weave fabric will snag. pill.Regular heavy duty needles .2 spools of thread in exterior color for quilting and top stitching .Leather toggles or buckles .2 inch width adhesive backed Velcro (1 m is usually enough) .Grommets & leather or synthetic lacing .

Yard stick .excellent selection of suiting .TONS of good pins – quilting pins work best .Measuring tape .Paper for pattern – newsprint works well .poly/cotton is regularly on sale .Tailors chalk . Bay #8.great selection of clearance materials . Fanny’s Fabrics is my favorite .9188 Marshall Discount Fabrics 10015 – 63 Avenue 780.291.0450 or 4848 – 52 Street SE 403.Misc.3699 All other materials: as above.excellent selection of suiting .poly/cotton is regularly on sale .436. 3401 – 19 Street NE 403.204.3739 Fanny’s Fabrics is my favorite .Iron Places to Buy Materials in Veraquilon Moving Blankets: Harlou Moving Supplies 9408 – 62 Avenue 780.Marking pen – felt marker .Good scissors . Supplies: .438.great selection of clearance materials Batting and Fusing: All other materials: Places to Buy Materials in Montengarde Moving Blankets: Shipper’s Supply Inc.

Bicep flexed 6. Base of back of neck to bottom edge 13. Waist 15. Shoulder to shoulder across rounded back 11. Shoulder to sleeve end 4. Neck to shoulder 3. from center line to nipple) 17. Desired slit 18. Elbow 7. Desired overlap (approx. Wrist 9. Shoulder to shoulder across expanded chest 12. Chest expanded 10. Armpit to sleeve end 5. Armpit to bottom edge . Neck 2.Measurements 1. Hip 16. Base of throat to bottom edge 14. Forearm flexed 8.

Drafting the Pattern For fitted Back Panel Front panel – remember that this is an overlap closure cut 2 pieces one facing left & one facing right. Note centerline – the amount of overlap can be modified to suit personal taste. Short Sleeve Long sleeve For Loose/Tunic style Use a tunic pattern as a guide for the fit – I use McCall 2665 Men’s tunic for the basic shape but taper the sleeves from the pattern’s design and split the front on the center line adding enough for an overlap to the resulting front half. .

Do not slide the iron – this will cause wrinkles. Press all fabric and batting/moving blanket – this will make it easier to work with and to fuse together Take all indicated measurements and draft a rough pattern (see Drafting the pattern) Pin together and fit against wearer – do not fit too closely to the body at this point – it can always be trimmed to fit. Quilt pieces if desired. WASHING WARNINGS: Moving blankets are huge and heavy – don’t risk your washing machine – go to a laundromat. Heat each spot for about 30 seconds and apply pressure – this helps full bond the materials. batting/moving blanket. Once done each piece. FIT TO WEARER – this will be much easier at this point – do not overtrim Open edges of finished pieces and trim ¾ of an inch of batting/padding back from the edge. Work slowly and methodically to be sure that the entire surface is bonding. spin in the washer and lay out or tumble on gentle to dry. Using tailors chalk. ALWAYS work from the center of the piece out. (see diagram below for applicable edges) - - . Lift and reposition the iron as you work. The overlap will not show. The garment should not restrict movement in any way. the loose cotton fill will shift down the garment Mark out the pattern with marker and then cut out allowing a minimum of 1 inch all round Gently pin together at shoulders and test the fit on the wearer – trim any obvious excess – always trim in small increments – do not over trim or the garment will be too tight. Quilting significantly increases the life of the gambeson as it contains the batting/padding and limits it’s migration within the gambeson.Construction Process Wash all fabric including the moving blanket/batting in HOT water and dry thoroughly. squeezing out the excess. allow it to cool FLAT. Set your iron just past perm-press and use full steam. DO NOT CUT THE EXTERIOR OR LINING MATERIAL. Allow the piece to cool before flipping it over to bond other side. Quilt ALL pieces before proceeding. and lining together with right faces of fabric out. Pin together sleeves and test width keeping in mind armor and needed range of movement and as small measure of shrinkage due to quilting Cut exterior and lining to the dimensions of the batting/moving blanket pieces Pin exterior. Batting is hard to wash – I suggest soaking it in hot water in your tub. Make sure that the right and left sides of the front of the garment and the left and right sleeve are assembled correctly – you do not want to begin fusing till this is clear – you cannot easily pull the layers apart once fused Cut fusing – Do not throw away any scraps! You can piece fusing. Lay out pattern on batting or moving blanket – IMPORTANT! Quilting channels must run across the piece – including on the sleeves if not. Start by fusing the lining to one side then the exterior. mark out the desired pattern. Fuse the exterior and lining to the blatting/moving blanket. Leave space to accommodate armor and the broad arm movements that are necessary to most styles of fighting.

Pin in place up to four inches on either side shoulder seam .Stitch shoulder front (left and right) to shoulder back. 3 inch wide strips.FIT TO WEARER – the sleeve should not be tight at any point – remember to keep armor and needed range of movement in mind.Finish by sealing seam .Start with inside . Work slowly and trim till fit is right. I have never found this necessary but many fighters do appear to use this approach. instead cut more strips later if needed.Edge shoulder edge if using fitted style Join sleeve to body of gambeson.FIT TO WEARER – at this point take a moment to make sure the set of the sleeves is comfortable.Seal side seams if fitted style .Edge bottom edges of front and back . If the slit is high enough. With the fitted style. . 8 – 10 inch long.Zigzag across join of sleeve and shoulder to tack in place . . Place the yardstick on the bias and mark with tailor’s chalk. if doing long sleeves.Line up sleeve seam and side seam of gambeson find point where sleeve and shoulder seam meet . If you use the open armpit design.Using 3inch width bias tape.Baste side seams .- Prepare Bias tape. Repeat with outside seam .FIT TO WEARER .Pin and stitch. You will need 21/4 inch width strips for the bulk of the gambeson. . prep tape by folding in edges approximately a ½ inch then fold in ends to needed length – length of run of zigzag join . See following pages for complete instructions on the sealing and edging process. Find the bias on your material by pulling on the diagonal and it will give. the gambeson will allow the full movement and hinge at about the hip bone.Stitch side seams . At this point. If you choose this approach. At this point you should have five fused and quilted gambeson pieces and a bunch of strips of home made bias tape.Seal shoulder seam with bias tape if using fitted style . determine if you wish to cut out a circle of fabric at the inside of the elbow.Edge front overlap outside edge .FIT TO WEARER – at this point take a moment to make sure the armholes are comfortable and that the side slits are deep enough (if applicable) have the wearer do a deep lunge. .Edge entire neckline with on strip of bias tape . I would recommend adding a gusset of the exterior material to the outside of the garment to conceal the hole.Edge side slit if applicable . . you will also need 4. this part of the fitting process is crucial as you do not want to have any bunching or biting in the armpit area. Pin sleeve to shoulder and have wearer run slowly through full range of movement.Seal sleeve seam . Now assemble in the following order.Sew sleeves together . Do not mark entire fabric.Baste stitch sleeves together .Edge armhole if fitted style . There are several different methods for attaching the sleeve Stitched method leaving armpit open – for fitted style . Mark out a large number of strips and cut.

Insert reinforcing in the following places .Grommeting method – best with fitted style .Top of slit .Lace in place with leather or synthetic lace Stitched method with sealed armpit – best with loose style . side seams and armholes will need to be serged or sealed with store bought bias tape to minimize wear. the edges at the shoulders.Sew into place as you would a tunic sleeve .Reinforce stress points Done by stitching a box with crossing x at stress points (see diagram) Stitch this pattern minimum 3 times. Set it aside for future repairs.Peak of shoulder/sleeve join .Pin in place up to four inches on either side shoulder seam . just on case.Mark points for grommets on body and sleeve . ENJOY!!!!!!!! .I would recommend preparing a small flap to stitch in place beneath the grommets to protect the wearer from bites from impact with gommets .Line up sleeve seam and side seam of gambeson find point where sleeve and shoulder seam meet . .Unpin and set grommets .IMPORTANT: If the sealing techniques was not used.Edge of armhole opening Attach closures of choice Wash at least once before wearing in war/tournament to break in gambeson Be sure to keep excess fabric.

Always begin sealing the seam from the inside. 2. Turn under bias tape edge approximately 5/8 of an inch and pin. Stitch into place approximately 5/8 of an inch away from seam. 3. Repeat on outside edge of seam. Stitch along folded edge. 1. Prep the seam once sewn by pressing the seam allowance away from the seam. 4. Stitch into place.Sealing Seams This process entirely encases the seam so as to prevent tearing and to increase the lifespan of the seams. Flip bias tape across seam exposing right side of fabric. . Take an appropriate length of 2 ¼ inch bias tape and lay it right side down against the gambeson with the edge of the bias tape butted up against the seam.

Edging This process completely encases the edge of the batting or moving blanket to prevent leakage of padding and to increase the lifespan of the exposed edges. Always begin sealing the seam from the inside. . This is particularly important on high wear edges such as the neck and armhole. Prep edge by trimming away any loose threads or padding. Take an appropriate length of 2 ¼ inch bias tape and lay it right side down against the gambeson with the edge of the bias tape butted up against the edge. Stitch into place approximately 5/8 of an inch away from seam. 1. 3. 2. Flip over gambeson so you are now working from the outside of the gambeson. Flip bias tape across edge exposing right side of fabric.

You cannot over pin! This will be particularly tricky around the neckline – work slowly. Stitch into place. Complete step 1. Careful and frequent pinning is the key to an attractively finished edge. Edging Corners When coming to a corner (bottom of gambeson or at overlap edge on the front left and right piece) the process is a bit more complex.4. Turn under bias tape edge approximately 5/8 of an inch and pin. Take excess bias tape projecting past the edge of the gambeson and fold it in towards the corner. 3. 2 & 3 as above. 2. . The intention is to make sure that this high wear area is completely sealed 1. Use a measuring tape occasionally to ensure your edging will be even. Fold in edge of bias tape enough to allow a pleasing width of edging when turned up to body of gambeson.

Be sure that the resulting corner has no exposed raw fabric edges or padding. Stitch the corner into place and top stitch three times. Stitch into place. Use a measuring tape occasionally to ensure your edging will be even.4. . 5. Turn up edge tight against raw edge of gambeson and pin into place.

A stitch type generated by a serger that seals the seam. with or without reinforcement by stitching. or other such padding material that is flattened into a dense layer.Two layers of fabric with a layer of batting. or down in between. and cuts off excess fabric at the same time. These are used for construction of garments with knit fabrics mostly.A temporary stitch to hold pieces together. Bias . webbing. or to finish seams of any fabric.Runs diagonally to the straight grain of the fabric. Fusing (bonding material. Serge . usually removed after final stitching. Grommet . Double-sided version used to “glue” two surfaces to each other.Fiberfill. popular brand name Stichwitchery) Has the characteristic of being able to be ironed on. Quilt . wool. often turned under and pressed. facings or edging. strengthen or protect an opening. feathers. This is the stretchiest part on the fabric. .A method of temporarily joining fabric using large stitches. usually permanently.A type of sewing machine that stitches the seam. Can be purchased in precut lengths or by the yard.Sewing terms defined: Baste . The bias cut allows the strip of fabric to smoothly follow curves. due to a heat-activated "glue" on one or both sides.Strips of fabric which are cut from the bias of the fabric.A small metal or plastic ring used to reinforce. Bias Tape . Bonding Material – See Fusing. Tacking is also known as a term for starting off a seam with a few stitches back and forth for stabilizing. all stitched firmly together. Gusset . wool. Used to hold a sewing project in place and removed when the permanent sewing is done. Tack . Serger . Used for bindings. encases the seam with thread. Batting . usually in a decorative crisscross design.A piece of fabric inserted to strengthen and/or enlarge an area of garment.See Fusing. cotton. cotton. Stichwitchery .