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Narrow wares

(118 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Such textiles were the province of silkwomen, though it does not include all their work, excluding for example fringes and tassels, knops (see button), and buttons. It is not synonymous with small-wares, made or sold by haberdashers, though these included narrow wares such as ribbons, it also included small garments such as gloves, which were made up from leather or normal widths of woven cloth.. For examples of narrow wares, see brocading; finger loop braiding; garter ante-1100; garter post-1100; passementerie; stitches: embroidered seams and line stitches; tablet-weave. Elizabet…


(14 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See colour and weave effects (check, stripes and mottling); velvet. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(18 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See alb; amice; chasuble; cope; dalmatic; ecclesiastical dress; embroidery; liturgical textiles; maniple; mitre; stole; Elizabeth Coatsworth

Caulking and sealing

(575 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
There is some evidence for the use of textiles in caulking joints in wooden articles, to provide a tighter fit, and for the complete sealing of containers: both would have helped to prevent the passage of water or other fluids. The most convincing evidence of the former from the early medieval period is from a detailed study of the coffin of St Cuthbert (see relics of St Cuthbert) by Cronyn and Horie, which revealed that wool tow had been found plugging the rebates of the 7th-century wooden coffin: it was felt that its position meant that it was from the original construction, i…

Fuller's earth

(592 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Fuller's earth is a term applied to any earth containing hydrated aluminium silicates that can remove unwanted substances clinging to cloth fibres, such as fats, grease or oils. It can be similar in appearance to clay, but is more fine-grained, and crumbles into mud when mixed with water. Its name derives from its use in the medieval woollen industry (see wool: processing)  in which raw wool or wool cloth was cleaned by kneading it in a mixture with water and other additives to remove oil, dirt …


(77 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The guild prospered early because many furs were luxury items. As with many other guilds, the name remained even when the fur trade declined and by the 16th century many members of the guild were general merchants. See also beaver fur; budge, coney; lambskin/sheepskin; miniver; sewing: cutting and construction; squirrel fur; vair. Elizabeth Coatsworth

John of Thanet

(776 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The piece formerly belonged to St Dominic's Priory, Haverstock Hill. It is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see London: Victoria and Albert Museum) (T.337-1921). It is thought to have been part of a cope because the blank triangular panel in the upper register can most probably be explained as intended to be covered by a cope hood. In the border between the upper register and the arched frame in the lower is the inscription IOHANNIS DE THANETO -- the name in the genitive case possibly also…


(10 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See girdle: post-1100; guilds: provincial towns. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(210 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
An ell (in England) was usually 45 inches (5/4 of a yard of 36 inches). However ells of 54 inches were used in Shropshire, and of 48 inches in Jersey. Zupko gave numerous variations for Scotland, although there the standard ell was 37 Scottish inches, equivalent to 37 1/5 English inches. Customers purchasing luxury goods imported from the Low Countries, however, might have bought their cloth in Flemish ells, which, at 27 inches, were considerably smaller. Zupko also noted that Latin ulna was used ambiguously in the 12th to 14th centuries for both ell and yard. The number of referenc…


(97 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Embroidery can refer to: 1. A textile decorated by stitching. Large embroideries intended as hangings are sometimes referred to as tapestries, most famously in the case of the Bayeux Tapestry. Important pieces are often referred to as embroideries, rather than by object or garment names, as for example the Maaseik embroideries. 2. The stitching used decoratively on a ground fabric. The stitches can be functional but made decorative either by technique or by colour. See embroideries ante-1100; o pus; opus anglicanum; stitches: embroidered seams and line stitches; stitches: f…


(331 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The Middle English adjective 'brod' has the general meaning of wide or broad; and coupled with the word 'cloth' it has the specific meaning of any kind of woollen (see woollens) cloth woven in strips of double width (i.e. in strips twice as wide as those of 'strait' (see straits) (i.e. 'narrow') cloth); or a piece of this cloth. Coupled with 'yerd', the adjective refers to the double yard used as the standard measurement for the width of broadcloth. The earliest references given by the Middle English Dictionary date to Parliament Rolls of 1439, and are concerned with issues of mea…

Finger loop braiding

(723 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The braids are formed from lengths of thread folded double. The open ends are knotted and attached to a fixed point some distance from the weaver. The closed ends, called loops or bowes, are slipped over the fingers of the weaver. The basic technique consists of using the fingers to move loops from one hand to the other in different orders, with repeats according to the requirements of a pattern, and in different ways, depending on whether the resulting braid is to be tubular or flat. Tensioning is exerted by the pull of the f…


(116 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
A chape (also in Middle English shape) is a metal fitting at the point of a scabbard or sheath (for a knife) or more generally, a metal trimming, which, in the later Middle Ages, included such things as the aglets attached to laces and points. A chapemaker was one whose occupation was to make, and attach, such fittings. As a guild, the Chapemakers were absorbed into the Wiresellers in the 15th century. See also guilds: London; weapons as items of dress. Elizabeth Coatsworth Bibliography Kurath, H., Kuhn, S. M., Reidy, J. and Lewis, R. E., ed. The Middle English Dictionary (Ann Arbor, MI: 1952…


(13 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See Girdle ante-1100; Girdle post-1100; Tablet weave; Passementerie. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(11 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See beds: ante-1100; beds: post-1100; soft furnishings. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Becket, St Thomas: life and textile relics

(2,771 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Life Thomas Becket ( c. 1118-1170; Archbishop of Canterbury 1162-70) is venerated as a saint and martyr in both the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches: initially a reaction to the circumstances of his death and its immediately preceding controversy. His early life was not controversial: he was born in Cheapside, London, the son of Gilbert Beket of Thierville, a mercer who also lived on the rents of various London properties, and his wife Matilda of Mondeville. The family had some standing and were well connected, and Thomas was edu…

Clare Chasuble

(590 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The Clare Chasuble is now in the Victoria and Albert museum (T673-1864) (see London: Victoria and Albert museum). It was formerly in private possession: King traces its history back to the late 18th century. The chasuble is now 80 cm wide x 124 cm high, having been cut down in the post-medieval period. King records that a stole and maniple with a shield of arms at each end associated with it in 1786 were possibly made from fragments cut from it, but these have since disappeared. King noted that the shields on these pieces were…


(6 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See funerals. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(98 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The apparel is a decorated panel, usually stiffened, made separately from the vestment to which it is attached. In medieval times it could be embroidered or made from patterned silk. It was usually attached to the white linen amice and, from the 12th to the 15th centuries, the alb ; and later to the dalmatic. Elizabeth Coatsworth Bibliography Johnstone, P., High Fashion in the Church. The place of church vestments in the history of art from the ninth to the nineteenth century (Leeds: 2002), 8 and 146 diagram V.

Wire drawing

(21 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See gold and silver metal thread; gold and silver wire and wire drawing; pin; rings; wiredrawers. Elizabeth Coatsworth
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