Recreating a 14th-century Pourpoint

Research

The Pourpoint is a quilted and padded garment adapted from the military silhouette of the mid-14th-century into a civilian garment and can be found in imagery and extant garments in the later 14th-century throughout much of Western Europe. The silhouette is very common on effigies of English and French knights from the 1340’s-1370’s identified by a rounded chest and narrow waist, such as in this effigy of Thomas Beauchamp.

Thomas Beauchamp, 1369, St. Mary, Warwick, England. Combat Society website, http://www.themcs.org/armour/14th%20century%20armour.htm

Thomas Beauchamp, 1369, St. Mary, Warwick, England. Combat Society website, http://www.themcs.org/armour/14th%20century%20armour.htm

This silhouette can also be seen in the Pourpoint of Charles de Blois (pictured below) and the Pourpoint of Charles VI (not pictured) as well as many manuscript images. The first set of images below from the Wailsche Gast manuscript show the rounded chest, but not the deep-set armscye, also known as the Grande Assiette Sleeve, of the Charles de Blois Pourpoint.

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Creating and Patterning a late 14th century Pourpoint Part 2: Patterning the Grande Assiette Sleeve.

Image

            Frequently when I tell someone that I make pourpoints I receive a response along the lines of “Wow, aren’t those sleeves really hard to figure out?”, so after considering this response I tried to figure out what part of making a pourpoint was stumping so many people who are otherwise strong sewers. The body of the garment is either three or four pieces, two front pieces and one or two back pieces depending on whether it is cut on the fold, there is an upper sleeve with added gussets and a lower sleeve, in all seven separate pattern pieces.
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Creating and Patterning a late 14th century Pourpoint Part 1: What is that garment?

            The pourpoint is a padded garment, that by most accounts began life as a fitted garment to be worn under armour and assist with fastening armour to the body. Many reenactors wear padded and unpadded pourpoints as an arming cote and fasten their leg and/or arm armour directly to the garment via points either sewn directly to the garment or threaded through leather that has been sewn to the garment. Having made a number of these garments I can attest, though others, to their general comfort while also reducing the encumbrance of the armour. An alternative to the arming cote, and a common method of fastening leg armour to the body amongst people just getting into western martial arts is through the use of a C-belt or weightlifting belt from which the leg armour is hung, this solution has the unfortunate problem of pressing on the sciatic nerve, not very comfortable. While some wear a sleeveless version of the arming cote full mobility of the shoulders and arms can be obtained in a long sleeve version as well, provided the patterning of the sleeve is done correctly.

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