Gambeson Patterns (was RE: [Northkeep] last night's smack down)

Keith Duke KDUKE at
Thu May 29 14:27:07 PDT 2003

Hmmm... Since the whole gambeson was typically covered with mail, I'm not
sure the "slide to the side" example is valid... Unless of course it's *not*
covered with mail... <<grin>>

It's been awhile but if memory serves (for the gambeson descriptions I was
playing with) the gambesons were supposedly stuffed with the owners stuffing
material of choice (rags, straw, rope, raw cotton, etc.), to about three
fingers thickness... And making tubes and essentially ramming/packing them
full to get that kind of thickness is *much* easier than hand-quilting
through all that...

I have made and played with both kinds. When worn with mail and struck
forcefully with a real steel blade, the over-stuffed kind was much *much*
better, transmitting virtually no force. The multilayer quilted kind was
much thinner overall and had correspondingly less ability to suck up the
force of the shot...

But as Diarmaid (I think it was...) says period examples are basically

Also, keep in mind us lovers of modern comfort... This is a sport, even if
it has other trappings as well. We aren't really swinging that hard to
*require* that much shock absorbing materials.. I've seen some nice looking
gambesons made from moving blankets that were faced with a
nice/pretty/quality "visible" brocades or other woven/printed cloth...

And in the Ansteorran heat/humidity, extensive button-holing of underarms,
- or for that matter pretty much everywhere - will help make things a bit
more comfy...


-----Original Message-----
From: Marc Carlson [mailto:marccarlson20 at]
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2003 3:55 PM
To: northkeep at
Subject: Re: Re: Gambeson Patterns (was RE: [Northkeep] last night's smack

>From: "Peachy Keen Barbara Jean" <peachykeen at> You could
>also use several layers of batting and quilt it between the fabric
>rather than rolling it up and stuffing it. ;)

Absolutely - although the layers of cloth thing is how it's been described
in the period literature (if memory serves).

The theory is that the problem with the stuffing the tubes has to do with
the protection against a bladed opponent, since if the blade hits that tube,
it will glance to the side - right to where you only have two cloth layers
held together by thread.  Layering the cloth means that when you deflect the
bade between the tubes, it's still hitting the same number of layers of


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