German or Swiss? Landsknecht or Reisläufer?

The quick and dirty introduction of who’s who;

Until 1490 the Swiss were the superior warriors of Europe, and Swiss instructors was imported to tech German soldiers how to fight, forming a new group of mercenaries in Europe, the Landsknechts. The Landsknechts also copy the Swiss outfit and even added more slashes and flamboyant look to it.

The Landsknecht copying the Swiss fighting style and fashion wasn’t that popular among the Reisläufers and the lesser employment opportunities with a growing group of Landsknechts, made the two groups bitter rivals and enemies, especially since the Landsknecht didn’t care for who they fought for …as long as they were payed.

The woodcut below shows a rare view of a Landsknecht and a Reisläufer in the same woodcut, a symbol of a truce between the two groups during this period of wars raging back and forth through Europe.

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The slashing
The Landsknecht on the left has the distinct x slashing on his leg popularly interpret as the representing the cross of Saint Andrew and the Holy Roman Empire (Osprey). The Reisläufer’s chest and sleeve has a + slashing representing the Swiss Confederation.

The artist
Some artist painted several different kind of mercenaries, but most of them have their favorite kind of mercenary; Urs Graf (Swiss citizen and served as a mercenary during his lifetime) is more likely to paint Reisläufers rather then Landsknechts.

The weapons
The Katzbalger was seen as the symbol for a Landsknecht. Katzbalger is the short sword seen of the left mercenary above.

The Sture Shirt Project

sture shirt Bridget photo

Photo taken by B. MacKenzie

A year and a half long project of finishing an exact (give and take the adjustments to my size) replica of a shirt from 1567 is finally completed. The project has been both hated and loved, sometimes at the same time, and thought me both to try new techniques, sharpening my handsewing skills and gave me an incredible opportunity to study all the details of a almost 500 years old shirt.

IMG_2208left: photos from J. Arnold Patterns of Fashion 4
right: the recreated shirt

Background

In 1567, members of the Swedish nobility (Svante Stensson Sture, Nils Svantsson Sture, Erik Svantesson Sture, Abraham Gustafsson Stenbock and Ivar Ivarsson Liljeörn) were executed for plotting against the Swedish king, and their last worn clothing was kept by the Sture family as a relic and reminder and to ensure that this tragic part of their family history would never be forgotten. The clothes were preserved in an iron chest until 1883 when they were incorporated into the Swedish History Museum. In 1948 Anna-Maja Nylén was appointed the task of conducting a thorough investigation of the clothes, including four linen shirts, to document the present condition (Nylén p 217-218). This set of clothing is today known as Sturekläderna, the Sture Clothing.

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The sleeve is whip stitched to the cuffs, and the ruffles keeps in place with back stitches. The original sleeve have a lacing hole on one side and traces of a cord on the other side.

Summary

The goal is to create an exact copy of a 16th century shirt from Sweden, by using the same techniques and tools available at that time. The shirt has only three exceptions from the original shirt (since I want to be able to fit myself in it when the shirt is finished): length, neck and cuff size
The fabric is a hand- or early 20th century machine woven, almost identical with the specific width of the original fabric used. The width of the fabric was crucial due to the specific way the shirt is constructed, with tiny whipstitch along the selvedge. The shirt is sewn with linen thread by the same kind of stitch used on the original shirt.
The ruffle on the collar is 498 cm long and the cuffs 249 cm long piece each. All the ruffles has a decorative drawn thread work and are also decorated on the edge with a handmade 4-ply black and white silk thread.

Download the PDF
The paper The Sture Shirt Project is free to download. This paper is also free to use in educational purpose, but please be sure to always include my name and a reference to this webpage. Honour others work and I will be happy to return the favor.

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Left: Both sides of the collar, and around the front opening, there is a decorative drawn thread work and box stitches of black silk
Right: Collar and cuffs ruffle are both decorated with a drawn thread work and a black and white silk braid is whip stitched to the edge. The total length of the ruffle is around 10 meter/32 feet (5+2.5+2.5 m).

The Oscar Speech
A special thank you to Malin Berglund, Margaret Sanborn, Kevin Laurell, Mike Murphee and Adrian Sawyer for both technical advice of the terminology and the proof reading and commenting. Any fault in grammar or misspelling is completely my own and the disadvantage for not speaking English as a first langugage.

I would also thank Sarah Thaler and Margaret Sanborn for the help with making the braid, it means a lot for me that you both had the time to assist me when I was running out of time.

Amber Kay, Cynthia Konow-Brownell and Bridget MacKenzie, without your technical expertise in teaching me how to make the braid, I would never have been able to enter the competition at all.

Thank you Agnes Edgren and Lotta Ahlen for patiently listening to all my rage and worries and excitment during the process, and letting me bug you with the proud photos shoots of every single step.

And last, but not least, a thank you to my husband for all the support you given me during the process!

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Work in progress: the drawn thread work around the front opening

Landsknecht Cap …what should a man wear underneath his hat?

Maybe you don’t want to wear your wool hat directly on your head, it can be itchy but it also makes the hat dirty with all that human sweat penetrating the hat for day after day. As a women it’s usually pretty simple, you just wrap a head floaty, where a haube or something else similar, depending on what kind of German class you belong to.

Lately several people have asked me for what a man properly should wear underneath his hat and it makes me so happy because I’ve tried once to convince my husband into wearing the awesome period caps you sometimes see in paintings, underneath his hat. He wasn’t as amused as I was, and to his defense, he more often puts on his Landsknecht outfit more to please me and make me happy …he definitely prefers early period clothing. So I let him wear his hat as he please, with either a Schlappe or a coif underneath, it’s not the end of the world.

But for those who might be a bit curious about what a guy can wear underneath a hat, I present the cap, a neat little haube for men and i only have seen it being worn once so far and it made me excited to see that little cap on this guy (thank you Sir Måns!), because paying attention to details is such a satisfying feature and I applause all those who do it.

Here is a small sample of different caps worn by men in Germany during the 16th century, and maybe I make one and just hope I’ll someday may convince my husband to wear it.

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The red and black Landsknecht outfit

Read more about how I made the sleeves here

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The person who commissioned me for this had one only one request “make it fancier then your husbands”, so I could basically pick and choose any style I wanted to sew.

The outfit is based on two different woodcut, and I have been eyeballing an awesome wams with incredible amount of slashed sleeves and back (left picture) for a while and decides that it would be perfect for the hot Californian weather due to the large amount of slashes, and that the slashing pattern on the wams would provide the wearer with a lot of movement (I also expect him to get stuck, slashes love getting stuck in all kind of stuff), making it comfortable to wear.

The hosen on this woodcut was though a bit plain (…and my husbands hosen is pretty fancy), so I looked around for any other plausible near-to-year woodcuts, and during a discussion with the person for whom this outfit is made for, he said that he really admired the black/white checkered pants I made a couple of months ago for another guy and we decided to use that for one of the legs (and it also matched his device). The other leg took a while for me to find, it had to be fancy, but I was also interested to try the concept of long striped leg construction, and when I found the other woodcut, it also had diagonal slashes which, by my calculation, would provide him with some breeze and extra movement. On the same woodcut as the one with the striped leg, one of the other Landsknecht was wearing a wams with a striped slashed front flap. Perfect, now the wams and the hosen would be smoothly incorporated with each other!

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The Sture Shirt project

Here is a sneak peek on one of my current project for myself, a recreation of one of the Sture Shirts from 1567, Sweden.

The goal is to make an exact replica (as far as my skill can take me) by the help of the report published in the Journal of The Royal Armoury, Stockholm by A. Nylén 1948 and additional info from J. Arnold’s PoF 4.

This is a picture of one of the sleeves which have a total amount of 108 pleats gathered into 8 pleats/cm.
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This part is later to be attached to a 246 cm (97 inch) ruffle which I have completede the drawn thread work on, but still have the decorative braid to attaches before gathering it into the cuff. (You can see that I need to trim down the piece between the sleeve and the ruffle to around 1-2 cm as the original piece)

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Progress picture of the drawn thread work

The shirt is estimated to be finished around mid February

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