Napitettu huppu kirjotulla nauhalla

Osallistuin tällä hupulla kansainväliseen käsityökisaan (kesällä 2008), joten siksi kirjoitus hupun historiallisista taustoista on Neulakolle poikkeuksellisesti englanniksi. Huppu menestyi hyvin ja voitti koko kisan.

Sama huppu voitti myös koko vuoden 2008 käsityökisan tekstiilitöiden kategorian.

An open hood with an embroidered band


The item

The item is an open wool hood which buttons up the front with cloth buttons. It is lined in wool and decorated with an embroidered band, done in wool on linen. The goal of this project was to recreate a hood as it may have been worn by a upper middle class woman in medieval Scandinavia.

Hoods in medieval Scandinavia

There are several archaeological examples of medieval hoods, the Swedish Bockstens man’s hood, the 17 hoods from Herjolfsnes in Greenland as well as some partial remains of hoods from London. (ØstergÃ¥rd 2004; Crowfoot et. al. 2001; Nockert 1997) Hoods were a popular item of clothing in medieval Scandinavia for both men and women. Although medieval art rarely shows women wearing hoods, wills frequently mention hoods owned by women or being bestowed to
women. The lack of hoods on women in art may be because the female headdress was such a prominent gender marker in medieval clothing that artists needed to show it to clearly distinguish women from men in their work (Andersson 2006, 116-117).

The pattern for this hood is based on hood no. D10597 from Herjolfsnes in Greenland. (fig.1 and fig 2.) The hood has a gore in the front of the hood to give some extra fullness to the relatively long cloak. The hood also has a long liripipe, part of which is attached as a separate piece. (Østergård 2004, 205; Nockert 1997, 97) I followed the proportions of the original hood as closely as possible, but still drafted the pattern of the hood to fit my own measurements, allowing some extra space for the veil and wimple I wear under my hood. I also split the front gore and added buttons and buttonholes as well as a lining and an embroidered band.

The buttoned, open hood became popular in the mid 14th century. These hoods were open in the front and the buttons made it easier to fit the hood more tightly around the neck. Because the buttoned hood doesn’t need to be pulled on over the head, it is easier to wear with veils and wimples. Medieval art shows this style mostly worn by women, who wear it either buttoned up, open or even partially buttoned (fig 3). Pieces of buttoned open hoods have been found in London
and Dordrecht in the Netherlands. Although there are no extant Scandinavian buttoned hoods, one is depicted on the grave of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter (fig. 4) in Uppsala cathedral and a hood with silver buttons is mentioned in the will of Katarina Knutsdotter in 1369. (Andersson 2006, 115) I set the buttons on the hood as they were set on pieces of a buttoned hood from London.(fig. 5) I made the buttons and the buttonholes for the hood using the technique described in Textiles an Clothing (Crowfoot et. al. 2001, 170-171) (fig. 6) which results in buttons much like the ones excavated from Herjolfsnes (Østergård 2004, 170) and London (Crowfoot et. al. 2001, 190-191).

Hoods were often lined, although none of the extant hoods from medieval Scandinavia show traces of la lining. A mid-14th century manuscript, The Romance of Alexander, shows approximately 75 hoods that appear to be lined in contrasting colours. The brown, grey and white lining can be interpreted as fur, but the pink, blue, red and yellow linings are most likely either silk or wool, materials which could be dyed in such vibrant hues using medieval dyes. In the medieval
Swedish and Norwegian wills studied by Eva Andersson, 36% of the mentioned hoods were described as lined. A fur lining seems to have been the most common: ¾ of the linings were fur. Other linings were in silk or in wool (Andersson 2006, 117). I didn’t want a fur lining, so decided to use wool, which was a less expensive than silk and a more common lining material in 14th century Scandinavia.

Materials and sewing techniques

The hood is made of heavily fulled beige wool in tabby weave and is lined with thin dark red wool twill. All the seams are hand sewn with a natural colored linen thread, waxed with sewing wax. The seams are sewn with running stitch, which was the most common seam type found in extant medieval garments (Crowfoot et. al. 2001, 155)

The seams are finished in different ways, on the thick wool the seams are opened and sewn flat on each side on the seam with a row of running stitches (Crowfoot et. al. 2001, 156). The red wool was likely to fray, so the seam was finished by a
method known form the Greenland textiles, sewing the seam allowance down on one side with overcast stitches (Østergård 2004, 98). The edges have been finished with rows of stab stitches, a method used on the face-openings of many hoods excavated from Greenland (Østergård 2004, 99). The stitches reinforce the hem and keep the lining in place.


The pattern on the embroidered band is from an Icelandic antepedia, dated to ca. 1300-1400. (fig.6 and fig. 7) The antepedia depicts scenes from the life of Virgin Mary, embroidered in wool on a linen background. (Grinder-Hansen 2002, 92-93). I examined the antepedia on display at the National Museum of Copenhagen in 2004.

The embroidery both on the original and the hood is made using double couching, which makes the surface of the embroidery look like a woven picture. The technique was known in Iceland as ’refillsaumur’. (Grinder-Hansen 2002, 92) Double couching was an embroidery technique used over a long period of time and was not exclusive to Scandinavia. The Bayeux tapestry was double couched in wool on linen. Later the same technique was used in silk and metal threads, such as on the embroidery on a late 15th century liturgic tunic from Vallentuna church in Uppland, Sweden. (Franzen 1997, 28). As in the original, the double couched patterns are contoured and their outlines traced with backstitches.

The embroidery is done in red, white, blue, black and light green wool on a linen background. The colors have been chosen as close to the colors on the original as possible. Although the colors on the original may have been faded over the centuries, I found the combination of colors appealing and decided to use them in their current hue on my embroidery. The thread I used is very similar in thickness and quality compared to the yarn in the original. However, it is dyed with modern dyes.

In this project, I experimented with a more medieval manner of transferring the embroidery pattern onto the fabric. The vine pattern on the borders of the antepedium is repetition of the same curve. Kay Staniland (1997, 31) cites a method used for tracing repetitive patterns by tracing a design onto paper, pricking the outline and then pouncing with powdered chalk, pumice or charcoal. This produces rows of fine dots that can then be connected with ink or paint. The method is shown in Alessandro Paganino’s 1527 book for embroiderers. The same method can be used with parchment, which was more readily available in 14th century Scandinavia than paper.

After enlarging the pattern close to its original size using a photograph, I traced one repetition of the vine pattern onto paper. I pricked out the outline and transferred the pattern onto the fabric using chalk. After this, I connected the dots using ink.

Embroidered bands

Embroidery is not often seen on medieval depictions of secular garments. Staniland (1997, 27) writes that in the earlier centuries of the Middle Ages, it ”œseems likely that embroidery was used sparingly and rarely in secular garments”. Fourteenth century records of bequests for english royal clothing show a growing demand for embroidery on clothing for the upper class, done in silks and gold threads (Staniland 1997, 28-29). But how was embroidery used on clothing in medieval Scandinavia?

Eva Andersson’s resarch on clothes in medieval wills from Sweden and Norway shows decorative bands (lad) cited in mid-14th century wills. These bands are mentioned on different types of clothes and they were either woven or embroidered. One such band is mentioned on a child’s hood. Also loose bands are mentioned, which shows evidence of the practice of the decoration being attached to the garment, not embroidered directly onto it. (Andersson 2006, 131) The wills do not describe where the bands were placed. A preserved textile, the cloak from Leksand (Norway), has a decorative tabletwoven band along the front edge (Andersson 2006, 92-93). Following the practice used on the Leksand cloak, I placed the band around the front edge, although not around the buttons and buttonholes.

Bibliography and pictures (pdf)

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