Posted by: Lucrece | March 27, 2011

Burgundian Wide Belt: A brode girdille of grene damaske with bokill

Now that I have my burgundian “harnys” (buckle) I need the girdle to go with it.  Ideally I would like it to be tablet woven, however I can’t tablet weave (yet!:)) and, as much as I’d love to, I can’t justify investing in one made by someone else, like this amazing red girdle by Gina B:

I’ve chosen to make mine of silk damask.  There are a number of references to girdles which seem to be made of fabric including silk and “tissue” in the 1484 will of Dame Jane Barre (read a translation of her will by going to Google books and searching “will of Dame Jane Barre”), and damask in one of the wills of the Paston family in 1487 (see

After considering every colour of the rainbow, I finally settled on a deep green like Margaret Van Eyck’s (below); I like olive-y greens with red or burgundy like my gown will be.

I found a checked silk that I liked and dyed it green.

Go to my flickr page to see the girdle’s progress diary:



  1. Hello,

    I am from a small reenactment group from Serbia. Your blog is really amazing. I would like to ask you a few questions if it is ok, and if it doesn’t bother you. I was looking at your post about the Burgundian belt you have made. I am really confused due to the fact that the belt has a buckle, and yet, on many paintings and illuminations, like that of Margaret Van Eyck, you can only see a broad band around the waist. Does that mean that the buckle is on the side of the backs? Thank you very much for your time! Your answer will be really helpful.

    Kind regards,


    • Hello Minja!
      It’s nice of you to contact me, I will do my best to answer your questions. Obviously, since I wasn’t actually alive in the 15th century anything say is only my opinion, based on my research so far. The portrait of Margaret van Eyck is from 1439, the other picture, van der Weyden’s Portrait of a Lady is from 1460. Margaret’s belt likely had a buckle at the back and a longer “tail”. Pictures from the earlier part of the century often show this, although some seem to be just a band with no tail, and possibly some kind of fastener instead of a buckle. During this time the buckle is also sometimes seen to the side or front. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a matter of personal style. The long belts appear most often worn with a “houppelande”. By the mid century, as the “burgundian” gown profile become more popular we start to see belts like van der Weyden’s lady, it’s shorter (no long tail) and the buckle turned to the front. Making it shorter means the fancy end is up higher and easier to see; turning the buckle to the front makes it conspicuous. It’s clearly a costly item, it could be that a lady who owned such a fine and expensive buckle wanted people to notice it:).

      Here is a good place to see many pictures of this type of belt:

      Best Regards,

  2. Thank you very much for your answer, Holly!

    We are, actually, reconstructing mid-14th century. I took an interest in this kind of belts because of a fresco of one of the important Serbian medieval families. A fresco is a little older than the paintings we were talking about. It is probably painted between 1365 and 1369, and there is a woman who wears similar belt. In fact, it is the only portrait from this period from Serbia which depicts such kind of a belt, so I am trying to find out what is it really. I am sending you a link with the fresco I was talking about, I hope it may be interesting for you;) One more time, thank you very much!

    Kind regards,


  3. Where did you find the fabric you used? I have been searching for silk ribbon that might be suitable, but am coming up empty.

    • Hi Jen, I got it on-line from this site: Unfortunately it says the site is down for vacation – I think it’s said that for quite some time now. His ebay store says the same thing: Keep an eye on them maybe they’ll reopen.

      Ribbon might work if you could find the exact width you need. Fabric is easier becuase you can cut it. I had to dye mine to get what I wanted as well.

      E-bay can be a good resource as long as you’re careful and understand what you’re getting. Search for silk damask, jacquard or lampas. There are often very-high end heavy upholstery silks available (that’s what mine is made from). Be prepared for the scary price tag though – heavy silks are not cheap – I’ve been paying $50-$100 a yard for some of these. Not so bad if you can buy a small amount such as for this belt.

      The other thing is, I’m basically crazy:) I will spend many hours over weeks, months, even years looking for the exact thing I want; I enjoy the thrill of the hunt as much as anything so I don’t mind but it’s a terrific time waster.

      If you want to seem some super-expensive but amazing fabrics – look at this site (German – I use Google translate). I haven’t bought anything….yet :S .. but wow!

      I hope this helps a bit – good luck!

  4. Hello there,

    I hope you can help me – I am trying to make my Mother, who is a keen amateur operatic member, a hat for a performance of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is set in Paris in 1482 and my Mother is an older lady and plays the part of an ordinary French citizen. I have been trying to find a picture of the sort of head gear she would need to wear, but can only find split Hennins, which I suspect wouldn’t have been worn by older, ordinary ladies. Then I came accross your site and your work. Can you help please? Can you suggest any websites or pictures, or even describe a rough shape so I have something to work with?
    I’d be really grateful for any comments!
    Many thanks,

  5. Hi Claire, I tend to agree, “hennins” are more suited to nobility and possibly very wealthy citizens. If you are doing everyday and ordinary, this coif might be a good choice:

    This style of head covering is depicted often in illuminations by French artist Robinet Testard including those done for Charles of Angoulême. The Hours of Charles of Angoulême was likely done in the early 1480’s and those shown wearing it appear to primarily be working or middle classes.

  6. Reblogged this on photoheart and commented:
    amazing attention to detail ! 15th century personal decorational dress, reconstruction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: