A fair trade

I’ve finished my friend Nicks 14th century “tröja” or cotthardie or jacket or whatever you call it. That is actually often a problem to me, what to call a specific type of garment or piece of clothing. I could write an essay on the topic, but I wont, not today. (Read more about the problems with medieval terminology in the comments of this post.)

Here it is, anyway.

Nicks madder red jacket is almost glowing the spring sun!

Nicks madder red jacket is almost glowing the spring sun!

I made the pattern for Nick soon after BoW 2011, trading the jacket for some pieces of armour he’d make for me. That was a long time ago now. In my old computer I found pictures of the fitting-process. They must be from a post-BoW workshop on medieval clothing in the winter of 2011. I was there to help Maria and Peter out with teaching some details regarding seams and edgings, my special area of interest. Nick showed up to test the fit of his jacket. All work on edging, the collar and the buttoning were still left for me to do then, but the fit seemed to work out all right.


This week I made an effort to finish the rest of the jacket, since I will need that armour soon. There are a few things that help me get work done that have been undone for way to long. A bad movie (so that you don’t really have to look at it) and good company always makes it more pleasant to do the most repetitive work. For me the worst part is this rather boring buttonholemaking-business. I went over to my friend Johan for company and was sweetly assited by Katten…


Katten is very helpful.

I placed 12 cloth buttons along the front opening and 6 on each sleeve. I feel that it perhaps is a bit sparse in the front, but on the other hand twice as many buttons there (as I would have preferred)  would take forever to button. I just couldn’t do that to a friend, could I? 😉



Nick picked a half-thick tabby weave for his jacket and asked me to line it with linnen. For myself I think I would have preferred a lighter and more stretchy twill without any lining. But except for that, the jacket is hand sewn in the same way that I usually do. I even made a tablet woven edge along the bottom seam with yarn I dyed on a plant-dyeing workshop during Battle of Wisby 2011.

I decided that folding this fabric would be to clumsy, so I secured the raw edge with a two-tablet weave instead.

I decided that folding this fabric would be to clumsy, so I secured the raw edge with a two-tablet weave instead.

Plant dyeng workshop during Battle of Wisby 2011.

Plant dyeing workshop during Battle of Wisby 2011.

Another time I’ll write more about how I actually do my tablet woven edges, buttons and buttonholes, but I need to take a few more pictures of the procedure before then.

So Nick, you jacket is ready and I hope you’ll like it. How is my armour coming out? 😉

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8 Responses to A fair trade

  1. Looks good!

    In my humble opinion you should call it whatever it would have been called in your region in that period, Ida. Why use a French word instead of a Swedish/Scandinavian?
    It is nice to know the international ‘slang’ in case you need to do research or talk about it with foreign enthusiasts. But nothing beats using your own ancestors vocabulary when recreating their lives and clothing (if that is what you portray of course) and when telling the audience about it.

    • Ida says:

      Hi Bertus! Nice to hear from you and thank you ever so much! 🙂 About the terminology, yes, between nerds such as you and I, that is a good idea. Only, the use of terminology in medieval diplomas and manuscripts is as you know not known for its consistency. And I also doubt everyone would understand what I refer to, if I use local medieval language?

      But still, you have an educational point there, it is nice to know those local words for your research. I’ll give it a try from now on. 😉

      Actually, the Swedish word “tröja” that I first used in this post is the closest I can get to a Scandinavian term for a jacket/cotthardie. I know of 3 Scandinavian diplomas from 1330-ish that mentions a “tröja”. In one of them the term “dyploidem” is also used about the same garment, suggesting that it might be of double layers or lined, like the one I made.

  2. Rickard says:

    The potential problem with the word “tröja” is that in modern Swedish it also means “sweater”. Of course it might be an educational point, that the word is the same but the garment’s changed.

    • Ida says:

      Yes, that is exactly what I mean by an educational point. For foreign reenacters such a word can be a resource and interesting for further research, as they know what kind of garment they see anyway.

      Others, I hope, will ponder that a word such as tröja used in a modern context also may have been used during parts of the 14th century Sweden for a middle-layer piece of clothing for the upper part of the body, just like today. The function is the same, the word is the same.

      The argument against the using of the particular word tröja is that we can’t be sure it was commonly used in the 14th century Sweden/Scandinavia, the references is to few. The French word cottehardie is also used in Swedish written sources, more often than tröja, but there is no way to known witch word was used in everyday speech.

      • Frost says:

        I really like that you use the word “tröja”. If you compare with later garments (17th, 18th and 19th century) with a similar function, the term “tröja” is often used.

  3. I have encountered the word Troye in a few German sources as well. For example a law for the tailors of Stendal for 1346 states that if they make clothing with cottonwool, such as a troye, and if they do this badly, they will be fined 3 shillings. And a law of 1390 from Bremen states that a ‘lantman’ (I suppose a farmer) should armourwise have a troyen, an iron hat and gauntlets. In 1340 the citizens of Göttingen were prescribed that as armour they should have amongst others a trogen / troygen. In 1397 it is stated that they should have amongst others a ‘jacken or troygen’.
    This makes me think that a troye was an alternative word for a quilted and cottonwool stuffed textile coat; what we know as doublet/pourpoint/wambuis/gambeson. At least in North/Low-Germany.

    By the way, the modern Dutch word for sweater is Trui. ^^

  4. Ida says:

    Yes, I’ve read somewhere about a panzartröia, I suppose that could be either the padded garment under your chainmail or the chainmail-shirt itself? But in a diploma from 1331 (yes a bit early for my taste) Guttorm Haavardsson, a cleric in Oslo, testaments his green “tröja” to someone named Alve. In this case I doubt that it is a quilted and stuffed coat/gambeson and find it more likely to be referring to something else, more suitable for a priest to own.

    Also, in a rapport of a murder in late 1500-th century, I’ve read that Tore Stavn (who later got murderd) went to bed with his hoses and “tröja” on. He was a guest in the house and probably sharing bed with someone. Maybe that’s why he left his clothes on. I’m guessing here that Tores tröja is a middle layer-garment of some sort.

    I feel that the word tröja is used in very different contexts and the only reasonable explanation I can see is that it has had varying meaning and has been referring to different types of garments during the long time it was used.

  5. Your sources certainly point in that direction. 😎
    Nice to hear about them!

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