Em's Compendium

~Lebe, liebe und stehe dazu~

Manesse Codex Decorated Gebende or Fillet; Late 13th or Early 14th Century Ladies Headwear; Worn in Germany, Switzerland, Norway

The first and as of now, only, time I have submitted an A & S project to a competition was at The Great Tournament of Friends in 2009.  I took 3rd place, so I was pretty happy considering I had never done that before - and well, my hand sewing is not the bestest is not the world.

Here is the final product:


 Manesse Codex Decorated Gebende/Fillet Late 13th/Early 14th Century Ladies Headwear Germany, Switzerland, Norway

By Elisabeth Hänsler



I have submitted a decorated gebende or fillet; also know as the “pie crust” hat found in the Manesse Codex1 that has been decorated with a linen finger-loop braid.

There are several secondary sources, that I have used as references for this project, that range as early as the 12th century and as late as the 14th century. These wonderful sources include the following:  the Manesse Codex1 ca. 1305-1340, the sculpture “The Visitation”2 ca. 1300, the Konstanz-Weingarter Leiderhandschrift3 ca. 1290-1320, a sculpture of a German noblewoman4 ca. 1375, a sculpture from the Strasbourg Cathedral5 ca.13th century, a seal from Norway6 ca. 1300, a seal from Norway6 ca. 1300 and an altar frontal from Odda in Norway6 ca. 14th century. They all demonstrate women from Northern European (Norway, Switzerland and Germany) cultures wearing several styles of the decorated gebende with cording as a form of decoration.1-6 The gebende is worn, within these examples, with or without a barbette and others also include a veil with the barbette.

Most of the people found within the above mentioned sources are nobles or royalty. In the majority of the available period sources, the lower classes usually wore simpler fillets. The decorated gebende was more prevalent within the higher classes and nobility. While simpler forms of the decorated gebende were worn by women within the lower classes.

There are currently no extant headwear of this time on record. This is more than likely due to most of these types of gebendes were made from linen, which would have a harder time surviving the elements over time. The lack of information on this type headwear resulted in some research on my part to find a proper base that could provide support and shape. In one of my previous attempts at recreating this gebende, I made a base that consisted of four layers of heavy weight linen, much like cotton trigger.  Sadly, I was not pleased with the lack of shape and sturdiness. So I continued my research and discussed the topic in several online forums (Yahoo Groups: SCA-Garb and 14thcenturygarb) and personal emails with persons that participated in the discussion.7-8, 15 (These discussions and my research brought forth possible bases/inner layer for the gebende. Possibilities such as: leather7, padstitching8, hide glue8, wheat flour starch9 or waxed linen.15 As result of these discussions and my research I reached the following conclusions:

  1.  Leather: Would bleed through or stain the white linen from sweating or exposure to rain/humidity.
  2. Hide Glue: Though a good option for a period source, it looses its adhesiveness when it becomes wet.
  3. Period Starches: Would attract bugs and possibly create mold.
  4. Pad stitching: Is more prevalent during periods later than the 14th century.
  5. Waxed Linen: Is sturdy and holds its shape, is waterproof and was used in period windows.15

 The roundness, shape, depth and strength of the “ruffle” found on this gebende made me question whether it was a ruffle or something of more substance being used to decorate the gebende. There are several example of this “ruffle” holding its roundness, shape and depth while supporting the weight of a veil.1-2 There are also examples that demonstrate a clearly defined shape of the “ruffle” and a shape that is clearly 3-dimensional.1-2,5-6 In addition, since 2005 I have made four other attempts/mock-ups of this gebende. Sadly, on all accounts, these attempts were poorly documented and either salvaged to help with the next attempt or not saved because of my dissatisfaction with my work. There are only have photographs of two of these attempts. But, with each attempt, adjustments were made as I learned more from research and documentation. It has been these attempts, my further research and my email discussion with Fru Aleydis mka Eva I. Andersson6 about the use of cording that made me feel certain that the decoration on the gebende found in the Manesse Codex is some form of cording and not a ruffle.


 Attempt #2: This is right before it was sewn in place.  The pins were holding it in place; it was cotton cording (the soft type used in making pillows) in a tube of cotton (I was not using linen because this was simply a mock-up.)


Attempt #4: A finger-loop braid along the top edge of the toque.  I decided after some research to use a 8 loop finger-loop braid.  I used heavy weight linen, in the place of modern buckram.  I wasn’t pleased with the results.  The toque was floppy, especially in humid weather.  I needed to research a better base for the headwear.  This original toque has been salvaged to provide the materials for my submitted gebende.


Finger-Loop Braid/Cording:


  • Linen Thread/String
  • Beeswax
  • Linen Sewing Thread
  • Needle
  • Scissors

I chose to make an 8 loop braid in linen. There have been several finds for finger-loop braids in silk9 but none for linen. Again, this is probably due to the fact that linen braids were not able to survive the conditions over time. Braids were also found in varying loops,some were as large as 12 loops.9 That being said, I took the assumption that braids could have existed in 8 loops and of linen, since it was such a commonly used fiber. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a helper, as was prevalent in period, so I recruited my coffee table to secure the end of my braid. The braid took 6 to 8 hours to complete. When it was completed it was approx. 3 feet long. I used the methods discussed in several guides/sources10, 11, 12 for 5 loops, and adjusted them to the number of loops I was using to complete the braid. The illustration following this paragraph demonstrates the process used while braiding the linen threads. This was my first and only attempt, ever, at creating a finger-loop braid. My intent was to create a round braid, but I ended up with a more angular result. Before applying the braid to the finished gebende the ends where the braid was intended to be cut were sewn with linen thread and then melted beeswax was applied to the braid to prevent fraying when cut. Once dried, the braid was cut through the beeswax and a final thin layer of melted beeswax was applied to the cut ends to prevent unraveling. 

Decorated Gebende/Fillet:


  • Heavy Weight White Linen Fabric (approx. 1/4 yard)
  • Linen Sewing Thread
  • Medium Weight Linen Fabric (approx. 1/2 yard)
  • Beeswax
  • Needle
  • Small Stoneware Bowl
  • Microwave
  • Clothes Iron
  • Small Paint Brush
  • Large Hair Pin


1. The Base:

  I cut two pieces of the heavy weight linen for the base of the gebende, 5” tall and 22” long.


Then folded the pieces in half and pressed them with an iron to create a crease on the fold.  I did this for convenience and ease during construction. This probably was not done in period and truly is not a required step. I then unfolded a piece of the linen to prepare it for the next step.

I then melted the beeswax. In period the beeswax would have been melted in a pot over a fire. To save time and my pans I melted the beeswax in an extra stoneware bowl in the microwave.

I then completely coated the “inside” of the linen with the melted beeswax using a paintbrush.
Once the linen was coated, I folded the fabric in half on the crease that was created earlier and smoothed the linen out as much as possible.
I then used a clothes iron to flatten the waxed linen and to even out the distribution of the beeswax. I used the clothes iron to save time. In period the fabric would have simply been held over a fire, warmed and then smoothed out by hand. This created a band of waxed linen.
I then placed the cut side of the waxed linen band at the center or on the crease of the unused piece of heavy weight linen. I then folded the unwaxed linen over the waxed linen band; creating a sandwich effect. I ensured that the fold of the waxed piece is to the open side of the unwaxed piece. This piece of linen is to protect the final outer layer of linen from being discolored by the beeswax.
I created a circle that fit comfortably around my head. I then held the overlapping fabric in place with a large hair pin for reasons of convenience. In period fabric or string could have been tied around the pieces to hold it in place. I then left the base out over night to cool.
I sewed the top of the linen pieces together by overstitching the edges, creating a smooth band.9, 14 I had to take my time and use a larger size needle due to the thickness and hardness of the waxed linen. My needle still bent, but very little, taking my time prevented the needle from breaking.
I then created my circular base form by sewing the edges together with a running-stitch and back-stitch using linen thread. I opened the seam flat and reinforced it with running stitch on either side.9
Once the sewing was completed I turned the sewn base right side out. The smooth fold/crease is the bottom and the sewn edge is the top. By placing the sewn edge at the top there will be the additional protection of the finger-loop braid to prevent any visible staining from the beeswax.
 2. The Outer Layer:

I cut a piece of the medium weight linen for the outer layer of the gebende, approx 10” tall and 24” long.

I the placed the medium weight linen around the base and pinned it in place to form a circle and to determine where the seam will be.

The a seam is sewn with linen thread using a running stitch and a back stitch.

Then flatten out the unsewn edges so that they lay flat. This will be the inner side of the outer layer.

Turn the base inside out (the inside of the seam that was sewn earlier is to the inside of the base or towards your head.) Then place the circular Place the outer layer of linen around the base with the “insides” toward the “inside” of the base. Sew the first edge in place just below the top of the base on the “inside” of the base using a running stitch.

After the outer layer of linen has been secured to the base with a running stitch wrap the linen around the base so that it overlaps on itself. Fold under the loose edge and pin in place making it as taunt as possible. Then sew the edge using a tight whip stitch.


The seam should be placed on the inside bottom of the gebende/fillet when it is turned right side out.

Sew the finger-loop braid in place on the top edge of the gebende/fillet in a wavy pattern.

Then the decorated gebende/fillet is complete. It is mainly worn with a barbette and any combination of hair net and veil with a barbette.