1220 AD Cyclas





Cyclas with Barbette, Fillet, and Crespine

Under tunic of unbleached cotton with long tight fitting sleeves.

Cyclas shaped like that of the men but with an added train. It was worn long in front. It was made of heavy cotton with heraldic coats of arms appliqued around the bottom of the skirt.

Hair parted in center and divided into two plaits, crossed in back of neck and brought around sides of head.

Head covering consists of barbette, fillet and crespine.

Accessories were uncommon. Cyclas usually worn ungirdled.

Jewelry consisted of brooches at neckline of under tunic.

Shoes were of the turn-shoe style fastened by lacings. They were beginning to lengthen to a pointed toe.


Compared to the extravagance of the last century, costume at this time was much simpler. Louis IX, King of France, influenced this simplicity in costume to some degree. He was a deeply religious man who abhorred all worldliness and extravagance in dress. Sober magnificence, dignity of appearance and richness of material was the standard. This simplicity of style remained the vogue through the reign of Edward I.

The shape of tunic sleeves changed during this time. Where previous sleeve cuts were straight, or else widened dramatically at the elbow or wrist, the Magyar sleeve was the opposite: the armhole and upper arm were cut very wide, narrowing to the elbow and wrist.

Some influences from the East, mainly in a diversity and richness of material, reached Europe with the Moorish invasion of Spain and southwestern France. However, the great and startling effect on fashion occurred after the start of the Crusades. The Crusades, beginning in the twelfth century, had a great influence on the lifestyles and clothing of people. Wood block printing of fabrics was adopted and buttons also arrived from the East. This is also when the science of heraldry had its beginning. Crests and armorial bearings appeared on many garments and became hereditary as family identification.

The chemise remains unchanged with its long sleeves and high neckline. The gown is floor length; loose-fitting and is girdled at the waist. The neckline is similar to the chemise with a high, front opening. The sleeves are long, tight.

The cyclas is actually an over dress or sleeveless surcoat. The armhole is fairly tight and the sides are closed.

Hair was center parted and plaited. The braids could be wound around the head or gathered into a bun in back. Women expressed their originality through their headdresses by wearing one or any combination of the different parts of the headdress. The four parts of the headdress consisted of a barbette, a double piece of linen in chin-strap shape which was fastened on top of the head; a coif or brimless hat with a rim of generally 2 1/2" depth; a crespine, or network cap worn to contain the hair; and a veil, worn over the coif. The barbette and coif were usually white. The crespine could be of any color.

Shoes consisted of a simple slipper that was usually highly ornamented. The shoe followed the shape of the foot. Hose were gartered above the knee with fancy buckled garters.

Elaborate belts were worn on the under tunics. Jewelry was not very prevalent. A brooch would be used to fasten the neck opening of the under tunic. Some crespines were made of gold cording with gems attached at the intersections. Apparently no makeup was worn.

Typical colors used in clothing were olive-green, crimson, purple, red, gray, white, brown, yellow and blue. Stripes and particolors were favored. Materials used in clothing were velvet, brocade, silk, wool, and linen. Embroidery and decorative motifs consisted of birds, animals, floral and foliage designs, decorations of crosses, crowns, and intricately woven patterns. Stripes and plaids were in vogue.

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The chemise and under tunic are made the same as the directions given in the Celic-British section so they will not be included here.


The cyclas layout consists of a single layer of 60" by 4' long piece of cloth.

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fabric layout
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General Sewing Tips

  1. It is very important to pre-shrink all fabrics. Treat the fabric as you would after the garment is complete.
  2. All seams are to have 1/2" seam allowances.
  3. Zigzag all edges to prevent raveling.
  4. Backstitch 1/4" at the beginning and end of each seam to keep seam from coming out.
  5. Pin pieces of fabric being sewn together before sewing to keep fabric from slipping and edges together while sewing.
  6. Always put "right" sides of fabric together when sewing.
  7. Mark "wrong" sides of material if necessary with a chalk pencil or soap as pieces are cut out.
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The chemise and under tunic are made the same as the directions given in the Anglo-Saxon section so they will not be included here.


Step 1


Sew the front to the back at the shoulder.

Step 2

neck facing

Zigzag the outside edges of the neck facing. Pin the right side of the facing to the right side of the tunic.

Step 3

neck hole

Starting in the back, sew along the neck hole.

Step 4

seam allowance

Clip the seam allowance almost to the seam around the curve of the neck to allow the fabric to lie smoother after the facing is turned.

Step 5

top stitch neckline

Turn facing inside out and iron it down at the neck. Then top stitch along the neckline 1/4" from the edge. This keeps the facing from turning back over as easily.

Step 6

Sew the gores to the front and back. Attach the bias of the gore to the straight line of the Cyclas.

Step 7

sew sides

Sew the sides together.

Step 8

If shoulders are significantly narrower than hips, trim the shoulder edges to equal the shoulder width measurement.

Step 9

bind armholes

Finish the armhole edges with binding.

Step 10

Hem the garment.

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