Embroidered filet nets – A first try

23.03.2021 by Rotschopf in Clothing, Textile work

You probably already know some of my hairnet adventures. Knotting the net however is only a part of making a late medieval hairnet. While f.e. the London finds and Original illuminations  show unembroidered examples, the mass of  extant nets is embroidered.

The patterns range from simple geometrical lines to Swastikas, Crosses and geometrical patterns to birds and other animals, flowers and castles as well as heraldic ornaments. The pattern designs are often similar to brocaded fabrics of the time an. A good example for how pattern traditions are transcending mediums.

The technique can be seen in high resoltion photos of the originals. It is more of a weaving technique really for which warp threads are laied between the threads of the net and then the weft thread is moved inbetween those with a needle. Here is a good example. The long line patterns are done with a sort of long cross stitch that clings to the net threads.

One of my most elaborate nets, that has actually loops that are smaller than the average extanat net, had been waiting to be finished with a nice ribbon and embroidery for ages. So I finally got my modern embroidery frame (I promise, I will have a historic one once I want to do an impression of net embroidery in public) and startet off. I wanted to try different things and I noticed that a good, well counted net makes for better embroidery and how to work fast on applying the motives.

Here are some pictures of the embroidery process.

For the blue lines, I used thicker silk thread than for the rest, because the extant net from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürmberg also has thhat, but I wasn’t too fond of the optics and liked the thinner thread that I used for the magenta lines better.  All in All I did a pretty free design using different ornaments and elements from the extant nets. I wouldn’t say, it is super accurate, but for now I am quite content with how it turned out.

The silk is all plant dyed with dyes that were available in middle Europe at the time and I bought them from my favourite supplier, Archäotechnik Textile Fläche.

The “back side” has this one piece where the two sides of the embroidery came together and there were still loops left. This is not unusual in historical nets. Embroiderers back then apparently did not  care as much about that problem and just halfassed it. But it wont be very visible at the end because the net will be crinkled and foldet in this area.

From the same silk I made a tablet woven ribbon.


And this is what it looks like on my head.


The next project is already in planning, so stay tuned!