Shirt, Smock and Seamstress: early evidence for linen body garments

Sarah Thursfield has long studied the cut and construction of linen body garments. Despite dramatic shifts in headwear and outerwear fashions, the construction of the layers worn closest to the skin shows consistent methods over many centuries. Because the study of the medieval shirt and smock is frustrated by the low survival rate of extant examples, modern reconstructions have often been based on more recent garments. This talk will reassess the cut of medieval body linens using visual and archaeological evidence and experimental reconstructions.

After taking City and Guilds Fashion certificate Ms. Thursfield started making clothing for re-enactors. She produced ‘The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant’ because it was the book she wanted and couldn’t find. She now teaches, sews and plays with early pattern shapes for garments and headwear.

This talk is free and open to all. Register at TicketTailor to join us.

Perfect Linens, Plain and Fancy by Sarah Thursfield is a downloadable pamphlet available from her website. Sarah has also provided a downloadable PDF of Sources and References for her talk, including recommended reading, articles about surviving garments, and sources for the images used in her presentation.

Detail of The Bibliothèque nationale de France MS-5070 reserve folio 387r.
Illustration of the tale of faithful Griselda from The Decameron, written by Boccaccio, illuminated in the fifteenth century.