A red velvet brigandine from the 16th century

Since I had the advantage of being able to take part in not just one but TWO brigandines in the collections at the Livrustkammare, I feel that it would be wrong to withhold you the second, when the first one seemed to be so appreciated.

This brigandine is a supposed to be a war booty from Warsaw 1655-08-30 when the Swedes brought a number of booty home to Sweden. It’s dated to the 16th century. The brigandine consists of a very vivid deep red silk velvet and on the inside there are a large number of overlapping steel plates riveted to the velvet. The plates are small and thin, ca. 3 x 2 cm. They are homogeneous and finely worked. There are also traces of a linen fabric between the velvet and the metal. The rivets that join the plates together are round-headed brass rivets. The brigandine ends at the bottom with cut tabs. The flaps have raw edges and are very coarsely sewn, with what appears to be a yellowish silk thread. The closing device has been on the side of the garment, but this is now missing. The front piece measures in length 64 cm and in width 81 cm.

I only had the opportunity to see the front of the brigandine, the back part was in another box. But since there are pictures taken on this for the database, I have chosen to also include these. Sometimes it turns out that the older pictures can tell that an object has changed a bit over time, even since it was first photographed.

The brigandine deserves a more thorough review later on and there is every reason to return to it. Feel free to collect your questions here in the comments so I can look at it on occasion.

Link to the front in the database and link to the back

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/ Maria

A green velvet brigandine from the 16th century

Today I had the pleasure of getting a quick look at an exciting object in the collections at Livrustkammaren. Here are therefore a few short observations that I noted and you must be forgiving since it’s far from a complete article. It is an object that is entered in the database as brigandine or as it is called in Swedish “liv-jacka” where liv means upper body. In short, this is a protective garment to wear on the upper body. The brigandine is constructed in one piece and buttoned at the side and over the shoulders.

The outer layer is a grass green silk velvet. Under this velvet fabric is a thin layer of goat or sheep skin and on the back of this, a large number of steel plates. These are overlapping and the entire inside of the brigandine is covered.

The edges are covered with strips of linen. The strips are cut at an angle, there may also be some straight cuts of the linen strips. The rivets are beaten through both the fabric and the leather and there appear to be leather washers under the rivet head on the front. However, these are today very small, either they have been damaged and fallen off or they have always been small, it is not possible to determine.

The tablet woven belt in silk is unusual for it’s time and has had patterned borders. 23 tablets are required to weave this.

The bottom part is incomplete and it’s difficult to know the original shape. According to the database the brigandine seems to be produced in Arboga, Sweden in the 1560-ies.

The brigandine is a fantastic object and I hope we have the opportunity to return to it and analyze it more carefully in the future.

It is also available to read about here:


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/ Maria

Advent calendar 2021 – 23 December

Our twenty-third Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Bees wax. Sewing wax to be precise. It’s difficult to know people used sewing wax during the Middle ages, but a small lump of wax have been found at Läckö, Sweden. It’s both calming a charming to see that the historical person that once slid the linen thread over the wax created the same trace in the wax that we do today. This piece of wax shows in a wonderful way a contact with a human hand, even if the time elapsed is at least half a millennium.

The wax is from the collections of the Swedish History museum.

1- sorry for mixing days up for all you advent calendar people.
2- wax is an absolute necessity in the sewing box. Waxing linen thread before sewing starts is important so that the thread does not wear out more than necessary. That is why wax is very important in our sewing kit.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 19 December

Our nineteenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Items sewn from linen or hemp cloth. There are countless things preserved to our day of just linen or hemp. Unfortunately, there are 10,000s of times more that have not been preserved to this day. But we know enough myclet to be able to say what these fabrics looked like. Linen and hemp are almost entirely woven in plain weave. In cases where they are woven in another technique, it is a twill variation. These are always for towels. Old towels can sometimes be found as, among other things, as embroidery bottom fabric.

Here we can see trust different mixed images. A mended knitted sock, a coif, a mended alba, a sudarium x 2, a chasuble and an appliqué M.

Linen and hemp are both bast fibers and are very difficult to distinguish with the naked eye only. They have the same characteristics. The fiber has high tensile strength but less good wear resistance. It gets stronger in the wet state. We use both linen and hemp in our reconstructions. A piece of 50 x 75 cm works well as a veil, or as an embroidery base, or as lining in a garment etc.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 7 December

Our seventh Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Sewing needles from the lake Furen, Sweden. They come in many sizes. Many of the needles have corroded badly over time and are difficult to separate from one another. The have round eyes and are very delicate and a sign of hand from a skilled crafts person.

The needles are dated 1100-1499 AD.

When sewing one need to have a good needle. To be able to press the metal through the fabric it needs to be sharp and have a small eye. A good steel needle is possibly to sharpen. Therefor we choose needles of high quality when sewing. A good tool makes the task more fun.

Today the needles can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum. 

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by Swedish History museum. 

Advent calendar 2021- 3 December

Our third Advent calendar post 2021 is:

One dark blue seal bag dated 1376 from Björnsäter Sweden. The blue wool seal bag itself is spectacular but this time we pay attention to the sewing thread. A 2-plied linen sewing thread, white.

White linen sewing thread is like the bread and butter of the historical sewing kit. Not only the medieval kit. Often the thread is a lot coarser than one would expect. Don’t fear to use a thick sewing thread!

Today in the collection of the National Archives.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar December 19 2020

Today we go early 19th century with an empire dress from the house hold after Carl von Linné. The famous Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy”.

The dress is made in a lovely thin checked silk fabric and have a blue linen lining in the bodice.

Today in the collections of Linnaeus Museum in Uppsala, Sweden.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar December 17 2020

Today we will show something rare. A undershirt for a solider in Hälsinge regiment anno 1757. This shirt was sewn as a model copy for the regiment.
It is one of few surviving examples in the world.

The shirt is sewn in hand woven linen. A very coarse fabric. Very fabric efficient model. Not much have happend since the shirts from the Middle Ages.

Today this shirt can be found in the collections of the Swedish Army museum.
/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar December 17 2019

Some metals are better then other in combination with textiles.
Iron tend to rust and this piece have today some rust “blobs” and rusty rings on the fabric. Originally it was rings sewn on to a velvet fabric. Most likely lacing rings on a doublet. The rings were sewn on with double white linen thread.

The piece comes from Italy and is dated 1470-1540. Read more about the finds from this collection here on our blog. Use the search word Italy and you will find more finds from the same collection.

/ Amica and Maria
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Advent calendar December 8 2019

Putting pieces of fabric together to create a larger fabric. That seems to have been more rule then exception during the Middle Ages.

Matching a pattern in the fabric was possible a luxury not even the highest nobility and the church could afford.

Here is a Danish chasuble from 1470-80 with some piecing that gives us a bit of a headache but also a smile of relief. If they weren’t perfect then, we reenactors can take a deep breath and let go of our modern eye too. The chasuble is made in silk velvet.

It can be found in the collections of the National museum, Copenhagen, Denmark
/ Amica and Maria

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