Let's Talk about Legs!

A place for pics and tutorials on making Soft Kit (clothing and accessories like buckles and cloak pins).

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Manveruon
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Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Manveruon » Sat Nov 28, 2015 2:02 am

I thought about including this post in my previous "footies" discussion, but in the end I decided it was a different enough topic to warrant its own thread.

Basically, I want to talk about pants/hosen/trousers/breeches/chausses/etc. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the next item on my ranger agenda is making better leg coverings, and I'd like to learn a little bit about what you guys use, why you use them, what are the practical advantages and limitations of your preferred type, etc. Do you prefer linen in the summertime, or wool all year 'round? Do you Line them? Do you prefer separate hosen, or attached trousers? How about the waist - do you belt them? Use a drawstring? Perhaps a laced gusset, as seen in 18th century breeches? And do you happen to have a favorite pattern, or an historical example you've used as inspiration?

Basically, I just want to hear all of your thoughts on the matter before I start my project so that I can make some informed decisions for myself on the matter.

Thanks!
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Udwin » Sat Nov 28, 2015 5:05 pm

I don't see much medieval influence in my Middle-earth, so I don't know about things like chausses or braies &c.
But for all of my woodswanderings, I wear braintanned (deer) eastern-style leggings that attach to some kind of waist belt. They go about a hand's span above my knee, which usually overlaps with whatever sort of long tunic or jacket I'm wearing. Wearing wet buckskin anytime outside of summer is pretty chilly, so if I have to cross through water more than ankle-deep, I'll spend the time to take leggings and footwear off first.

I wear the leggings by themselves (paired with a wool or linen loincloth) in spring, summer, and autumn, but the one downside is they leave my thighs exposed to winter winds (even with a buckskin tunic on top), so if I'm going out in really cold weather I wear wool trousers under the leggings.
Go to the thrift store, search the racks for 100% wool dresspants, take them home and modify away. I take out the zipper and button, add a waist drawstring, remove pockets, add a crotch gusset/panel, tailor the lower legs to be ankle tight, and add stirrups. They cut the wind, don't ride up under leggings, and stay warm when wet. Can't be beat.

For hobbitry, I wear linen (8oz) unlined french-fly knee breeches. Pretty simple, 1750s pattern came from Tidings From the 18th Century. I know of folks who will wear leather leggings over breeches like these, just using a buttonhole to attach to one of the knee buttons, instead of tying up to a belt.
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Eledhwen » Sat Nov 28, 2015 6:25 pm

For Middle Earth, I use simple drawstring pants, when ranging about.

For 'Colonial' stuff, Eastern Woodland leggings, loin/breechclout, shirts, mocs, etc.

For Paleolithic...much the same as the Eastern Woodland garments. I based them around Otzi the Iceman and other discoveries. I sometimes use simple pants here too, since those have also been found.

I do not see much reference to things like braies, hosen, etc. That said...you can do what feels best to you, since there is no definitive information either way. Plenty of room for exploration.

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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Manveruon » Sun Nov 29, 2015 12:59 am

All else aside, what I'm talking about here is specifically leg coverings for use with a Dunedain ranger impression. I'm trying to ascertain a few things: What do people feel is the most appropriate form of lower-body clothing for a ranger of the north (or even an Gondorian/Ithilien ranger) in Middle Earth, based on what we know of the culture, and the world in which it is set? Besides that, what do people feel is the most practical form of legwear for actual ranging, while still being closely in keeping with a Dunedain impression? Also, are there any specific construction methods and/or materials people prefer for these garments?

I don't think I'll be using anything resembling Eastern Woodland leggings, because they are too "New World" to my eye - however, Eastern Woodland leggings are actually very similar to medieval chausses in some ways, which makes me think that perhaps a pair of chausses might offer the same advantages. Obviously, Tolkien wasn't drawing an analogue with any real historical time period in his stories, but there are influences from many different historical periods, and I would therefore argue that some medieval elements are warranted. My meaning being that, to my mind, if chausses and braies were considered to be a highly practical form of leg covering by those with experience in such matters, I would probably consider them a viable option.

However, when it really comes down to it, for the practical application of ranging, I think something more akin to Thorsberg style Viking trousers or a later-period pair of joined hose might be a better fit, simply because they cover better. That being said, something similar to 18th century trousers or breeches also seems entirely plausible, as well as extremely practical, in the sense that they also cover well, and fit securely around the waist without much need for belts, or points, suspenders, or other complicated methods of keeping them up. I quite liked Urthgard's trousers with stirrup feet because I felt they combined the best elements of 18th century breeches, and modern-ish jodhpers. Otherwise, it is a matter of personal preference that I don't care for the "baggy" look with my garb so I would rather have something fairly well fitted to the leg.

Beyond that, I just wonder, would it be better to make something out of wool, but lined in linen? Or perhaps just two separate pairs of trousers - one linen and one wool - for different climates?

Whew, okay, that was a lot, but I think it covers all the things kicking around in my cranium fairly well.
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Elleth » Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:09 am

Fascinating questions!
Personally the only period-ish trousers I have are plain old linen "pajama pants" with a drawstring waist and a diamond gusset I made for Ren Faires ages ago.

Regarding cut:
For something that looks like it came right out of Middle Earth, as a thing Men actually would have worn in daily life - I think Urthgard's trousers are the gold standard so far - they're amazing!
The only thing I'd even consider changing is the buttons. I'm not even sure what I'd change - just something to take away the 18th c. look from the waistband. Maybe eylets? Maybe Saxon-style hooks and eyes? I've no idea - but the overall design at least looks near about perfect.

I personally see the styles of Middle Earth in my mind's eye more in the lines of the 8th-10th c. than the later High Medieval styles with hose and such: but that's certainly a subjective decision.


Regarding material:
I think something in the buckskin space is entirely defensible for NW European / medievally inspired / Tolkienian Rangers:
1. There's a history of German "buckskin" made from fish oils that if memory serves goes WAY back

2. I recall a Norman-era "ghost story" recounted about a man who saw a ghost dressed in leather pants "as in the old times." I'd LOVE to find the orginal source for that: I'm afraid my memory only says that it was written down around the 12th-14th century. (Maybe it's from Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror?" I'm not sure.)

3. In the ruined waste of Eriador, there's presumably game enough (for those brave enough to face the wilds) to make field-tanned hide an expedient material for heavy-wear clothing like trousers.

That's not to say it's to be expected or even common - and I don't think it's nearly so fitting for say a Bree townsman... but I certainly think it's a possibility.
I expect wool would be much more common though, for Rangers and townsmen alike.

... and yes, I think separate wool and linen trousers for different seasons makes more sense than lining wool with linen.
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Taurinor » Sun Nov 29, 2015 3:16 am

As has been mentioned a couple times in this thread, there's not a lot of detail in the books regarding style of clothing. The Professor himself even said that he didn't think much about clothing in Letter Number 211:

I do not know the detail of clothing. I visualize with great clarity and detail scenery and ‘natural’ objects, but not artefacts. Pauline Baynes drew her inspiration for F. Giles largely from mediaeval MS. drawings – except for the knights (who are a bit ‘King-Arthurish’)† the style seems to fit well enough. Except that males, especially in northern parts such as the Shire, would wear breeches, whether hidden by a cloak or long mantle, or merely accompanied by a tunic.


You can see some of the illustrations Pauline Baynes did for "Farmer Giles of Ham" here, but in his letter Tolkien said that males from the north, which I guess would include Rangers of the North, wore breeches. That is somewhat informative, but "breeches" is a fairly vague term - 16th century breeches look very different from 18th century breeches look very different from modern riding breeches.

Personally, since Aragorn wore high boots, I'd think any breeches he might wear with them would probably be narrower in the leg than 16th century breeches - 18th century breeches would be easier to manage with tall boots.
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Manveruon » Sun Nov 29, 2015 5:27 am

Taurinor wrote:As has been mentioned a couple times in this thread, there's not a lot of detail in the books regarding style of clothing. The Professor himself even said that he didn't think much about clothing in Letter Number 211:

I do not know the detail of clothing. I visualize with great clarity and detail scenery and ‘natural’ objects, but not artefacts. Pauline Baynes drew her inspiration for F. Giles largely from mediaeval MS. drawings – except for the knights (who are a bit ‘King-Arthurish’)† the style seems to fit well enough. Except that males, especially in northern parts such as the Shire, would wear breeches, whether hidden by a cloak or long mantle, or merely accompanied by a tunic.


You can see some of the illustrations Pauline Baynes did for "Farmer Giles of Ham" here, but in his letter Tolkien said that males from the north, which I guess would include Rangers of the North, wore breeches. That is somewhat informative, but "breeches" is a fairly vague term - 16th century breeches look very different from 18th century breeches look very different from modern riding breeches.

Personally, since Aragorn wore high boots, I'd think any breeches he might wear with them would probably be narrower in the leg than 16th century breeches - 18th century breeches would be easier to manage with tall boots.



BRILLIANT! Thank you, Taurinor! This is EXACTLY the kind of primary source I was looking for! It's excellent to hear something so specific directly from the Professor's own... erm... mouth? Pen? Typewriter? Anyway, that definitely gives me something good to work with as far as what is Middle-Earth appropriate. That being said, I don't know how I feel about wearing knee-breeches as a ranger. I feel like a longer leg-covering would be better suited to that lifestyle. There ARE historical examples of garments referred to as "breeches" that go down to the ankles, but I have a feeling that's not what Tolkien meant, unfortunately. Anyway, this still lends further impetus to my idea of using 18th century breeches as a basic template, and then altering them to be longer, closer fitting in the leg, and perhaps to include feet or stirrups.

Oh, and on the subject of using some kind of leather or hide for leg coverings: while I think it's totally reasonable to posit that a ranger of the north may have worn some form of leather leg garments, I just don't feel like it's for me, necessarily. Even though leather/buckskin/what-have-you is certainly very sturdy, and probably a great material for use in the wilderness in that regard, personally I'd like something that breathes a bit better.
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Udwin » Mon Nov 30, 2015 7:11 pm

Of course! I'd forgotten all about that vague description from #211! It's also worth noting that 'breeches' can also (informally) refer to trousers, and not just knee-length garments.
Urthgard's pants really hit all the necessary points, I think--roomy seat, gusset, fitted lower legs, and stirrups--and in such a way that they're reminiscent of many broad historical antecedents enough to fit in M-e.

The nice thing about properly hand-produced, smoked buckskin/braintan--unlike those yellow chrome-tanned deerskins that newbie 'mountain men' are fond of--it has the grain layer removed, which means it doesn't trap moisture and can breathe. It is really better thought of as a fabric...that once covered an animal. ; ) Just don't get it wet.

Combined with Strider's 'high boots of supple leather' (able(?) to be turned up over the knee, thereby protecting the same area as leggings), a wool pair of pants such as Urthgard's would be all you would need.
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Greg
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Greg » Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:32 pm

Something I'd like to insert into the discussion, while we're on this (and I'm deep in my own personal battle over this very thing...)

The earliest medieval leg coverings, to my understanding, are separate hose (ie. chausses), and they slowly became more accurately/tightly fit, and higher towards the waist, evolving into Joined hose with a codpiece. Separate hose would do the trick fine, but are hard to hold up against any references in Tolkien and say 'That's what he was talking about'. Breeches, which are far later period and covered in buttons with an open front, etc., are far more convenient for personal reasons than straight up drawstring pants, but 16-18 cen. breeches look a little out of place when worn with a gored tunic and a bocksten cloak, as examples.

So.

Urthgard made some great strides (har har) with his hybridized breeches, which we're all pretty impressed with. I'm with Elleth and the need to de-buttonize them, to de-colonial-ify, for lack of a better term. While researching this very topic, I stumbled across a site that I typically avoid at all costs. Not to discredit medieval collectibles, because frankly I've never done business with them...I used to spend an awful lot of time browsing those pesky websites selling medieval shtuff, and, for a time (years ago) it filled my head and made it difficult to use my own mind and actual research to form a representation of what Tolkien was really after. To that end, and since I don't like buying stuff made by others anymore anyway (particularly clothing) I just avoid them pretty well altogether. BUT.

I came across this today, and can't help but think that this could be part of the answer, specifically for Human Ranger impressions. It seems to combine much of the cut and trim of earlier joined Hose with the open front of Breeches and ties instead of buttons.

SO. My questions is...has anyone seen anything like this before in their research? The site claims that they're "15th century drop-front pants" which gives me absolutely zero ammunition for a search of actual sources. But just because it looks like it would work doesn't mean it should...so, well...there you go. Discuss.

http://www.medievalcollectibles.com/p-5887-15th-century-pants.aspx
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Mirimaran » Fri Dec 25, 2015 2:24 am

Greg, I have seen the GDFB pants before, I have some of their stuff and it's quite good. I remembered seeing something very similar at Historic Enterprises, which includes the pedigree for the item:

http://historicenterprises.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=99_109&products_id=965

I hope this helps!

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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Kortoso » Fri Dec 25, 2015 7:20 pm

Eledhwen wrote:For Paleolithic...much the same as the Eastern Woodland garments. I based them around Otzi the Iceman and other discoveries. I sometimes use simple pants here too, since those have also been found.

I think that this bears repeating. Otzi was indeed wearing "American Indian" leather breechlout and leggings.

That which the Professor called "breeches" is not clear; he was not an expert in historical costuming. :) In fact, if you look at attempts to understand medieval costume, from his time period, you'll see lots of evidence that they didn't have much of a clue. Since the stories are fundamentally medieval in character, I don't see a need to inject later period costumes, but that's just me.

For my Anglo-Saxon impression, I purchased Historical Enterprises' 13th-century braies and hosen. The design of medieval braies is still a matter of speculation. The pair I got was just baggy shorts, and in order to do my bathroom business, I needed to untie the whole thing. It doesn't seem practical that way. There was probably a way to open the braies without disturbing how the hosen were tied up.

Since I am in California, I don't need woolen hosen most of the time, so mine are linen.

Today, I have linen trousers, based on the Thorsbjerg find I think. Since my moccasins are low, the trousers can get wet if I am stalking in the morning through dew-laden grasses. I imagine some sort of gaiters (as modern backpackers wear) would be helpful.
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Elleth » Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:29 am

This afternoon I've been working up a muslin based on Urthgard's trousers- they're more challenging than they look! :)

Fantastically economical use of fabric though- I can totally see them in an iron age or Middle Earth context.

Urthgard, would you mind if I posted a pattern workup when I'm done?

Edit: gah! Second not-quite-right blown muslin! Those things are tricky! They *look* like they should be simple, but keeping both the lines and a decent fit is surprisingly tricky. I see why they took him so much work!

Third time's the charm I hope... :)
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Manveruon » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:25 am

Elleth wrote:This afternoon I've been working up a muslin based on Urthgard's trousers- they're more challenging than they look! :)

Fantastically economical use of fabric though- I can totally see them in an iron age or Middle Earth context.

Urthgard, would you mind if I posted a pattern workup when I'm done?

Edit: gah! Second not-quite-right blown muslin! Those things are tricky! They *look* like they should be simple, but keeping both the lines and a decent fit is surprisingly tricky. I see why they took him so much work!

Third time's the charm I hope... :)


Elleth - I'd be extremely interested in seeing a pattern workup on these! I would very much like to try my hand at something like them, but I admit that I definitely don't want to be the one who bangs their head against the wall trying to work out a pattern, haha. Still, I think this is definitely the direction I want to go, and I'm eager to give it a try. As for the waist opening, I was thinking of trying a method that crosses over in the front and then ties at the top on each side, if that makes sense.
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Elleth » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:11 pm

Absent Urthgard's objection, I'm happy to.
We've finally turned a half ton of pig into two freezers of pork, so after a week I have a little time to try and finish the trousers.

I'll say this much: salwar were an inspiration, but there's not a lot "salwar" left in them, and going down that road's a waste of effort. Better to start with regular pajama / karate pants type trousers, piece the legs (ABOVE the calf), and use only a LITTLE gathering in the crotch/butt area. Otherwise you get major poofy butt.

I think I'll be doing the waistband a little differently from you, but that idea sounds like it would work just fine.

Pictures/drawings once I get something workable. :)
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Re: Let's Talk about Legs!

Postby Elleth » Mon Feb 08, 2016 9:53 pm

Woo! Real progress the last week or so on my "Urthgard's Irony Trousers."
I've got the piecing working well in real linen - hand stitched with felled seams, of course.

I should have the calf area done in the next couple days, then on with the waistband and gusset.
"How to" is about a month out at this rate, but is on the way.

Onward!

UrthgardTrousers.jpg
UrthgardTrousers.jpg (147.43 KiB) Viewed 7415 times


(Then to the real new challenge: I'll be coloring them with natural dye. I'm reading up on that now and gathering supplies: I'll be aiming for a flat dusky reddish brown, which will probably be a mix of walnut and madder with an iron mordant. But that's still TBD.)
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