arming coat / gambeson,  Kingdom of Meridies,  Projects,  SCA,  SCA - Heavy Fighting

SCA Heavy Fighting – working at my arming coat / gambeson :)

2016-07 - Racaire - SCA - heavy fighting - arming coat - gambeson - sewing - garb - battle - female fighting - female SCA fightersAnd before someone else drops the question again about the progress of my armor for SCA heavy fighting and why I am still not in armor… Guys, it’s not finished yet! …I am still working at my arming coat! Really! I swear! *lol*

Well, I hate to admit it but this is not my first arming coat project. Though I’ve never finished my very first attempt of an arming coat, I am quite positive that this new project will be quite different. And I am working hard to make it a success so I can finally mark the arming coat project off my list.

Yeah, it’s true, I started an arming coat project already many years ago. But despite all the work I put into my very first attempt, I actually never got past the initial work of building a padded body form. Well, I guess that you know this kind of project – the more work you put into it, the more disappointed you get with the result. After some time I decided to call it quits and started working at some other projects which promised much better and more satisfying results…

Then, some years ago, while I was packing for my move to the states, I run into my old arming coat project again. Though I really wasn’t happy to waste the time and work I had already spent on it, the idea of working at this project again seemed even more annoying. Well, I really couldn’t deny it any longer – throughout the time I had gotten to a point where I hated this arming coat project with great passion. Therefore I decided to literally dump it.

Being my first major project failure, I really hated this project passionately. And even today I still get a shiver down my spine when I remember it. However, the mistakes I made while working at this project turned out to be valuable lessons for future projects. And though I wasted some thread and fabric, my time was not completely wasted as I learned a lot from it… Especially of how NOT to do it… *lol*

…and before you ask – yeah, it might have been possible to rework and rescue my very first arming coat project. But like always I asked myself first: “Is it worth the trouble and my time?”. And the answer was a simple “NO”! The padding was far too thick and I had lost so much weight and body mass in the meantime that the fitted body form didn’t fit at all… And I knew that it would take more time to rework and rescue this project than simply making a new one…

And eventually I managed to get over the failure of my very first attempt and started a new arming coat project! Though it wasn’t easy to fit the body shape and the sleeves all by myself, I think that I have done a pretty good job so far:

2016-07 - Racaire - SCA - heavy fighting - arming coat - gambeson - sewing - garb - battle - female fighting - female SCA fighters

And here a picture showing the back side: 

2016-07 - Racaire - SCA - heavy fighting - arming coat - gambeson - sewing - garb - battle - female fighting - female SCA fighters

As you can see on the picture above, I did not only experiment with the shape of my slightly padded arming coat. I also chose to try a special shape for the sleeves.

Well, the pourpoint of Charles of Blois (14th century) is not really situated in my favorite time period for garb but I was always quite intrigued by the special shape of its sleeves. And as soon as I finished the basic body for my arming coat, I had to think about these sleeves again. Then obviously madness stroke me and I decided to try to make these very special sleeves which already haunted me for quite some time…

Why I call it madness? Well, I never made sleeves like this before and one of the many reasons why I love the 12th century so much are the easy sleeve solutions the garments call for… But here I was, trying to tackle a quite different sleeve form from the 14th century….

Fortunately one of my books – The Development of Costume – had the pattern of the pourpoint on page 51. Based on this simplified pattern layout and some common sense (or whatever was left after coming up with this insane idea) I started experimenting. And though I cut the sleeves too short at the top, which prevented me from attaching them directly to the body, I am still quite pleased with the outcome.

The sleeves feel good and don’t restrict my movement at this point. The sleeve attachment at the shoulder via lacing gives me also some further room to experiment with the sleeve length as well as allowing a very comfortable arm movement. However, the arming coat as well as the sleeves still need to prove their real worth in some actual fights and after attaching some more armor…

And concerning the materials I used for the arming coat:

  • Heavy duck canvas for the outside layer (surprisingly cheap at “Walmart”)
  • Linen fabric for the inside layer (contributed by a good friend of mine)
  • Simple moving blanket for the padding (quite cheap at “Harbor Freight”)

All of the materials above were either already in my stash or easily available at a low cost which made this project very affordable.

Btw. I already used a very similar material combination for the leg armor which I made for my husband some years ago (duck canvas – moving blanket – duck canvas). And though he was using his leg armor for nearly every war, tourney and fighter practice ever since, it still looks really good. 

And now I only have to make some buttonholes, attach some buttons and maybe add some further embellishment… Endspurt!!!! Wooohoooo! 😀

Best regards Racaire