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 – 24 December

Our twenty-fourth and 2021’s last Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Silk fabric. This exclusive item was a long-distance import item for us up in the northern part of Europe. But still there are many goods just produced by Bombyx mori. Silk fabrics and silk yarns. Today we turn our attention to the silk fabrics. Silk fabrics can be woven in brocades with weft of gilded threads or only with silk thread as weft. The fabrics with silk and silk is the once we are looking at today.

These often appear as bottom fabric in various embroideries. They can be in different colors but also appear in natural white.

Here we can see a thin silk fabric as the base for an embroidery. The embroidery from Söderala church is today broken and little remains of the yellow fabric. The same goes for the embroidery with Holger Knutsson’s grave coverlet. Here the silk fabric is thin and in a green-blue shade. Söderala is dated to 1350- 1499 and Holger Knutssons fabric is dated to the same period.

Both embroideries can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.

Silk fabrics can be used for many things. If we look at how some fabrics are depicted in art, we can assume that silk fabrics have been used. A wavy veil could very well be made of silk. Like the one depicted in the Lutterell psalter. Or those depicted in sculptures, thin as paint. Like this one from Lincoln Cathedral. Here we can see the mouth marked under a very thin cloth. So thin that we suspect that the sculptor intended to show a silk fabric.

Text sources show that silk fabrics were used as banners on the battlefields as markers for various army commanders.

A thin hand hemmed fabric of silk can serve as: the bottom of an embroidery, a bottom fabric for painting a banner or as a wavy silk veil. Or for that matter – perhaps like a shawl in modern life.

We hope you have enjoyed our Christmas calendar this year. For those of you who have also bought the physical calendar, we hope that we have also offered some inspiration on what you can do with all the different yarns, fabrics, tools and necessities. Since we have received questions about how to buy next year’s calendar, the answer is: email us at historical.textiles@gmail.com if you want to know when we were going to release next year’s calendar.

Thank you to all 12,354 readers of Historical textiles Christmas calendar 2021! Merry Christmas!

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by: Historiska, British Library

Advent calendar 2021 – 20 December

Our twentieth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Silk embroidery on linen or hemp fabric. From the latter part of the Middle Ages, there are several different embroideries with silk thread embroidered on a linen base. Here is a sudarium sewn in with double running stitch. Made by the Birgittin sisters in Vadstena, Sweden. We love the fact that one row of stitches seems like it was never finished… Bonus- a very cute silk band.

In the collections of the Swedish History museum.

We love silk on linen or hemp fabric. And double running stitch is very simple. Just follow the threads in the fabric and create your own cushion, handkerchief or purse.

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by: Ingela Wahlberg. First 3 and the second 2 Historical Textiles CC-by please cred if sharing the pictures

Advent calendar 2021- 10 December

Our tenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Today we turn our eyes towards a cope from Ösmö church, south of Stockholm Sweden. Its a cope in green damask silk and with lovely embroideries. But we don’t care about those today. We look at the cool tablet woven fringe. The fringe is woven with 4 tablets. The warp is in silk. The tablets are treaded left-right-left-right. The green and the red ( today orange) weft is a 2-plied silk thread. The white is a single linen thread. The tablets are turned in the same directions and changed when needed. You can see a turn of direction in the red fringe part.

The cope is dated late 15th century.

Today you find the cope in the collections of the Swedish History museum.

With as little as 4 tablets you can weave awesome fringes. More fringes to the people!

/ 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 13 2020

Today all swedes celebrate a saint. St Lucia. So let’s go for a saint today. Or two.

This lovely chasuble in blue velvet decorated with embroidery on the back. A magnificent piece! Check out the piecing on the bottom of the chasuble.

Dated late 15th century. In the collections of National museum, Danmark

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar December 12 2020

Today we post a picture of a small piece from an embroidery, silk on linen. It’s a sort of brick stitch that is called eye stitch in Swedish. We don’t know the English term.

It’s quite small and described as a part of an antependium.

Dated to 14-15th century. Now in the collection of the treasury in Uppsala cathedral.

/Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar December 10 2020

Today we want to show you some spangles/ sequins and some mini-mini pearls.
It’s a top of a sudarium. The top is silk, metal thread, linen thread, spangles and pearls.
The linen is also embroidered with red and blue silk. The seams are covered with silk ribbons, woven in a rigid heddle.

Dated to 15th century.
Today in the collections of The Swedish History Museum.
/ Amica & Maria
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Advent calendar December 7 2020

We stay in Gent state archives. Today we have have another important document. This one dated 1385. The silk ribbons connected to the seals are all green. Some are loop braided and some a woven round, most likely in a rigid heddle.

/ Amica & Maria
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